Cultural & History Tours in Istanbul

8 tours by 5 locals

Customer feedback about Cultural & History Tours in Istanbul

Rating 5.0 based on 20 reviews

Great Experience
I am a long-time fan of the poet, Rumi, so this authentic experience of seeing a whirling dervish ceremony was one of the top highlights of my trip to Istanbul. The educational session beforehand was excellent and our guide was well organized and thoughtful. I booked this excursion two weeks in advance from the states, and the guide answered all of my emails/questions promptly beforehand. I highly recommend this event for anyone who is interested in learning more about the true history of the whirling dervish community.
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
Outstanding Private Guide Service
We planned a visit to Turkey and Greece with another couple. We did a lot of online research to come up with a short list of well regarded private guides who are knowledgeable about the biblical sites in each country. Ertunga Ecir responded to our inquiries with detailed recommendations, based on his extensive experience leading tours to Istanbul and the "seven churches of Revelation". No choosing from Tour 1, Tour 2 or Tour 3.

Ertunga put together an outstanding 10-day itinerary. We were constantly impressed by his knowledge and by his love of the country. He was also quite flexible and creative as our interests were piqued, or our energy was flagging...

I highly recommend Ertunga for tour planning and as a private tour guide.
4-Day Private Biblical Tour of the Seven Churches of Revelation
Oh, how I loved my trip to Turkey!
I have always wanted to visit Turkey, and feel so blessed that a friend of a friend gave me Ertunga’s name. I am not a large-group-tour-bus person, so was thrilled to find someone who could be my private guide for an affordable price. Ertunga was great to work with from the beginning. He responded to my emails within 24 hours, came up with a wonderful itinerary which I was able to tweak, was flexible with my dates, and willing to answer any and all questions.

The big question everyone wants to know: is Turkey safe? For the 2 and 1/2 weeks that I was there, I never felt in the slightest danger. (I feel in some ways our country is much more dangerous as 96 Americans die from gun violence every day. And we think Turkey may be unsafe?) The people were warm, friendly, hospitable, and always willing to help.

We visited biblical ruins, Roman ruins, Greek ruins, Hittite ruins, Lycian ruins, Byzantine, and Ottman buildings, bascillicas, and mosques. We viewed a sunken city on the Mediterranean through the glass bottom of a boat. We saw whirling dervishes. I had a Turkish bath. I’ve always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride – Ertunga arranged one for me in Cappadocia over volcanic “fairy chimneys”. Istanbul lives up to it’s fabulous reputation. We traveled 2,500 miles together, which allowed me to ask all kinds of questions about his amazing country — about it’s history, culture, and people. Turkish guides are extremely well qualified, and Ertunga was able to answer everything. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I am so grateful that I found him and his travel company.
4-Day Private Biblical Tour of the Seven Churches of Revelation
An authentic experience – Recommend!
I was skeptical of going to see the Whirling Dervishes in Istanbul because it sounded very touristy, but this experience was very authentic. Before the "performance" we got to see a real Sufi ceremony and the experience was so interesting. Highly recommend for those interested in a more authentic cultural experience.
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
Resourceful guide, great experience
Duygu Ozay, my guide, went the extra mile in researching exactly what I wanted to see, and instead of the regulation tour took me to the Grand Bazaar to look at textiles, embroiders, and traditional clothing. She researched the best places, asking friends who worked in this area for advice, and took me to shops inside the Bazaar which I would never have found for myself. Not only that, she is personable, has great English, and has a good eye for Turkish antiques and folk art. She also taught me how to use the tram!
Istanbul Artisan Walking Tour
Great tour with great insights
We had the guided tour which was great. Necla showed us the hidden Istanbul. Would definitely recommend this!
Beyoğlu Orientation Walking Tour, Istanbul
Great authentic experience. Highly recommended!
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
Personalised bliss
Necla was a very intuitive guide on our day out and about in Istanbul. She communicated with us prior to the day to ask of our interests,preferences, diet specifications etc and planned the day accordingly. Her insights were fascinating and it was a real pleasure to experience life here through her eyes. She provided further tips on things of interest to do and see and we could highly recommend this day that was well considered and enjoyed.
Istanbul Private Foodie Tour
Excellent experience!
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
We found places we didn't know existed!
Necla was a very good guide. She was knowledgeable, interesting and friendly without being too much of any of these things!
She took us to places we would never have found without her - and was canny enough to order half portions so we were able to try lots of different delicious foods without exploding! She also adapted the tour to suit our requirements, including a Turkish Delight shop, and an authentic Turkish coffee cafe. She even helped us bargain in the Grand Bazaar!
I would thoroughly recommend this tour - although go with an empty stomach.
Istanbul Private Foodie Tour
5 Stars :)
Our guide was very sweet and gave us a great tour through Istanbul. She also gave us tips for things to see, where to buy the best Turkish delight and beautiful small vintage shops. We would definitely recommend her for anyone who wants to see Istanbul like a local.
Beyoğlu Orientation Walking Tour, Istanbul
There are many sights to see in Istanbul of course but if you want to have a more personal encounter with its citizens, I’d highly recommend the Artisans tour with Duygu in the Beyolglu District. It was a refreshing change from the tourist venues as we had a chance to have conversations (with Duygu frequently acting as our translator) with Turks who don’t often interact with Americans. They are involved in trades which are vanishing. Some had been in their businesses for over 50 years and were eager to tell us how they went about their work and their history in the area. (One seemed so interested in talking to us that he bought us tea, which was promptly put before us!) Duygu seemed to have a special rapport with them so it was a very enjoyable time.

Duygu was an amazing resource not only in telling us about the artisans but answered questions about the city, its history and what is current in Turkish politics. She is friendly, and has a warm, thoughtful way of talking. It was so great to spend some time talking to her about her experience in Istanbul. She made the tour quite special. I was resistant to spend so much money on a tour but it was money well spent!
Istanbul Artisan Walking Tour
My experience of our trip to Istanbul was transformed by this tour with Duygu. At one point, when we were spending a lot of time at one spot, I expressed concern about that, and Duygu said not to worry, that we would finish the tour no matter how long it took. I didn't really time the tour after that, but I can say that we did finish the tour, and we were relaxed and enjoyed every artisan we visited.
There was no mention of us buying anything anywhere. I did buy a beautiful small glass vase at the glass making place, which was not expensive. The man there did a demonstration for us, which happened at several places. Sometimes we talked about the political situation as well as the crafts they were doing. All of them were glad to see Duygu and us, and they were friendly and welcoming, including one place where the man treated us with tea.
We visited a man restoring tin interiors to copper bowls for a restaurant, a glass craftsman, father and son wood carvers, a woman who makes a Turkish musical intrument, a metal artist, a man who gold leafs frames and furniture, and an architect who is restoring a large, interior court area and former orphanage to be a ... we'll have to go back to see! He showed us many things including beautiful architectural features that he has collected over the years. There were three similar things he was not sure of, and I was able to identify them as parts of stations of the cross from a Catholic church. That was a special encounter for me, and there were several such.
The last artisan we visited was not in when we got there, so while we waited for him to return to his shop, we went for lunch at a nearby restaurant that Duygu knew. It was excellent. We returned there a few days later and had another delicious meal.
Duygu is quite knowledgeable and informative. She is a gentle spirit who is well received by the people we visited. She freely shares her knowledge and gladly answered all our questions about the city.
If I return to Istanbul, I might do this same tour again. I would certainly do another tour with Duygu.
Istanbul Artisan Walking Tour
We met our tour guide Necla right on time who proceeded to ask us a few key questions and, based on the our interest and preferences, designed a 3 hour walking tour of Beyoglu District.

We wanted to acquaint ourselves with how contemporary Turks live, eat and relax in this historic yet very residential neighborhood. She led us through backstreets, covered passage ways, a local fish market, the city's oldest Turkish Delight purveyor, a subterranean wine bar, and a 16th C caravan sarayi designed by a Genoese that currently serves as a workshop coop for repairmen, machinists etc. We received great recs for bfast, lunch, and dinner. Nothing touristy and extremely reasonable. Hands down, one of the best eating out experiences we had was at Zubehir Ocakbasi. Can't thank Necla enough for her patience, kindness, and hospitality. Our vacation would not have been the same without it.
Beyoğlu Orientation Walking Tour, Istanbul
Four of us were given a tour by Necla thru the Beyoglu District (we were based right next to the Galata Tower) and had a delightful time with her. She has a wonderful sense of humor, clearly knows the out-of-the-way places for food and shopping, and enjoys showing off 'back street' Istanbul. She showed us a subterranean wire bar which we of course returned to the next day - great selections. Recommended Subehir Ocakbasi for dinner - off-the-chart delicious and great fun. We also had a terrific breakfast a few days later at the restaurant where she worked and plan to stay in touch. Highly recommended.
Beyoğlu Orientation Walking Tour, Istanbul
We spent a fantastic afternoon with Necla who showed my husband, his parents and myself all around the the Beyoglu area. Necla had so much knowledge about the area and her English was excellent. We were staying in Beyoglu and did the tour on our very first afternoon and were so glad that we did as we felt less like tourists and more like locals after this! Istanbul is such an enormous city it was lovely to feel like we could confidently walk around and knew where were the safer areas and which to avoid at night. Necla took us to a range of shops selling ceramics and other homewares as we requested and showed us many restaurants we could return to later. Necla even showed us how to buy a travel card so we could easily travel around using the tram later during our week in Istanbul. We did the 3 hour Orientation to Beyoglu tour and did a lot of walking which we enjoyed. The tours can be tailored depending on your level of fitness. I would highly recommend this tour if you are staying locally, thank you Necla!
Beyoğlu Orientation Walking Tour, Istanbul
We took the tour for Sufi ceremony at Silivrikapi. It was perfect, exactly as I expected. When we book, we were afraid that it could be a touristic attraction but it was not. We were among real followers and not tourists. Thank you Hakan and thank you Erol.
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
Had a wonderful experience at the Dervish Ceremony which was authentic and unlike others that are more catered for tourists. Excellent service by our contact point, Mr Hakan, who's very engaging and friendly! Really enjoyed our conversations with him sharing on football and Istanbul. Thank you Hakan and Istanbul Life! We truly enjoyed ourselves!
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul Every Thursday
What a fantastic way to start our Istanbul adventure, it set up our eating and cultural experience for the rest of our stay. Traveling and meeting people and learning about food and culture is our idea of an amazing holiday. We were looking for an authentic food experience and we got so much more.
Duygu loves her home and its rich culture and it was truly a pleasure to meet her. She gave us an authentic experience that enriched our lives. We were visiting Turkey for ANZAC day and when we told Duygu why we were visiting she expressed her true understanding, and said that she really admired us for honouring our ancestors. This made us feel completely welcome and established a beautiful connection right from the beginning. She went out of her way to give us the best tour possible to meet our needs and changed the tour to suit our personal taste.
We ate amazing food from artesian food producers, went to trendy and traditional cafes and modern and traditional restaurants. This experience set up our stay and we returned to nearly all of the establishments we visited and had a lasting food experience.
Make this the first thing you do in Istanbul, you will not regret it.
Istanbul Private Foodie Tour
My two travel companions and I have been lucky enough to have visited Turkey before and so wanted to try a bit of an off the beaten track look into Istanbul and the food that really inspires the locals... we couldn't have selected a better company or guide - knowledgeable, insightful and happy to accommodate our requests. We found awesome neighborhoods, definite spots to return too, great places to shop and a number of haunts that are frequented by the current crop of cool-kids, but that we felt welcome in regardless. All-in-all, we should have done this tour at the beginning of the trip so that we could have made use of all of our new found knowledge. If you have any doubts - this was worth every cent twice over.
Istanbul Private Foodie Tour

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