We chose to hit the ground running on our first day in Instanbul and were collected from our hotel about 8.30 for a full day tour. We wanted to use this as an orientation to the city and we were not disappointed. Aylef, our guide was helpful and knowledgeable - she answered our many questions, and gave us great background into life in the city.
We were a small group, (six from memory) we started the day heading up to Pierre Loti cafe for a view of the city, then a Bosphorus boat ride, pointing out the sights. We then visited the spice bazaar, a quick visit to Rustem Pasha Mosque (they were closing for prayers, so we went back on our own later). This mosque was a favourite of our guide, due to its smaller size and beautiful authentic iznik tiles - so we made a point of visiting later.
We stopped for lunch, which was very nice, at a quirky little restarant and, refuelled, went on to Sultanamet area for the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Hippdrome.
All in all, it was nicely paced, easy walking, and we had ample time at each location to look around by ourselves, ask questions etc. Toilet opportunities were available - make sure you have some small coins in case you have to pay (well worth it - having tried the free one on the ferry)
Exactly what we were looking for, an informative tour which gave us the information needed to strike out on our own later on.
Having the benefit of a local guide is invaluable, as they can impart their own particular preferences and experiences, fleshing out the knowledge you gain.
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