Grand Bazaar and any two: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque
Please dress conservatively. No exposed shoulders or knees in mosques. The Grand Bazaar, one of the most colorful sites of Istanbul, is where you'll have the chance to experience Turkish weaving arts and a carpet presentation. Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays. Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays and during religious festivals on the following dates of July 05 & 07, 2016, and September 12 & 15, 2016. Blue Mosque is closed until 3 pm on Fridays.
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
This ancient crossroad city has physically divided and culturally mingled East and West for thousands of years. It has changed hands repeatedly among tribes, nations, empires, and alliances of empires. It's been the sentry guarding passage between Asia and Europe on the Silk Road, and a link between the Black and the Mediterranean seas through the Bosporus Strait. Istanbul was a capital of Christianity after the fall of Rome and capital of Islam after the Ottoman conquest. Learn more of the city's fascinating story on this tour.
The arrival of the Ottoman Empire launched an age of decadence for this city that straddles two continents. You'll see magnificently decorated mosques, mosaic-filled churches, and sumptuous, sprawling palaces including the splendid playground for the salacious sultans who reigned between the 15th and 19th centuries.
When Mehmet the Conqueror took Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1453, he moved the capital of the Ottoman Empire to the strategically located city and set to work building his grand palace. While Topkapi was only supposed to be his summer fling, he got a little too comfortable lounging in its tree-shaded courtyards, opulent carved pavilions, and 400-room harem, and the royal residence became the center of Ottoman rule for the next 400 years, housing as many as 4,000 people.
A palace in a city as prized as Istanbul deserved to be dazzled with diamonds and baubles, and the Ottoman sultans adorned Topkapi with the richest collection of jewels in the world, including the 86-karat Spoonmaker's Diamond. According to one legend (there are many), a swindling jeweler traded a naive fisherman three spoons for what he said was worthless glass, but is actually one of the world's most famous diamonds. True or not, it's a story to keep in mind at the bazaar.
No such thing as a slow day
The Grand Bazaar gets between a quarter of a million people and 400,000 visitors a day. But you don't become the oldest and biggest covered market in the world overnight; its labyrinth of 61 streets and 3,000-plus shops accumulated through fires and earthquakes over the course of 550 years. If you're willing to haggle, there are bargains to be had on books, leather, jewelry, ceramics, silverware, carpets, and even belly-dancing outfits.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.