Do I Need a Tour Guide in İstanbul?

Exploring other cities is very fun and informative simultaneously, as you are learning about a new city and experiencing things that you would not otherwise. In this case, tour guides can be included or discluded from the equation.

Shortly, you do not need to hire a tour guide in İstanbul if you have time and you like to read. On the other hand, if your time in İstanbul is limited, hiring a tour guide can be a good idea, at least for the old town (Sultanahmet) area.

İstanbul is a very safe place, and most of the attractions are closely located with each other. Moreover, İstanbul has an excellent public transportation network. Signs in the city would help you to find the major attractions, and they are pretty sufficient. You can get all the information you need from books, YouTube videos, or just asking local people about your questions.

This article is designed to inform you about traveling İstanbul entirely, how you can explore the city without a tour guide, in what situations you might need a tour guide, and other things related to those topics. Keep reading the following article to have comprehensive information about tour guides and if you actually need them.

Istanbul Tour Guidebooks

One of the best ways to survive your Istanbul tour without hiring a tour guide is the books designed for this purpose. Tour guidebooks are fantastic in terms of accessibility and ease of using them. There are many tour guidebooks to help you through your trip to Istanbul: about where to go, what to do, or what to avoid.

Another benefit of the tour guidebooks is that there will be on your hand whenever you want. They are much cheaper than hiring a tour guide, and you will have access to all the valid and necessary information you want to learn. The following are some of the best Istanbul tour guidebooks that you might consider purchasing.

The Rough Guide to Istanbul

One guidebook about Istanbul that you should consider purchasing is The Rough Guide to Istanbul by Rough Guides. This guidebook is colorfully designed and includes many pictures of the destinations you should visit and detailed maps from the city. The Rough Guide to Istanbul offers so many more things, from where to stay or where to eat. It would be your best friend while exploring İstanbul. 

Lonely Planet İstanbul

Another popular guidebook that you need to know is the Lonely Planet Istanbul by Virginia Maxwell and James Bainbridge. The publisher of this guidebook is worldwide known as “Lonely Planet,” which is loved and trusted by many readers. Lonely Planet Istanbul can inform you about all the landmarks you must see, the places you can skip not to waste time, the hidden gems of Istanbul, which are great but do not get as much hype as other destinations, or so long.

Lonely Planet Istanbul will also provide comprehensive information about all things you need to know about Istanbul: the public transportation, shopping, opening and closing hours of certain things, small tips to make your travel better, and so on. 

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide is a wonderful option for those who are looking for a guide in İstanbul to help them explore the city. You can find different maps which are carefully designed to be understood by everyone, and the must-sees in Istanbul.

You can have comprehensive information about the destinations you will visit in Istanbul with the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. Besides, you will learn about the best things to do in certain districts. For example, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide will inform you about the art events, shopping tips, and the nightlife in specific districts, in addition to the reviews of various hotels. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide is a colorful guide full of vibrant pictures, maps, stores, and so many more.

The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul 

It might be difficult to learn about places in a different city, you might not know where to have a serious meeting or a chill dinner, and this is entirely normal. The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul will help you to figure out every single aspect of the city, including the manners of various districts.

The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul offers so much more than a rough travel guidebook, and it has a comprehensive explanation of the city from different aspects. If you want to truly experience the city instead of just sightseeing as a tourist, the personal favorites of the writers in The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul will be your helper. If you are looking for a unique and creative guidebook, then The Monocle Travel Guide to Istanbul will be your perfect match. 

Strolling Through Istanbul

If you are not interested in guides other than classic tour books, Strolling Through Istanbul is the perfect classic. This guide was written by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely, and it was cited by different credible sources. This guidebook was written many years ago, but it got renovated and published again to stay up-to-date and relevant to today.

The readers typically comment on this book by saying that it can be read like a novel instead of a tour guidebook. You will learn about the must-sees, the hidden gems, and the fascinating history of Istanbul with Strolling Through Istanbul. It is easy to follow with beautiful descriptions and colorful images.

YouTube Channels and Videos about Istanbul

Today, YouTube is one of the first things people use when it comes to traveling. YouTube is a great way to learn about the city, especially if the channel is ruled by a person who is living in the city. There are a few YouTube channels dedicated to Istanbul, but there are more travel channels about Turkey in general. But luckily, those Turkey travel channels have comprehensive videos about Istanbul. The following are YouTube channels and YouTube videos about Istanbul.

Bery Istanbul Tips

One of the most popular YouTube channels about Istanbul is the Bery Istanbul Tips. Here you can find many different videos about everything you need to know about Istanbul. The best thing about this channel is that it is managed by Istanbul locals so that you can learn everything from the first source.

Bery Istanbul Tips channel posts every week about everything that you want to learn about the city. The subjects of the videos are pretty broad. There are videos about visa processes, how to save money in İstanbul, transportation, or the hidden gems of İstanbul. No matter which option you have chosen to explore İstanbul, you should check this channel out.

Istanbul and Food

Another excellent YouTube channel that can be your tour guide in İstanbul is named “İstanbul and Food.” Do not let the name of this channel fool you since it offers so many more things other than food. In this channel, you can have comprehensive information about all sides of Istanbul. There are playlists available for the most popular districts and detailed information about them.

Istanbul Full Video Guide – Tourism In Turkey – Travel And Discover

This 51 minutes long YouTube video is all about Istanbul. In this video, you can have comprehensive information about all the significant landmarks in İstanbul and its history. It is an excellent video if you do not have any idea about İstanbul, it will warm you up, and you will start to get to know the city.

Turkish Food Travel

This channel for all the foodies out there excited about the new cuisine they will meet in Istanbul. The channel is managed by a lovely local woman named Ayşenur Altan. Here you can find videos about food in İstanbul, from the recipes to the best restaurants. Recently, she had been shooting travel guide videos as well. It is an entertaining and informative channel to get to know Istanbul from primary sources.

Top 10 Things to Do: Istanbul, Turkey by vagabrothers

Another YouTube video where you can have a quick overview of the things you should do in İstanbul is by the channel vagabrothers. The channel is about traveling the world in general, and their video about İstanbul is one of the most popular İstanbul videos on YouTube. 

This four-minute video will not take much of your time, and you will have a general idea about the ten must-sees in İstanbul. If this is your first time in Istanbul and you want to start off with the basics before you got into deeper, then this is the perfect YouTube video for you. 

24 Hours In ISTANBUL! – Top Things You HAVE To Do in Istanbul, Turkey by The Endless Adventure

This 14-minute YouTube video is just like your personal tour guide to spend a day in İstanbul. As you can infer from the title of this video, a day spent in İstanbul is explained step by step, including some landmarks. It is a wonderful video to get to know the city a little bit better and have information about some significant landmarks.

A TOUR OF ISTANBUL, TURKEY | This City Is Incredible! By Gabriel Traveler

Another YouTube video about Istanbul would be by Gabrial Traveler, a famous traveler on YouTube. Even though getting to know the city from a local’s perspective is better sometimes, you should see it from the perspective of a person in the same situation as you (a tourist) to not miss out on the things that a local can find pretty common and unnecessary. 


The Gezeyenti channel has a little bit different format than any other videos and the channels mentioned earlier. In this channel, there are no explanations or informing speeches about places and landmarks. In fact, the videos in this channel do not even include talking at all. This channel is dedicated just to show you around. That is it. There are videos between 5 and 20 minutes to show you around, by walking or by driving.

The concept might seem a little bit odd, but it is a great channel to see what you can expect from the area you will be visiting in real life. If you are unsure about visiting a place, you can watch the relative video and decide if your vibe and mood is matching with the environment. It can be a good opportunity to prepare your plans.

Tourism Information Centers in İstanbul 

Tourism Information Centers are one of the most credible sources you can find regarding getting information about the city as a tourist. Since İstanbul is one of Turkey’s most important tourism centers, there are many tourist information centers to provide tourists information about the relative field they are interested in.

In tourism information centers you can communicate with authorized and knowledgeable staff which will help you with all your problems and questions. The tourism information centers are established by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, which further supports the credibility of this source. The following are the Tourism Information Centers in Istanbul and their contact information.

  • Atatürk Airport Tourist Information Center (phone number: +90 326 2133386)
  • Beyazit Tourist Information Center (phone number: +90 212 5224902)
  • Karakoy Tourist Information Center (phone number: +90 212 2495776)
  • Sirkeci Tourist Information Center (phone number: +90 212 5115888)
  • Sultanahmet Tourist Information Center (phone number: +90 212 5181802)
  • Taksim Hilton Tourist Information Center (+phone number: 90 212 2330595)

Are you still thinking that you need a tour guide in Istanbul?

Even though there are many alternatives to hiring a tour guide, it can be quite necessary sometimes. You can be short on time, or you do not feel comfortable visiting landmarks without someone guiding you or any other reason. Many people feel this way, so there are so many different options if you ever need to hire a tour guide in İstanbul.

Besides, some tour guides are pretty convenient in terms of the things you will have access to when you hire one. You can have a private tour guide who will be only guiding you, in addition to group tours where you will be guided with other people. 

Tour guides are people who specialized in this subject, so they both know every single detail you need to know about the places you will visit and how to use time wisely. Additionally, when you give your tour guide the relative information, they can quickly find you the best shop or restaurant.

The tour guides in Istanbul can be listed in many different categories. The following are some of the most popular guided tours that you can attend in İstanbul.

Guided Cruises

Bosphorus is one of the most beautiful things about Istanbul, without a doubt. Additionally, there are many landmarks in and around İstanbul that are must-sees. With a guided cruise, you can just enjoy yourself at a cruise boat when everything will be planned for you and your tour guide explains everything for you. 

Guided Historical Tours

As you can interpret from the name, you can expect to see the most significant historical landmarks in this type of guided tours. As you may already know, Istanbul has a very rich history, and there is a lot to say about this subject. You can visit the best landmarks while there is a guide explaining to you about them. 

Guided Culture Tours

In the guided culture tours, you can expect a culture-focused plan in İstanbul. The culture of Istanbul is as rich as the history of it, so there is a lot to experience and know. Your expert guide can help you to learn the details of the culture while you will be experiencing them in real life. Those tours can include food, manners of certain things, traditional drinks, etc.

Multiple Days Guided Tours

Of course, İstanbul is not a city where you can explore it fully in a day. So, multiple days tours can be between 3 days to 15 days to allow you to fully exploring and experiencing Istanbul.

So, do I need a tour in İstanbul or not?

Unfortunately, no one can give an answer to this question. Now you have all the information necessary about the situation, and you can make a pros and cons list to decide for yourself. Hopefully, you will enjoy your days spent in İstanbul at their best!

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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