Enjoy a full-day tour of Istanbul and explore the Byzantine and Ottoman heart of the Old City. See Istanbul icons, such as the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque, wander the galleries of the Dolmabahçe Museum, and unwind in imperial Yıldız Park.
What to Expect
Explore the heart and soul of Istanbul on a full-day tour of its major highlights. In the company of an expert guide, you will visit the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Dolmabahçe Palace, and more. Traveling by air-conditioned coach, the tour includes free pick-ups from central Istanbul hotels, or the port, making it ideal for cruise ship passengers.
Start at the Dolmabahçe Museum of Dolmabahçe Palace, built by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid. Construction commenced in 1843 but wasn’t completed until 1856. Consisting of 3 parts, the Imperial Mabeyn (State Apartments), Muayede Salon (Ceremonial Hall), and Imperial Harem, the monumental palace has 285 rooms, 6 hamams (baths), 68 toilets, and a ceiling made of 14 tones of gold. Your guide will take you deep into the history of the palace, and relate stories of fabulous legends and myths.
Continue to Yıldız Park, once part of the imperial garden of Yıldız Palace. Extending down the slopes from the palace, the walled park was reserved for palace dwellers during the reign of Sultan Abdulhamid II. A forest in Byzantine times, the sultans made it their hunting grounds during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.
Stroll through the grounds, which at one time included a small artificial lake, pavilions, summer houses, and a porcelain factory, before continuing to the Hippodrome where Roman chariot races would take place. The track is now some 6.6 feet (2 meters) below ground, but has been marked on the paving of Sultan Ahmet Square. View the surviving monuments of the Spina (the middle barrier of the racecourse), and the 2 obelisks, as well as the Serpentine Column and Byzantine German Fountain.
Your final stop is the iconic Blue Mosque, so named for its superb blue Iznik tiles. Built between 1609 and 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I, the design of the mosque represents the glorious culmination of 2 centuries of Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development.
- Hotel pick-up and drop-off by air-conditioned coach
- Entrance fees mentioned in the itinerary
What's Not Included
- Personal expenses
- Tips and gratuities