Off the beaten track

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Istanbul: Two Sides of The City Half-Day Bike Tour

1. Istanbul: Two Sides of The City Half-Day Bike Tour

Meet your tour guide 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, and admire the cultural influences that surround you. 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’s history and culture. 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 1PM, 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.

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Istanbul: Guided Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience

2. Istanbul: Guided Off-the-Beaten-Path Experience

Your experience will begin with the ancient Hippodrome, where thousands of spectators were entertained and kept happy by the chariot races. Whilst there you will witness a cistern which was recently discovered in 2010, and you can navigate through the labyrinth of streets and passages that are home to more than 4,000 shops, which is known as the Grand Bazaar. You will soon take a break to experience traditional Turkish tea or coffee and a popular Turkish pastry called borek, all while enjoying the ancient practice of hookah at a favorite local hangout. Following that you'll visit Istanbul’s largest mosque, titled the Suleymaniye Mosque. It is an Ottoman Imperial mosque located on the Third Hill of Istanbul, and is breathtaking due to both its size and interior beauty. From the mosque you will visit a Spice Bazaar which is full of colors and the powerful aromas of exotic spices. Istanbul is a city which has a rich religious history, and is now composed of many different religions. Your next stop will be the Church of St. George, which since the 1600s has been the location of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Religion.

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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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Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

4. Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

Want to discover the Istanbul of Byzantine Constantinople? Have you finished the famous sites in Sultanahmet and ready to walk in areas where tourists do not go? Then this Byzantine Istanbul (Constantinople) tour along the Golden Horn will be the perfect choice for you. The vastness of the vision and boldness of the design of Byzantine era Constantinople is expressed through the Hagia Sophia located in Sultanahmet but medieval Constantinople around the Golden Horn offers more information. Poke around forgotten corners just over this hauntingly beautiful inlet – the Golden Horn and walk to see Constantinople before the Ottoman Conquest of 1453. Your Byzantine Istanbul Constantinople tour will start with a ferry ride from Eminonu or Karakoy zigzaging both sides of the Golden Horn to end in Ayvansaray. Ayvansaray is where Constantinople officially ended, so you’ll see and walk along the mighty Byzantine walls of Theodosius from the 5th century. Your first visit will be to an extraordinary Greek Orthodox Church – Mary Blachernae. The only church in the whole world where there’s a service on a Friday morning. Built on a sacred water source, the church is a pilgrimage site for the Greek people in Istanbul. Climb the 7th hill of Istanbul as you make your way to one of the oldest Byzantine palaces from the 13th century (Tekfur Sarayi). The highlight of the trip will be the famous Chora, the Byzantine marvel of mosaics and frescoes. Then, walk your way back through Balat which houses one of Istanbul’s surviving mediaeval synagogues and trendiest houses that are now enjoying their second or even third type of use. In Fener, you will see the Greek Orthodox patriarchate housing a column, which is believed to have been used for the binding and flogging of Jesus in Jerusalem.

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Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Museums Tour

5. Istanbul: Off-the-Beaten-Track Museums Tour

Your first stop will be the Suleymaniye Mosque, which was built on the order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect Sinan. The construction work began in 1550 and the mosque was finished in 1557. The mosque is modeled in part on the style of a Byzantine basilica, particularly the Hagia Sophia, which was perhaps a conscious move on the part of the sultan to create a continuity and a symbolic connection with the city's past. Driving along the city walls will end at one of the oldest and most important churches in the city, the Church of Chora, which has fascinating wall paintings telling the life of Christ in an historical order. Even though the building itself is small, the meaning was great for Byzantines as being found at the borders of the city and welcoming the visitors. Today the environment is restored and this is a good place to spend time with local artisans and wooden houses. After the church, you will have a tea and coffee break at one of the most splendid spots of Istanbul, with beautiful views over the Golden Horn and Pierre Loti Hill. Following this you will resuming driving along the shores of the Golden Horn through the towns Fener and Balat, which are the old Greek and Jewish living sites. Fener Orthodox Patriarchate is in this area as well.  Following lunch, your next destination will be the Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans with 365 rooms and 22 saloons. Famous for the great collection of European antiquity, furniture, and a 4.5 ton chandelier. This will be your last stop, and after this visit you will be driven back to your hotel.

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What people are saying about Balat

I can only recommend you this tour, your guide is very nice and he knows the stuff he's talking about, he'll lead you around some famous sites but also covering secret sites invisible to the tourist eye. This tour is very long (compared to most others), it is very cheap for the amount that you see and you get a locally very experienced guide that gives you all kinds of advises for your istanbul experience (from food to sites). This guide has been the best tour that i have ever booked (thank you oz) and i can only highly (!!!) recommend you, reading this comment, to go check it out :) with my regards

Actually, I live in Istanbul:) And I already visited Fener and Balat many times. I booked this tour for my 12-year-old nephew who lives in Dubai. He loves taking this kind of tour. Although I thought that I know those neighborhoods as a local man, I understand I didn't know :) Many thanks to our guide Mr. Cetin for his excellent knowledge. And thanks to Ms. Arzu for her good communication.

It was very good experience exploring Istanbul on bike I get even more than expected Mr can (the guide ) Is very professional so informative and nice person I really enjoyed the tour Highly recommended

It's really a fabulous activity. You get to really experience the thrum of Istanbul from East to West. A must do for anyone with an elevated sense of adventure and To see things differently!

Amazing trip, amazing people, amazing city. Nothing to add. Must do in Istanbul if you are not pregnant or an old person (P.S.: Don't forget to take enough sunscreen)