Istanbul City Tour Excursion Reviews
We took a city tour that we loved. Small tour (max 10 people -- 8 attended our tour) that took us into the back streets of Istanbul to experience the local areas and truly local food (no tourists present). It included a ride on the Bosphorus, a walk through the local fish market, true Turkish coffee experience, etc. Absolutely loved it.
The time wasn't long enough so much to see and plenty of people.
Again we booked only a guide with Epehesus Deluxe. The first day we had also a car and driver but 2nd day we took the tram. First day was for Topkapi-Palace and Spice Market. Was nice but 2nd day with Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Cistern, Grand Bazaar and the visit on the top of the roofs around the Grand Bazaar like James Bond 007 Skyfall was unbeatable. The end of the tour took us by the new commuter train to the Asian side and back on the ferry with the sunset on Istanbul's skyline.
Got the bus at the gate of the port. 20 each, traffic was terrible the bus kept stopping every few feet.Eventually we arrived at a big square where we were told, not too nicely, that we had to change to another bus, that was at the far side of the square.This bus moved fairly quickly, I think he was making up time lost by the first bus.This bus went down the same street a few times, and we passed the same football ground three times.As bus tours go I have had better.
We did an excursion that included St. Sophia, the Blue Mosque, St. Irene's and the Topkapi palace. The guide was excellent and gave a lot of background information that was missing in our other tours. A ship endorsed carpet weaving demo is included and while the carpets are beautiful (and very expensive), the salesmen latch on to you like leeches and are hard to get rid of at the end. They were just the beginning - there is a lot of pressure to buy in Instanbul - the carpet sellers were just the first. As you walk down the street you are harassed by pashmina sellers, perfume sellers. bag sellers, even kids selling socks - all before you get into the grand bazaar. Be prepared to say no and keep walking. Do not engage in polite conversation or they will follow you for blocks. If you do want to buy something you must haggle over the price. If you are comfortable with that you can deal away. We did OK with the few things we bought.
The Hagia Sophia is beautiful but very dark inside and has (currently) lots of scaffolding making it hard to get good pictures. The tile work in the Blue Mosque and Topkapi palace is amazing.