The Ottomans and Byzantines ruled this city for centuries, and testament to these great empires stand the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, opposite each other in Sultanahmet Square. You’ll visit these two impressive landmarks of Istanbul as well as the Basilica Cistern and the Grand Bazaar. Start with a visit to one of the most recognized landmarks in the world, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, better known as the Blue Mosque because of the over 21,000 blue-green Iznik tiles used for its interior decoration.
Continue to the Hippodrome, to see the remains of what was once the scene for political struggles in the capital city of the Byzantine Empire. Visit the Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. It served as a church for hundreds of years during the Byzantine Empire and was converted to a Mosque when the city was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453. Here, you’ll find evidence of both. Continue to the great Byzantine Basilica Cistern, located across from Hagia Sophia. You might think that having so many breathtaking sites to visit above ground leaves no need to go under. But you’ll soon discover why this visit is worth every minute.
Next stop is the Grand Bazaar. You’ll have a short time to experience the exotic atmosphere of the covered part. Then visit the open and modern section, where you’ll enjoy local snacks and a presentation of carpets, leather or jewelry, followed by time for shopping. You’ll also have free time for lunch at your own expense during the tour and you’ll find many choices nearby.