Highlights of Istanbul:1 or 2 Day Private istanbul Tour
Discover the magic of Istanbul on a private 1 or 2-day walking tour. Enjoy a river cruise and guided tour of the city highlights, including the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Dolmabahce Palace, and Istiklal Street.
per adult from
Hotel pickup available
What's included :
- Professional guide
- 1 or 2 Day (depending on option selected)
- Private Tour
What's excluded :
- Food and drinks
- Entrance fees Gratuities
- Entry/Admission - Hagia Sophia
- Entry/Admission - Topkapi Palace
- Entry/Admission - Dolmabahce Palace
Day 1: 1 day private istanbul tour Day:Blue Mosq,Hagia Sophia,Topkapi Palace,Basilica Cistern,Grand BazarDay
Stop At: Hagia Sophia, Ayasofya Square, Sultanahmet, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
The Hagia Sophia, one of the historical architectural wonders that still remains standing today, has an important place in the art world with its architecture, grandness, size and functionality. The Hagia Sophia, the biggest church constructed by the East Roman Empire in Istanbul, has been constructed three times in the same location. When it was first built, it was named Megale Ekklesia (Big Church); however, after the fifth century, it was referred to as the Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom). The church was the place in which rulers were crowned, and it was also the biggest operational cathedral in the city throughout the Byzantine period. The first church was constructed by Emperor Konstantios (337-361) in 360. The first church was covered with a wooden roof and expanded vertically (basilica) yet was burned down after the public riot that took place in 404 as a result of the disagreements between Emperor Arkadios’ (395-408) wife empress Eudoksia and Istanbul’s patriarch Ioannes Chrysostomos, who was exiled. The patriarch’s mosaic portrait can still be viewed at the tymphanon wall located in the northern part of the church. No remains have been recovered from the first church; however, the bricks found in the museum storage branded ‘Megale Ekklesia’ are predicted to belong to the first construction. The second church was reconstructed by Emperor Theodosios II (408-450) in 415. This basilical structure is known to contain five naves and a monumental entrance; it is also covered by a wooden roof. The church was demolished in January 13, 532, after the public riot (Nika revolts) that took place during the fifth year of Emperor Justinianos’ reign (527-565), when the ‘blues’ who represented the aristocrats, and the ‘greens’ who represented the tradesman and merchants in the society, collaborated against the Empire. Remains found during the excavations led by A. M Scheinder of the Istanbul German Archeology Institute, 2 meters below ground level, include steps belonging to the Propylon (monumental door), column bases and pieces with lamb embossings that represent the 12 apostles. In addition, other architectural pieces that belong to the monumental entrance can be seen in the west garden. The current structure was constructed by Isidoros (Milet) and Anthemios (Tralles), who were renowned architects of their time, by Emperor Justinianos’s (527-565) orders. Information from historian Prokopios states that the construction that began on February 23, 532, was completed in a short period of five years and the church was opened to worship with a ceremony on December 27, 537. Resources show that on the opening day of the Hagia Sophia, Emperor Justinianos entered the temple and said, “My Lord, thank you for giving me chance to create such a worshipping place,” and followed with the words “Süleyman, I beat you,” referring to Süleyman’s temple in Jerusalem. The third Hagia Sophia construction combined the three traditional basilical plans with the central dome plan in design. The structure has three nefi, one apsi, and two narthex, internal and external. The length from the apsis to the outer narthex is 100 m, and the width is 69.5 m. The height of the dome from the ground level is 55.60 m and the radius is 31.87 m in the North to South direction and 30.86 in the East to West direction. Emperor Justinianos ordered all provinces under his reign to send the best architectural pieces to be used in the construction so that the Hagia Sophia could be bigger and grander. The columns and marbles used in the structure have been taken from ancient cities in and around Anatolia and Syria, such as, Aspendus Ephessus, Baalbeek and Tarsa. The white marbles used in the structure came from the Marmara Island, the green porphyry from Eğriboz Island, the pink marbles from Afyon and the yellow from North Africa. The decorative interior wall coatings were established by dividing single marble blocks into two and combining them in order to create symmetrical shapes. In addition, the structure includes columns brought in from the Temple of Artemis in Ephessus to be used in the naves, as well as 8 columns brought from Egypt that support the domes. The structure has a total of 104 columns, 40 in the lower and 64 in the upper gallery. All the walls of the Hagia Sophia except the ones covered by marble have been decorated with exceptionally beautiful mosaics. Gold, silver, glass, terra cotta and colorful stones have been used to make the mosaics. The plant-based and geometric mosaics are from the 6th century, whereas the figured mosaics date back to the Iconoclast period. During the East Roman period, the Hagia Sophia was the Empire Church and, as a result, was the place in which the emperors were crowned. The area that is on the right of the naos, where the flooring is covered with colorful stones creating an intertwining circular design (omphalion), is the section in which the Eastern Roman Emperors were crowned. Istanbul was occupied by Latins between 1204 and 1261, during the Holy Crusades, when both the city and the church were damaged. The Hagia Sophia was known to be in bad condition in 1261, when Eastern Rome took over the city again. Following Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s (1451-1481) conquer in 1453, Hagia Sophia was renovated into a mosque. The structure was fortified and was well protected after this period, and remained as a mosque. Additional supporting pillars were installed during the East Roman and Ottoman periods as a result of the damage that the structure experienced due to earthquakes in the region. The minarets designed and implemented by Mimar Sinan have also served to this purpose. A madrasah was built towards the North or Hagia Sophia during Fatih Sultan Mehmed’s reign. This construction was abolished in the 17. Century. During Sultan Abdülmecid’s (1839-1861) reign, renovations were conducted by Fossati and a madrasah was rebuilt in the same place. The remains have been discovered during the excavations in 1982. During the 16th and 17th century Ottoman period, mihrabs, minbar, maksoorahs, a preachment stand and a muezzin mahfili (a special raised platform in a mosque, opposite the minbar where a muezzin kneels and chants in response to the imam’s prayers) were added to the structure. The bronze lamps on two sides of the mihrab have been given as gifts to the mosque by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (1520-1566) after his return from Budin. The two marble cubes dating back to the Hellenistic period (3 - 4 B.C.) on both sides of the main entrance have been specially brought from Bergama and were given by Sultan Murad III (1574-1595) as gifts. During the Sultan Abdülmecid period between 1847 and 1849, an extensive renovation in the Hagia Sophia was conducted by the Swiss Fossati brothers, where the Hünkâr Mahfili (a separate compartment where the emperors pray) located in a niche in the Northern section was removed and another one towards the left of the mihrab was built. The 8- 7.5 m diameter calligraphy panels that were written by Caligrapher Kadıasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi were placed in the main walls of the structure. The panels that read “Allah, Hz. Muhammed, Hz. Ebubekir, Hz. Ömer, Hz. Osman, Hz. Ali, Hz. Hasan ve Hz. Hüseyin” are known to be the biggest calligraphy panels in the Islamic world. The Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s orders and has been functioning as one since February 1, 1935, welcoming both local and foreign visitors. According to a deed dated 1936, the Hagia Sophia is registered as “Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii Şerifi on behalf of the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Foundation for maoseleum, akaret, muvakkithane and madrasah on 57 pafta, 57 island and 7th parcel.”
Read more about Best of Istanbul: 1 or 2 Day Private Tour 2019 - https://www.viator.com/tours/Istanbul/Best-of-Istanbul-1-or-2-Day-Private-Tour/d585-74036P27?mcid=56757
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Topkapi Palace, Cankurtaran Mahallesi Gulhane Park, Near Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
Topkapı Palace was not only the residence of the Ottoman sultans, but also the administrative and educational centre of the state. Initially constructed between 1460 and 1478 by Sultan Mehmed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, and expanded upon and altered many times throughout its long history, the palace served as the home of the Ottoman sultans and their court until the middle of the 19th century. In the early 1850s, the palace became inadequate to the requirements of state ceremonies and protocol, and so the sultans moved to Dolmabahçe Palace, located on the Bosphorus. Despite this move, the royal treasure, the Holy Relics of the Prophet Muhammad, and the imperial archives continued to be preserved at Topkapı, and-since the palace was the ancestral residence of the Ottoman dynasty as well as the place where the Holy Relics were preserved-Topkapı continued to play host to certain state ceremonies. Following the abolishment of the Ottoman monarchy in 1922, Topkapı Palace was converted into a museum on April 3rd 1924, on the order of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. After the conquest of Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II (r. 1444-46, 1451-81) had a palace built in what is modern-day Istanbul’s Beyazıt district, on the spot where the University of Istanbul stands today; this first palace subsequently became known as the Old Palace (Eski Saray). Following the construction of the Old Palace, Mehmed II then had the Tiled Kiosk (Çinili Köşk) built, followed by Topkapı Palace itself, to which the court relocated when construction was complete. Mehmed called this place the New Palace (Sarây-ı Cedîd). The palace received its current name when Sultan Mahmud I (r. 1730-54) had a large wooden palace constructed near the city’s Byzantine walls, in front of which were placed several ceremonial cannons. This seaside palace was named the Cannon Gate Palace by the Sea (Topkapusu Sâhil Sarâyı), and when this palace was destroyed in a fire, its name was transferred to Mehmed II’s New Palace. Topkapı Palace, which developed and grew over the centuries, had a design that played an important role in Ottoman governmental philosophy and in the relations between the palace and its subjects. When Topkapı was first built, its plan was influenced by the splendor of the Edirne Palace located on the Tunca River, which had been constructed by Mehmed II’s father, Sultan Murad II (r. 1421-44, 1446-51) but very little of which survives today. The basic design of the palace is centred on various courtyards and gardens, around which are arranged offices devoted to state business, the buildings and pavilions serving as the residence of the sovereign and the buildings set aside for the court employees who lived in the palace. Topkapı Palace is built atop the Byzantine acropolis on Sarayburnu at the tip of the Istanbul peninsula. It is surrounded by the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. On the land side, the palace is surrounded by 1,400-meter-long high encircling walls-known as the “Royal Walls” (Sûr-ı Sultânî)-while on the side facing the sea it is surrounded by Byzantine walls. The palace covers an area of approximately 700,000 square meters, a major part of which area is set aside for the Royal Gardens (Hasbahçe). The court of Topkapı Palace proper is made up of two basic organizations: the Outer Palace (Bîrûn) and the Inner Palace (Enderûn); the Harem was a part of the latter. The design of residences, ceremonies and ceremonial spaces, and all of the many palace facilities were set out according to this basic organizational principle. Within the Topkapı Palace complex are three main gates-the Imperial Gate (Bâb-ı Hümâyûn), the Gate of Salutation (Bâbüsselâm), and the Gate of Felicity (Bâbüssaâde)-four courtyards, the Harem, the Royal Gardens-today known as the Rose Garden (Gülbahçe)-and various other gardens.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Blue Mosque, Sultanahmet Mah At Meydani Cad No 7, Istanbul 34122 Turkey
The Blue Mosque (Called Sultanahmet Camii in Turkish) is an historical mosque in Istanbul. The mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of blue tiles surrounding the walls of interior design.Mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 years, during the rule of Ahmed I. just like many other mosques, it also comprises a tomb of the founder, a madrasa and a hospice.Besides still used as a mosque, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque has also become a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul. Besides being tourist attraction, it's also a active mosque, so it's closed to non worshippers for a half hour or so during the five daily prayers. Best way to see great architecture of the Blue Mosque is to approach it from the Hippodrome. (West side of the mosque) As if you are non-Muslim visitor, you also have to use same direction to enter the Mosque.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Kapali Carsi, Kalpakcilar Cad. Sorguclu Han No: 22, Istanbul 34126 Turkey
One of the largest and oldest covered bazaars in the world, the Grand Bazaar is 30,700 square meters with over 60 streets and alleys and 4,000 shops. The original historical core of the bazaar, İç Bedesten, was completed by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. A “bedesten” refers to an indoor arcade with shops and there are several areas within the bazaar referred to by this name. Over the years, the Grand Bazaar expanded from this core of two bedestens to become a sprawling roofed complex of thousands of shops, fringed by the tradesmen’s inns and workshops known as hans. According to the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname, by the seventeenth century the Kapalı Çarşı (or the Çarşı-yı-Kebir as it was known at the time) had reached its present size, with over 4,000 shops and nearly 500 stalls known in Turkish as dolap (literally translated to “cupboard”). In addition, there were various other amenities for the merchants who worked there: restaurants, a hammam, and a mosque, as well as at least 10 smaller mescits, or prayer rooms. Today, this city-within-a-city contains a police station, a health dispensary, a post office, branches of most major banks, and a tourist information center.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Hippodrome, Binbirdirek, Sultan Ahmet ParkI No:2, Istanbul Turkey
Hippodrome of Constantinople, located in Sultanahmet/Istanbul, was a public arena mainly for chariot races. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos (horse) and dromos (way). The Hippodrome of Constantinople was also home to gladiatorial games, official ceremonies, celebrations, protests, torture to the convicts and so on. Hippodrome functioned all in Roman (203-330 CE), Byzantine (330-1453 CE), and Ottoman (1453-1922) periods. When Roman Emperor Septimius Severus conquered ancient Constantinople named Byzantion in 203 CE, he named the city as Augusta Antonina and built many structures. Hippodrome was one of the significant structures built by Severus. However, the first Hippodrome was a small one. In 330 CE, Constantine I declared the city as the capital of the Byzantine Empire and named it Constantinople, meaning Constantine’s city in Greek. One of the first things that Constantine I rebuilt was the Hippodrome. He enlarged the hippodrome and connected it to the Great Palace of Constantinople that today lies underneath the Blue Mosque. Today the foundations of the Great Palace of Constantinople can be seen at the Museum of the Great Palace Mosaics. What landmarks to see at the Hippodrome Square? The capacity of the hippodrome was approximately 40,000 and it was free and open to male members of the community. At least eight different games could be held throughout the day and it was also used as a symbol of power for the empire. The hippodrome was decorated with monuments that were brought in from across the empire including the Serpent Column (Yılanlı Sütun) from Delphi and Obelisk of Thutmosis III (Obelisk of Theodosius) from Egypt. With these landmarks and monuments -brought from all around the world- the Byzantine Empire was proudly showing its strength and thousands of kilometers long territory ruled by them. Hippodrome during the Ottoman era Hippodrome was also used by the Ottomans as well and they named it At Meydanı (Horse Square), yet they simply used it as a square. Constructions of İbrahim Paşa Palace (now housing Turkish and Islamic Art Museum) in 16th century and Blue Mosque in 17th century damaged the hippodrome. Subsequently, mid-eighteenth century onwards it was abandoned and destroyed. Today, the area is known as Sultanahmet Square and it follows the ground plan and dimensions of the hippodrome. Amazing facts about the Hippodrome of Constantinople In 390 CE, Byzantine emperor Theodosius I brought the Obelisk of Thutmosis III from Karnak (Southern Egypt) to Constantinople, erected it inside the hippodrome and named it “Obelisk of Theodosius” (Dikilitaş in Turkish). It is one of the twenty-nine Egyptian obelisks in the world. Despite its approx. 3500 years old age, the obelisk is in very good condition. During the Nika Riots in 532 CE, Byzantine emperor Justinian I ordered the killing of 30,000 people locked in the Hippodrome of Constantinople. During the Byzantine period, the Hippodrome was the centre of the Constantinopolitans’ everyday life. Huge amounts were bet on chariot races, and there were four teams took part in these races, each one financially sponsored and supported by a different political party (Deme) within the Byzantine Senate: The Blues (Venetoi), the Greens (Prasinoi), the Reds (Rousioi) and the Whites (Leukoi). Good charioteers were as important as public heroes during the Byzantine period. Legendary charioteer Porphyrios was a very successful charioteer, who raced for both Blues and Greens. According to the primary sources, there were several statues of Charioteer Porphyrios around the hippodrome; unfortunately none of these statues are surviving but the bases of two statues - including an inscription praising Charioteer Porphyrios - are exhibited at the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. During the Ottoman period in 1720, fifteen-days long circumcision ceremony of the sons of Ahmet III took place in the hippodrome and in Surname-i Vehbi (Ottoman miniature painting book describing the circumcision ceremony of the sons of Ahmet III) the hippodrome is shown with the seats and monuments still intact.
Duration: 1 hour
No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.
Day 2: 2 days istanbul tour : Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, and Taksim
Stop At: Misir Carsisi (Spice Market), Rustem Pasa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambari Sok. No:92 Eminonu - Fatih, Istanbul 34116 Turkey
Spice Market is a colorful indoor bazaar and has lots of shops offering a variety of spices, purses, flavored teas, Turkish delight, nuts, as well as ceramics and small souvenirs.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Dolmabahce Palace, Visnezade Mahallesi Dolmabahce Cd, Istanbul 34357 Turkey
The Dolmabahce Palace is located along the European shore of the Bosphorus Strait. Originally there was a shallow bay where the Ottoman fleet used to anchor their ships. After the 17th century the coast was filled in and converted into a nice garden with a couple of pavilions named as Besiktas Waterfront Palace complex, where the sultans used to relax enjoying the views. By the way, Dolmabahce literally means "filled garden" in Turkish language. In 1843 sultan Abdülmecid I ordered to build a new palace taking away these old buildings, and imperial architects Garabet and Nikogos Balyan finished the construction in 1856. Dolmabahce was used as a secondary palace by the successor of Abdulmecid after his death, it became a winter residence meanwhile Beylerbeyi Palace was used as the summer residence. Only after two sultans the imperial family moved back to the Dolmabahce with sultan Mehmed V and lived there until the proclamation of the Republic at the end of War of Liberation. The Parliament decided to use Dolmabahce as a presidential palace thus Atatürk stayed and received foreign guests here during his visits to Istanbul. He died in the palace on 10th of November 1938, later on it was converted into a museum in 1952. With over 110.000 square meters of construction on 250.000 square meters of land, it sure is an impressive palace on the Bosphorus. The palace is consisted of three main sections: Administrative apartments (Selamlik or Mabeyn-i Hümayun), Ceremonial Hall (Muayede Salonu), and Imperial Harem (Harem-i Hümayun). The impressive Ceremonial Hall was built between other two sections, where the sultan received his important guests and foreign statesmen. Besides the main palace, there are several other buildings in the complex such as imperial kitchens, Crown Prince rooms (Veliaht Dairesi), barracks, stables, pharmacy, flour mill, aviary (Kusluk), glass manufactory, foundry, plant house (Fidelik), greenhouse, carpet workshop, clock tower, etc. Some of the smaller buildings were destroyed or demolished during the years. There are two monumental gates giving access to the main garden (but only one is open today) of the administrative part; Treasury Gate (Hazine Kapisi) and Imperial Gate (Saltanat Kapisi). The Mabeyn-i Hümayun (state apartments) is the most important section in terms of function and splendour. There is a large hall at the entrance, a crystal staircase (banisters), and other decorative elements to impress the visitors. A couple of large halls upstairs decorated with Hereke carpets, crystal chandeliers and fireplaces, and a fine imperial Hamam decorated with Egyptian alabaster are other impressive parts of the Selamlik section. The Ceremonial Hall is a large square hall of monumental proportions, over 2.000 square meters of area and 36 meters high ceeling. It is decorated with a huge Hereke carpet and a 4,5 tons of crystal chandelier which was sent by Queen Victoria. Important state and religious ceremonies were held here. Upper galleries were used by foreign ambassadors invited to the religious ceremonies but also by the orchestra at special occasions. Women weren't allowed in this ceremonies so they watched it from the windows of a long corridor connecting the Selamlik with the Harem, passing just above the Ceremonial Hall. During the winter, the hall was heated with the hot air blown from the heating system at the bottom of 56 tall columns, it took them about 3 days to heat the hall properly before any ceremony. The Harem was connected to the Selamlik section by a long corridor which was guarded all the time to make sure that nobody passes. It was strictly prohibited by any man to go in, except the sultan himself of course and the eunuch servants. The Harem section is formed by several rooms, baths, and halls. There were suites of the sultan, quarter of the Queen mother (Valide Sultan), rooms for official wives, favorites (Gözde) and concubines (Cariye), and some education rooms for the young children of the sultan. Just next to the Harem section, there was the Palace of the Crown Prince.
Duration: 2 hours
Stop At: Taksim Gezi Park, Asker OcagI Cd. Gumussuyu Mah., Istanbul 34437 Turkey
Duration: 1 hour
No meals included on this day.
No accommodation included on this day.
Departure Point :Traveler pickup is offered
all istanbul hotel or port Ports
- istanbul port
Return Detail :-
Hotel Pickup :
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Not wheelchair accessible
- Please note the following closing times:
- Grand Bazaar - Sundays
- Hagia Sophia - Mondays
- Topkapi Palace - Tuesdays
- Dolmabace Palace - Mondays and Thursdays
- If the museum is closed on your chosen day, the local supplier will move the itinerary to the next available day. If not, they will replace the tour with a trip to the underground cistern or Galata tower.
- A 1-way transportation ticket costs 3 TL, the equivalent of roughly 1 EUR.
- This tour always includes hotel or harbour pick-up and drop off, regardless of which option is selected.
- Near public transportation
- Most travelers can participate
- This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
- Face masks required for travelers in public areas
- Face masks required for guides in public areas
- Social distancing enforced throughout experience
- Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
- You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.
- For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.