A shot from the balcony of the house used for lunch on The Other Tour

Best Istanbul Tours 2023

If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul, there’s no shortage of tour options to help you make the most of your time in this fascinating city. Whether you’re interested in history, food, art, or simply exploring Istanbul’s vibrant neighborhoods, there are tours available to suit every taste and interest.

For history buffs, there are tours that take visitors to some of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace. These tours typically provide expert guides who can offer insights into the history and cultural significance of these sites, and help visitors to navigate the crowds and long lines.

For foodies, Istanbul offers a wealth of culinary delights to explore. From traditional kebabs and meze to sweet treats like baklava, there are plenty of food tours that offer visitors the chance to sample the city’s famous cuisine. These tours might take visitors to local markets, food stalls, and restaurants, and typically offer a mix of tastings and cultural insights.

Whether you’re interested in history, food, art, or simply exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, there are tours available to suit every taste and interest. From Bosphorus cruises to street art tours, walking tours of historic neighborhoods, and more, there’s no shortage of ways to experience the best of Istanbul. So why not consider booking a tour or two during your visit, and see the city from a new and exciting perspective?


Istanbul Eats Culinary Backstreet Walks

For foodies looking to experience Istanbul’s culinary scene, Istanbul Eats Culinary Backstreet Walks is a must. Their tours take you off the beaten path to explore the city’s best local eateries, from traditional kebab shops to hidden baklava cafes. You’ll also get to meet the passionate food vendors and learn about their family recipes and the history behind each dish. Whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian, Istanbul Eats has a tour that suits everyone’s taste buds.

Website: culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/istanbul



Guided Istanbul Tours

They are currently ranked number one on TripAdvisor for their excellent customer service and knowledgeable guides. They offer a variety of tours, including walking tours of the city’s historic neighborhoods, Bosphorus boat tours, and day trips to nearby attractions like the Princes’ Islands and the ruins of Ephesus. Their tours are highly recommended by travelers for their attention to detail and personalized service.

Website: guidedistanbultours.com


Legendary rock band Pink Floyd’s founder member, drummer Nick Mason was recently on one of their tours

Istanbul Tours Studio

Istanbul Tours Studio offers a variety of tours that cater to different interests, from walking tours of historic neighborhoods to food tours and photography tours. They also offer private tours that can be customized according to your preferences. Their knowledgeable guides are passionate about sharing their love for Istanbul and will take you on a journey through the city’s history, culture, and architecture. Some of their popular tours include the Istanbul Classics tour, the Istanbul Nightlife tour, and the Istanbul Culinary Tour.

Website: istanbultourstudio.com


Image credit: Istanbul Immersion: the Asian Side

Context Travel

Context Travel is a tour company that specializes in small-group tours led by scholars and experts in their fields. Their Istanbul tours are no exception, offering in-depth knowledge of the city’s history, architecture, and art. They offer a range of tours, from the classics like the Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia to more off-the-beaten-path tours like the Jewish Heritage tour and the Byzantine Constantinople tour.

Website: contexttravel.com/cities/istanbul

Image credit: YummyIstanbul.com

Istanbul On Food

Istanbul On Food is another culinary tour company that takes visitors on a journey through Istanbul’s vibrant food scene. Their tours focus on the city’s street food culture and take you to local markets, bakeries, and cafes to sample the best of Istanbul’s culinary offerings. Their guides are passionate foodies who will share their knowledge of the city’s culinary history and introduce you to the locals who make Istanbul’s food scene so special.

Website: istanbulonfood.com

Shameless Plug:

The Other Tour of Istanbul

If you’re looking for a tour that’s off the beaten path and focused on sustainable travel, The Other Tour of Istanbul is a great option. Our tours take you to lesser-known neighborhoods and support local businesses that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility. You’ll get to experience Istanbul from a different perspective and learn about the city’s modern culture and social issues. The Other Tour of Istanbul is a community-driven organization that supports local causes and initiatives, so you can feel good about contributing to a positive impact while enjoying a unique tour.

Check out the 2023 Itinerary here.


Hey everyone. Since we first put together this list back in 2013, there have been new Istanbul tours joining the market and we felt some of them are really worth updating this useful post. So here are some new Istanbul sightseeing tour companies:

Pub Crawl Istanbul

Looking to have some fun with some new friends? Ready to do some bar-hopping and enjoying lots of shots. Well, this tour concept is a good idea in every major city but this event already became one of the most recommendable Istanbul tours.

Viaurbis, Free Tour in Istanbul

The Original Free Tour Istanbul is the perfect way to explore the must-see historical landmarks of Istanbul. Learn about the great history of Istanbul and familiarize yourself with the Byzantine and Ottoman history.

Istanbul Sunset Cruise

Board a luxury yacht that will allow you to see the best of the city while voyaging along the Bosphorus. Enjoy an unobstructed view of the area’s iconic landmarks like the Dolmabahce Palace, Bosphorus Bridges, Maiden’s Tower, and much more…

Circle Istanbul

Circle Istanbul is a 360° look at the world’s most complex city, seen from the sidewalks, cafes, hilltops, and doorsteps. Expect to spend your day away from the tour buses, museums, crowds and souvenir shops – they’d rather show you the ENTIRE city as the locals see it!

The wonderful Galata Tower

With so many tour options available in Istanbul, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But by choosing a reputable tour company and focusing on your areas of interest, you can create a customized itinerary that allows you to see the city in the way that best suits you. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new and exciting to discover in Istanbul, and a tour can be the perfect way to make the most of your time here.

No matter which tour company you choose, a guided tour is a great way to explore Istanbul and learn about its rich history and culture from a local perspective. We hope this list helps you find the perfect tour for your Istanbul adventure.


Istanbul, the cultural capital of Turkey, is a city that offers visitors an array of historical, cultural, and natural attractions to explore. From the world-famous Hagia Sophia to the vibrant Grand Bazaar, Istanbul has something for everyone. In this guide, we will provide you with an extensive guidebook for travelers planning to book a guided city tour in Istanbul.

What is the best way to tour Istanbul?

The best way to tour Istanbul is by taking a guided tour. Guided tours provide visitors with the opportunity to explore the city’s most famous attractions with a knowledgeable guide who can offer insights into the city’s rich history and culture. Tourists can choose from a variety of tours, including walking tours, bus tours, boat tours, and even private tours.

How many days required for Istanbul tour?

To fully experience Istanbul, it is recommended to spend at least 3 to 4 days in the city. This will allow you to visit the most popular tourist destinations such as the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar. You can also take time to explore some of the lesser-known areas of the city and indulge in the local cuisine.

What is the most beautiful area of Istanbul?

Istanbul is a city full of beautiful areas, but the most stunning area is the historic district of Sultanahmet. This area is home to some of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The narrow streets of Sultanahmet are lined with shops selling Turkish carpets, spices, and other traditional goods, and the area’s architecture provides a glimpse into Istanbul’s rich history.

Do you need a tour guide for Istanbul?

While it is possible to explore Istanbul without a tour guide, having a guide can enhance your experience. A tour guide can provide you with a deeper understanding of the city’s history and culture and take you to places that you may not have discovered on your own. Additionally, a tour guide can help you navigate the city and ensure that you get the most out of your time in Istanbul.

What must be seen in Istanbul?

There are many must-see attractions in Istanbul, including:

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Blue Mosque
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Spice Bazaar
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Galata Tower
  • Bosphorus Cruise
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Suleymaniye Mosque

Is Istanbul a walkable city?

Istanbul is a walkable city, but it can be challenging due to the city’s hills and narrow streets. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for some uphill walking. However, many of the city’s major attractions are within walking distance of each other, making it easy to explore the city on foot.

How to plan an itinerary in Istanbul?

To plan an itinerary in Istanbul, it is recommended to start by deciding which attractions you want to see. Based on your preferences and the amount of time you have, you can then create a schedule that includes the must-see attractions and allows time for exploring lesser-known areas and indulging in the local cuisine. It is also recommended to book a guided tour to get the most out of your time in Istanbul.

In conclusion, Istanbul is a city that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. By taking a guided tour, visitors can experience all that the city has to offer while gaining a deeper understanding of its rich history and culture. With its stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and friendly locals, Istanbul is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.