Istanbul, Highlights of Istanbul
8 HoursModerate-StrenuousWalking | Sightseeing | Dining | UNESCO | Essentials Collection
A scenic drive will take you across the Galata Bridge into the heart of Istanbul, where the historic area of Istanbul was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. Visit the Byzantine Hippodrome, once the heart of Constantinople's political and sporting life. Monuments on the site include the Snake Column from Delphi and an Egyptian obelisk taken from the Temple of Karnak at Luxor. Next, visit Blue Mosque, also known as The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, a true study in color. It displays a multitude of domes and over 20,000 shimmering blue Iznik tiles in more than 50 different tulip designs, and 216 stained glass windows, on the interior. After a short walk, you’ll enter the awe-inspiring Topkapi Palace Museum, a huge walled complex that hugs the Bosphorus and is displaying an extraordinary collection of art, artifacts, and jewels, including the famed Topkapi Diamond. The windows promise breathtaking views of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara. A delightful lunch, featuring Turkish specialities and beverages, will be served in a local restaurant. You will taste delicious Turkish cuisine cooked in Ottoman and Turkish styles. After lunch, you will visit the famous St. Sophia Mosque, built during Emperor Justinian’s reign in AD 537. St Sophia’s dome was then the largest in the world and it remained the greatest church in Christendom for centuries until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. You will continue to the famous Grand Bazaar, where you will explore some of its 64 streets. A variety of Turkish handicrafts, oriental carpets, rare jewels and inexpensive souvenirs are all sold in its small shops. You may also enjoy a demonstration on the art of carpet weaving.
Please note: Modest attire is required; when visiting the Blue Mosque & St. Sophia Mosque, knees, shoulders and midriffs must be covered and women must cover their head with a scarf, which will be provided at the Mosques. Shoes must be removed to enter mosque(s). Shoe bags will be provided for mosque visits. Blue Mosque is undergoing a major restoration inside and areas may not be open to visit. Lines to enter may also be long. Topkapi Palace Museum is closed on Tuesdays and the visit will be substituted with Dolmabahce Palace Museum. There is ongoing restoration of the Topkapi Palace, which may result in some exhibits being closed. Professional photography and flash are not allowed. All tours in the Old Town require considerable walking, as it is closed to traffic.