Grand Tour of Istanbul

Quick Details

Duration: 2 days, each 6 hours

This tour runs every day

  • Morning tour leaves at 09:30 – 16:30
  • Topkapı is closed on Tuesdays.
  • Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.

Meeting Point

We meet at the House of Medusa Restaurant.  Here’s the address:

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Adults (Ages 10+) 2 adult minimum
Children (Ages 3-9)
Infants (Ages 2 and Under)
Private Tour

Join us for a walking tour of Sultanahmet focusing on geography, politics, culture, and history. A neighborhood of domes and minarets and competing calls to prayer, Sultanahmet is Istanbul at its most intense.

Blue Mosque

(Blue Mosque is closed Friday mornings until end of noon prayer. Expect long lines at high season.)

The world-famous Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s premier sights. Sultan Ahmet’s imperial mosque in Istanbul is still a working mosque with fascinating tile work- 21,043 of them to be precise – in every shade of blue. Blue Mosque in Istanbul is an essential part of Walking Tour Istanbul that lets us cover mosque architecture and basics of Islam in a very relevant setting.

Topkapı Palace – Walking Tour Istanbul

Witness the glory of the Ottomans!

Topkapı Palace is a place of opulence, complexity, and mystery that inspires awe and is a must to see in our Grand Tour of Istanbul walking tour.
Topkapı Palace in Istanbul was the home and seat of the government of the Ottomans for nearly 400 years. It’s the heart of the great Ottoman Empire, ruled by the monarch who lived in Topkapı’s hundreds of rooms with a grand family and servants.

We do include the outer terraced gardens, (again, no other tour does this part) where flowerbeds blaze with tulips of many colors, and we climb the high terrace to admire the view over the Golden Horn.

Harem in Topkapı Palace: 

The very seat of the Ottoman Sultan’s power lies within the deepest reaches of the Harem- the famous house of the Monarchy.

The Harem in Topkapı Palace was ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded both domestic and political power: there was no Queen in the Ottoman Court.

The Harem housed hundreds of women-mostly war captives- and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a whole range of administrative and personal duties. As part of our walking tour Istanbul, we walk through the sections where the eunuchs lived and were educated; then through the hallway to the courtyard of the concubines and the Queen Mother’s Rooms.

We see cupboard doors inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell. Our walk through the Harem is the only way you can see the very early exceptional Iznik tiles with verses from the Kuran and beautiful floral designs.

Harem in Topkapi Palace is a must-see, and we make the effort of including it as part of our 2-day itinerary, but if you rather go on a shorter tour then consider booking the 1-day Highlights of Istanbul tour. 

Hagia Sophia and the Mosaics Gallery: 

Hagia Sophia alone justifies a visit to Istanbul, and it is the ultimate monument in Istanbul to understand the city. The church of the Divine Wisdom is eternally impressive and important with its extraordinary dimensions and daunting beauty.
Hagia Sophia’s dome was a daring engineering feat in the 6th century, and engineers still marvel at the building’s many innovations. It remains the most popular museum in Istanbul.

Our Walking Tour Istanbul includes the Gallery ( again, most tours do not make the effort of going up) and we see at close quarters one of the most significant Byzantine works of art, the remarkable 13th Century mosaic of Deisis.

All of our guides love Hagia Sophia personally so you can expect to have in-depth explanations of the monument as part of our Grand tour of Istanbul.

Grand Bazaar  

Sultan Mehmet II built Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in 1463 after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.

Grand Bazaar is a classical example of Ottoman civil architecture in Istanbul and deserves a visit not only for the shopping experience but also to see the way it was built. It’s a covered box.

This ultimate medieval shopping center is a monstrous hive of little shops all under one roof and cut up into labyrinthal alleys, which are arched overhead.
Grand Bazaar is Turkey’s largest and oldest covered market offering excellent shopping opportunities: Iznik Tiles of glass crystal and quartz; traditional woven items in organic cotton, linen, and silk; kaftans of many colors, endless jewels, pashmina throws, leather jackets, inlaid backgammon sets, magic carpets, golden bangles, copper plates, good books and good conversations with Turkish tea in small glasses.

Grand Bazaar is a great way to end any tour in Istanbul. We include shops that we like but also give you enough information so that you can choose to stay on your own for a longer period or come back when you have more time.

Byzantine Hippodrome

Heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life, Hippodrome in Constantinople was the scene of games and riots through Byzantine era and 500 years of Ottoman history as well.

Although most of it is an invisible monument, it’s a great start to our Grand Tour of Istanbul walking tour with its famous Egyptian Obelisk of 1500BC, Serpent Column of Delphi (one of the oldest metal Greek monuments in the world), and the curious German Fountain.

Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is the most romantic subterranean palace, and it has excited many travelers throughout history. Today it’s an aesthetic experience with colored lights, mood music, and enchanted visitors, so it makes an important part of our  Walking Tour Istanbul.

With its fantastic marble pillars (mismatched factory seconds-336 of them) topped with Byzantine Corinthian capitals and the herringbone patterned layers of red bricks that form the arches to support the top, it’s difficult to believe this huge underground water tank is nothing but a huge underground water tank. 

Spice Market, Walking Tour Istanbul

Just by the waterfront, Spice Market is all about food: Turkish delight, dried fruit, nuts, coffee, herbal teas, exotic spices, and saffron. Here you can see men doing their trade, women marching their ways through stalls…  yeah old world… you won’t be able to see a single woman shop owner.

Our Grand Tour of Istanbul includes a stopover at an old family establishment where we enjoy a special tastings menu of spices. 

Suleymaniye Mosque 

Sinan’s greatest achievement in Istanbul commissioned by Suleyman the Magnificent in 16th Century. It’s built on a hill with beautiful views of the city and has great gardens, cemeteries and a neighborhood of wooden houses.

It’s a great and local neighborhood and if the timing is right, we have a local lunch stop here ( not included) by the University of Istanbul.