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Topkapi Palace Tour

Immerse yourself in Ottoman history with a Context guide
From US$371 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
Topkapi Palace
Photos & Highlights
  • Explore daily life and intrigue in the Ottoman court including the famous Harem
  • Led by an Ottoman scholar
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Tour Description
Topkapi Palace was the epicenter of royal intrigue, home to scheming concubines, all-powerful sultans, and occasional fratricide. Set strategically at the mouth of the Golden Horn, the imperial palace illustrates the inner workings of the Ottoman Empire. On this 3-hour Topkapi Palace Tour, we'll join a local historian for an in-depth exploration of the building's vast architectural and political history.

The Palace Of A Vast Empire

In its prime, the Ottoman Empire stretched from Yemen to Croatia to Iran. The conquest of Istanbul in the 15th century announced Ottoman dominance. This tour uncovers the links between the empire's history and Topkapi Palace, its beating heart. Exploring the intricate rooms of the palace, we will discover the machinations of court life and the broad power of the sultans. We will also visit the Harem, one of the palace's most celebrated sites, designed by renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.

Topkapi Palace Tour

Topkapi Palace is unlike other European palaces—the design is pure Ottoman, with the vast open layout reflecting the needs of the Ottoman court. The opulent blue tiles of the Harem and inner rooms, the gilded details on walls, and the sweeping views of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn emphasize the grandeur of the Empire, while hiding the many stories of intrigue and violence that happened here. From the Harem wives whose only path to power was to give birth to the future Sultan, to the eunuch guards imprisoned in the Harem, to the artisans and soldiers from all corners of the empire, many people inhabited many worlds within this one complex.

Discover Ottoman History

Depending on the expert’s area of expertise and the interests of the group, the focus of the walk could tend toward the architecture and symbolism of the complex, the political history of the Ottomans, or daily life in the court. Regardless of the chosen course—and, often, we pursue many—the palace itself serves as the anchor and text for this riveting exploration of Ottoman history.


Is there a dress code for your tours in Istanbul?
The 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 scarves or shawls to be able to cover those body parts. 

Are tickets to Topkapi Palace included in the tour price?
No, you will buy those on-site on the day of the tour. Your guide will assist you in purchasing the correct ticket. Please plan to bring local currency to cover the cost. Other payment methods accepted are credit cards or euros (not US dollars).

We are traveling with our kids. Is this tour the right choice for us? If you are traveling with kids between the ages of 6 and 12, we recommend you check out our Topkapi Palace Tour for Kids.

Is this tour accessible for people in a wheelchair? Some areas of the palace are accessible with a wheelchair, and the palace has a toilet accessible for disabled visitors. The Portrait Chamber is not accessible by wheelchair, but the Harem is accessible. The palace does not have wheelchairs available to rent, you will have to bring your own.
Where You'll Start
128 Reviews (4.63)

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

Our guide Ebru showed unbridled enthusiasm in her role of guiding us through the palace and her extensive knowledge regarding the history behind the palace made the experience even more memorable and impressive. She was very pleasant and kindhearted. The palace itself is fairly extensive and interesting to see in person.
Betül is an excellent guide—friendly and very knowledgeable.
Excellent and informative tour