Hello, I am Serhat Engul, I have been a private tour guide in Istanbul since 2004. In this article, I will introduce you to the private half-day walking tours in Istanbul that I offer.
Over the years, I realized that my most productive and most enjoyable tours are half-day tours. Each of these walking tours, lasting approximately 4 hours, introduces different parts of Istanbul.
Istanbul Private Half Day Walking Tours
Istanbul private half-day walking tours cover almost everything a tourist can wonder about in the city. For example, during the Sultanahmet walking tour, you will see the most important historical monuments of the city. The Beyoglu walking tour introduces you to the more modern parts of the city.
Fener Balat walking tour is ideal for getting off the tourist route and exploring different places. The Byzantine history tour includes the oldest Roman buildings in the city and is designed for history buffs.
One of the best things about half-day Istanbul tours is seeing as much as possible in a short time without getting too tired. These tours, which I have been doing for years, provide you with a balanced knowledge of Istanbul’s history, food and culture.
1. Sultanahmet Walking Tour
Sultanahmet Walking Tour basically covers the heart of Historical Istanbul, Sultanahmet and its surroundings. On this tour, you will see the most famous historical monuments of the city and have comprehensive information about the history of Istanbul.
In addition, during our walk to Spice Bazaar towards the end of the tour, you will get to know the best local restaurants and dessert shops of the city. And finally at the last stop of the tour, you will learn about shopping in Istanbul at Spice Bazaar.
The Hippodrome is one of the rare Roman structures in Istanbul. The Hippodrome is also known as Sultanahmet Square and has some of the old historical monuments in Istanbul.
This is the starting point for half-day tours of Istanbul and an ideal place to share general information about Istanbul’s history.
b. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is the most important historical monument in Istanbul. Built in the 6th century, the building had a groundbreaking effect in the history of architecture. Hagia Sophia contains historical artifacts from both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
c. Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque is located in the heart of Istanbul Old City. Famous for its blue tiles, the mosque is an Ottoman structure from the 17th century. During your visit to the Blue Mosque, you will learn a lot about Ottoman history.
d. Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern is the most mysterious historical structure of Istanbul. Some scenes of movies such as James Bond and Inferno were shot in the Basilica Cistern, which is an underground 1500-year-old water reservoir.
e. Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar is the last stop of the half-day Istanbul tour. During our walk to Spice Bazaar at the end of the tour, we discover the most delicious local restaurants and dessert shops in Istanbul.
Thus, the tour starts with the history of Istanbul, continues by getting to know the city’s food places and ends by experiencing Istanbul’s shopping culture at Spice Bazaar.
2. Fener Balat Walking Tour
Fener and Balat were districts where non-Muslim citizens lived during the Ottoman period. While Fener was the Greek quarter, Balat was the Jewish quarter.
Fener Balat walking tour includes churches and synagogues in these districts. St Nicholas Church, Patriarchal Church of St George, Ahrida Synagogue and Bulgarian Church are among the stops of this half-day tour.
Fener and Balat have become very popular in recent years thanks to Instagram. Every day, thousands of people flock to these districts to take pictures of the colorful houses.
Churches in Fener and Balat are generally closed. However, guides who know the staff can get permission in advance and enter. If you are looking for something different to do in Istanbul, this tour is for you.
3. Beyoglu Walking Tour
Beyoglu walking tour is an activity where you can see the historical buildings and modern lifestyle of Istanbul together. On this tour, you can get to know popular tourist destinations such as Karakoy, Galata, Istiklal Street and Taksim Square.
The Beyoglu tour starts in front of the 16th century Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque in Tophane and continues to Taksim via Karakoy and Galata. This route also features the city’s best restaurants and street food places.
4. Byzantine History Tour
Istanbul was the capital of the Byzantine Empire for over 1000 years. Many historical artifacts were inherited from the Byzantine capital known as Constantinople during late antiquity and the middle ages.
If you are interested in late Roman and Byzantine history, the Byzantine history tour is the perfect fit for you. Tracing a lost empire, this tour takes you off the classic tourist route.
On the Byzantine history tour, you can see places such as the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Little Hagia Sophia (Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus) and Hagia Irene Museum.
5. Topkapi Palace Tour
Topkapi Palace hosted the Ottoman sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. In the last period of the empire, the sultans settled in the Dolmabahce Palace with modern architecture on the Bosphorus shore.
Topkapi Palace reflects the architectural traditions of the Turks from Central Asia. The palace, which consists of 4 large courtyards and Harem rooms, occupies a huge area.
It takes approximately 4 hours to visit Topkapi Palace in detail. The Topkapi Palace tour has a narrative that introduces the Ottoman period of the city and is a complementary tour to the Byzantine tour.
Although Topkapi Palace is shown as one of the stops in many Istanbul tours, it is actually a half-day tour on its own. Spanning nearly 600,000 square meter, the visit to the palace is overwhelming for most tourists.
Cost of the Half Day Tours in Istanbul
Private Half Day Walking Tour in Istanbul cost approximately 120 Euros. The price is not per person and remains the same for up to 4 people. Guided tour prices may vary according to the season.
For example, April, May and June are Istanbul’s tourist season in the first half of the year. Likewise, the months of September, October and November are considered high seasons in the fall.
About Serhat Engul
Hello, my name is Serhat Engul. I am a professional tourist guide working in Istanbul since 2004. During this time, I have guided travelers from many countries, especially the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Obtaining a tourist guide license in Turkey is quite a long process. Guides receive training in art history and archeology. After school, I chose to specialize in the Roman and Byzantine history of Istanbul.
My guests have written their opinions about me in detail on online travel platforms such as TripAdvisor. You can read the reviews of travelers who have joined my tours from this link.
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