Istanbul
Rail Tours

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Our most recommended Istanbul Rail Tours

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

1. 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.

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

2. 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: Half-Day Highlights Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

3. Istanbul: Half-Day Highlights Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

Enjoy a hassle-free small-group walking tour in Istanbul designed specifically for cruise ship passengers. Meet your local, expert guide at the port right after your ship has docked and join your half-day tour in the morning of afternoon. Take a short tram ride from the dock to the Old Town of Sultanahmet, and benefit from a walking tour instead of sitting on a bus in traffic. Start your tour in Sultanahmet Square to check out Istanbul's greatest monuments. Enjoy a scenic stroll around Sultanahmet and witness the local life. Enter the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque on a comprehensive guided tour with a professional guide. Afterward, soak up breathtaking views from the courtyard, and take a gentle stroll around the neighborhood. Continue your journey to Topkapi Palace, the last stop for the day. There, explore the palace, grounds, and courtyards on a guided tour. Marvel at the palace's opulence and mystery, and learn about the Ottoman family and their importance in Istanbul's history. Finish with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens. At the end of your tour, choose to spend free time in Topkapi Palace grounds or follow your guide back to the ship.

Istanbul: Private Old City Walk

4. Istanbul: Private Old City Walk

Your private tour guide will meet you at your hotel reception at 9:00AM, and together you will either walk or catch public transportation to the Old City. Your private Istanbul Old City walk is a full-day walking tour that covers the main highlights of the city such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. You will start your tour with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, which was the home and seat of the government of the Ottomans for nearly 400 years. It’s the heart of the great Ottoman Empire, ruled by the monarch who lived in Topkapi’s Harem section with a huge family and servants. You will then visit the Blue Mosque, which is the second largest mosque in Istanbul and was built during the regime of Sultan Ahmet. It is known for its 16th century blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. After this, you will have a lunch break and continue to the Hagia Sophia, the church of divine wisdom. Built as a church by the Byzantines and decorated with mosaic tile icons, it served as a mosque during the Ottoman era. It is still today one of the most popular museums in the city. Your tour will end with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, which was built in the second half of the 15th century and is the largest covered bazaar in the world with its more than 4000 shops.

Istanbul: Tastes of Istanbul Private Food Tour

5. Istanbul: Tastes of Istanbul Private Food Tour

After being picked up from your hotel, begin your tour with a walk around the Spice market. See where locals have been buying their spices for hundreds of years. Walk from Galata bridge to Karakoy and enjoy a Turkish breakfast which includes Turkish menemen, sucuklu omlet, kaymak, and honey. Catch a metro up to Pera and walk along the famous Istiklal street. Make a tea stop at a local tea house. In the afternoon, catch a ferry from the European side of Istanbul to the Asian side in Kadikoy. Taste Mersin's tantuni or if you are feeling adventurous maybe try a liver wrap. Continue to the fish market and sample stuffed or fried mussels as well as pickles. Visit a shop that only sells pickles. Complete your tour by sampling Turkish coffee and desserts. After indulging, catch the ferry back to the European side of Istanbul where the tour will conclude.

Istanbul: Highlights & Grand Bazaar for Cruise Ship Visitors

6. Istanbul: Highlights & Grand Bazaar for Cruise Ship Visitors

Meet your local expert guide at the port after your ship has docked and join a hassle-free small-group walking tour of Istanbul. Take a short tram ride from the dock to the Old Town of Sultanahmet, and then benefit from a leisurely walking tour instead of sitting on a bus in traffic.   Start your tour in Sultanahmet Square to check out Istanbul's most significant monuments. Enjoy a scenic stroll around Sultanahmet and witness the local life. Visit the inspiring Hagia Sophia and avoid the long lines efficiently led by an expert guide. Witness the most significant symbol of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul. Learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. See the elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica's stunning dome, minarets, mosaics, paintings, columns, and mosaic gallery. Continue your journey to the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul. Gaze in awe at the imperial Ottoman monument on a comprehensive guided tour. Afterward, take in breathtaking views from the courtyard and take a gentle stroll through the neighborhood.   Last, follow your guide to the Grand Bazaar in the Old Town. Discover the classic example of Ottoman civil architecture and indulge in some shopping at Turkey's largest and oldest covered market. Immerse yourself in the bazaar's intricate geography and swarming passageways. Learn about the oldest shops, exotic goods, and talented artisans. Get tips from your guide at the end of the tour about what to see next. At the end of your tour, choose to spend free time in the Grand Bazaar or follow your guide back to the ship.

Istanbul: Ottoman and Byzantine Relics Tour with Lunch

7. Istanbul: Ottoman and Byzantine Relics Tour with Lunch

Walk to Topkapi Palace, home of the royal family for four hundred years. Then take the tram to Laleli District and walk to a 16th-century Şehzade mosque. This is the mosque built by the famous architect Sinan for Prince Mehmet, who died at age twenty. Then, see the Roman aqueducts which defy history and provided water for former Constantinople. Stop at the local market where the Eastern Kurdish population is located and see foods from different provinces of east and southeast Anatolia. Enjoy lunch with a Turkish çay or Turkish coffee for dessert and catch a bus to the Chora Museum.  Visit the city walls, which were built in the 4th century AD by Roman emperor Theodosius to defend the city. See a view of the city from the top of the walls and feel the history underneath your feet.

Istanbul: Evening Discovery Tour for Cruise Ship Visitors

8. 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.

Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar for Cruise Ship Visitors

9. Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar for Cruise Ship Visitors

Meet a local, expert guide at the port and hop on a tram to discover old Istanbul. Start in Sultanahmet Square, home to the city's greatest monuments such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, and learn the history of the city while taking in the local sights.  Continue your journey to Topkapi Palace and avoid long lines with priority admission tickets. Walk the palace grounds, gardens, and courtyards and appreciate the glory and opulence of the Ottoman Empire. See the Holy Relics, Imperial Kitchens, Royal Court, and the terraced gardens with tulips. Climb to the high terrace to admire the view over the Golden Horn.  Afterward, make your way through the old town to the Grand Bazaar. Explore the ever-changing maze of stalls and chat with the local craftsmen in this covered market that dates back to the 15th century. Go beyond the standard carpet showrooms and discover vintage and rare pieces. Learn the art of haggling and practice getting the right price with a local vendor. If you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the money market, a dark passage where illegal but tolerated currently trading takes place between vendors.  Enjoy a tea overlooking the bazaar and get some additional tips from the guide. At the end of the tour, choose to spend some free time in the bazaar or follow the guide back to the port.

Istanbul: Two Continents and Backstreets

10. Istanbul: Two Continents and Backstreets

Explore Istanbul’s most famous sites on this walking tour, beginning with the old Ottoman book bazaar and the 16th-century Rustem Pasa Mosque. The Rustem Pasha Mosque was designed by Ottoman imperial architect Mimar Sinan for the grand vizier Rüstem Pasha and is famous for its Iznik tiles. After visiting the mosque, catch a ferry to Kadikoy, a largely residential area on the Asian side of Istanbul. In Kadikoy you will get to see how the local people live and visit the famous fish market. After lunch in Kadikoy, walk down Istiklal Street and see the 3,000 street cafes, pubs and restaurants. The tour will take you to Galata tower, one of the first towers built in the world, where you can see a 360-degree view of Istanbul from the top of the tower. Cross the Galata Bridge at Karakoy, where you can see locals fishing and shopping at the market.

Frequently asked questions about Istanbul Rail Tours

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Other Sightseeing Options in Istanbul

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What people are saying about Istanbul

My guide (Musa) was exceptional and was very well versed in the history of Istanbul. He was very knowledgeable, friendly, and kind. I could not have asked for a better day-long tour in Istanbul. He was very open to customizing the tour based on my interests and made me feel very comfortable and at ease navigating Istanbul. Thank you so much, my friend!

We had an exceptional guide, very nice who also spoke Italian, he explained a lot of things about Turkey and Istanbul he took us to the most beautiful streets and gave us exhaustive answers to any question.

Guide was professional, polite and highly informed. Really enjoyed the tour. We would highly recommend it.

We had a lot of fun and a lot of interesting moments with our very nice tour guide Kadir Küçükeren

Great experience, the guide (Emre) is very knowledgeable, kind. To recommend !!