Sultanahmet Square
Culture & History

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Our most recommended Sultanahmet Square Culture & History

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

You will start at the old Hippodrome of Constantinople which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major works of art including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II, constructed by the Germans. From there, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a key fixture of Istanbul’s skyline. Next, head for the Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. Move on to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Behold the dome and stunning Byzantine mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then visit the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Also stroll around the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight.

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

2. 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: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

3. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

Like most visitors to Istanbul, especially first-time visitors; you will want to see and photograph the Blue Mosque. Complete with its 6 minarets and ornate glass windows, this site is a must when visiting Istanbul. Following that, you will travel next door to the Hagia Sophia Museum. A magnificent Byzantine Church, it is one of the finest and largest architectural works of art in the world.  After the Hagia, you'll find your way to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. In addition to its historical importance, it's a bazaar that will tempt even those without an interest in shopping with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewellery, leather, and souvenirs.

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

4. 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.

Topkapi Palace and Harem: Guided Tour with Admission Ticket

5. Topkapi Palace and Harem: Guided Tour with Admission Ticket

Immerse yourself in Istanbul’s best sight on this exceptionally well-led guided tour. Discover Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of 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. Enjoy a 3-hour tour of Topkapi Palace, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. The complex of low 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 tortoise shell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Istanbul: Half-Day Highlights Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

6. Istanbul: Half-Day Highlights Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

Enjoy a hassle-free small-group walking tour in Istanbul designed specifically for cruise ship passengers. Meet your local, expert guide at the port right after your ship has docked and join your half-day tour in the morning of afternoon. Take a short tram ride from the dock to the Old Town of Sultanahmet, and benefit from a walking tour instead of sitting on a bus in traffic. Start your tour in Sultanahmet Square to check out Istanbul's greatest monuments. Enjoy a scenic stroll around Sultanahmet and witness the local life. Enter the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque on a comprehensive guided tour with a professional guide. Afterward, soak up breathtaking views from the courtyard, and take a gentle stroll around the neighborhood. Continue your journey to Topkapi Palace, the last stop for the day. There, explore the palace, grounds, and courtyards on a guided tour. Marvel at the palace's opulence and mystery, and learn about the Ottoman family and their importance in Istanbul's history. Finish with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens. At the end of your tour, choose to spend free time in Topkapi Palace grounds or follow your guide back to the ship.

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

7. 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. The choice is yours. Benefit from pickup and drop-off at your centrally-located hotel. With your private guide you’ll enjoy priority entrance to all the sights, so standing you won’t waste time standing in queues.

Istanbul Combo: Classic City Tour & Bosphorus Cruise

8. Istanbul Combo: Classic City Tour & Bosphorus Cruise

Meet your guide at your hotel or port and start the tour with the highlights of Istanbul. See the beautiful Hagia Sophia, admire the great blend of Christian and Islamic influences with beautiful interior of mosaics and significant history. Marvel at the Blue Mosque, a great monument of oriental architecture which houses 27,000 pieces of handmade blue tiles. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market are two colorful indoor bazaars and have lots of shops offering a variety of spices, rugs, purses, flavored teas, jackets, Turkish delight, nuts, as well as ceramics and small souvenirs. At the end of your tour, why not opt to take a cruise along the Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, the Rumelian Fortress, old Ottoman villas, Bosphorus bridges, and mosques. Tickets can be bought on the spot and the cruise will take place in a public ferry (unless you book the Private Yacht option).

Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

9. Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hipporome, 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 8-hour 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 boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome and the Duomo in Florence. 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, more 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 in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You will also pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Your day won’t be complete, however, without a visit to 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, 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 Bosphorus. There are also 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: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

10. 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.

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What people are saying about Sultanahmet Square

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 556 reviews

Kenan was helpful, knowledgeable and professional. Nice sense of humor as well, my husband and I had a nice experience overall and felt we were able to squeeze a lot in one day, and Kenan was flexible enough to adapt to our wants and needs… It was amazing how he seems to know the Grand Bazaar like the palm of his hand! I wanted to see fabrics and he took me to three exquisite small stores, had tea with the owners, made me feel like a local, not a tourist. At Topkapi he knew so much about the architecture, the time frames, and very interesting anecdotes and folk legends… and hey I am an Art Historian! Recommend

Absolutely amazing tour! We were taken on a walking tour around the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. We were also shown traditional Turkish rug artisans at work, which was fascinating. Our guide, Baris was fantastic - he gave the full history and background of each place visited and answered all our questions. Couldn't have asked for a better tour or guide! Cannot recommend enough :)

Highly recommend this tour! I feel like you definitely need a tour guide to help you fully appreciate the Topkapi Palace and the Harem. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable about life in the palace and he was happy to answer all of our questions. I’m so glad we signed up for this tour!

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Kaya was an excellent guide. Highly recommended experience!