In Istanbul, East meets West, quite literally. Bisected by the Bosphorus, the city is one of only a few in the world that straddles two continents. With so much to see—sprawling Istanbul is one of the largest cities in Europe—guided tours help make logistics and navigation manageable. On the European side, travelers encounter world-famous landmarks ranging from the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque to Topkapi Palace. On the Asian side, Kadikoy is one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods with bustling markets and coffee shops. And in Beyoglu, Istanbul’s dynamic heart, must-visit spots include Istiklal Avenue, Taksim Square, and the waterfront views and restaurants of Karakoy. For those wanting to venture beyond the city, day trips head to historic sites such as Gallipoli, Ephesus, and Cappadocia.
One of the world’s great architectural splendors, the Hagia Sophia’s history dates back to 537 AD. Consecrated as a church and later transformed into a mosque, it is today a museum, and among Turkey’s most-visited destinations. Because Hagia Sophia is just adjacent to the Blue Mosque—and within easy reach of many of Istanbul’s top historical sights—combination tours are a good way to see it all.
Hagia Sophia attracts roughly 3.5 million visitors each year, and is subject to long ticket lines and waits to get in. For clients choosing not to take a guided tour, pre-arranging tickets is essential.
Two of Istanbul’s most impressive buildings, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque—just steps apart—are a natural sightseeing duo. This is the tour to book for clients who want to see both without visiting as part of a large group.
Private Tour: Istanbul in One Day Sightseeing Tour Including Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace
Ideal for clients traveling in a group as well as those wanting a more in-depth experience, this private tour covers landmark-packed Sultanahmet District—including Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace—in a single day.
If your clients have only a short amount of time to see the sights, this efficient half-day tour, which combines visits to Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Grand Bazaar, is a great option.
Read more about Hagia Sofia tour options here.
Built in 1453 and once home to Ottoman sultans, Topkapi Palace is one of Istanbul’s most significant landmarks. Consisting of scenic courtyards, elegant pavilions, and hundreds of rooms, the site can be challenging to explore without a guide. Itineraries frequently pair the palace with other nearby attractions, while some offer skip-the-line privileges or combine entry to both the main palace and its Harem, which requires a separate ticket.
Your clients don’t have to worry about waiting in long lines or booking separate entry to the Harem with this skip-the-line, small-group tour.
For clients who only have a limited amount of time in Istanbul, this tour offers a whistle-stop way of seeing Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Grand Bazaar.
Your clients can enjoy a personalized exploration of Topkapi Palace and the always-bustling Sultanahmet District on this private tour.
Ideal for clients looking for a unique experience, this tour combines fast-track entry to Topkapi Palace with a local ceramics workshop.
Read more about Topkapi Palace tour options here.
Also known as the Kapali Carsi, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Its sprawl encompasses dozens of streets and upwards of 4,000 vendors, and hundreds of thousands of visitors fill its corners each day. It’s easy to get lost or overwhelmed, but guided tours offer a less intimidating way to explore its hidden pockets, seek out the best stalls, practice bargaining skills, and learn its history.
A small-group tour makes for an easier way to navigate the crowded blocks. Your clients can shop for pottery, jewelry, and other Turkish gifts, and practice haggling skills with insight from the guide.
The Grand Bazaar isn’t Istanbul’s only noteworthy market—the Egyptian Bazaar, which specializes in spices, sweets, and other delicacies, is also worth a visit. This small-group tour offers an accessible way to go on a shopping excursion to both.
On this behind-the-scenes tour of the Grand Bazaar, your clients have the chance to meet and share a cup of Turkish coffee with shopkeepers.
For clients not shy about navigating the Grand Bazaar independently, this private tour allows an hour of free time at the market following visits to Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and other landmarks.
Read more about Grand Bazaar tour options here.
With its unearthly rock formations, underground cities, and sea of colorful hot-air balloons, Cappadocia looks less like a real place and more like a fairy tale come to life. The UNESCO World Heritage Site has grown enormously in popularity with tourists in the past several years, and its annual visitor numbers exceed 2.5 million. Cappadocia is located in Turkey’s central Anatolia region, but tours by plane make it day-trippable from Istanbul, while multi-day itineraries give visitors the chance to linger.
Cappadocia in One Day Small-Group Tour from Istanbul: Rose Valley, Ortahisar, Kaymakli Underground City, and Pigeon Valley
For visitors who only have one day to explore Cappadocia’s highlights, this all-inclusive tour makes logistics straightforward. Round-trip transit (including flights), lunch, and guided tours all feature.
If your clients want a little more time in Cappadocia, and would prefer an open departure, this 2-day tour is a flexible and convenient option. A hot-air balloon upgrade is also available.
Consider this tour for clients who want to visit both Cappadocia and the ancient archaeological site of Ephesus, with all logistics accounted for.
Read more about Cappadocia tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
While summers in Turkey can be very hot, visitors might be surprised to learn that Istanbul gets chilly (even snowy) in winter. Spring and autumn are both more temperate and less crowded.
Istanbul has a number of transit options, from the Metro and trams to buses—even funiculars (cable cars). Ferries that cross the Bosphorus are both convenient and a sightseeing must.
Tea, served in small glass cups, is available almost everywhere. Order by asking for “çay” (pronounced like “chai”), and add at least one lump of sugar to counter the strong taste.
Things to Bring
Visiting landmarks like the Blue Mosque or Süleymaniye Mosque requires modest dress—a scarf is a simple and quick way to cover up.
What the Locals Know
For a quiet retreat that’s within public transit distance of the city center, venture to Bebek. The seaside district is full of beautiful views, top-notch seafood restaurants, and elegant locals.