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suggestions for day tours

I have come across countless day tours for Istanbul.

Any companies that are highly recommended? Had a great experience with?
I understand they all may be different in one way or another. I am looking for the best experience for only visiting the city a couple of days.
I am interested in the historical sites .... Sultanamet Mosque, Ayasofya, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi and the Grand Bazaar, even a Bosphorus river cruise.

Thank you in advance!!

Posted by
1260 posts

I cant help you with tours but we stayed in old town and walked to just about all of the places you mentioned. We walked down to the spice market and where you can get the Bosphorus cruises too but you can take the tram as well. There were private guides outside of the sites too. We used one once but a guidebook was really all that we needed. We had guided tours included in our tour of Istanbul and Turkey but we went to Istanbul a few days early and toured on our own using our feet, the tram and a guidebook.

Posted by
11259 posts

I agree that while you can certainly use a tour, you can easily see all these places on your own.

Posted by
6694 posts

SRM Travel is used in the RS Turkey Tour - I had a great experience with them on the tour. But as others have said, I toured Istanbul entirely on my own without any major issues.

Posted by
35 posts

Thank you very much!!!
I am staying near the Blue Mosque, so I know I am within walking distance. I am traveling solo, so that was the basis of joining a tour. I think Ill be fine with walking to the mosques nearby, but I thought it might be better to have a guide walking through the Grand Bazaar and a Bosphorus boat ride. But again, if its really doable as a solo female traveler... all of them... I might just get a good guide book for the city.

I really want to see a whirling dervish performance or other type of traditional music....( <--- any suggestions?? ) ....but most that I have come across are in the evening.... and of course, that's when solo female travelers are advised not to walk around, and I don't want to have to deal with negotiations with a cab driver. : (

Posted by
6694 posts

The Hodjapasha Center is very close to the tram line (Sirkeci stop). I walked alone for over two weeks in Istanbul (I'm a petite single female) and had no issues, even at night (no need to take taxis, the tram is great and runs until midnight or so). The Old City was pretty dead at night, unlike the New City and Kadikoy (on the Asia) side. I don't think you need to be nervous. However, you will have to deal with touts all the time trying to get you into their carpet shop - just keep walking and ignore them. It's very easy to do a Bosphorus cruise and Grand Bazaar on your own - just keep in mind that there are a variety of Bosphorus cruises (some much more expensive and geared to tourists; the local ferries are very inexpensive and still go over the Bosphorus, although not as extensively). The Grand Bazaar is just plain overwhelming and you'll get lost but that's the fun of it. I preferred the Arasta Bazaar by the Blue Mosque - wonderful place and the goods were higher quality (no pressure to shop there either from the vendors).

https://www.hodjapasha.com/en/whirling-dervishes-sema-ceremony/

Posted by
24 posts

I agree with the suggestion to just use the guidebook to access the sights and activities you mentioned. We did just fine also doing that. I don't think you need a guide unless you really want one. We walked everywhere and sometimes took the tram, which is easy to use. Istanbul is very walkable and the sights are obvious. We are not sophisticated travelers and it was our first time to Istanbul, but we saw everything we possibly could during our stay all on our own.

Posted by
24 posts

Regarding musical suggestions, how about the military marching band at the military museum? Did you know that marching bands, as we know them here, have roots in Turkey? You will see why if you hear them and see them!

Posted by
9 posts

Hi,
Greetings from Istanbul! I am sure you will be amazed exploring the city by your own by joining to any small group tour or a private guided tour.
If you are staying in the Oldcity area (Sultanahmet) then the required sites above are in walking distance and you can cover them in the same day then in the afternoon around 04:00pm then you can join the ferry (90min) or hire a private boat for 2 or 3hours.
Enjoy your trip.