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Things to do in Balat

Our most recommended things to do in Balat

Istanbul: Fener/Balat Walking Tour, Pierre Loti Hill & Ferry

1. Istanbul: Fener/Balat Walking Tour, Pierre Loti Hill & Ferry

Meet your guide at the Itimat Fabrika Satis yero/magazasi at the the entry gate of the Spice Market in the heart of Istanbul. From here you’ll take the local bus to Fener to discover Istanbul’s heritage. Travel by public bus to the colorful Fener/Balat district, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and at one time home to Istanbul’s Ottoman Orthodox and Jewish residents. See traces of Ottoman life, including wooden houses, mosques, churches, and synagogues, standing together and demonstrating the multicultural and religious ways of the Ottoman Empire. After walking along the cobblestoned streets of the Fener/Balat World Heritage area, you’ll continue along the historic Byzantine city walls that date to the 4th century A.D. and the time of Constantine the Great. See the exterior of the historic Eyüp mosque complex, a sacred area where pilgrims come to visit the mosques and the tombs of Muslim saints. From here you’ll take a short cable car ride up to the famous Pierre Loti Café, a popular meeting point for locals. Enjoy stunning panoramic views of Istanbul while sipping a drink in one of the cafés where French Poet Pierre Loti was inspired to write Aziyade, part biography and part love story about his escapades in Istanbul in the late 1800s. Walk back down to Eyüp to catch the local ferry for a cruise on the blue waters of the Golden Horn. See Ottoman houses, shipyards, the old and new Galata bridges, Ataturk Bridge, ancient city walls, mosques, churches, and other historic and modern sites. You’ll disembark at Karaköy Harbor, where the tour ends.

Istanbul: Fener and Balat Private Walking Tour

2. Istanbul: Fener and Balat Private Walking Tour

Start your tour with a ferry ride along the Golden Horn and see the skyline of Istanbul from this famous waterway. Learn from your guide as they explain the history of Constantinople, the conquest by the Ottomans, and the introduction of Jewish culture. Visit the extraordinary church of Mary Blachernae, and see the Ahrida Synagogue. Walk through the streets and markets of Balat through the splashes of color and the vibrancy of its street life. Take a break in this vibrant neighborhood and enjoy watching people in their everyday activities. End your tour in Fener after seeing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, an essential part of this tour, as it is the most sacred site for the Orthodox people.

Istanbul: Jewish District 3-Hour Walking Tour

3. Istanbul: Jewish District 3-Hour Walking Tour

Istanbul has had a vibrant Jewish community for more than 1,000 years. After the Turkish conquest of Istanbul, Sultan Mehmet II encouraged immigration to repopulate the city. Over half a million Jews persecuted in Spain and Portugal were encouraged to establish themselves within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. In Istanbul, the new immigrants settled mostly near Galata – a quarter on the northern bank of the Golden Horn – where a Jewish community had existed since the early days of the Ottoman Era in Istanbul. On this tour, you'll walk around Galata, exploring its intriguing streets full of colorful life. The tour includes synagogues, the Jewish Museum, Jewish Apartments, the amazing story of Abraham Kamondo, and other Jewish heritage sites. Monday – Friday:  Jewish Museum, Ashkenazi Synagogue, Schneidertemple Synagogue, and outer visits to Georgian Synagogue, Neve Shalom Synagogue, Italian Synagogue, Jewish Apartments, Kamondo Buildings.

Istanbul: Eurasia Bike & Boat Half-Day Tour

4. Istanbul: Eurasia Bike & Boat Half-Day Tour

Meet your tour leader in the historical neighborhood of Balat, in the European side of the city. Choose your bike for the day then board the public boat to Uskudar. From the boat, admire views of the city skyline and take photos of Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Maiden Tower, Süleymaniye Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, and more. Arrive in Uskudar, which is on the Asian side of the city. Hop on your bike and pedal to Fenerbahce Park, stopping along the way to take in the sights and listen to your guide share information about the area. Once you’ve worked up a sweat from the bike ride, enjoy a refreshing cup of Turkish tea or coffee at a local cafe and admire the view of Princes’ Islands while you relax. Jump back on your bike and pedal to Kadıköy Pier for a boat ride to Karakoy. Next, cross over the Golden Horn Bay via the Metro Bridge then head back towards the tour’s meeting point in Balat. Tours usually finish around 2 PM, depending on the group’s cycling tempo. Afterwards, spend the day exploring the vibrant streets of Balat at your own leisure, and enjoy some fresh, local cuisine from one of the many street-side food vendors. During the experience all of the metioned monuments are only to be seen from outside.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

5. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. Meet your guide at your hotel or port and work together to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. On 1st day, marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Byzantine Cistern. On 2nd day, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata area and the Spice Market. On 3rd day, guide takes you on a walk through the streets of Fener-Balat neighboorhood. Enjoy a cable car ride and soak up views of Pierre Loti Hill, then visit Iron Church, and see the Suleymaniye Mosque. You can create your own itinerary with your tour guide on tour day, to have an idea, here you can see our suggested tour itineraries are below; Day 1 - Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome Square, Byzantine Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church, Sogukcesme Street, Grand Bazaar Day 2 - Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Cicek Passage, Galata Tower (from outside) Day 3 - Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat Districts, St. Stephen Church (Iron Church), Pierre Lotti Panoramic Hill, Rahmi Koc Museum (or alternative options)

Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Istanbul Fener and Balat

6. Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Istanbul Fener and Balat

This particular tour includes some of the unique places in the city but also which are difficult to visit on your own. The tour will take you to the roots of historic Istanbul with visits to the Muslim, Jewish, and Christian monuments. You will meet with your guide at 09.00 am at your hotel reception. The first stop is Suleymaniye Mosque was built on the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan. Construction began in 1550, and the mosque was finished in 1557. The mosque is partly modeled on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, which was perhaps a conscious move by the sultan to create a continuity and a symbolic connection with the city's past. After the mosque, we will have a tea-coffee break at Kadinlar Pazari under the shadow of the aqueduct of Valens. An authentic square filled with "buryan kebab" restaurants. Walking along the aqueduct will end at one of the oldest and most influential churches, now a mosque in the city, Zeyrek Mosque or Monastery of the Pantocrator, A unique combination of two former Eastern Orthodox churches and a chapel. The Zeyrek Mosque is the second largest religious edifice after the Hagia Sophia, built by the Byzantines remaining in Istanbul. The next stop will be the Gul Mosque; Gul Mosque started life as the 11th-century Church of St Theodosia and was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. We will then continue to the beautiful districts of Fener and Balat to discover the Aya Nikola Greek Orthodox Church before visiting the Fener Orthodox Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is one of the fifteen autocephalous churches that compose the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 1586 the Ecumenical Patriarchate has had its headquarters in the relatively modest Church of St George in the Fener district of Istanbul. Afterward, enjoy a break from sightseeing to have a drink. We will then wander around the labyrinth cobblestone streets of Balat to see Phanar Greek Orthodox College, this Fener landmark, known locally as Kirmizi Mektep for its castellated red-brick facade, still functions as a Greek school. Then we will visit Saint Mary of the Mongols, an Eastern Orthodox church in Istanbul. It is the only Byzantine church of Constantinople that has never been converted to a mosque, always remaining open to the Greek Orthodox Church. Please note that some visits will be only panoramic from outside because of the restoration works.

Bosphorus Boat Cruise & Two Continents Tour with Lunch

7. Bosphorus Boat Cruise & Two Continents Tour with Lunch

From the Golden Horn to the arm of the Boshorous you will experience the beautiful sights of the historical peninsula which separates the old and new parts of Istanbul. You will be a part of history as you take an in-depth look at the residential areas for Byzantine Jews, Italian traders and other non-Muslim minorities. Get a true sense of the history behind the Balat and the Metal Church. Stop at the sights of St. Stephen the Bulgarian, and get a glimpse of what life was really like at the Jewish Hospital. You can take a break from the historic sights by taking a stroll along the Byzantine City Walls. Another charming feature of the tour is the array of colorful shops that you will see at the Spice Bazaar. We'll make a stop at the stalls selling fruits, vegetables and flowers. After enjoying the variety of shops, the tour takes you to the Bosphorus Cruise and through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia. Marble palaces, ancient wooden villas and the sights of the luxurious residential apartments provide the perfect photo opportunity. From here it is on to Rumell Fortress by boat, where the historical armament can be viewed clearly from the boat. The armament is a unique example of military architecture, and was built by the conqueror to control and protect the Bosphorus. If time permits, the tour will also take you on to visit a leather showroom. Lunch. Tell your friends you’ve been to Asia and Europe in one day by joining us on a guided tour of Istanbul’s most historic sites. Led by an expert guide, you’ll visit the impressive Dolmabahçe Palace, the official home of Ottoman Sultans. Built by two famous Ottoman architects, the palace houses a museum-worthy collection of European furniture, art and antiquities. Then it’s off to the Bosphorus Bridge, which straddles the narrow waterway that separates Europe and Asia. Once you’ve crossed the bridge it’s time to head to Camlica HIll, which offers dramatic, panoramic views of the city from almost 300 meters above sea level. Please note, on Mondays and Thursdays the palace is closed, so the tour will make three different stops: Eyüp Sultan Mosque and Tomb, Pierre Loti Coffee House and Miniatürk park.

Istanbul: Golden Horn & Pierre Loti Hill Cable Car Day Trip

8. Istanbul: Golden Horn & Pierre Loti Hill Cable Car Day Trip

Discover the beauty of the historic Golden Horn estuary in Istanbul on this guided day tour with hotel pickup and drop-off from the Sultanahmet, Faih or Taksim areas. Admire panoramic views of the city with the included cable car ride to Pierre Loti Hill. Hop aboard an air-conditioned car and take in views of the Golden Horn which ahs been a trading harbor since the Byzantine-era. Start with a stop at St. George’s Cathedral, a 16th-century, neo-classical church which was the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.  Take a look inside the lavish interiors of the cathedral before heading to the Phanar Greek Orthodox College to see one of the oldest educational institutions in Turkey.  Head to the districts of Fener and Balat, which are steeped in history and culture. Follow your guide around the cobblestone streets and take in the colorful Ottoman architecture. Stop for lunch in one of the local restaurants in Balat before heading to the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church. View the church's design features of prefabricated cast iron elements that are in the neo-Byzantine style. Appreciate at the intricate details of the church before making your way to Pierre Loti Hill. Board a cable car and take in the stunning 360-degree views of the Golden Horn as you make your ascent. Once you reach the hill itself, capture pictures of the breathtaking views of the city below. Return to your hotel or meeting point at the end of the tour. 

Istanbul: Morning Bosphorus Cruise

9. Istanbul: Morning Bosphorus Cruise

From the Golden Horn to the arm of the Boshorous you will experience the beautiful sights of the historical peninsula which separates the old and new parts of Istanbul. You will be a part of history as you take an in-depth look at the residential areas for Byzantine Jews, Italian traders and other non-Muslim minorities. Get a true sense of the history behind the Balat and the Metal Church. Stop at the sights of St. Stephen the Bulgarian, and get a glimpse of what life was really like at the Jewish Hospital. You can take a break from the historic sights by taking a stroll along the Byzantine City Walls. Another charming feature of the tour is the array of colorful shops that you will see at the Spice Bazaar. We'll make a stop at the stalls selling fruits, vegetables and flowers. After enjoying the variety of shops, the tour takes you to the Bosphorus Cruise and through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia. Marble palaces, ancient wooden villas and the sights of the luxurious residential apartments provide the perfect photo opportunity. From here it is on to Rumell Fortress by boat, where the historical armament can be viewed clearly from the boat. The armament is a unique example of military architecture, and was built by the conqueror to control and protect the Bosphorus. If time permits, the tour will also take you on to visit a leather showroom.

Visit Jewish Landmarks in Istanbul

10. Visit Jewish Landmarks in Istanbul

For more than 2,000 years there has been a significant Jewish presence in Turkey. With this unique tour, you can get a first-hand look at the important Jewish landmarks in Istanbul. After being collected from your hotel, the tour will take you straight to the famous Jewish neighbourhood of Galata. There, you will be able to get up close and personal with the Galata Tower, which was built by the Genoese back in 1303, and offers a panoramic view of old Istanbul. While in Galata you will also see the Neve Shalom and Askenazy Synagogues. Then, it’s off to the 500 Jewish Museum, a converted synagogue from the 1600s that houses photos, paintings and other artifacts depicting the history of Jewish people in Istanbul. Next, it’s time for you to take in the Balat neighbourhood, the Jewish quarter of the city’s Faith District. You can count the Stars of David that adorn the buildings around the area before heading off to the 15th Ahrida and Yanbol Synagogues. The final stop is the Jewish home for the elderly along the Golden Horn, before the tour drops you back at your hotel at approximately 17:00.

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What people are saying about Balat

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 407 reviews

Beautiful tour and very friendly guide, although he did not speak entirely Spanish, he made an effort to make himself understood and was quite patient with the times to take photos. We made two stops for tea and coffee and even in one of them he brought us typical Turkish sweets, very good. On the way back by ferry, he invited us to another typical drink, very rich, a detail on his part.

It's the best tour I booked with just five participants and a nice and knowledgeable local guide. Oz, our guide brought us to places where most of the tourists are not going to visit or eat. A great storyteller who loves to share those historical facts/intrigues in every places we visited. If you love to walk and explore hidden spots, you must book this tour.

Salil is a knowledgeable tour guide. He accommodated me when the tour was almost canceled! Had a great time. Thank you Salil!

Everything very well organized. Tour guide was very nice and could answer any questions. Very interesting tour.

Very knowledgeable guide Onder, good tour, enjoy it very much