Essential Istanbul

Tour Creator

Yagmur, an Istanbul resident for over 7 years is a student of the city and is still astonished by its wonders every day. She loves to explore the city as…Read More Bio »



Remote Tour Included



On our tour of Istanbul’s old town, be ready to be awed by the fascinating history of this 2000-year-old city. From old underground cisterns to churches turning into mosques, from Roman-inspired Turkish baths to maze-like corridors of the palace, we will explore Istanbul’s extraordinary architecture.

Avoid the Crowds

Allows you to explore without having to be shoulder-to-shoulder in a large tour group

Created by an exceptional local tour guide

Written by an Istanbul guide, with degrees in Political Science and Sociology from Boğaziçi University (Istanbul)

GPS Directions

Easy-to-follow GPS directions to get you from one point to the next on your tour

Historic Landmarks

We will visit the best-of-the-best sites including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque

Remote Tour Included

As with all our tours, a remote tour is included that can be enjoyed from home


Essential Istanbul

  1. Sultanahmet Square  - Situated on where the ancient Hippodrome of the Byzantines used to be, Sultanahmet Square has been the center of civil life for nearly 2,000 years. After a general account on the city’s immense history, we will explore the historical roles and functions of this specific square.
  2. Milion Stone - Also known as the “reference point” or “kilometer zero” of Constantinople, Milion Stone was the beginning point of the city’s main artery for centuries. We will learn the history of this pillar, which is in fact, the ruin of the original splendid monument.
  3. Basilica Cistern  -The grandest of over hundreds of underground cisterns the Byzantines built around the city. We will talk about their changing importance and functions from Byzantine to Ottoman times.
  4. Hagia Sophia - A patriarchal cathedral for 916 years and an imperial church for another 400 years, Hagia Sophia has historically been the most important place of worship in the city. We will discover how it has remained an unrivaled architectural masterpiece for over centuries and how its theological majesty is still inscribed onto its walls and decoration, though having ceased its religious function in 1935.
  5. Hamam of Haseki Hurrem - Built by the Chief architect of Ottoman that time, this building is a fine example of 16th century Turkish Public Baths. While hearing more about the story behind this place, we will also talk about the historical origins of the hamams, and their architectural and socio-cultural characteristics.
  6. Sultanahmet Mosque - Commonly referred as “Blue Mosque”, this splendid mosque was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I. Let’s explore what motivated the sultan to construct such a massive place of worship and where its popular nickname was derived from.
  7. Fountain of Ahmet III - This square-shaped fountain dates back to the year 1728. However, historical importance of the fountains in the Ottoman culture dates back to much earlier times. We will learn which functions fountains used to play in the social life and how the modernization project of the 18th century is represented in the architectural and decorative design of the Fountain of Ahmet III.
  8. Topkapı Palace - Visited as a museum today, Topkapı Palace served as the imperial palace of the Ottoman Sultans from 1478 to 1856. We will explore why, though not being the only palace used by the Imperial family, it eventually became the most famous one, and we will talk more about the architectural design and administrative and residential functions of the palace.
  9. Hagia Eirene Museum - Founded in the Pagan times and expanded in Constantine’s era, Hagia Eirene was the first church in Istanbul. We will listen how it was later overshadowed by Hagia Sophia and how it assumed different functions after the Ottoman conquest.
  10. Soğukçeşme Street - Soğukçeşme is a street with some successfully renovated 19th-century wooden houses. Let’s find out what important pieces of history are still making part of this street, and also how the street became such a special nostalgic place on the locals’ minds.

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