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Basilica Cistern

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Basilica Cistern: Our most recommended tours and activities

Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Tour and Skip The Line with Guide

1. Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Tour and Skip The Line with Guide

Meet your guide in front of the exit gate of the Basilica Cistern, skip the long lines and visit the ancient water cistern built in 336. Admire the stunning architecture of this marvel of engineering on a guided highlights tour. After your tour, you can stay inside as long as you want and discover the Basilica Cistern at your own pace.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

2. Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi & Basilica Combo Ticket

After signing up for this experience, your name will be on the list for each of the monuments for 3 days. Be free to visit at the available times, gathering at the meeting points in front of the museums to skip the line with an authorized host. You can choose to visit all 3 museums in 1 day, or the three of them separately on different days. Once inside the museums, get tips on how to discover the museums in the best way. Afterward, you can stroll through the museums at your own pace as you listen to your audio guide app and explore for as long as you like. If you have any questions about the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Cisterna Basilica, or Istanbul in general, please do not hesitate to ask your host.

Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

3. Istanbul: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Guided Tour

Visit the Basilica Cistern, built in the 4th century and enlarged in 532 AD, used as water storage during Byzantine times. Listen to your guide as they explain the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology. Explore this cathedral-size cistern, built during the reign of Emperor Justinian I in 532 A.D. to supply water to the Great Palace. It stores up to 80,000 cubic meters of water, delivered via 20 kilometers of aqueducts from a reservoir near the Black Sea. Descend the fifty-two stone steps into the entrance of the cistern. The cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 meters, coated with a waterproofing mortar. Hear how the Basilica Cistern's water comes from the Eğrikapı Water Distribution Center in the Belgrade Forest and travels through the 971-meter-long Valens Aqueduct and the 115-meter-long Mağlova Aqueduct, built by the Emperor Justinian.

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

4. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private City Guided Tour

Discover the best of Istanbul on this 1, 2, or 3-day private tour that covers the major attractions, such as the Hagia Sophia Museum, the iconic Blue Mosque, the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, and the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. A few of the possible attraction you'll visit on your tour include: The Hagia Sophia, a great architectural beauty and an important monument during the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. For many centuries, this was the largest church in the world, and it still boasts the 4th largest dome after St. Paul's in London, St. Peter's in Rome, and the Duomo in Florence. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. The Blue Mosque, more officially known as the "Sultanahmet" Mosque has striking blue tiles give it its more common name and make it one of Istanbul’s most iconic attractions. Located close to Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque was considered the Supreme Imperial Mosque in Istanbul. Topkapi Palace, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. The former palace boasted a population of about 4,000 people at its peak and was home to 25 sultans over a period of 400 years. Located on a promontory overlooking the Golden Horn, it sits in tranquil gardens that provide shade from the blazing heat of the summer. Pop in to the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. The Hippodrome is the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Three monuments from the original building remain, including the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handcraft shops selling everything from handmade carpets to Turkish coffee, the atmosphere is electric, and it's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. The spice bazaar is located in Fatih. It's known as the Egyptian Market because during the Ottoman period, Egyptian exports were sold there. The Bosphorus is a narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Rumeli and Anadolu Fortresses are located at the narrowest point of Bosphorus. There are also magnificent Ottoman palaces and mosques along the Bosphorus. Keep an eye out for them. Built in the 19th century, Dolmabahce Palace was the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire and housed some of the last Ottoman Sultans. The palace site was created by filling in the small bay on the Bosphorus. This gave rise to its name — in Turkish, Dolma means "filled" or "stuffed," and bahce means "garden". Istiklal Street is brimming with life. There, you'll find a plethora of shops, restaurants, and bars, and from there, it's an interesting and scenic 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area. See this and more depending on which length tour option you select. Possible Itinerary for each day of the tour: Day 1: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, Hippodrome Day 2: Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal, Galata Tower Day 3: Suleymaniye Mosque, Chora Church, Fener/Balat Districts, Pierre Loti Hill

Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

5. Istanbul: Best of the City Private Full-Day Walking Tour

This private experience is the perfect introduction to Istanbul for first-time visitors. Enjoy a guided full-day tour to discover the best of the city. The tour can be fully customized to suit your needs, simply tell your guide what interests you the most.  Visit the historic Hippodrome, the exquisite Blue Mosque and the iconic Hagia Sophia. Experience the lavish lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultans with a tour of Topkapi Palace, or browse the colorful stalls of the Grand Bazaar. The choice is yours. Benefit from pickup and drop-off at your centrally-located hotel. With your private guide you’ll enjoy priority entrance to all the sights, so standing you won’t waste time standing in queues.

Istanbul: 3 Day Skip-the-Line Ticket to Main Attractions

6. Istanbul: 3 Day Skip-the-Line Ticket to Main Attractions

Enjoy hassle-free access to the main attractions of Istanbul. Get the most important information from a guide and benefit of an audio guide app. Meet your guide at the museums and get inside the fastest way. Inside each museum enjoy a 30 min. highlights tour with a local guide. After the tours and orientation tips stay inside the museums as long as you want and listen to the exciting stories and information in the included audio guide on your own smartphone. Saver Combo Ticket for Istanbul is valid for 3 Days: Your name will be on the list for 3 days. You can come to the meeting points at the available times and visit these top museums with your local guide. You can visit and experience all 3 museums and the Bosphorus cruise in one or more days. Hagia Sophia Meeting Times Daily at 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, and 3:00 PM. Fridays only at 10:00 AM Topkapi Palace Meeting Times Daily except Tuesdays at: 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM Basilica Cistern Meeting Times Daily at: 12:30 PM, 1:30 PM and 3:15 PM Bosphorus Cruise Departure Times: Daily at: 10:30, 12:45 PM, 2:45 PM and 4:45 PM

Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

7. Istanbul: 1, 2 or 3-Day Private Customizable Guided Tour

Explore Istanbul according to your own interests on a tailor-made sightseeing tour. Meet your guide at your hotel or port and work together to create an itinerary that suits you best, leaving you satisfied that you have seen all of Istanbul. On 1st day, marvel at monuments from the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, such as Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia and Byzantine Cistern. On 2nd day, take the public ferry to Bosphorus to see both Istanbul’s European and Asian sides. From here, visit Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Galata area and the Spice Market. On 3rd day, guide takes you on a walk through the streets of Fener-Balat neighboorhood. Enjoy a cable car ride and soak up views of Pierre Loti Hill, then visit Iron Church, and see the Suleymaniye Mosque. You can create your own itinerary with your tour guide on tour day, to have an idea, here you can see our suggested tour itineraries are below; Day 1 - Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome Square, Byzantine Cistern, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Irene Church, Sogukcesme Street, Grand Bazaar Day 2 - Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Taksim Square, Istiklal Street, Cicek Passage, Galata Tower (from outside) Day 3 - Suleymaniye Mosque, Fener and Balat Districts, St. Stephen Church (Iron Church), Pierre Lotti Panoramic Hill, Rahmi Koc Museum (or alternative options)

Istanbul: 7 Hours Highlights Tour Include Entry Fees&Lunch

8. Istanbul: 7 Hours Highlights Tour Include Entry Fees&Lunch

This is a fully guided tour inside the Topkapi palace ( Ottoman Parliament House for 400 years ), The Harem, Aya Irine Church museum, Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Konstantine Forum and Grand Bazaar. Along the way, stop to hear the stories of the Roman Hippodrome (including the Egyptian Obelisk and Serpent Column German Fountain), mausoleums of Ottoman sultans and Constantine’s forum where it is believed the True Cross is buried under. Take a break for lunch and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine in a friendly setting at a non-touristy restaurant where your gourmet guide will choose some memorable food for you. 

Istanbul: Secret City Treasures Private Tour with Lunch

9. Istanbul: Secret City Treasures Private Tour with Lunch

Explore the highlights of Istanbul according to your interests with your professional tour guide. Upon meeting your guide at your hotel or port, walk to the Sultan Ahmet where many of the attractions are located. Visit the Blue Mosque, also known as Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, which boats a unique feature of 6 minarets. View its glorious interiors and distinctive blue tiles and proceed to the only remains of Hippodrome of Constantinople, which consist of 3 monumental columns and a fountain. This is where chariot races took place in the past. Next, visit Topkapi Palace, once the seat of the Ottoman Empire. Presently, its a museum palace with a wide collection of porcelain, antiques, holy relics and other treasures. Next, proceed to Hagia Sophia, the church of Divine Wisdom, one of the greatest marvels of architecture, constructed as a basilica in the 2nd century by Emperor Justinian. Finally, it's off to the Grand Bazaar. Following the introduction by your guide at Turkey’s biggest oriental carpet export center you will have some free time to browse its 1200 spice and gold shops.

Istanbul: Sunset Bosphorus Boat Tour

10. Istanbul: Sunset Bosphorus Boat Tour

The 2-hours Bosphorus and Golden Horn boat tour. The Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara and splits the European and Asian sides of Turkey. This romantic cruise along the Bosphorus will allow you to admire the Dolmabahce Palace, the Beylerbeyi Palace, the Ciragan Palace and Rumeli fortress. See ancient wooden villas and bridges and all the wonderful unique maritime landscapes.

Other Sightseeing Options in Basilica Cistern

Want to discover all there is to do in Basilica Cistern? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Basilica Cistern

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,015 reviews

Ali, our guide was a charismaric Istanbulite, who has an immense knowledge of the city of Istanbul and it's forebear, Constantinople. Great tour to get a real feel for the history and culture of the city.

Watch out the tour guide is waiting at the Exit Gate for you. This is a great service! With the help of the tour guide we saved 2 hours waiting time. Very friendly tour guide, her name was Esgi.

To visit absolutely !!!! Magnificent play of lights with pretty statues all along the route. Skip the line ticket imperative in view of the queue following the reopening. Friendly guide

Abaolute worth doing ad you skip all the lengthy queues for the sites. Our guide Hal was amazing and very interesting to listen to. A pricier way of skipping the queues.

We loved this tour! It was the perfect way to discover a hidden gem in Istanbul whilst gaining important historical knowledge and insights.