Do we need to take a private guided tour in Istanbul?
WE ARE VISITING ISTANBUL IN OCTOBER FOR A WEEK AND HAVE ENQUIRED ABOUT A PRIVATE TOUR FOR TWO DAYS VISITING TOPKAPI PALACE, THE GRAND BAZAAR ETC. AND HAVE BEEN QUOTED A PRICE OF €280 PER DAY NOT INCLUDING LUNCH OR ENTRY FEES. IS THIS THE GOING RATE? WE HAVE DONE SIMILAR TOURS IN NEW DELHI AND BANGKOK AND BOTH WERE SUBSTANTIALLY LESS AND INCLUDED LUNCH AND ALL ENTRY FEES.
|Prices in Istanbul are about on par with other major European cities. Beyond a few basics, English is not widely spoken and anyone with fluency and a thorough grounding in history and culture can command a high price for their services. Private guided tours are therefore expensive. However you only really need a private tour if you have a specialist area of interest, such as Ottoman architecture. If you want to focus just on the major attractions, you could take a small group tour and save yourselves heaps. For example the full day Old City Tour with Istanbul City Tours includes Topkapi, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, admission fees to all and lunch, at a price of €60 each. You can find several such tours on the internet. I wouldn’t sign up for any tour that includes a Bosphorus cruise. You can easily arrange this yourselves and if you have a guidebook, you don’t require the services of a guide. Same for the Grand Bazaar, plunge in and get happily lost.
This question and answer first appeared in The Tripologist column of Fairfax’s Traveller. Read more at www.traveller.com.au