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Golden Horn

Golden Horn: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Luxurious Yacht

1. Istanbul: Bosphorus Sunset Cruise on a Luxurious Yacht

Take a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus Strait to see the European as well as Asian half of Istanbul. Jump aboard a luxury yacht from Kabatas and keep your cameras ready as you cross mosques, palaces, and seafront villas. Learn about the city’s centuries-long history through your guide. Start the tour at Kabatas Pier aboard an elegant yacht, drinking traditional Turkish drinks, and nibbling on canapés and fruit from tastefully arranged platters. Glide by palaces and minarets as you sail along the Bosphorus.  When dusk sets in, feel the soothing breeze from the Sea of Marmara on your skin as the sky puts on a colorful show, tinted with shades of orange and rose. Few places in the world are as mesmerizing as Istanbul in the setting sun. Hear the muezzin's call from a towering minaret. Cruise past majestic palaces and villas along the strait’s banks. Breathe in the legacy of ancient Byzantium, Constantinople, and the mighty Ottoman Empire with each breath of fresh salty air. Kick back and ride gentle waves in the comfort of a yacht. Watch the city and its iconic landmarks pass by, which is the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. End the experience at Karakoy Pier.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

2. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

Discover the Topkapi Palace on a guided tour. Learn about Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of the Sultan's family in the harem.  Meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Turkish delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Then let your guide take you to Topkapi Palace. Explore the splendor of Topkapi Palace, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Discover the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

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

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

Discover the best of Istanbul on this 1, 2, or 3-day private tour that covers the major attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia Museum, the iconic Blue Mosque, the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, and the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. A few of the possible attraction you'll visit on your tour include: The Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome, and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The Blue Mosque, more officially known as the "Sultanahmet" Mosque has striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. The Hippodrome is the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name — in Turkish, Dolma means "filled" or "stuffed," and bahce means "garden". Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars, and from there, it's an interesting and scenic 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area. See this and more depending on which length tour option you select. Possible Itinerary for each day of the tour: Day 1: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome Day 2: Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal, Galata Tower Day 3: Suleymaniye Mosque, Chora Church, Fener/Balat Districts, Pierre Loti Hill

Istanbul: Golden Horn and Bosphorus Tour

4. Istanbul: Golden Horn and Bosphorus Tour

After finishing your busy day of sightseeing around Istanbul, you can relax on this 2-hour Golden Horn and Bosphoros cruise. You will meet your guide across from the Hagia Sophia, from where you will go together down to the pier behind the building. From there you will discover the Golden Horn, including the 32-kilometer-long Bosphorus which separates Europe and Asia. You will be able to see Istanbul’s main attractions, including magnificent palaces, ancient castles, and famous hills and parks, as well as spectacular seaside residences from different centuries. All of this sightseeing will of course include your passing under Istanbul's many famous bridges. You will pass by Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Ortaköy Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, Rumeli Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace. You will also get to see some historical landmarks from a distance, such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Maiden Tower, and Galata Tower. 

Istanbul: Old City Tour, Bosphorus Cruise, Cable Car & Lunch

5. Istanbul: Old City Tour, Bosphorus Cruise, Cable Car & Lunch

Explore Istanbul on this coach tour of the Old City. See sights like the Eyup Sultan Mosque and the Hippodrome. Learn about Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque on a guided tour. Sit down to a tasty lunch and sail on the Bosporus. Soak up the views from Pierre Loti Hill and ride a cable car.  Enjoy the convenience of being picked up from centrally-located hotels in Istanbul. Sit back and relax in an airconditioned coach with plenty of space on your way to the departure point. Meet your local guide and head to the Old City to visit the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. Learn about this 6th century building that was constructed by the emperor Justinian as a Greek Orthodox Church. Hear about how the the Hagia Sophia has transformed over time and how it was the largest church in the world for a 1,000 years. Continue to the Blue Mosque to admire its 20,000 blue Iznık ceramic tiles and its 6 towering minarets. Find out how it was built for Sultan Ahmet I and how it was the last great mosque of the Classical period. Make your way to the the sporting and social center of ancient Constantinople at the Hippodrome. View the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, the Bronze Serpentine Column, the Obelisk of Theodosius, and the Column of Constantine. Discover the Tombs of Sultans, the final resting place of 5 Sultans and 142 members of the Ottoman dynasty. Visit the fountain of Sultan Ahmet III which is in front of the Imperial Gate of the Topkapı Palace. See the Perayton, an older Byzantine fountain with a Turkish rococo structure. Take as stroll through the Grand Covered Bazaar, the oldest and biggest covered market in the world. Get lost in 65 streets with more than 4000 shops. Have some free time to haggle before sitting down to a delicious lunch. Take in the city sights from the sea on a Bosphorus cruise. Capture pictures of of the Golden Horn, the Topkapı palace, the Dolma Bahçe palace, the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Maiden’s tower, Galata tower, the Blue mosque, Ortakoy mosque. Gaze out at the bridges connecting Europe and Asia. Board the coach and pass by historical wooden houses, churches, synagogues, mosques, and the remains of the Roman Wall. Visit the Eyup Sultan Mosque and see the Abu Eyup Alansari Tomb (Abu Ayyub al-Ansari was the standard bearer and companion of Muhammad). Ascend the Pierre Loti Hill by bus and snap some photos of sweeping views of the Golden Horn. Marvel at city views as you descend the hill on a cable car ride. Return to your accommodation by coach at the end of your tour.

Istanbul: Half-Day Cruise and Cable Car to Pierre Loti Hill

6. Istanbul: Half-Day Cruise and Cable Car to Pierre Loti Hill

Explore Istanbul in 3 fascinating ways on this action-packed, 3.5- to 4-hour sightseeing tour by boat, then the magnificent view of Istanbul from Pierre Loti Hill by cable car. Take an amazing cruise between the 2 continents of Europe and Asia. Sail along the Bosphorus by the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions, all the way up to the Rumeli Fortress near the Black Sea. See imposing Rumeli Fortress, Yildiz Palace, and wooden Ottoman houses. Then head back to shore to wonder at the ancient City Walls, iron-paneled St Stephen's Church, and colorful former-Jewish district on a bus tour to the Golden Horn. Finish with a memorable experience in Istanbul's iconic old city, Sultanahmet.

Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise, Bus Tour, and Cable Car Ride

7. Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise, Bus Tour, and Cable Car Ride

Explore Istanbul by land, sea, and air on this unique tour. Enjoy sights like the Eyup Sultan Mosque by bus, admire the city from the Bosphorus Strait on a scenic cruise, and take in the views from Pierre Loti Hill with a cable car ride.  Enjoy the convenience of being picked up from centrally-located hotels in Istanbul. Relax in an airconditioned bus on your way to the departure point for your cruise on the Bosphorus Strait. Hop aboard a comfortable ship and admire the city from the water. Take in unobstructed views of the Golden horn, the Topkapı palace, the Dolma Bahçe palace, the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Maiden’s Tower, Galata Tower, the Blue mosque, and the Ortakoy mosque. Gaze out at the two bridges that connect Europe and Asia. Get back on the spacious bus and drive to the 19th century Eyup Sultan Mosque where Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (a friend to the Islamic prophet Muhammad) is thought to have been laid to rest. Pass by historical wooden houses, churches, synagogues, mosques and the remains of the Roman Wall. Drive up the Pierre Loti Hill to capture pictures of views of the city and the Golden horn. Enjoy the views on the way down with a thrilling cable car ride. Return to your hotel at the end of your tour.

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

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

Meet your guide at the "Balık Pazarı " 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: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

9. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still holds the position for the 4th largest dome. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years.  Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because, during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there.  The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus and there are magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name, in Turkish, Dolma means 'filled' or 'stuffed,' and bahce means 'garden'. Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

Istanbul Half-Day Historic Tour of Byzantium

10. Istanbul Half-Day Historic Tour of Byzantium

This 4-hour tour takes you back to the days when Istanbul was capital of the Byzantine Empire, a period of more than 1,000 years, from the 4th to the 15th-Century AD. You will start at the natural naval harbor of the Byzantines, named the Golden Horn due to its hornlike shape and golden reflection under sunshine when viewed from the hill tops. Visit the Patriarchate at Fener, the seat of Orthodox Christianity after Constantine The Great declared Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Continue to the Church of Panagia of Blachernae, the best known and most celebrated shrine of the Holy Virgin, famed for its “Hagiasma” (holy water) and the “Hagion Lousma” (sacred bath). You will stop at St. Savior in Chora, now the Kariye Museum, but originally a Byzantine monastery with fantastic mosaics and frescoes that portray scenes from the bible. Next you will go to Anemas Dungeons, part of the Blachernae Palace and unique in the world for its architectural structure. Used as a prison for high ranking statesmen, it consisted of 14 separate dungeons, each with 2 basements below sea-level. Tour Tekfur Palace, built in the 12th-Century, adjacent to the city walls, and the only surviving pavilion of the Blachernae Palace. Finally you will see the remains of the 5th-Century Byzantine city walls, which surrounded the acropolis of Byzantium and were 13 miles (22 kilometers) long, with 96 towers and 9 main gates.

Other Sightseeing Options in Golden Horn

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What people are saying about Golden Horn

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 2,268 reviews

This was our first time in Istanbul. We came in on a Princess Cruise. Our guide Mehmet was absolutely amazing. He contacted us the day before to arrange the meeting time and place. He was right there once we walked out of the cruise terminal holding a sign with our name. He greeted us warmly and asked us what we wanted our day to look like. We told him, this is where you were born & raised, please show us what you would like us to see. We saw all the main attractions but the highlight was when Mehmet took us to the Pudding Shop for lunch. We had authentic Turkish food that was fantastic. We then headed to the bizarre when Mehmet navigated us to a shop to get spices, fruit nuts & incredible teas. We highly recommend Mehmet. He was so lovely and kind and he made our trip beyond anything that we could have imagined.

Great professional experience. The staff was attentive and there was no wasted time. Everything ran smoothly without any hiccups. All snacks and beverages are free but alcoholic drinks cost extra. We were able to go during the evening to catch a beautiful sunset. The tour was informative and covered all the places youd wsnt to see. As a tourist it was an exceptional experience and one that was easy from start to finish.

Our guide was very respectful and informative. His knowledge of city and it’s history was much appreciated. He made suggestions on visiting sites that tried to minimize waiting time. This flexibility in scheduling allowed us to learn and see more of the city We highly recommend this tour with our guide Musa

It was a beautiful night and a great way to get oriented to the city and sights. The boat was beautiful, staff very attentive and the treats were tasty. Informative guide, would highly recommend.

We had a wonderful time. Ozgur was a fantastic guide. He was very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly.