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Hidden Streets of the Asian Side of Istanbul Tour including Bosphorous Boatride

Cross the Bosphorus with a historian
From US$800 privately
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Tour Details
Duration
3 hours
Product Type
Tour
Venues
  • Bosphorus Ferry
  • Asian side
  • Bosphorus Strait
  • Kuzguncuk Neighborhood
  • Uskudar Neighborhood
Photos & Highlights
  • Explores old and traditional neighborhoods while gaining insight into modern-day Istanbul
  • Led by a local expert
Select a date
Tour Description
Separated from Europe by the mighty Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul’s Asian side often feels like its own distinct city. Away from the bustle of the tourism center, life revolves around weekly markets, cozy neighborhoods, and local traditions. In Uskudar, splendid mosques that rival those on the European shore punctuate the skyline; in colorful Kuzguncuk, the tempo of slow village life still permeates. On this Istanbul Asian Side Tour, led by a historian or architect with local knowledge of the area, we'll let this scholar of Istanbul accompany us through the back streets and alleys of the hidden city for a unique and off the beaten track view of Istanbul.

Crossing the Bosphorus

We begin our tour at the main pier in the historic center, where we’ll board one of the public ferries to the Asian side, learning how to purchase tickets and use Istanbul’s fantastic ferry system—key skills for exploring Istanbul during the rest of your stay. As we cross the Bosphorus we'll discuss the historic role of the strait in trade and politics, and get a basic orientation to Istanbul.

Local Insight

We'll spend the bulk of our time together exploring two former villages—now neighborhoods of Istanbul—on the Asian side: Uskudar and Kuzguncuk. Our tour will take us to a conservative part of town where there are a number of traditional mosques. Depending on chance, we may be able to ring the imam and slip into one of the least visited of these. We'll gain valuable insight, pass by several local monuments, and discover the hidden nooks and crannies in this often-overlooked part of the city.

We’ll then head up the Bosphorus, on foot or by minibus, along the water that affords some of the best and most iconic views of Istanbul’s European side. Along the way, our guide will explain how the city developed and grew around this body of water. Often, the conversation tends towards “daily life” topics like traffic, commuting, rents, and how the city works (or doesn’t) for its 16 million inhabitants.

Multi-Ethnic Istanbul

Our adventure will eventually lead us to a small fishing village where Ottoman viziers and other notables built their villas. Today, officially a part of Istanbul, Kuzguncuk still retains its original character and provides yet another contrast in this amazing city. We’ll also explore different cosmopolitan traditions. For example, Kuzguncuk is an area where Jews, Greeks, and Armenians have lived together sharing the same daily habits for centuries. This multi-ethnic fabric has created a unique architecture and community, which we’ll explore in the back roads and alleyways of this atmospheric part of the city.

Our walk may end in Kuzcunguk, a nice place to enjoy lunch. Or, we may return to the ferry piers in Uskudar, depending on the desires of the group. 

Take Aways

As we stroll through different neighborhoods on the Asian Side of Istanbul, we'll emerge from our time together with a deeper sense of the historical and cultural context that frames the city.

FAQ

Is there a dress code for your tours in Istanbul?
Yes, sites visited on this tour are considered holy places. Shoulders and knees must be covered. Dresses and shorts must be below knee level, and shoulders must be covered (zip-on jackets or scarves are acceptable). We recommend bringing along scarfs or shawls to be able to cover those body parts. These rules may seem unduly strict, but remember, you are a guest visiting sites that are regarded as a religious sanctuary. 
Where You'll Start
122 Reviews (4.2)

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

Suleyman was great - provided historical perspectives, current political context, and good cultural understanding.
Very informative and easy going!
Our experience on the Asian Side was good. We toured the small train museum and received an in-depth history of the nearby mosque and the neighborhoods.