The Milion, or
Milestone, from which
all distances were
measured in the
excellent value-for-money half-
and full-day small-group guided
walking tours of Istanbul's major historical
It may just be the most efficient
way to see all the main sights in
a single day (including
even the Grand
The full-day tour is actually two
half-day tours. You can choose to take
the morning tour, the afternoon tour,
or both tours for a full day of sightseeing.
The morning tour meets
at the Efendi
Caddesi No. 30 in Sultanahmet (map)
at 08:30 am and visits Topkapı
and the Hippodrome.
You're picked up from your hotel around
13:00 (1 pm) for the
afternoon tour, which
begins with a visit to Ayasofya
(Hagia Sophia), followed by visits
to the Milion
stone, the Basilica
(Sunken Palace) Cistern (Yerebatan
Sarnıçı), Ottoman imperial
tombs on Divan
the Çemberlitaş hamam (Turkish
and the Grand
Çarşı). The tour ends around 16:30
(4:30 pm) in the Grand Bazaar, allowing
you time to wander and/or shop on your
Compare that list of sights to any
other walking tour, and you'll see
Now here's the kicker: the full-day
tour fee is only €50 (50
euros) per person, admission
fees included. As the admission
fees add up to about €25,
that means you're getting a full day's
tour of Istanbul's major sights for
only €25. (Entrance
to the Topkapı
Palace Harem is optional,
so the extra admission fee for the
Harem section is not included in these
Lunch is not included.
This is an advantage: you get to choose
where you have lunch, and how much
you spend, from a quick snack, sandwich
or picnic to a full meal.
If you want to participate for only
half a day (morning or afternoon),
you pay only €30,
and admission fees are included,
so the full-day tour really is a bargain.
For lunch, the tour
stops at Sultanahmet's
in Hippie days as the Pudding
The Lâle is
a good choice as it is right at the
eastern end of the Hippodrome,
much nicer than in its Hippie days,
with a good selection of ready foods
(you can choose just by pointing at
what looks good), free
soft drinks, wine and beer.
You choose whatever
you'd like for lunch, or
you can go somewhere else,
or you can bring your own picnic and
have it while sitting on a bench in
the Hippodrome—your choice.
Let me emphasize this: it's not just
that you pay less with
Efendi than on many other guided
tours, it's that you see more: more
sights and more time to see them.
For example, many
tours don't allow time for you to explore
the Harem at Topkapı
Palace; and some—especially
those that take you to the Grand
tour stops at particular shops. The
entire tour group goes into the shop,
sits for an hour or so, inspects the
goods, and the
tour operator is paid a commission on
purchases made by tour participants.
Nothing wrong with this, except that
prices may be higher and...you're
sitting in a shop rather than seeing
the sights! Why
pay a tour company a fee for shopping?
You can go shopping on your own.
You don't need to pay a tour company
to park you in a shop for an hour. More...
The good news is that on the Efendi
Travel walking tour there
is no forced shopping stop.
Your Efendi guide will make suggestions
if you ask, and can introduce you to
good shops if you like, but
you won't be parked in a shop for an
hour when you should be out seeing
Travel 's Old
Istanbul Guided Walking Tour operates
every day, though you must keep
in mind that Hagia
Sophia is closed
Palace is closed on Tuesday.
If you take the tour on Monday or Tuesday, Efendi
you to re-join the tour on a following
day to visit the place you missed (Hagia
Sophia or Topkapı Palace) at no additional
When you contact Efendi
Travel to reserve your
place on the tour, mention
TTP. Here's why.
—by Tom Brosnahan