Hello, my name is Serhat Engul. I have been working as a private tour guide in Istanbul since 2004. In this article, I will share the routes I recommend for those who want to travel in Istanbul with a local tour guide.
The history of Istanbul includes many layers and goes back thousands of years. In order to understand this history properly, you can consider traveling with a personal tour guide.
I especially recommend you to visit structures such as Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern with a guide. These structures have been associated with many stories throughout history and you need someone to passionately convey them to you.
Explore Istanbul with a Private Tour Guide!
You can see the traces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires in Istanbul. Many historical artifacts remained from this imperial period, which spanned over 2000 years. You can unveil this history by exploring Istanbul with a private tour guide.
1. Private Half Day Old City Tour
Half-Day Private Old City Tour is an excellent option to get general information about Istanbul. On this 4-hour walking tour, you will discover the heart of Istanbul’s Historic Peninsula, Sultanahmet and its surroundings.
The half-day Istanbul walking tour basically has five stops. These are buildings that represent different periods from the history of Istanbul. For this reason, this tour gives you a clear idea of the cosmopolitan nature of the city.
Hippodrome is the first stop of the half-day Istanbul tour. Hippodrome was the most important activity area of the city during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The Hippodrome, where the chariot races were held, was packed with tens of thousands of people.
b. Blue Mosque
Blue Mosque is an Ottoman mosque from the 17th century. Blue Mosque, which stands out with its blue tiles inside, is one of the most visited historical places in Istanbul.
c. Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is the jewel of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine structure dating from the 6th century, first served as a church and then as a mosque. For this reason, it is decorated with artifacts belonging to both religions.
d. Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern is an ancient underground water reservoir. The Byzantine cistern has a mystical atmosphere that will enchant visitors and is 1500 years old. Basilica Cistern is also where some scenes of famous movies like James Bond and Inferno were shot.
e. Spice Bazaar
Spice Bazaar is located in Eminonu, the transportation hub of Old Istanbul. On our way to this historical bazaar, we pass through streets filled with Istanbul’s best local restaurants and public markets. The half-day tour of Old Istanbul ends in this 350-year-old bazaar.
Conclusion for Half Day Tour
With the half-day Istanbul tour, you will get the most information about Istanbul in a short time. It is recommended to do this tour on the first day of your Istanbul visit. Thus, your Istanbul trip becomes more meaningful with the basic information you will get on the tour.
2. Private Full Day Old City Tour
Full Day Private Old City Tour covers all the historical places I mentioned in the previous title, and Topkapi Palace is also included. Since the palace consists of four large courtyards and Harem rooms, an average visit will take 3 hours.
The full-day tour, which includes the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and Spice Bazaar, will take 7-8 hours with a lunch break. It is also recommended to buy the Museum Pass Istanbul in advance for fast entry to the sections at Topkapi Palace.
Conclusion for Full Day Tour
The full-day tour is for those interested in history and those who like to walk. Blending Istanbul’s Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history, this tour is a bit tiring but allows you to learn a lot. This tour is the most preferred activity for those who hire a private tour guide in Istanbul.
3. Byzantine History Tour
Byzantine history tour will give you the opportunity to see more of the wonderful city of Constantinople and marvel at the beautiful architecture that the Byzantines imbued the city with.
Byzantine tour includes Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Great Palace Mosaics Museum, Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, Valens Aqueduct, Chora Church (aka Kariye Mosque) and Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Tekfur Palace Museum).
Istanbul was the capital of the Byzantine Empire for 1000 years. There are many artifacts left from Byzantium in the city. It would be appropriate to seek help from an expert to trace this lost civilization in Istanbul.
Since Chora Church and Basilica Cistern are closed for renovations in 2022, places to visit on the Byzantine Istanbul tour are limited. However, we can still organize tours by making a selection from other places.
4. Walking Tour of Fener and Balat
Walking tour of Fener and Balat covers two historical and lively neighborhoods of Old City. Greek, Jewish and Armenian communities in Istanbul had lived in these areas during the Ottoman era. This tour is recommended to discover off the beaten track Istanbul. Especially recommended for those who are insterested in architecture and photography.
You can review this article to get to know the places visited during the Fener and Balat walking tour. Thus, you will have more information about this private guided tour in Istanbul.
5. Walking Tour of Beyoglu
Walking tour of Beyoglu includes Tophane, Karakoy, Galata Tower, Istiklal Avenue and Taksim Square. These areas where the heart of the city beats. Most of the top restaurants and cafés located within these neighborhoods. You may see European features of Istanbul with 19th Century artchitecture. This area is very popular stop for street food tours as well.
Private Guided Tours of Istanbul, Turkey
Hello, I am Serhat Engul, as a licensed tourist guide, I organize private guided tours of Istanbul. You can contact me through the contact link on the lines below. I provide private guidance services to small groups.
I have been working as a private tour guide in Istanbul for about 17 years. All the tours I recommend on this page are routes that have been experienced hundreds of times. You can discover the history of Istanbul with me.
Please kindly fill up the Contact Form to get in touch with me.
Istanbul Private Tour Guide Cost
The price for the private full-day Old City Tour is 240 USD (same price for up to 4 people). This price is valid for comprehensive full-day tours. For example, “Private full-day Old City tour”, which is in the second title of the tours above, is in this category.
Private half-day Old City Tour, which is the first tour on the list, costs 160 USD, while the remaining more specific half-day tours (eg Byzantine tour, Fener Balat tour and Beyoglu Tour) cost 180 USD (this fee remains the same for up to 4 people).
It should be noted that this is the price of the guidance service only. It does not include the cost of museum tickets. Museum admissions are free for guides. You only pay for your own tickets.
Recommended on TripAdvisor
Majority of the active tour guides in Istanbul are registered on TripAdvisor and their reviews are visible there. You are advised to check the guide’s background from internet, to make sure that he/she is the right person for you.
I suggest you read the comments carefully. Long and detailed reviews will help you find the right local tour guide for you in Istanbul.
Custom Tours of Turkey by Reborn Travel
Reborn Travel (BarefootPlus) is a licensed travel agency organizing tours to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus since 2004. These three places, which are the golden triangle of Turkey, have a great cultural heritage.
Cappadocia is a historical region that includes several cities. Visiting Goreme rock churches, taking a hot air balloon tour and exploring the underground cities are among the must-do things in Cappadocia.
Ephesus is the best preserved Roman city not only in Turkey but also in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ephesus Ancient City and its surroundings promise a magnificent experience to its visitors.
If you are planning to visit places such as Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus, you can write to us on CONTACT page and get in touch with our travel consultants. You can plan your trip with Reborn Travel (aka BarefootPlus), which has 16 years of experience.
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