How to Plan Your Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar

How to Plan Your Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar

Istanbul, the city that bridges Europe and Asia, is a jewel of a destination with a rich history that dates back to Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Whether you are a history lover or just curious about diverse cultures and their architectural gems, Istanbul is the place to be. The Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour allows you to delve deeper into the history and discover five of the most significant landmarks in Istanbul.

Overview of the Tour

The Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour is a full-day small-group tour that allows you to explore five historical landmarks of Istanbul. The tour is conducted in a luxury Mercedes minivan with an experienced and knowledgeable English-speaking guide who explains the history behind each monument. The tour starts with a visit to Hagia Sophia, one of the most significant architectural masterpieces in the world. It served as a church, mosque, and now a museum, with its impressive dome and stunning mosaic ornaments. Next, you discover the Topkapi Palace, serving as the historical residence of Ottoman Sultans for four centuries, and now a museum full of glittering treasures. The Blue Mosque, standing opposite Hagia Sophia, is the next stop. With its six minarets and a magnificent interior adorned with over 20,000 blue Iznik tiles, the Blue Mosque offers an experience for all senses. After that, the tour continues with a visit to the Hippodrome, an ancient circus that hosted significant events and chariot races during the Byzantine Empire. Finally, you have the opportunity to shop and haggle souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar. With over 4,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, offering an unforgettable shopping experience.

Details of the Tour

Here are some details of the tour that you need to know before booking: Tour Duration: Approximately 8 hours Departure Time: between 8:30 am and 9:30 am, exact time depends on the location of your hotel Departure Point: Your Istanbul hotel or another designated location Return Details: Returns to the original departure point Group Size: Maximum of 12 people Inclusions: Professional English-speaking guide, transportation by air-conditioned minivan, hotel pickup and drop-off within central Istanbul locations, entrance fees to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque. Exclusions: Food and drinks, souvenirs and personal expenses, entrance to the Harem section of Topkapi Palace, and tips for the guide and driver.

How to Prepare for the Tour

Here are some tips for you to prepare for an enjoyable tour experience: Wear Comfortable Shoes: You will be walking a lot, so it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes. Dress Modestly: Remember that the Blue Mosque is still an active mosque, so dress modestly by covering your shoulders, arms, and legs. Bring Cash: You will have the opportunity to buy souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar, and some shops may accept only cash. Get Your Camera Ready: You will visit some of the most photogenic places in Istanbul, so make sure to bring a camera or a phone with a reliable battery.

Booking the Tour

To book the Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar, visit the Viator website at book the tour here. Once you book, you will receive an email confirmation with all the necessary details about the tour. Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar is an exceptional way to experience the history and culture of Istanbul. Book now, and let the tour take you on a journey to the past.

Frequently Asked Questions About Istanbul

Istanbul is an iconic city that straddles Europe and Asia, and has a rich history that dates back to the Byzantine Empire. It is home to some of the most famous landmarks in Turkey, such as the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and is a popular tourist destination. In this FAQ, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about Istanbul.

1. What is the best time to visit Istanbul?

The best time to visit Istanbul is during the spring (April-May) or fall (September-November) when the temperatures are milder and the crowds are less. Summer (June-August) can be quite hot and busy, and winter can be cold and rainy.

2. What are the must-see attractions in Istanbul?

There are many must-see attractions in Istanbul, including:
  • The Hagia Sophia
  • The Blue Mosque
  • The Topkapi Palace
  • The Grand Bazaar
  • The Spice Bazaar
  • The Galata Tower
  • The Bosphorus Strait

3. Is it safe to travel to Istanbul?

Istanbul is generally safe for tourists, but it’s always important to take precautions such as being aware of your surroundings and not carrying large amounts of cash or valuables. It’s also a good idea to check with your embassy or consulate for any travel advisories before you go.

4. What is the currency used in Istanbul?

The currency used in Istanbul (and in Turkey in general) is the Turkish lira. It is recommended that you exchange your money at a bank or currency exchange instead of using ATMs, as some ATMs may charge high fees.

5. What is the food like in Istanbul?

Istanbul has a diverse cuisine that reflects its history and cultural influences. Some of the most popular dishes include kebabs, meze (small plates), Turkish breakfast, and baklava for dessert. Be sure to try some local street food, such as simit (a sesame-covered bread) or roasted chestnuts, for a truly authentic experience.

6. How is the public transportation system in Istanbul?

Istanbul has a well-developed public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and a metro system. The Istanbulkart is a reloadable card that can be used on all forms of public transportation and is a convenient way to get around the city.

7. What is the dress code in Istanbul?

Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city, but it’s still important to dress respectfully when visiting mosques or other religious sites. Women should cover their heads and wear long sleeves and pants or a long skirt, while men should wear long pants and a shirt.

8. What language is spoken in Istanbul?

The official language of Turkey is Turkish, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas and at most hotels and restaurants.

9. What are some popular shopping areas in Istanbul?

Istanbul is known for its shopping, and there are many areas where you can find everything from luxury brands to local souvenirs. Some popular shopping areas include:
  • The Grand Bazaar
  • The Spice Bazaar
  • Istiklal Avenue
  • Nisantasi
  • Bagdat Avenue

10. What are some day trips that can be taken from Istanbul?

There are many day trips that can be taken from Istanbul, including:
  • The Princes’ Islands
  • Sapanca Lake and Masukiye
  • The Gallipoli Peninsula
  • The Kilyos Beach
  • The Bursa Province

Book Your Tour Now

Istanbul is a city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity, and has something to offer for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring the city’s famous landmarks or immersing yourself in its bustling street life, Istanbul is a destination that is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

How to Spend Your Time as a Tourist in Istanbul

Istanbul is a city that has something to offer for everyone, with its rich culture, history, stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and bustling streets. As a tourist, there are endless things to see and do in Istanbul. Here are some helpful tips on how to make the most out of your time as a tourist in Istanbul.

1. Visit the Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia, which is located in the heart of Istanbul, is a historic monument that offers a glimpse into the city’s rich history. This building has been used as both a Byzantine church and an Ottoman mosque, which gives it a unique character. It has now been converted into a museum, and visitors can admire its stunning architecture and intricate mosaics.

2. Explore the Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is yet another place where visitors can experience Istanbul’s rich history. This palace was once the residence of the Ottoman sultans and their families. It is now a museum that provides an insight into the Ottoman era’s lavish lifestyle. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful gardens, intricate architecture, and views of the Bosphorus from the palace.

3. Take a Cruise on the Bosphorus

A cruise down the Bosphorus is an absolute must-do activity for anyone visiting Istanbul. This strait that divides Europe and Asia, offers stunning views of the city’s skyline, and visitors can admire the city’s most iconic landmarks from the water. This experience can be enjoyed during the day or at night when the city’s lights come alive.

4. Shop at the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, which is one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets, is a shopper’s paradise. This market has everything from spices, textiles, jewelry, and ceramics to carpets and souvenirs. Visitors can bargain while shopping and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the bazaar.

5. Visit The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Istanbul. This mosque was built in the 17th century and is famous for its stunning blue-tiled interior. Visitors can admire the intricate designs and magnificent architecture of the mosque.

6. Take a Dip in a Turkish Bath

A visit to Istanbul is not complete without experiencing the traditional Turkish bath or hammam. This relaxing and unique experience involves soaking in a hot bath and getting scrubbed down by an attendant. Visitors can also enjoy a massage and traditional Turkish tea at some of the hammams.

7. Go to a Whirling Dervish Show

The Whirling Dervish Show is a traditional Turkish performance that involves dancers spinning in circles while wearing long flowing robes. This spiritual and mesmerizing show is performed in many venues across Istanbul and should not be missed.

8. Visit the Spice Bazaar

The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, is one of the most iconic places in Istanbul. This market is famous for its aromatic spices, teas, and Turkish delight. Visitors can also stock up on traditional Turkish souvenirs and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the bazaar.

9. Enjoy a Turkish Breakfast

Turkish breakfast is an experience in itself. Visitors can enjoy a delicious spread of olives, cheese, jams, eggs, and freshly baked bread. Some cafes and restaurants offer breakfast with stunning views of the city’s skyline and the Bosphorus.

10. Explore Istiklal Avenue

Istiklal Avenue is Istanbul’s main shopping street, and it is full of life, culture, and history. Visitors can enjoy a stroll down the street, watch street performers, shop at high-end stores or independent shops, and sample some of Istanbul’s delicious street food.

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Istanbul is a city steeped in history, culture, and traditions. With so much to offer, it can be overwhelming for visitors to decide what to do during their stay. However, by prioritizing some of the activities mentioned above, tourists can experience the highlights of Istanbul while making the most of their time in this beautiful city.

How to Plan Your Istanbul Byzantine and Ottoman Tour: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar