Type: Culture, History, Shopping
Length: 4 Hours
Walking: Difficult - uneven surfaces
Mobility: Folding wheelchair OK, some sites may be inaccessible (advance notice required)
Guide: Licensed Guide
Istanbul Shore Excursion -
This private shore trip visits sites in the historic area of Istanbul including Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar.
It is the best option for first time visitors who only have a brief amount of time.
After meeting your driver and licensed guide, you drive along the old city walls and under the ancient Roman aqueduct on the way to St. Sophia (Haghia Sophia), the splendid Church of Divine Wisdom built in the 4th century BC. St Sophia's dome was then the largest in the world. After several conquests and pillages, the building was converted into a mosque, but fell into disrepair as centuries passed. The brilliant Byzantine mosaics were uncovered in the 1900s and the church now is a breathtaking Byzantine-Ottoman museum.
Next you walk to the Hippodrome used for outdoor chariot races in Roman times. Today it is lined with parks, obelisks and monuments.
Sitting next to the Hippodrome is the famous Blue Mosque, named for its richly adorned interior of magnificent Iznik tiles. Your guide will take you through the Blue Mosque and provide an explanation of this Western leaning Muslim country. Please note that the Blue Mosque is not wheelchair accessible.
Finally you are taken to the Grand Bazaar which houses more than 4,000 stalls selling local goods. Or, if you prefer, you can request to visit the Egyptian Spice Market instead. At the end of the tour, you are returned to the pier in Istanbul.
Tips on visiting Turkey:
- Shoes must be removed to enter a Mosque, and you may be required to carry them with you in a plastic bag during your visit. We suggest bringing socks to slip on if you are not wearing them. Women should carry a scarf because they may be asked to cover their heads. Bare shoulders, shorts, and dresses above the knee are not allowed. Please come prepared, or you may be turned away.
- If additional time is available during your tour, many guides will ask if you are interested in seeing how Turkish carpets are made or if you wish to shop. These free demonstrations are very interesting and quite informative, but they are also a selling opportunity. Decide on your interest and tell your tour guide clearly whether shopping interests you or not. You should never feel obligated to make a purchase on any tour.
Turkish Entry VISA
- The Turkish government requires overnight visitors to obtain an entry VISA. However those who are visiting the country by cruise ship are exempt from this entry requirement. No entry Visa is required for a shore excursion, however an entry Visa is required if your cruise starts in Istanbul. Entry Visas must be obtained via an online application and payment system. After submitting your details and payment you must print your e-visa to show Customs and Immigration officials upon arrival. The cost is $20 USD. For more details you can visit www.evisa.gov.tr