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Golden Horn

Shore Excursions

Our most recommended Golden Horn Shore Excursions

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

1. 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

Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia & More: Istanbul City Tour

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

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

4. 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.

Istanbul Scenic Half-Day Bosphorus Cruise

5. Istanbul Scenic Half-Day Bosphorus Cruise

Explore the spice bazaar, located next to New Mosque (Yeni Camii) in Eminonu. The unique bazaar evokes fantasies of the mystical East and is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and many other herbs and spices. Be driven along the Golden Horn and gaze at the historical heart of Istanbul and the principal harbor of the Byzantium and Ottoman periods for hundreds of years. Enjoy snacks and refreshments at Cafe Pierre Loti, a quaint cafe at the end of the Bosphorus with a beautiful view of the Golden Horn that was named after the famous French writer Pierre Loti. After this you will gain an entirely different perspective of the Golden Horn whilst driving down from the nearby hill with the Cable Car. Relax on a cruise along the great Bosphorus river which separates Asia and Europe. This voyage enables you to see the delightfully surprising mixture of past and present, Asian and European influences, grand splendor and simple beauty.

Istanbul: Golden Horn & Pierre Loti Hill Cable Car Day Trip

6. Istanbul: Golden Horn & Pierre Loti Hill Cable Car Day Trip

The Golden Horn, a horn-shaped estuary, is said to be the world’s best natural harbor. Its name is rumored to have been derived from the golden hue of the water due to the reflection of the sun during sunset. During the Byzantine period, the Golden Horn was a trading harbor as well as a popular residential area. By the time of the Ottoman period, the Golden Horn had become populated by immigrants from Spain, Armenia, Greek, etc. In this full day trip, you’ll explore the areas by the banks of the horn and learn about the many historic sites nearby and explore the picturesque parks and promenades that have popped up in recent years. Start with a stop at St. George’s Cathedral. This neo-classical church dates back to the 16th century when it was recognized as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Take a look inside the lavish interiors of the cathedral before heading to the Phanar Greek Orthodox College. Built in the early 1800s and said to be one of the oldest educational institutions in Turkey, this historic structure will remind you of the iconic Hogwarts Castle in the famous Harry Potter franchise. Up next, you’ll head to the districts of Fener and Balat, which are steeped in history and culture. Wander around the cobblestone streets and take in the colorful Ottoman architecture. Stop for lunch in one of the local restaurants in Balat before heading to the Bulgarian St. Stephen Church. Also known as the Bulgarian Iron Church, this shrine’s design features prefabricated cast iron elements in the neo-Byzantine style. Marvel at the intricate details of the church before making your way to Pierre Loti Hill. To reach the top of the hill, you’ll board a cable car and take in the stunning 360-degree views of the Golden Horn. Once you reach the hill itself, take a breather and admire the breathtaking views of the wonderful city below.

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: Bosporus and Dolmabahce Palace Shore Excursion

8. Istanbul: Bosporus and Dolmabahce Palace Shore Excursion

Discover the only city on 2 continents on a full-day guided tour of Istanbul. Cruise along the Bosporus Strait and see the vast suspension bridge that links Asia and Europe. Go to the former residence of the Ottoman sultans and Dolmabahçe Palace, and more. Following a pick-up from your hotel from 08:30, transfer to the Bosporus, and cruise through the Golden Horn, the historical heart of the city and the principal harbor of Byzantium, Constantinople, and Istanbul for over 2,000 years. Admire Rumeli Fortress, Istanbul’s biggest fortification, from the sea. Pass Pierre Loti Hill, named after the French novelist and naval officer, Pierre Loti, who spent many years in Istanbul. Then, take the cable car to see Istanbul from a different perspective. Marvel at the city walls of Constantinople, and learn how they were only breached twice in 1600 years. Enjoy some free shopping time, before lunch at a Turkish restaurant. Continue in the afternoon with a visit to Dolmabahçe Palace, home to 6 sultans from 1856 until the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924. Go to the Bosporus Bridge (one of the world's largest suspension bridges) linking Europe and Asia. Next, ascend one of Istanbul’s hills by bus for a commanding view of the Bosporus and old Istanbul.

Frequently asked questions about Golden Horn Shore Excursions

What are other things to do than Golden Horn Shore Excursions that are worth visiting in Istanbul?

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Other Sightseeing Options in Golden Horn

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What people are saying about Golden Horn

Overall rating

4.1 / 5

based on 333 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%.

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!

With Ayla we had a wonderful guide with a lot of experience! She showed us the most beautiful places, explained things to us wonderfully and also had a lot of good tips ready. We had two great days with Ayla. We can only recommend the tour. The program is excellent for 2 days. Thanks very much!

The experience for a great day. The great guide, explaining everything, polite and very patient. I recommend it.

A good experience, and a nice and educated guide !