Our Viator excursion was anything but what we expected.
When we finally were able to walk down the road to our main meeting point we were met by a lone tour bus driver who seemed utterly bemused that we were there 15 minutes early! Finally after much discussion it was finally decided that early arrivals were able to sit in the restaurant courtyard. So we sat for the next 15 minutes, ignored by the gathering tour guides who were talking and smoking a few feet away. To say our welcome was anything but warm was an understatement. Finally, when the clock struck the hour, one of the tour guides called our number and waved us over to a newly arrived tour bus.
Our next stop was Pierre Loti hill, where we had 10 minutes or so to admire the view before joining the line to ride the cable car back down to sea level. The views from Pierre Loti hill were beautiful, and I enjoyed looking down to see the old graveyard hidden among the trees.
I would only recommend this tour to someone who was very interested in seeing the sites of the Bosphorus and wouldn't require extensive background information or guidance. At nearly $50 a person it didn't represent good value and it didn't give us a good feel for the city as first time visitors. Fortunately, we had enough time free in the evening to see the spice market on our own time and do some additional exploring to make our visit to Istanbul feel more complete.
PS: Want more opinions on tours in Istanbul? You can see a list of tours and reviews here.
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We were partners with Viator for this experience. This did not influence my review and all opinions remain my own.