Hello, I am Serhat Engul, I have been working as a private tour guide in Istanbul since 2004. If you want to explore the history and culture of the city with an experienced and friendly tour guide, you can book one of these private half day tours of Istanbul.
In the lines below, you can find 5 history tours you can take in Istanbul. Each of these Istanbul tours are half-day walking tours. Thus, you can learn about Istanbul from a local who was born and raised in this city.
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Private Half Day Walking Tours of Istanbul
You can see the traces of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires in Istanbul. Many historical artifacts remained from this imperial period, which spanned over 2000 years. You can unveil this history by exploring Istanbul with a private tour guide. Private half day walking tours of Istanbul are designed to give you the most information in the shortest possible time.
In my tours, I use many maps and images to help my guests understand the sophisticated history of Istanbul. I also equip these images with facts and legends about the city. You can see how my history-loving guests enjoyed the narratives in the reviews section below.
1. Old City Walking Tour
You can get general information about the history of Istanbul on the Old City walking tour. In just four hours, you can see artifacts from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods in Istanbul and end the tour with a shopping experience at Spice Bazaar.
The places to see on the tour are Hippodrome, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Spice Bazaar, respectively. These historical artifacts from different periods in the history of the city offer you a wonderful cultural experience.
After visiting the historical monuments in Sultanahmet, we pass through the streets with local restaurants and dessert shops on our walk to Spice Bazaar. This gives you the chance to see the city through the eyes of the locals.
2. Fener Balat Walking Tour
Fener Balat walking tour has been among the most popular activities in Istanbul in recent years. These beautiful neighborhoods of the past have been on the rise again in the last 10 years.
Both Istanbulites and foreign visitors started to discover the cultural heritage in these districts. As a result, the colorful houses in Fener and Balat have become very popular on Instagram.
However, Fener and Balat promise much more than just taking pictures in front of colorful houses. There are many historical monuments to see in Fener, which was a Greek quarter, and Balat, which was a Jewish quarter in Ottoman Istanbul.
Churches that are not normally open to visitors are visited on this walking tour. Visited by prior reservation, each of these churches is a hidden gem. You can listen to the stories of these churches by exploring the area with a private tour guide.
Covering the districts of Cibali, Fener and Balat, this tour is recommended for those who want to get off the tourist route and discover something different in Istanbul.
3. Beyoglu Walking Tour
Beyoglu walking tour is an activity where you visit the relatively new city of Istanbul. On this tour, you can see places such as Karakoy and Galata, two of the coolest districts of the city in recent years.
The tour starts in front of the Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque, a 16th century Ottoman structure, and continues through the streets of Karakoy and Galata. After walking on Istiklal Street, one of the most important shopping places of the city, it ends at Taksim Square.
Beyoglu tour gives you the opportunity to get to know the cosmopolitan Istanbul of the 19th century. The cultural and architectural development of Istanbul in the process of westernization can be observed in Beyoglu.
It should be added that this tour is the most efficient half-day tour for those who want to get to know street food in Istanbul.
4. Topkapi Palace Tour
The fact that the Topkapi Palace tour alone takes half a day might surprise you at first glance. However, since the palace is spread over a very large area and there are many parts to visit, an average palace tour takes 4 hours.
Topkapi Palace gives information about the history of the Ottoman Empire in general. However, as there are Byzantine structures such as Hagia Irene Church inside the palace, you can explore different periods in the city’s history on this tour.
During the Topkapi Palace tour, you will have visited the 4 courtyards of the palace. In these courtyards are the Hagia Irene Church, the Imperial Council, the Harem Rooms, the Treasury, the Sacred Relics and the summer pavilions.
5. Byzantine History Tour
The Byzantine Empire is a lost civilization. However, thanks to the Byzantine history tour, you can see its legacy. The most important works left by Byzantium are the Byzantine churches in Istanbul and the mosaics that adorn them.
On the Byzantine history tour, you can see the Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, Great Palace Mosaic Museum, Little Hagia Sophia (aka Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus) and Hagia Irene Museum.
This tour is a walking activity that takes approximately 4 hours. Of course, there are many Byzantine structures in Istanbul apart from these. This tour includes places that can be visited on foot around Sultanahmet.
It should be added that this tour is one of the most interesting private half-day tours in Istanbul for history buffs. Thanks to this tour, you can understand how Istanbul became the capital of the Roman Empire under the name of Constantinople.
Price of Half Day Tours in Istanbul 2023
The price of a private half day Old City tour is 200 USD. The price remains the same for up to four people. Museum entrances are not included in this price. You only pay your own entrance fees, as museums in Istanbul are free for licensed guides.
Please note that this is a private guided tour. The tour will be for you and your guests only. For this reason, it is a little more expensive than group tours. However, if you are a history lover, it will be worth it as you can get direct answers to your questions.
In order to contact me, you can fill out the form on the CONTACT PAGE of this website. I will reply to your tour requests as soon as possible. I usually respond to tour requests within 24 hours.
Reviews of Istanbul Half Day Tours
Of course, before hiring a tour guide in Istanbul, it is useful to examine his/her references. If you wish, you can read the reviews written by my customers who went on tour with me on my page on TripAdvisor.
If you carefully examine the comments, you can find people’s impressions of each of the activities I recommend in the article, such as the Old City Tour, Fener Balat tour and Byzantine history tour.
For other information about me, you can check the ABOUT PAGE of this website. Here you can also find information about the very comprehensive Istanbul blog you are currently visiting.
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Reborn Travel is a local travel agency serving in Istanbul since 2004. Reborn Travel organizes tours from Istanbul to popular tourist destinations such as Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia. If you want to visit cities other than Istanbul, you can contact us and get information from our customer service.