People coming to Istanbul for the first time often think it’s an overwhelming city. It’s not only a crowded place, it also has a lot to offer and you’ll have to make make some choices about what you want to see. If you don’t have much time, but do want to experience at least all the most popular tourist attraction of Istanbul, it might be a good idea to book a guided tour. In that way you don’t loose time looking for all the different places and at the same time you learn more about them than you normally would, visiting them by yourself. If you don’t have a big budget but do want to go on a pleasant and informative tour, Backpackers Travel‘s Old Istanbul Walking Tours might be something for you. Wizard Istanbul joined one of their tours to be able to tell you what they’re all about.

Old Istanbul  Tour - Topkapi Palace

Our Guide, Dilek, sharing details about the Ottoman Empire and Topkapi Palace

Old Istanbul Walking Tour review

Your İstanbul Wizard Simone Pekelsma joined one of Backpackers Travel’s Old Istanbul full-day walking tours on Thursday 1 September 2011. Everyone was gathered at the agency’s office at around 9 o’clock in the morning, where we jointly left for the first stop. The group was very mixed and international, consisting of people from the United States, Brazil, Australia and Peru. On the bus, Dilek, a young and friendly Turkish guide talked us through the busy schedule for the day: Topkapı Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome in the morning, and Hagia Sophia Museum, the Basilica Cystern and the Grand Bazaar in the afternoon. We would spend most time at Topkapı Palace though, about 2-3 hours.

While walking around the historical peninsula, Dilek turned out to be a nice guide who didn’t only share information about the past of all the historical sights, but also about contemporary Turkish culture and society. We got to know more about a wide range of subjects, such as popular Turkish TV series, current political issues and intercultural relationships. The atmosphere among members of the group was very easy going as well. People exchanged life- and travel stories, travel tips and funny anecdotes from around the globe. The tour therefore was not only informative, but also a social event that allowed one to meet new people and enjoy other people’s stories.

What can you expect?

Backpackers Travel’s Old Istanbul Walking Tour provides a good overview of the major Ottoman and Byzantine sights on the historical peninsula, such as the Hagia Sophia Museum, Topkapı Palace and the Blue Mosque. The agency only works with licensed, salaried guides who are happy to share their knowledge about Istanbul with you. Groups are not very large, generally between 8 and 12 people. Tours are attended by all age groups, many different nationalities and both couples and people travelling alone. The general atmosphere is calm and relaxed and there are many opportunities to ask questions or stroll around by yourself for a while. Don’t expect seas of time to see all the different sights though. The tour really provides an overview of the main highlights.

Old Istanbul Tour - Basilica Cistern


Backpackers Travel has tours every day. You can go on both half-day tours (morning or afternoon) or full-day tours. For both tours, you will be picked up from your hotel. For the morning or full-day tours you are picked up at around 8:30, for the afternoon ones around 13:00. When you’re selecting your tour date, bear in mind that not all attractions are open every day. Hagia Sophia is closed on Mondays, Grand Bazaar on Sundays and Topkapi Palace on Tuesdays, so if you really want to see those, you’d better to decide which day to have a tour up to that.


Backpackers Travel’s walking tours are relatively cheap. A half-day tour costs 30 Euros –  including all entrance fees, except the Harem section of  Topkapı Palace. The Harem section is optional. Free time will be provided during the tour to visit it. Those who don’t want to visit the Harem can spend more time at other parts of the palace or simply enjoy a glass of tea in the garden. A full day tour is 5o Euros, including all entrance fees, except the Harem section of  Topkapı Palace.
The pick up service at your hotel is included in the price.

Old Istanbul Tour - Hagia Sophia

Advantages of Backpackers Travel’s Old Istanbul Walking Tour

  • Tours available every day of the week
  • Relatively low prices
  • Friendly licensed guides
  • Nice, easy going atmosphere during the tour
  • Discover most of Sultanahmet in only 1 day

More information & booking

You can find more information about Backpackers Travel‘s Old Istanbul Walking Tours on their website. Here you’ll also find more details about their other guided tours around Istanbul and Turkey. You may also send them an email, give them a call +90 (0)212 638 63 43 or visit their office in Sultanahmet: Akbıyık Caddesi No: 30.

Wizardtip: Check review of Backpackers Travel’s “Istanbul Airport Transfer Services