Meet your guide at your hotel on Istanbul’s European side, and settle inside your private, air-conditioned vehicle with your guide and a professional driver.
Travel deep into historical Sultanahmet and hear about Istanbul’s history as a hub of the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires as you head to the Blue Mosque, your first stop.
Admire the mosque’s immense dome and six minarets—iconic features of Istanbul’s skyline—and step inside to soak up the majestic interior, a vision of rich carpets, beautiful windows, and over 20,000 blue Iznik tiles.
Move to the spectacular Hagia Sophia Museum, a one-time mosque converted from a 6th-century Christian basilica built by the Emperor Justinian. Awe at this incredible structure and admire the interior’s glimmering mosaics and ornamentation.
Next, stroll to the Hippodrome, once the sporting and social center of Constantinople. View the relics of this long-ago arena, including the Serpent and Stone Columns, and the Egyptian Obelisk, a 3,500-year-old column transported here in 390 AD.
Descend into the Basilica Cistern, an atmospheric underground Byzantine water facility. Marvel at the subterranean giant columns, see its heads of Medusa pillar bases, and learn how it stored water brought into the city by the Valens Aqueduct.
After lunch (own expense) at a local restaurant, visit the Topkapi Palace, the seat of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. With your guide, explore the chambers and courtyards, seeing such treasures such as the Topkapi dagger and the 86-carat Kasikci Elmasi diamond.
Lastly, dip into the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest covered markets. Scout through some of the 64 streets and hear how this hive of activity was the city’s stock exchange, slave market, and bank during Ottoman times.
Get haggling tips from your guide as you shop before concluding your tour with a hotel drop-off.