Private Backstreet Walks
Discover the hidden gems of Istanbul, see its local hideaways, get a feel for the city on foot, and best of all, hear stories from your guide to make it all come alive. Book one of our intimate and fun private walking tours, a great option for those looking to experience the city from a local perspective. Walking around the neighborhoods of Istanbul with your insightful private guide will allow you to connect with the unique character of the city’s different districts, and visit the special places that give them history and personality.
These private walking explorations can be adapted to be more or less active, depending on your preference and ability level. All walking tours are around 3 to 4 hours in duration. Generally, entrances to museums and sights are not included, but you can always choose to add this on to your tour (for an additional cost) if desired. With your guide leading the way, you can make use of public transportation where necessary (public transport fee is included).
Our minimum walking tour program is:
3-hour customizable city tour with a local guide: $69 per person (minimum of 2 people)
Please note that all private tours are conducted by a professional, English-speaking guide (or in any language required, by special request). You can add on airport transfers, hotel stays and/or longer city tours to the minimum basic option above. For these walking tours, a minimum advance reservation of 48 hours is kindly required.
Private tour price includes:
- Licensed, professional, English-speaking guide for 3-4 hours
- Daily public transport card per person
- One half-liter bottled water per person
- Map of the route
Private tour price excludes:
- Entrance fees to museums and sites
- Meals and drinks
Taksim, Çukurcuma and Cihangir
Get a taste of Taksim with your private guide, as you walk around this busy neighborhood at the heart of Istanbul. There are many foreign consulates in the area, some located along the famous Istiklal Avenue that stretches from Taksim Square to the beginning of the tunnel going down to the seaside. On this wide shopping street you will find the iconic red tram and many well-known brands, restaurants, stores and cultural centers. Notable sights include St. Antuan Church, Galatasaray High School, the Tom Tom district, Çiçek Pasaji and the street of fish and produce markets leading to Nevizade, the area of bars and restaurants. You will also walk through a very special part of Taksim known as Çukurcuma, with its many antique and curiosity shops, including the Museum of Innocence, immortalized in a novel by Nobel-laureate Orhan Pamuk. Finally, see Cihangir, a neighborhood once favored by expats, where you could sample börek pastries at Savoy Pastanesi and then have an excellent view out over the Bosphorus from the mosque.
Galata, Karaköy and Taksim
This historical and modern walking tour takes you through three of Istanbul’s most popular neighborhoods. As the landscape of the city is ever-changing, what once was a hub for nightlife and entertainment has become a quieter district, yet a steady and relentless example of Istanbul’s culture with glimpses into the city’s historic glory. Here you will find the grand Pera Palace Hotel, along with the Pera Museum, and Galata Mevlevihanesi (showcasing the famous whirling dervishes). Continue down the street lined with musical instrument shops to reach Galata Tower. You may wish to stop here for a climb up the tower and a fantastic birds’ eye view of the city. Arrive in the waterfront neighborhood of Karaköy, once an area for sellers of pragmatic nuts-and-bolts-type goods that has developed into a trendy and artistic spot for sipping coffee and browsing the latest. You can also make a stop at the famous baklava shop Güllüoğlü to see and perhaps sample their superlative sweets. Walk along the Fransiz Geçidi (French Passage) and the surrounding streets. Finally, ride back up to Istiklal on the historic Tünel funicular.
Kadıköy, Moda and Bağdat Avenue
Explore some highlights of Istanbul’s Asian side, generally less-visited by tourists. It’s a pleasure to travel there, as you cross the Bosphorus on a convenient public ferry with your private guide. Walk the streets of Kadıköy to see its beautifully-arranged produce stalls, fish market and specialty shops selling honey and preserves, olives, teas and herbs, fresh meat, fresh bread, prepared foods and natural products. Also nearby is the illustrious Çiya Sofrası, one of the best places to eat in Istanbul, serving traditional cuisine. Continue on with a walk through Moda, an artistic and hip neighborhood with a calm vibe that is a real retreat from the normally chaotic areas of the city. There are many shops, nice buildings and some street art for your guide to point out. By public transport you can then reach Bağdat Caddesi, one of the top shopping streets in the city - you could say it’s Istanbul’s Champs-Élysées, where locals might go to see and be seen. Other notable stops are Moda Yacht Club, the coastal recreational park and Kalamış Marina, which has top-quality establishments like Divan Brasserie, Develi Kebab and fish restaurants.
Old City: Sultanahmet and Grand Bazaar
Discover the historical peninsula of Istanbul, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sultanahmet is a grand exhibit of the city’s glorious past. Here in the renowned and bustling area that literally calls out to tourists, you can see the magnificent Hagia Sophia that stands facing the Blue Mosque (which you can go inside). A neighborhood designed for the tourist, yet a spectacle you can’t miss. Colorful shops selling carpets, lanterns and painted ceramics, as well as charming tea gardens and street food vendors. Dive into the Grand Bazaar to see a neverending display of wares, and if something catches your eye, you must try your hand at bargaining. Some other noteworthy places we’ll see in this district include: the Little Hagia Sophia (formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus), Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, and the outdoor Hippodrome.
Grand Bazaar, Spice Market and Karaköy
This route takes you from the historical peninsula and across into the modern, hip neighborhood of Karaköy. First you might find some deals in the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar, with vendors selling everything from silver to carpets to textiles and books. Then walk down through some interesting streets to reach the Spice Market in the port area of Eminönü. An explosion of colorful sights and sounds, this is one of the beloved markets in Istanbul, and you might enjoy sampling some Turkish delight and purchasing some exotic spices to add to your home collection. Continue over Galata Bridge to come to Karaköy, another favorite spot in the city. If you like cafes and trendy boutiques, this neighborhood is for you. Of special note is the Fransiz Geçidi (French Passage) and the surrounding streets. You might stop at the most well-known baklava joint in the city, going by the name of Güllüoğlu, and also next door is a wonderful gourmet shop. Nearby Karaköy is the beautiful Kılıç Ali Paşa hamam and the Istanbul Modern museum.