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Serpent Column

Serpent Column: Our most recommended tours and activities

Historical Ambiance of Istanbul: Private Full-Day Tour

1. Historical Ambiance of Istanbul: Private Full-Day Tour

You will be picked up at your hotel at around 09:30 and head out to see the historic sites of the city on this full-day, private tour. Hippodrome and Obelisks (15th century) At this Byzantine site from the 4th century, your guide will show you the Serpentine Column, the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Obelisk of Constantine, and the German Fountain. Blue Mosque (1609-1616) This ornate Ottoman mosque dating from the 17th century is the second-largest mosque in Turkey, and is known for its brilliant Iznik tiles and minarets. Hagia Sophia (532-537) One of oldest Greek Orthodox churches of the Byzantine era dates back to the 6th century. During the Ottoman Empire it was used as a mosque and today it is a museum. Grand Bazaar (1461) One of the oldest and biggest bazaars in the world features over 4,000 shops in a covered marketplace. Wander through the bazaar and marvel at the vast array of goods on offer. Enjoy a lunch of fresh, traditional Turkish dishes at a cozy restaurant. Topkapi Palace (1478) For more than 400 years, the Palace was home to Ottoman sultans and their courts. Visit the imperial treasury, and see sacred relics of the prophet Mohammed, John the Baptist, and the prophet Musa. See one of the most valuable diamonds in the world, weighing 86 carats. Note that the Harem section is not included in the program, and an additional fee applies for admission. Little Hagia Sophia Mosque (527-536) This early domed basilica is one of the oldest standing churches in Istanbul. It was originally a temple founded by Emperor Justinian during the golden age of the Roman Empire. This church was converted into a mosque in 1497, during the Ottoman Empire.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

2. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

3. Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel or cruise ship, and you’ll head out for a full-day VIP tour of Istanbul. Visit the Hippodrome, the center of sporting and political activities of ancient Constantinople. See the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the German Fountain of Willhelm II. Continue to the Blue Mosque, dating from the 17th century. This is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul and one of the principal features of the city skyline. It’s best known for its blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Afterwards, you’ll visit Topkapi Palace, the former imperial residence that was the seat of the Great Ottoman Empire. Explore the spectacular museum and its vast collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the treasury of the royal family. Continue to the Hagia Sophia, the magnificent Byzantine Church considered one of the finest and largest architectural works in the world. The last stop on the tour is the Grand Bazaar. In addition to its historical importance, this is a shopping venue that will tempt even the non-shoppers among you with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. At the end of the tour, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel or cruise ship.

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

4. 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.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

5. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, 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 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 holds the position for the 4th largest dome. 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, 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 into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft 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 the Bosphorus and there are 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.

Istanbul Private Full-Day Classics Tour with Options

6. Istanbul Private Full-Day Classics Tour with Options

Your full-day tour begins with a morning visit to the Hippodrome, which at one time was the center of Byzantine social and recreational life. A few parts of this spectacular site remain, including the Obelisk of Thutmose III and the Serpent Column. The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is located next to the Hippodrome. Its exceptional architectural design features 1 main dome, 8 secondary domes, 6 minarets, and a vast number of blue tiles – hence the name. Built during the reign of Ahmed the First, the Blue Mosque continues to function as a mosque as well as being one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Next is a visit to Topkapi Palace, which dates back to 1459. It served as the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 4 centuries. In 1924, the palace was officially declared a museum. The Palace covers a large site and features several buildings. You’ll see a fine collection of Imperial and Ottoman utensils, relics, caftans, and portraits of the sultans. Following your visit to Topkapi Palace it will time for a lunch break, and your guide will recommend some restaurants where you can enjoy delicious Turkish cuisine. After lunch you’ll take a tour of Hagia Sophia, which served both Christianity and Islam at different times in history. When it was first built in 537, it was an Eastern Orthodox church. In 1453, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the hall was transformed into an imperial mosque. Approximately 5 centuries later, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. After visiting Hagia Sophia you’ll travel to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, comprising 61 covered streets and more than 3,000 shops offering almost anything you might need. The bazaar is a part of the walled city and was built during the years 1455-1461.

Historic Istanbul Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

7. Historic Istanbul Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

Discover the historic sites of Istanbul on a half-day sightseeing tour with round-trip transfers from centrally located hotels. A local guide will accompany you all the way, starting at the Hagia Sophia. Learn about the ancient Basilica that was started by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, and completed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. For 1,000 years it was the world’s largest cathedral. Today, it has been converted to a museum. Admire the impressive dome and minarets, as well as the beautiful mosaics, sculptures and columns inside. Your next stop will be the legendary Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known around the world as the Blue Mosque. Get up close to this symbol of Istanbul and see the vibrant blue tiles that adorn its interior walls. Stroll around its beautiful courtyard, and see the 6 graceful minarets. Continue to the Hippodrome, site of chariot races during the Byzantine Empire. Admire the 3 remaining monuments; the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine. End with a walk around the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar to haggle for bargains among some 4,000 jewelry, pottery, spices, carpet, and leather stores.

Istanbul Private Guided Tour

8. Istanbul Private Guided Tour

Discover the highlights of Istanbul on a private full-day tour that takes in the major attractions. Begin with 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. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. It is the mosque's striking blue tiles that give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul's most iconic attractions. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You'll also get to check out the gazebo-like German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Finally, stop at 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.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

9. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. Meet your guide at your hotel or port and work together to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. On 1st day, marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Byzantine Cistern. On 2nd day, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata area and the Spice Market. On 3rd day, guide takes you on a walk through the streets of Fener-Balat neighboorhood. Enjoy a cable car ride and soak up views of Pierre Loti Hill, then visit Iron Church, and see the Suleymaniye Mosque. You can create your own itinerary with your tour guide on tour day, to have an idea, here you can see our suggested tour itineraries are below; Day 1 - Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome Square, Byzantine Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church, Sogukcesme Street, Grand Bazaar Day 2 - Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Cicek Passage, Galata Tower (from outside) Day 3 - Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat Districts, St. Stephen Church (Iron Church), Pierre Lotti Panoramic Hill, Rahmi Koc Museum (or alternative options)

Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

10. Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

Travel through time on a full-day tour of Istanbul, and see the main monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Following a pick-up from your hotel, transfer to the Hippodrome, site of major political life and sports activities during the Roman and Bzyantine Empires. Marvel at the last remaining monuments at the complex, including the Obelisk from Egypt and the Serpentine Column from Delphi. Next, go to the Church of St. Sophia, also known as the “Church of Holy Wisdom,” and “Hagia Sophia.” One of the world's architectural masterpieces, the former church and mosque is now a museum of artifacts from Byzantium. Continue to the Blue Mosque to see the city’s icon up close. Famed for its stunning Iznik tiles, the building’s graceful minarets can be seen from many points in the city. Next, explore the narrow lanes of the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest covered market in the world. Discover decorative jewelry, leather work, souvenirs and carpets in more than 4.000 shops. Your next stop will be Topkapi Palace, former residence of the Ottoman sultans, now home to an exquisite collection of crystal, silverware, and Chinese porcelain, as well as robes worn by the sultans, and the jewels of the Imperial Treasury. Then, head to Sultans Tombs. Made up of 5 tombs of the Ottoman Sultans, within the graveyard at St. Sophia, these ceramic panels are the most beautiful examples of the 16th century with purple, green, blue and red flower motives. The prince's robes and a small piece from the Kaaba covers are displayed on the sarcophaguses. Please note, Sultans Tombs are closed on Monday and will be replaced with a visit to the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque.

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What people are saying about Serpent Column

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,433 reviews

This was a fantastic tour! Istanbul is a wonderful city and Ekrem was an outstanding guide. The tour was well organized, covering all the main sites such as Aya Sofia, Topkapi palace, Dolmabahce palace and more . Ekrem was very knowledgeable and provided us with interesting historical and cultural insights, all in perfect English. He was also kind and patient in answering all of our questions. He was flexible, adjusting the program to avoid the rain, beat crowds and for us to spend more time at the Grand Bazaar (which we loved!). He also suggested great food and was very helpful in guiding us on how to use the tram and find our way around the city. Overall, my husband, adult daughter and I highly recommend this tour - be sure to ask for Ekrem as your guide!

Guide came to hotel to pick us up. He was so friendly and full of knowledge. We walked around the sights He told us so much , gave us plenty of time to soak up the experience. We got fabulous photos and had a great time. We had a fabulous lunch in a great setting that he recommended. I cannot recommend this tour enough. We went on Tuesday so slightly different program. Kenan Ucar was our fabulous guide.

Our guide was very respectful and informative. His knowledge of city and it’s history was much appreciated. He made suggestions on visiting sites that tried to minimize waiting time. This flexibility in scheduling allowed us to learn and see more of the city We highly recommend this tour with our guide Musa

Our guide Ali was amazing with his explanation of the heritage sites and gone above and beyond in helping me to find & retrieve my lost pair of glasses amongst the crowd! Highly recommend this tour and the services provided.

Super tour with an excellent guide would always do a tour with Meric