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Golden Horn

Meet the Locals

Our most recommended Golden Horn Meet the Locals

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

1. 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

2. 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.

Secrets of Istanbul: 5-Hour Walking Tour with Lunch

3. 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: Guided Sightseeing Tour With Lunch

4. 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.

Istanbul's Golden Horn, Eyüp, Miniatürk & Pierre Loti Tour

5. Istanbul's Golden Horn, Eyüp, Miniatürk & Pierre Loti Tour

This half-day tour of Istanbul’s Golden Horn visits the city’s most sacred site and the 3rd most sacred site in the world after Mecca and Jerusalem. The Eyüp Sultan Mosque is visited by thousands of faithful people every day and you will join in as you explore the Mosque of Eyüp-El-Ensari, flagbearer of the Prophet Mohammed. Eyüp-El-Ensari died in Istanbul during the Arabic siege of the city in the 7th-Century. The old trees, pigeons, praying believers and the large crowd create a mystical and colorful atmosphere around the mosque. Continue via the Teleferique to the Pierre Loti Coffee House, located on a hill with beautiful trees. Enjoy the wonderful panorama of the Golden Horn and the bird’s eye view of the Horn from the cable car as you ascend 1,800 feet (550 meters) in less than 2 minutes. The coffee house takes its name from Pierre Loti, the French author and poet who was extremely fond of İstanbul and wrote as he sat in the coffee house while enjoying the views. Next visit Miniatürk, an open field of miniature scaled models of the best known masterpieces of Turkey that create a fairy-tale environment of İstanbul, Anatolia and the former Ottoman territories. It reflects the revival of Turkish culture and history in all its magnificence. Countless human models, situated throughout the park, such as a railroad worker, Muslims in a mosque courtyard, Jews praying in a synagogue, and flower sellers, portray the lifestyle of Turkish society through ages. Spend some time exploring the colorful shopping center, where you can find some of the best souvenirs in İstanbul, before the tour concludes.

Istanbul: Orient Express Trail Walk

6. Istanbul: Orient Express Trail Walk

Imagine arriving in Constantinople by train traveling with the Wagon-Lits Company. Your tour into the nostalgia of the 19th century begins at the rail station where the Orient Express arrived in Istanbul. Your 3-hour guided walk (available on Tuesdays) will take you past old shops, markets, mosques, and churches, as your guide tells you stories about the train journey that began in Paris and inspired Agatha Christie to write her famous mystery, Murder on the Orient Express. The tour continues with a short Golden Horn boat ride and a short journey on The Tunnel, the oldest subway in the world. Finish off with a walking tour in the streets of Galata and Beyoglu.

Istanbul: Evening Discovery Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

7. Istanbul: Evening Discovery Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

Meet your local expert guide at the port and spend an evening in Istanbul. Leave your cruise ship and extend your time in Istanbul to discover the European quarter around Beyoglu and Galata. Join a private or small group for a walking tour beginning with a walk up the hill to the Galata Tower area to the famous pedestrian Istiklal Street. Learn about the area's rich history and culture originating from the Sephardic Jews of 1492. See how the Ottoman Sultans made Galata a residential area after the conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century. Learn how Istanbul was during the heyday of the Ottomans and the lifestyle of the non-Muslim population. Discover with your local expert guide as they explain the finest examples of the link between Muslim architecture in Istanbul and Europe. Walk on pedestrian avenues and see Istanbulites enjoy their evening and learn about the curious, old embassy buildings. See the local a fish and flower market, the liveliest and most colorful spot on the street. Explore the magnificent Pera Palace Hotel — where Agatha Christie is said to have written "Murder on the Orient Express" — built by the Orient Express company. Take photos of various churches, synagogues, descending steps to haunting courtyards, alleys, and of course, the most venerable restaurants. End the tour as you choose to spend free time in the Galata district or follow your guide back to your ship.

Istanbul: 6-Hour Byzantine Tour Along the Golden Horn

8. 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). 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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What people are saying about Golden Horn

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 345 reviews

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 was Coskun and he did an amazing job showing us around the city with the depth of knowledge he has of the city and its history. He was very patient with my mom who has knee issues and made sure she didn't get lost if she fell behind. Thank you so much for this experience!

This tour was amazing! Getting to know Istanbul with Salih felt like exploring the city with a Turkish friend. He’s knowledgeable, funny and has something to say about every corner of the city. We spent a great morning with him. Time flew! I definitely recommend it.

A very well organized and conducted private tour of Istanbul. We had booked the two-day tour, which was super flexible and all requests were catered for. Conducted by a very good and friendly tour guide. We can only recommend it

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