Meet your guide at your hotel or port, and enter the historic gates of the Old City to see Istanbul’s classic landmarks. Learn the history of Hagia Sophia as you take in the 6th-century building whose slender minarets and Byzantine murals tell the dramatic story of Istanbul’s religious upheavals. Explore the Blue Mosque’s gracious courtyard and stunning tile work, and bask in the reflected glow of 20,000 Iznik tiles in azure, cobalt and midnight blue. Visit monuments to conquerors and military campaigns in Hippodrome Square, where charioteers and athletes once competed for Byzantine crowds.
Sample local specialties at a Turkish restaurant, then follow the scents of rich spices, ripe fruit, blooming flowers and farm produce through the aisles of the Spice Market—constructed between 1597 and 1664, it’s the second-oldest covered bazaar in Istanbul. Head out on the water for a sightseeing cruise on the Bosphorus, where you can get unobstructed views of the shoreline and Istanbul’s stunning skyline, which bristles with domes and minarets. This part of the tour is perfect for photography, as you pass the historic buildings and homes that line the European and Asian sides of the city. Spot Dolmabahce Plalace, the Beylerbeyi Palace, the Ciragan Palace and the Rumeli Fortress before returning to shore for drop-off at your hotel or port.
Note: Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays, and will be replaced with at visit to the underground cistern.