Type: Culture, Free Time, History, Shopping
Length: 8 Hours
Walking: Difficult - uneven surfaces
Mobility: Folding wheelchair OK, some sites may be inaccessible (advance notice required)
Guide: Licensed Guide
Istanbul Shore Excursion
- This is the most popular tour of Istanbul, it allows you the time to visit St. Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar, plus free time for you to enjoy a typical Turkish meal.
After meeting your driver and licensed guide, you drive along the old city walls and under the ancient Roman aqueduct on the way to view the best of Istanbul's stunning architecture and attractions. The impressive Roman Hippodrome was once used for chariot races and today it is lined with parks, obelisks and monuments.
After learning about the Hippodrome, you visit the beautiful Blue Mosque which is named for the vivid Iznik tiles lining its interior. With the full day tour you are certain to hear the calls to prayer as they echo throughout the city center five times a day. Please note that the Blue Mosque is not wheelchair accessible.
Next you will walk through the amazing Topkapi Palace. This large complex of buildings was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans and includes the courts, pavilions, mosques, fountains and a treasury. In the Sultan's chapel you can hear the Imam reading continually from the Koran.
After a stop for lunch (meal not included) you visit the jewel in Turkey's Byzantine crown, the Museum of St. Sophia (Haghia Sophia). This splendid Church of Divine Wisdom was originally built in the 4th century AD as a Christian Basilica and later was converted to a Mosque. It was lovingly restored in the 1900s, reflecting the true history of this glorious city astride two continents.
Later this afternoon you'll visit 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.
At the end of the day, you are brought back 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