Can you “conquer” Istanbul in just one day? We’re certainly going to try! Take a journey from Byzantium to Constantinople to Sultan Mehmet Fatih’s city of Islam on this historical tour that stops at some of the most iconic sites in Turkey while also showing you the city’s exciting present day atmosphere.
Start your Istanbul tour with a dose of awe at Justinian the Great’s Hagia Sophia. This masterpiece of Byzantine architecture stands tall and proud in downtown Istanbul, holding within its walls more than 1,500 years of Turkish history. This mind-bogglingly beautiful site is also somewhat of a chameleon — it has lived its long life as a church, a mosque, and now as a museum. Then you'll head just across the street to the jewel in the Istanbul crown. Sultan Ahmet I’s Blue Mosque is one of the most striking sights in Istanbul, with its iconic blue-tiled walls, 260 windows, and six minarets.
Next, your Istanbul city tour will take you to the ancient Hippodrome. Today, this charming promenade is a popular meeting point for Istanbulites, but it is also an integral part of Turkish history. Chariot races once took place along this strip, which was also home to the notorious Nika riots — a dramatic political protest in 532AD that led to the massacre of tens of thousands of people.
Need a break? Step back to the present and join the locals as we lunch in a hidden café. You’ll enjoy friendly conversation with members of the community and learn about daily life in Istanbul. Once you’re filled with Turkish cuisine, Topkapi Palace awaits. This opulent complex overlooking the Bosphorus is a true Istanbul treasure, with many colorful stories about the rich sultans who lived there.
Lastly, you’ll seek out treasures of a different kind in Istanbul’s famed Grand Bazaar, which offers up 3,000 shops to explore along 61 streets. Meet a few of the local characters, perfect your haggling skills, have a true Turkish coffee and shop till you drop.