Basilica Cistern guided tours

4.3(16K Ratings)

Headout is an authorized and trusted partner of the venue, offering curated experiences to enjoy this attraction.




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Guided Tours
4.3(789)

Guided Tour of Basilica Cistern with Skip-the-Line Tickets

from
€35
Free Cancellation

You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.

Instant confirmation
Mobile ticket
1 hr.
Audio Guide
  • Avoid waiting in line outside the ancient Basilica Cistern with these skip-the-line tickets.
  • Meet your expert English-speaking guide at the designated meeting point and enter the monument.
  • The Basilica Cistern was built back in 532 AD and is one of Istanbul’s many hidden underground water reservoirs.
  • According to Greek mythology, Medusa used to guard this building herself - you can even see two Medusa heads at the base of columns here.
  • See the illuminated marble and granite columns and learn about how different eras used different materials to build them.
  • Explore two more of Istanbul's iconic landmarks, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque with an upgrade.
  • Avoid waiting in line outside the ancient Basilica Cistern with these skip-the-line tickets.
  • Meet your expert English-speaking guide at the designated meeting point and enter the monument.
  • The Basilica Cistern was built back in 532 AD and is one of Istanbul’s many hidden underground water reservoirs.
  • According to Greek mythology, Medusa used to guard this building herself - you can even see two Medusa heads at the base of columns here.
  • See the illuminated marble and granite columns and learn about how different eras used different materials to build them.
  • Explore two more of Istanbul's iconic landmarks, Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque with an upgrade.

Inclusions

  • Expert English-speaking guide
  • Skip the line ticket to Basilica Cistern
  • Hagia Sophia guided tour (optional)
  • Blue Mosque guided tour (optional)
  • Audio guide app in 8 languages
  • Tip: Ensure your shoes have a good grip as the floors can become very slippery and safeguard your camera from water droplets falling from the ceiling.
  • You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
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Combos
3.6(1.1K)

Combo (Save 5%): Basilica Cistern + Hagia Sophia Skip-the-Line Tickets

from €67
€63.65

5% off

Instant confirmation
Mobile ticket
Audio Guide
  • Avail a great cost benefit with this combo giving you skip-the-line access to two of Istanbul’s iconic sites: the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia.
  • Marvel at the impressive Byzantine architecture of the Basilica Cistern, a 6th-century subterranean marvel with 336 massive columns.
  • Soak in the Basilica Cistern experience with an optional multilingual audio guide providing intriguing insights into the history of this unique site.
  • Step into the world-famous Hagia Sophia, once the largest place of worship for over a millennium with skip-the-line tickets and an audio guide.
  • Enjoy the liberty to explore the magnificent mosaics and paintings at your own pace at the Hagia Sophia’s 2nd-floor Visitors' Center.
  • Avail a great cost benefit with this combo giving you skip-the-line access to two of Istanbul’s iconic sites: the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia.
  • Marvel at the impressive Byzantine architecture of the Basilica Cistern, a 6th-century subterranean marvel with 336 massive columns.
  • Soak in the Basilica Cistern experience with an optional multilingual audio guide providing intriguing insights into the history of this unique site.
  • Step into the world-famous Hagia Sophia, once the largest place of worship for over a millennium with skip-the-line tickets and an audio guide.
  • Enjoy the liberty to explore the magnificent mosaics and paintings at your own pace at the Hagia Sophia’s 2nd-floor Visitors' Center.

Inclusions

Basilica Cistern

  • Skip-the-line entry to the Basilica Cistern
  • Multilingual audio guide

Hagia Sophia

  • Skip-the-line entry to Hagia Sophia
  • Entry to Hagia Sophia visiting area
  • Audio guide in 23 languages

Basilica Cistern

  • Tip: Keep an eye out for the ghostly outlines of carp swimming in the water, they make for a great photo backdrop.
  • This experience is wheelchair and pram/stroller accessible.

Hagia Sophia

  • Tip: Look for the 'weeping column,' it's believed to have healing powers.
  • The prayer area on the first floor can only be entered by Turkish citizens.
  • This tour is not suitable for wheelchair users.
  • Don’t forget your trusty earphones for an immersive audio guide experience.
  • You skip the ticket lines but you cannot skip the security check.
  • The security check can take up to 60 minutes during peak seasons.
  • Appropriate and respectful clothing is mandatory while visiting the Hagia Sophia.
  • Women should not wear knee-length shorts, skirts, or clothing with exposed shoulders or chests. Hair should be partially covered with a scarf.
  • Men should not wear knee-length shorts or clothing with exposed shoulders.
    Clothes and scarves are available for purchase at the entrance of the attraction.
  • Hagia Sophia is under renovation, therefore, not all parts of the building are open to the public.
  • Due to the Friday prayer, the Mosque will be closed to tourists from 12pm to 2pm. For a smoother experience, it's recommend visiting after 4pm to avoid the lengthy security line anticipated between 2pm and 4pm.
  • These tickets can't be cancelled or rescheduled.
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Guided Tours
4.2(311)

Combo: Basilica Cistern + Blue Mosque + Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets

from
€89
Free Cancellation

You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.

Extended Validity
Instant confirmation
4 hr.
  • Enjoy a guided tour of 3 of Istanbul’s iconic attractions with this one combo ticket that you can use in 1 day or over a span of 2 days.
  • Skip the lines and enter the 4th-century Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir from the Byzantine times, with an expert English-speaking guide.
  • Admire the artwork here with raised wooden platforms and aesthetic vaulted ceilings as you to the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology.
  • Soak up the architectural charm and beauty of the Blue Mosque as you admire the hand-painted blue tiles that adorn the mosque’s interior walls.
  • See the 5 main domes, 6 minarets, and 8 secondary domes and learn about Byzantine and Ottoman heritage, Islam and Istanbul’s rich heritage from your guide.
  • Enter Hagia Sophia with skip-the-line access, an important monument both for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires and admire its architectural beauty.
  • Enjoy a guided tour of 3 of Istanbul’s iconic attractions with this one combo ticket that you can use in 1 day or over a span of 2 days.
  • Skip the lines and enter the 4th-century Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir from the Byzantine times, with an expert English-speaking guide.
  • Admire the artwork here with raised wooden platforms and aesthetic vaulted ceilings as you to the mystery of Medusa heads from Greek mythology.
  • Soak up the architectural charm and beauty of the Blue Mosque as you admire the hand-painted blue tiles that adorn the mosque’s interior walls.
  • See the 5 main domes, 6 minarets, and 8 secondary domes and learn about Byzantine and Ottoman heritage, Islam and Istanbul’s rich heritage from your guide.
  • Enter Hagia Sophia with skip-the-line access, an important monument both for the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires and admire its architectural beauty.

Inclusions

Basilica Cistern

  • 30-min guided tour of the Basilica Cistern
  • Skip-the-line ticket to Basilica Cistern
  • Expert English-speaking guide

Blue Mosque

  • 60-min guided tour of the Blue Mosque
  • Entry to the Blue Mosque
  • English-speaking guide

Hagia Sophia

  • 60-min guided tour of Hagia Sophia
  • Skip-the-line tickets to Hagia Sophia
  • English-speaking tour guide
  • Audio guide inside Hagia Sophia

Basilica Cistern

  • Tip: The underground cistern is dark and damp, which can lead to a drop in temperature. It’s best to carry a light cardigan to keep yourself warm.

Blue Mosque

  • Tip: Look out for decorations and items inside the mosque inscribed with the names of the caliphs and verses from the Quran.
  • This tour is not available on Tuesdays.
  • Please note that the security line can take up to 60 minutes in the high season.
  • If you do not have a scarf or body cover, you can buy them at the entrance (a scarf is 1€ and a body cover is 3€).

Hagia Sophia

  • Tip: Don’t forget to make a wish at one of Hagia Sophia’s columns, known as the ‘wishing column.’ Legend has it that if you poke your finger through a hole in the column and your finger emerges wet, your wishes will come true and you’ll be cured of any illness. No harm in trying!
  • This tour is not available on Tuesdays.
  • Please expect a considerable wait time as you enter the attraction, especially during holidays and weekends.
  • Security checks at Hagia Sophia take approximately 30 minutes.
  • Since it is a religious place, guests are requested to wear clothes that cover their arms and head.
  • While photography is allowed, all visitors are requested to refrain from turning on flash and using bulky accessories like tripods.
  • Hagia Sophia may be closed during prayer times as it is a place of religious worship.
  • These tickets are valid for 2 days from the date of experience.
  • You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
  • These tickets are valid for 2 days from the date of purchase.
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Tickets
4.3(1.1K)

Combo: Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Optional Topkapi Palace or Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets

from
€85
Free Cancellation

You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.

Instant confirmation
Mobile ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
  • Save time and money with this combo ticket valid for 3 days, and enjoy hassle-free access to the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern.
  • Skip the lines at Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern and enter all the 3 museums to start your guided tour.
  • Get the most important information and orientation tips from an official tour guide and benefit from an audio guide app available for Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace in 9 languages.
  • Following this, feel free to explore the museums at your own pace and listen to the interesting commentary on your audio guides.
  • Save time and money with this combo ticket valid for 3 days, and enjoy hassle-free access to the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and the Basilica Cistern.
  • Skip the lines at Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern and enter all the 3 museums to start your guided tour.
  • Get the most important information and orientation tips from an official tour guide and benefit from an audio guide app available for Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace in 9 languages.
  • Following this, feel free to explore the museums at your own pace and listen to the interesting commentary on your audio guides.

Inclusions

  • Skip the line entry to Hagia Sophia
  • Guided tour of Hagia Sophia
  • Skip the line entry to Topkapi Palace (including Harem section) & guided tour (optional)
  • Skip the line entry to Basilica Cistern & guided tour (optional)
  • Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace audio guide (English, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish)

Exclusions

  • Headsets
  • Hotel transfers
  • Meal inclusions
  • Please download the audioguide app in your smartphone prior to your tour.
  • The audio guide is available for Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace in the following languages: English, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, and Turkish.
  • This ticket is valid for 3 days. You may come at the available times, to the meeting points and visit these with your Istanbul Welcome Card guide. You can visit all 3 museums in 1 day or on different days.
  • You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
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Combos
4.2(2.9K)

Combo: Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets with Audio Guide + Bosphorus Daytime or Sunset Cruise

from
€45
Instant confirmation
Mobile ticket
Audio Guide
  • Unlock the magic of Istanbul with this cost-saving combo that grants skip-the-line access to Basilica Cistern and a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait.
  • Witness the majestic grandeur of Basilica Cistern, a 6th-century marvel, and discover its Byzantine history from your audio guide.
  • Explore the historic site with an audio guide, including famous attractions like the Hen’s Eye Column and Medusa Pillar Bases.
  • Set sail on a relaxing 2-hour Bosphorus cruise, capturing the beauty of Istanbul and its skyline viewed from a unique perspective.
  • Benefit from the multilingual audio guide, acquainting you with the fascinating tales of the landmarks you cross like the Bosphorus Bridge and Hagia Sophia.
  • Unlock the magic of Istanbul with this cost-saving combo that grants skip-the-line access to Basilica Cistern and a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait.
  • Witness the majestic grandeur of Basilica Cistern, a 6th-century marvel, and discover its Byzantine history from your audio guide.
  • Explore the historic site with an audio guide, including famous attractions like the Hen’s Eye Column and Medusa Pillar Bases.
  • Set sail on a relaxing 2-hour Bosphorus cruise, capturing the beauty of Istanbul and its skyline viewed from a unique perspective.
  • Benefit from the multilingual audio guide, acquainting you with the fascinating tales of the landmarks you cross like the Bosphorus Bridge and Hagia Sophia.

Inclusions

Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets with Audio Guide

  • Skip-the-line entry to the Basilica Cistern
  • Multilingual audio guide

Bosphorus Daytime or Sunset Sightseeing Cruise

  • 2-hour Bosphorus cruise
  • Audio guide available in 8 languages

Basilica Cistern Skip-the-Line Tickets with Audio Guide

  • Tip: Try the Medusa Heads Challenge - Find the two Medusa heads in the northwest corner of the cistern. One is upside down while the other is sideways.
  • It's recommended to wear comfortable shoes.
  • The attraction is wheelchair and stroller-accessible.

Bosphorus Daytime or Sunset Sightseeing Cruise

  • Tip: Buy and sample some of the delicious local Turkish snacks available on the boat.
  • Don’t forget to bring along your headphones to listen to the audio tour.
  • The audio guide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, and Chinese.
  • There is limited internet at the pier so please download the app before the tour.
  • The app does not require internet once it has been downloaded but ensure you have activated GPS.

Bosphorus Daytime or Sunset Sightseeing Cruise

  • Galata Tower
  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Ciragan Palace
  • Ortaköy Mosque
  • Bosphorus Bridge
  • Beylerbeyi Palace
  • Üsküdar
  • Maiden Tower
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Hagia Sophia
  • Seaside Villas
  • These tickets can’t be cancelled. However, they are valid for an extended period of time.
  • These tickets are valid for an extended duration. The exact details will be present on the ticket.
Basilica CisternGuided Tours

Which Basilica Cistern guided tour is best for you?

Basilica cistern guided tour tickets

Guided tour with skip-the-line access

Duration: Approximately 1 hour
Suited for: History enthusiasts who are short on time.
Ticket price: €26
Why go for it?

  • Skip the long queues and maximize your time exploring the cistern's wonders.
  • Gain insights from knowledgeable guides who bring the history of the cistern to life.
  • Enjoy access to an audio guide available in 8 languages.

Recommended ticket: Guided Tour of Basilica Cistern with Skip-the-Line Tickets

Basilica cistern guided tour tickets

Combo guided tour

Duration: Approximately 4 hours
Suited for: Travelers interested in exploring multiple landmarks of Istanbul.
Ticket price: €79
Why go for it?

  • Explore multiple iconic landmarks without the hassle of separate bookings.
  • Enjoy skip-the-line access to the Basilica CisternBlue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia, saving time and avoiding queues.
  • Benefit from informative commentary from expert guides, providing deeper insights into the city's rich history and culture.

Recommended ticket: Combo: Basilica Cistern + Blue Mosque + Hagia Sophia Guided Tour with Skip-the-Line Tickets

Basilica cistern guided tour tickets

Headout Saver Pass

Duration: 3 days
Suited for: Travelers seeking flexibility and convenience while exploring Istanbul's top attractions.
Ticket price: €134
Why go for it?

  • Enjoy skip-the-line access to multiple attractions, including the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and more.
  • Explore Istanbul at your own pace over three days and enjoy a 25% discount on this ticket.
  • Benefit from the services of English-speaking guides who provide informative commentary and assistance throughout your tour.

Recommended ticket: Headout Saver: 3-Day Skip-the-Line Tickets to Top Istanbul Attractions

Why take a Basilica Cistern guided tour?

Basilica Cistern Guided Tours

Highlights covered on Basilica Cistern tours

Basilica Cistern Medusa Heads

Medusa Heads

One of the most iconic highlights of the cistern is the Medusa Heads, one placed sideways and one situated upside down beneath a column. It is believed that they had been removed from an ancient Roman building.

Long Colonnades at the Basilica Cistern

Long Colonnades

As you enter the cistern, you will notice long marble columns supporting the roof. They cast long and winding reflections on the tranquil water surface, adding a layer of mystery and intrigue to the cistern.

Weeping Column at the Basilica Cistern

Weeping Column

Around 7000 slaves had labored to build the Basilica Cistern. Several of them died during the 38-year construction period. The cistern has a column, engraved with branches and peacocks to honor their memory. 

Frequently asked questions about Basilica Cistern guided tours

Can I book a Basilica Cistern guided tour?

Yes, you can book Basilica Cistern guided tours and learn more about its unique architecture and Byzantine history. An expert tour guide will accompany you throughout the tour. 

How can I book a Basilica Cistern guided tour?

It is best to book Basilica Cistern guided tours online to save time and money. You may also chance upon great deals and discounts when booking tours online. 

How much does a Basilica Cistern guided tour cost?

Basilica Cistern guided tours price starts from €26. This includes an English or Spanish-speaking tour guide taking you around the attraction. You will also enjoy skip-the-line access and an audio guide app in over 8 languages.

What are the different types of Basilica Cistern guided tours?

You can choose between 3 types of Basilica Cistern guided. Either pick a guided tour with skip the line access to Basilica Cistern or a combo guided tour that includes access to the Basilica CisternBlue Mosque, and Hagia Sophia, or a Headout Saver Pass providing skip-the-line tickets to top Istanbul attractions with an English-speaking guide for 3 days. 

What is included in Basilica Cistern guided tour tickets?

When you book Basilica Cistern guided tours, you can enjoy skip-the-line benefits, get an expert English or Spanish-speaking tour guide, and also avail of an audio app in over 8 languages to delve deeper into the cistern’s history. 

Is booking a Basilica Cistern guided tour worth it?

Yes, if you are interested in Byzantine history and architecture, the Basilica Cistern is a must-visit. The marble columns and waterways take you on a journey through the yesteryears when the ancient underground cistern supplied water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and its surrounding areas. 

What does the Basilica Cistern guided tour cover?

An expert English or Spanish-speaking tour guide will accompany you on a journey through the Sunken Water Palace aka the Basilica Cistern. You will get up close with the marble columns along the roof, the Medusa Heads, the Weeping Column, and the pristine water surface.

Do the Basilica Cistern guided tours include skip-the-line access?

Yes, you can enjoy skip-the-line benefits with your Basilica Cistern guided tours. 

Can I cancel a booked Basilica Cistern guided tour?

Yes, if you have booked your Basilica Cistern guided tours online, you can cancel them up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund on your purchase. 

How long is the Basilica Cistern guided tour?

A Basilica Cistern guided tour lasts for around an hour.