This delightful half-day tour of one of the world's most fascinating cities is designed to show you the highlights of Istanbul's stunning architecture and attractions.
Starting off by coach, your first stop is the impressive Blue Mosque. This breathtaking mosque is the only one in the world with six minarets. Although built between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I (and named after him), the mosque is known as the Blue Mosque because of the 21,000 Blue-green Iznik tiles, which decorate the interior.
After a look at this amazing site, you'll next proceed to the Byzantine Hippodrome, which lies in front of the Blue Mosque. During the Roman and Byzantine periods, the Hippodrome was the center for entertainment, amusement and sports in the city. Later, during the Ottoman rule of the city, the Hippodrome grounds were used for festivities and ceremonies.
No visit to Istanbul is complete without seeing marvelous Topkapi Palace, which served as the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans for more than 400 years. The Palace is located where the Acropolis of Byzantium once stood, on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The palace complex covers an area of approximately 700,000 square meters and it is surrounded by five kilometers of walls.
Within the palace grounds are courts, pavilions, mosques, fountains and a beautiful treasury section. One of the richest collections of French, Japanese & Chinese porcelain and the most valuable pieces of the treasury of Ottoman Empire are on display in the pavilions of the Palace.
Your final stop will be at the Grand Bazaar, the largest and the oldest covered market place in the world with more than 4,000 shops in the labyrinth of streets. Enjoy the colorful array of shops that offer an endless selection of goods that includes jewelry, fabrics, spices and local handicrafts.
Please note: On Tuesdays,the Topkapi Palace will be replaced with the Beylerbeyi Palace. This tour includes approximately 2 hours of walking plus any additional walking at the guests' discretion during free time. It is available to wheelchair guests who are able to make their way on and off the coach; however, wheelchairs are not permitted in the Blue Mosque and wheelchair guests would have to wait outside in the garden. There are some steps to negotiate at the entrance to the Mosque and those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned to evaluate their personal level of ability and stamina. The Blue Mosque will be closed to all visitors until after 2:30 pm on Fridays. Morning tours will have an exterior visit only. Conservative dress is required for visiting mosques. All female guests will be required to cover their heads, shoulders and arms and shorts above knee-length are not allowed for both male and female visitors. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The covered section of the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, so you will visit the Spice Market instead. The order of the sites visited may change to avoid the crowds. Please expect dense traffic conditions in Istanbul.