Lonely Planet Experiences: Highlights of Istanbul Full-Day Tour with Local Lunch

Duration: 9 hours
Destination: Turkey, İstanbul, Istanbul

Check Availability

  • 9 hours
  • Istanbul
  • E-Voucher
  • Lowest Price
  • Cancellable


Experience the best travel stories for yourself! Join a local expert and uncover hidden gems on this Lonely Planet Experience powered by Urban Adventures.
Journey in the footsteps of Istanbul’s most famous ruler — Fatih Sultan Mehmet — and discover Istanbul on a 9-hour sightseeing tour. Enjoy this comprehensive introduction to the city’s must-see sights complete with insight from your guide. Marvel at the magnificent Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the tree-lined ancient Hippodrome and learn how Istanbul has stood strong for centuries. Haggle with artisans in the Grand Bazaar and savor a delicious Turkish lunch at a secluded cafe.

Tick off all of Istanbul's top sights in just one day with a full-day sightseeing tour of Turkey’s most populous and iconic city. Take a journey from Byzantium to Constantinople to Sultan Mehmet Fatih’s City of Islam on this historical tour that stops at some of Istanbul’s most popular sites while showcasing its exciting present.

Start your tour with a look at Justinian the Great’s Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture that holds more than 1,500 years of Turkish history. This beautiful site is also somewhat of a chameleon: it has lived its long life as a church, a mosque, and now as a museum. 

Next, head just across the street to the jewel in the Istanbul crown: Sultan Ahmet I’s Blue Mosque. It’s one of the city’s most impressive sights, with its thousands of iconic blue-tiled walls, 260 windows, and 6 minarets. Your guide fills you in on the significance of these intriguing spires as you go. 

From here, you'll pay a visit to Istanbul’s ancient Hippodrome. Today this charming promenade is a popular meeting point for Istanbul residents while still an integral part of Turkish history. Imagine the chariot races that once took place along this strip, which was also the site of the notorious Nika riots — a dramatic political protest in 532 AD that led to the massacre of tens of thousands of people.

Then, step back into the present for a relaxing lunch break at a well-hidden café. Enjoy conversation with local community members and learn about daily life in Istanbul as you dine.

Once you’re filled with Turkish cuisine, Topkapi Palace awaits. This opulent complex overlooking the Bosphorus is a true Istanbul treasure. Hear many colorful stories about the rich sultans who lived here between 1453 and 1839.

Lastly, seek out treasures of a different kind in Istanbul’s famed Grand Bazaar, home to more than 3,000 shops along 61 streets. Meet a few of the market characters, perfect your haggling skills, savor a traditional Turkish coffee, and walk away with a slew of souvenir finds.

Note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, so Sunday tours will explore the nearby Spice Market —a vibrant and seemingly endless display of colorful spices, coffees, teas and treats — instead.

IMPORTANT note: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul will be closed between 1st March - 15th May for renovation.  To compensate we will be visiting Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, which was built in 1572 (older than Blue Mosque).

  • Local guide
  • Lunch

  • Hotel pickup and drop-off
  • Gratuities
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Mosques have very strict dress codes, when visiting women must where long loose clothing, insure their arms and legs are fully covered. Women are also required to cover their heads at all times. Men must not show above their knees and cover their shoulders. Failure to do so will result in refused entry.
  • IMPORTANT note: The Blue Mosque in Istanbul will be closed between 1st March - 15th May for renovation. To compensate we will be visiting Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, which was built in 1572 (older than Blue Mosque).
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • Local Impact: How you will help the local community by joining this tour: On this tour you will visit cultural heavy hitters like the Hagia Sophia Museum, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome, and Topkapi Palace. Your tour includes entrance fees to all of them, which helps to preserve these important cultural sites.
  • On this tour you will have a chance to try different Turkish delicacies at local cafes, and in doing so you will be supporting small, locally-owned business.
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 12 travelers
Departure Point

Pudding Shop Lale Restaurant, Alemdar, Divan Yolu Cd. No:6, 34400 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

Departure Time

8:30 AM

Return Details

Grand Bazaar, Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

Voucher info

You can present either a paper or an electronic voucher for this activity.


9 hours

If you cancel at least 4 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee.
If you cancel within 3 day(s) of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.

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