Visitor-designed Tours of Istanbul

    All hotels, transfers, bilingual guide, entrance fees
    and meals are included for each full day.


    A guided tour of Istanbul can be easily tailored to your specifications.  Sometimes it can be difficult to decide what to visit because the city has such a wealth of interesting sites.  Many visitors feel that 3-5 days are needed to adequately to visit the city.  Our Visitor-designed Tours, which are only offered by Ekstra Tourism, are unique in that they give a short description about each site which allow for easy and effective planning.  To facilitate designing your tour, please keep the following in mind:


    DAY PROGRAMS:


    ·       GREEN items:  Any 1 of these can be visited during the morning or afternoon.  A total of 2 green choices can be made for one day.

    ·        BLUE items:  Any 2 of these can be visited during the morning or afternoon.  A total of 4 blue choices can be made for one day.


    Note:  Combinations of green and blue choices can be made
                          for any given day.


    NIGHT PROGRAMS:


    ·        YELLOW items:      Choose any 1 of these for a full evening.

    ·        RED items:              Choose any 2 of these for a full evening.


    This part of our website can be printed.  Please contact Ekstra Tourism if there are any questions or if a tentative program has been designed.  At that time a Program Coordinator will be assigned and will continue to be of assistance throughout each step of our system.


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    D A Y    P R O G R A M S


    GREEN items (1/morning or afternoon, or 2/day)

    ·       Hagia Sophia, also called Sancta Sophia or The Church of the Divine Wisdom.  This is truly one of the world’s outstanding buildings and could easily qualify as the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World.   Find out why the Byzantine Emperor Justinian allegedly exclaimed, Glory to God that I have been judged worthy of such a work.  Oh Solomon!  I have outdone you!  Open daily from 15 May to 31 October.  During the other months, closed on Mondays.


     

    ·       Topkapi Palace & Harem.  Three hundred years of Ottoman Imperial rule and family life happened here.  It holds an amazing collection of treasures, objects of court life, costumes and oriental ceramics as well as items belonging to the Prophet Mohamed. This museum ranks among the world’s greatest.  Open daily from 15 May to 31 October.  During the other months, closed on Tuesdays.


     

    ·     Istanbul Museum Complex.  These are excellent museums displaying artifacts that cover five millennia of Asia Minor’s history.  Exceptional objects from the Hittites, Assyrians, ancient Greeks & Romans can be viewed.  Some notable items include an extraordinarily fine sarcophagus that is thought by some to be that of Alexander the Great, the defensive chain used by the Byzantines to close the Golden Horn during times of siege, as well as a stone from the Temple of Jerusalem that instructed gentiles not to pass.  Best if visited on Tuesdays-Fridays.  Closed Mondays.

     

    ·        Shopping in the Grand Bazaar also called the Covered Market.  Home to some 4000+ shops, the Grand Bazaar is a world in itself.  For centuries this was the largest single shopping area in the world.  Explore the seemingly endless covered lanes and browse the many shops selling nearly everything imaginable. Have fun, and do remember to bargain!

    Closed on Sundays.


     

    ·      Dolmabache Palace.  This large palace is relatively modern, exquisitely decorated and beautifully situated on the Bosphorus. No expense was spared when it was decorated!  The palace is symbolic of the Ottoman Empire’s efforts to modernize along western lines.  Closed on Mondays and Thursdays.


     

    ·        Chora Church.  Here can be found one of the greatest collections of outstanding Byzantine mosaics. The building itself is representative of Byzantine church architecture.  Closed on Wednesdays.


     

    ·       Bosphorus cruise.  Could a tour of Istanbul ever be complete without a Bosphorus cruise?  While viewing one of the world’s most beautiful waterways, poised on the edge of Europe and Asia, you’ll find it’s easy to contemplate the flow & ebb of history.  It’s no surprise that the Bosphorus has been seeped in legend and myth since the earliest of times!  Available every day.


     

    ·        Eyüp Tomb & Mosque Complex. This area is very sacred for Muslims, as it has the tomb of one of Mohamed’s friends and early disciples, Eyüp. The complex is richly decorated and has some items from Mohamed.  A moving experience awaits those who have an interest in religion.  Open daily but Fridays are not recommended because it is crowded with worshipers.

     

    ·       Military Museum. Among the many unexpected surprises here, there’s a rich array of military-related items dating from the fall of Constantinople, the period of the Janissaries, to the end of the Ottoman Empire. The museum has an excellent re-enactment of the music and ceremony of the first-ever military band.  Open all day but is best if visited during the afternoons Wednesdays to Sundays.  Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

     

    ·        Classical views of the Bosphorus & Maiden’s Tower also called Leander’s Tower.  Visit the birthplace of legends and the point where the Bosphorus, Golden Horn and Marmara Sea meet!  The views are unparalleled and exceptionally dynamic with the passage of ships to and from many of the world’s ports.  Open Daily.


     

    ·       Fortress of Europe. An important Bosphorus fortification was needed in preparation for the conquest of Constantinople.  This large fortress was completed in only 4 months and served its purpose beautifully.  Closed Mondays.

     

    ·        Yildiz Chalet & Park.  Chalet in name only, this palace is a delight and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.  A large peaceful & wooded park stretches from the palace almost to the Bosphorus.  Within the park are sumptuous Ottoman kiosks that have superlative Bosphorus views.  Closed Mondays and Thursdays.

     

    ·        Beylerbeyi Palace. Cross the Bosphorus to visit a gem of an Ottoman palace, which were the guest accommodations for a glittering list of royal visitors.  The decoration and contents are truly overwhelming!  Closed Mondays and Thursdays.

     

    ·        Princes’ Islands.  How is it possible to have an island that is a garden with tasteful mansions sprinkled on it?  It’s best to explore the largest of the Princes’ Islands with a horse-drawn carriage because cars are not allowed!  It is an exceptionally peaceful and unique part of the city.  Open daily.

     

    ·        Carpet making techniques & carpet types.  This   informative presentation will explain all the stages in the creation of a traditional hand-made Turkish carpet.  Many examples of carpet styles found through Turkey will be displayed. 

    Note: This item allows sufficient time for examining many carpets
                for possible purchase.  Open daily.

     

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    BLUE items (2/morning or afternoon, or 4/day)

    ·        Blue Mosque.  Built in only 10 years, this imperial mosque was intended to rival the grandeur of Hagia Sophia, but you be the judge.  Both its exterior and interior are remarkable in their gracefulness and symmetry.  Open daily but can be crowded with worshipers on early Friday afternoons.


     

    ·        Hippodrome.  This was the focal point of civil celebration & discontent for the people of the Byzantine & Ottoman Empires.  It is now a peaceful and beautiful park studded with notable monuments of those empires.  Open daily.

     

    ·        Grand Bazaar, also called the Covered Market.  Home to some 4000+ shops, the Grand Bazaar is a world in itself.  For centuries this was the largest single shopping area in the world.  Explore the seemingly endless covered lanes and observe the many shops selling nearly anything imaginable. 

    Note: Time for this item allows for very little shopping. 
                Closed Sundays.

     

    ·        Süleymaniye Mosque.  This imperial mosque is Istanbul’s largest.  It’s a masterpiece designed by the greatest Ottoman architect for the greatest Ottoman Sultan.  Its beauty, symmetry and immensity will take your breath away.  Open daily but can be crowded with worshipers on early Friday afternoons.


     

    ·        Cistern Basilica.  What a surprising sight this is!  Emperor Justinian ordered the construction of an enormous water storage tank out of recycled ancient columns, capitals and plinths.  It’s a memorable experience to walk through a forest of columns, listen to classical music & the sound of dripping water, and to see the lighting effects.  Open daily.


     

    ·       Egyptian Spice Bazaar.  This 440+ year-old market, a colorful place loaded with the sights, sounds and smells of an active spice market, once received the caravans from Egypt.  Closed Sundays.


     

    ·        Rüstem Pasha Mosque.  This gem of a mosque has one of the greatest collections of outstanding Ottoman tile work.  It is guaranteed to overwhelm the eye!  It was designed by the greatest of Ottoman architects.  Open daily but can be crowded with worshipers on early Friday afternoons.



    Note:  A visit to this mosque combined with the Egyptian Market
                will allow time for exploring and shopping in amazingly colorful &
                bustling street markets.

     

    ·        Galata Tower A landmark in the city since the 7th century, this tower’s balcony has an outstanding panoramic view all around.  The current imposing tower was built by the Genoese to help protect their commercial enclave.  An elevator will swiftly lift you to the top.  Open daily.


     

    ·        Carpet & Kilim Museum and Palace Mosaic Museum.  These small museums feature fine examples of antique Turkish carpets & kilims (flat weave rugs) and outstanding Byzantine mosaic pavements.  Best if visited on Wednesdays to Saturdays.

     

    ·        Turkish & Islamic Arts Museum.  This museum has artifacts from the past thousand years including examples of calligraphy, miniatures, illuminated manuscripts and carpets as well as a number of ethnographic exhibits.  Closed Mondays.

     

    ·        Little Aya Sophia Mosque.  This mosque was formerly a church built by Justinian and Theordora in 527 AD.  It is little only when compared with its namesake.  Its layout as an early Byzantine church is very recognizable.  Open daily.

     

    ·        Fortress of the Seven Towers & City Walls.  This fortress is the site of the legendary Byzantine Golden Gate that was used for triumphal state processions.  The fortress, along with the massive land walls stretching from the Marmara Sea to the Golden Horn, served to protect the city for many centuries.  Closed Wednesdays.

     

    ·         Carpet making techniques & carpet types.  This informative presentation will explain all the stages in the creation of a traditional hand-made Turkish carpet.  Many examples of carpet styles found through Turkey will be displayed. 

    Note: Time for this item allows for very little shopping.  Open daily.

     

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    N I G H T    P R O G R A M S

     

    YELLOW items (1/night)

     

    ·        Traditional Turkish Night Show.  Experience some of the richness and diversity of Turkey’s folkloric & belly dancing and traditional music.  Included in the show is a humorous re-enactment of harem life.  A nice Turkish dinner with appetizers and drink is served during the show. 

    Note: If your group is large, the 1001 Nights Show may be a better
                alternative.

     

    ·        1001 Nights Show.  This is a delightful and engaging extravaganza of comedy theatre, belly & folk dancing, traditional Turkish music, and a full Ottoman market place where each guest can mingle and participate.  A full traditional Turkish dinner including appetizers and drink will be served.  The entire program typically lasts 4 hours. 

    Note: Group size must be 50+.


     

    ·        A dinner and outstanding views from Maiden’s Tower (also called Leander’s Tower) where the Golden Horn, Bosphorus and Marmara Sea come together.

     

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    RED items (2/night)

    ·       Neighborhood stroll.  Visit one of Istanbul’s oldest and most interesting neighborhoods.  A stroll through the winding streets featuring traditional architecture, colorful markets & businesses is sure to be memorable.

     

    ·        Strolling & shopping on Indepencence Avenue.  This pedestrian area has always been the fashionable heart of Istanbul.  It is the street for window shopping and browsing.

     

    ·        Lively street cafes.  A boisterous, fun experience is to be had while enjoying traditional Turkish drinks & appetizers and people watching as they stream by.  It’s where many fun-loving locals go to see and be seen.

     


    ·       Traditional Turkish folk dances.  See the bright, colorful costumes and many lively folk dances from all over Turkey.  This stage performance has good choreography and the costumes, dances and music are as authentic as can be.   Usually on Mon, Wed & Sat from March-October.  A performance can be arranged any night for large group.

     

    ·        Classic views of Istanbul.  Cross the Bosphorus and enjoy a leisurely and highly memorable stroll!



    ·       Discover Turkish flatweave rugs (kilims).  Kilims are a beautiful, diverse & traditionalart form that is wonderfully full of meaning for those who are ready to explore. With the guidance of a true & caring devotee, much awaits both the initiate and the connoisseur alike! Maximum group size must be 15. Available nightly except for Sundays.

     

    ·        Traditional Turkish dinner on the Bosphorus.  Choose any number of appetizers from a wide selection.  This alone would be a sufficient meal but it’s only the beginning!  You’ll see for yourself how diverse Turkish cuisine really is.


     

    ·        Fish dinner on the Bosphorus.  First choose any number of appetizers from a wide selection and then savor them with your choice of drink.  Afterwards you will have a large selection of fish to choose from.

     

    ·        Outdoor Fish dinner in a lively neighborhood.  Imagine a lively neighborhood full of fish restaurants with their immaculate tables almost crowding the streets!  This is place to be to enjoy a traditional Turkish fish dinner and watch the street entertainment (including belly dancers).  Dinner will be accompanied with drinks and a wide selection of appetizers.  This neighborhood has the largest selection of fish!

     

    ·        International dinner on the Bosphorus.  A wide selection of familiar dishes are nicely prepared and served in a pleasant setting.  However the Bosphorous view may distract you!

     

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