Highlights of Istanbul itinerary completely and efficiently immerses you into Sultanahmet by visiting the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and Topkapı Palace in a single day.
- Walking tour of Istanbul – two days
- Includes the Harem in Topkapı Palace and Mosaics Gallery in Hagia Sophia
- We buy admission tickets and skip the line with our priority admission.
- Choice of a private tour or a shared group of eight people max.
- Local and professional tour guides who love Istanbul
An All-Inclusive Tour of Sultanahmet
Get to know the real Istanbul with this all-inclusive tour of Sultanahmet that includes any highlight that you’d like to see. Do not miss a single site!
This two-day walking tour of Sultanahmet focuses on geography, politics, culture, and history. A neighborhood of domes and minarets and competing calls to prayer, Sultanahmet is Istanbul at its most intense. Get to know all the most important sites on this immersive tour.
You can choose to join our two-day tour as a shared tour (with maximum of eight people, so the experience is always intimate) or book a private tour.
We only use local guides with professional licenses!
- Blue Mosque
(Blue Mosque is closed Friday mornings until end of noon prayer. Expect long lines during the high season.)
The world-famous Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s premier sights. Sultan Ahmet’s imperial mosque in Istanbul is still a working mosque with fascinating tile work comprised of 21,043 tiles in every shade of blue. Blue Mosque is an essential part of our walking tour of Istanbul, allowing us to cover mosque architecture and the basics of Islam in a very relevant setting.
- Topkapı Palace
Witness the glory of the Ottomans!
Topkapı Palace is a place of opulence, complexity, and mystery that inspires awe and is a must-see in our two-day Istanbul walking tour.
Topkapı Palace was the home and seat of the government of the Ottomans for nearly 400 years. It’s the heart of the great Ottoman Empire, ruled by the monarch who lived in Topkapı’s hundreds of rooms with a grand family and servants.
Our tour includes the outer terraced gardens (not covered in any other tour), where flowerbeds blaze with tulips of many colors, and we climb the high terrace to admire the view over the Golden Horn.
- Harem in Topkapı Palace
The very seat of the Ottoman Sultan’s power lies within the deepest reaches of the Harem — the famous house of the monarchy.
The Harem in Topkapı Palace was ruled by the Queen Mother, who wielded both domestic and political power; there was no queen in the Ottoman Court.
The Harem housed hundreds of women — mostly war captives — and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a whole range of administrative and personal duties. As part of our walking tour, we walk through the sections where the eunuchs lived and were educated, then through the hallway to the courtyard of the concubines and the Queen Mother’s Rooms.
We see cupboard doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell. Our walk through the Harem is the only way you can see the very early, exceptional Iznik tiles with verses from the Kuran and beautiful floral designs.
The Harem in Topkapi Palace is a must-see, and we make the effort of including it as part of our two-day itinerary, but if you rather go on a shorter tour, then consider booking the Highlights of Istanbul tour.
- Grand Bazaar
Sultan Mehmet II built Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in 1463 after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.
Grand Bazaar is a classical example of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul and deserves a visit not only for the shopping experience but also to see the way it was built. This ultimate medieval shopping center is a monstrous hive of little shops all under one roof and cut up into labyrinthine alleys, which are arched overhead.
Grand Bazaar is Turkey’s largest and oldest covered market. It offers excellent shopping opportunities, including Iznik tiles of glass crystal and quartz, kaftans of many colors, endless jewels, pashmina throws, leather jackets, inlaid backgammon sets, magic carpets, golden bangles, copper plates, books, Turkish tea, and traditional woven items in organic cotton, linen, and silk.
Grand Bazaar is a great way to end any tour in Istanbul. We include shops that we like but also give you enough information so that you can choose to stay on your own for a longer period or come back when you have more time.
- Spice Market
Just by the waterfront, the Spice Market is all about food: Turkish delight, dried fruit, nuts, coffee, herbal teas, exotic spices, and saffron. Here you can see men doing their trade and women marching through stalls. Typical of the old world, you don’t see a single woman shop owner.
Our tour includes a stopover at an old family establishment where we enjoy a special tasting menu of spices.
- Suleymaniye Mosque
This was Sinan’s greatest achievement in Istanbul commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century. It’s built on a hill with beautiful views of the city and has great gardens, cemeteries, and a neighborhood of wooden houses.
It’s a great local neighborhood, and if the timing is right, we make a lunch stop here (not included) by the University of Istanbul.
- Hagia Sophia and the Mosaics Gallery
Hagia Sophia alone justifies a visit to Istanbul, and it is the ultimate monument in Istanbul to understand the city. The church of the Divine Wisdom is eternally impressive and important, with its extraordinary dimensions and daunting beauty.
Hagia Sophia’s dome was a daring engineering feat in the sixth century, and engineers still marvel at the building’s many innovations today. It remains the most popular museum in Istanbul.
Our walking tour includes the Gallery (most tours do not make the effort of going up), and we see at close quarters one of the most significant Byzantine works of art, the remarkable 13th century mosaic of Deisis.
All of our guides love Hagia Sophia personally, so you can expect to have in-depth explanations of the monument as part of our grand tour of Istanbul.
- Byzantine Hippodrome
At the heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life, the Hippodrome in Constantinople was the scene of games and riots through the Byzantine era and 500 years of Ottoman history as well.
Although most of it is an invisible monument, it’s a great start to our Istanbul walking tour with its famous Egyptian Obelisk from 1500 B.C., the Serpent Column of Delphi (one of the oldest metal Greek monuments in the world), and the curious German Fountain.
- Basilica Cistern
The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is the most romantic subterranean palace, and it has excited many travelers throughout history. Today, it’s an aesthetic experience with colored lights, mood music, and enchanted visitors, so it makes an important part of our tour.
With its fantastic marble pillars (336 mismatched factory seconds) topped with Byzantine Corinthian capitals and the herringbone patterned layers of red bricks that form the arches to support the top, it’s difficult to believe this huge underground water tank is nothing but a huge underground water tank.
- Admission fees to sites and museums during the two days
- Expertly led by a professional guide for two full days
- Small group tour
- Walking tour
- Transport to Sultanahmet
- Meeting Point
- We meet at the House of Medusa Restaurant in Sultanahmet.
- This tour runs every day, 09:30 – 16:30
- Topkapı is closed on Tuesdays.
- Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.
- We alter these two days so you don’t miss any of the sites.