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Istanbul Private Tour with Arif Yasa
Tuesday, July 7, 2015  

When traveling to Istanbul to embark on a cruise vacation, or, if your cruise ends in Istanbul, you should always plan at least three additional days to explore this historic city. And, if you think the best way to see Istanbul is on one of those cruise line motor coach tours, think again. The only way to see this great city is with a private Turkish guide. We learned about Arif Yasa ( through his recommendations on TripAdvisor. We arranged for Arif to meet us at our hotel for two consecutive walking tours of Istanbul.

Arif showed up right on time for our first morning walking tour. We mentioned that we had already visited the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia and Topkopi Palace on a previous visit to Istanbul, so he planned a walking tour that did not include those stops. This is one advantage of a private tour: it can be tailored to your needs and interests.

Private Tours with Arif Yasa
Arif and Rickee talk during a ferry ride to the Asian side of Istanbul

We walked from our hotel to a nearby pedestrian street lined with shops and cafes. Istanbul is a great city for shopping, so bring your credit cards! We like walking tours because it is a great way to get some much needed exercise. We were not disappointed. Istanbul is an exotic city and one that really cannot be experienced to the fullest from a van or taxi.

Private Tours with Arif Yasa
No visit to Istanbul is complete with visiting one of the mosques

One of our stops was at Antique Carpet Kilim, a local Turkish rug emporium. Owner Salmon, showed us around his massive showroom filled with beautiful Turkish rugs. All of the rugs are handwoven and some can take months to complete. Turkish rugs are unique in that they are the only rugs to use a double knot. We were able to see a demonstration of how the double knot is woven. My father was born in Turkey and used to travel here on business extensively in the 50s and 60s. We had many Turkish rugs in our home growing up, so I can testify to their quality and durability.

Private Tours with Arif Yasa
Rickee looks over some beautiful carpets

We took a ferry from the European side of the Bosphorus to the Asian side. What other city in the world allows you to be in two continents on the same day? A short walk from the pier brought us to Çira, a local restaurant to which Arif routinely takes his clients. Rickee and I love Turkish cuisine so we were right at home with the wide selection of Mezze dips and salads. The casual restaurant offers something for everyone.

Private Tours with Arif Yasa
Chefs prepare delicious Turkish specialties at Çira

After lunch, we returned on the ferry to the European side and back to our hotel for a short rest before our Sunset Walking Tour. The Sunset Walking Tour is one that we also can highly recommend. Arif once again met us at our hotel for this tour. The temperatures in the early evening were much more pleasant and comfortable. After a short ferry ride to the Asian side of Istanbul, we walked along the waterfront of the Bosphorus. Watching the sunset behind the European side of Istanbul is a memory we will not soon forget.

It has been a day filled with exotic sights, sounds and delicious food. We don't know when we will be going back to Istanbul, but we know when we do, we will be seeing a new and different part of the city with Arif Yasa.

Arif Yasa offers a variety of private tours for Istanbul and Turkey. For complete details, check his website at
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One Comment
Absolutely LOVED this review. We are traveling to Istanbul later this year and we will definitely be contacting Arif for a private tour. It looks amazing!
Thursday, May 8, 2014 12:00 AM  
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