• Istanbul's Sultanahmet
  • Topkapı Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
    Topkapι Palace
  • Spice Market, Istanbul, Turkey
    Egyptian Spice Market
  • Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
    Hagia Sophia
  • Culinary tour
  • Bosphorus boating, Istanbul, Turkey
    Cruising on the Bosphorus

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Call 425-608-4217

Best of Istanbul in 7 Days Tour

from $1,795 per person + air

Optional Single Supplement $675

See Tour Dates

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 wander a neighborhood that is home to such international icons as 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, as well as guided walking tours of Istanbul's Old Town, New District, and historic city walls. Join us for the Best of Istanbul in 7 Days!

Dates & Prices

2020

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 15 group sightseeing events • Rüstem Paşa Mosque • Sultanahmet walking tour • Topkapı Palace and Harem • Local artisan demonstration at Grand Bazaar • Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent • Egyptian Spice Market • Hagia Sophia church/museum • Chora Church • City walls walking tour • Golden Horn walking tour • New District walking tour • Traditional Turkish brunch • Bosphorus cruise • Kadiköy district walking tour • Istanbul Archaeological Museum…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
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (or books) and a moneybelt
  • 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 2020
  • 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 your tour

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions 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 Karaköy district. We'll then take an orientation walk through our remarkable neighborhood, rubbing elbows with local fisherman as we cross the Galata Bridge to the bustling Old Town and enjoying stunning views of the Golden Horn and Bosphorus waterways. The highlight will be a tour — and introduction to Islam — at the exquisite, 400-year-old Rüstem Paşa Mosque, home to a collection of impressive Ottoman tiles. Tonight we'll get acquainted with one another over dinner at a nearby restaurant. Sleep in Istanbul (6 nights). 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 peek into the famous Blue Mosque (currently under restoration), then weave our way through the back streets of the Old Town on our way to meet with an artisan in the lively Grand Bazaar (the world's oldest shopping mall). Next we'll visit the 16th-century Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent and 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. After free time for lunch, we'll marvel at some of the world's finest Byzantine mosaics at the Chora Church and meander along Constantinople's ancient city walls. We'll finish our afternoon together with 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 a new town neighborhood, with Art Nouveau facades, restaurants, and trendy boutiques. Along the side streets we'll enjoy a progressive lunch of local specialties during a culinary treasure hunt. Later this afternoon we'll find our way back to Karaköy through the alleys of the trendy Galata neighborhood, mingling with locals in their daily routine. If you're interested, your guide will help arrange for you to be rejuvenated at a 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 start the day early, leaving the hotel to enjoy a mouth-watering, traditional Turkish brunch together along the Bosphorus. Then 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. After lunch together we'll explore this vibrant neighborhood of shops and markets, from fishmongers and grocers to boutiques and olive oil stores. Late this afternoon we'll catch a public ferry "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 İznik tiles, Greek and Roman sculptures, 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.

Physical Demands

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/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your 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 towns and cities on your own.

Weather

Turkey, Istanbul

Weather Chart

Hotels & Flights

Visa Required

If you are an American or Canadian citizen, you must obtain a visa prior to your arrival in Turkey. Before you fly, get your "e-visa" at www.evisa.gov.tr. The website will take you through a series of steps (have your passport handy), ending with your credit card payment (currently US $20 for Americans and US $60 for Canadians; MasterCard or Visa only). Once you pay, you will be emailed a link to download and print your e-visa. Always carry it inside your passport! Holders of passports from any country other than the US or Canada are also responsible for obtaining all necessary travel documents prior to joining the tour.

Tour Hotels

In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's hotel is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your online customer account. One month prior to your tour's departure, you'll find directions on how to get from the airport to your tour hotel in the Documents section of your customer account.

Flights

Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.

Most tour members arrange to fly in and out of Istanbul.

We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook.