Old City Tour: Byzantine & Ottoman Relics

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Old City Tour: Byzantine & Ottoman Relics

Spend a day exploring the famous sites of Istanbul's Old City, from Hagia Sophia to Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar to the tombs of the Sultans.

Duration: 8 Hours
Live Guide: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Arabic.


  • Explore the cultural treasures of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires.
  • Visit the heart of the Old City.
  • Enjoy an authentic Turkish lunch.
  • Browse the largest collection of authentic Turkish products and handmade items at the Grand Bazaar.

Full Description

Our journey begins in Sultanahmet, the heart of the Old City of Constantinople, at the famous Hagia Sophia. Built by Emperor Justinian more than 1,500 years ago, it was originally a church, was converted to a mosque during the Ottoman period. Hear the stories of its long history and marvel at the amazing architecture. 

Across from the Hagia Sophia is another very famous site, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful blue Iznik tiles. It is said that the Sultan told the architect to use gold, in Turkish "altin", but the architect thought he said six, in Turkish "alti". This is just one of the stories explaining why the mosque has six minarets. You'll hear more interesting stories of its history and experience the spiritual side of Istanbul. Next, we will walk around to see the remains of the Hippodrome and notable monuments including the Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius and the German Fountain of Wilhelm II. 
Next, we'll head to the Grand Bazaar which is a short walk away. It's one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world with nearly 3,600 shops selling quality leather products, gold, jewellery, authentic Turkish delight, handmade carpets, antiques and more. Upon request, we can even arrange a demonstration so you can see how Turkish carpets are made. Then it will be time to enjoy lunch at a local Turkish restaurant. 

After lunch, we will visit Topkapi Palace which was the residence of the Ottoman Sultans and their families, as well as the headquarters of the Ottoman Empire, for more than 400 years. There are many interesting things to see including the imperial treasury, sacred Islamic relics of Prophet Mohammed, a Chinese porcelain collection, weapons and more. Please note that live commentary from your guide is not permitted in some areas of the palace. 

Finally, we'll visit the often forgotten tombs of the Ottoman Sultans and their families, tucked away to the side of Hagia Sophia. There are five tombs and each is an exquisite work of art. They all feature unique paintings, tiles and calligraphy with the earliest dating back to 1574. 



  • Entrance fees.
  • Guiding services.
  • A/C transportation.
  • Entry to the Harem at Topkapi Palace.
  • Drinks.

Meeting point

Tamara Restaurant or The Marmara Taksim Hotel entrance at 13:00pm.


Know Before You Go

  • Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays and replaced with Underground Cistern.
  • Grand Covered Bazaar is closed on Sundays and replaced with authentic shops around Grand Bazaar.
  • Topkapı Palace is closed on Tuesdays and replaced with Tour to Byzantium.

About your Host

Plan Tours

Plan Tours, licenced “A Group” by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is a major tour operator in Türkiye, based in İstanbul since 1984. (licensee for City Sightseeing Worldwide and Gray Line Worldwide, official travel agency of Turkish Airlines, member of TÜRSAB – Association of Turkish Travel Agencies and ICVB – İstanbul Convention and Visitors Bureau)...
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Customer Reviews

9.20 Superb Based on 5 reviews
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Jack - February 01, 2019

Our guide Ilker was very nice and funny. We had a nice bunch 7 people in total so it was very cosy and easy.

Billy - January 29, 2019

Very impressive and informative, small groups and a lovely Guide

Cecil - June 01, 2019

Car arrived to hotel approximately 15 minutes late. We began our tour as negative. I thought it will be a day spent for nothing. At the end of the when we returnedto our hotel the at the reception as why we are still laughing. Guide was so funny and we forgat the beginning of the tour. Hospitality is just a touch. The point is; not to hurt. We saw this in our guide s kindness.

Lynn - July 25, 2019

If you say YES, to learn 600 years in 8 hours, this works for you. One day passed suddenly. Very informative tour. Even if you don t like the history you do not get bored when you listen your guide.

Isabel - April 09, 2019

We were staying on Old City side. On our first day we saw these places but did not visit. I found this tour on our third day. These are not just buildings. The tangible side of a living history.

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