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Sultanahmet Square

Sultanahmet Square: Our most recommended tours and activities

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. 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).

Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

2. Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

Discover the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Hippodrome on a private or shared guided walking tour in Istanbul. Admire the historic architecture and unique views of the city. Get an insider perspective of these must-see sights. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour. Start with the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul famous for its stunning blue tiles. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Ahmet. Witness the evocative power and splendor of its past as you enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of the Blue Mosque. Afterward, enjoy the courtyard for breathtaking views of modern Istanbulites and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walk through the Hippodrome, the social and political center of the city, and learn about the significance of the famous obelisks. Visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Explore the Arasta Bazaar nestled right under the shadow of the Blue Mosque to understand 17th Century architecture of public buildings. It is a well-known but modest open-air market in the heart of Sultanahmet. Enjoy a last-minute tea break and hunt for gifts to take home. End your tour in Sultanahmet Square with enough information and hints to help you be independent for the rest of your time in Istanbul.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

3. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

Discover the Topkapi Palace on a guided tour. Learn about Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of the Sultan's family in the harem.  Meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Turkish delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Then let your guide take you to Topkapi Palace. Explore the splendor of Topkapi Palace, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Discover how the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

4. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

Discover the classic monuments of Istanbul on a half-day guided tour of the city center, including skip-the-line entry to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Visit the colorful and lively Grand Bazaar to shop unique local products. Start your trip with pickup directly from your chosen hotel or pickup point, and then make your way by air-conditioned vehicle to Sultan Ahmet Square. Skip the long lines to Hagia Sophia, built on the site of an earlier church under the orders of Emperor Justinian I. Learn how it became the largest cathedral in the world and was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Continue to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, and see the blue Iznik tiles and minarets of the city's most iconic attraction. Learn more about the former arena of the Byzantine Empire at the ruins of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Round off your trip at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 60 streets and 5000 shops. Stop into an authentic oriental atmosphere and see all kinds of gifts, leather clothing, rugs, antiques, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics, and more.

Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

5. Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

Explore the beautiful city of Istanbul at your own pace with this hop-on-hop-off bus ticket including audio commentary in 8 languages. Your ticket is valid for 1 day and will let you spend more time discovering the highlights that most interest you. Jump aboard your double decker bus and enjoy a tour designed for those who want flexibility during their sightseeing exploration of Istanbul. With additional commentary from your audioguide, you will learn interesting facts about key sights whilst savoring delicious complimentary snacks on board. During the route you can stop at locations like Sultanahmet Square, Eminönü, Karaköy, Galataport, Dolmabahçe Palace, Naval Museum, Beylerbeyi Palace, Taksim Square, Beşiktaş Bazaar, Şişhane, and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

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

6. 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: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

7. Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

Join a guided tour to discover Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. Benefit from priority admission at the museum ticket offices to skip the long lines and head in faster. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour. Start with the Basilica Cistern, wander around the “Subterranean Palace” and learn about its history. See the underground pillars and learn about Byzantine architecture. Walk on the wooden walkways over the water until the famous upside-down Medusa heads. Next, visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Continue to Topkapi Palace to explore the splendor of the Ottoman Empire. Discover the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the Harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

8. 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: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

9. Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

This private experience is the perfect introduction to Istanbul for first-time visitors. Enjoy a guided full-day tour to discover the best of the city. The tour can be fully customized to suit your needs, simply tell your guide what interests you the most.  Visit the historic Hippodrome, the exquisite Blue Mosque, and the iconic Hagia Sophia. Experience the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultans with a tour of Topkapi Palace, or browse the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar. Enjoy priority entrance to all sites and spend your day exploring the city of Istanbul.

Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

10. Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

Istanbul straddles East and West, enticing your senses and expanding your perceptions of the world around you. Todays full day tour will give you a glimpse at some of Istanbul's incredible sites and sounds and leave you with a deeper understanding of this rich land. Begin your day at one of Istanbul's greatest architectural masterpieces - the Hagia Sophia. This 6th century basilica will stun you with its towering minarets and beautiful handcrafted mosaics. It is called, by some, the 8th wonder of the world and you'll soon see why. Soon after your visit to Hagia Sophia, head across the street to the Blue Mosque. One of the most famous monuments in all of Turkey, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) is a monument to the Ottoman empire and its builders. It gets its name from the more than 20,000 Iznik blue tiles that adorn its facade and interior and its history will impress you as you receive a tour. Then step back in time a bit to the Hippodrome. Here, imagine what life might have been like as locals traveled to see the chariot races at this famous sports arena. The area dates back to Egyptian times and there are still relics of the past dotted around this incredible area. With so much history, it's time to take a little shopping break. Head to the Grand Bazaar, where you'll have the chance to barter on everything from fine leather goods, to spices and plenty of sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth. There are nearly 4000 stalls here, so you're sure to find something for yourself.  After lunch visit the recently discovered and restored Şerefiye Cistern, which was built by Roman Emperor Theodosius II between 428 and 443 to store water supplied by the Valens Aqueduct (Roman Period Water Reservoir). Your tour ends here.

Available activities

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What people are saying about Sultanahmet Square

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,826 reviews

Thank you for the amazing guide for Topkapi palace. I sure learn a lot of stuffs with our guide,Ahmet. He was very nice e and knowledgeable about the palace. The tour was long and it was a good things because we were presented many things from ottoman stories, the history of the palace. He also went to great lengths to explain the harem which I think most people want to see. He also gave us time to take pictures after the tour.

Excellent trip. Would strongly advise doing this on day one. Gives you an idea of the city and where the sites are in relation to each other. Stops off at the must see attractions. Buses run every hour.

Liz was great, very knowledgeable and insightful. We learned a great deal, we really enjoyed our tour with her.

The guide (Ali) was very competent and spoke very good English which everyone can understand.

Great tour which was great value and had a good amount of free time for photos at each stop.