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Golden Horn

Culture & History

Our most recommended Golden Horn Culture & History

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 Half-Day Historic Tour of Byzantium

3. 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.

Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & More: Istanbul City Tour

4. Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & More: Istanbul City Tour

This full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul provides a perfect introduction to the city that straddles Europe and Asia. When Istanbul was known as Constantinople, it was the capital of the Roman Empire and the wealthiest metropolis in Europe. On this city tour you’ll visit Istanbul’s 4 most important historic sites with a local guide. The Blue Mosque is an iconic monument in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds. The stunning structure was built in the classical Ottoman style, and features 6 towering minarets and 260 windows that provide illumination for its vast inner chamber that is lined with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles. In the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia was built by the Emperor Justinian. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and later converted into a museum, featuring many beautiful Byzantine mosaics. One of the largest and oldest palaces in the world, Topkapi is the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, walking Topkapi's grounds offers gorgeous views of the city and the nearby Bosphorus. You’ll have time to shop at the Grand Bazaar – its 58 streets are lined with more than 4,000 shops. It is one of the world's largest covered markets, and is particularly known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices, and carpets.

Istanbul: Tourist Pass with Over 75 Attractions & Services

5. Istanbul: Tourist Pass with Over 75 Attractions & Services

Save time and money with a convenient 2, 3, 5 or 7-day passport to Istanbul. The Istanbul Tourist Pass is an online city Pass that provides access to some of the city’s top sights, during the days you choose. It is the only city pass available that allows you to enjoy Istanbul in a simple, convenient, and fun way. All the passes include a chat service during available hours with professional guides over WhatsApp. By presenting your GetYourGuide voucher at the entrance, gain access to:• Hagia Sophia Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Topkapi Palace Museum Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Basilica Cistern Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Dolmabahçe Palace Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Blue Mosque Guided Tour (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Grand Bazar Guided Tour (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Hagia Irene Museum in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Guided Tour in English (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Tiled Pavilion Museum (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Museum of the Ancient Orient (check meeting point and tour schedule)• Photoshoot in Ottoman attire (1 per person)• Şerefiye Cistern Guided Tour• Madame Tussauds Wax Museum• SEA Life Aquarium• Sapphire Observation Deck with 4D Skyride Simulation• Museum of Illusions• Hop-on hop-off Bosphorus boat cruise (1-ring or 1-day, Bosphorus Strait or Golden Horn)• Bosphorus boat tour• Princes’ Islands boat trip• LEGOLand (adults cannot enter LEGOLand without a child)• Xtrem Aventures• Pera Museum• Dialogue in the Silence• Istanbul Airport Shuttle (One way)• Jungle & Dungeon & Safari• Sakıp Sabancı Museum• Upside Down House Photo Experience• Jungle & Dungeon & Safari (cannot be visited without children)• The Museum of Selfies• Dialogue in the Silence• Bursa Day trip• Sapanca Lake & Maşukiye Daily Tour• Istanbul Segway Tour• Emaar Aquarium and Underwater Zoo• Istanbul Toy Museum By making reservations in advance and presenting your GetYourGuide voucher, get access to the following:• Discount on a 1-way airport transfer. You are allowed to choose the direction• Whirling dervishes ceremony (requires a reservation in advance)• Bosphorus dinner cruise. Dinner and shows included (requires a reservation in advance)• Dialogue in the Dark• Miniaturk Park Istanbul• Eyup Sultan Mosque• Pierre Loti• Discounted COVID PCR Test• 2-Day free Wi-Fi device

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

6. 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

7. 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: Fener and Balat Small-Group Walking Tour

8. Istanbul: Fener and Balat Small-Group Walking Tour

Start your tour with a ferry ride along the Golden Horn from Karakoy to Ayvansaray, where you will see the skyline of Istanbul from this famous waterway onboard a local ferry. You can listen to your guide as they go over the history of Constantinople, the conquest by the Ottomans and the introduction of Jewish culture after 1492. Afterwards, visit the extraordinary church of Mary Blachernae, Ahrida Synagogue and walk the streets and markets of Balat through the splashes of color and the vibrancy of its street life. Experience the crisscross of washing lines on the crumbling buildings, and the labyrinth of cobblestone streets teeming with kids playing football. You will then end your tour in Fener after seeing the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate which houses a column which is believed to have been used for the binding and flogging of Jesus in Jerusalem. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Church is an essential part of this tour, as it is the most sacred site for all of the 300 million Orthodox people in the world.

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

9. 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: Full-Day Tour with Dolmabahce & Bosphorus Cruise

10. Istanbul: Full-Day Tour with Dolmabahce & Bosphorus Cruise

Get a comprehensive overview of Istanbul on this full-day tour of the city by coach, boat, and cable car. Perfect for those who aim to get a sense of what makes Istanbul unique, this full-day exploration gives a varied tour of the city. It will reveal a mixture of Eastern and European influences that makes the city so unique. First, get picked up from your hotel by bus and driven along the length of the Golden Horn, the historic water that divides Istanbul. Take in the sites of the historic city center and the main port, dating back to the Ottoman and Byzantine empires. Then, travel to the top of Pierre Loti Hill by cable car, and admire panoramic views of the city as you drink coffee at the famous Pierre Loti Café, named after the French novelist who spent much of his time there.  Next, experience the splendor of Istanbul from the water. In the afternoon, enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Bosphorus and take in the grand spectacle of the city’s houses and palaces from the river. Finally, enjoy a tour of Dolmabahce Palace, home to the last of the Ottoman Sultans. Admire one of the most glamorous palaces in the world, once the administrative heart of the Ottoman Empire.

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What people are saying about Golden Horn

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 758 reviews

FABULOUS!! Our guide, Enver was amazing! He showed up at our apartment right on time and we spent two magnificent days with him. He was fantastic in that he knew the history of each place as well as Instanbul and Turkey overall. I am a history buff, so it was thrilling for me to hear all the knowledge that Enver shared with us. He was so accomodating, and flexible and he did exactly what we wanted to do. I would definitely suggest two days...... three might have been too many and one not enough. I can't say enough good things about Enver and also doing Instanbul with such a helpful guide. I would definitely suggest him and this tour!!!!!

We did this tour with Onder today and had a fantastic time! Our group was the only one on the tour so Onder really tailored it for us. We felt like we got to see a great deal of the old city for only a half day, especially a beautiful mosque that we would never have known to visit otherwise. We got to try some great teas, boreks, turkish delight, and kebab lunch and learned a lot about the history of the city. The pace was great and Onder was extremely kind, friendly, and knowledgeable. Would highly recommend if you're visiting Istanbul!

Our guide Alexander was great and knowledgeable. It was a half day full of fun experience with nice new acquaintances from all over the globe. Eva, Manila Philippines

The guide Onder was great , it was a good way to visit Istanbul , the different places , the food was great . Nothing to say more , a good day

Overall the tour was very good. Communication was very good. I got the message from tour providers a day before the tour started.