We booked Circle Istanbul as a private tour for two, as our itinerary didn't allow us to go on a regularly scheduled tour day. Email contact with Cenan was very quick, easy and professional and gave us a good impression even before we arrived in Istanbul.
Our guide, Polat, picked us up at our hotel and we spent the day walking, talking and eating. The eating - there is not a more unique perspective that you can get from a city than through its food. Finding yourself on a side street in a neighbourhood without any other foreigners in a shop that sells only things that are pickled (cabbage, plums, garlic, carrots, you name it) - that's not something you do every day! The Turkish coffee, baklava, the lamb intestines, the freshly shucked mussels, the giant baked potato and (the highlight) the fish sandwich cart next to the Golden Horn. I could go on, but all of this food talk is making me hungry.
It might seem like an expensive tour when you book, but trust me, there is so much value. We didn't have to open our wallets all day, everything was taken care of from transportation (taxi, tram, whatever we needed) to all the food we could possibly try, to the cruise on the Bosphorous with a beer or two.
There are four things to keep in mind when booking this tour:
Don't have a big breakfast, you'll regret it, you'll probably skip dinner as well.
Wear the most comfortable shoes you have, the day is spent on your feet.
Try everything, and if you are a vegetarian, don't worry - you will have more than enough things to eat :)
Do this first thing when you arrive in Istanbul - we didn't and regretted not being able to go back and eat at some of the great spots and visit some of the things we found that day.
Highly enjoyable and we'd do it again if we have the chance to return.
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