• 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 | Email [email protected]

Best of Istanbul in 7 Days Tour

from $2,295 per person + air

Single Supplement $725

See Dates & Prices

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's 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!

Book a 2025 tour by 6/30/24 and save $100 per person! See details.

Dates & Prices

2024

2025

What's Included

You'll get at least 14 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!

Here's what you'll see and do on our 2025 Best of Istanbul tour:

  • Blue Mosque
  • Sultanahmet walking tour
  • Topkapı Palace and Harem
  • Local artisan demonstration at Grand Bazaar
  • Mosque of Süleyman the Magnificent
  • Egyptian Spice Market
  • Hagia Sophia Mosque
  • Chora Church
  • City walls walking tour
  • Golden Horn walking tour
  • New District walking tour
  • Bosphorus cruise
  • Kadiköy district walking tour
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Plus you'll get all this, too.

  • 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 group transportation during the week in and around Istanbul
  • 6 nights' accommodations in a memorable, centrally located hotel
  • All breakfasts and 3 other meals
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (when available) and a moneybelt
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken with us
  • 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.

Group sightseeing events subject to change.

Itinerary

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 introduction to Islam — at the exquisite, 400-year-old Blue Mosque, home to a collection of brightly colored Ottoman tiles. Tonight we'll get acquainted with one another over dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain.

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 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.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain.

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/mosque — 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.

Strenuous walking: 2–8 miles throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain.

Day 4: Contemporary Istanbul

We'll explore the cosmopolitan side of Istanbul today with a walking tour of a New District 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.

Moderate walking: 2–6 miles throughout the day with some hills and stairs.

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 and 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.

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain. Boat: 2½ hrs.

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, fascinating streets, and thriving neighborhoods. Tonight we'll meet for a final dinner together to share travel memories and toast new friends. Serefe!

Light walking: 2–4 miles throughout the day on mostly level terrain.

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.

Reviews

Kathleen

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide, lots of sites explored

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Chora Chuch - amazing relics and mosaics preserved for some many years"

Ann

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my first Rick Steves tour and it exceeded my expectations. Volkan, our guide is outstanding. I appreciated the amount of time we had during the week in Istanbul to really see it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole city is a "wow." One of my favorite memories though, is Volkan, calmly walking our group through this busy, bustling city and greeting his friends along the way. "

Margaret

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide was phenomenal! Volkan was incredibly knowledgeable about Istanbul, answered every question and was friendly and helpful. He was a terrific guide for our tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I enjoyed every part of the tour. Seeing the masques and learning their history was wonderful."

Matthew

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Saw some incredible things w a knowledgeable guide. Have travelled most of Europe, Mexico & Cuba, and this was the best experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"1) Grand Bazaar. 4000 shops, 30,700 sq meters under one roof. 2) Mosques, Turkish tiles."

Katherine

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I had wanted to visit Istanbul for more than 10 years and had long ago decided we would go there on a Rick Steves Tour. When we arrived, I wondered if the tour could possibly live up to our high expectations. Well, it exceeded them. We had a fantastic time in Istanbul, in part because Istanbul is an amazing city with a long, long, colorful history, but also because our guide, Volkan, was so knowledgeable and wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In many ways, just being in Istanbul was my WOW moment because it is such an important historical city with so many amazing sites, mosques, and monuments. If I must chose 1 place or site, I chose the Chora Church with its beautiful mosaics and frescoes. Volkan's explanations of the stories being conveyed by the mosaics and frescoes made the Chora Church visit even more memorable."

Edward

Tour: 05/12/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thoroughly enjoyable

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many highlights - can't identify one among the many"

Alexia

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had wanted to visit Istanbul for a long time. It’s a big and wonderful place and this tour made it manageable and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I did not expect such a sophisticated city. Istanbul is an amazing blend of old and new and is a real delight for the senses. "

Martha

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Mine made the tour so enjoyable. The hotel staff were very cordial and helpful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Turkish bath. Visits to the Spice Market were very fun. "

Howard

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of the top 3 of my 10 Rick Steves Tours I have taken. Th sights, history, guide, and group made this trip special and memorable. The hotel was perfectly situated between the spice market, New Mosque and the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque area. Easy walking to get almost anywhere. I would recommend this tour to everyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to have a Turkish Bath Experience was the Wow moment even though it was after the last formal tour event and final dinner. I felt like a Pasha or a Sultan as I was wrapped in towels sipping a glass of tea with two other of my new friends. Seeing the famous mosques and realizing the New Mosque is called that because it was built in the 1600s."

Emily

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved this tour! Exceptional group and guide. Turkey is not a country I was comfortable visiting on my own, now I can’t wait to go again. I especially appreciated Mine as a guide explaining some aspects of the culture and history with a female perspective. If you’re used to European travel but a little hesitant to go to Turkey I highly recommend this tour to introduce you to what turned out to be a very welcoming and beautiful place. I would not change one thing about the itinerary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Rustem Pasha mosque"

Joanne

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Good but not great. Tour was too large for the confines of the narrow streets of a big, busy city and the group got spread out. She needed to slow her pace to let stragglers catch up and then point out certain things of interest.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick only one. Favorites would be Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia or the cisterns."

Marcia

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Interesting sights. The guide, Mine's pacing and narration was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm very glad Balat was included on the tour. Charming houses, wonderful market, stuffed mussels, other sights."

Ling

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We very much enjoyed our tour. Our guide was excellent, our fellow travellers were a pleasure to be with and the sites we visited were special.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Breakfast at the Demiray Hotel was always special but our favourite wow moment would be the visit to the Fener Neighbourhood and the Rustem Pasha Mosque near the Spice Market. Loved the serenity and the blue tiles!"

Kurt

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Tour group was too big to operate in a big city as we became too stretched out to keep up with our guide. Sights were great to visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Enjoyed most all of the sights and can't pick one over the others. Enjoyed our rug and spice manufacturing side trips,"

David

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour director with incredible knowledge who conducted all tours personally. Great language skills. Kind, compassionate, adjusted pace as needed for the group. Wonderful sites that matched the guidance in Rick's book.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There is something tremendous to take away from everything we see. Turkey was new to us and it was all a wow moment."

Ellen

Tour: 04/14/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul was amazing. It was different enough to be interesting but not so different it was uncomfortable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two. The Blue Mosque was so beautiful- I thought more beautiful than cathedrals I’ve seen in Italy. My favorite experience was the Turkish Bath a group of us did. It was a little out of my comfort zone but I was so glad I did it"

Miriam

Tour: 03/31/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is so unique with its rich tapestry of history and culture--a bit like a Turkish rug! I loved the whole experience of soaking it in.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the whole day we went to Asia--the boat trip, stroll around the market, and many courses of lunch there. My 2 favorite add-ons that were arranged by Pinar were the hamam and dinner upstairs with the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque lit up."

Jan

Tour: 03/31/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great Pinar knew her city inside out and made great suggestions for extra experiences and made the reservations for us .

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Feeling the energy in Topakai Palace. I could fell myself walking in the footstets of people who lived there in the past."

Janet

Tour: 03/31/24

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is a beautiful welcoming, incredibly historic city. I had it so built up in my mind I didn't think the actual city would deliver, but it did and then some. The guided time and free time were well-balanced and I appreciated the guide helping us get to know the layout of the city early in the week so we could use our free time seeing and doing rather than getting lost. I did get lost once, and that turned out to be a really good experience. The city seems very safe for tourists.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hagia Sophia! The little courtyard cafe next door designed by Sinan! The Turkish Bath! Gulheny Park! The Pera Hotel and concert I saw there! The free range healthy-looking dogs and cats roaming the city. "

Andreas

Tour: 03/31/24

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Loved the Hotel Location, walking distance to all the main attraction points, the selections of destinations and activities, pacing, provision of passes for public transport and prearranged admissions,

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being there during Ramadan/Bayram, crowds at the Hagia Sophia Friday Prayers"

Ann

Tour: 11/19/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Definitely the Best of Istanbul, led by our ideal guide (see "A Sonnet for Mine Karahan" written by Rob), and enjoyed with "a merry band of travelers", each unique, warm, and thoughtful. Turkish food, from orientation fabulous fish dish, to sumptuous Kadikoy lunch, to ancient Ottoman recipes, to tasty Istiklai Caddesi nibbles, to delicious farewell dinner, dazzled. Sights of architectural wonders, sounds of mosque prayers, smells of street food, progeny of empires past, constantly enthralled me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Bosphorus Cruise, Topkapi Palace and Harem, and Hagia Sophia. Trio of splendid momentous moments experienced in the Queen of Cities, in the Capitol of the World, in the Everlasting Jewel of Historical Empires."

Michelle

Tour: 11/19/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Mine was amazing!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The special dinner she arranged for us on Thanksgiving. And the Turkish spa. "

Laura

Tour: 11/19/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an intriguing glimpse of a place I've long read about. Glad I finally got to visit this historic city and explore a little of its treasures. I'd like to return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't usually do "wow" moments, but I did enjoy sitting in the park between two mosques and watching the families gather about the fountain between them. It was a peaceful moment and showed, I thought, a lot about life in the historic district."

Steven

Tour: 10/08/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Guide was great. Getting into Hagia Sophia without waiting in line was brilliant. The Turkish Bath was totally worth it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Turkish bath and the tour of the rug making facility - so fun I almost considered buying a rug!"

Victoria

Tour: 10/01/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is a beautiful, historic and awe-inspiring city, with fantastic architecture, world class sites, and welcoming people. We enjoyed meeting our fellow tour members and our guide, Mine Karahan, was quite good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many! But for me, the Call to Prayer, particularly one evening when we were sitting on an outdoor terrace between the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia, where the Muezzin called back and forth in turn, was so evocative and meaningful."

Cathleen

Tour: 10/01/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Despite being 5 months post surgery on my knee and injured ankle, I was able to walk all over Istanbul, albeit slower. The guide kept us on route, on time and informed about everything we were seeing. A whole semester of information in 7 days, absolutely awesome. I was most impressed with how organized the whole operation flowed. Communication was continuous, Mean acted not only as guide, but problem solver, consoling mentor and over all our new friend.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The historical impact of the Turkish culture was what affected me the most. I had a spaghetti bowl of misinformation and confusing messages from childhood, but our guide had an educated understanding of the time, place and importance of each site we visited. She explained things so well that we did not feel lectured to, but more that we were given an account of the real events from ancient times. "

Susan

Tour: 09/24/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

the tour was terrific all around, guide, location, group members

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the last night dinner: everyone and me ! were enjoying the last moments in istanbul "

Nancy

Tour: 09/24/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul was an historical, cultural, and educational experience that challenged my perceptions of myself and the United States place in the world.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many "WOW" experiences to recount. The Hagia Sophia/Blue Mosque, hearing call to prayer,the food, the grand market/spice market, Bosphorus cruise. What a city!"

Ruth

Tour: 09/17/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very enjoyable. Great guide, great combination of things to see and do, friendly group

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hagia Sophia interior"

Nicholas

Tour: 09/17/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Ranjana

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Elaine

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Julia

Tour: 06/25/23

Great tour, great city, great group, great guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The City of Istanbul is very surprising with unexpected experiences at every turn. Listening to the amazing "dual" call to prayer between the Blue Mosque and the Haggia Sophia ... Also the sea of humanity in and around the Galata bridge area - "

Mike

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour leader, Volkan, was great - very knowledgeable and personable. The group was a very kind and friendly group, too. This made the tour of the very interesting city a wonderful experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting on the rooftop of the hotel celebrating the birthday of one of tour group. We were sharing food, drinks and favorite moments of the day. While we were at the party, another person from the group stated that they had been on previous Rick Steve tours and all groups became close with similar moments."

Heather

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

We enjoyed the tour but felt seven days was too long in one place - Istanbul.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting on a roof top terrace listening to the evening call to prayer."

Patricia

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Istanbul was a busy city but Vulkan did a good job of arranging our itinerary to avoid crowds as much as possible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Turkish bath!"

Will

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first Rick Steve's tour and it exceeded expectations. Great guide, wonderful group and plenty (maybe too much) free time in the schedule to explore other experiences in our area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Somewhat torn. The Turkish bath and the Cistern were both over the top. While neither was part of the itinerary, our guide was great in setting up access to both during our free time. "

Eric

Tour: 06/25/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour hit the spots I most wanted to see, and the guide was friendly, helpful, and informative.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I doubt I will soon forget the Basilica Cistern, the changing views of the Sultanahmet mosque at various times, and the archaeological museum's collection of sarcophagi from the Sidon necropolis. "

Ashley

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Michelle

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

This was unlike any Rick Steves tour I have taken. It was unorganized and confusing. The itinerary was not followed, even loosely. There did not appear to be many resources allotted to it. We were walked endlessly through sketchy neighborhoods while our guide was using her phone for direction. The death-defying trip to Balat to see yet another mosque and church where we were walked as a group along a super busy highway to visit a seedy town and cafe was the pits. Again, not knowing the way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I wish I could say there was one."

Theresa

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The history and mystery of Istanbul has long fascinated me, and going w/Rick Steves Tour made visiting the big sites with guided commentary invaluable. Hotel location was 3 blocks from both Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Blue Mosque opened 2 weeks prior, and is easy to visit. Very much appreciated our guides, help in scheduling "extras": Basilica Cisterns, Hurrem Sultan Hamam, and she also helped me with personal special jewelry project.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hurrem Sultan Hamam turkish bath a wonderful decadent treat! Imperial Clothing exhibit at Topkapi Palace, and of course Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace. My favorite mosques were Suleyman the Magnificent and Rustem Pasa for their Iznik tilework."

Marjie

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

Elvan is a great person and quite the academic and historian. She helped me get to a police station after I was pick pocketed on the tram ( lost my cards and cash...my whole wallet). However, Elvan was a lecturer and had us stand and listen rather than set us loose to SEE on our own for a set time. Many of us could not bear to stand for so long or walk so far so fast that some sat out activities. Elvan led us so fast on the Asian side, for example, that there was no time to buy a fruit !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting back to my room to rest. Underground caverns were like something I had never seen before and so beautiful. "

David

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything advertised. Our guide was helpful in so many ways. She went above and beyond our expectations when she helped arrange our anniversary dinner at a local restaurant. It was a very special evening for my wife and me. I had wanted to return to the middle east after living in Iran many years ago. This trip helped revive my many happy memories from my childhood. We'll hold our memories for this trip for the rest of our lives.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing between Higia Sophia and the Blue Mosque as the call to prayer was made. Something you simply cannot feel until you are there and will remember forever."

Kurt

Tour: 05/14/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The destination itself is wonderful. The guide was good about getting us into popular sites before they became too crowded. We happened to be there at a significant time- the election- and I appreciated the open discussion of the issues and candidates.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Hagia Sophia any time. Blue Mosque at night the first time."

Caroline

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Learned so much from our knowledgeable and friendly guide. Lots of fun activities, great food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Boat ride across the Bosphorus Strait to Asia, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia."

Michael

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour with loads of cultural and historical touch points.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was amazed by the significance of Istanbul’s role in world history. "

Leyla

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed meeting our fellow travelers and our wonderful guide. Everyone was welcoming and pleasant. Our hotel was well located and overall excellent. However they did not respond to several emails regarding airport transfer. We made do and it turned out fine in the end. The tour organization was excellent. The sites we saw were all worth it. Breaks and meals were well planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It’s hard to pick but the rustam pasha mosque was special. "

Nancy

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have wanted to go to Turkiye for over 40 yrs. I knew RS tours would be a good way to make this dream real. Yaren was a great guide. Our hotel and staff were great. The other tour members were easy to get to know. Over all weather was good, food was great, we were there at end of Ramadan, a new experience. I would have loved to see Chora Church and more of Aya Soyafa, but you can't have it all

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being inside Aya Sofoya"

Roslyn

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was very comprehensive.

Scott

Tour: 04/16/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had many questions regarding Istanbul and the Rick Steves experience. Both far exceeded our expectations. Our Tour Guide Yaren was truly amazing. What an ambassador for Both Turkey and Rick Steves tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Yaren and her energy and knowledge. Every day was an adventure and she was so caring. We can't wait to come back and do the best of Turkey. Hopefully we will reunite with Yaren. "

Diana

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my 4th Rick Steves tour. Each tour has been excellent. This time I brought 3 friends who enjoyed the tour so much, they want to sign up for another. Our guide (Mert) is now one of my top 3 (aside from Federico and Barbara)! I got to visit all the places I wanted to see in Istanbul. I like the amount of tours vs. free time. The hotel was nice and in a great location to walk to other attractions we wanted to see. The number of people on the tour was also just right. We had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a number of "wow" moments. I loved hearing the call to prayer. The two big mosques calling back and forth just gave me chills. A beautiful tradition. I was fascinated with watching the ships coming through the Bosphorus. I could have sat there and watched that all day. I am glad our hotel had a view of the strait. I teach art, so seeing the thousands of hand painted tiles in the Topkapi Palace was also a memorable experience that I could bring back to share with my students. "

Melody

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I didn’t know what to expect from Istanbul and I loved it all. Very comprehensive view of the city and its history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When Mert said Turkeyie wants to show the world Islam and democracy can coexist together."

Thomas

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I've been wanting to see the Hagia Sophia and the original pendentives for decades. Also how it's great dome rests on a circle of light bc of the little arch windows. Our guide Mert was very good and frank. I like it when he says something like Americans and Turkish are very much alike -- they love their flag and their holy book. On the down side, our hotel location was poor. I quickly tired of walking through the gauntlet of overly-aggressive men pushing their meals and goods at me. Awful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Maybe because I work at a port, i don't know, but I really enjoyed the numerous ships passing through the Bosphorus -- both directions, empty and full, grain and oil or something else.."

Diana

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour of this type and it exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I cannot identify a single moment that impressed me more than others. In general, was just overwhelmed by learning about the history and cultures of the region."

Stephen

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As I had hoped, this tour gave me a really comprehensive introduction to Istanbul and its people. Mert was a tremendous guide to his city and a terrific travel partner. He was full of information, insights and humor. He never failed to go the extra mile to make sure everyone had the best experience possible. His deep knowledge about the different religions that surrounded us in Istanbul was invaluable. At the same time, the insights he provided into his own experiences were fascinating.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market were each very exotic experiences but really, every day was full of surprises. Our cruise on the Bosporus Strait was amazing and then visiting the Asian side of Istanbul as well as the New District were both particularly enjoyable."

Liz

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I loved our guide Mert, did not like our hotel in Istanbul, liked all meals except for our first dinner and wished Rick Steves had better headsets. It was very hard to hear and I felt like if I was not near our guide I missed a lot of what he was saying.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque for the first time."

Sara

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Saw many wonderful sights, learned a lot of the history of Istanbul, and ate great food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the Hagia Sofia"

Diane

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyed seeing the parts of Istanbul I missed on earlier trips. Would have enjoyed a little slower pace.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Grand Bazaar’s spice market. "

Barbara

Tour: 04/02/23

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide, great group. Mert, our guide, was very knowledgeable and personable. Thoroughly enjoyed this trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Taking in the sights of how old Istanbul blends with modern Istanbul. "

Paul

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is an incredible city with so much history and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Strolling between the blue mosque and Hagia Sophia at night listening to the duelling call to prayer"

Cathleen

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An amazingly warm and welcoming country. Mine, our guide gave me great insight into the people. Being able to spend a day on each period of Istanbuls history was a very effective way to break the long history into manageable pieces

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Sitting atop the Blue House terrace for dinner when the Imams at Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque started the final call to prayers for the day. The alternated rather than calling over each other so the effect was one of escalating calls in competition. Being directly between the two was the best place to be. (And the turkish bah was pretty amazing too)"

Christine

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first but not our last trip with your organization. We loved everything about it. Location of hotel was perfect, each day was full of activity, free time was good too, fellow travelers were respectful about time and our Guide: Mina was the best!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"People travel to Istanbul, from around the world, for Hair plugs and Cosmetic surgery."

Chrissy

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The hotel selected was in a terrific location for touring the sites and locations most first-time visitors "must see". The tour was arranged thoughtfully with themes for each day that allowed for a coherent story and context for seeing the many historical locations and different eras of the city. The restaurants were thoughtfully chosen and the menus were diverse. Mine K., our guide, was experienced, and funny and accessible. She gave us enough information to comfortably tour on our own later.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were dining on a rooftop terrace restaurant during the final call to prayer on our second night. The restaurant was located between Hagia Sofia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque). The Muezzin at each mosque alternates their verses so as to not call over each other. Beautiful. The overriding "wow" factor is how kind and generous are the people of Istanbul. They love their city - naturally. They seem to want every one to feel welcome. Such a beautiful people. Such a beautiful culture."

Robert

Tour: 10/09/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything went as expected! Our tour guide, Mine, was nothing short of outstanding! Each day was full of site seeing activities and Mine had great knowledge of everything we saw.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Touring the Hagia Sophia was at the top of the list. It's enormous size and age are unmatched. "

James

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Excellent guide, he shared stories that added to the experience at each stop, Each day provided a nice balance between group tours and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Cruise on the Bosphorus and the scenic views along the shore and the constant amount of ship traffic gave a sense of the majesty of Istanbul."

Vito

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Wonderful tour with awesome people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Turkish Bath"

Regina

Tour: 10/02/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Fast-paced but saw so much. Our guide was open and had an exquisite take on contemporary Turkiye based on a sound knowledge and love of his country’s history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sensory experience of inhaling the wonderful & foreign combination of smells in the Spice Market!"

Tracy

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Mert, our guide, was great. Very knowledgeable and funny. I like that he adjusted the itinerary based on potential crowds from cruise ships and other events, although that meant the first 2 jet-lagged days ended up being the hottest and most relentless. Good balance of scheduled touring and free time. The hotel was mediocre, good location but the breakfast was weird. 90% of our tour group got some sort of virus (not COVID), which put a major damper on the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first evening when we spontaneously popped into the Hagia Sofia right before closing because the line was so short. They were clearing out visitors, but Mert managed to talk them into giving us a few minutes for a quick visit. It was amazing being there without anyone else except staff."

May

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Sharlene

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Tour was comprehensive and our guide Mert did an excellent job of showing us special sights and adjusting our schedule to avoid cruise crowds. Istanbul is a fascinating and beautiful city and the tour enhanced my appreciation of its rich culture, cuisine and history!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hagia Sofia"

Dan

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

A very good tour with a good crowd which allowed for good discussions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was no single “wow” moment. There were a steady set of experiences that created a cumulative posigive experience of the city. "

Annette

Tour: 09/18/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our guide, Mert, was great. Knowledgeable, organized, punctual, helpful. He did everything!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views everywhere, across the Bosphorus, mosques, the people, neighbohoods."

Amy

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

IWe saw so much in such a short time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Drinking pickle juice in Karakoy. "

Helen

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I did not know what to expect from Istanbul but was blown away by the beauty, history and character of the city. Every day was a feast to the eyes and ears as I took in my surroundings. Our tour guide, Taylan, did an excellent job of acclimating us to the city so we were comfortable exploring on our own during the free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments on this tour! My first "wow" moment was visiting a small mosque on our orientation night and being blown away by the beautiful tile work and craftsmanship of the building. It was like being in an interactive art display!"

Lynn

Tour: 09/04/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great experience. We saw so many amazing things, learned so much and had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The vistas of the city. You really need to see the breath of it to understand what a city of 18 million is like."

Ellen

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My tour experience was incredible! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and her depth of experience and knowledge that she shared added a deeper value to our tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Hagia Sophia was as incredibly beautiful in person as pictures made it look! Being in Istanbul and experiencing the culture of the city around me is hard to describe. It was fantastic and such a life-changing experience to learn how truly important this city is to the history of our world, including our contemporary world."

Cheryl

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second visit to Istanbul. The first was with the Best of Turkey in 13 Days tour. That tour stayed in Istanbul for two nights and while we packed in a lot of sightseeing, I knew that I wanted to come back. Our tour guide Yaren (who also guided my Best of Turkey tour) is a fantastic guide. Informed, kind, full of energy, and passionate about her hometown of Istanbul. Her personal stories and knowledge of neighborhoods made the tour really special. The asst guide Togay was great also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the archeological museum and visiting some of the neighborhoods away from the tourist crowds."

Chris

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was so well planed out and we were shown each day what we would be doing the next day so we could plan what to wear and what to do with our free time. Our guide, Yeran, was amazing and had the best personality. The food was great and so was the hotel.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The intense beauty of the Rustem Pasa Mosque. The tile work was mind blowing. The size and grandeur of Hagia Sophia has to be seen to be believed. What power the city must have presented in it's heyday to a traveler on the Silk Road. "

Michael

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just a lovely tour. Our guides were amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Haya Sophia!"

Lawrence

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my first tour and I didn't know what to expect, though I have heard good things about Rick Steves tours generally. But I was amazed at how well-organized our days were, and how incredibly knowledgeable our guide, Yaren, was. The pace was just right-there was lots to do without making it a pure endurance contest. The accomodations and meals provided were also outstanding. A great introduction to Istanbul!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many to really select a single one, but if I HAD to pick I would say the archeological museum on the last day. As a general "impression" though, the thing I remember about the Turkish people, was how kind and friendly they are. This is exemplified by how they treat the numerous street animals-cats and dogs. Istanbul residents were uniformly patient with them, owned by everyone and apparently full citizens. "

Cynthia

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and explained things in a clear and interesting manner. They did not sound like a text book but more like they had actually been there. Yaren was fun to be around, always considerate of everyone’s concerns and questions, incredibly knowledgeable, with a great personality.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking up to the Hagia Sophia as well as the tiles uncovered when preparing to build a parking garage,"

Elise

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is a fascinating city and our guides Yaren (an “Istanbul-ite”) and Togay were phenomenal. They were so knowledgeable about the city and its history and archaeology and their love for their city and country shone through. As a solo traveler, I felt very welcome and comfortable as part of the group. The pace was great - it was strenuous at times, but that was very clear in the tour information so did not come as a surprise. We saw and experienced so much in just a week!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One of my favorite parts of the tour was visiting the carpet co-op. Learning about the whole weaving process was fascinating, and the quality of their product is amazing. The time and labor that goes into each piece is huge! I think about a third of the people/couples on our tour, including me, purchased rugs."

Vicki

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So much fun! Very positive guides and I learned so much about the history and culture. Also, loved the food tastings!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Turkish bath."

Marceline

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Yaren was an excellent guide. Her background in archeology and her familiarity with Istanbul provided insight we would not have had otherwise. We went to locations we would have skipped over had we been on our own, such as the cistern and the mosaic museum. I have never been so relaxed on vacation. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick one—but the mosaic museum and archeology museum along with the context that Yaren provided, were definitely two highlights."

Mary

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed this tour of Istanbul, and learning about the history of the city, as well as the country. The tour was very well led by our guide Yaren, as well as assistant guide Togay:) They were both very easy to talk to and led the group with ease.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All of Istanbul was very interesting. I enjoyed the boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait and seeing both the Asian and European continents:)"

Andre

Tour: 06/26/22

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great time!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Turkish Bath experience was pretty awesome."

Susan

Tour: 05/22/22

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations: - Well organized with backup plans in case of the unexpected - Rich cultural offerings - Endless learning opportunities - Emphasis on healthy, physically active itineraries - Sight-seeing was front-loaded in the beginning of the week--exhausting! - Variety of food and drink we were able to try - Hotel was better than my low expectations - Fantastic guide who was knowledgeable, forthright, engaging, and considerate - Bottled water was readily available

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Turkish people we met were warm and wonderful! My Turkish rug was HAND-DELIVERED to my home in California by a friendly member of the Vezirhan team!"

When To Go & Weather

Any time between March and June and September through October are good times to visit Istanbul. However, the months of April, May, September, and October are best for offering comfortable weather and the full range of tourist fun.

Turkey, Istanbul

Weather Chart

Hotels & Flights

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 tour 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 tour 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 (IST).

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.