We stop in Istanbul during our cruise. Looking for a guide/tour company for the day. The group will be four or six of us for the tour. Thank you. Gladys
We used Ephesus Shuttle for cruise port tours in both Istanbul & Kusadasi in 2014. A long time ago now, but a quick look on Trip Advisor shows they are still getting good reviews.
In Istanbul, we booked a full day private tour for our group of 6. Our guide was a lovely young woman who met us at the cruise port. We then walked to the tram stop (about 10-15 minutes according to my notes) & rode the tram to the Sultanahmet area. She took us into the Blue Mosque, Underground Cistern, Topkapi Palace, lunch stop, Hagia Sophia & the Grand Bazaar, before taking the tram & walking us back to the port.
We saw so much that day & learned a lot from our guide. She was very willing to talk with us about her life in Turkey.
Our guide in Kusadasi for a full day trip to Ephesus was just as great. We would book with them again if traveling to Turkey.
We were in Istanbul on Nov 10, 2022. The ship was slightly delayed, and there was only one other ship in port. Here is my humble first-timer advice.
Skip the Blue Mosque as it was under renovation, and much of the inside couldn't be seen (this advice came from our private tour guide and another person who went there on that day.) I didn't go, based on our guide's advice.
We started out at Topkapi Palace, which was interesting and the lines weren't too long. We had lunch at a small cafeteria restaurant not far from the square and then proceeded to Hagia Sophia, where the line was very long. Don't get too discouraged as they stop it at times for private prayer, and it looks like the line isn't moving. But, when it opens, the line moves smoothly. It is worth the wait.
We then went to the Grand Bazaar, which is interesting, but really, it is just a bunch of shops in a dizzying array of alleys. The Hippodrome is now just a park. I've been to the more authentic looking one in Caesarea Maritima, so this was really unexciting.
The problems occurred on our way back to the ship. The traffic was gridlocked as we approached the bridge. With little time to make it back, the guide and group decided to get out in the middle of the street and walk back to port. It was a frantic walk, and we made it, but of course, I knew the ship tours were behind us, so the ship wouldn't leave. In fact, the ship left 90 mins late. My understanding is that the ship tours were much worse, losing people and many stories of disappointment.
The crew seemed to know about the difficulties of traffic, so they took the tram. Get good instructions on how to do this, and just go to Istanbul on your own. The tram moved about smoothly while the buses, vans, and taxis were locked in the traffic to port. Our ship was only half full and the other ship was smaller. I can only imagine what it would have been like during a normal sailing.
I highly recommend this tour guide: Metin Koca. He has taken me and friends around Istanbul a few times and he is excellent! His English is superb, he is passionate about Istanbul and its rich history, he is honest, and has a good sense of humor.
Cell phone (use WhatsApp) +90 (533) 230 19 76
Metin’s amazing reviews on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g293974-d15220257-Reviews-Tour_Guide_Metin_Koca-Istanbul.html
Our family went to Turkey this summer and we were guided around the country- including Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, Pamukkale, and Selcuk- by Suzan Kahraman. She was great and really tailored our experience to our needs (we have an 11-year-old and a 6-year-old. Her contact info:
Phone: 00 905332101740
Just one comment about any guide who holds the space in line for you at Hagia Sophia. That seems to be the practice of some guides, but that makes you an obnoxious rich person who can afford to do that. It happens. We waited in line for about 45 minutes and the van driver brought a very rich-looking couple in the line in front of us. He smiled and said "they were friends." Yeah, new friends who just paid him to do that. Still obnoxious.
In reality, the lines may seem very long because the officials running the mosque have closed it for prayer. The line moves rather fast when the doors are reopened.