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Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia: Our most recommended tours and activities

Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

1. Hagia Sophia: Entry with Guided Tour

Travel back in time to experience the story of the ancient Hagia Sophia on a guided tour in Istanbul. Trace how this iconic site has transformed over time with a local guide. Uncover stunning details as you explore this architectural gem. Meet with your professional local guide in front of Hagia Sophia. Hear a short history of the Old City then start the Hagia Sophia Tour.  Your guide will explain the mystery of the magnificent Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is a great architectural beauty and an important monument both for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Once a church, later a mosque, and now a museum at the Turkish Republic, Hagia Sophia has always been a precious building. 

Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

2. Istanbul: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour

Discover the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Hippodrome on a private or shared guided walking tour in Istanbul. Admire the historic architecture and unique views of the city. Get an insider perspective of these must-see sights. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour with an expert guide. Start with the Blue Mosque, the most visited monument in Istanbul famous for its stunning blue tiles. Marvel at this imperial Ottoman Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Ahmet. Witness the evocative power and splendor of its past as you enjoy a comprehensive guided tour of the Blue Mosque. Afterward, enjoy the courtyard for breathtaking views of modern Istanbulites and take a stroll around the neighborhood. Walk through the Hippodrome, the social and political center of the city, and learn about the significance of the famous obelisks. Visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Explore the Arasta Bazaar nestled right under the shadow of the Blue Mosque to understand 17th Century architecture of public buildings. It is a well-known but modest open-air market in the heart of Sultanahmet. Enjoy a last-minute tea break and hunt for gifts to take home. End your tour in Sultanahmet Square with enough information and hints to help you be independent for the rest of your time in Istanbul.

Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App

3. Istanbul: Bosphorus Cruise with Audio App

Enjoy a Bosphorus cruise in Istanbul and admire the cosmopolitan city from a completely different perspective while enjoying the beautiful views of the Orient and the Occident at the same time. The Bosphorus is 32km long, separates Europe from Asia, and connects the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea. Cruise along the strait between Asia and Europe and discover Istanbul tourist attractions, magnificent palaces, ancient castles, and other historical sites, as well as fine seaside residences and the Bosphorus bridge. Admire the views of Galata Tower, Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque. Furthermore, you will have a glance at the spectacular pieces of authentic civic architecture on the European and Asian coasts.

Best of Istanbul Combo: Basilica, Topkapi & Hagia Sophia

4. Best of Istanbul Combo: Basilica, Topkapi & Hagia Sophia

After signing up for this experience, your name will be on the list for each of the monuments for 3 days. Be free to visit at the available times, gathering at the meeting points in front of the museums to skip the line with an authorized English-speaking guide. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your English-speaking tour guide.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

5. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

Discover the best of Istanbul on this 1, 2, or 3-day private tour that covers the major attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia Museum, the iconic Blue Mosque, the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, and the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. A few of the possible attraction you'll visit on your tour include: The Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome, and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The Blue Mosque, more officially known as the "Sultanahmet" Mosque has striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. The Hippodrome is the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name — in Turkish, Dolma means "filled" or "stuffed," and bahce means "garden". Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars, and from there, it's an interesting and scenic 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area. See this and more depending on which length tour option you select. Possible Itinerary for each day of the tour: Day 1: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome Day 2: Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal, Galata Tower Day 3: Suleymaniye Mosque, Chora Church, Fener/Balat Districts, Pierre Loti Hill

Istanbul: Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise from the Old City

6. Istanbul: Bosphorus Sightseeing Cruise from the Old City

A Bosphorus cruise is one of the best things to do in Istanbul. Get on the boat and start discovering the long waterway which separates Europe and Asia. Discover Istanbul’s main attractions, including magnificent palaces, ancient castles and famous hills and parks, as well as spectacular seaside residences from different centuries while passing under famous bridges. You will start your tour from the Old City in Eminönü and cruise along the European side until the 2nd Bosphorus bridge and return back along the Asian coast. You will pass by Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Ortaköy Mosque, Bosphorus Bridge, Rumeli Fortress and Beylerbeyi Palace. You will aslo get to see some historical landmarks from a distance such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Maiden Tower, and Galata Tower. 

Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

7. Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

Join a guided tour to discover Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. Benefit from priority admission at the museum ticket offices to skip the long lines and head in faster. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour. Start with the Basilica Cistern, wander around the “Subterranean Palace” and learn about its history. See the underground pillars and learn about Byzantine architecture. Walk on the wooden walkways over the water until the famous upside-down Medusa heads. Next, visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Continue to Topkapi Palace to explore the splendor of the Ottoman Empire. Discover the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the Harem ( if the option is chosen), ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

8. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia & Topkapi Palace Combo Ticket

Visiting Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace requires standing in 2 lines: one for the ticket, and one for the security check. With this combo ticket, you skip the ticket lines and enter the Topkapi Palace as fast as possible, giving you more time to spend inside these museums. To use your voucher, meet your local host at the entrance of Hürrem Sultan Hamam. They are available at the time selected during the booking process at a very visible meeting point. Your host will then take you through the skip the ticket line gate to enter the museums. With this combo ticket, you can visit each museum one time. You can visit both museums in one day or you can visit each museum on different days. It is recommended to visit the museums either before 10:00 AM or after 2:00 PM since it will be less crowded inside.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

9. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

10. Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel or cruise ship, and you’ll head out for a full-day VIP tour of Istanbul. Visit the Hippodrome, the center of sporting and political activities of ancient Constantinople. See the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the German Fountain of Willhelm II. Continue to the Blue Mosque, dating from the 17th century. This is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul and one of the principal features of the city skyline. It’s best known for its blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Afterwards, you’ll visit Topkapi Palace, the former imperial residence that was the seat of the Great Ottoman Empire. Explore the spectacular museum and its vast collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the treasury of the royal family. Continue to the Hagia Sophia, the magnificent Byzantine Church considered one of the finest and largest architectural works in the world. The last stop on the tour is the Grand Bazaar. In addition to its historical importance, this is a shopping venue that will tempt even the non-shoppers among you with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. At the end of the tour, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel or cruise ship.

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What people are saying about Hagia Sophia

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 4,816 reviews

This was our first time in Istanbul. We came in on a Princess Cruise. Our guide Mehmet was absolutely amazing. He contacted us the day before to arrange the meeting time and place. He was right there once we walked out of the cruise terminal holding a sign with our name. He greeted us warmly and asked us what we wanted our day to look like. We told him, this is where you were born & raised, please show us what you would like us to see. We saw all the main attractions but the highlight was when Mehmet took us to the Pudding Shop for lunch. We had authentic Turkish food that was fantastic. We then headed to the bizarre when Mehmet navigated us to a shop to get spices, fruit nuts & incredible teas. We highly recommend Mehmet. He was so lovely and kind and he made our trip beyond anything that we could have imagined.

This was a fantastic tour! Istanbul is a wonderful city and Ekrem was an outstanding guide. The tour was well organized, covering all the main sites such as Aya Sofia, Topkapi palace, Dolmabahce palace and more . Ekrem was very knowledgeable and provided us with interesting historical and cultural insights, all in perfect English. He was also kind and patient in answering all of our questions. He was flexible, adjusting the program to avoid the rain, beat crowds and for us to spend more time at the Grand Bazaar (which we loved!). He also suggested great food and was very helpful in guiding us on how to use the tram and find our way around the city. Overall, my husband, adult daughter and I highly recommend this tour - be sure to ask for Ekrem as your guide!

We had a wonderful time. Ozgur was a fantastic guide. He was very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly.

Professional, knowledgable and friendly Guide. Highly recommend. Thank you Barish

Great knowledgeable tour guide, small group, would recommend!