Experience the scope of Istanbul with this full-day, small-group tour. Led by a local guide, explore the main attractions of the city, including Pierre Loti Hill, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque, and the Hippodrome. Ride up a cable car and cruise on the Bosphorus for the full Istanbul experience. Transfer to and from your hotel is available (please take a look at inclusions and exclusions for the transfer details).
Your day begins at 8:30am, when a climate-controlled vehicle will collect you from your hotel. Accompanied by a local guide, your small group (maximum 15 people) will head up Istanbul’s Golden Horn towards Pierre Loti Hill. Enjoy the beautiful view from the cable car as you climb the hill to the cafe named for the famous French writer and naval officer Pierre Loti, who wrote fiction based on his experiences in Istanbul.Continue onto the water with a Bosphorus Cruise. This is the prime perspective to view the fine palaces, pavilions, Ottoman houses, and seaside neighborhoods along the shores of this famous and historic waterway connecting the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. From here, see Rumeli Fortress, an imposing fortification built by Sultan Mehmet II in 1451 before his conquest of the city.Return to the European shores via the Marmaray, which provides a unique chance to ride between the European and Asian continents by train in a sub-sea tunnel. The construction of the Marmaray took four years due to the discovery of ruins dating from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods.Explore Rustem Pasha Mosque, a majestic and colorful building designed by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Located above the Spice Bazaar and decorated with vibrant Iznik tiles, this small mosque is one of the most splendid in Istanbul.After a break for lunch in a quaint local restaurant, continue to Sultanahmet, Istanbul’s historic Old City. Descend into the Basilica Cistern, built in the 6th century but lost to memory until it was rediscovered in the 16th century. The cistern is dimly lit with red and yellow lamps and still contains water.Delve into the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s most famous building. Originally the primary church of Byzantine Constantinople, the Hagia Sophia was built upon the site of two earlier churches. Under the Ottomans, the building became a mosque; currently, it is a comprehensive museum.Wonder at the Blue Mosque, with its intricate tile work and six minarets. After experiencing this active place of worship, walk across the Hippodrome Square. The ancient Hippodrome was the center of Byzantine social life and the scene of fiercely competitive chariot races.After the tour, your vehicle will return you to your hotel.