• Blue Mosque
  • Topkapι Palace
  • Egyptian Spice Market
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Cruising on the Bosphorus
  • Gardens at the Blue Mosque

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Best of Istanbul in 7 Days Tour

Istanbul is one of the world's greatest cities, period. And this tour takes you through doorways that only an Istanbul insider can open — your Turkish Rick Steves guide. You'll ponder great faiths in the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. You'll marvel at the legendary Topkapı Palace, the colorful Grand Bazaar and the exotic Egyptian Spice Market. And you'll enjoy the outdoors on a scenic cruise up the Bosphorus, and guided walking tours of Istanbul's Old Town, New District and historic city walls. Join us for the Best of Istanbul in 7 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Istanbul come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 12 group sightseeing events • Sultanahmet walk • Blue Mosque tour • Topkapı Palace and Harem tour • Old Town walking tour, including the Grand Bazaar • Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent • Egyptian Spice Market • Hagia Sophia church/museum tour • Chora Church tour • City walls walk • New District walking tour • Bosphorus cruise • Istanbul Archaeological Museum tour...and more
  • All group transportation during the week in and around Istanbul
  • 6 nights accommodations in a memorable, centrally-located hotel
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2015
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Istanbul

We'll meet at 3 p.m. at our hotel in Istanbul's historic Sultanahmet district, and then take an orientation walk through our remarkable neighborhood. The highlight will be a tour — and an introduction to Islam — at the exquisite, 400-year-old Blue Mosque. Tonight we'll get acquainted with one another over dinner at a nearby restaurant. Walking: light.

Day 2: The Ottoman City

Our exploration of Istanbul begins with a tour of the Ottoman Sultans' opulent Topkapı Palace and Harem. This afternoon we'll weave our way through the back streets of the Old Town of Sultanahmet, visiting the lively Grand Bazaar (the world's oldest shopping mall) and the 16th-century Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent. We'll wrap up our afternoon by exploring the exotic and fragrant Egyptian Spice Market — where "Turkish delights" are much more than candy. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Byzantine Constantinople

Today we'll focus on the time the city was known as Constantinople, the eastern capital of the Roman Empire. We'll visit the 1,500-year-old Hagia Sophia church/museum — for 1,000 years the grandest domed structure in the Western world. This afternoon we'll marvel at some of the world's finest Byzantine mosaics at the Chora Church and meander along Constantinople's ancient city walls. Our day will end with dinner together and a walk through the hanging laundry, bubbling hookahs and hollering vendors of the colorful Fener neighborhood on the Golden Horn. Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: Contemporary Istanbul

We'll explore the cosmopolitan side of Istanbul today with a walking tour of the New District, with its Art Nouveau façades, restaurants, and trendy boutiques, all along pedestrian-packed İstiklal Street. We'll find our way back to the Old Town by way of the Galata Bridge, rubbing elbows with local fishermen as we cross the Golden Horn. If you are interested, your guide will help arrange for you to be rejuvenated at a nearby Turkish bath later today. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: The Bosphorus and a Taste of Asia

Today is devoted to the Bosphorus, the strait separating Europe and Asia. We'll take a scenic cruise on this busy waterway, seeing grand palaces, colorful neighborhoods and the bustling life of Istanbul. We'll disembark on Asia, in Kadiköy, once a historic town, now a modern commercial and residential district. We’ll enjoy lunch together and explore this vibrant neighborhood of shops and markets, from fishmongers and grocers to boutiques and olive oil stores. Late this afternoon we’ll head "back to Europe" for dinner on your own. Boat: 2½ hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Art and Archaeological Treasures

This morning we'll do one more bit of time travel, with a tour that takes us through the gorgeous Iznik tiles, intricately-carved sarcophagi and colorful Babylonian friezes of the world-class Istanbul Archaeological Museum. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy more of Istanbul's sights, its fascinating streets, and thriving neighborhoods. Tonight we'll meet for a final dinner together to share travel memories and toast new friends. Serefe!  Walking: light.

Day 7: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Following breakfast, you'll find it's quick and easy to get a cab or tram to Istanbul's airport for your flight home...or on to further adventures. Güle güle!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience.  On our Best of Istanbul in 7 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry your luggage up several flights of stairs to reach your hotel room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate through the city on your own.

Reviews

Kathleen

Placida, FL

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I do not know what we expected when we booked this tour, but it was better then we could have ever imagined. The people of this friendly country treat everyone like family. I can't wait to do the rest of Turkey. Our guide Taylan took us to places that are not outlines in any tour book. We danced across the roof tops of the Spice Market like it was Main Street USA. What a view of the city. The Turkish bath is a must. A must go tour!!!!"

Paul

Lawrenceville, NJ

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Istanbul in 7 Days Tour was a very enjoyable experience on many levels: sightseeing, our group and guide, friendliness of locals, food, etc. Before the tour I ran into some people who seemed to second guess spending a full week in Istanbul. I can only say our itinerary was jam-packed with substance, and I and left with a list of things I'd still like to see and do on a return trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Catching my first glimpse of morning sunlight bouncing off the golden domes inside the Hagia Sophia as our group entered the church. The exterior of this historic church is stunning, and the splendor of the interior exceeded descriptions."

Kathi

Dallas, TX

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Loved our guide- his knowledge, his enthusiasm, his sensitivity, and his playfulness made the trip fascinating. Loved the agenda. Didn't love the hotel

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The historic sights, and the boat ride"

Nancy

Portland, OR

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized and covered everything promised an a lot more. Everything was made easy down to the last detail.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cruise on the Bosporus with our own private boat. The weather was perfect, the views gorgeous and it was very relaxing."

John

West Kelowna, BC

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my first tour in Europe and it makes me want to come back for more. Value for money was outstanding and I would recommend it to anybody.It seemed that nothing of significance was left out and I really enjoyed taking a tour that was not a bus tour, but allowed you to mix in with the locals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Waking up to see the Blue Mosque so close to our hotel, and seeing it lit up again at night. I revelled in it's historical significance. I could almost touch it, it was that close."

Paul

Santa Clara, CA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Istanbul was a very interesting destination, with an opportunity to learn about a different culture. Our guide, Yaren, was another in the long series of excellent Rick Steve's guides I have experienced. Unfortunately, a couple of major museums were fully or partially closed for renovation, which made the tour less outstanding than it would otherwise be.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed the Chorea Church. Part of this enjoyment came from the detailed explanations of the frescoes by our guide, Yaren. Yaren is not only a trained archaeologist, but wrote her thesis on the Chorea Church."

Nasreen

Fort Wayne, IN

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well constructed and spaced out. Daily itinerary was ambitious and covered everything we could possibly want to see. Many options available to do more as well. We were very happy with the whole experience.

Kathleen

Ballston Spa, NY

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steve's tour and the tour was awesome over all; our tour guide was the best of the best. Don't ever let Yaren get away; she is what made the experience the greatest. Yaren's knowledge of Istanbul was top notch; her communication about all the history and current events was astounding.As my first Rick Steve's tour all others now have a bar set so high to live up to. I just cannot say enough about how awesome Yaren was.Thank you for having her as our tour guide. Go Yaren!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So hard to say, the Constantinople wall, going to Asia's Istanbul, the spice market, the hippodrome....."

Claire

West Kelowna, BC

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is the first tour that I have taken. It makes me want to take more. The tour group was only 17 people which was a great size. Everyone was friendly and helpful. I thought that the "buddy" system was nonsense, but quickly realized how good it was. Made everybody aware of everyone else in the group and we all got to know each other better. Yaren having a degree in archeology was absolutely wonderful. We were able to touch on so much of Istanbul's impact on civilization. Loved it all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick a WOW moment. The whole trip was WOW. Possibly was the Chora Church as our guide Yaren had written a paper on this particular place and therefore was able to give us an incredible look into its history, the mosaics, what to look at and what to look for. That was amazing."

Cathy

Belmont, MA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first experience with a tour group, and we were skeptical. But we found that it was extremely helpful to have a guide, as our guide gave us much more context and history than we would have gotten on our own. We ended up really enjoying the company of our fellow travelers as well. I was grateful that most of our tour took place within walking distance, as I didn't want to spend my vacation on a bus when I could be out experiencing the culture. It was a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to the Chora museum/church, where our guide gave us a detailed lecture (I mean that in a good way) about the art/mosaics, from how they were constructed to the stories they told. She was clearly passionate about it, and her excitement was contagious. For us, our guide was the highlight of the trip! She was simply amazing: warm, caring, interesting, and informative. It was like having a professor along with us, explaining every detail!"

Jeff

Evergreen, CO

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just right! the right amount of everything and an amazing guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The story of the Chora Museum,"

Susan

Maple Valley, WA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is not our first Rick Steves tour but for many in the group it was. It's always quite interesting to see how quickly a group unifies and enjoys one another. Yaren made everyone comfortable immediately and everyone seemed to have a great time. Those new to Rick Steves commented often about how much they were learning from Yaren.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many wow moments. Seeing the Blue Mosque at night was beautiful as was the cruise up the Bosphorus. For me the archaeological museum was a big highlight and seeing the landfalls, the aqueduct and the cistern."

Lynn

Cedar Rapids, IA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the pacing of the trip. Just enough information and free time. The highlights were all the wonderful people we met and the camaraderie. Especially loved Yeran who bent over backwards to show us Istanbul, not just the famous sights but the culture and feel of the place. She was in tune with the group and flexible enough to adjust the schedule to fit interests ie: walking the ancient walls. We loved everything so much that we will definitely take another RS tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cholera church"

Timothy

Auburn, WA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A short but very interesting tour in Istanbul.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Blue Mosque at night with the fountain in front. Also, the underground cistern was pretty cool."

Peter

Houston, TX

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul was interesting and the tour was successful revealing much of the historic parts of the city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Alexander's sarcophagus at the Archeological Museum in the Topkapi Palace."

Wendy

South Chatham, MA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was phenomenal, the way in which Yaren introduced us to Istanbul was as though we were with a friend whose love and knowledge of the city was something she was delighted to share.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Bosphorus cruise, allowing a different perspective of the city."

Tracy

Houston, TX

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second RS trip. It totally lived up to our expectations. It was well organized and we were well informed on what we saw. We enjoyed everything we saw and the additional activities Yaren organized during our free time (carpet education, turkish bath, cistern, Galato tower). We all really enjoyed the Cistern and thing it should be included in the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That's really hard there were a lot of WOW moments. Personally I enjoyed the architecture, history and culture, food and people watching. Hmmm, sounds like everything! For one WOW maybe the boat tour on the Bosphorus, I think that really showed me how large and diverse Istanbul is."

Rory

South Chatham, MA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was top=notch, no lines, no waiting, and a terrific guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Really enjoyed the cruise, the views and descriptions by our guide were amazing."

Linda

Los Gatos, CA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first group tour experience. We have been traveling independently using our trusty Rick Steves' guide books for over a decade. I was cautiously optimistic but was not prepared for what an excellent experience this would be. From the spirit of the other tour members, to the itinerary, to the unbeatable tour guide, Yaren, this tour far exceeded anything I could have imagined.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Istanbul is simply a "wow" location in and of itself. When we went on public transportation and walked through the Bosphorous cruise launch area, I was expecting to get on a public ferry. I was "wowed" when I realized that it would be just us tour members. What an unexpected luxury. It was great fun to be with only the other tour members and touring the Bosphorous was a beautiful experience. I was also "wowed" by the view from our breakfast room and evenings on the roof of our hotel."

Tomas

Waltham, MA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide (Yaren) was outstanding! This was our first trip with Rick Steves, we're delighted and looking forward to many more journeys with this great tour company. The tour pace was exactly as described, it provided a great balance between fast pace and free time. Superb itinerary, always interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Among the many "wow' moments were the magnificence and awe of the Hagia Sophia, plus the awakening of the need to learn more about the history of Asia Minor."

Greg

Midland, MI

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was well prepared and organized. Yaren was very knowledgable about the history which really added to the experience. What I like about the Rick Steve's approach is that they get you familiar with how to get around using public transportation so that you can do additional sightseeing during your free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cistern was the unexpected wow moment. A hole in the ground to store water didn't sound attractive but I went anyway. Turns out it was the most impressive structure of the tour. Glad I went."

Joanne

Everett, WA

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The best tour ever! Mert lead us all over Istanbul, showing us many things and sites not covered in any other tour. He knew everything and everyone, and just how to show us his city. The tour seemed like a graduate course in history, culture and politics. Never thought I would learn so much so quickly. In addition Mert's background provides such a wealth information. His personal stories about school, family, studies, military experience , and political events such as Takism Square are a plus

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many on this trip that it is difficult to select.. seeing the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia at night in the moonlight while listening to the "call to prayer" was very powerful. I can close my eyes and see them"

Cynthia

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was dramatically surprised by how much I love the city of Istanbul. The significant historical importance, the dramatic mosques and beautiful churches, the friendly people, and the ease of getting around the city which was the cleanest city I have ever seen. Mert, out guide had extensive knowledge of everything we saw and shepherded our group all over town with humor and confidence. I even picked up and used a bit of Turkish to the delight of local most of whom spoke fluent English.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When the bridges produced a unexpected LED lightshow which we saw from our late night forays to the upstairs balcony. The abundance of tulips in full bloom all through surrounding neighborhoods, and finally having bested a restaurant hawker using some well chosen Turkish phrases. Joining in the give and take of interactions with the locals was quite challenging and downright fun."

Connie

Spokane, WA

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day was a "wow" experience. The city, the history, the culture were brought alive by our tour guide. The tour was a graduate level course in the culture and history of Istanbul."

Carol

Bend, OR

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Whirling Dervish dance was a "wow" for me. It really was an interesting spiritual expression."

Brenda

Ketchikan, AK

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful way to learn about Turkey prior to going out and traveling on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The information provided by our guide during the neighborhood walks was incredible."

Lynda

South Glastonbury, CT

Tour: 04/13/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

It was great to have seven days to begin to explore Istanbul . The tour touched on all the highlights. I felt like I was getting a crash course in Turkish history as well as an overview of modern Turkey culture. having an excellent guide that knew how to avoid long lines and present loads of information in an interesting manner and point out the good, the bad and tricks of shopping and choose/suggest authentic eating experiences really enhanced the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Honestly, it was the Turkish bath. I went with the over the top expensive one, which was euros well spent."

Charles

Tumwater, WA

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As with all the Rick Steves tours my wife and I have taken, our tour experience was fantastic. A week of Istanbul was perfect. The history and beauty of the city came alive because of our great tour guide. The experience was like a dream, perfect weather, a great guide, and a very nice group of people on tour with us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole city was a wow! Seeing the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace were special. Actually the historic Sultanahmet district was exciting and a great place to spend free time."

Edward

Columbia, MD

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was ideal. We couldn't have asked for a better experience. The group was small (11people) and all very friendly. Our tour guide (Yanet) was excellent, very accommodating and extremely knowledgable about all things "Turkish". The pace of the trip was perfect and the attractions we saw and experienced were very well thought out and presented.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking through the Hagia Sofia, Blue Masque and Topkapi Palace and experiencing the history with very detailed and well prepared narrative delivered from our guide."

Ellen

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was first rate, and an excellent value for the price. There were only eleven members in our group, which made the experience even better for getting to know people, navigating transportation, and listening to our guide. It felt more like a group of friends than a standard tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would classify the whole tour as a "wow" experience. I just loved everything we saw and did in the city of Istanbul. I suppose if I had to pick one thing to say "wow" about, I would say the spectacular views over the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, especially the view at the hillside cafe on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace."

Kathleen

Columbia, MD

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was terrific. We loved Istanbul. The hotel was great! The guide, Yaren, was fantastic. It was the best travel experience we have had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The museums we visited on the last day, especially the Ancient museum, were amazing. As a former history teacher I was overwhelmed!"

Melanie

Matthews, NC

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An excellent trip to Istanbul, just like last year's! Yaren is a fabulous guide, very personable and knowledgeable and shared her knowledge of Istanbul, Turkey's history, culture and historical sites we visited. It was a joy exploring the city with her, it was like traveling with a good friend.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The cruise on the Bosporus was outstanding and even though we were a small group of 11 we had a private boat. Seeing the city, palaces, homes and more from the boat was fantastic and landing on the "Asian" side was a culturally rich experience since there weren't any other tourists there."

Diane

Tumwater, WA

Tour: 10/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an amazing tour! Our guide was so knowledgeable and enthusiastic you could not help but love every minute of the time we spent together. Many of the things we saw and did would not be on an ordinary tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many wow moments! The first was actually when we drove into the city from the airport at night and the lights were all aglow around the Blue Mosque. It was magical! From there it was all up-hill! The stores that our guide told us would be the overall wow as she brought everything into perspective."

Jeffrey

Peterborough, NH

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip to Istanbul. We had a fabulous time. We were well satisfied with the hotel accommodations and staff, and location near the Blue Mosque could not be topped. The tour group bonded together very well and Yaren, our tour guide, was superb.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I noticed that my cell phone was missing after spending the afternoon around the spice bazaar and Galata Bridge area. Fearing that I had been the victim of a pick pocket, once I returned to the hotel I prepared to send an email via my i-pad to my cell phone carrier to report my phone missing. However, when I opened the i-pad there was an email waiting for me from the manager of several businesses at the bazaar telling me that he had my phone. The next day, I returned (continued below)"

Barbara

Orland Park, IL

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is fascinating, and a 7 day tour was not enough! The historic churches, mosques, and museums were worth the trip, just in themselves. Learning about Islam and its practice here changed my perspective on what it means to be Muslim. The historic and the modern thrive side by side. The modern city is all the more amazing for how recent the ancient practices were changed. Experiencing both gave a richness to the tour. A terrific experience! I will return and see more of Turkey!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't keep to just one WOW moment! Enjoying the luxury of a Turkish bath at the Suleymaniye Hamam tops the list! Other favorites were cruising on the Bosphorus, a visit to the Rustem Pasa Mosque, and viewing the whirling dervishes."

Anna

Charlotte, NC

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Yaren Turkoglu was outstanding, I was amazed at her overall knowledge of Art & culture of her country and especially of Istanbul. The weather was beautiful, food very interesting as Yaren introduced us to many unusual but tasty dishes. The sights were unbelievable. The hotel personnel were excellent and helpful. Enjoyed the Hotel as it was clean and comfortable, plus close to shops and resturants.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the beautiful Mosques through out the city, plus the wonderful museums of culture and tiles. The boat ride on the Bosphorus was outstanding"

Rollin

Valatie, NY

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed our tour of Istanbul tremendously. Our guide, Yaren, was excellent. She had great knowledge of her city, it's history, culture and art. She went out of her way to help everyone get the most out of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, but two stand out. First, being in Sultanahmet Park for the first time and viewing the Blue Mosque in one direction and the Hagia Sophia in the other. Second, the Bosphorous Cruise and it's many views of Istanbul."

Johannes

Eden, NY

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An excellent and well planned tour. The guide had the foresight to change the itinerary to avoid bad weather. There was a good balance of sights to see. It was not a" high class" nor a dull routine itinerary--- just the kind I could enjoy !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was the first mosque that we stopped at. The grandeur was a first time memorable experience."

Autum

Al Khobar,

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide was both a local AND an archeologist. She not only brought the sites on the tour to life, she related their significance to modern day Turkey. Our guide was also very attentive to our group (which was also wonderful), ensuring that the days activities were varied and not elusively back to back churches and museums. The restaurants were excellent and our hotel afforded us a view of the water that was absolutely breathtaking! I could not recommend this trip highly enough!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the intact seraphim in the Hagia Sophia, let alone standing in an enduring architectural marvel from antiquity is an experience I will never be able to render with words. We also went down into the ancient city cistern and visited a museum complex showcasing the cuneiform peace agreement between the ancient Egyptians and the Hittite civilization. Wow doesn't come close to describing the things we were able to see on this trip."

Anne

Lansing, MI

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had never travelled outside of the US or Canada so this was a great first time traveler experience. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour experience and my guide Yaren Turkoglu went above & beyond to ensure that my first experience was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think there were so many things but probably the first time I saw the Blue Mosque & heard the call to prayer."

Kade

Al Khobar,

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was great. Very well organized, and our tour guide was extremely knowledgable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the Bosphorus Cruise! The city is beautiful from the water."

Maria

West Palm Beach, FL

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized,day by day activities well structured.Tour guide excellent historian,great entertainer.Exposed the true essence of a magnificent city and its people.Dinners together at good restaurants.Overall grat experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to Aya Sofya"

Doni

Anthem, AZ

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I think the tour exceeded my expectations in many ways. Our hotel room was comfortable and spacious and very customer service oriented. Our guide, Alp, was articulate and knowledgeable and personable. Staying in one hotel and walking or taking the public transport helped to make the trip easier and more time to see the important things. The people of Istanbul, the historical and not so historical sites were very interesting. Being exposed to a new culture was rewarding and exciting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking through the local markets and residential areas was meaningful to me. The color, the people and the way of living was profound. The mosques and churches and palaces were beautiful and amazing to realize how old the structures are. the hookah bar was great!"

Alice Marilyn

Versailles, KY

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Our tour guide was excellent. We saw a broad slice of Istanbul and learned a great deal of history. It was an interesting and friendly group of people. A highlight was being out among the people of Istanbul - and all of our fellow tourists.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of Aya Sofia. It's size - architecture - history - age - dual purposes!"

Kathryn

Lexington, KY

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Alp was over the top. We loved Istanbul and he showed us places and gave us insights that we could not have gotten on our own, even with a Rick Steve's guide book. Also the people on the tour were great travelers nod smart, interesting people which made everything work so much better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No way to separate out a wow moment as there was one wow after another!"

Gerald

Livermore, CA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our annual outing. We used it to spend time with our son who is studying in England. Istanbul was recommended while in Paris last year. It was everything we expected. Istanbul is 80% Muslim and we did not have a bad experience with a single person- people seem busy and helpful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I got to touch a wall built by the Romans 1900 years ago. Americans, at least me, have a hard time understanding history over centuries. I also enjoy water and Istanbul is a water city."

Silvia

Nipomo, CA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

overall, the tour was exciting. I learned a lot about the culture and sites. Our tour guide Alp was always there on schedule and very knowledgeable with answers to any question about Istanbul. The location of our hotel was terrific and in a very great central location. Our group got along very well, and we seemed to blend perfectly together.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Hagia Sophia and learning about the fabulous history that the site provided."

Ben

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Istanbul was a culturally and historically overwhelming experience like nothing I'd ever experienced. Gokalp was informed well beyond anything I was expecting and provided an enlightening experience from a historical and religious perspective and kept the tour fun and fast paced.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chora church mosaics were absolutely astounding. A real treat."

Gary

Nipomo, CA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is the most exotic destination I have traveled to to date. The sights, sounds and beautiful visual dialogue I experienced in that fabulous city will stay with me as a cherished and richly rewarding memory always. I enjoyed the art, culture and history of each facet of Istanbul as it was revealed to me by our guide Alp. Istanbul truly provided me with a full range of sensory pleasures, that I had not thought possible. Great tour! Great guide! Great group!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting in meditative silence on the carpeted floor of the Blue mosque gazing at a perfectly symmetrical ceiling seemingly wrought by some superior being, truly for the sake of the glory of God. Wow. Fabulous."

Barbara

Lexington, KY

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I learned a lot about things I knew nothing about. Our guide, Alp was very knowledgeable . He is proud of his country so he showed us the best of Istanbul. It is a tremendously busy city with so many people. Yet we were able to get to everything with Alp's guidance. The hotel was charming. Unfortunately, a virus of some kind struck several of the tour members including me. I was able to attend all the tour stops but several missed multiple days. The tour group was very compatible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting immersed in the grand bizarre and spice market. Seeing the incredible temples and hearing the call to prayer."

Kenneth

Orangevale, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall tour experience was wonderful. The people of Turkey were very friendly and made you feel very welcomed. So much to see and do in Istanbul. The tour covered all the highlights, but it was good to have a few day afterwards when you know the city and transportation to catch a few more things.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lot of "Wow Moments", but I think for me was standing between Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque marveling at the architecture of them."

Robert

Meridian, ID

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steve's tour and our third great experience. I think that this was the best one yet, due to the efforts and knowledge of our tour guide (thanks "Alp"), the history in Istanbul, and exposure to a very different but welcoming Turkish culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments. Watching a woman weaving a kilim was amazing. Silk-on-silk, 600 knots per square inch, working 3-1/2 hours per day and taking a year to make a beautiful 3' x 5' handmade rug."

Nancy

Richmond, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved this tour and we love this city. The tour exceeded our expectations. We went in to it with worries about safety and with a lack of knowledge about the city itself. Once we got there any fears were quickly dissolved and we immediately fell in love with the city, the history, and the people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Grand Bazaar for the first time was definitely a "WOW". The spice market too is an experience we will never forget."

Judith

Orangevale, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul was a fantastic experience! So much old - so much new to see, learn, experience. Our tour guide, Alp, was superb. He really made Istanbul come alive for me. We stayed extra days and the knowledge we gained helped us navigate comfortably on our own. The ratings for how much walking there was were spot-on. The days were full, yet there was time to explore on our own - something I value highly in Rick Steves' tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It seemed like every time I turned around there was another "Wow" moment: the friendliness and graciousness of the people, the Grand Bazaar, the food, The Spice Market, Sultanhamet Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Bosphorous cruise, Taksim Square, Asian side, the New District, the carpet weaving class, Chora Church, the Topkapi Palace, the neighborhood walk, Istanbul Archaeological Museum, the views! And then there were the free time "Wow" moments from our personal explorations!"

Karla

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 8th Rick Steves tour and I was very satisfied with this tour. It was well organized. The intinerary was very clear about what we would be seeing/doing. We were kept busy while doing group activities but also had enough free time to do what ever we wanted. It really was the best of both worlds.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved starting each day having breakfast on the hotel's terrace...overlooking the Sea of Marmara. Watching the fishing boats bobbing up and down was very soothing! It was made even more special because I got to share it with fellow tour members! Also...I must say my first experience with a Turkish Bath was pretty amazing..."

Donald

Greenville, PA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

It was interesting, not much free time though.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"To see the Hagia Sophia!"

Laurel

Meridian, ID

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience. After hearing of the protests in Instanbul, I felt somewhat aprehensive to go, but felt that Rick Steves would cancel the tour if the unrest increased. Istanbul is a beautiful city. Very clean for a city of this size, and didn't really notice any graffitti. I even felt safe being out after dark! The tour group itself was a great mix of people, most enjoyable. Any questions not answered below were not applicable to this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"They were all wow moments, but the Spice Bazaar, with all the people and smells, will stay with me for a long time."

Weather

Turkey / Istanbul

Turkey Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Istanbul: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Transportation

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your tour hotel, as well as contact information for your hotel in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

Many tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

Istanbul is well-connected for extending your Turkish or European adventure. For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines. For Turkey, you can check schedules and purchase tickets at Turkish Airlines (www.thy.com/en-INT), Atlas Jet (www.atlasjet.com), and Onur Air (www.onurair.com.tr/onurair).

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Istanbul before your tour begins, use Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Turkish, and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are a few suggestions for sightseeing in Istanbul that we do not do as a group: Dolmabahçe Palace, Yerebatan Cistern, Çemberlitaş Hamam, Rüstem Paşa Mosque, Pera Museum, Military Museum, and the Istanbul Modern Arts Museum. For details, please see Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook.

Packing

In Turkish mosques, women are expected to cover their heads with scarves. You may want to pack a scarf or purchase one in Istanbul.

For more advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick’s packing tips.