Serpent Column

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Serpent Column: Our most recommended tours and activities

Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

1. Best of Istanbul in 1 Day

Discover Istanbul's most iconic sights on a van tour. Listen to your guide recount tales of the city's colorful past as you pass by landmarks such as the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Hippodrome. Round off the experience with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Start your tour at the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the sports and social center of the old city. Discover major artworks including the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the fountain of Willhelm II. Then, continue to the Blue Mosque, whose 6 minarets adorn Istanbul’s skyline. Next up is the Topkapi Palace, which was home to Ottoman emperors between the 15th and 19th centuries. Marvel at the jewel-stuffed treasury, the Ottoman Empire's imperial collections, and priceless displays of Oriental porcelain. If the Topkapi Palace is closed on your trip date, you'll visit the Nakkas Cistern instead. Continue to the Hagia Sophia Mosque, a monument of equal significance to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Behold the dome and stunning mosaics of this architectural gem as your guide recounts its turbulent history. Then, enter the Grand Bazaar with over 3,000 shops selling everything from carpets to jewelry to ceramics and leather goods. Take a stroll around the Spice Bazaar and soak in the aroma of different spices, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and lokum (Turkish Delights).

Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

2. Istanbul: Small Group Skip-the-Line Luxury Day Tour

Discover the only city in the world on 2 continents - where east meets west - on a full-day sightseeing tour of Istanbul by luxury minibus. Following a pick-up from your hotel or cruise ship, visit the Hippodrome to explore the former center of sport and political activities in Constantinople. Marvel at the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpentine Column from Delphi, and fountain of Wilhelm II. Continue to the iconic Blue Mosque, known for its glorious blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Admire the former imperial residence of the Ottoman sultans at Topkapi Palace, and learn how the Great Ottoman Empire was ruled. Today, the palace is a spectacular museum, with one of the largest collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, along with the famous treasury of the Royal Family. Next, go to the Hagia Sophia, a magnificent Byzantine Church that is considered one of the finest architectural works of art in the world. Stroll the alleys and warrens of the Grand Bazaar, and interact with the vendors selling their rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. Transfer back to your hotel or cruise ship for the end of the tour services.

Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

3. Private 7-Hour Istanbul Tour with Red Carpet Treatment

Your private guide and driver will meet you at your hotel or cruise ship, and you’ll head out for a full-day VIP tour of Istanbul. Visit the Hippodrome, the center of sporting and political activities of ancient Constantinople. See the Obelisk from Egypt, the Serpentine Column from Delphi, and the German Fountain of Willhelm II. Continue to the Blue Mosque, dating from the 17th century. This is one of the largest mosques in Istanbul and one of the principal features of the city skyline. It’s best known for its blue Iznik tiles and 6 minarets. Afterwards, you’ll visit Topkapi Palace, the former imperial residence that was the seat of the Great Ottoman Empire. Explore the spectacular museum and its vast collections of Chinese and Japanese porcelain and the treasury of the royal family. Continue to the Hagia Sophia, the magnificent Byzantine Church considered one of the finest and largest architectural works in the world. The last stop on the tour is the Grand Bazaar. In addition to its historical importance, this is a shopping venue that will tempt even the non-shoppers among you with its rich collection of precious handmade carpets, jewelry, leather, and souvenirs. At the end of the tour, you’ll be transferred back to your hotel or cruise ship.

Istanbul Private Full-Day Classics Tour with Options

4. Istanbul Private Full-Day Classics Tour with Options

Your full-day tour begins with a morning visit to the Hippodrome, which at one time was the center of Byzantine social and recreational life. A few parts of this spectacular site remain, including the Obelisk of Thutmose III and the Serpent Column. The Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is located next to the Hippodrome. Its exceptional architectural design features 1 main dome, 8 secondary domes, 6 minarets, and a vast number of blue tiles – hence the name. Built during the reign of Ahmed the First, the Blue Mosque continues to function as a mosque as well as being one of the city’s top tourist attractions. Next is a visit to Topkapi Palace, which dates back to 1459. It served as the primary residence of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 4 centuries. In 1924, the palace was officially declared a museum. The Palace covers a large site and features several buildings. You’ll see a fine collection of Imperial and Ottoman utensils, relics, caftans, and portraits of the sultans. Following your visit to Topkapi Palace it will time for a lunch break, and your guide will recommend some restaurants where you can enjoy delicious Turkish cuisine. After lunch you’ll take a tour of Hagia Sophia, which served both Christianity and Islam at different times in history. When it was first built in 537, it was an Eastern Orthodox church. In 1453, when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, the hall was transformed into an imperial mosque. Approximately 5 centuries later, Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum. After visiting Hagia Sophia you’ll travel to the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, comprising 61 covered streets and more than 3,000 shops offering almost anything you might need. The bazaar is a part of the walled city and was built during the years 1455-1461.

Istanbul: Guided City Highlights Day Trip

5. Istanbul: Guided City Highlights Day Trip

Explore the ancient city of Istanbul on a day guided trip in a spacious and airconditioned van. Visit religious sights like the famed Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. See how royalty lived at sights like the Topkapi and feel the thrill of bartering for goods at the Grand Bazaar. After being picked up from your hotel, meet your guide and embark on a full day tour of Istanbul's main landmarks and historical sites. Start with a trip to the Hagia Sophia Museum. Discover how for many centuries, the Hagia Sophia was the largest church in the world, and still boasts the 4th largest dome in the world as one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Next, head over to the Topkapi Palace Museum, a relic of the glory days of the great Ottoman Empire. Discover how 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 into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Continue the tour with a visit to the Hippodrome, a former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. Witness the 3 remaining monuments from the original building, 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. After this, make a stop at the Blue Mosque, more officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. Admire the striking blue tiles which give the mosque 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. Finally, take a stroll through the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft 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.

Historic Istanbul Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

6. Historic Istanbul Half-Day Sightseeing Tour

Discover the historic sites of Istanbul on a half-day sightseeing tour with round-trip transfers from centrally located hotels. A local guide will accompany you all the way, starting at the Hagia Sophia. Learn about the ancient Basilica that was started by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, and completed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. For 1,000 years it was the world’s largest cathedral. Today, it has been converted to a museum. Admire the impressive dome and minarets, as well as the beautiful mosaics, sculptures and columns inside. Your next stop will be the legendary Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known around the world as the Blue Mosque. Get up close to this symbol of Istanbul and see the vibrant blue tiles that adorn its interior walls. Stroll around its beautiful courtyard, and see the 6 graceful minarets. Continue to the Hippodrome, site of chariot races during the Byzantine Empire. Admire the 3 remaining monuments; the Obelisk of Theodosius, the Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine. End with a walk around the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar to haggle for bargains among some 4,000 jewelry, pottery, spices, carpet, and leather stores.

Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

7. Istanbul: 1 or 2-Day Private Guided Tour with Hotel Transfer

Explore Istanbul on a guided tour. Choose from a 1-day tour to top attractions like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace, or a 2-day tour with a cruise on the Bosphorus straight and a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace and Istiklal Street. Pick from a walking tour or a driving tour.  Day 1 – Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar Explore the highlights of Istanbul on this private full-day walking tour that covers the major attractions, from the Hagia Sophia Museum to the iconic Blue Mosque, to the bustling maze of the Grand Bazaar, to the obelisk of the Hippodrome of Constantinople. The excursion starts with a pick-up from your Istanbul hotel and a walk through the lively streets of Turkey’s largest city to visit the dramatic former basilica of 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 holds the position for the 4th largest dome. Dedicated to the Hagia Sophia or 'divine wisdom', it is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Move on to the Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque’s 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. Continue to 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 into the museum to see the gorgeous Iznik tiles and the ornate stateroom of the harem, among other attractions. Visit the Hippodrome, the former circus built in 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Septimus Severus. See the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Constantine Column, the 3 remaining monuments from the original building. Pause to look at the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, made from 8 marble columns. Complete your day with a visit to the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. With hundreds of small handicraft 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. Day 2 – Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, Dolmabahce Palace, Istiklal Street, Taksim 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 the Bosphorus and there are 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. From there, it is a 2-kilometer walk down to the Tunel Galata Tower area.

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 Classics Tour

9. Istanbul Classics Tour

Take a 3.5-hour tour of Istanbul’s "Sultan Ahmet Center," and discover the heart of the Old City, the seat of the former Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. During the guided tour, you will visit some of Istanbul’s major icons, including the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Hippodrome Skip the line at the magnificent Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest marvels of architecture, constructed as a basilica in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. Opposite the Hagia Sophia lies the Blue Mosque, also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque, famous for the stunning blue İznik tiles that furnish its interior. Its 6 minarets stand proudly over the horizon, and can be seen from all across the city. You will also visit the ancient Hippodrome, center of chariot races, athletic events, and political activities in ancient times. See the Serpentine Column, the Obelisk of Theodosius, and the German Fountain of Wilhelm II, among other superb monuments. Use your free time to head into the crowds at the Grand Covered Bazaar, Istanbul’s most attractive shopping center, and the largest souk in the world. Explore more than 4,000 shops selling everything from antiques, to jewelry, to gold, carpets, leatherware, and souvenir items. Try your hand at haggling and see if you can walk away with a bargain!

Full-Day Istanbul City Package Tour

10. Full-Day Istanbul City Package Tour

After breakfast between 8:00 AM and 9:30 AM, get picked up from your hotel. Visit Topkapi Palace, the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries housing an exquisite collection of crystal, silver, and Chinese porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury, miniatures, the Holy Mantle, and enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed. Across from St. Sophia, built in the 16th century by the architect Mehmet, is the Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles. The Ancient Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races, with the three monuments: the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine. Then visit the Hagia Sophia, previously known as the Church of Divine Wisdom, simply the best of its kind. Hagia Sophia is the greatest surviving example of Byzantine Architecture. For 1,000 years it was the largest church in the world, decorated with stunning 6th-century golden mosaics. Today it is a mosque. Enjoy a lunch break at 1:00 PM. After lunch, experience the traditional silk weaving skills of Turkish women at the carpet weaving courses provided by The Ministry of National Education. You will get the opportunity to see jewelry, the handcrafts center, and a modern leatherwear show. Enjoy the experience of shopping while gaining knowledge of the ancient craftsmen with a local guide of knowledge who will teach you how to haggle on the streets of Istanbul. The rest of the evening is yours to explore Istanbul.

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What people are saying about Serpent Column

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,209 reviews

Very good whistle-stop walk round the main sights of old Istanbul. The guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and went out of his way to accommodate different guests arriving and leaving the group at different times. Others have commented on the 'hard sell' at the carpet demonstration - we didn't find this at all, it was interesting and there was no pressure. Be aware that you should have clothes appropriate for entering a mosque - this isn't clear from the tour description. And there is a lot of walking.

was very informative..hazal was our guide.she is so friendly we felt like we were with family member.was very nice experience

great and interesting guide to know about the history of the historical Istanbul

Very good walking tour of Istanbul... I really recommend it.

Awesome day out with my guide Baris Extremely knowledgeable