About Istanbul

Magical Istanbul - 3,000 years old, spanning two continents and a crucible of cultures where east meets west - is a key Turkish homeport for cruise ships, and even those 'just visiting' usually spend a night as this wonderful city offers so much to see and do.

If this is your first visit, a tour of the main sights is a good introduction to the city's treasures, which include the world-famous Blue Mosque and the equally impressive mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, the vibrant old city, the Grand Bazaar (a warren of narrow streets containing more than 4,000 shops, stalls, restaurants and artisans' workshops) and the Topkapi Palace, famed for its jewels but which also has spectacular gardens.

Also worth seeing is the ancient Hippodrome - now an open-air museum. And a boat trip across the Bosphorus to view the minarets and grand palaces of the city's skyline is an unforgettable experience.


Shore excursions in Istanbul

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

An Evening at the Kervansaray

Activity lowMeal included

Duration: 3½ hours

Enjoy a fun-filled evening with dinner and Turkish entertainment.

Journey to one of Istanbul’s popular evening venues, the ‘Kervansaray’ where a traditional dinner and a vibrant show awaits you.

After being shown to your seat, sit back, relax and enjoy a delicious meal of Turkish cuisine accompanied by wine or beer, as a musical treat unfolds before you.

The floor show features musicians, belly dancers and folk group performances from different regions of Turkey. You’ll soon be tapping your feet and clapping your hands to the beat and may even be tempted to join in the fun on the dance floor!

This dazzling show, made up of a variety of artists, will certainly provide you with an evening to remember.

During your journey back to the ship, you’ll have a wonderful view of the city lit up at night.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. This tour is non-exclusive to P&O Cruises. It involves minimal walking however there are 15 steps to negotiate. Two glasses of wine, beer or soft drink are included in the cost of the tour, any additional beverages are at passengers own expense. Children under the age of 10 may not participate.

Bazaars of Istanbul

Activity mediumShopping

Duration: 4 hours

A great opportunity to visit the most famous and unique bazaars of Istanbul.

After a short panoramic drive to the old city, your first visit will be the Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar. Built in 1663, the Spice Market is still the second-largest covered bazaar in Turkey and it is still the best place to buy Turkish delight, dried fruit, exotic herbs and all the spices of the East including cardamom, turmeric, saffron, rose water and much more.

Continue onto the Grand Bazaar, where your guide will escort you to a store just outside the Grand Bazaar, which will be your rendezvous point after experiencing the marketplace. Take in a carpet-weaving demonstration and explore on your own, where the shops are organised by the wares they sell. The narrow alleys are filled with shops offering jewellery, carpets, leather ware, copper goods and more. Bargaining is expected and half the fun.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. Please be advised that the surfaces are cobblestoned and uneven in places at both Bazaars.

Best of Istanbul

Activity highMeal includedShopping

Duration: 8½ hours

Explore the highlights of the 2010 European Capital of Culture with this magnificent tour including lunch.

A scenic drive takes you across the Galata Bridge to the heart of the old city arriving at the ancient Hippodrome. This large, open square was once the site of a Roman circus that rivalled the Colosseum in size and held a quarter of a million spectators. The next stop is the world famous Blue Mosque, where you can marvel at the 20,000 blue-glazed tiles that decorate the interior and the 6 graceful minarets that reach skyward.

A short walk takes you on to the church of St Sophia, which is more than 1000 years older than the Blue Mosque. Highlights include a number of glistening mosaics dating from the Byzantine period.

Topkapi Palace Museum is a walled complex that surrounds the Bosphorus. Explore the harem section before enjoying lunch at a local hotel.

Prior to visiting the Grand Bazaar, you’ll have the opportunity to attend a carpet-weaving demonstration to learn about this Turkish art. Afterwards, explore the narrow alleys of the famous Grand Bazaar filled with shops offering souvenirs, jewellery, ceramics and much more.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There are several steps to negotiate throughout the tour and due to the popularity of the venues, they can become crowded. Shoulders and knees must be covered in the mosques and shoes must be removed, ladies must also wear a head covering. Professional and flash photography are not permitted. Please be aware of the ongoing restoration of the Topkapi Palace, which may result in some exhibits being closed or some artefacts being on temporary loan to other museums. Due to the size and nature of the Bazaar you will not be accompanied by your guide inside.

Bosphorus Cruise

Activity lowRefreshments included

Duration: 3 hours

This relaxing tour features a boat cruise along the Bosphorus, during which you’ll discover the history of this fascinating city.

A short scenic drive will take you to your boat, to sail on the famous Bosphorus waterway, from where there are excellent views of the Asiatic and European shore. Magnificent 19th century palaces are dotted along both banks and, as you cruise along, you’ll enjoy views of the Dolmabahçe Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the few remaining towers of the Anadolu Hisar.

Passing beneath the great Bosphorus Bridge, you are rewarded with the sight of curving domes and rising minarets, wrapped in a hazy veil. Istanbul has one of the loveliest skylines in the world and is without doubt a city built to be appreciated from the water.

A refreshment of coffee, tea or a local soft drink will be served during your cruise.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and boat. There are approximately 12 steps steps to negotiate to embark and disembark the boat.

Bosphorus Cruise and Dinner

Activity lowMeal included

Duration: 3½ hours

Enjoy an evening dining out on the shores of the Bosphorus, viewing the magnificent city of Istanbul by night.

After a short transfer by coach you’ll board a motorboat for your leisurely evening cruise. Sit back and relax on board your boat as the beautiful shores of the Bosphorus strait with its illuminated monuments and skyline come into view. Your local guide will enlighten you with the history of the Bosphorus, the palaces, fortress and the old pavilions from Ottoman times whilst you enjoy your dinner.

You’ll have the opportunity to view both sides of this marvellous city, on the Asian side, view the many palaces, old mansions, and modern villas. Watch for the first intercontinental bridge that connects Europe and Asia. On this side view the stunning Beylerbeyi Palace, one of the finest summer palaces of the Sultans.

Your boat will turn around at Tarabya fishing village and cruise back along the European side. Pass by Dolmabahce Palace, formerly an opulent 19th-century Rococo palace, and now a museum.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and boat. There are approximately 12 steps to negotiate to embark and disembark the boat. 2 glasses of wine are included with dinner; any further drinks must be purchased.

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