My sister and I will be taking a Greek/Turkey cruise in 2 weeks. Our cruiseline offers a tour of Istanbul, but we are not really tour group people. Does anyone have a local tour guide they have used to tour the city? We are interested in seeing and going in all the major sites. Is this something we could do on our own without a guide? Is the city safe enough for 2 women traveling alone from the docks? Any help is appreciated.
The city is perfectly safe, unless you count being pestered by guys trying to sell you carpets. That minor annoyance aside, you'll be fine. Most of the major tourist attractions are in the old city area of Sultanahmet within easy walking distance from each other. (Aya Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the underground roman cistern, the museums, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Market are all within a few minutes walk from each other.)
Further afield but within a short cab ride is the Chora Church (a must see) and the Dolmabahce Palace (for me, not a must see--a typical 19th century European style over-the-top palace, nothing really Turkish about it.)
I would get a good guidebook (Rick has a brand new one that I haven't checked out) and go from there.
Take a cab from the docks--they're very cheap--just insist on the cabbie using the meter!
You do not need a guide. It is a long walk from the cruise terminal to the main sites but not terrible.
Beware of the people selling cheap perfume by the cruise terminal, hard to imagine what is in a $5 bottle of Channel No. 5!
Also be aware that if you go to the Blue Mosque (highly recommened!) you will need to dress appropriately.