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Best Walking Tour in Istanbul

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Circle Istanbul

5 out of 5 based on 52 customer ratings
(52) (52 customer reviews)
Circle Istanbul
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Product Description

For starters, Istanbul has so much more to tell. The city physically connects two continents (Asia and Europe), while simultaneously disconnecting the West from Middle Eastern culture. This mega metropolis is steeped in historical complexity and rooted in traditional Turkish life. But all the while, so much of Istanbul is restless for a change.

Join Circle Istanbul tour to learn the plot behind the paradox and discover the many faces, neighborhoods and viewpoints of Istanbul. You will learn why its stories remain the stuff of legends and why this city will be the one to watch in future.

Note: Circle Istanbul does not overlap nor include the usual tourist sites, such as famous neighborhoods (e.g. Sultanahmet, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar), historical landmarks or museums.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Circle Istanbul is a full day tour from 08:45 am until 7:00 pm included food.Your day will not run with a strict schedule, but you may expect the following.

  • explore the most unique neighborhoods on both the city’s Asian and European sides.
  • taste authentic local food all day from our favorite vendors, including lunch.
  • meet with locals at workplaces, schools and home! (subject to availability)
  • catch the rhythm of life at daily bazaars, fish markets, and city centers.
  • go on a Cruise on Bosphorus, available only March 1st to October 31st (subject to weather conditions).
  • experience a Turkish bath (hamam) after a long day in the city.
  • travel with a maximum of 10 people on the tour, and an outspoken, experienced local guide.
  • do plenty of walking (8-10 km in total) with breaks, please wear comfortable shoes!

Meeting Point

Circle Istanbul typically runs every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Our meeting point is Hippodrome located in Sultanahmet (Old City). We will email you the instructions once you complete your booking.

52 reviews for Circle Istanbul

  1. 5 out of 5

    We had such a fantastic day touring the city with Polat last week. As people who love a local experience, after reading the reviews on trip advisor, we knew we had to take this tour. We started with a delicious Turkish breakfast and then set off. We took the ferry to the Asia side of Istanbul where we had a Turkish coffee and wandered the markets. Later, we visited the home of a sweet couple and they treated us to a fantastic lunch. We then wandered through a neighborhood and saw how people live and even looked inside an 18th century Greek Orthodox Church. Next up we toured Fatih which is a very conservative neighborhood. Lastly we went to a Turkish bath. Every experience was unique and it really did feel like we were touring the city with a friend. I wish every city had tours like this! When the tour ended, we hit the town with Polat and his wife and enjoyed more delicious food and the nightlife of Istanbul. Thank you!!! We had a blast!

  2. 5 out of 5

    We had never visited Istanbul before so decided to do the “Classic Istanbul tour” with our 2 young teens in tow. Ozcan Davascan was our guide for the day. He had a wealth of knowledge and interesting stories that really helped make each attraction come alive. I don’t believe there was one question we had which he didn’t know the answer. It is obvious he loves history and culture and it was infectious. Included in our tour was the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Toptaki palace, authentic Turkish lunch, the basilica Cistern, the Hagia Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. Oz helped us navigate the customs and etiquette of the culture and helped make us all feel at home here. He had great suggestions for our free days in the city as well. We would highly recommend this tour and Ozcan as your guide.

  3. 5 out of 5

    This was an excursion unlike any other we have experienced in other cities. We were able to see the local community and how they live and experience life in a city that is one of the largest in the world. Our guide, Polit had us visit places we would not have seen otherwise, receiving a full measure of the culture in Istanbul. I would recommend this to anyone who wishes to see this view of Istanbul away from the normal tourist attractions. Great guide, great food, memories that will be enriching to all of us.

  4. 5 out of 5

    My husband and I, on the recommendation of a friend, booked a day-long walking tour of Istanbul called Circle Istanbul. We generally prefer to explore cities on our own – and we did that for a few days in Istanbul, but decided to book the Circle Istanbul tour. What a treat. We had a full day of fascinating discussions with our guide Ozcan as we ambled and ate our way through little neighborhoods in Istanbul. Because the tour was just my husband and myself, and we had already seen a few things, Ozcan took us to other neighborhoods, including lunch with one of his friends. He expertly created a comparative foot-tour that allowed us a little bit more insight into the diversity and complexity of the city. One of the best days ever! Don’t pass this up!

  5. 5 out of 5

    I have to say that I have traditionally been a little sceptical of tours in the past, because they usually drag you around the tourist spots and show you the well worn path. This was definitely not the case with Circle Istanbul, you got not only an insiders tour of a number of the many districts and villages in Istanbul, you got to meet Istanbullus in their homes and get a genuine feel for the people that live there. Our guide Ozcan took us to a variety of places around the city that you couldn’t hope to have seen by yourself, and gave us excellent explanations of the history, background and culture of this incredible city.

    The Turkish bath experience was incredible, and possibly not something that I would have done by myself – you wouldn’t know where to start…

    You will not go hungry – you will get regular Turkish meals, snacks, coffee and more tea than you have ever had before, and it is all delicious. You need it to walk off the 21,000 Fitbit steps that you clock up walking through the various parts of the city that Ozcan takes you to.

    A must when you are in Istanbul – it really framed our time in the city, and we met some great people that we are going to hang out with at home as well!

  6. 5 out of 5

    This is a truly a immersion tour that gives you a full taste of all that this city has to offer. I would do this tour before you any sight seeing tours. The company offers 2 types of tours. One is the 14 hour immersion tour and the other is the Old City tour. This review is for the 14-15 hour immersion tour with Ozcan. After doing this tour we knew what we wanted to go back and see. There were 5 of us of this tour and there wasn’t a part of the city that we missed. We started with a Kurdish breakfast and ended the night with a great dinner overlooking the city. It is part bus and part walking so it doesn’t stress the feet.

    We can not rave enough about Ozcan. His knowledge, personality and easy going manner made this experience. I did another tour with company and it made me realize how lucky we were to have Ozcan.

    We had a bite to eat everywhere we went. The different cuisines and neighborhoods gave us a true feel for the city. One of Oz’s friends even had over for lunch. We didn’t speak the same language as the woman and her family but I have never felt so welcomed or well fed. Food was wonderful, bountiful and heartwarming.

    Go with Ozcan and find Istanbul!!!!

  7. 5 out of 5

    We enjoyed this tour immensely. We had plenty of food and drink experiences that were all great, trying things eg. mussels, at the fish market was something we would not have done on our own. Walked through streets and areas that we would not have found ourselves. A highlight was a home prepared lunch in the garden of a local family, a truly memorable experience. Ozcan, our guide, was fantastic – his insight, knowledge and enthusiam was great. We also did the “Old City” tour the following day with Ozcan as well, which was also excellent. Would highly
    recommend as you get to see Istanbul from a different
    perspective rather than just all the major tourist attractions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    My sisters and I took 2 separate walking tours. The first walking tour was seeing all of the attractions. Our guide, Ozcan, was fun, knowledgeable and taught us things about the city and culture that you wouldn’t find an a “typical” tour.
    Our second tour was Off the Beaten Path. We were busy from 8:30am-10:30pm. Our guide, Polat, took us all around the city. We saw neighborhoods we never would have explored on our own. We had a privilege of eating at the home of a Turkish family. The family was kind, generous and the food was incredibly delicious.

  9. 5 out of 5

    We had a limited time in Istanbul and of course wanted to see the Sultanahmet area. Based on other reviews we chose Circle Istanbul for a private tour, and are so very glad we did. Our guide, Ozcan Davascan (first name pronounced “Ahz-John”) was simply outstanding. He double-majored in History and Tourism and is writing a thesis on medieval history, so he is the perfect guide for an area as steeped in history and culture as this part of Turkey. We went to everything (the Hippodrome, Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cisterns, Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar), and he even took part of our tour on to the Spice Bazaar when we dropped out, exhausted, at the end of the day. He knew when and where to go to avoid lines, and he even bought us lunch at a local restaurant. A perfect day.

  10. 5 out of 5

    This was a great walking tour of the neighborhoods, markets and personality of Istanbul. We were the only two people on the tour, so it was private! We began with breakfast at a small cafe, then walked, took boats, taxis and small shared vans to explore the city. We tried all sorts of food and our guide was great, explaining the various places. I would recommend their “classic” tour also, if you had two days – that way you’d see the historic sites and the back streets as well.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Highlight of our week. Ozcan (pronounced Oz-jan) is a fantastic guide. Hearing about the history, tasting the local cuisine, dinner recommendations were all spot on. We were with a wonderful group for two days along with our 4 month old son. Despite of all the walking we were quite refreshed by the end of the day, tour was well broken up with adequate breaks. Bring a camera, best pair of walking shoes. As some of the places are conservative and religious landmarks knees, shoulders and sometimes head need to be covered (the latter two more for women). Definitely worth it. Once again Ozcan and our group were awesome and very considerate.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Let me keep this simple; while not planned (was supposed to be a small group), we had a private tour with Palot. Wow. We would have paid twice the amount. Our day was more like spending time with an old friend and his friends. We were able to have open and honest conversations about all kinds of aspects of the cultural. Never mind all the incredible people and food we experienced. Istanbul is incredible made even more incredible with Palot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    We were lucky enough to be able to do this tour as part of our 3 week Turkey and Greece trip. We did the short version as the tour was on our 2nd day in Istanbul and we were still a bit jet lagged.
    Be prepared to walk a lot, which we always love when we travel.
    Our guide, Ozcan was cool, friendly and a wealth of information.
    The tour was only my hubbie and i and another couple from Australia, who were really nice by the way.
    Seeing Istanbul as a local was our goal and you really achieve this thanks to Ozcan and this tour.
    We started with a delicious Kurdish breakfast at a local place, food was delicious!. You get dropped off at various locations throughout the city and you walk from one place to another, hearing the stories about the local customs, the history of Turkey, The Ottoman Empire, looking at the architecture and sampling all kinds of food, Turkish tea and coffee.
    Ozcan seems like he really love this city. Istanbul is beautiful, full of contrasts and history. Ozcan would answer all our questions and inquiries. He even recommended a great restaurant to me and my husband to have dinner at that evening!

    We walked through the more modern neighborhoods as well as the most conservative ones.We took a cruise through the sea of Marmara, we crossed to the Asian side and saw the real lives of the Turks, we sampled amazing food and learned a lot about Turkey which is such a beautiful country!
    The highlight of the tour for me was having lunch at a local house where some friends of Ozcan live. The were beyond hospitable and made a delicious lunch for us. Amazing experience that will stay with me forever.

    Please people: Do tip!, it is not expected, but appreciated. This guys are young, they may love what they do, but they live off this!. Besides, Ozcan and our driver really deserved it!.

    Don’t think about it and just book it, you won’t be disappointed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    How to make this short?? We completed this tour in August & on our day there was only one other couple which made it more personal for sure! Our tour guide Ozjan was magnificent. He explained the real Istanbul & introduced us to beautiful Turkish people. The highlight for me was our visit to a family home where lunch was shared along with photos of grandchildren- a common bond! If you visit Istanbul you must take this tour. I cannot rate it highly enough & have already told everyone I know about it!

  15. 5 out of 5

    To understand a city, you must see the city and learn about the culture from an experienced and local teacher. My wife and I did both the Circle Tour and the Old City Tour.

    Summary: 5 stars

    For the full version keep reading…

    Circle Tour
    Circle Tour’s website puts it best, “Have you ever toured a city and wished you knew someone there?” If you answered yes, then Oz is your man! Every itinerary will differ depending on the day of the week and what’s open/closed, etc so this is just one Sunday example.

    1) Meet for a local breakfast spread, expertly curated and passionately explained. Chat with like minded travelers as you sample egg dishes, cheeses, spreads of all flavors, breads, all while enjoying çai (tea).

    2) Walk down Istikal St and past the Gallata tower and onward through the local shops. Cool off with fresh orange juice.

    3) Take the ferry to the Asian side, while learning about various sights and landmarks.

    4) Tour the fish market and local shopping areas. Stop for incredible mincemeat flat bread.

    5) Wind through local parts and stop to learn about Turkish coffee. Enjoy it.

    6) Catch the Bosphorous cruise and enjoy the incredible sights, mansions, parks, etc that line the shores. Relax. Let the breeze blow away your cares.

    7) Back in reality it’s time for a tour of a local antique market and a stop for a special Turkish crepe filled with spinach, or meat, or cheese, or of course with pistachio and sugar. Explore.

    8) Now you’re off to the ultra-conservative Istanbul neighborhood to walk and wind the streets. Now it’s the Greek neighborhood. Now it’s the Jewish neighborhood. All this walking makes you need baklavah and more tea. Fín.

    Get off the beaten path. See parts of the city away from the tourists. Experience the flavors. Learn from a local about the culture.

    This tour is a must.

    Old City Tour
    If you’re still reading, let me quickly summarize. See the most important tourist sites with a knowledgeable and fun guide. Well paced and flexible, so you have time to explore. Skip the lines!! All tickets included in great price.

    – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Hypodrome, and don’t forget lunch!

    This tour is also a must.

  16. 5 out of 5

    This was a day-long tour of Istanbul by van, walking, ferry, cruise boat. Stops for coffee and eating along the way (great food and coffee), including an amazing lunch with an Istanbul couple who spoke no English but we communicated very well. The food is all included in the price of the tour. It was like being taken around by a favorite family member. The limit is 10 people on the tour but we were only 4. Oz was a fantastic guide, informative not only about history and what we were seeing but about the issues in the complex current political situation in Turkey. We went to districts ranging from very rich to very poor (this was not the old city tour, but rather a comprehensive look at all of Instanbul). I received a great education in the course of a day, while enjoying myself, the tour, and especially the tour guide.

  17. 5 out of 5

    I did the Circle Istanbul tour with Ozcan, on the recommendation of a friend, and boy am I glad I did. I took the tour on my third day in Istanbul, after spending the previous two days pounding out the sites in Sultanahmet, and frankly on the Circle tour, I was kicking myself for not taking the Classic Old City Tour with Circle.

    I really can’t recommend this tour enough. Ozcan, our tour guide, did a spectacular job of shepherding us though parts neighborhoods I had already explored, but hadn’t discovered, as well as bringing us far from the beaten tourist path, to get a chance to see, smell, and taste Istanbul like someone that lives there.

    Ozcan could rattle off answers to all the questions I put to him, and established instant rapport with our multi-generational group of tourists. I’d also recommend doing Circle’s tours out-the-gate, on your first days in the city because they’ll equip you to productively map out the remainder of your time there, giving you the tools to venture off the well-beaten path, into colorful neighborhoods, where the locals can’t wait to shower you with sincere Turkish hospitality. This tour was worth every penny, and then some.

  18. 5 out of 5

    If you want to get closer to the real Istanbul this is the tour to do. Our small group of 10 was taken on the most wonderful exploration of this city and its people. We saw rich, poor, and everyone in between. Our guide was so relaxed in his approach, never rushing us anywhere, and always stopping to feed us the most scrumptious local treats. Don’t hesitate to book this tour!!!! At the end of the day, after your Turkish Bath, with new friends, you will be so happy you did!

  19. 5 out of 5

    With only 4 of us this was a wonderful walking tour. Starting at 8:30 we visited blue mosque, Topkapi palace, basilica cistern, ayasofya, then grand bazaar and spice market. Finishing around 6pm. Ozcan was amazing – knowledgeable, funny, and really able to quickly pick up how to tailor to our interests. Has great connections at markets and lunch venue. All of included and a must do to see and understand Istanbul. Thank you Ozcan.

  20. 5 out of 5

    This was a fabulous day and a very memorable one! Our guide, Ozcan was great. We saw parts of Istanbul that we would never have seen if we tried to do it on our own. We tried lovely food throughout the day and lunch with a local family was one of the highlights for me. My husband did the Turkish Bath and said it was a great experience and has never felt so clean!! It was a day that started about 8.30am and finished at 10pm but the time just passed so quickly. So, thank you, Ozcan, for great day!

  21. 5 out of 5

    My daughter (12) and I went on 2 different tours with Circle Istanbul: the Classic Old City and the “off the beaten path” Circle Istanbul tour. Both tour guides, Ozcan and Polat were terrific.
    Our groups consisted of 8 people each, and both tours felt more like traveling with your extended family than with a bunch of strangers; after all, you’re spending 9 and 15 hrs. together.
    Both tours were well organized and put together. There was no downtime or delay; we moved smoothly from one place to the next without feeling rushed. We saw and ate a ton, and I wish I had had an extra day to revisit some places the 2 guides have shown us. I wholeheartedly recommend exploring Istanbul with Ozcan and Polat.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Where to begin? Started with a Turkish “croissant” for a pre-breakfast snack at the Eminonu-Kadikoy ferry – and we got home at 2.45 a.m. the next morning! (It is not compulsory to stay to the end but these 2 senior ladies were having the time of their lives!) Polat was our guide and he made the day perfect. There were 7 of us – 6 girls and 1 husband. Our day was jam-packed. We all did the optional hamman, which was a definite highlight, followed by a wonderful Turkish dinner nearby. Lots of drinking, talking, laughing, singing (and we didn’t even know the words) and dancing. A fabulous day, a fabulous guide, new fabulous friends. (We walked 12 kms, 43 flights of stairs, 17,500 steps. My travelling companion wears knee braces and I have flat feet but we made it comfortably because there was our minibus, cruise on the Bosphorus, a ferry – so lots of sitting too.) Highly recommended

  23. 5 out of 5

    This was our first visit to Istanbul. My sister and I were looking for a tour option that let us really get to know the city, it’s people, and it’s culture – off the beaten path. We came across Circle Istanbul online – which promised just that – and it definitely delivered. We did the Circle Istanbul tour, which ended up feeling like a close friend showing us the best of what his city had to offer. No tourist attractions, no lines, no cookie cutter agenda or scripted presentation…rather, a really enjoyable, casual, heartfelt introduction to the city. Great pace, great range of activities, and really thoughtfully put together. Our guide, Ozcan, was awesome. Funny, friendly, and really knowledgeable. The day gave us a fascinating and thoughtful glimpse into this beautiful city and unique culture. By far – this was the highlight of our trip. Would recommend this tour to anyone who really wants to get to know Istanbul.

  24. 5 out of 5

    We did the Circle Istanbul tour this week with Paul. What an amazing experience . Paul was so helpful and informative. We also did the city tour on another day with him. We only had a few days in Istanbul but I feel like I have seen do much. Thankyou Paul and Circle Istanbul we had an amazing time.I highly recommend this company.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Very small group, which made it a very personalized experienced. Paul (?) knew where to visit and when to avoid long lines or big groups. He’s obviously very experienced with giving tours and offered us a couple of options such as going to a small street restaurant for lunch instead of a touristy place. He was very personable and easy to talk to. Also he has some camera experience so he knows how to work a camera and take great shots, which was handy for having him take our pictures together.

  26. 5 out of 5

    A day of zigzagging the back streets of Istanbul with Polat renders a most memorising and rich experience. Everything is arranged meticulously for our comfort and maximising our intake of the city, and yet spontaneous and flexible based on the weather and actual condition. None could be achieved without Polat’s deep knowledge and passion for his city. The tour should be a must-do for everyone’s visit to Istanbul. After all, by only ticking the big items, the city would only remain just a tourist destination and lack the relevance to an individual. This tour gives a glimpse of Istanbul as a living place, deeply resonant. I wish every city has one of this kind of tour.

  27. 5 out of 5

    We loved this experience of the 10 hour tour. While we got a slow start, we ended up seeing a whole bunch of places that one wouldn’t typically experience in a three day Istanbul adventure. The food we tasted was out of this world, the group small and engaging, our guide knowledgable and passionate.

    He arranged the tour to our interests and stopped at a Turkish supermarket (because I had asked for it). There are too many highlights to mention, but food, Hannam, and the views are definitely amongst them

  28. 5 out of 5

    We booked our Circle Istanbul tour with Polat in a rush and had no idea what we were in for! It was definitely a real highlight of our 5 week holiday in Greece and Turkey. Polat gave us a really unique look at his city – and an amazing one it is too!! We started at 8.30am and ended up back at our hotel in Sirceki at midnight. We walked, travelled on ferries and bus and seemed to be eating and drinking all day… We got to sample all sorts of local fresh foods, Turkish coffee, tea, Raki, and all at our leisure! Polat is a great guide and obviously passionate about this amazing, colourful, vibrant, exotic city. We loved walking through the fresh food markets in the Asian part of Istanbul, and vibrant Taksim Square. The late lunch of fish sandwich was delicious! It was our first experience of a Turkish Bath – different…… All in all, every minute of our long day with Polat was fantastic. Would highly recommend it to anybody who is reasonably active and looking for the real Istanbul.

  29. 5 out of 5

    this will remain a memory of one of the greatest days of my life, and I know Jacqueline and Angie feel the same. We are so grateful to have had this experience with Polat. The other folks in our group were wonderful – as excited for adventure and new freindships as we were! The entire day was one new experience after another, and a really unique perspective on the people and history of Istanbul. I loved how frank and direct Polat was, and how easily he shared conversation and helped us all connect. Meeting Muradiye and Muhtar, being welcomed into their home…we felt so fortunate and honored. And for me, dancing with Muradiye is at the top of my list for great experiences in Turkey, or anywhere! Polat gave 100% all day and night, creating such a special memory for us of Istanbul.

  30. 5 out of 5

    I chose to go on this tour since my mom (74) and I had a free day. The cost was pretty expensive, but in the end the experience was worth it. You go walking around parts of Istanbul you normally wouldn’t and get to eat lots of good food. You also get to see and do some touristy stuff as well. You basically walk, eat, walk, drink, walk, eat…etc.
    I was worried that my mom wouldn’t be able to keep up, but she totally did and loved the tour. It ends with a Turkish bath and nice dinner which is perfect after walking and eating all day.
    The way it works is you pay for the tour and then the tour guide will pay for the food as you go along. To get your money’s worth definitely eat a lot!!! The “raw meat” and baklava were awesome!
    It’s great to get a local perspective anywhere you go. If you have an entire week/2 in istanbul maybe this is not necessary (still good though). If you only have a few days definitely do this!
    Happy to answer any specific questions!

  31. 5 out of 5

    This was the best tour I have ever taken. It was for three people – my husband, I and my mom who is 70. This is unique not to be missed experience. A totally way of seeing the city – with the locals. We were lucky and got to visit with a local acitivist. We went shopping in a local market and sampled local delicacies. The guides were lively and gave us great insight into Istanbul, Turkey and the life there. We did a Bosphorus cruise; the Hammam – non touristy, local and highly recommended and finally ended with a fabulous meal! It is a must do for anyone who wants to see the anti- tourist side of Istanbul. Scratch underneath the surface – you will be glad you did it.

  32. 5 out of 5

    This was our second trip to Istanbul and we had seen all the tourist highlights on our previous trip, so we wanted to see another side of this amazing city from a more local point of view. Circle Istanbul’s itinerary fulfilled this need very well and took us to places we would never have found ourselves without the use of local knowledge. Ozcan was a wonderful guide and it was great to be taken around with a group of other enthusiastic travellers. Thanks for a wonderful and very interesting day.

  33. 5 out of 5

    Unique itineraries, passionate guides and local perspectives easily make this tour company the only tour company you should be spending your money on in Istanbul. They cover lots of ground, introduce you to locals, eat constantly and invite you to see inside neighborhoods only locals would know. It’s a must for anyone tired of the “typical” tour. My kids are still talking about the experience.

  34. 5 out of 5

    The full day/night tour was the highlight of our 6 days in Istanbul! This tour is exactly what you would experience if you had a close friend in Istanbul who said let me show you my city. Polat was easily the most informative guides we’ve had for any tour anywhere. He took us to places to eat and try unique food that only the locals know about and know as the best (and you better come hungry). There is simply no way a visitor to Istanbul would see many of the areas and neighborhoods he took us to and taught us about. My wife and I loved it, our two 20 YO sons loved it. Unless you have that friend in Istanbul (and even if you do) – TAKE THIS TOUR. You will love it!

  35. 5 out of 5

    This is the best description which we can use for “Circle Istanbul” under the guidance of Mr. Polat Korkmaz, a 20-year vet who designed the tour. CI gave us a unique blend of viewing the forest with a close-up look at the trees. But be warned that you will eat at least 9 times during CI! 🙂 From Eminonu on the European side we took a ferry to the Asian side to sample authentic Turkish breakfast at Ottoman Cafe in the Fish market. The top dishes were the pastrami Polat bought mixed with egg and the buttermilk in honey dip. Afterwards we sampled “Kazde Kahve” or traditional Turkish coffee boiled over charcoal. (Polat even ventured to read our fortunes from the images of the coffee sediments left on our cups). Then we rode the ferry back to the European side north of the Golden Horn, passing Dolmabahce Palace and disembarking at Besiktasi. Our driver picked us up and drove us up the hill in Kurucesme where Polat led us into a quaint home tucked away underneath some trees for a surprise home visit with a charming retired couple Mr. Mehmet and Mrs. Muradiyeh. They treated us to homemade brunch of delicious and healthy Med cuisine (we loved the “kisir”). Then we drove down to the waterfront to board the spacious and luxurious Ortakuy for our 1-hr cruise on the Bosphorus straits. It was a perfect day – while it was cool and windy, the sun shone warmly in a cloudless blue sky while we passed multi-million dollar mansions along the coast. After the cruise we drove back up the hill to buy some organic fresh fruits (apricot, plum, cherry, strawberry, orange) then made a leisurely hike downhill to the waterfront. Afterwars we boarded our van for famous Taksim Square passing Grezi park and its “salvaged” trees en route to Istiqlal pedestrian shopping street. Thankfully we had a chance to make a visit at the St. Anthony de Padua cathedral where Pope Francis I met leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Churches to continue talks o reunification. Then a walk past Galata Tower towards the waterfront for a sample of the best-tasting mackerel fish sandwich by Chef Emin. After 12.5km of brisk walking we were ready for an invigorating Turkish bath and a refreshing dip in the indoor pool. To cap our 12-hour day, we had dinner at the 70-year old Despina (since 1946) where we sampled RAKI the Turkish national drink, a white spirit distilled from Anis seeds with 45% proof alcohol, in between cheers of “Serefe!” Truly a delightful experience in Istanbul! Thank you very much Polat or “Tesukeraderem!” PS – For Day 1 we were lucky we took the Old City Tour also with Polat, and before we departed on June 2nd, we took Polat’s advice to try Sahin for the best-tasting Doner kebab in Istanbul and nearby Erding Usta for the cleanest and most flavorful “kokoreci” (lamb intestine) just outside the Grand Bazaar. Indeed Circle Istanbul gives a new meaning to “Turkish Delight”! Bravo to Polat and Cenan!

  36. 5 out of 5

    My Husband & I had an amazing tour with Ozcan on the 23rd April 2015. He took us to all his local haunts. Our day went something like this: traditional Turkish breakfast, ferry ride to the local markets on the Asian side of Istanbul, a traditional coffee house, boat cruise lunch with a local family (unbelievable), soccer in the streets with local children (so much fun), traditional Turkish tea house & so much more in between. It was a full day starting at 8am, finishing at 6pm. Ozcan was a fantastic guide. He is very enthusiastic & loves what he is doing. We are looking forward to taking our friends & children back to Istanbul in September for another tour with Ozcan.

  37. 5 out of 5

    Wow what a fantastic day with Circle Tours. I will be the first to admit that I thought this was quite expensive, but, after a wonderful day and night eating and drinking and dancing until very late, this was worth every penny.

    I will not spoil the surprises that Pollat has in store for you, but, it was a memorable day and a highlight of our visit to Istanbul.

  38. 5 out of 5

    We have just come home from the very best holiday in Istanbul, made more so by our guide Inonu from Circle Istanbul tours. This is a tour out of the ordinary. If you are looking for the true Istanbul experience, then this tour is for you. there were only 6 of us in a small comfortable van, Inonu took us to the market where he bought us breakfast and explained the traditions and food of the Turkish people we then went for a good walk around the back streets and met a family, visited their home and had a meal with them, a ride on the ferry and all the time Inonu was telling us about life in Turkey. You can go to the Tourist sites with this company but Circle Istanbul is in a class of its own, great memories love Istanbul, thankyou Inonu and our driver.

  39. 5 out of 5

    My wife and I decided to get this tour because they take you to the areas that are not touristic. Pollat was our tour guide, he was great and very helpful. We went to a Turkish family to have breakfast with them in the morning and then we headed to visit markets that are non touristic and you can find…

  40. 5 out of 5

    Went on both tours with Oz. We did the full day Circle Istanbul tour first and all they places we went were interesting and really showed us life as a local in Istanbul. Then we ticked the boxes the next day and did the major sites. We booked last min (7.30am for a 8.30am start) and nothing was too much trouble. All the food we ate, the local suburbs and the traditional Turkish bath were highlights of our trip so far! MUST DO TOUR!

  41. 5 out of 5

    Cheers Polat, what a fantastic day, spend the day eating fantastic local food and meeting interesting locals, what a way to finish a trip to this amazing city, I went on the Circle Istanbul tour with Polat yesterday with an interesting group of meeting, the tour took us off the beaten tourist path and into the lives of the locals, apart from being totally stuffed with food we walked the streets and for a moment felt like we lived here, thanks for the memories.

  42. 5 out of 5

    We did the old city tour with Polat yesterday and it was magical. The price was extremely reasonable and with it everything was included – coffee, tea, lunch, entrances and transportation. We met bright and early at our Hotel and then rode with Polat to meet the other six who were joining us. Our diverse little group was a perfect combination of travelers with different experiences but seemed to all be on the same page about what was important – avoiding the crowds and seeing it all!
    Throughout the day we saw every major sight and waited in line for maximum 45 minutes – total! With three cruise ships in Istanbul while we were there we easily could have waited hours for a single destination had our guide not had the timing down right.
    For lunch Polat asked if we were all ok eating somewhere on the street instead of in a restaurant. We all eagerly agreed that was best and off we went for platters of meat kebabs (beef, lamb, chicken and liver – tried it but much preferred the others!) traditional drinks, deserts and teas.
    Polat spent time to tell us not only about the historical sights but about his love of Turkey, his background and some of his favorite places to go for drinks or walking around.
    When we ended, we were sad to see each other go and I definitely was bummed we weren’t able to do the Circle tour the next day. We’ll be back and can’t wait to meet back up with Circle Istanbul!

  43. 5 out of 5

    This is a refreshing tour concept where you actually interact with the day to day real life people, places and things of Istanbul. It was great!!. The guide knows the city well. He knows good food, handles a diverse crowd well, is lots of fun and also very knowledgeable about Turkey. The part of the tour where we spent time with a traditional woman and her neighbor in their home/yard was more than expected, very interesting, humbling and a year later still leaves me with a warm, happy feeling when I think of it. Wear comfortable shoes and come hungry. You will eat delicious food all day and have a day you will not forget.

  44. 5 out of 5

    Had an amazing day traveling around Istanbul “off the tourist track” with our guide Ozcan. Having already done the main tourist stuff this was an excellent way to experience the real local culture, going to the places it would have been harder or impossible to find by ourselves. It’s like having a friend show you around where they live and introducing you to some of their friends and family. We shopped and ate with the locals as we went along, used local transport to hop between the different areas, seeing the many contrasting and hidden sides of Istanbul. Ozcan is a generous and informative host who clearly enjoys his job and loves sharing his city with you. Highly recommended.

  45. 5 out of 5

    We really made a full circle around the diversify neighborhood, our guide has a genuine care for the people, every place we go, he is among friends, best Turkish breakfast by picking great delicacies through a local market, best Turkish coffee, steam hamburger, back alley hugging cats, gave a soccer ball to refugee kids and then play ball with them. We visited a local family in the run down area, yet their hospitality brighten the day. Our guide, Ozcan Davascan, is knowledgeable all around, politics, economics, religion, culture,.. Also friendly, courteous, kind, patient and genuine. The Turkish bath is top quality, dinner is very good. We rank this the best ever day tour, money well worth it.

  46. 5 out of 5

    Naturally every visitor to Istanbul is drawn to the famed attractions of Istanbul: the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace Museum, the Grand Bazaar, and more. But therein lies the problem. These sites are packed with tourists and tour guides. For a respite from the crowds and the opportunity to experience the real people and places of Istanbul, the Circle Istanbul proved to be an outstanding choice.

    Starting at 9:00 am and continuing until 10:30 pm, our guide Polat led our group of six through bakeries, meat and produce markets, coffee shops and cafes, street vendors. a Bosporus cruise, a variety of intimate neighborhoods, a Turkish bath (a new experience!), and a concluding dinner at a traditional restaurant. Coordination with the driver of our van enabled us to visit widely scattered places on both sides of the Bosporus: we walked back streets, chatted with shop owners and vendors, watched men playing backgammon, and sampled foods (who knew there were so many varieties of Baklava?) and beverages as we went along. Our concluding dinner was a special treat, featuring yummy authentic Turkish cuisine and live music that grew ever more lively as the night wore on.

    The big attractions of Istanbul were awesome, but the Circle Istanbul tour provided me with a deeper appreciation of the people and culture of Istanbul.

  47. 5 out of 5

    This tour offered me the opportunity to do things that I would not have otherwise even considered. It provided a great snapshot of this huge city and Ozcan was a wonderful guide and host. From early Sunday morning our small group was expertly guided through neighbourhood streets, onto boats, through fish markets and flea-markets, up-town and down-town, from coffee house to tea house, lunch at a local family home, tastings of local specialities … so much thoughtfully packed into the day. We were transported in a comfortable mini-coach between the walks and boats. Ozcan did everything possible to ensure we were looked after with true Turkish hospitality. I would recommend Circle Istanbul to everyone who wants not just a tour, but a great experience. And the price includes everything.

  48. 5 out of 5

    Oz, our guide, took us on a memorable all day adventure. Oz led our Merry Band of 7 adventurers as we cris-crossed the Bosphorus, visited local markets, saw extreme wealth and poverty, had a fun “feeding” every hour or so, interacted with Syrian refugee children he had befriended, and experienced about a jillion other sights, sounds and smells.

    We spent 6 days in Istanbul and this was the best.no surprise when Oz confided to us ( with a twinkle in his eye) that some of his friends call him the amazing Oz…he is! Thanks for a great day.

  49. 5 out of 5

    We recently experienced this tour with Polat as our guide. As others have written, it is a unique, full day tour. We visited parts of Istanbul we would never have visited on our own, and experienced foods we would not have tried, or even known about. The visit to the Turkish Bath was interesting, and again, nothing we would have done by ourselves Dinner was fun, trying different Turkish dishes. And raki. . It was a small group of people, who left the tour as friends. We would highly recommend this tour, but would advise you that there is a lot of walking, and some stair/hill climbing.
    We also spent a day touring in Sultanahmet, with the same company. Ozcan was our guide. There were only 4 people on this tour. It was wonderful. Turkish tour guides are so knowledgeable about their country. Ozcan is a delightful young man and we enjoyed our day with him. Although you can tour all these sights easily on your own, you will not learn the history touring by yourself.
    Both these tours were well worth the money we paid for them.

  50. 5 out of 5

    My wife and I are serious world travelers and have taken cruises, land tours and excursions all over, but none that could compare with Circle Istanbul and our guide Izcan (pronounced O John). We took the abbreviated tour (8:30 am to 6:30 pm) because we personally weren’t interested in the Turkush bathes or Dinner, but the uniqueness, depth and insight of the rest of the tour was nothing short of great. We saw and were involved in parts of Istanbul that you wouldn’t come across if you spent months there on your own. All we can say is that this is one tour, and tour guide, not to be missed!

  51. 5 out of 5

    My Family and I had the wonderful pleasure to be guided by Polat, very professional, fun and genuine.

    We went to parts of Istanbul we would never have been without Circle Istanbul. We got exactly what we wanted, met authentic locals, had great Turkish food, walked historical backstreets…

    Highly recommended if you want to see and “feel” the real Istanbul. One of the most wonderful days in Turkey. Really glad we joined!

  52. 5 out of 5

    We did the extended full day tour last month on Dec. 26th. We had a fabulous time and have been talking about our experience ever since. From the moment we were picked up, we felt like we’d known our guide, Ozcan, for years. He made us feel at home in Istabul everywhere we went and we were able to venture into little know neighborhoods we would never see anywhere else. We started the day by going to the Asian side of Istanbul where we shopped at a street marked for our breakfast and then went to a small cafe where they made us all traditional Turkish coffee on the brazier. We visited both poor and rich neighborhoods, conservative and arty. We never wanted for food either..we were able to enjoy a wonderful home-made meal for lunch at friends house that was a very special treat. The Turkish bath was an interesting experience, Im not sure I would do it again, but it was something we will not forget. The only bad thing was the weather..it was rainy all day…but we forged ahead and still had a wonderful time. We would recommend this tour to anyone that wants to see a side of Istanbul that you would not see without living there or having locals as friends. There is simply not enough room to write about everything we did! Wonderful Day!

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