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Best of Istanbul in 7 Days Tour
from $1,995 per person + air
Single Supplement $675See 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!
Dates & Prices
To request advance notification of when a tour will be available for booking, please select ‘Notify Me’ next to the departure date and join the list. We'll send the notification email when a tour opens within a season (spring, summer, fall, winter) or region.
You'll get at least 15 group sightseeing events — at no extra cost!
Here's what you'll see and do on our Best of Istanbul tour:
- Rüstem Paşa Mosque (Blue Mosque under renovation)
- 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
- Traditional Turkish brunch
- Bosphorus cruise
- Kadiköy district walking tour
- Istanbul Archaeological Museum
Plus you'll get all this, too.
- A small, friendly group of 24 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 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
- Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2021
- 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
Group sightseeing events subject to change.
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.
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 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.
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 thorughout 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 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 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.
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…
- 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.
- Be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
- Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
- After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.
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.
Hotels & Flights
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 $50 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.
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.
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.