In Istanbul, East meets West. Bisected by the Bosphorus, the city is one of only a few in the world that straddles two continents. As 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 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. See all this and more in our Istanbul travel guide below.

Hagia Sophia

Nothing deserves first place in an Istanbul travel guide other than Hagia Sophia. 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 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 Museum Admission Ticket

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.

Private Half-Day Tour: Imperial Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Grand Bazaar

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.

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.

Small-Group Istanbul Walking Tour: Hagia Sophia Museum and the Blue Mosque

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.

Topkapi Palace

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.

Topkapi Palace and Harem In Istanbul

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.

Small-Group Istanbul in One Day Tour Including Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia

For clients who only have a limited amount of time in Istanbul, this tour offers a quick way to see  Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Grand Bazaar.

Private Tour: Istanbul’s Ottoman Experience Including Topkapi Palace and Blue Mosque

Your clients can enjoy a personalized exploration of Topkapi Palace and the bustling Sultanahmet District on this private tour.

Skip the Line: Topkapi Palace Including Süleymaniye Mosque and Ceramics Workshop in Istanbul

Ideal for clients looking for a unique experience, this tour combines fast-track entry to Topkapi Palace with a local ceramics workshop.

Grand Bazaar

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.

Small-Group Grand Bazaar Shopping Tour in Istanbul

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.

Istanbul Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar Shopping Tour

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 visit both on a shopping excursion.

Istanbul Grand Bazaar Behind-the-Scenes Tour

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.

Private Istanbul Full-Day Tour: Hippodrome Square, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace

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.


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. Although not in the city, we included Cappadocia in our Istanbul travel guide because of it’s popularity among all those traveling to Turkey. 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.

2-Day Cappadocia Tour with Optional Hot-Air Balloon Ride

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 ride upgrade is also available.

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 are all included.

3-Day Cappadocia and Ephesus Tour From Istanbul with Flights

Consider this tour for clients who want to visit both Cappadocia and the ancient archaeological site of Ephesus, with all logistics accounted for.

Most Popular Things to Do in Istanbul

Day Trips & Excursions

Cultural & Theme Tours

Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

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Tours & Sightseeing

Most Popular Things to Do in Istanbul

Day Trips & Excursions

Cultural & Theme Tours

Sightseeing Tickets & Passes

Transfers & Ground Transport

Tours & Sightseeing

Istanbul Travel Guide: Things to Know

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.

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.

Getting Around

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.

What 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.

Local Customs

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.

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