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“Two segments - one review”

City of Sultans Day Tours
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$80.00*
and up
Istanbul Two Continents Tour Including Dolmabahçe Palace and Bosphorus...
Ranked #98 of 412 Tours in Istanbul
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Owner description: Our services includes, private tours, combined tours, gulet and yatching tours, incentive tours, congress and meetings, city sightseeing tours all around Turkey and Greece
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
29 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Two segments - one review”
Reviewed October 27, 2012

I've split this review up between Istanbul and the rest of Turkey, because I booked the 10 Days Glories of Turkey tour with COS which included both segments. I booked this trip almost one year in advance as a solo traveller. I chose City of Sultans based on its consistently good feedback and ratings.

In terms of booking the trip, COS was very good at getting back to me on a few changes I wanted to make regarding accommodations on the trip. I was under the impression that COS would run the entire tour. That was not the case but more about that later.

I arrived in Istanbul in the late afternoon. The airport is a bit chaotic and I totally forgot to buy my visa before getting in line for security/immigration. The visa section is to the right and immigration is to the left. Getting your visa is pretty simple. Give them money and they give you a visa. Then get in the other line, which can be extremely long, and make your way to the front. The border police look a your passport and after that, you can go and get your suitcase.

Once I went through the exit gate, a greeter from COS was waiting for me. A van picked me up from the arrivals area and then dropped me off near the hotel. All went well. The hotel, Q-Inn was nice and the staff were very friendly. I got a call in the evening from COS as I had a tour of Istanbul booked the next day.

After a good night's sleep and some breakfast, our tour guide, Eren B., met us (me and another couple) at the hotel. We toured the main sites in the old part of Istanbul, namely the Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque and the Hippodromme. We went to a fantastic restaurant for lunch. Eren was a great tour guide and very personable. No wonder everybody writes such good things about him. He is really a delight, very knowledgeable about all things Istanbul and there is no waiting in long lines if Eren is your guide.

Our afternoon was spent visiting the Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar. We also visited a carpet store and some special shops in the market that sell wonderful scarves and turkish delight. All and all, it was a great day and a great introduction to Istanbul.

We were dropped off at the hotel and I packed up for the next part of my trip across Turkey. The next morning, the same young man who met me at the airport when I arrived, accompanied me to the airport for the next leg of my trip. He got me checked in for my flight and I was off to Ankara. So far so good.

In Ankara, I was met at the airport by a tour guide from a company called Parasol Tours/Holidays. COS advised me only a few days before my departure that there weren't any other people taking the tour I had booked, but they would do a private tour if I wished. Alternatively, I could go with another tour group, however, at no time did COS mention that I would be joining a different tour company for this segment. Having said that, I thought overall Parasol provided a good tour. The guide and bus driver were fabulous and all the stops for lunch were great. With this adhoc arrangement, however, I did not stay in the same hotels as the rest of the tour group which was disappointing. As well, there were more than 30 people on the trip, larger than I would have preferred. The itinerary was pretty much the same as that outlined on the COS site for the first half of the trip but second half was slightly different from the original itinerary.

I returned to Istanbul a day early so that I could spend some time on my own exploring the city, ok really,shopping and going to a turkish bath. That was lots of fun and the old part of Istanbul is an easy walk and a great place to window shop.

I spent the last day in Istanbul doing a tour of the Bophorus which was also a provided by an alternate tour company. All and all, it was also fine and the restaurant choice was also very good.

The transfer back to the airport for my flight home was punctual and my check-in went almost without a hitch. Yes I was over on my baggage allowance.

Overall, I think COS did a good job in coodinating the trip. Airport transfers, meet and greets, hotels, airline tickets, etc. were all well coordinated and reliable. I do feel however, that more transparency is needed when tours are subcontracted to other companies. Turkey is a great country to visit with wonderful historic sites and great cuisine. Despite the above snag, I had a good time and have lots of great memories.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
22 Thank yu243229
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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119 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Turkish first
  • Any
English first
Sidney, British Columbia, Canada
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
“Star treatment on a budget”
Reviewed October 24, 2012

We booked a private guide and driver for a day tour of Istanbul on a recent cruise to Istanbul. The tour seemed too good to be true at half the price of a group tour from the cruiseship but they really delivered.
Eren Bolek, our guide, really knew his city and the sights. Well educated with excellent English, he helped us beat the lineups and have more time in the major attractions. His commentary was really educational and he gave us time to see things on our own as well, so we didn't feel too rushed. We had our own van (clean and new) to ourselves so we didn't waste time walking to or boarding a bus, we really felt like rock stars at the end of the day. Lunch was at our expense but Eren brought us to a wonderful restaurant and ordered many traditional (and delicious!) items for us to try - far beyond what we could or would have tried on our own. The bill was ridiculously low - he really gave us the insider edge.
All in all, incredible value for the money. It took some faith to preorder this tour online but the correspondance with Ozgur, the tour company operator, made me comfortable with the security of the site. It seemed too good to be true when I booked but I would definately recommend this company to anyone visiting Istanbul - great value and impressive service.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
29 Thank 144Cathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kitchener, Canada
Level Contributor
110 reviews
63 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 124 helpful votes
“Shore excursion - Istanbul”
Reviewed October 16, 2012

Booked this service last minute as they require full payment up front and I wasn't sure how dependable they were. We were 3 couples (60's, 40's & 30's) on a shore excursion from a cruise ship and were happy to see our guide, Irran (spelling?), waiting for us at 8.30am with a prominent name sign. The vehicle was a modern window van, seating six comfortably, with the driver and Irran in the front seats. He was pleasant and spoke good English though with a heavy accent that sometimes made him difficult to understand. To be fair though, he provided extensive commentary and was willing to discuss any subject. We covered the usual tourist sites and by lunchtime were seated in the Topkapi restaurant overlooking the Bosphorous, a picturesque location, but too busy so we decided to relocate and transferred to an in-town fast food place where we didnt have to jostle with the crowds. Had a nice panini type sandwich, tasted great and only cost about $4 including a drink. After lunch we were scheduled for the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market but as we had done a lot of walking, two of our group decide they weren't up for shopping and wanted to return to the ship. Irran, who's first concern was that everyone was happy with his service, arranged for them to be transferred back and the rest of us continued on, returning to the ship about 3.30pm. All things considered we were happy with the service and particularly liked the fact that all tickets had been pre-bought by our guide and we bypassed the crowds waiting at ticket booths. In addition the cost ($69) was considerably less than the ship's excursion cost.

Visited October 2012
Helpful?
5 Thank ianjj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Really great tour packaging service with some highlights and pitfalls.”
Reviewed October 10, 2012

I'm writing this review after getting home, receiving all purchases that I was due via mail and have had time ponder.

My wife and I decided to do a 7 day cruise to Italy and Greece, followed by a flight to Istanbul and 7 days in Western Turkey for our Honeymoon. I had no idea what to do when it came to Turkey and knew that I needed some assistance in catching flights, transportation, tours, shopping and food but had no idea where to go. I found City of Sultans on Trip Advisor and read every single review that they had. I saw a few separate reviews elsewhere, but I love Trip Advisor and used them for our trip to the UK and Ireland, so I checked the dates of each review, the number of reviews by each reviewer and decided that Trip Advisor would have likely canned them at some point since 2008 if they weren't legitimate. Booking the trip was about as simple as humanly possible and the price was extremely reasonable, given the costs advertised of connecting flights, hotel stays, food, etc. Ozgur at COS responded almost instantly to every concern that I had and was open to literally any change to the itinerary that I could think up. He booked me at Art City in the heart of Sultan Ahmet, which I had heard reviews of from a friend of a friend, instead of book me at their choice. They booked the domestic flight from Istanbul to Izmir for me, the Kusadasi hotel, the tours to Ephesus and Pammukale, and all of the transportation in between. I was sold and then I parted with the money. I kind of sweated it out up until I arrived at Ataturk, fingers crossed that they would be there to pick me up and I wouldn't be stranded with a new bride an emasculated loss of self respect at the border of the Middle East.
When we arrived, our contact was there to greet us and a wave of relief washed over us. A young guy who smiled alot and spoke little English was there to bring us to our car and driver and get us to our hotel - he gave us our starting timetable for the next days tour. The hotel was amazing and in the middle of everything that we wanted to do, can't rave about it enough.
The next day, our tour guide was EREN who is one of the most awesome people anywhere. This guy could be Erdogan's protege and run that whole country. He was friendly, spoke great english, knew everyone in Istanbul and had an in-depth knowledge of the history of of everything you could think to ask him. (I tested him, being a Classical/Medieval European and Near-Eastern history major). This guy knows his stuff and is not just a social operator. He mastered the lines, we waited for nothing. He took us, with the driver, on a personal day long tour of everything worth seeing if you only had a day there; Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, Topkapi Palace, Cisterns, etc. We received red carpet treatment everywhere we went (especially Matis) and he helped me find an excellent quality version of every single souvenir thing I was looking for (Ottoman style tin-plated copper tea kettle set, handmade wool-on-cotton carpet made in Buhara, Turkey, the best Turkish delight I've ever tasted, spices, teas, ceramics etc.) None of this was the junk that we saw in the shop windows and it was all for practical use. Delicious lunch, better than I had throughout the rest of the week. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to get Eren as your guide, even for one day, you will be blown away with the energy, personality, and knowledge that this guys harnesses.

The next day was the flight to Izmir, woke up early, great breakfast at hotel, flight was easy. We waited in some small town for a tour bus to Ephesus and were surprised that we were on a tour with a bunch of other people, but it makes sense based on the cost of the package. I wish that we had had time to unload our stuff, but oh well. Tour guide was not very interested or knowledgeable and this particular driver wasn't too friendly. Saw Mary's house first, cool, then saw Ephesus, very cool. I like the people that I was on tour with, they were friendlier and more interesting than the cruise hordes that we encountered in Italy and Greece. They took us afterwards to our hotel, the Palmin in Kusadasi, which was honestly not cool and at points really awful. If you get a chance, do your homework and find your own hotel in Kusadasi or skip it entirely (not much to see) and just give your choice to Ozgur who will accommodate you.

The tour guide to Pammukale was adorable, friendly and much more knowledgeable and interesting than the Ephesus guide - i forgot her name. She also had a great driver who we had encountered on our way from the airport. Pammukale/Hieropolis was really cool, again the tour was with other people, some of whom we met the day before and they were interesting yet again. lunch was old Ottoman style, cross legged pillow seating - very tasty. They took us to another carpet place, which pissed us off at first as we had already done one and spent a bundle of money, but it was pleasant and actually pretty cool even for the second time. They brought us back to the hotel, again which sucked and we had a day to ourselves the next day to see Kusadasi.

Kusadasi was ok, some cool sights, but we should have gone to Cappodocia instead. Return flight to Istanbul, free day there - again at Art City, we love Istanbul!. city of sultans was everywhere that they said they would be and made everything happen. I just should have done my hotel homework for Kusadasi - never let anyone decide that for you - but everything else was impressive, we felt like we got a good deal all around. One piece of advice, go outside Sultan Ahmet. That place is like Disney World, I consistently have better Turkish food here in NY. Go outside the touristy heart to a place that actually has and incentive to generate repeat business and you will be much happier.

Thank you COS - especially EREN and Ozgur for a great honeymoon (Meaghan says hi, too)!!!! I'm writing this now that I've received my expensive carpet, just making sure you delivered and I'm pleased to say that you did!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
19 Thank Chris W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Beach, California
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Great experience in Istanbul!!!”
Reviewed October 10, 2012

My friend and I did 4 days package in Istanbul with City of Sultans. We had a great time, the company exceeded our expectations. Eren Bolek our guide was very knowledgeable & fun we got to see all the important sites with no lines. He also share with us the information you need to purchase the right goods from the right vendors at the Grand Baazar and the Spice Market. Lunch was fantastic and thank you for accommodating our special request.The Bosphorus Cruise, through the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia and the
Beylerbeyi Palace was fantastic. Another important fact is that the group is small and personalized. The transportation was outstanding, always was there on time waiting for us. I have really recommend City of Sultans. I cant wait to go back and tour the other magnificent sites in Turkey. Thank you all for the extraordinary experience!!! Alicia Sevilla.

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
29 Thank AliciaSevilla12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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