In the past year I've had some pretty fun adventures all over the USA, in China, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, the UK, Spain, the UAE, and now Istanbul. While I've had a lot of fun in all those places, I can say unequivocally that my Istanbul Classics small group tour with Metin has been the best $90 USD I have ever spent on any activity in any of those places. If you are considering a tour of Istanbul and questioning whether you should do it with Daily Istanbul Tours, with some other tour organizer, or on your own, I can assure you that the best decision will be to book with DIT and be sure to request Metin as your guide.
I won't bore you with details of the sites we saw, since you can get all of that information from their website. What I'll do instead is share a little about why this tour ended up being the highlight of our holiday:
* It's easy enough to find and get into the sites, but there is so much information out there about them that it's really hard to distill it all into useful material. Metin is an expert on each site and knows exactly what the most interesting and relevant details are; he'll definitely help you make the most of your time at each place you go. Going on our own would be been stupid; we would have wasted hours wandering around, not really knowing what the more significant parts were or what we were looking at, etc. With so little time and so much to see, it was important to use our time efficiently, which we definitely did.
* There can be something intimidating about being in a foreign country, especially if you are easily recognizable as a foreigner, don't speak the language, and aren't traveling with a group. Spending a day with Metin lets you truly relax and focus on the amazing sites without having to constantly watch your back or worry about getting screwed (which is a concern in any major city). With Metin, there's no pressure to buy any random crap, no worries about cultural faux-pas, and nobody bothering you at all when they see you are with him. If someone does approach you, he will dispatch them quickly.
* Whatever random questions you have, I guarantee Metin will be able to answer them. Want to know what material a wall was built from? Metin knows its chemical composition. Want to know what year a building was constructed? He can tell you when each part of it was created, how long it took, how it was made, who made it, how many times it has been destroyed, where the materials came from, etc. Curious about some Turkish or Islamic history? Metin knows the years, the people, the hows, and the whys. And don't worry about being able to understand him and communicate easily; his English is fantastic, with a slight British accent on some words, which is an extra bonus for us Americans who don't get to hear real English very often
* Metin is very personable and took a sincere interest in making sure we had the best possible time in Istanbul. When I mentioned that I really wanted to smoke some narguile, he made sure we were able to get some after our lunch. While we were hanging out at the café, several of his friends happened to be passing by or were around, so he introduced us to all of them and we ended up having some very interesting conversations. We had such a great time on the tour but didn't have any plans later for our last night in Istanbul, so Metin invited us to meet up with them later since they would be hanging out along Istiklal near our hotel. We ended up spending another few hours together that evening and into the early morning hours talking about all sorts of interesting topics, exploring some really fascinating areas that we would otherwise have missed, and meeting more people.
This was advertised as a 4 to 6-person small group tour, but due to the season and perhaps people's irrational fears about coming to Turkey, it ended up just being me, my dad, and Metin. This definitely helped contribute to the awesomeness of the experience, but I have no doubt that a group of any size would get great value out of a tour with him as well.
We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Daily Istanbul Tours and Metin for making our trip to Turkey so memorable.