Istanbul City Tours

Last Updated on June 4, 2024


Istanbul is a city with many historical sights. It's best seen in at least 4-5 days, if your schedule allows. When it comes to taking a tour of Istanbul, there are a variety of options which depend upon the time you have, your interests, and how intense of a schedule you prefer.

A half-day or full-day Istanbul city tour is a good way to get your bearings and a sense of the city's geography. Private tours can be an excellent way to see Istanbul, leaving the travel planning and transportation details to the experts.

Istanbul Tours by Length

If you have a flight stopover in Istanbul of , or if you're changing airports, you can arrange a quick sightseeing tour of the city. Consider an airport stopover tour in Istanbul. These expedited tours are designed to highlight key attractions while ensuring you make it back for your next flight.

If you only have a day in Istanbul, with good planning you may still be able to see the top sights. Take an Istanbul day tour if you have limited time to visit.This whirlwind tour provides a taste of Istanbul's essential flavors, both literal and cultural. In one day, you'll be able to see Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, and go shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Of course, no trip to Turkey is complete without experiencing Turkish cuisine and a hammam.

Flying into Istanbul for the weekend? Read our itinerary on how to make the most of your time. In 2-4 days you can visit the top sights mentioned above as well as have more time to explore Istiklal Street & Taksim Square, and explore the city beyond the main historical district of Sultanahmet.

You can see all the major sights in Istanbul in only a few days, and maybe even make an excursion to another Turkish destination. If you only stay for two days, it's enough to see the major sights such as Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace. If you stay between 2 and 5 days, you'll be able to complete a Sultanahmet tour as well as visit a few museums, Galata Tower, Dolmabahce Palace, a Bosphorus Tour, and more. Staying longer allows for leisurely visits and the opportunity to discover Istanbul's lesser-known attractions. It's also possible to plan an excursion outside of Istanbul if you stay closer to a week. Check out our itinerary here.

Only have 6 days in Turkey? Plan your travel just right and you can see the country's top sights in that time.  See our itinerary for 6 days in Turkey.

Istanbul Tours by Length

Led by an eminent archaeologist professor with extensive experience in Istanbul, this 8-day/7-night Exploring Istanbul Tour by Peter Sommer Travels delves deep into the city's history, art, architecture and culture. Lodging is in a fine boutique hotel.

On your own or with a guide, a walking tour is the best way to discover the real Istanbul. You've got lots of possible choices. You can also book a shopping tour that will take you on a stroll through the Grand Bazaar. Both will take you through the Egyptian Bazaar. Opting for a walking tour can give you an up-close look at the city's architecture.

How to get the lay of the land and stop at only the sights that interest you? You might try a hop on - hop off bus tour. This flexible option allows you to customize your itinerary on the go, ideal for those who prefer a more spontaneous approach to exploring.

Boat tours are popular in Turkey, and it's no wonder why. Many of the popular tourist destinations lie along the coastlines of the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Marmara Sea. Consider taking a Bosphorus Tour to journey between two continents, a unique experience in Istanbul. There are many options available. Our most popular are the Bosphorus & Black Sea Tour and a Bosphorus Sunset Cruise.

One cannot visit Turkey without experiencing its world-famous cuisine. What better way to learn more about the delicious food and the culture behind it than to take a Food Tour of Istanbul. If you're interested in learning how to cook Turkish cuisine, you may be interested in a combination Bosphorus Tour & Cooking Class.

Excursions from Istanbul

Believe it or not, you can make day-trip excursions from Istanbul to BursaEdirneGallipoli, and even Ephesus if you do it just right. With a bit more time, an overnight makes it a more satisfying trip.

If venturing further, such as to the travertines of Pamukkale, embarking on a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, or exploring the turquoise waters of Antalya, it will require an overnight stay if departing from Istanbul.

Closer to Istanbul, Princes Islands is a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

Best Turkey Itineraries

Whether you join a tour or do it on your own, here are my recommended itineraries for seeing Turkey. I have the best recommended itineraries, whether you plan to visit for a day or a month. Crafting the perfect itinerary depends on balancing historical sites with natural wonders and cultural experiences, giving you a well-rounded visit.


Tour Suggestions

Istanbul Guided Tours

Taking a tour with experienced tour guides can be an excellent addition to your next holiday. Gaining more insight into the destinations you have visited can make a world of difference.

Efendi Travel offers innovative half-day tours to see some out-of-the-way Istanbul sights such as the Süleymaniye MosqueKariye Museum (Church of the Holy Savior in Chora), City WallsPierre Loti caféGolden Horn, and Egyptian Spice Bazaar for as little as 35.

They also offer a walking tour of all the top sights in and around .

Many other travel agencies also offer tours. Here are the ones I know and recommend.

Istanbul Private Tours

Private tours are the best way to get a customized experience, visiting the places most suited to your interests. Guides have a wealth of knowledge about hidden spots and local favorites that are off the beaten path, providing insights and experiences that you might miss on more generic tours. The convenience of a private tour means you can avoid the crowds, take your time at sites that particularly interest you, and have the flexibility to make spontaneous decisions about what to see and do next.

Here are my recommendations for private tour guides in Istanbul.

A trip to Istanbul can be whatever you want it to be, a quick tour of the biggest attractions, a deep dive into its history and culture, or a mix of both.

Book a customized tour by filling out a form. Receive multiple quotes to find the best deal for your Istanbul tour.

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