Sultanahmet Square
Off the beaten track

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Secrets of Istanbul: 5-Hour Walking Tour with Lunch

1. Secrets of Istanbul: 5-Hour Walking Tour with Lunch

Your 5-hour guided walk begins in Sultanhamet, in the heart of the main tourist area of Istanbul. From here you’ll head to the Blue Mosque, where you’ll admire the 6 minarets and stunning tiles that were made in Iznik, the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire. Next your guide will tell you about Hagia Sophia and the Roxana Baths before continuing on to the ancient Hippodrome. Hear about the famous obelisk that was shipped from Egypt to the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius in 6th century A.D. Walk along the ancient roadway past the Ottoman Parliament House and then make your way to the Grand Bazaar. Marvel at the labyrinth of streets lined with textiles and most every other kind of product as well! You can learn the local art of bargaining here. Enjoy a stroll to the nearby Sahaflar Book Market, where books were printed for the first time during the Ottoman era. Learn about Islam and its holy book, the Koran. On the way to the Suleymaniye complex you’ll pass by the spectacular façade of Istanbul University and enter the Cagaloglu district, which is a shopping hub for locals that’s far from the main tourist attractions. Once you reach the Suleymaniye complex you’ll see the Turkish bath, the library, the madrasah, eateries, and the grand Suleymaniye Mosque that dominates the skyline along the Golden Horn. Learn about the history of the Mosque, named after the most famous and powerful of sultans, Suleyman the Magnificent. Your guide knows a great hidden teahouse here where you can drink çay (tea) and try a nargile (water pipe) with its intoxicating aroma and fruity flavors. After the break, you’ll continue on through the hidden streets of Istanbul. See local markets where products are made on site. Visit the hidden Rustem Pasha Mosque and admire its lovely tiles. Then it will be time to taste some baklava, a delicious Turkish dessert. Explore the spice market and see a mountain of Turkish spices, Turkish delight, and local handicrafts. From the Spice Bazaar you’ll take a walk so that you can appreciate the views of the picturesque Galata Bridge. Finally it’s time to relax for a delicious lunch of local specialties. After lunch your guide can tell you how to get back to your hotel and give you some advice on other things to do in your free time.

Istanbul: Guided Byzantine Hippodrome Visit

2. Istanbul: Guided Byzantine Hippodrome Visit

The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. Of these, an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three entwined serpents from Delphi have survived. The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social center of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı, internationaly referred to as the Sultan Ahmet Square and located in the heart of the historical peninsula of Istanbul. The word hippodrome comes from the Greek hippos, horse, and dromos, path or way. For this reason, it is sometimes also referred to as Atmeydanı (Horse Square) in Turkish. Horse racing and chariot racing were popular pastimes in the ancient world, and hippodromes were common features of Greek cities in the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine eras.

Istanbul: Old City Half-Day Bike Tour

3. Istanbul: Old City Half-Day Bike Tour

Explore Istanbul by bike and see some of the most beautiful sights of the city while burning off some calories. You will ride your bike through palaces, mosques, churches, parks, and the most characteristic districts of historic Istanbul, and including Eminönü. Depart from Balat, ride to Eminönü and admire the Galata Bridge, New Mosque, and Spice Bazaar. Look across the Golden Horn to the district of Beyoglu. Ride along the waterfront to Gülhane Park, an oasis of peace extending over the slope of Topkapı Palace. Leaving the park, catch a glimpse of the former gate of the Grand Vizier's residence. Take a short ride to Sultanahmet Park and see the city’s iconic St. Sophia and Blue Mosque. Run the full lap of the Hippodrome, just like the Roman horse-chariots used to, and admire the obelisks that dominate the street. Pass through its imposing gates of Topkapı Palace, the magnificent residence of the sultans, and proceed downhill to the Marmara waterfront. Here you will see some still-standing stretches of the Theodosian walls, which once protected the city. Some more thrusting on the pedals takes you to the Süleyman complex, considered the masterpiece of the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Next stop is the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest closed markets in the world. Here you can lose yourself in the maze of galleries and bargain for handmade carpets and antiques. Continue downhill to Eminönü, and proceed back to Balat.

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What people are saying about Sultanahmet Square

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 36 reviews

So this tour was amazing!! It turned out that I was the only one on the tour but Salih was so nice it felt like walking around with a friend. Even though it was 5 hours the time flew by and wasn't even tiring. It was helpful that there were enough stops throughout that it felt like a leisurely wander through the old city. The stops on the tour were many of the famous places including the Grand Bazaar and the spice market, but I was able to learn some history I might not have discovered on my own, thanks to Salih. The book market was lovely, the walk to the stunning Suleymaniye mosque was beautiful, and the inclusion of a visit to the jewel-like Rustem Pasha mosque was worth it alone. The stop for tea and nargile was the highlight of the tour for me, particularly since I would not have tried that on my own, though I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were snacks and a yummy lunch. Everything about this tour was wonderful and I would recommend it to anybody! Thank you, Salih!

Salih, my tour guide, was absolutely fantastic and full of knowledge. He was very understanding with my needing to reschedule and immediately offered an alternate time to accommodate. His English is impeccable and his knowledge and understanding of his city of Istanbul is vast. I'm so grateful I took his tour as we got to be around the wonderful locals and take a break and get out of the touristy, yet history rich neighborhoods of Istanbul. He is full of great tips on what to do to get the most out of the city. I'm very happy I took his tour and would take again.

Salih is a fantastic guide! He is very knowledgable and personable. We absolutely loved the tour, and definitely will use him again. Highly recommended!

Worth the tour if you want to understand the history behind all the majestic places in Istanbul.

Great tour! Our guide was friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely recommend!