PRIVATE ISTANBUL TOURS

INSIGHT TOURS: ISTANBUL  FULL DAY PRIVATE TOURS

Enjoy Insight Travel private Istanbul tours of the classic sights or off the beaten path. These private tours are only some examples of what we have to offer and please refer also to the group tour options many of which may be done as private tours. We can also design a special private tour for you in Istanbul according to your needs and time frame.

ISTANBUL OLD CITY CLASSICS AND HIGHLIGHTS (FULL DAY)

8:00 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. We will first visit the Hippodrome, a stadium for chariot races and other events in Byzantine times and also see the Serpent Pillar from Delphi and the Egyptian Obelisk. We continue to the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is the only imperial mosque with 6 minarets. We also see the ornate German fountain which was a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm II. We see the magnificent Saint Sophia (Haghia Sofia) which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D and stands over much older remains of a church, which can still be seen. We will see both levels of the former church with intricate mosaics of biblical scenes and the Byzantine emperors and empresses, then on to the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures where you will see a demonstration of Turkish handicrafts. We will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant and then explore the Topkapi Palace including four courtyards. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th centuries A.D. We see the Imperial Treasury with the famous Spoonmaker Diamond. Also the Baghdad Kiosk, Audience Hall and Divan. We will also have a view of the Haghia Irene Church from outside. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). We continue to the Caferaga Medrese which was designed by the architect Sinan and built in the 16th century, now used as a learning center for traditional Turkish arts. We will also take a stroll down Sogukcesme Street with its cobblestones and charming Ottoman Houses. *Note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday and on Fridays the Caferaga Medrese is visited in the morning and Blue Mosque in the afternoon. This tour is a combination of two half-day tours and is done all or partially as a walking tour. On Monday the St Sophia is closed/ On Tuesday the Topkapi Palace is closed and may be replaced with the Yerebatan Underground or Kariye Museum (Chora). 

BOSPHORUS CRUISE AND DOLMABAHCE PALACE (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON MONDAY AND THURSDAY) 

8:10 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. We will drive over the Galata Bridge to see the “Selamlik” chambers of the incredible 19th c. Dolmabahce Palace. We will also visit the “Egyptian” Spice Market, which stands near the mouth of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The market was built in the 17th century A.D. and is still a thriving place with spices and souvenirs of all types. We will also visit the beautiful Iznik tile-covered Rustempasa Mosque, which was built by the architect Sinan in 1560 for the grand vizier of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. We embark on our Bosphorus Cruise (by public boat) up the strait that divides Europe from Asia and leads to the Black Sea. From the ship you will see beautiful mosques, palaces, new luxury villas, very old Ottoman houses and the Rumeli Fortress. We end our cruise, cross the Bosphorus Bridge then head for the Camlica Hill viewpoint over Istanbul where you can also see the Princes’ Islands and the Marmara Sea. Return to your hotel around 17:00.  *Note that the cruise boat is not private – it will be shared with others.

BOSPHORUS CRUISE AND OTTOMAN CLASSICS (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON TUESDAY)

8:10 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. You will first see the “Egyptian” Spice Market, which stands near the mouth of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The market was built in the 17th century A.D. and is still a thriving place with spices and souvenirs of all types. We will also visit the beautiful Iznik tile-covered Rustempasa Mosque, which was built by the architect Sinan in 1560 for the grand vizier of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. We embark on our Bosphorus Cruise (by public boat) up the strait that divides Europe from Asia and leads to the Black Sea. From the ship you will see beautiful mosques, the Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, new luxury villas, very old Ottoman Houses and the Rumeli Fortress. We will cross over the Galata Bridge and have lunch. After lunch we will explore the Topkapi Palace. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th century A.D. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). The tour ends in the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures Return to your hotel around 17:30.  *Note that the cruise boat is not private – it will be shared with others.

ISTANBUL IMPERIAL AND BOSPHORUS TOUR (FULL DAY)

8:10 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. Today we will visit the Saint Sophia (Haghia Sofia) which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D and stands over much older remains of a church. See beautiful mosaics of biblical scenes and the Byzantine emperors and empresses. We continue to the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is the only imperial mosque with 6 minarets. We continue to the Hippodrome, a stadium and meeting place in Byzantine times, the Serpent Pillar from Delphi and the Egyptian Obelisk, with the Fountain of Wilhelm. We will continue to the “Egyptian” Spice Market, which stands near the mouth of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The market was built in the 17th century A.D. and is still a thriving place with spices and souvenirs of all types and also the Rustempasa Mosque with its beautiful Iznik tiles. The mosque was built in 1560 by the imperial architect Sinan for the son in law of the grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. We embark on our Bosphorus Cruise (by public boat) up the strait that divides Europe from Asia and leads to the Black Sea. From the ship you will see beautiful mosques, the Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, new luxury villas, very old Ottoman Houses and the Rumeli Fortress. Return to your hotel around 17:30. *Note that the cruise boat is not private – it will be shared with others.

GOLDEN HORN AND BOSPHORUS TOUR (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON WEDNESDAY)

8:30 – 08:45 Departure from your hotel. We will take a ride by boat on the Golden Horn passing churches and historical buildings. We then take a Cable Car up to Pierre Loti Hill where you will get a beautiful view of the Golden Horn and can enjoy a tea or coffee in the famous Pierre Loti Café. We continue to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) with its 14th century mosaics and frescoes with scenes from the Bible. We see Istanbul’s Byzantine City Walls that were for the most part built during the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius and are 8 km long. Topkapi Gate (view only) takes its name from the time of Fatih (Mehmet). Get more detail of the walls in the Panorama 1453 Museum during the time of the conquest of Sultan Mehmet II. At the end of the walls on the Marmara Sea side of the city walls view the Castle of the Seven Towers (view only). It was used as a prison during Byzantine and Ottoman times. After lunch we will see the “Egyptian” Spice Market, which stands near the mouth of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The market was built in the 17th century A.D. and is still a thriving place with spices and souvenirs of all types and also the Rustempasa Mosque with its beautiful Iznik tiles. The mosque was built in 1560 by the imperial architect Sinan for the son in law of the grand vizier of Suleyman the Magnificent. We embark on our Bosphorus Cruise (by public boat) up the strait that divides Europe from Asia and leads to the Black Sea. From the ship you will see beautiful mosques, the Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, new luxury villas, very old Ottoman Houses and the Rumeli Fortress. Return to your hotel around 17:00 

GOLDEN HORN AND OTTOMAN RELICS (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY)

8:30 – 08:45 Departure from your hotel. We will take a ride by boat on the Golden Horn passing churches and historical buildings. We then take a Cable Car up to Pierre Loti Hill where you will get a beautiful view of the Golden Horn and can enjoy a tea or coffee in the famous Pierre Loti Café. We continue to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) with its 14th century mosaics and frescoes with scenes from the Bible. We see Istanbul’s Byzantine City Walls that were for the most part built during the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius and are 8 km long. Topkapi Gate (view only) takes its name from the time of Fatih (Mehmet). Get more detail of the walls in the Panorama 1453 Museum during the time of the conquest of Sultan Mehmet II. At the end of the walls on the Marmara Sea side of the city walls view the Castle of the Seven Towers (view only). It was used as a prison during Byzantine and Ottoman times. After lunch we explore the Topkapi Palace. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th century A.D. We see the Imperial Treasury with the famous Spoonmaker Diamond. Also the Baghdad Kiosk, the Armory with its collection of Ottoman weapons and a fine collection of ceramics. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). The tour ends in the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures Return to your hotel around 17:30. *Note that on Sunday the Grand Bazaar is closed.

ISTANBUL CITY WALLS AND GOLDEN HORN TOUR (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON WEDNESDAY)

8:30 – 08:45 Departure from your hotel. Today we will see Istanbul’s Byzantine City Walls that were for the most part built during the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius and are 8 km long. Built near the walls and the Marmara Sea is the Castle of the Seven Towers which was used as a prison during Byzantine and Ottoman periods and was situated near the famous Golden Gate.  We continue to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) with its 14th century mosaics and frescoes with scenes from the Bible and then the Tekfur Palace (view only) built during the 13th century, it is the only Byzantine Palace still standing today. We will also see the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople which has been in service since the 6th centuray. After lunch we continue to Eyup Imperial Mosque (view from outside). It is one of the most holy places in Istanbul and the burial place of Eyub el-Ensari, who was the standard bearer of the Prophet Mohammed. We then take a Cable Car up to Pierre Loti Hill where you will get a beautiful view of the Golden Horn and can enjoy a tea or coffe in the famous Pierre Loti Café. We end the tour with a short cruise on the Golden Horn. Return to your hotel around 17:00. 

BOSPHORUS CRUISE WITH CHORA (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON WEDNESDAY)

Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn, and then board for your cruise of the Bosphorus by public ferry. Visit Rumeli Fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. After lunch cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and up to Camlica Hill, for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Return over the bridge back to Europe and old Istanbul. We will view the old Theodosian city walls and visit Kariye Church (Chora museum) with its 14th c mosaics and frescoes, depicting scenes from the Bible then on to Eyup Imperial Mosque and Tomb of the standard bearer of Mohammed. *Note that the cruise boat is not private – it will be shared with others.

UNKNOWN HIGHLIGHTS OF ISTANBUL (FULL DAY– EXCEPT ON MONDAY)

We will start the day with a visit to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum with its impressive “Alexander the Great Sarcophagus”, also the Museum of the Ancient Orient, then the Tiled Kiosk of Sultan Mehmet with its fine ceramic collection. Visit the Yerebatan Saray Underground Cistern, with its Medusa heads and “weeping columns”. Visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts and finally the Mosaic Museum from the ancient Byzantine Palace and the small Arasta Bazaar. *May be done as a walking tour if your hotel is centrally located.

GALATA AND TAKSIM AREA (FULL DAY)

We cross the famous Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn and visit the underground Mosque of Karakoy, then the Arabic Mosque, once a church. We take one of the oldest, and shortest subway systems in the world “Tunel” for a short voyage into the past, and end up in the middle of the Galata District with its artist quarters and old houses. Visit the Galata Tower for a total panoramic view of Istanbul, then a Whirling Dervish Lodge, with garden and cistern. Go by historical trolley up Istiklal Street and visit Taksim Square, “Cicek Pasaji” restaurants then the fish and produce market  *Note that this tour may be done as a walking tour and may also be combined with visiting Istanbul by night.

CHRISTIAN HERITAGE - CHURCHES AND OLD ZEYREK (FULL DAY)

Visit the famous Mosque of Fatih Mehmet, who conquered Istanbul. See the tomb of the Christian Princess and Islamic school. See the Column of Marcian and a wonderful Byzantine church and monastery complex, Fenari Isa, which is now converted to a mosque but retains its charm. Visit the old neighborhood of Zeyrek and Church of the Pantocrator, which is a composite building made of two churches and a chapel between them, then the forgotten Byzantine church of St. Savior Pantepoptes, which is now a Koran school. We visit the old neighborhood of Fener and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate church. Continue along the scenic Golden horn past the Bulgarian Church, which is made entirely of cast iron.

ANCIENT CITY WALLS AND MILITARY MUSEUM (FULL DAY)

We will follow the shore of the Marmara Sea and see some interesting sections of the ancient sea walls and ruins of an old Byzantine palace. Visit Yedi Kule, (Fortress of the Seven towers) with the Golden gate.  Follow the Theodosian land walls where people work in their small gardens and horse cart is still being used for transportation. We will see Tekfur Palace, one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture existing in Turkey and the remains of Blachernae Palace and dungeon. We continue along the ancient city walls then on to Eyup Imperial Mosque and tomb of the standard bearer of Mohammed. After lunch we will visit the Genoese-built Galata Tower, which commands fine views of the Golden horn, Bosphorus and Old Istanbul. We continue to the Military Museum, where you may see armor, weapons, and displays of Turkish military uniforms from the ages, “Sayebanlar” (the summer war pavilions of the Sultans), part the original chain used to block off the Golden Horn during the siege of Istanbul in 1453. You may listen to a concert given by the colorful military “Mehter” Band.

MOSAIC OF RELIGIONS - THE GOLDEN HORN (FULL DAY)

This tour focuses on the historic neighborhoods of the Golden Horn and the comparison of the religious groups who live in harmony in Istanbul. Visit the Zulfaris Museum, with historic and ethnographic sections, celebrating over 500 years of friendship between Turks and Jews. We continue along the scenic Golden Horn to Balat, which has been the core of Jewish presence in Istanbul for over five centuries. We will continue to the mosque, tomb and complex of Eyup, standard bearer of the Prophet. It is an important place of pilgrimage for Moslems. There are interesting stands selling amulets with pieces of the Q’uran and rose scented prayer beads etc.. Opportunity for lunch in Eyup. We continue inland and view the old Byzantine City Walls the Chora Church (Kariye Museum) with its 14th c mosaics and frescoes. We drive back toward the Golden Horn to the neighborhood of Fener. Visit the Church of St. George which houses relics of St. Euphemias, St. John Chrysostom and St Gregory Nazienzen. The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I resides here at the “See of Constantinople”. We will also drive past the Bulgarian Church, which is made entirely of cast iron cross. We end the tour with a view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the historic peninsula of Istanbul from the Galata Tower.

PRICE PER PERSON: VALID FOR ALL FULL DAY TOURS

1 PAX: 300 EUROS
2 PAX: 175 EUROS
3 PAX: 130 EUROS
4 PAX: 120 EUROS

INCLUDED: PROFESSIONAL GUIDE, MAIN ENTRY FEES, LUNCH, PARKING, FUEL, ROAD TOLLS, FERRY OR BOSPHORUS BOAT, A/C TRANSPORTATION (SOME TOURS MAY BE DONE AS WALKING TOURS)

PICK-UP/DROP OFF AT CENTRALLY LOCATED HOTELS (EXTRA FEE FOR AIRPORT AND ASIAN SIDE HOTELS)

NOT INCLUDED: DRINKS, TIPS FOR GUIDE AND DRIVER

ISTANBUL MUSEUMS CLOSED ON THESE DAYS

 SUN  Grand Covered Bazaar

 MON

 Saint Sophia, Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, Military Museum, Istanbul Archaeological Museum
 TUE  Topkapi Palace, Military Museum
 WED  Chora (Kariye) Museum, Yedikule, Rumeli Fortress, Sadberk Hanim Museum
 THU  Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces
 FRI  Most museums are open
 SAT  Zulfaris Museum