Exclusive Wonders of Istanbul

special offer banner Exclusive Wonders of Istanbul Tour (Galata Bridge,  Byzantine Aqueduct of Valens)
Price: $72.00   Sale Price: $64.00   Save: $8.00
Children (Ages 2 and under) are free.
Choose Options My Cruise Itinerary
Shore Excursion Size ? Standard
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.

Exclusive Wonders of Istanbul

This exclusive introduction to Istanbul tour includes an orientation drive and two of the big three sites: The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia.

After meeting your professionally trained tour 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, Hagia Sofia 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. Sultan Ahmet I commissioned the Blue Mosque 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 about 1 to 2 hours of shopping in the open (uncovered) section of the Grand Bazaar and the nearby covered area of the Grand Bazaar that dates to 1461. Well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops, it also has areas where stalls are grouped by the type of goods sold, 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 and stalls, two mosques, two hamams, and many restaurants and cafes. Explore the shops filled with jewelry, carpets, leather ware, 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. The carpet demonstration is optional and guests not wanting to attend can use the time to stroll, shop or purchase refreshments.

4.5 Stars4.6 / 5  |  64 ReviewsReview This Tour
Exclusive Wonders of Istanbul
July 20, 2023
Very informative session. Our travel guide Sinan was awesome and knowledgable, as well as funny, so the time on the tour was very interesting and well spent. I would recommend this excursion to everyone.
Reviewer: Vesna
5 Stars
Great guide!
July 07, 2023
We really enjoyed Sinan as our guide! He was funny and interesting! He reassured us when we saw long lines at Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. They moved quickly. He personally showed us how people pray and what the symbolism means. A good tour day!!
Reviewer: Varda Sauer
5 Stars
July 02, 2023
Guide was knowledgeable. We had very nice visit to Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Enough time in Grand Bazaar to have a taste of it. Many other tours I read about did not have adequate time at the mosques, but we had a great visit and learned a lot about them. Highly recommend this tour.
Reviewer: Gary H
5 Stars
Best Tour
June 14, 2023
Excellent tour, tour guide was very knowledgeable, answered all questions, he made this to be a great day.
Reviewer: Anthony Pianoforte
5 Stars
Two of the top three must-sees in Istanbul
May 24, 2023
This tour was the highlight of our time in Istanbul. Everything is in close proximity, and we had plenty of time in both The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia with gorgeous views and historical and cultural insights from our knowledgeable guide. The Grand Bazaar is a short walk away through an interesting neighborhood. We recommend this tour. Please note the dress requirements before leaving home so that you are prepared for entrance to the mosques.
Reviewer: Gay Leonard
5 Stars
Exclusive Wonders of Istanbul
September 18, 2022
My husband and I were VERY impressed with your selection of excursions and the prices. Not to mention the small group format. It felt personal and intimate. Our guide, Fatma, was wonderful in Istanbul. She met us by name and provided excellent history and information on every part of the tour. Fatma was friendly, energetic and pleasant. What a pleasure to have been lead by her. As this was our first visit to Istanbul, we did the most popular spots/mosques. If we return again, we'll choose a more out of the way itinerary, in order to see and learn more about the city.
Reviewer: Elizabeth Ivany
5 Stars