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Sultanahmet Square

Sultanahmet Square: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

1. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

Discover the Topkapi Palace on a guided tour. Learn about Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of the Sultan's family in the harem.  Meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Turkish delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Then let your guide take you to Topkapi Palace. Explore the splendor of Topkapi Palace, the heart 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, 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: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

2. Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

Explore the beautiful city of Istanbul at your own pace with this hop-on-hop-off bus ticket including audio commentary in 8 languages. Your ticket is valid for 1 day and will let you spend more time discovering the highlights that most interest you. Jump aboard your double decker bus and enjoy a tour designed for those who want flexibility during their sightseeing exploration of Istanbul. With additional commentary from your audioguide, you will learn interesting facts about key sights whilst savoring delicious complimentary snacks on board. During the route you can stop at locations like Sultanahmet Square, Eminönü, Karaköy, Galataport, Dolmabahçe Palace, Naval Museum, Beylerbeyi Palace, Taksim Square, Beşiktaş Bazaar, Şişhane, and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

3. 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.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

4. 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

5. 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.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

6. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

Discover the classic monuments of Istanbul on a half-day guided tour of the city center, including skip-the-line entry to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Visit the colorful and lively Grand Bazaar to shop unique local products. Start your trip with pickup directly from your chosen hotel or pickup point, and then make your way by air-conditioned vehicle to Sultan Ahmet Square. Skip the long lines to Hagia Sophia, built on the site of an earlier church under the orders of Emperor Justinian I. Learn how it became the largest cathedral in the world and was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Continue to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, and see the blue Iznik tiles and minarets of the city's most iconic attraction. Learn more about the former arena of the Byzantine Empire at the ruins of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Round off your trip at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 60 streets and 5000 shops. Stop into an authentic oriental atmosphere and see all kinds of gifts, leather clothing, rugs, antiques, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics, and more.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

7. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

Be introduced to the city of Istanbul on this guided tour.Take pictures of the iconic Blue Mosque, enter the ancient Hagia Sophia, and peruse the colorful wares at the Grand Bazaar. Choose from a private or group tour.  Enjoy the convenience of being picked up from the comfort of your accommodation in the city. Sit back and relax as your driver navigates to the Blue Mosque. Get out and admire its 6 minarets and ornate stained glass windows.  Travel next door to the Hagia Sophia Museum. Explore this magnificent Byzantine Church that has transformed into a mosque. Appreciate its immense size and discover traces of its unique history.  Head to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Hunt for bargains, haggle with shopkeepers, and capture picture of without a rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jeweler, leather goods, and souvenirs. 

Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

8. Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

This private experience is the perfect introduction to Istanbul for first-time visitors. Enjoy a guided full-day tour to discover the best of the city. The tour can be fully customized to suit your needs, simply tell your guide what interests you the most.  Visit the historic Hippodrome, the exquisite Blue Mosque and the iconic Hagia Sophia. Experience the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultans with a tour of Topkapi Palace, or browse the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar. The choice is yours. Benefit from pickup and drop-off at your centrally-located hotel. With your private guide you’ll enjoy priority entrance to all the sights, so standing you won’t waste time standing in queues.

From Istanbul: 4-Day Trip to Istanbul & Cappadocia

9. From Istanbul: 4-Day Trip to Istanbul & Cappadocia

Make the most of your time in Turkey with this all-inclusive trip. Explore iconic landmarks of Istanbul like Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar. Over the next 2 days, lose yourself in Cappadocia’s fairytale landscape with guided visits to Goreme Open Air Museum, Avanos, Pasabag, Uchisar, Pigeon Valley, Ortahisar, and more. Day 1 City Highlights Tour See the Byzantine mosaics and minarets of Hagia Sophia. Then, retrace the footsteps of Ottoman sultans and courtiers at Topkapi Palace. Continue to Hippodrome and admire its granite Egyptian obelisk. Learn about its significance during the Roman period as the civil center for the people of the city. Move onward to the most famous landmark of the old city, the Blue Mosque. Marvel at its minarets and magnificent dome. End the day tour at the Grand Bazaar. Stroll through its many colorful alleys, buzzing with shop owners and craftspeople. After sightseeing, catch your domestic flight to Cappadocia. Upon your arrival to Cappadocia, check in to a cave hotel. Day 2 Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia After breakfast at the hotel, embark on a full-day tour of Cappadocia. Walk in the land of fairy chimneys. Visit Goreme Open Air Museum, Red River, Devrent Valley, and Pasabag. Make your way to Avanos Village for a traditional lunch and pottery experience. Head to Goreme Panorama for views of fairy chimneys. Get to the top of the Uchisar Castle, the highest point of the region, a perfect vantage point for a panoramic view of the stunning Cappadocian landscape. After sightseeing, be driven to your hotel. Spend the night in Cappadocia. Day 3 Underground Cities of Cappadocia Have a hearty breakfast and meet your guide for another day of exploration. See the Rose and Red Valley, known for sharp ridges that get painted in a riot of pink hues at sunset. Go off the beaten path to visit Cavusin. See its famous rock churches. Then, enjoy a tour of Pigeon Valley, named after the countless man-made dovecotes or pigeon houses carved into the soft volcanic tuff. Walk through a picturesque maze of rock formations. Next, go down to the world of underground cities. Once a refuge for 15000 Christians, these settlements were of great value to the development of Christianity. See the bedrooms, church, meeting hall, and storage rooms in this 8-story city connected by 30 kilometers of corridors and passageways. Continue the tour with Ortahisar, famous for its friendly inhabitants, picturesque stone houses, narrow streets, and lovely churches. See the famous castle-like rock formation standing dominantly over the town. At the end of the tour, be driven back to your hotel. Day 4 Flight to Istanbul After breakfast and check out, be driven to Kayseri Airport for your domestic flight to Istanbul.

Historical Ambiance of Istanbul: Private Full-Day Tour

10. Historical Ambiance of Istanbul: Private Full-Day Tour

You will be picked up at your hotel at around 09:30 and head out to see the historic sites of the city on this full-day, private tour. Hippodrome and Obelisks (15th century) At this Byzantine site from the 4th century, your guide will show you the Serpentine Column, the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Obelisk of Constantine, and the German Fountain. Blue Mosque (1609-1616) This ornate Ottoman mosque dating from the 17th century is the second-largest mosque in Turkey, and is known for its brilliant Iznik tiles and minarets. Hagia Sophia (532-537) One of oldest Greek Orthodox churches of the Byzantine era dates back to the 6th century. During the Ottoman Empire it was used as a mosque and today it is a museum. Grand Bazaar (1461) One of the oldest and biggest bazaars in the world features over 4,000 shops in a covered marketplace. Wander through the bazaar and marvel at the vast array of goods on offer. Enjoy a lunch of fresh, traditional Turkish dishes at a cozy restaurant. Topkapi Palace (1478) For more than 400 years, the Palace was home to Ottoman sultans and their courts. Visit the imperial treasury, and see sacred relics of the prophet Mohammed, John the Baptist, and the prophet Musa. See one of the most valuable diamonds in the world, weighing 86 carats. Note that the Harem section is not included in the program, and an additional fee applies for admission. Little Hagia Sophia Mosque (527-536) This early domed basilica is one of the oldest standing churches in Istanbul. It was originally a temple founded by Emperor Justinian during the golden age of the Roman Empire. This church was converted into a mosque in 1497, during the Ottoman Empire.

Other Sightseeing Options in Sultanahmet Square

Want to discover all there is to do in Sultanahmet Square? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Sultanahmet Square

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,294 reviews

a very pleasant one-day experience through Topkapi Palace, St. Sophia Mosque, (Blue Mosque under repair, impossible to visit), Basilica Cisterns, Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaar with a private guide, who was very knowledgeable subject, of great availability and flexibility. Absolutely correct value for money. To recommend

Surprisingly good. They give you a tour of both the Western and Asian parts, when you get on the bus they supply you with headphones, a bottle of sgua and a snack. The tour and the “audio guide” are perfectly synchronized. It is better than I expected

6 Stars!! It was the best of best city tour that we had in Turkey. Very kind and very knowledgeable tour guide, excellent communication and overall service. Definately recommended! for especially first-time visitors. Thank You!

A fantastic experience! The guide was really good and we got a detailed picture of the history around the palace and life inside the walls. We took with us an indelible memory, both fascinating and terrifying.

Cem was terrific, informative and quite the story teller. Very entertaining making the three hours fly by. Highly recommend!