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

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | 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!

Dates & Prices

Sorry, we're unable to access departure availability at this time. Please try again later or contact us at 425-608-4217 (Monday–Saturday between 9 am and 5 pm).

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. 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 the New District, with its Art Nouveau façades, restaurants, and trendy boutiques, all along pedestrian-packed İstiklal Street. 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 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, 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 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

Theresa

Chattanooga, TN

Tour: 03/27/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour of Istanbul. Mine was an excellent tour guide. She was fun, energetic and knowledgable. Mine often surprised us with unexpected treats such as a rooftop view or an off-the-beaten-track church. It was the trip of a lifetime for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the tulip garden and the archeological museum."

Fabia

Bethesda, MD

Tour: 03/27/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An excellent tour. It hit all the highlights plus gave us an insight into ordinary people's lives. I was grateful that the itinerary was flexible enough to accommodate security concerns.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The call to prayer five times a day. I said "wow," I'm truly experiencing a very different and (to me) exotic culture."

Mary

Washington, DC

Tour: 03/27/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is one of the world's great cities and our guide only made it better. Her clear narrative and willingness to answer any and all questions enhanced the experience immeasurably How much more I now know and understand about Turkey's history than if I had just been touring on my own. No comparison!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mine took us to the rooftop of an ancient Han in the Grand Bazaar. From there you got a 360* view of the city. While we were up there, the call to prayer began...from Imam's from across the city! What a sound! It brought me to tears! To hear such an ancient ritual...coming from all over...it was breathtaking. Wow."

Daniel

San Diego, CA

Tour: 03/27/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I joined in this guided group tour for safety reasons. Turkey has such a different culture than I am used to and the political climate in the region is unsettled. I found the activities to be well planned and the guide to be well organized. Traveling with 14 other people worked out better than I expected. We covered the main sites and had enough free time to see other things that we fancied. I really enjoyed the side trip to see the whirling dirvishes perform. BRAVO

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting a private tour boat for the Bosphorus trip for just the 14 of us."

Melany

Capistrano Beach, CA

Tour: 03/27/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

From the lovely hotel, to planned meals, and sightseeing, everything was considered. Our Tour Guide Mine was thoughtful, informed, and seemed very much an expert on everything Istanbul.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Mine took us to the roof top of an old factory, that opened up a view of the city I could not have experienced any other way. To add to the overwhelming view, we were between several Mosque's during the afternoon Adhan - call to prayer. We were surrounded by several Muezzin's calling to prayer at the same moment. To be part of an experience like this, is once in a lifetime."

Richard

Chicago, IL

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul is fantastic; both modern and ancient, atmospheric, warm, friendly, exotic, progressive and welcoming. I did not expect to have so many novel and interesting experiences. Palaces, world class musum, roman ruins, beautiful vistas a Turkish bath and of course great shopping.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say must I loived the Hagia Sophia. Magnificent!"

Keith

Kent, WA

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The entire experience was fantastic. Aside from the fact that Istanbul is amazing, the people were amazingly friendly and our tour guide was astoundingly well informed, articulate, and considerate of everybody on the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It would be hard to choose between seeing Hagia Sophia and the Chora Church. Both of them are amazing. For simply taking your breath away, Hagia Sophia wins. For the detail of the art and the story it tells I'd give the nod to Chora Church. Both were made all the more thrilling by the expertise of our tour guide Yaren. She is amazing. Her knowledge of art history, archaeology, and architecture made everything come alive. Her passion for the places and the stories they tell was palpable."

Kate

Chicago, IL

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It is easy to recommend our Best of Istanbul in 7 Days Tour because all of our expectations were exceeded. Our guide was able to make us feel as if we were there; Yaren could describe the Harem in the Topkapi Palace and we could see the Sultan Mother, wives, and concubines scheming to influence the Sultan, eating off of low tables, and sitting around braziers in beautifully tiled rooms. Her historical and archeological expertise allowed us to understand so many ruins and palaces.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After climbing a perilous staircase in a dark corner of the Grand Bazaar, we had the opportunity to see the skyline of Istanbul from a James Bond roof top perspective. The mix of minarets with old and new construction was unlike anything we had ever viewed. The city of 17 million stretched to the horizon."

Rebecca

Bronx, NY

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have wanted to go to Istanbul for a long time and I was not disappointed. The city has many beautiful historical sites, friendly helpful people, delicious food and fabulous experiences to be had. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot about another culture from a historical and political point of view. We felt quite safe despite recent events.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was walking at dusk and coming upon the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia illuminated by the setting sun. It was more spectacular than I had expected and I had high expectations. To think of all the people who have seen this view through the centuries is amazing."

Jose

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I must admit that it was a bit concerning to travel to Turkey at this time, but our guide did everything she could to ease the tension by visiting the popular attractions early in the morning and keeping us away from the crowds....this helped a lot to ease our tensions...

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Again, as an American, I had preconceived notions about being a Moslem. I learned a lot about the culture of Turkey as I would visit with the Hotel night desk personnel during the early hours of the morning. I believe I now have a deeper appreciation for the religion as well as the culture of Turkey. As we are all people we strive for the same ideals and principles....."

Diana

Kent, WA

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous tour. It started the day of bombing in the city. Yaren (our guide) took care to keep us safe (using side streets, waiting until we were inside sights, (after metal detectors) to give us information about the sight. She had a deep of knowledge about the sights, city and life in Turkey. She gave us so much insight into modern day Turkey as well as the ancient sights we saw. Hotel was good. I really enjoyed every day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow, so many: the Bosphorus cruise, the turkish bath, the Topkapi palace, the Hagia Sophia, the culinary day. Honestly everyday, had wow times."

Deborah

Albany, NY

Tour: 03/20/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, it was a good tour experience. I learn things in weird ways; often I do best when going into a place and experiencing it, rather than with information "front loaded" about it for me. That's where tours and I don't fit, so I appreciated the free time during the tour to explore a place on my own from whatever perspective I chose.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Most of my "wow" moments happen traveling alone; when I'm with a tour I tend to be a good gal following the pack. Eating yogurt on the Bosporus boat at Kanlica, going alone to Ortokoy the day Istiklal St was bombed, finding the mosque built closest to Mecca (in the street down in back of the hotel) or hearing an a capella African choir at Palm Sunday Mass at St. Anthony's happened when I was out on my own. Sorry! The tour tied it all together with big sights I wanted to see though."

Rachel

De Pere, WI

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really had no expectations going in. Our daughter chose the Istanbul tour. To be honest, it wasn't even on my trip radar. Wow! Turkish people are so friendly. This history was amazing. We were blessed with great weather in December.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the Armenian church with the Pepto Bismol pink interior. The roof of the Grand Bazaar. But, it was the experiences that I'll remember the most - the Hookah Bar, the Whirling Dervishes, the Turkish Bath, the Underground Cistern, etc."

James

Milwaukee, WI

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was magical. I wanted an in-depth Istanbul experience and that's what I got. I loved seeing the mosques and hearing the calls to prayer. I loved going into the bazaars and I loved finally going to Topkapi Palace after seeing the movie "Topkapi" so many times. I learned that Rick Steves' Tours are active. I saw and experienced so much in a short amount of time. I never felt rushed, though.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Hagia Sophia for the first time. I had seen pictures, of course, but words cannot describe seeing it in person for the first time. Another "wow" moment was when two mosques started to have the call to prayers at the same time. It was like the "Battle of the Imams"."

Jane

Milwaukee, WI

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Never having been on a Rick Steves Tour before, at first it was overwhelming to be so militarized as to the schedule and the amount of attractions we were to get in in a day, but afterwards I felt so comfortable traversing the city on the free days at the back end of the tour. I see now why you do the things you do. Making one comfortable in a strange city is by far the outstanding trait of your tour, I loved it. I never considered myself one who would like this type of vacation but I am sold

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The blue mosque for me was the highlight, the tour of the basement of our restaurant and the roof of the grand bazaar."

Camille

Alameda, CA

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have always wanted to go to Istanbul but was not sure what kind of experience it would be. With all the problems in the middle east it never seemed like I would ever make that trip, until I saw the tour offered by Rick Steve's winter escapes. The weather was good, it was off season so not that crowded with tourist and our guide was alert, intelligent and made sure we were all included in the daily activities. We did everything that we wanted to do and more. Would love to go back!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I didn't think I would do the turkish bath until our guide Mert pointed out a spa like bath house that his wife likes to frequent. It was more expensive than some of the other bath houses but she thought it was worth it. I and my husband both signed up and had one of the most wonderful "spa" experiences. We can now say we had a Turkish Bath and would encourage anyone with reservations to try the bath house near the Hia Sofia."

Cathleen

Hanover, NH

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour with a great guide and accomodations. Other tour members were friendly and interesting individuals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"seeing the Topkapi palace."

Alyson

Mesa, AZ

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a fantastic tour! It was well-organized, and we were able to fit in all of the important sites while still having some free time to explore on our own. I also thought there was a nice balance of famous tourist sites plus a few out of the way places. And in the short time we were in Istanbul, we learned a great deal about the culture, the history, and the religion--thanks to Mert!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The historic district: walking by Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque as we heard the call to prayer."

Laura

Hanover, NH

Tour: 12/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time-family of 6 with 3 generations together. Mert was so charismatic as our tour guide. He knew how to engage my teens throughout all the sites. He had a great sense of humor and a tremendous breadth and depth of knowledge which gave context to all the incredible places we visited. In spite of my concerns, we felt totally safe while we were there. It was great to take the time to explore one city in depth, with expert insight from our tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Blue Mosque at sunset on our first day and standing on the roof of the Grand Bazaar at sunset later in the week with the city all around us."

Debbie

Anacortes, WA

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The highlight for us was our guide Taylon. He was very knowledgeable and organized. He had a view of his culture that was very helpful in understanding modern Turkey and how it's past had shaped it. Everything went as planned and we both enjoyed the experience very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite moment was walking through the markets up to the roof and having at least 5 Mosques surrounding us calling their followers to prayer. It was "surreal"."

Shirley

Farmington Hills, MI

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Good introduction to Istanbul. Enjoyed visiting the major tourist sites and learning about the history. Would have liked to learn how to take other public transport aside from the tram,ferry and funicular (how about metro, bus, taxis?). Loved the food experiences with our tour guide (felt confident that would not get sick).Great tour guide. Felt safe in spite of what was going on that week.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"#1 WOW moment is the Galata Bridge walk catching 1st sight of the Asian side of Istanbul, & enhanced by the Bosphorus Strait boat tour and seeing more Asian Istanbul coastline. T'was exciting to think that we were seeing the westernmost part of the Asian continent, straddling both continents on either side of the strait. An amazing city with this uniqueness. #2 WOW moment is hearing the prayer calls from the Grand Bazaar rooftop, with a panaromic view of the city surrounding us. Memorable."

Jeffrey

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 10/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great goup of fellow travelers. Compared to prior travels with RS and on own, this was the most ""exotic" adventure of them all. Our guide did an amazing job of showing the sights and explaining the diverse social and political currents in this unique mega-city at the proverbial cross roads of East and West.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We ventured to the roof top location where the motorcycle scene from the James Bond "Skyfall" movie was filmed. The view was spectacular. The "wow" came when the call to prayer simultaneously erupted from all the minarets in the old city. I have no douubt our tour guide orchestrated our walk for the day to be at that spot and at that time for an unforgetable experience."

Darold

The Villages, FL

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am a 73 year old male with steel replacements of both knees. I found the walking and hill climbing to be well within my capabilities. The time available was packed with meaningful sites and activities. There was no wasted time. Yaren took us to all of the most important sites and activities that I can imagine. I came away feeling that my time and money were well spent. The experience in Istanbul was eye opening. The city is much like any other major cosmopolitan European city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from the Galata Tower."

Wendy

Langley, WA

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great!!! Just beware of eating raw fruits and vegies. You WILL get sick.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Yaren lead us up on top of an old caravan serei to listen to the Call to Prayer one afternoon. It was an wonderful view and the sounds came from all directions. I was also charmed by all of the stray cats and dogs and the humanity and love with which they treat them. We could learn something."

Toni

Royal Oak, MI

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a wonderful tour! This is my fourth RS tour, but what was especially interesting was that many of my tour mates were also repeat RS tour members! I From the first group meeting with our exceptional tour guide, Yaren, to the many surprises, group meals, and daily activities, everything was thoughtfully organized and planned. We had ample time to explore on our own and Yaren patiently explained how to get around Istanbul via the trams, buses, and funicular - which was very easy to navigate.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We arrived a day before the tour started and we LOVED how close our hotel was to the Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia. My friends and I walked around on our own, found a restaurant for dinner, and on our way back we marveled at the beautiful Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque - at night, lit up right before us. It was breathtaking. I'll never forget the image of seeing them lit up at night."

Edward

Chicago, IL

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was absolutely the best. Yaren our guide is so well informed and excited about her city......you just get caught up in the excitement, breathy and intrigue of the city. It truly is a city of contradictions. Modern yet old. Europe yet Asia, tradition and forward.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moments were the bazaar. The boat trip and the panoramic view of the city on top of the roof. Listening to the call to prayer bouncing all over the city."

Barbara

Mililani, HI

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Only my second tour with Rick (did the Spain/Portugal 15 day tour in 2007) but I've found my favorite tour format. A city tour for me is the best way to get a feel for the land and people. It's not just a matter of sight-seeing but having the time and chance to experience the people and daily life. Yaren was absolutely wonderful in doing this and making sure everyone in the group felt included.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on the roof of the Grand or Spice Bazaar and hearing a surround sound of prayer from all the surrounding mosques. Unforgettable! Also, the Underground Cistern (but not on the tour itinerary itself)."

James

Fairfield, IA

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a highly successful tour. The guide was everything you want a guide to be and more. The time was very full and used efficiently. The lodging was in a perfect location. I'd recommend this tour to anymore whether or not they ever planned to go to Istanbul

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide took us to the Chora Museum and walked us through the medieval ceiling paintings telling the story of Mary, which she did her Master's thesis on. It was greatly illuminating."

Jessica

Aiken, SC

Tour: 10/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A real "back door" experience that we absolutely embraced and adored. Loved the pace and how much we fit into our short visit. Best hotel location, great views from the hotel. Good food. Excellent guide in Yaren - she is a gem! Hard to imagine how this tour could be improved. Thanks for a wonderful experience and memories we will have forever. Cheers!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "roof top timed to the call to prayer" experience on our first day. Wow!"

Patricia

Sun Prairie, WI

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second RS tour and were more than pleased with our experiences. Our tour guide, Yaren, was exceptional...frighteningly knowledgable! Our hotel was quaint, slightly worn and charming. We saw the best of Istanbul and had a good amount of time to explore on our own. Public transportation was easy to use. Food was delicious with many choices to experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many! The call to prayer, a scrub in a Turkish bath (on our own), a hookah! and the beauty of the mosques. 17 million people and we didn't feel crowded or unsafe."

Kimberly

Dallas, TX

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a fabulous trip! Yaren made the city come to life! I so enjoyed the variety of sites and food and how the days were full of adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we went to the roof top of the old inn and saw the city at sunset."

Nancy

Saratoga, CA

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was special, not only because of the sights, but our very bright & lovely personality-Yaren. I appreciated her gentle yet firm handling of being on time. I especially enjoyed the back door views of the rooftop walk; the neighborhood (oldest Jewish synagogue); food tour. Saw the major sites early, to avoid the crowds,; well planned! Look forward to new rug delivery!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"See above (#2). I didn't cover the Bosphorus boat ride was lovely too."

Bethany

Snohomish, WA

Tour: 09/13/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall tour experience was wonderful. This was our 2nd Rick Steve's tour and we were not disappointed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hearing the evening calls to prayer from a hundred mosques from the rooftops of Istanbul was surreal and glorious."

Janice

Carmel, IN

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip was very enjoyable. The tour guide was excellent in explaining the history of Christianity vs Muslim. The architecture of the city is beautiful with wonderful accomplishment of engineering in that period.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The blue mosque' architecture , the Sophia Hague 's engineering feat of being able to build grand building at that time. Bastille cistern 's charm."

Jason

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Introduction to Istanbul was superb! This city fascinates and inspires! I can easily say one of my all time favorite cities!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. Bustling, enticing, people and goods sights and smells added a vibrant and invigorating dimension to my travel experience."

Sharlene

St Clair Shores, MI

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great. I had fun. I learned so much. I ate fantastic food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of Istanbul from the rooftop of a 16th century building. It was spectacular. Plus, it was a bit of a mysterious adventure. (Thank you, Taylan.)"

Arnie

Edmond, OK

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I,at first, wondered how a whole week could be filled in one city. I found out that there was so much to see and do and that I could have spent more time in Istanbul. Our tour guide was so good. He had so much knowledge about his city and country. Taylan made the tour much more than was expected. This was my third Rick Steves and as usual the group attendees were a great bunch.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Taylan took us on roof tops of the Grand Bazaar where they filmed part of the Bond movie (Skyfall) and we had our group picture made with the BEST backdrop of Istanbul ever!"

Lourdes

Smithville, TX

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So glad I chose this tour over others. It was great all around. From the exposure to the culture,the arts, the food, the people, the monuments and the history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hagia Sophia."

Celia

Dunwoody, GA

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I liked the first part of the tour and the last part of the tour, but unfortunately I was sick for 3 days in the middle. I hated missing out. Taylan was very good about checking up on me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As always: Aya Sophia and the Blue Mosque. They're just amazing."

Gail

Penticton, BC

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well organized and extremely enjoyable. Our guide Taylan was fantastic...taught us so much about the old and new Istanbul. I feel we saw more of Istanbul than if we had done it on our own. Our group was a lot of fun and all got along. We made new friends and had one of the most memorable experiences ever. Thank you Rick Steves and Taylan for making it all possible

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favourite "wow" moment was seeing Istanbul from the roof tops. It was such a incredible surprise and experience at the end of the day. Taylan took us through the backdoor of Istanbul and it was fantastic!"

James

Penticton, BC

Tour: 09/06/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The program was well organized and the group was great. Taylan did an excellent job as a guide. We really got a feel for Istanbul.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being on the rooftop of the 15th century building with an amazing view of the old and new towns."

Don

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great place, lots to see and do, well-run tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking through the Hippodrome about 9:30pm during "Iftar" as those fasting during Ramadan are breaking their fast. Families, parties, sharing...good time being had by all"

Hugo

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My whole family went on this tour. We had used Rick Steve's guides before, but this was our first tour. We loved Istanbul, and were very pleased with the care and attention we received from our guide Yaren. She was a great ambassador for Turkey and a very solid source of information for all of us. She was kind, fun and very interested in engaging every tour member. She had a very wide variety of people to please, so not an easy task.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the Bosphorus tour, the foray into the 'Asian" side of Istanbul."

Paul

Dallas, TX

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul was a real discovery for us. Now one of our two favorite cities

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning how diverse and tolerant Turks are"

Susan

Eugene, OR

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had never been on a tour like this, and I know now that it will not be my last. Istanbul was an incredible city, brought to life by our amazing guide, Yaren. The tour and Istanbul both far exceeded any expectations I had. I'm already encouraging everyone I know and meet to go to Istanbul and to take a Rick Steves tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many! It's Istanbul! Sultanahmet, Haiga Sophia...I loved the Turkish bath, the eating. I was continuously wow'ed by Istanbul's rich history- tile panels from the Gates of Ishtar, the beautiful Mosques and churches and artifact-rich museums. It was a week of wows and every one was my favorite! I also miss the calls to prayer. Those were so beautiful!"

Nancy

Calistoga, CA

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Istanbul tour was amazing, and well organized. Yaren, our guide, was exceptionally knowledgeable, and adept at delivering this knowledge to the group. I have dietary restrictions, and she insured that are group meals were delicious and met my restrictions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole tour, and the people participating in the tour made the tour a "Wow" experience. The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was the biggest "WOW" we survived!"

Eugene

Oyster Bay, NY

Tour: 06/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Absolutely superb! An introduction to a great and historic city and to a culture different from ours. Excellently managed program with a great tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Entering the nave of Hagia Sophia from the inner narthex and seeing the great space and the dome."

Paula

Boston, MA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

While I traveled much on tours and on my own, this was one of the best experience. There was a good mix between organized time and on your own time. Somehow this tour attracted curious interesting people. Everyone was pleasant. Being in Turkey and our tour guide changed my vision of Turkey, the Middle East, Islam and Middle East politics.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One night 3 of my favorite fellow travelers and I went to the roof top restaurant, had a drink, watched the sunset over Istanbul and listened to evening call to prayer. Brought me a special peace from the view and the chant."

Jonathan

Walnut Creek, CA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Thanks to our great guide, Mert, Istanbul came alive with all of its fascinating history and culture. We were able to visit all the key sites in the old town and new town, cruise the Bosphorus and spend some time on the Asian side, and have enough free time to pursue our own interests. This was my first city tour and I was very impressed with how the tour was organized and the ground we were able to cover.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The palaces and religious monuments were all very interesting. The cruise on the Bosphorus was also memorable."

Denise

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our masterful tour guide really made this week in Istanbul for me. I was hoping we would get a good one and boy did we! My mother was born and raised in Turkey. So, I wanted to see where she went to school, lived and worked. Our guide helped steer us. In the first 24 hours of arriving before our tour, we didn't have much luck finding those places or at the Grand Bazaar. It was a different story after help from our guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The boat ride on the Bospherous. But, the Topkapi Place was right up there."

Robert

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized and Mert was an excellent guide, very knowledgeable and patient. Got a good flavor of Istanbul, though it would have been interesting to have a few optional excursions to see other parts of this huge city!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the Bosphorous cruise was the neatest part though the Sulyemon Mosque was very cool as well. The Topkapi Palace was very high on the list too."

Carol

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my 2nd time in Turkey, having gone on the RS Best of Turkey tour 11 yrs ago. I traveled with my adult daughter, and it was her first time. It was nice to spend 5 1/2 days in Istanbul and see it more in depth. Great variety of sights and experiences, our fellow travelers were all so congenial and interesting, our guide was super, and the food was delicious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The mosaics in the Topkapi Palace Harem, the magnificence of the ancient Hagia Sophia, and seeing the Basilica Cistern. But my favorite experience was the Bosphorus cruise, because I had not done that before and it gave a much better idea of Istanbul overall, after spending so much time in the old city."

Juliana

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had no idea that Istanbul was such a progressive, friendly, and exciting city. I thought seven days would be too long, but it was definitely not long enough. I would go back in a heartbeat! Our guide, Mert Tanner, made it simply amazing! He listened to his guests and showed us things we wouldn't have gotten to see otherwise. He was always willing to answer questions, give directions, and help out at the drop of the hat and obviously loved the city he was sharing with us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Basilica Cistern! It was not on the itinerary, but was my number one thing I wanted to see. When Mert let us know he would add it in for any of us that wanted to go, I was simply ecstatic and it was beautiful and breathtaking!"

Jeffrey

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 05/24/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Mert, was terrific. He was knowledgable, fun and had a sense of humor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on top of a mostly deserted building and looking out over Istanbul."

Lee

Woodville, TX

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the tour very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole experience was great."

Frederick

Dallas, TX

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Mert, was terrific. His wealth of knowledge about the history of Turkey, the Middle East, Istanbul, its religions, culture, the mosques, the palace, the food, etc. was awesome. Plus, he was a great organizer and a really nice fellow. He is a real asset to the Rick Steves Tours of Istanbul and Turkey. The hotel was perfectly located just a couple of blocks from the Blue Mosque and in the heart of dozens of good restaurants.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick one. The Blue Mosque was awesome, but so was the Hagia Sophia and the Chora Church. Mert encouraged and assisted us to visit the Basilica Cistern, which was most unusual."

Saifu

Cupertino, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Very knowledgeable guide makes the tour of Istanbul super enjoyable. Love it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Having detail archeological and biblical overview before each tour really help to provide a framework to appreciate what I see during the tour."

MaryAnn

Salisbury, NC

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was a very well planned tour. We saw all the highlights in the itinerary, and had enough free time to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was impressed by the friendliness of most people we met. Even those selling meals and souvenirs were polite."

Ellen

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Mert, overall group, food, and weather were all great. As always, I wanted to stay longer because exposure to this wonderful city just whet my appetite.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I knew from maps that the Hotel Sumengen was close to the Blue Mosque, but walking to the end of the block and seeing this huge, beautiful Mosque looming quite took my breath away. "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore!""

Reina

Alameda, CA

Tour: 05/17/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We learned so much about Istanbul, about Turkey, and about that area of the world than we ever expected. It taught us how important it is for Americans to learn about other cultures, especially in that part of the world, so that they truly understand what is happening there and why. Our immersion in this place for a full week left us with a great appreciation of the deep history of Turkey, as well as the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My husband's favorite "wow" moment was seeing the Suleyman the Magnificent's mosque. My favorite "wow" moment was seeing the Hagia Sophia."

Karen

Lawrence, KS

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

How do you say FANTASTIC?!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Flying in over the city and then the taxi trip to our hotel. It was so incredibly beautiful! The tulips and the landscaping along the old city walls was so inviting. You wanted to be one of the many wandering dogs and just go roll in the grass! First impressions are priceless!"

Anita

Burlingame, CA

Tour: 04/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful group of people to travel with. Guide was knowledgeable, patient, organized and timely. She made it look effortless, even though it obviously wasn't.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A surprise detour to the roof of a caravancary for a one of a kind view of Istanbul."

Weather

Turkey / Istanbul

Istanbul Weather

Planning Tips

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.

For more pre- and post-tour travel information, please visit our Turkey guides' website at www.srmtravel.com.

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.