Istanbul in a Day Tour with Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque

Discover the city’s rich history and iconic sites, with Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace & more

Travel Flexibly 5 / 5 See All 5 Reviews · 7.00h · Istanbul, Turkey

Short on time but don’t want to miss the amazing highlights of Istanbul? We’ve got you covered! Make your day a breeze with hotel pickup and a local guide who knows this city better than anyone, and explore incredible sites like the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace, and much more! Along the way, learn about life in the city, enjoy an authentic local lunch, and follow a story that spans over 2,500 years and some of the great empires of human history.

  • New Tour
  • The best of Istanbul in a day!
  • Hippodrome
  • Blue Mosque
  • Stunning Turquaz Blue iznik tiles
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Grand Bazaar
  • See ancient trades in action
  • Topkapi Palace
  • A glimpse into Istanbul's history

Starting early, you’ll be picked up from your central Istanbul hotel and along with a small group you’ll begin your jam-packed tour of the city. Your guide is a true local expert and they’ll lead you on a fascinating walking tour to visit Istanbul’s most famous sites, beginning at the Hippodrome and ending at Topkapi Palace.

Your guide will explain the history of the great Byzantine and Ottoman empires who once called this their capital, and you’ll also savor a traditional lunch (price not included) along the way. At the end of you tour, a driver will drop you back at your hotel.

Full Day Istanbul Tour Description

Your 7-hour small group city tour includes:

  • Hotel pickup in central Istanbul

  • Guided walking tour of the city’s most famous sites

  • Visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Sultan Tombs, and more

  • Learn the city’s rich history and great empires

  • Enjoy an authentic Turkish lunch (price not included)

  • Friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guide

  • Maximum group size of 15

Please be aware that your chest and legs will need to covered to enter the mosques, and women are required to wear a head scarf (these can be provided at the entrance to the mosque if you don’t have your own). Kindly note that the price for the tickets is not included in the tour and you will have to pay for it on the spot.

Welcome to Istanbul!

Sitting on a peninsula between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is one of history’s great melting pots and has seen multiple empires, languages, cultures, and religions since its foundation in the 7th century B.C. Originally called Byzantium, the city has gone by many names and was famously known as Constantinople until the formation of the Republic of Turkey in the early 20th century.

Now a thriving modern capital, many remnants of Istanbul’s incredible past remain wonderfully preserved, making this one of the world’s most fascinating cities to spend a day exploring. After being picked up from your city hotel and driven to the meeting point, your expert local guide will be waiting to show you all of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks!

Please contact us after booking with your hotel name for pick-up. We'll reach out with an alternative meeting point if your hotel isn't covered.

The Hippodrome

The first major stop on your Istanbul walking tour is the Hippodrome. Now a public space known as Sultanahmet Square, this was once an impressive chariot racing arena that was at the center of life in the city for almost 1,500 years, spanning both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras.

Chariot racing was the major sport of Byzantium, played out between rival teams known as the Greens and the Blues who both had fanatical followings and often opposing political allegiances. As result, riots were common here through history, although the two sides did unite against their rulers on more than one occasion, including the infamous Nika Riots.

During the Ottoman era, the arena was sacked by Christian crusaders and fell into disuse, eventually becoming the public square of today. Some of its monuments have been preserved, however, and your guide will show you the magnificent Fountain of Wilhelm II, the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.

Blue Mosque

Officially named Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this incredible structure with its striking blue interior tiling was built in the early 17th century, and was an imperial mosque of the Ottoman Empire. Intended as a show of the empire’s power, its six minarets (towers) were controversial at the time since only Mecca itself had that number—a problem solved when Mecca added a seventh!

Your guide will tell the story behind this beautiful piece of architecture as you admire its huge domes and jaw-droppingly intricate features.

Please note that Blue Mosque is closed on Fridays due to Friday Prayer.

Hagia Sophia & the Sultan Tombs

Just across from the Blue Mosque sits the magnificent Hagia Sofia—one of the greatest marvels of Byzantine architecture. Originally the site of a Christian church built under the command of Emperor Constantine I, it came under numerous attacks before being burned down and entirely replaced during the 6th century.

After more than a 1,000 years as a house of Christianity, the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453 saw it repurposed and redesigned as a mosque by Mehmed II and became the center of the new empire’s religious life. Nearby you’ll also see the elaborate Sultan Tombs of Sultan Selim II, Sultan Murad III, Sultan Mehmed III, Sultan Mustafa I, and Sultan Ibrahim I.

Step inside to see the wonderful craftsmanship of this grand old building, and let your guide tell its unique and fascinating story.

Please note that Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Tombs are closed on Mondays, and you'll visit Little Hagia Sophia Mosque and the Underground Cistern instead.

Grand Bazaar

Next, your guide will lead you into one of the most atmospheric places in all of Istanbul! After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in the 15th century, they built a number of bedesten (covered markets) to stimulate the city’s trade and economy once more. Over time, these morphed together to become the Grand Bazaar.

Sometimes called the world’s most attractive shopping center, this vibrant market is home to nearly 4,000 shops selling everything from gold jewelry to exotic carpets. Your guide will explain how this bazaar has evolved and stood the test of time, as you wander through to experience its intoxicating sights and sounds.

Please note that Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, so you'll visit a local handicraft store instead.

Traditional Turkish Lunch

After a morning of exploring, you’re bound to be hungry! For lunch, you’ll stop at a charming local restaurant where you can choose from a menu of classic Turkish dishes like kebab, pide, baklava, and more. Please keep in mind, that the price of the lunch is not included in the tour and you will pay for it on the spot.

Topkapi Palace Museum

After lunch, it's time to visit one of the most impressive landmarks of Istanbul. Built between 1459 and 1465 over the ruins of the Great Palace of Constantinople, Topkapi Palace was the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman Quarters until the 19th Century. In those days, the palace’s grand halls were occupied by sultans, politicians, concubines, and eunuchs, but today it stands as one of the world’s most storied museums.

Your guide will describe the characters and events that once took place here, as you explore exhibits that take you back to centuries past, including the harem, imperial treasury, sacred Islamic relics, palace kitchens, Chinese porcelain, and ancient weaponry.

Bringing the city’s incredible history together, Topkapi Palace is the perfect place to end your epic day tour of Istanbul!

Please note that Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays.

What you get with this tour
Hotel pickup in central Istanbul
Guided walking tour of the city’s most famous sites
Visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar, Sultan Tombs, and more
Learn the city’s rich history and great empires
Enjoy an authentic Turkish lunch (price not included)
Friendly and knowledgeable English-speaking guide
Maximum group size of 15
Entrance fees
Lunch
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5 total reviews

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5.0/5 (based on 5 reviews)
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Istanbul
08 June 2024
S
Reviewed by
Sandra Rudisill

Loved our tour! Very informative, excellent guide.

loved it
19 July 2023
A
Reviewed by
Anthony Field

I am so happy we did this tour. Our guide was fantastiic and could not have been a better fit for us. We learned so much history and stories about the main sites and mosques. The food was incredible.

Delightful
18 July 2023
E
Reviewed by
Erica Wright

We had a great time on the Istanbul in a Day tour. You really need the tour in order to do all of these things in one day and the tour guy was a great choice.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What to bring?

This tour is primarily a walking tour, so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes, clothes to suit the weather, and a bottle of water. Your chest and legs will need to covered to enter the mosques, and women are required to wear a head scarf (these can be provided at the entrance to the mosque if you don’t have your own).

What if I have concerns about my mobility on this tour?

This is a walking tour through Istanbul and there may be some uneven surfaces. If you have concerns about your mobility, please contact our team before booking.

What to bring?

This tour is primarily a walking tour, so we recommend wearing comfortable shoes, clothes to suit the weather, and a bottle of water. Your chest and legs will need to covered to enter the mosques, and women are required to wear a head scarf (these can be provided at the entrance to the mosque if you don’t have your own).

Is lunch included?

No, lunch is not included in the price. You will pay for it on the spot.

Are entry fees included?

No, entrance fees are not included in this tour and you will have to pay for them on the spot. Topkapi Palace entrance fee is around 50 $ and admission fee to Hagia Sophia is about 28 $.

Is there a dress code for religious sites on the tour?

Yes, your chest and legs will need to covered to enter the mosques, and women are required to wear a head scarf (these can be provided at the entrance to the mosque if you don’t have your own).

Is this tour run by The Tour Guy?

No, it's run by one of our trusted and vetted partners in Istanbul.

Are the attractions listed always open?

No, the attractions close on various days of the week and can only be seen from the outside. Please refer to the tour description. If you want to visit all the places listed, then it's best to book on a Wednesday, Thursday, or Saturday, when all the attractions are usually open.

Start From: $140.00

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Reserve Now $140.00 / per person
$140.00 / per person