Sultanahmet Square

Sultanahmet Square: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

1. Istanbul: 1-Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour with Commentary

Explore the beautiful city of Istanbul at your own pace with this hop-on-hop-off bus ticket including audio commentary in 8 languages. Your ticket is valid for 1 day and will let you spend more time discovering the highlights that most interest you. Jump aboard your double decker bus and enjoy a tour designed for those who want flexibility during their sightseeing exploration of Istanbul. With additional commentary from your audioguide, you will learn interesting facts about key sights whilst savoring delicious complimentary snacks on board. During the route you can stop at locations like Sultanahmet Square, Eminönü, Karaköy, Galataport, Dolmabahçe Palace, Naval Museum, Beylerbeyi Palace, Taksim Square, Beşiktaş Bazaar, Şişhane, and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

2. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque Skip-the-Line Tour

Discover the classic monuments of Istanbul on a half-day guided tour of the city center, including skip-the-line entry to Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Visit the colorful and lively Grand Bazaar to shop unique local products. Start your trip with pickup directly from your chosen hotel or pickup point, and then make your way by air-conditioned vehicle to Sultan Ahmet Square. Skip the long lines to Hagia Sophia, built on the site of an earlier church under the orders of Emperor Justinian I. Learn how it became the largest cathedral in the world and was later converted to a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Continue to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly known as the Blue Mosque, and see the blue Iznik tiles and minarets of the city's most iconic attraction. Learn more about the former arena of the Byzantine Empire at the ruins of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Round off your trip at the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 60 streets and 5000 shops. Stop into an authentic oriental atmosphere and see all kinds of gifts, leather clothing, rugs, antiques, jewelry, hand-woven fabrics, and more.

Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

3. Istanbul: Topkapi Palace & Harem Tour with Entry Ticket

Discover the Topkapi Palace on a guided tour. Learn about Ottoman history in the Palace and the life of the Sultan's family in the harem.  Meet your dedicated guide at a hot spot for traditional Turkish delicacies, where there are restroom facilities and you can purchase water or snacks. Then let your guide take you to Topkapi Palace. Explore the splendor of Topkapi Palace, the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Discover the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

4. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

5. Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern Tour

Join a guided tour to discover Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. Benefit from priority admission at the museum ticket offices to skip the long lines and head in faster. Meet your guide in the Sultanahmet neighborhood at an easy spot and check out Istanbul's greatest monuments on a walking tour. Start with the Basilica Cistern, wander around the “Subterranean Palace” and learn about its history. See the underground pillars and learn about Byzantine architecture. Walk on the wooden walkways over the water until the famous upside-down Medusa heads. Next, visit the Hagia Sophia and witness the most significant site of the Greek Orthodox religion in Istanbul and learn how it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Explore the stunning monument with elements of a mosque and a church standing next to each other. Admire the basilica’s stunning dome and minarets, and countless mosaics, paintings, and Roman columns. Learn how the impressive İznik tiles were added over time in the Mosque, how the stunning Virgin Mary mosaic was made, and why the Ottomans chose to bury their sultans in the courtyard. Continue to Topkapi Palace to explore the splendor of the Ottoman Empire. Discover the complex of buildings, pavilions, and courtyards was a self-contained city, which most inhabitants rarely left. Explore the outer-terraced gardens and admire the view over the Golden Horn. Visit the Harem, ruled by the Queen Mother who wielded domestic and political power. The harem housed hundreds of women and family members as well as hundreds of eunuchs, who performed a wide range of duties. Admire cupboard doors inlaid with mother of pearl and tortoiseshell and stunning Iznik tiles with verses from the Quran. The tour ends with a visit to the holy relics and the imperial kitchens.

Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

6. Istanbul: Full-Day Guided Tour

Istanbul straddles East and West, enticing your senses and expanding your perceptions of the world around you. Todays full day tour will give you a glimpse at some of Istanbul's incredible sites and sounds and leave you with a deeper understanding of this rich land. Begin your day at one of Istanbul's greatest architectural masterpieces - the Hagia Sophia. This 6th century basilica will stun you with its towering minarets and beautiful handcrafted mosaics. It is called, by some, the 8th wonder of the world and you'll soon see why. Soon after your visit to Hagia Sophia, head across the street to the Blue Mosque. One of the most famous monuments in all of Turkey, the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque) is a monument to the Ottoman empire and its builders. It gets its name from the more than 20,000 Iznik blue tiles that adorn its facade and interior and its history will impress you as you receive a tour. Then step back in time a bit to the Hippodrome. Here, imagine what life might have been like as locals traveled to see the chariot races at this famous sports arena. The area dates back to Egyptian times and there are still relics of the past dotted around this incredible area. With so much history, it's time to take a little shopping break. Head to the Grand Bazaar, where you'll have the chance to barter on everything from fine leather goods, to spices and plenty of sweets to satisfy your sweet tooth. There are nearly 4000 stalls here, so you're sure to find something for yourself.  After lunch visit the recently discovered and restored Şerefiye Cistern, which was built by Roman Emperor Theodosius II between 428 and 443 to store water supplied by the Valens Aqueduct (Roman Period Water Reservoir). Your tour ends here.

Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

7. Istanbul Old City Full-Day Tour

Travel through time on a full-day tour of Istanbul, and see the main monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Following a pick-up from your hotel, transfer to the Hippodrome, site of major political life and sports activities during the Roman and Bzyantine Empires. Marvel at the last remaining monuments at the complex, including the Obelisk from Egypt and the Serpentine Column from Delphi. Next, go to the Church of St. Sophia, also known as the “Church of Holy Wisdom,” and “Hagia Sophia.” One of the world's architectural masterpieces, the former church and mosque is now a museum of artifacts from Byzantium. Continue to the Blue Mosque to see the city’s icon up close. Famed for its stunning Iznik tiles, the building’s graceful minarets can be seen from many points in the city. Next, explore the narrow lanes of the Grand Bazaar, the oldest and largest covered market in the world. Discover decorative jewelry, leather work, souvenirs and carpets in more than 4.000 shops. Your next stop will be Topkapi Palace, former residence of the Ottoman sultans, now home to an exquisite collection of crystal, silverware, and Chinese porcelain, as well as robes worn by the sultans, and the jewels of the Imperial Treasury. Then, head to Sultans Tombs. Made up of 5 tombs of the Ottoman Sultans, within the graveyard at St. Sophia, these ceramic panels are the most beautiful examples of the 16th century with purple, green, blue and red flower motives. The prince's robes and a small piece from the Kaaba covers are displayed on the sarcophaguses. Please note, Sultans Tombs are closed on Monday and will be replaced with a visit to the Little Hagia Sophia Mosque.

Istanbul Private Guided Tour

8. Istanbul Private Guided Tour

Discover the highlights of Istanbul on a private full-day tour that takes in the major attractions. Begin with a walk through the lively streets of Turkey's largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia; a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. It is the mosque's striking blue tiles that give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul's most iconic attractions. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. You will also visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. You'll also get to check out the gazebo-like German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Finally, stop at the Grand Bazaar; one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

9. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of the Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still holds the position for the 4th largest dome. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Continue to Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years.  Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because, during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there.  The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of the Bosphorus and there are magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name, in Turkish, Dolma means 'filled' or 'stuffed,' and bahce means 'garden'. Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

10. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar Tour

Be introduced to the city of Istanbul on this guided tour.Take pictures of the iconic Blue Mosque, enter the ancient Hagia Sophia, and peruse the colorful wares at the Grand Bazaar. Choose from a private or group tour.  Enjoy the convenience of being picked up from the comfort of your accommodation in the city. Sit back and relax as your driver navigates to the Blue Mosque. Get out and admire its 6 minarets and ornate stained glass windows.  Travel next door to the Hagia Sophia Museum. Explore this magnificent Byzantine Church that has transformed into a mosque. Appreciate its immense size and discover traces of its unique history.  Head to the entrance of the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Hunt for bargains, haggle with shopkeepers, and capture picture of without a rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jeweler, leather goods, and souvenirs. 

Other Sightseeing Options in Sultanahmet Square

Want to discover all there is to do in Sultanahmet Square? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Sultanahmet Square

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 2,294 reviews

We thoroughly enjoyed our tours of Topkapi Palace + Harem Our guide Cetin was very knowledgeable + it was well worth the extra time + money to visit the harem so interesting! Cetin took us to a beautiful restaurant where we had lunch, our choice to go, before carrying on with our tour. We then visited Hagia Sophia + the Basilica Cistern which were both breathtaking! Cetin was able to work out the best time to visit the attractions to maximise our time, he was a superb guide!

Our guide was very knowledgeable about this fascinating palace complex. She provided a well-paced and thoughtful tour, with enough time at each section of the palace for us to have a good look. Loved the small group of just 8 people!

Great tour! We had amazing guides and drivers, and felt like we had a good amount of time in each city and location. The tour never felt rushed and everything was organized in advance and ran very smoothly. Would recommend!

Good guide, but a long wait at the start when his electronic ticket didn’t work! Afterwards he kindly helped us find a cab during a horrible traffic jam when cabbies actually refused to take us to our hotel.

Tour Guide and the organisation was awesome! We learned and enjoyed alot. Istanbul is a magical city and the guide gave lots of information about all. Thankyou!