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Guide in Istanbul?

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Sep 10th, 2013, 09:25 AM
  #1
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Guide in Istanbul?

My husband and I plan to be in Istanbul from Oct. 14-18. It will be the last stop on our trip, as we're going to Cappadocia, Selcuk, and western Mediterranean first. I'm wondering if it would be helpful to have a guide for half day or all day on our first day in Istanbul. I don't think we need a guide to take us to major sights such as Topkapi, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia. I assume we can do those satisfactorily on our own. I'm thinking, though, it might helpful to have someone take us through the Grand Bazaar, familiarize us with transportation and other basic information to help us get along on our own, and also take us to areas we might miss on our own. I would appreciate any thoughts and recommendations. Thank you.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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Or a good guidebook will do. We liked the Rick Steves Istanbul as a guide book. It was quite comprehensive both for what to see and how to get around.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 11:12 AM
  #3
 
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Agree with Michael. We also used the Rick Steves guidebook, which we found especially helpful on the full day Bosphorus cruise. The tram system to get around Istanbul is actually quite easy. Getting lost in the Grand Bazaar is half the fun of exploring it! ENJOY!
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Sep 10th, 2013, 11:25 AM
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Another vote for Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook. He's got great walking tours laid out step-by-step (pun intended) for lots of parts of Istanbul. And you'll find out all you need to know about riding the tram (which currently costs 3TL per ride.)

BTW, one of our favorite sites was the Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificient. We visited it before going to the Blue Mosque and are so glad we did. It had MANY fewer visitors, so it gave us a good chance to see all the various parts of a mosque without the crowds. Don't miss it!
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Sep 10th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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www.turkeytravelplanner.com has a list of recommended private guides for Istanbul.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 05:12 PM
  #6
kja
 
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I don't think you need a guide unless you really want one. If the half dozen guidebooks I used when planning my trip, I found the Rough Guide most useful.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 08:00 PM
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We took the Hop On Hop Off bus in Istanbul on our first day there to give us a good overview of the city and we did do some stops along the way on that day. The remainder of our time in Istanbul we did on our own and I would agree with others that it is an very easy city to get around in, the public transportation system is easy to figure out and all you really need is a good guide book to provide you with options for walking tours. I love the comment from Debs about getting lost in the Grand Bazaar....if you see something you want to buy, go for it because you may not ever find that stall again!!! lol We are leading a tour of 44 students and adults next spring and one of our stops is Istanbul and the Grand Bazaar, I hope we don't lose anyone cause we may never find them again!!!!
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Sep 10th, 2013, 08:40 PM
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The only place I hired a guide was at Topkapi, and that was in great part becasue the guide gets priority for buying tickets so one does nto need to wait in line. There are "official" guides around the entrance who put together an ad hoc group of visitors speaking the same language.
Otherwise getting around Istanbul was pretty easy on public transport and the occasional taxi.
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Sep 10th, 2013, 09:06 PM
  #9
kja
 
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> The only place I hired a guide was at Topkapi, and that was in great part becasue the guide gets priority for buying tickets so one does nto need to wait in line.

Or, if I recall correctly, one can get a pass that gives you head-of-the-line entry to various sites within Istanbul. So what makes most sense probably depends on which sites you plan to visit.
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Sep 11th, 2013, 09:35 AM
  #10
 
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You dont need a guide. You can ask almost anyone to show you how to get the tokens for public transportation.... mainly the tram and the ferries.

For the Grand Bazaar - which has more than one entrance - unless you really spend a lot of time there - you can avoid getting lost. However, I'm sure you can lose yourself there if you are not careful. Depends on whether you are actually shopping or just checking out the experience. Same with Spice Market.



At the various palaces you can at least get recorded guides.

I took a public bus to the best of all museums, the Chora Museum.

I also took a boat to the Dolmabahce Palace and thought it was a wonder half-day tour.

I understand that if you can get to the Princes Island it is also quite wonderful. I hope to do that next time!

Many good Fodor tips if you search. have a great time. I just love Istanbul.
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Sep 11th, 2013, 01:53 PM
  #11
 
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cabovacation,
What boat did you take to Dolmabahce Palace? From where? Was it part of a bigger tour? Any details on company name and/or schedule?
We'll be there in a couple of weeks. Thanks
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Sep 11th, 2013, 06:11 PM
  #12
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Thank you, all! I guess we'll forget the guide and rely on guidebooks and ourselves. I appreciate the input very much!
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Sep 11th, 2013, 09:41 PM
  #13
kja
 
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> What boat did you take to Dolmabahce Palace? From where?

Should be covered in any decent guidebook.
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