See top Istanbul attractions around every corner on a full-day tour of the incredible Sultanahmet neighborhood, where Turkey’s Ottoman and Byzantine empires once ruled. Traveling by luxury coach, you’ll stop to visit all the city showstoppers including the UNESCO-listed Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Sultans Tombs. Before lunch, discover the roar and dazzle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar while hearing tales of sultans, harems and all-things-Istanbul from your friendly expert guide!
Start your tour with a hotel pickup, then travel by coach to the nearby Sultanahmet district and step inside your first attraction of the day – Hagia Sophia. Formerly a church, then a mosque, and now an intriguing museum, Hagia Sophia is sure to impress from every historic angle. Admire its medley of architecture that draws on influences from both the Ottoman and Byzantine eras as you explore with your guide.Continue to the nearby Blue Mosque, passing Istanbul Hippodrome on the way. Chariot races were held here at the time of the Ottoman Empire, and it gained a reputation as the hub of sporting and political activity in the city. Before entering the mosque, stop for photos and gaze in admiration at its six minarets that provide an iconic backdrop to Istanbul’s cityscape. Then head inside to marvel at its ceiling, adorned with bright blue Iznik tiles that attribute to the mosque’s name.Prepare for an assault on your senses at the nearby Grand Bazaar as you browse the bustling shops and stalls that spill out into its frankincense-scented lanes. Pedaling everything from Turkish carpets to kebabs, this frantic market can be daunting to visitors, so let your guide show off its highlights while you soak up its ambiance.Stop for lunch in a local restaurant, and then travel by coach to Topkapi Palace – one of the world’s oldest and biggest palaces. Now a significant museum, the palace seems to drip with dazzling ornamentation and artifacts at every turn. Explore its courtyards with your guide, and learn about the sultans and their harems that lived here from the 15th century.Your tour finishes at your central Istanbul hotel.Please note: Blue Mosque will be visited from outside on Friday mornings due to noon prayer. Grand Bazaar on Sundays will be replaced with authentic shops. Topkapı Palace on Tuesdays will be replaced with a tour to Byzantium, and Sultan Tombs on Mondays will be replaced with Little Hagia Sophia (St. Sergius & Bacchus). Hagia Sophia (Closed on Mondays; will be replaced with Undergournd Cistern).