Things to do in
Hagia Sophia

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Hagia Sophia: Our most recommended tours and activities

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

You will start at the old Hippodrome of Constantinople which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major works of art including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II, constructed by the Germans. From there, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a key fixture of Istanbul’s skyline. Next, head for the Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. Move on to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Behold the dome and stunning Byzantine mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then visit the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Also stroll around the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight.

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Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

2. Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

Meet with your professional local guide in front of Hagia Sophia. Hear a short history of the Old City then start the Hagia Sophia Tour.  Your guide will explain the mystery of the magnificent Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia has always been a precious building. 

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Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

3. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

After signing up for this experience, your name will be on the list for each of the monuments for 3 days. Be free to visit at the available times, gathering at the meeting points in front of the museums to skip the line with an authorized host. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your host.

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Istanbul: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

4. Istanbul: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

See all the sights of Istanbul on this hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus. Choose between flexible Classic and Premium tickets. Save money with a family ticket and take the kids to child-friendly sites such as the Dolphinarium or the Miniatürk model village, where Turkey’s most important monuments are recreated in miniature. You will have access to 2 routes. Buses come regularly and frequently on both routes. Informative recorded commentary is available in 8 different languages, including English, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Complimentary earphones are provided. Jump off at any of the stops on the Red Route and see architecture from the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Cross the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia to see the Beylerbeyi Palace and watch all the activity of the Bosphorus Straits. Marvel at the old city wall of Constantinople and the Roman Aqueduct on the Golden Horn/Blue Route, which also includes the iconic Blue Mosque. The City Tour (Red) Route: • Sultanahmet Square • Galata Bridge • Tophane • Port • Dolmabahçe • Naval Museum • Beylerbeyi Palace • Akaretler / W Hotel • Taksim Square • Egyptian Spice Bazaar Golden Horn/Blue Route: • Sultanahmet Square • Galata Bridge • Patriarchate • Cable Car • Dolphinarium • Miniatürk • Transport Museum / Rahmi Koç Museum • Egyptian Spice Bazaar

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Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

5. Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hipporome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum, to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The 8-hour excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia  or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, more officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You will also pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Your day won’t be complete, however, without a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because, during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them! Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name, in Turkish, Dolma means 'filled' or 'stuffed,' and bahce means 'garden'. Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

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Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

6. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

Like most visitors to Istanbul, especially first-time visitors; you will want to see and photograph the Blue Mosque. Complete with its 6 minarets and ornate glass windows, this site is a must when visiting Istanbul. Following that, you will travel next door to the Hagia Sophia Museum. A magnificent Byzantine Church, it is one of the finest and largest architectural works of art in the world.  After the Hagia, you'll find your way to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. In addition to its historical importance, it's a bazaar that will tempt even those without an interest in shopping with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewellery, leather, and souvenirs.

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Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

7. Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

Discover the only city in the world on 2 continents - where east meets west - on a full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul by luxury minibus. Following a pick-up from your hotel or cruise ship, visit the Hippodrome to explore the former center of sport and political activities in Constantinople. Marvel at the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi, and fountain of Wilhelm II. Continue to the iconic Blue Mosque, known for its glorious blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Admire the former imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace, and learn how the Great Ottoman Empire was ruled. Today, the palace is a spectacular museum, with one of the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, along with the famous treasury of the Royal Family. Next, go to the Hagia Sophia, a magnificent Byzantine Church that is considered one of the finest architectural works of art in the world. Stroll the alleys and warrens of the Grand Bazaar, and interact with the vendors selling their rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. Transfer back to your hotel or cruise ship for the end of the tour services.

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Istanbul: Tourist Pass with Over 50 Attractions & Services

8. Istanbul: Tourist Pass with Over 50 Attractions & Services

Save time and money with a convenient 2, 3, 5 or 7-day passport to Istanbul. The Istanbul Tourist Pass is an online city Pass that provides access to some of the city’s top sights, during the days you choose. It is the only city pass available that allows you to enjoy Istanbul in a simple, convenient, and fun way. All the passes include a chat service during available hours with professional guides over WhatsApp. By presenting your GetYourGuide voucher at the entrance, gain access to:• Hagia Sophia Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Topkapi Palace Museum Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Basilica Cistern Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Dolmabahçe Palace Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Blue Mosque Guided Tour (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Grand Bazar Guided Tour (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Hagia Irene Museum in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Tiled Pavilion Museum (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Museum of the Ancient Orient (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Photoshoot in Ottoman attire (1 per person)• Şerefiye Cistern Guided Tour• Madame Tussauds Wax Museum• SEA Life Aquarium• Sapphire Observation Deck with 4D Skyride Simulation• Museum of Illusions• Hop-on hop-off Bosphorus boat cruise (1-ring or 1-day, Bosphorus Strait or Golden Horn)• Bosphorus boat tour• Princes’ Islands boat trip• LEGOLand (adults cannot enter LEGOLand without a child)• Xtrem Aventures• Pera Museum• Dialogue in the Silence• Istanbul Airport Shuttle (One way)• Jungle & Dungeon & Safari• Sakıp Sabancı Museum• Upside Down House Photo Experience• Jungle & Dungeon & Safari (cannot be visited without children)• The Museum of Selfies• Dialogue in the Silence• Bursa Day trip• Sapanca Lake & Maşukiye Daily Tour• Istanbul Segway Tour• Emaar Aquarium and Underwater Zoo• Istanbul Toy Museum By making reservations in advance and presenting your GetYourGuide voucher, get access to the following:• Discount on a 1-way airport transfer. You are allowed to choose the direction• Whirling dervishes ceremony (requires a reservation in advance)• Bosphorus dinner cruise. Dinner and shows included (requires a reservation in advance)• Dialogue in the Dark• Miniaturk Park Istanbul• Panoramic bus tour from Europe to Asia• Eyup Sultan Mosque• Pierre Loti• Discounted COVID PCR Test• 2-Day free Wi-Fi device

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Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

9. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

Visiting Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace requires standing in 2 lines: one for the ticket, and one for the security check. With this combo ticket, you skip the ticket lines and enter the two most famous landmarks in Istanbul as fast as possible, giving you more time to spend inside these museums. To use your voucher, meet your local host at the entrance of Hürrem Sultan Hamam. They are available at the time selected during the booking process at a very visible meeting point. Your host will then take you through the skip the ticket line gate to enter the museums. With this combo ticket, you can visit each museum one time. You can visit both museums in one day or you can visit each museum on different days. It is recommended to visit the museums either before 10:00 AM or after 2:00 PM since it will be less crowded inside.

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Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour

10. Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Small Group Tour

Discover the classic monuments of Istanbul on a half-day guided tour of the city center. Benefit from pick-up at your centrally located hotel, and then make your way by air-conditioned vehicle to Sultan Ahmet Square. Skip the long lines to the magnificent Hagia Sophia, built on the site of an earlier church under the orders of the Emperor Justinian I . Learn how it became the largest cathedral in the world and was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Continue to the Blue Mosque to see the splendid blue Iznik tiles and minarets of the city's most iconic attraction. Learn more about the former arena of the Byzantine Empire at the ruins of the Hippodrome of Constantinople.

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Planning Your Visit

  • What are the opening times?

    You can visit the Hagia Sophia between the hours of 9:00AM and 7:00PM from April 15th to September 31st, and between 9:00AM and 5:00PM from October 1st to April 14th. It is closed in the early days of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!

  • How to get there?

    The Hagia Sophia is just a short walk from the Sultanahment metro and tram stops. Close to many of Istanbul's historic attractions, it's also covered on most city walking tours!

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    9:00AM to 5:00PM in the winter, 9:00AM to 7:00PM in the summer. Check holiday schedules to avoid closures.
  • Is it expensive?
    The ticket price is 30 TRY, which is roughly $11.
  • Will I need a guide?
    It will definitely help. Might be worth it to check out our best-selling tours.
  • How to get there
    Take the metro or tram to the Sultanahment stop.
  • Additional information

    • Book tickets in advance to avoid the queues!

Other Sightseeing Options in Hagia Sophia

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What people are saying about Hagia Sophia

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 3,822 reviews

Mahmed (Mohamed) was an amazing tour guide, very patient and professional, he explained the history behind the attractions giving us that little extra bit of information. We were never rushed or felt pressure to do or buy anything. Will definitely recommend this tour and will do it again in the future!!

Excellent Tour! Mehmet our guide was very knowledgeable and very patient. We were a small group of 7 and this made the Tour more intimate and enjoyable. I would highly recommend this Tour when in Istanbul! 5 star rating!

We had an amazing walking tour in Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque, our tour guide was really friendly and knowledgeable

Hagia sofia and blue mosque are so amazing and we went to bazaar too.it was great over all.i love it

Beautiful sites and very knowledgeable tour guide Amet