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Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

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Istanbul, Turkey
Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar
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From $80.00

Price varies by group size

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Free cancellation
Up to 24 hours in advance. Learn more
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Safety measures
icon4 hours  (Approx.)
Hotel pickup offered
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English
Good for avoiding crowds

Overview

Explore the fascinating history of Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar during this half-day privately guided tour of imperial Istanbul. Discover the ancient church, former mosque and now internationally famous museum, the Hagia Sophia. This tour will wind you through the Grand Bazaar where you can haggle for Turkish treasures and then take you 500 feet below ground into the historic Basilica Cistern where a James Bond once thwarted evil plans.
  • Private half-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul’s imperial sites
  • Visit Hagia Sophia
  • Shop in the Grand Bazaar
  • Visit the Underground Cistern or Nakkas Cistem
  • Entrance fees included
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Hotel pickup and drop off
Local guide
Transport by private vehicle
Gratuities
Food and drinks, unless specified

Departure Point

Traveler pickup is offered

Departure Time

9:00 AM
Meet your private guide at your centrally located hotel in Istanbul (European side only) for your half-day tour of Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar. Start with a short drive to the 6th century church and now museum, the Hagia Sophia. Built by the Roman Emperor Justinian, learn how Hagia Sophia remained one of the largest Basilicas until Ottoman rule when it was converted to a mosque. Then, stroll with your guide and observe the beautifully detailed Byzantine mosaics. (Closed on Mondays, this attraction will be exchanged with the Chlora Museum.)

Continue to the underground Basilica cistern also referred to as the “Sunken Palace” (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayi). Constructed below the famous peninsula of Sarayburnu by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, learn about this cistern’s massive size, the largest of hundreds in Istanbul. 

Next, surface from the cistern and head to the Grand Bazaar. Famously in operation for over six centuries, wind your way along its 58 corridors and marvel at one of the largest covered markets on the planet. Peer into some of the 4,000 plus shops and see ornate jewelry, leather goods, spices and colorful carpets. (Closed on Sundays; extra time will be dispersed over the other locations.)
Itinerary
Stop At:  
Kapali Carsi
In operation since the 14th century, the Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. The bazaar is specially known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices and carpets. (Closed on Sundays; additional time will be spent at the at the other locations.)
Duration: 1 hour 
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Hagia Sophia Mosque
Now a museum, the Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century by the Roman Emperor Justinian, and was one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque, and is today one of the most magnificent musseums in the world. Take a moment to linger here to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics. (Closed on Mondays, this will be replaced with Chora Museum.)
Duration: 2 hours 
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
Basilica Cistern
(Might be replaced with Serefiye Cistern) The Basilica Cistern (Turkish: Yerebatan Sarayı - "Sunken Palace"), is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul The cistern, located 500 feet (150 m) southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
Duration: 1 hour 
Admission Ticket Included
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • In the event of any museum closures, an alternative similar museum will be visited
  • Not recommended for children aged 4 and under
  • Children 18 years and under must be accompanied by an adult
  • During religious holidays (September 1-4, 2017) the spice market and Grand Bazaar are closed
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Infants must sit on laps
  • Not recommended for travelers with back problems
  • Not recommended for pregnant travelers
  • Travelers should have a moderate physical fitness level
  • This is a private tour/activity. Only your group will participate
  • OPERATED BY Neon Tours

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience. Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What is the policy on face masks and attendee health during Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar?
A:The policies on face masks and attendee health are:

  • Face masks required for travelers in public areas
  • Face masks required for guides in public areas
  • Face masks provided for travelers
See all safety measures taken by Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar.
Q:
What is the policy on sanitization during Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar?
A:The policies on sanitization are:

  • Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized
See all safety measures taken by Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar.
Q:
What is the social distancing policy during Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar?
A:The policy on social distancing is:

  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience
See all safety measures taken by Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar.
Q:
What is the maximum group size during Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar?
A:This activity will have a maximum of 9 travelers.

See all safety measures taken by Private Half-day Tour: Imperial Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar.

Traveler Photos

Reviews

4.5
star-4.5
23 Reviews
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Reviews by Viator travelers

Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews
star-5
We have a wonderful private tour of...
Naomi B
, Nov 2017
We have a wonderful private tour of Istanbul with Ilker. We visited the stunning Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and the Bazaar. Ilker was great - knowledgable and professional as well as personalising our tour to suit our interests. Highly recommend. We will be back!!
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star-4
Good tour except grand bazaar...
Sally M M
, Sep 2016
Good tour except grand bazaar closed. Cut short due to potential issues in front of our hotel. Would do again
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star-4
Our guide was extremely informative...
vanessa s
, Nov 2015
Our guide was extremely informative and down-to-earth. Highly recommend this tour especially because it gives you time in the Grand Bazaar with someone that can assist you in the immense size of this place. The only negative is that we were taken to a vendor that specialized in Turkish rugs without being asked if we were interested. This vendor provided a detailed explanation of the variety of rugs available for sale and proceeded to pitch a sale. It would've been very uncomfortable if we hadn't bought one. They were beautiful rugs.
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star-4
Guide gave us good tour and suggested...
MICHAEL M
, Aug 2015
Guide gave us good tour and suggested lunch place was perfect
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star-5
Really great tour - our tour guide...
Alex
, Jul 2015
Really great tour - our tour guide was highly knowledgeable and very friendly - I even got a lovely bracelet from her which she got from a local street artisan, which was so sweet and thoughtful. She answered all of our questions and made the entrance into the sites visited very smooth. It was a great introduction to Istanbul as we were only there for a limited amount of time. Highly recommend!
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star-4
Knowledgeable and experienced guide...
Mrs S Duffield D
, Jun 2015
Knowledgeable and experienced guide. Wasted no time in getting into the sights. All sights well worth visiting. Needed more time at the Grand Bazaar so requested that we did not return to our hotel but remain in town.
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star-5
Excellent guide. Helped us two...
william e
, May 2015
Excellent guide. Helped us two seniors' navigate the stone walks and hills. Took us to a spice market,where we were treated quite fairly. Also to the carpet display, which was more informative than others I have visited in Morocco. I've always had good tours with your organization and will use again. Pick up at ship instead of a hotel went smoothly.
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star-5
Absolutely loved this one, such a...
Jodie A
, May 2015
Absolutely loved this one, such a great tour, taking in all the best spots of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia was just magnificent. Katarina was such a wonderful guide, informing us of so many different aspects and whatever we asked - she had an answer for. If you can ask for a particular guide - Katarina is my recommendation - you won't be disappointed.
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star-5
Absolutely loved our guide she was...
Jan
, Apr 2015
Absolutely loved our guide she was very accommodative and was a pleasure she went out of the way and accommodated us to see another place of interest since the grand bazar was closed ..over all excellent
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star-5
Wow. This was a great tour. We...
James H
, Mar 2015
Wow. This was a great tour. We learned the full history of Hagia Sophia. Our guide, Gülay knew every date and every detail. The Basilica Cistern was much different than I expected and enhanced by the knowledge of our guide. We had the opportunity to go to a private pottery showroom and have a personal demonstration. My favorite, was the Grand Bazaar. It is overwhelming, but our guide had a good knowledge of which vendors were reputable and helped us navigate. She should do shopping tours!
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