Meeting at the hotel
Boat ride along Haliç
Professional tour guide service
Transportation and lunch
“I was in Istanbul and had a wonderful tour through this stunning city, but the unforgettable thing was the tour in Balat with Yasemin, a professional guide who loves her work. Don't hesitate to call Istanbul Tour Studio if you wanna live a real Istanbul experience and if you want to see unusual places!” Read more on Tripadvisor.
Rows of traditional wooden houses painted in a dizzying array of bright colors, life continuing in a way that hasn’t changed for hundreds of years, little known churches, Byzantine architecture, and some of the best Istanbul views. Every local knows how charming and unique the historically cosmopolitan neighborhoods of Balat and Fener are.
This tour offers visitors a chance to find out too. Located by the shores of the Golden Horn (Haliç) waterway, these areas have been home to some of the oldest settlements of Istanbul. It is still possible to see the Byzantine and Ottoman traces around one of the most ethnically diverse populations of the city, while enjoying its hip cafés and local handicrafts shops.
Traditional Boat Ride along the Golden Horn: We will take a private wooden fishing boat from the shores of the Golden Horn just like the olden days. The ride takes about 20 minutes and is a joy in itself as you get to take in one of the best views of Istanbul with mosques, churches and the old city walls on one side and the Galata tower and abandoned military shipyards on the other side.
Discover Fener: We visit the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate Church (the Church of St. George) that has been active and open for service since the 1600s. Here you will see a stunning iconostasis as well as holy relics of the Church of Constantinople, including the sacred relics of two renowned Archbishops of Constantinople.
Phanar Greek Orthodox College: Another special example of Greek heritage is this college, locally known as the Red School. This extraordinary red brick building is an iconic piece of Istanbul architecture.
Discover Balat: This neighborhood was historically home of the Jewish community of the city and now a multi-cultural community inhabits the area. In Balat, we will stroll through the narrow and colorful streets, which have a movie set feel. A traditional daily street life still exists in this part of town; women gathering for tea on their patios, kids kicking balls around the streets, men playing cards in coffee-houses.
The area is also populated by local artists’ workshops and studios. If you are looking for an original souvenir to take back home, you will really enjoy the multitude of ceramic, glass and other forms of handicrafts. Balat also has a few good art galleries and you may also come across a lively vintage objects auction in one of the areas antique shops - so much fun to watch!
There are numerous good foodie options in Balat, ranging from bohemian cafés to traditional men-only tea houses. The neighborhood is great for unique lunch and coffee breaks.
The neighborhood discovery also includes one of the oldest Byzantine churches, a synagogue and a Bulgarian iron church.
Theodosian Land Walls and Tekfur Palace in Ayvansaray: The day will end with a walk towards the old city walls in Ayvansaray. The walls protected the city from invasion for a thousand years before being penetrated in the siege of 1453. We’ll also visit the ruins of the last standing Byzantine palace in the world; Tekfur Palace.