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Golden Horn

Architecture Tours

Our most recommended Golden Horn Architecture Tours

Istanbul: Golden Horn and Bosphorus Tour

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

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

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

Meet your guide at the Fuego Café and Restaurant in Sultanhamet, in the heart of the main tourist area of Istanbul. From here you’ll take the local tram to Eminönü Harbor and begin a 5-hour excursion into 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. Visit 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 Eminönü Harbor, where the tour ends.

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

4. 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 Cruise and Cable Car to Pierre Loti Hill

5. 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: Old Town Tour and Bosphorus Lunch Cruise

6. Istanbul: Old Town Tour and Bosphorus Lunch Cruise

After being transferred from your city center hotel between 8:30AM and 9:00AM, you will travel with your private guide to the Old City of İstanbul. Your tour will then begin with a guided tour of the Hippodrome, the Obelisk of Theodisius and the German Fountain. You will then proceed to the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque), also known as the Sultan Ahmet Camii (or Sultan Ahmed Mosque). This breath-taking building is one of the most majestic Ottoman mosques in all of Turkey. Following this mosque, you will head to Haigha Sophia. Often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world, the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya in Turkish) in Sultanahmet is easily one of Istanbul's most impressive sights. It also has one of the most turbulent histories of any museum in the world. To find out why, it's best to delve back through its previous incarnations with your guide. You will then have lunch on a private yacht while experiencing a Bosphorus Cruise. Places you will see from the Bosphorus while having your lunch will include the Dolmabahçe Palace (the main administration center of the Ottoman Empire), the Çıragan Palace, the Ortakoy Mosque, the Bosphorus Bridge, Rumeli Castle, and the Golden Horn. Your menu during this cruise will consist of 10 kinds of cold starters, a hot starter, a fresh seasonal Salad, a main course (grilled fish, chicken or meatballs with rice and garlic), fresh seasonal fruits, soft drinks and hot drinks. At the conclusion of the tour, you will be transferred to your hotel or anywhere of your choosing in the city center.

Secrets of Istanbul: 5-Hour Walking Tour with Lunch

7. Secrets of Istanbul: 5-Hour Walking Tour with Lunch

Your 5-hour guided walk begins in Sultanhamet, in the heart of the main tourist area of Istanbul. From here you’ll head to the Blue Mosque, where you’ll admire the 6 minarets and stunning tiles that were made in Iznik, the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire. Next your guide will tell you about Hagia Sophia and the Roxana Baths before continuing on to the ancient Hippodrome. Hear about the famous obelisk that was shipped from Egypt to the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius in 6th century A.D. Walk along the ancient roadway past the Ottoman Parliament House and then make your way to the Grand Bazaar. Marvel at the labyrinth of streets lined with textiles and most every other kind of product as well! You can learn the local art of bargaining here. Enjoy a stroll to the nearby Sahaflar Book Market, where books were printed for the first time during the Ottoman era. Learn about Islam and its holy book, the Koran. On the way to the Suleymaniye complex you’ll pass by the spectacular façade of Istanbul University and enter the Cagaloglu district, which is a shopping hub for locals that’s far from the main tourist attractions. Once you reach the Suleymaniye complex you’ll see the Turkish bath, the library, the madrasah, eateries, and the grand Suleymaniye Mosque that dominates the skyline along the Golden Horn. Learn about the history of the Mosque, named after the most famous and powerful of sultans, Suleyman the Magnificent. Your guide knows a great hidden teahouse here where you can drink çay (tea) and try a nargile (water pipe) with its intoxicating aroma and fruity flavors. After the break, you’ll continue on through the hidden streets of Istanbul. See local markets where products are made on site. Visit the hidden Rustem Pasha Mosque and admire its lovely tiles. Then it will be time to taste some baklava, a delicious Turkish dessert. Explore the spice market and see a mountain of Turkish spices, Turkish delight, and local handicrafts. From the Spice Bazaar you’ll take a walk so that you can appreciate the views of the picturesque Galata Bridge. Finally it’s time to relax for a delicious lunch of local specialties. After lunch your guide can tell you how to get back to your hotel and give you some advice on other things to do in your free time.

Istanbul: Full-Day Bosphorus & Ottoman Splendors Tour

8. Istanbul: Full-Day Bosphorus & Ottoman Splendors Tour

Cruise the Bosphorus and from the deck of your cruise boat, take in the sights and sounds of this legendary waterway, lined with historic villages, grandiose waterfront mansions, imposing fortresses, like Anadolu Hisari, and the Baroque palaces of the late Ottoman sultans. After your cruise, travel along the breathtaking Golden Horn to the Spice Bazaar, a thrilling riot of colors, sounds and the smells of exotic spices. Enjoy your lunch at a rooftop restaurant with Bosphorus views. The great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries, Topkapi Palace houses an exquisite collection of precious gems, jewelry thrones of sultans, robes worn by the sultans and their families, miniatures, the Holy Mantle and Chamber of Sacred Relics. Then visit the New Mosque, completed in 1665. Originally named Valide Sultan Mosque, the construction was ordered by Safiye Sultan, the wife of Sultan Murad III and the mother of his successor Sultan Mehmed III, hence the name Valide Sultan meaning Queen Mother. The mosque is an Imperial Mosque and one of the famous architectural landmarks of Istanbul. At the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Market), the air here will be filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice. After the Spice Bazaar, you will take a short tour of the Golden Horn and go to Kabatas for a Bosporus tour on a private boat. Not only does the Bosporus connect the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, it also separates the continents of Asia and Europe from one another. As a natural and extremely secure harbor, the Golden Horn has played an important role in the development of Istanbul. The inlet separates the European shore into two. It is approximately 8 kilometers long, and the widest part is the entrance from the Bosphorus. Two streams drain into this inlet at its far end. Enjoy an amazing cruise between the two continents, Europe and Asia, along the Bosphorus by the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions up to the Rumeli Fortress. The first breach of the walls was by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the second by the cannons and troops of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453. View the Rumeli Fortress from the sea (no interior visit). Istanbul had been besieged many times before Mehmet the Conqueror took the city in 1453 but it managed to defend itself with the help of the Roman city walls.

Istanbul: Guided Sightseeing Tour With Lunch

9. Istanbul: Guided Sightseeing Tour With Lunch

Experience the perfect immersion to the wonderful history and culture of Istanbul with this comprehensive sightseeing tour of the busy city. In the morning, get picked up at your hotel by an air-conditioned vehicle, then immediately head off to the Blue Mosque, which is also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, and check out the blue tiles of the interior that gave the mosque its current name. Next, spend some time shopping for memorable souvenirs at the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest covered markets, before you rest and recharge with a delicious lunch at an authentic Turkish restaurant. In the afternoon, explore famous sites that were preserved from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and learn fascinating facts and stories from your English-speaking guide. Stop by the Topkapi Palace, the largest and oldest palace in the world, along with the Tombs of the Sultans in Hagia Sofia. See several small buildings that look like miniature mosques and contain lavishly decorated tombs of five different sultans and their extended families. Next, cross the busy Galata Bridge, which has restaurants and cafes underneath it open all day and night, to get to the Golden Horn, a magnificent inlet bordered by city's domes and mosques. Finally, stop at Leander's Tower, one of the most iconic images of Istanbul, before you get dropped off back at your accommodation.

From Istanbul: 4-Day Small Group Istanbul & Cappadocia Tour

10. From Istanbul: 4-Day Small Group Istanbul & Cappadocia Tour

Your guide will meet you at your hotel between 08:00 and 08:30. Visit the Istanbul old city area which includes Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar and Topkapi Palace. Have lunch during the tour. The average duration of this tour is 8-hours. At the end of the tour, your guide will leave you back at your hotel. On the second day, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby between 08:00 and 08:30. During this tour, you will visit the Golden Horn, the old city walls of Istanbul, the Spice Market and Dolmabahce Palace or Chora Museum. There will be a lunch stop during the tour. The tour will end at around 17:00. Please do not forget to take your luggage in the morning. After the tour, you will be transferred to airport for your flight to Cappadocia. Once you arrive in Cappadocia, you will have organized transfer from the airport to your hotel.  On your third day, your guide will meet you in the lobby of your hotel at around 09:00. You will enjoy a tour of southern Cappadocia, also known as the Green Tour, which will include the following sites: Derinkuyu Underground City (the largest underground city in the area with 7 floors 85 meters deep; not recommended for claustrophobic guests) and Ihlara Valley (1.5-hour trekking). Have a lunch stop in the village of Bellisirma. Afterwards, you will visit Piegon Valley (panoramic visit), Selime Monastery and Esentepe (panoramic view). After the tour, you will be dropped back off at your hotel. On the fourth and last day, your guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at around 09:00 and take you on a tour of northern Cappadocia, known as the Red Tour, to Rose Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum (important early Christianity center), Monks Valley, Cavusin village (one of the oldest settlements in the area), Avanos village (with stop at a traditional pottery workshop), Uchisar Castle and Dervent Valley. The average tour duration will be 8-hours. After the tour, you will be transferred back to the airport for your return flight to Istanbul.

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What people are saying about Golden Horn

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 359 reviews

Songul Aksu. She is the best tourist guide you can imagine, if you want to feel like someone local she can help. She can also give the best recommendations in town for anything you want. I feel so comfortable and it was an amazing experience, I would repeat these experience as many times as possible. Istanbul is a place that I will recommend 100% to walk with someone local, you will never stop learning and getting shocked by these city. I chose 3 day tour with transportation and I will recommend this experience 100%.

Relaxing couple of hours with great views. Meet staff at the permanent news/drinks kiosk as described. They have a red flag and yellow sign so you can see and follow them. Refreshments available on board the boat and a loo! Tannoy style commentary was ok but you can download an app if you prefer. If you have a guide book the sights are in there too - pretty obvious. We really enjoyed our trip.

My wife and I had a 3 days guided tour, it covered everything we wanted to see in Istanbul and more. You can also nominate location. We opted not to go to Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar (also they are closed during Eid holiday). Our guide Korhan was fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable. We had a great time with him, highly recommended!

I took this tour with another lady, guided by Onder, and partially by Selih. Onder was probably the best guide I had while in Istanbul and he really made me enjoy this part of the city

Off the beaten path for those who are interested. Got to see a lot more about Istanbul which I didn’t see before. Highly recommend this.