Private Wonders of Istanbul

Private Wonders of Istanbul Tour (Galata Bridge, Golden Horn, Byzantine Aqueduct of Valens)
From $54.00/person to $134.00/person (Select "Individuals" below) Price varies based on number of individuals in your group
Choose Options My Cruise Itinerary
Shore Excursion Size ? Private
Shore Excursion Type Cultural, Historic
Shore Excursion Duration 4 hours 30 minutes
Activity Level ? Moderate
Shore Excursion Leaves From ? Cruise Ship Pier
Food/Beverage Provided Not Included
Recommended Dress When visiting religious sites, shoulders and knees should be covered. The Blue Mosque is a place of worship, and women are required to wear a head covering when entering. Head coverings are available at the Blue Mosque entrance at no charge. There is no need to cover the face as the covering is meant to hide a woman's hair only. Comfortable, sensible slip-on shoes are recommended. Sunscreen and sun glasses are suggested.
Restrictions Walking is over cobblestone, tiled and paved surfaces. There are a few steps at the entrance to Hagia Sophia.

Private Wonders of Istanbul

After meeting your professionally-trained private guide on the pier, you will begin an orientation drive through the business center of the modern city, across the Galata Bridge, along the banks of the Golden Horn and under the Byzantine Aqueduct of Valens. Along the way, you will see the Suleymaniye Mosque, dedicated to Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. You will continue around the mighty city walls, which once protected Constantinople from the many invasions and attacks it incurred over the centuries.

In the Old City, your first visit will be to the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, formerly known as the Byzantine Church of Divine Wisdom. Originally built as an Orthodox basilica, it later was used as a mosque. Built in 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople and was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. Upon the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453, it became a mosque and was used as such until 1931. It was opened as a museum in 1935 until 2020, when it became a mosque once again.

Departing Hagia Sophia you will next visit the world renowned Blue Mosque finished in 1616. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I when he was only 19 years old. The interior of the mosque is lined with more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles in more than fifty different tulip designs. The tiles at lower levels are traditional in design, while in the galleries they become flamboyant with representations of flowers, fruit and trees.

Next, visit the Hippodrome, originally the home of sports games in the Byzantine period. It is estimated that the Hippodrome of Constantine was about 1,476 feet long and 427 feet wide, and capable of holding 100,000 spectators. The track was U-shaped, and the emperor's box was located at the eastern end of the track.

You will be treated to an optional carpet demonstration with time for shopping in the open (uncovered) section of the Grand Bazaar. You will then have a short time in the nearby covered area of the Grand Bazaar which dates from 1461. Well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops, it also has areas where stalls are grouped by the type of goods the sell, such as leather coats or gold jewelry. What started as one main building has grown into a sprawling complex consisting of 12 major buildings accessed through 22 doors. It is thought to have more than 5,000 shops/stalls, two mosques, two hammams, and many restaurants and cafes. and explore the shops filled with jewelry, carpets, leatherware, and copper goods. You will then be returned to the ship pier. Your time at the Bazaar is enough for an introduction. This is not a "shopping" tour. For the serious shopper wishing more time in the Bazaar, you can end your tour here. Please let your guide know you are not returning with the group. Guests remaining at the Bazaar are responsible for their own transportation back to the pier.

Please note: The Blue Mosque is closed from 30 minutes before until 30 minutes after prayer time, and 2 hours during Friday noon prayer. The covered area of the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday; a visit to the Spice Market will be substituted.

5 Stars5.0 / 5  |  3 ReviewsReview This Tour
Best Day of our Trip!
July 31, 2023
The private tour was worth every penny! We got to do everything we wanted and then some. Our guide and driver were amazing!
Reviewer: Melanie
5 Stars
Great experience with thanks to our tour guide!
October 27, 2015
Our tour guide was so knowledgeable and unhurried. We learned much about the sites we visited, the Turkish history and how to navigate the daunting Grand Bazaar!!
Reviewer: Mighty Mo
5 Stars
Loved the private tour team great lob
July 27, 2013
Enthusiastic guide who loved his job.
Reviewer: Travel pro
5 Stars