10. An experienced, knowledgeable guide will get you to the must-see highlights of Istanbul in the most efficient way. If you have a short time in Istanbul (we had one-day cruise port stay), having a good guide is invaluable.
09. Traffic is very heavy during the day. If you take a large bus tour, you'll waste too much time sitting in traffic! Small groups in vans or mini-buses are the way to go. Private tours are the most flexible.
08. Your guide will try to take you to the most popular attractions first to avoid the congestion.
07. Many attractions are walking distance of each other (Hagia Sofia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Blue Mosque), so be prepared to do a bit of walking and don't leave anything in the tour vehicle you may need while walking around.
06. Your guide can get the entry tickets for you when needed so you can skip the lines.
05. Be aware that choosing a tour by lowest price does not always equate to better value or best experience. Read the reviews and try to find a tour company with overall excellent reviews and tour guides that you would feel comfortable with. Then contact your favorites for pricing.
04.You may want to ask whether you are expected to visit one or more "demonstrations or shows" which are actually sales presentations (for usually rugs or leather goods where the tour operator gets kick-backs). They actually maybe fun to see for some, but you should have the option to skip it if you want more time at the major attractions and the Grand Bazaar or Spice Market.
03. We were fortunate to book early and got Aykut Ayik as our guide. He is the main person at istanbullocalguides.com. He was an excellent guide; knowledgeable, passionate, trustworthy, funny, and likes to have good time during his tours so that you can't help but have a great time yourselves. In reading the reviews, it appears the other guides he works with are excellent too. Highly recommended. One of the best tours - ever...
02. If Aykut tells the shoppers in your group: "So sorry, the Grand Bazaar is closed for renovations....... No...Really!!!!!" Don't believe him for a second. He'll later admit the Grand Bazaar is always open (during their business hours).
AND THE NUMBER ONE TIP WHEN VISITING ISTANBUL...
01. If you can, book a tour with Aykut or one of his guides, relax, and a have great time. And If you actually meet Aykut, ask him about his past Hollywood celebrity client ;-)
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