Having someone at your side who knows Istanbul inside out is quite the boon in a city that has so much to see and do. From tours of the city’s historic structures to more relaxed neighborhood walks, here are some of the best tours you can take in the great Turkish city.
The Rise of Byzantium
Organized by Istanbul Tour Studio, this tour focuses on the monumental architecture of what used to be Constantinople. Highlights include the Valens Aqueduct Bridge, the Byzantine churches that were converted into mosques after the Ottoman conquest, the Column of Constantine, the Hippodrome, and the Boukoleon Palace.
Fener Balat and Golden Horn
One of Istanbul’s most historic neighborhoods, spending a day in an area that used to be home to Greek and Jewish families is quite different than the usual tourist hot spots. Curated by Istanbul Tour Studio, the highlights of this tour include a boat ride to the Fener Port, the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchy, the Phanar Greek Orthodox College, lunch in Balat, the Chora Museum, the Theodosian Land Walls, and the Tekfur Palace.
Galata Pera Çukurcuma Tour
Curated by Locally Istanbul, this guided walk takes on the hip and young Galata and Pera areas and then continues to the city’s neighborhood of antique shops: Çukurcuma. Highlights include the Galata Tower, Istiklal Avenue, Çukurcuma antique shops, the bohemian Cihangir neighborhood, and the street of Turkish designers.
Asian Istanbul Tour
Visitors often overlook the Asian side of Istanbul, and this Locally Istanbul tour, led by very knowledgeable guides, is a great way to become very familiar with the other side of the city. The highlights of this excursion include the Şakirin Mosque, Maiden’s Tower, the historic Haydarpaşa Station, the Kadıköy Fish Market, and the antique Tellalzade Street.
Classical Istanbul Tour
Probably one of the best tours to get an introductory and comprehensive understanding of Istanbul and its rich history, this tour by Fest Travel includes such highlights as the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Süleyman Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.
Bazaars of Istanbul
An excellent tour for all the open-air market enthusiasts, this Fest Travel-curated tour begins in the Beyazıt Square and the imperial Beyazıt Mosque and continues through the old book bazaar (Sahaflar Çarşısı), the Grand Bazaar, the Uzunçarşı Street, Tahtakale, historic caravanserais, the Rüstempaşa Mosque, and ends in the Egyptian Bazaar. Lunch at Locally Istanbul’s favorite restaurant is also included and promises to be very delicious.