Istanbul
Meet the Locals

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Our most recommended Istanbul Meet the Locals

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

You will start at the old Hippodrome of Constantinople which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major works of art including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II, constructed by the Germans. From there, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose six minarets are a key fixture of Istanbul’s skyline. Next, head for the Topkapi Palace, which was home to the Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. Move on to the Hagia Sophia Mosque. Behold the dome and stunning Byzantine mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then visit the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Also stroll around the Spice Bazaar with its incredible smell from almost every spice imaginable, as well as dried fruits and nuts, sweets and the ubiquitous Turkish Delight.

Turkish Dance Tickets at Hodjapasha Cultural Centre

2. Turkish Dance Tickets at Hodjapasha Cultural Centre

Delve into the oriental night as you watch this Turkish dance performance. Be enticed by Turkish folklore dances from different regions of Anatolia performed by professional dancers, blended with modern choreography, stunning costumes, and live music. Enjoy the intimate and authentic atmosphere of this evening show inside the Hodjapasha Cultural Centre, situated within the ancient construction of the Hodjapasha Hamam: a restored 550-year-old Ottoman bath. Admire the original architecture of the building and discover the Dervish exhibition, presented in the foyer area.

From Istanbul: Best of Turkey 8 Days, 7 Nights Guided Tour

3. From Istanbul: Best of Turkey 8 Days, 7 Nights Guided Tour

Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul Be picked up from the arrivals terminal at Istanbul or Sabiha Gokcen Airport. Be transferred to your accommodation and enjoy some time to relax in the city after your journey.  Day 2: Full-Day Istanbul Tour (Breakfast) Start with pickup from your accommodation and discover the highlights of Istanbul on a guided tour. Visit the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome, where chariot races and the Byzantine riots took place. Visit the Grand Bazaar for some shopping and bargain hunting. Be returned to your hotel at the end of the day and spend a second night in Istanbul. Day 3: Istanbul to Cappadocia by flight – Cappadocia Tour (Breakfast – Dinner) Begin the third day with an early-morning pickup and transfer to Istanbul airport for your flight to the Cappadocia region. Upon arrival in Cappadocia, your tour guide will meet you at the airport. Start by visiting the Three Sisters Fairy Chimneys in Urgup which are the iconic symbol for the region. Descend into the Kaymakli underground city, which is one of the largest and the deepest of its kind in the region. After the tour, be transferred to your hotel for the night. Day 4: Full-Day Cappadocia Tour (Breakfast – Dinner) Discover the lunar-like landscape of Cappadocia with spectacular rock formations in the Devrent Valley. Enjoy lunch in Avanos, a center of terracotta artwork since 3000 BC. Watch a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. In the afternoon, visit the Goreme Open Air Museum and Uchisar Rock Castle to get a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. After the tour, be returned to your hotel. Day 5: Cappadocia – Konya – Pamukkale (Breakfast – Dinner) Begin the journey to Pamukkale early in the morning. On the way, visit the Seljukian masterpiece of Sultanhan Caravanserai, built in the 13th century. Arrive in Konya and visit the Mausoleum of Mevlana, the world-famous mystic. Continue the journey to Pamukkale and enjoy an overnight stay in a Thermal Hotel. Enjoy a swim in the hotel's rejuvenating thermal pools. Day 6: Pamukkale – Kusadasi (Breakfast – Dinner) In the morning, visit the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis known for its Theater, Apollo Temple, and magnificent Necropolis. Travel onwards to Kusadasi for an overnight stay. Day 7: Kusadasi – Ephesus – Istanbul by flight (Breakfast) Depart from Kusadasi and visit the Artemis Temple which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Continue to the famous Grand Theater of Ephesus. After Ephesus, visit the Catholic shrine of the House of the Virgin Mary. Located on the Aladag Mountains 5 miles from Ephesus, it is said that the Virgin Mary lived here for the remainder of her life after Christ's Ascension into heaven. Then drive to Izmir airport for your flight back to Istanbul. Upon your return to Istanbul, meet a representative of the local partner and be transferred to your hotel for the night.  Day 8: Departure from Istanbul (Breakfast) After breakfast, check out from your hotel and enjoy a private transfer to Istanbul airport for your flight back home to complete the 8-day excursion.

Istanbul: Round-Trip Ferry Tickets to Princes Islands

4. Istanbul: Round-Trip Ferry Tickets to Princes Islands

Exchange your voucher at the ticket office in Kabatas and get access to the boat. The boat departs from Kabatas ferry station in the morning and returns in the evening. A Marine Officer will welcome you at the departure pier, help you onto the boat, hand you a Bosphorus cruise plan, and explain to you what you will see during the crossing. Set off for the Princes' Islands, which in Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times were used as exile sites and as a monastery region. Today only 4 of the total 9 Princes’ Islands are open to public settlement. Arrive at the most famous and beautiful of these islands called Büyükada, or 'Big Island'. Spend the day exploring the island at your own pace. Take a walk through the center and get used to the silence that reigns on the island. See the Merkez Eczanesi, a pharmacy from 1870, and feel you have stepped back in time. Go to Hamlaci Street 4 and see the ruins of the villa where Trotsky lived in exile between 1929 and 1933, writing his autobiography and 3 volumes on the "History of the Russian Revolution". Alternatively, rent a bike and cycle around the island admiring the magnificent old villas lining the streets. Explore the Greek Orthodox St. George Church on top of the island's tallest hill where you can also admire fantastic views of Istanbul, the Marmara Sea, and the neighboring islands.  Stop over and visit the former Greek Orphanage, Europe’s largest and the world's 2nd largest wooden house. Enjoy a delicious lunch in one of the many restaurants around the harbor. Go to one of the public beaches (Halk Plaji) or beach clubs for swimming and sunbathing. If you like hiking, you can also walk around the island on foot. When you have finished exploring, take the return ferry to Istanbul at your leisure. The boat returns from Büyukada (Big Island) to Kabatas ferry station at 3:30 PM.

Istanbul 7-Hour Pub Crawl: Big Night Out

5. Istanbul 7-Hour Pub Crawl: Big Night Out

Join this 7-hour pub crawl for a big night out in Istanbul if you’re looking for the best places to party and the craziest places in the city. Start out with a free welcome beer at the meeting point and then head to at least 3 of the top party spots, where your entrance is free! Act as the locals do and experience alternative venues that tourists have never heard of before. Gather your group of friends together, or head out into the night to meet new friends from around the world. The pub crawl ensures free and immediate entry to all locations visited. You’ll find this pub crawl to be different than many of the others, as the guide takes you to the most popular bars, clubs, and pubs in Istanbul.

Istanbul: Galata Guided Walking Tour and Tower Entry

6. Istanbul: Galata Guided Walking Tour and Tower Entry

Meet your guide in front of the exit of the Tünel funicular station and start strolling through the backstreets of the Pera district. See the first luxury hotels of Istanbul which have hosted kings, queens, and world-famous writers and artists. After exploring the backstreets of Pera, follow your guide to a historic fish market and one of the most famous bar streets of Istanbul. While here, have the chance to try some local street food. Reach Istiklal Avenue and see people from all around the world, shops, restaurants, art galleries, and many historic buildings. Walk by some of the oldest consulates and churches from the 18-19th century Ottoman Empire. From Istiklal Avenue, find yourself in the neighborhood of Galata. On your way to the Galata Tower, pass through a cobblestone street full of music shops. The go-to street of every musician in Turkey, see shops specialized in hand-made ethnic instruments and equipment. After a few minutes of walking, find yourself in front of one of the most iconic landmarks of Istanbul, Galata Tower. Listen to its stories and legends and head inside to access the elevator of the tower. Your guide will assist with your entry. From the tower's terrace, witness an impressive view of the city. See Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Bosphorus Strait, the Bosphorus Bridge, Marmara Sea, both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Golden Horn, and even the Prince Islands. Your tour will end in Galata Tower, and here you are free to spend as much time as you want to take incredible pictures of Istanbul.

Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

7. Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

This private experience is the perfect introduction to Istanbul for first-time visitors. Enjoy a guided full-day tour to discover the best of the city. The tour can be fully customized to suit your needs, simply tell your guide what interests you the most.  Visit the historic Hippodrome, the exquisite Blue Mosque and the iconic Hagia Sophia. Experience the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultans with a tour of Topkapi Palace, or browse the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar. The choice is yours. Benefit from pickup and drop-off at your centrally-located hotel. With your private guide you’ll enjoy priority entrance to all the sights, so standing you won’t waste time standing in queues.

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.

Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

9. Highlights of Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour

Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hipporome, 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 8-hour 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 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. Move on to the Blue Mosque, more 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 in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. You will also visit the Hippodrome, 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. You will also pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Your day won’t be complete, however, without a visit to the Grand Bazaar, 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. 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 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. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

Istanbul: Taste of Two Continents Food Tour

10. Istanbul: Taste of Two Continents Food Tour

From home-made dishes and street food to traditional kebabs and Turkish ice cream, immerse yourself in Istanbul’s food scene and acquaint yourself with Turkish culture and habits during this walking tour. Make stops at 10 different eateries with a variety of samples at each. Begin your morning with a delicious Turkish breakfast of locally sourced produce on Istanbul’s European side before crossing the mighty Bosphorus by ferry to explore the more modern and chic area of Kadıköy, on the Asian side, where you will discover the best restaurants in Istanbul. Sip on freshly brewed Turkish coffee while enjoying locally-made baklava. Taste delicious dolma, tantuni and kokoreç, as well as other local favorites. Enjoy the home-cooked flavours of Kadıköy’s most loved restaurant, Çiya Sofrası. Finally, finish your day with the cool, refreshing flavours of the best Turkish dondurma (ice-cream) in Moda.

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What people are saying about Istanbul

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 706 reviews

Kenan was helpful, knowledgeable and professional. Nice sense of humor as well, my husband and I had a nice experience overall and felt we were able to squeeze a lot in one day, and Kenan was flexible enough to adapt to our wants and needs… It was amazing how he seems to know the Grand Bazaar like the palm of his hand! I wanted to see fabrics and he took me to three exquisite small stores, had tea with the owners, made me feel like a local, not a tourist. At Topkapi he knew so much about the architecture, the time frames, and very interesting anecdotes and folk legends… and hey I am an Art Historian! Recommend

This was a fantastic tour, around the Fener and Balat neighborhoods of Istanbul. The tour started with a ferry ride which was such a great way to see the city! We were then taken through all the different streets and learnt about the city's rich history along the way. Our guide Cetin was absolutely fantastic - super knowledgeable about the area and history, was very easy to get along with. We had a great time with him! He kindly took us on the bus back to into the city centre so we could catch our ferry home. Thank you Cetin for an amazing morning out! Would definitely recommend :)

Great tour with a chance to try lots of food not in the 'typical' Turkish menus on the European side. Our guide also gave us a lot if history alongside the foods we were eating. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a good food tour while in Istanbul.

It was a nice experience after covid. Host is really nice and friendly! We had fun meeting people from all around the world. We came from Korea and we met people from Lebanon, Lybia, Canada!! Some experience we will never had before!

Great attention from the guide. Warm and kind help. Nice places and churches