Start your private day tour with a pickup in an air-conditioned vehicle from your centrally located hotel in Istanbul (European side). Then, set off to discover the historic Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and more! First, head over the Hippodrome to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque internationally known as the Blue Mosque and observe Ottoman architecture at its finest. Turn 360 degrees to see six imposing spires and 260 luminescent windows that scatter brilliant sunlight over the mosque’s 20,000 Iznik tiles.
Continue to Hagia Sophia and learn how this civil engineering wonder was once the largest church in the world, then a mosque, and now the Saint Sophia Museum. Enjoy perusing through this enormous dome structure admiring the beautiful Byzantine mosaics.
Next, delve under the famous peninsula of Sarayburnu into the largest ancient cistern in Istanbul, Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayı). Located a mere 500 feet (150m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia, Experience its sheer size. Learn how it was built under the rule of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century and is the largest cistern in a city of hundreds.
Rise above ground and take a short walk to Topkapi Palace, the oldest and largest palace on the planet. Hear about the treasure held within its walls as you stroll through its ornate rooms. Then, cruise around its buildings to a spectacular vantage point of the Golden Horn and learn why it's considered the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire. (On Tuesdays the palace is closed, so instead visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museum)
Onward to the center of Constantinople’s sporting and political heart at the Hippodrome. Go back in time 500 years when the Ottoman empire was in power and imagine a place ruled by games and riots. Nowadays, this civic park carries on the Ottoman tradition in its name only known as the Horse Grounds (At Meydanı). Move on and admire the Hippodrome’s ancient Egyptian granite Obelisk and hear how it was transported in 390 AD to Constantinople by Emperor Theodosius.
Finally, enjoy the hustle and bustle of the famous Grand Bazaar. Discover the world’s largest canopied market as you stroll along peering into shops full of leather, pottery, jewelry, spices and carpets. With more than 4,000 shops on 58 streets, you’ll be astounded that this market has been operating since the 14th century. (Closed on Sundays; so extra time will be spread over the other locations for a more intimate experience.)