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Catherine and Ragheb - USA AND LEBANON
My husband and I just finished the Highlights of Istanbul tour with Ugur and it was WONDERFUL! He was so helpful and informative. And I am a professor of Art History. I teach about the Byzantine culture and ancient civilizations so this is saying A LOT. Not many tour guides impress me, but Ugur definitely knows his stuff. We started at 9am and now it's 5:30pm and I feel like the day just flew by. We walked all over the city and saw so much. He was so thoughtful to show us useful ways to travel around the city and added places of interest as the day continued. He made the experience feel personal to us. There was never a dull moment. It was a GREAT day! We both enjoyed ourselves immensly and highly HIGHLY recommend Ugur and Bitinya tours!! In fact we are already considering scheduling our next one for later in the week:)
Joey - UNITED STATES
Off the Beaten Path Tour with Serdar (Sam) was phenomenal. Let me begin: this is "off the beaten path," which means you will be walking. Another member of our group thought this "walking tour" meant walking from the taxi to the site. Be ready to take the city by foot! Our guide was the best part of this tour. His English was good and his age gave him a fresh perspective (he's turning 30 soon). He offered the "lived experience" of Turks and took us to the places they eat at and pray at. He adjusted the food to our tastes and took us to shopping that piqued our interest. Although the big sites have their eye-catching perks, this tour made Turkey real for us and allowed us to understand its people behind the monuments. Highly recommend this tour, especially Serdar!
David Johnson - AUSTRALIA
The short story? Bitinya Tours have the most professional staff who's attention to detail is amazing. The hotels, the transport, the budget and the great co-ordination exceeded my expectations. I unreservedly recommend them as service professionals for anyone contemplating a tour of Turkey! So how do you explain the best trip that you have ever had ? Well, I might start with a little background... I am a very well travelled "history buff" and wished to celebrate my 60th birthday in Turkey. My children in their early twenties, Luke and Caitlin had been living and travelling separately in Europe & rendezvoused with their " old man" in Constantinople (Istanbul). From there, for the three of us, the adventure began! I had found Bitinya Tours on the net and had organised a tour of Turkey with Ersin Gunes! A real gentleman and a pleasure to deal with. I gave him my requirements and he understood my needs perfectly. He gave me advice on my intended plans which lead me to make modifications that truly enhanced our experience and knowledge of Turkey. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen problem I had to modify our trip just days before arriving. Ersin dealt with this in an unflappable and professional manner! With only 48 hours notice he assigned one of his staff to personally look after our plans. Enter Ugur Malgil, a charming, urbane & knowledgeable resident of Istanbul. Lucky break # 1, he organised a personal guide for our "old city" tour for the next day and proceeded to work with us to map out the rest of our Turkey tour! The next day while we were being guided by Betul Basak and enjoying the ancient delights that the old city had to offer, Ugur & Ersin were working in the background putting together a 20 day travel package involving 9 hotels, 6 private tour guides, with innumerable drop offs ,pickups and connections with buses, taxis and limos over our 1200 kilometre journey. Many Aussies visiting Istanbul do the 5 hour bus trip to Gallipoli, have a 2 hour tour of the area and then head back. We wanted a more in depth experience and with the assistance of the delightfully gentle and well studied Aden Bicer we spent two days on the peninsula not only paying our respects to our fallen soldiers but also getting a Turkish perspective of this nation changing peninsula. Heading south across the Bosphorous to Canakkale we visited Troy the next day and lucky break number 2, our expert guide Mustafa Askin ( author of "Gallipoli a Turning Point" and "Troy - A Revised Edition") created the vision of the Troy that was! From the rubble of nine cities on the same site, he made it live and breathe for us. A distinguished and literate local resident about my age, he shared how he had Troy as his playground as a nine year old boy. Next we were off to Pegamaon and then to the personal highlight of my trip Ephesus. Hasan Gulday our young and confident guide answered our every question and believe me, we had many. He also honoured us by introducing his beautiful wife over lunch. Our journey continued to Pamukkale and Hireopolis under the guidance of Adem Aslan. Another young professional who not only did a bit of negotiating for me, when my bargaining skills had reached their limit but also gave a little gift to Luke and Caitlin upon our departure. We bussed to Cappadocia and stayed in the beautiful NOSTALJI CAVE hotel for several days. Accompanied by our wonderful tour guide Ibrahim Caliskan we saw about everything we could. My 60th birthday occurred and Ibrahim recommended a cultural dancing venue and assisted the kids in organising it. I was very pleased when he dropped by that evening, on his time off to have a celebratory drink with us. Not only this but he organised a surprise birthday cake for me as a gift and we had an unbelievable evening. After Cappadocia we made our way back to Istanbul via Ankara and spent time with Ugur as our guide visiting the less frequented places of this vast city . In my many travels I have never really been a big user of "guides" but I think Bitinya has cornered the market on well educated, affable, knowledgeable and courteous guides. Our appreciation of Turkey was enhanced by their exceptional service. I even received phone calls from Ersin at various times through our trip, just checking to see if all was working well. This, plus the diverse and beautiful country that is Turkey, made it the best trip of my life ( so far ......lol). Thank you Bitinya Tours and I will return!
William Milsten - USA
I want to recommend the outstanding services of Bitinya for anyone wishing to visit Istanbul. Yavuz and Suleiman are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional hosts who really know how to make tour groups feel special. They go well beyond what is expected of travel guides. Yavuz even joined us during his time off to show us his favorite meatball restaurant. This is a great company for taking care of all of your Istanbul travel needs.
Glenda and Hal - AUS
Dear Yavuz, We left your beautiful country yesterday, and we wanted to say a big thank you to you and your staff for your superb organization. Everything worked perfectly: the people met us at airports, the 3 hotels were lovely, flights worked fine, and the local guides - Yalchin, Ibrahim and Jehan (hope I have the spelling right!) - were all very pleasant and helpful. We had a wonderful time, and we would highly recommend both your country and your excellent services to anybody without hesitation. For a first visit to Turkey, we would also recommend something like the itinerary we had too, with the four very different but all very interesting locations. We wish you all the best with your future business, and we feel very sure that you will continue to do well. Best wishes, Glenda and Hal Hill 28/6/2011
TravelJunkie - CANADA
We were so fortunate to have Erkan guide us "Off the Beaten Path" in Istanbul. We loved the opportunity to venture beyond the beautiful Sultanahmet to see how people actually live, work, shop in Istanbul. We saw some of the often forgotten mosques, the spice and fish markets, and then we took a ferry to the Asia side, something we might not have done without a guide. We loved Taksim, and because Erkan helped us to navigate the public transit, we felt comfortable venturing back to Taksim to check out the night life (something definitely worth doing!). The next day Erkan arranged another guide to take us around the Sultanahmet's more traditional tourist sites - the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Cistern and Topkapi Palace. We learned sooooo much more than what you can read in a guide book. The guide was very interesting, had loads of stories and anecdotes, and gave us another great day in Istanbul. We were also lucky to have Erkan organize a tour for us in Cappadocia. This place is amazing and certainly worth the trip!! We had a full day guide and because of the distances between the underground city, the open-air museum and the other things we saw. Because we were a group of six at this stage of our trip, our tour also included an air-conditioned minbus which was great on this 40 degree day! Tour guides are a great and economical way to get around a city efficiently, and see parts of the city that are likely missed by visitors to the city. The guides with Bitinya Tours were professional, engaging and insightful, and I really couldn't recommend a better way to get started.
Quasha - NOVI
My husband and I recently took a cruise that stopped in Istanbul. We booked an evening tour and half day tour the following day with Bitinya. Erkin, our tour guide for the evening was great. He tailored the tour to what we wanted to see and do. He was very informative and fun to have a drinks and dinner with. Our tourguide the next day, Liz, was also very good. Planning the tours with Erkan was efficient and although I was quite nervous about booking something online, it all worked out. Apparently in Turkey tourism is taken very seriously. The guides must obtain a 4 year university degree and are licenced through tthe government. Overall we had a great experience and would recommend them to others.
MVArlington - ARLINGTON, MASSACHUSETTS
I am not a person who usually writes reviews. This is my first ever review for anything ever! If I could give more than 5 stars I would in a second.!!! Traveling as a single female, I was very hesitant and unsure of trusting some one that I contacted online, even after all the awesome reviews that I read online.But I have to say that Erkan put all my concerns to rest, unbelievably pleasant and very friendly. I took a two day tour with Erkan. He came for the first day and arranged for his friend - Ersin- for the second day. Both of them were wonderful guides. Very knowledgeable, very professional. I would recommend Erkan and Ersin to everyone, especially single females traveling alone!
Hilary - USA
We spent the day touring the non tourist areas of Istanbul with our 3 teenagers and Erkan from Bitya tours kept them, and us for that matter, entertained for the whole day. Not an easy task! We would definitely use this company again if visiting Turkey.
Meredith - USA
Three cheers and many thanks to Erkan and Ersin for making our trip to Istanbul unforgettable and fabulous! When my husband and I were planning our trip everyone advised us to "get a guide". I am so thankful we listened as I don't know if we would have covered half the ground and learned a quarter of the history and culture on the city as we did with our guides from Bitinya tours. We booked two different tours, the Off the Beaten Path with Erkan and the Old City tour covering Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace and the Cistern with Ersin. Both gentlemen were extremely knowledgeable, personable, friendly and showed us jewels of Istanbul we would never have discovered on our own. The pace was perfect as we didn't get bored but we certainly got a work out too. And thanks to Erkan who showed us how to navigate the tram and bus system we felt confident exploring the beautiful city on our own in the days to follow.
LZ - USA
Our family recently visited Istanbul for the first time. With 2-3 days in the city before embarking on a cruise, we decided to allocate one full day to touring the sites of the old city/Sultanahmet. After corresponding with a number of tour companies, we decided to use Bitinya Tours for their full-day private walking tour. They were very accommodating as far as tailoring the itinerary to fit our interests, and their price for the day was very reasonable. While Erkan, the tour guide that we were originally interested in, was not available that day, we were very happy with the tour guide that was assigned to us, Furkan. Furkan picked us up at our hotel, and we used public transportation to get to the Sultanahmet area. His English was very good, and he was very friendly, patient, and knowledgeable. He even bought ice cream for our young kids! After a very full and long day, including a pleasant lunch with Furkan, we felt that we had accomplished all we had hoped to. I would certainly recommend Bitinya Tours to anyone visiting Istanbul in the future.
Alex - USA
Spent the day visiting the "Old City" with my guide Furkan. His insights into the city and her many treasures made for a great experience. Trust me when I say, the details he relayed in our tour made for a much more interesting slide show, than just plain photos. It was also great that he took care of the small things from bringing water, to letting the other tourist know that there was no cutting in line! From the short rail trip to the Hippodrome to ending the day in the cool areas of the Cistern, it was an amazing experience and city that I hope to visit again one day.
Chris - USA
Erkan was our tour guide for Istanbul. My son and I enjoyed his hospitality very much and his knowledge of the history and local area. Erkan is well read, and has a good understanding of Istanbul. He is a very pleasant person to be with and is honest and transparent. He answered all my questions about the culture and the mindset of the Turks. I enjoyed him as a person very much
Vani - USA
I am not a person who usually writes reviews. This is my first ever review for anything ever! If I could give more than 5 stars I would in a second.!!! Traveling as a single female, I was very hesitant and unsure of trusting some one that I contacted online, even after all the awesome reviews that I read online.But I have to say that Erkan put all my concerns to rest, unbelievably pleasant and very friendly. I took a two day tour with Erkan. He came for the first day and arranged for his friend - Ersin- for the second day. Both of them were wonderful guides. Very knowledgeable, very professional. I would recommend Erkan and Ersin to everyone, especially single females traveling alone!
Vani - USA
I am not a person who usually writes reviews. This is my first ever review for anything ever! If I could give more than 5 stars I would in a second.!!! Traveling as a single female, I was very hesitant and unsure of trusting some one that I contacted online, even after all the awesome reviews that I read online.But I have to say that Erkan put all my concerns to rest, unbelievably pleasant and very friendly. I took a two day tour with Erkan. He came for the first day and arranged for his friend - Ersin- for the second day. Both of them were wonderful guides. Very knowledgeable, very professional. I would recommend Erkan and Ersin to everyone, especially single females traveling alone!
Melissa - CANADA
Having read several reviews on Trip Advisor boasting the skills of Bitinya Tours, I contacted Erkan to help organize my recent trip to Istanbul and Cappadocia. I was not disappointed. I first want to mention Erkan's professionalism and patience with my ever changing trip plans. As my travel companions and I were travelling elsewhere prior to arriving in Istanbul, we changed our arrangements several times before deciding on two days of touring. Each time I contacted Erkan his response was pleasant and accommodating. Secondly, as a tour guide, Erkan is an engaging, considerate guide who is very attentive to his client's interests. His demeanour is so pleasant that one feels immediately at ease to ask him any questions. He introduced us to areas of Istanbul that we would have never felt confident to investigate on our own - and as he showed us local markets and restaurants his passion for Istanbul became clear. As I had visited Istanbul previously, I was worried that I would be bored with a traditional guided tour, however, the off the beaten track tour was very interesting and provided me with fresh insight to the city. On the second day of our tour, Erkan arranged for another guide to take our group to some of the more traditional tourist sites in Istanbul. This was more for the benefit of my fellow travellers, who had never been to Istanbul, however, I found the tour very interesting as we were able to custom design what we wanted to visit and how long we wanted to stay at each location. In Cappadocia, Erkan organized a stay for myself and several of our friends who were travelling there after a wedding in Ankara. There were both Turkish and Canadian people in our party of 6 - and all of us were equally impressed with the level of accommodations at the Sofa Hotel in Avanos. Erkan arranged for a guide for us for one day, and this guide was very knowledgable, enthusiastic, and flexible towards our groups interests and needs. Overall, I cannot say enough about Bitinya tours to express how wonderful our time in Turkey was. I can say without hesitation that I would recommend this tour company to anyone.
Qatsha -
My husband and I recently took a cruise that stopped in Istanbul. We booked an evening tour and half day tour the following day with Bitinya. Erkin, our tour guide for the evening was great. He tailored the tour to what we wanted to see and do. He was very informative and fun to have a drinks and dinner with. Our tourguide the next day, Liz, was also very good. Planning the tours with Erkan was efficient and although I was quite nervous about booking something online, it all worked out. Apparently in Turkey tourism is taken very seriously. The guides must obtain a 4 year university degree and are licenced through tthe government. Overall we had a great experience and would recommend them to others.
Colleen - USA
Erkan at Bitinya was extremely helpful in planning our 2 week trip to Turkey. We decided to customize our itinerary, and Erkan helped us find excellent boutique hotels in all locations. He also arranged for all transfers and connections, which was critical to the success of our trip, especially once we left Istanbul. Everything worked perfectly! On the days we used Bitinya's tour guides, we were impressed with how knowledgeable and interesting they were. We really appreciated how they made the trip more personal by showing us some of their favorite things about Istanbul. Our family all highly recommends this travel agency!
John & Jain - USA
We booked the "Chora Museum and Balat" Istanbul walking tour through Erkan, who was extremely efficient and helpful, often answering our emails within minutes. Our guide, Emre, was friendly, spoke good English and not only gave us a lot of historical background and context for the places we visited but also shared cultural insights and observations from his own experience. We felt like we got a true taste of Turkish culture. Emre went above and beyond the call of duty, extending the tour longer than we had expected so that we could see everything he wanted us to see. We were very happy with the service.
Candi - USA
From the moment that I first saw Erkan in the lobby of our hotel, with his warm and engaging smile, I knew that we were going to have a great day. Erkan is very easy going and he takes charge in a quiet and unassuming way that makes you feel well cared for. In a word (as described by my husband actually) Erkan is true "gentleman." We laughed together, we toasted new friendships and we spent a remarkable and memorable day together that I will never forget. This was not a "cookie cutter" tour. In several email communications, Erkan designed a combination tour for us that met all of my interests. He was so helpful and insightful even before we even got to Turkey to help us with our travel needs. We booked the Bosphorous tour that Erkan generously combined with his "Off the Beaten Path" tour. We saw parts of the City of Istanbul that I know that I never would have ventured to without Erkan's expert guidance. It is not that anything was dangerous, it was just the hidden treasures that we could never have found on our own even with a collection of guide books. We strolled leisurely through the streets and stopped at coffee houses and stores and enjoyed all sorts of Turkish delights. We felt completely comfortable knowing that Erkan was there to guide us and I can tell you for sure that we never would have had such a great time if we had done it on our own. We saw Istanbul through the eyes of someone who lives, breathes and experiences it every day and frankly, that is invaluable. What Erkan does for a living is not easy as he must spend entire days with total strangers and make it interesting, informative and keep the conversation going while unassumingly taking you here and there. I was content just to follow Erkan around and listen to him tell us about the lifestyle of Istanbul. He pushed me to great heights and by that I mean that he made me climb to the top of the Galata Tower despite my frantic fear of heights, and I am so glad that I did. We laughed together while he basically held my hand as we made our way around the tower as I clung to the wall!! After our day together, I got so much more out of the experience than simply a tour, I felt that I had been a part of the culture itself. I am turkish now!!! That is the magic of Erkan, he doesn't just talk at you, lecturing or pointing out things, he gives you the back story and engages you with his charm and warm personality. I also feel that it is necessary to say that the one negative post about Erkan is simply an anomaly and although that poster is entitled to her opinion, it should not persuade anyone who is considering retaining the services of Erkan or Bitinya Tours. We are all human and everyone is entitled to one mistake and this is simply not indicative of who Erkan is as a person or as a business man. He is honest and fair to a fault. He treated us to coffee and even made sure to reimburse us for the cost of a museum fee that we inadvertently had paid for which was included in our tour fee. Frankly I wouldn't even have realized the difference and would not have brought it up, but it was Erkan who raised the issue and insisted on the reimbursement. We had also booked a tour of the Chora Museum through Bitinya with some other things added and for this tour, we were treated to the expert guidance of Haluk. He was full of anecdotes and stories and I would never have appreciated the magnificience of the Chora Church without his expertise. By the way, if you are going to Istanbul, don't miss the Chora Church and have lunch at the restaurant next door as it is an experience not to miss. Again, we felt well cared for by Haluk who is an extremely intelligent man, with a massive vocabulary in english and a vast knowledge of the history of the country and the contents of the museums. At Erkan's suggestion, Haluk took us to the shops and markets of the locals and made sure that I got my "shish" (kebab skewers) from a local vendor at a fraction of the cost of the man who tried to rip me off on the street. Haluk was funny and patient as I darted and disappeared into various stores in the Spice Market and he never lost patience or interest, but was always there to lend a helping hand with a vendor if needed. (Some of those vendors can be a bit pushy) On the other hand, even though he wasn't with us on the second day, Erkan called Haluk throughout the day and made sure that we got to see and do all that we had wanted. Again, by using Bitinya, it was so easy and efficient. I never worried about how to get from one place to another (remember Istanbul is a very big City) and having the expert guidance of Erkan and Haluk, we sat back and enjoyed and learned and absorbed. I would highly recommend using the services of Erkan and Bitinya tours for any of your touring needs in Istanbul and throughout Turkey. As I said, I think that I have made a friend for life and if you meet Erkan, I am convinced that you will feel the same way.
Noah - USA
Ugur, our guide, was an experienced tour guide who provided us with lots of interesting information in addition to showing us the main sites in Istanbul. He was willing to tailor the tour to our particular interests, so let them know if you have any.
Beatrice Wolper - USA
After researching at least a dozen tour companies for a "private" tour of Troy, Ephesus and Parmukkle, Erkan of Bitinya answered all our questions promptly and efficiently. THEN, he and his driver turned out to be better than hoped. Erkan was knowledgeable, friendly and accomodating. Friends call me "high maintenance" and...I am. Erkan anticipated things i would like to do and see, and made the trip perfect. He also suggested we stay at ASSOS rather than the more touristy stop near Troy and it was delightful. the B&B was clean, the food fabulous! As if that weren't enough, when we had an extra day in Istanbul, we went on a "off-the-beaten-track"...walking tour, ending at a terrific restaurant...I WOULD RECOMMEND ERKAN AND BITINYA WITH NO RESERVATION WHATSOEVER.
Anna & David - AUS - NZL
We had a fabulous day with Erkan on the "Off the Beaten Track" tour in Istanbul. Normally we go-it-alone on such trips but as neither of us really had any idea about Istanbul and what to see apart from the major attractions, we decided that this tour would be a wonderful opportunity to get a bit further into the city and its people. From every aspect the service was excellent. I only contacted the company approx 6 days out from our arrival and received a very prompt reply from Erkan and all arrangements were made quickly and without problems. We got to explore a lot more of the city than we would have otherwise and Erkan's knowledge was both informative and interesting. He gave us recommendations for restaurants (which we wisely followed) both in Istanbul and while we were on our side trip to the Gallipoli peninsula ) and also tips for our other free days. We found ourselves going back to areas that he had taken us which we probably wouldn't have found on our own. All in all this was a great and valuable day spent with a very friendly person and our only regret is that we hadn't found this company before we had arranged our other tour to Gallipoli and used them for this as well. I would very much recommend anyone going to Istanbul or Turkey contact Bitinya and Erkan and enjoy your time.
Daniel Jung - BRAZIL
My friend and I went to Turkey for a 10 day trip (Istanbul, Canakkele/Troy, Efes/Selcuk, Panakkale and Capadocia). Bitinya Tours arrange everything: accommodation, tour guide, transportation and pick-ups. Everything went great, good accommodations, guides with very good English and transportations were always on time. As you can see I only have great things to say about Bitinya. Additional Turkey is a lovely country; for sure I will be back
Leola Prefre - USA
As a female solo traveler, I wasn't sure what to expect; but the outstanding customer service from Bitinya Tour and the professionlism of my expert tour guide, Erkan, made my visit to Istanbul a 10+. Bitinya Tour impressed me from the start. I sent an email to them on a Sunday morning and by Sunday afternoon, I had a respond. The Off the Beaten Path tour is so worth the price. I was able to do everything on my checklist in less than 8 hours and all for one low price. I took a ferry across the Bosphorous, visited tour attractions on the Asia and Europe side, hanged out in Takism Square, drink turkish coffee while eating turisk delights, shop in a local department store and have lunch in a cafe with locals. Best of all, I didn't have to spend my valuable time being stuck in traffic on a tour bus because we were able to do all of this by walking and taking public transportation.
Fauzi Salim - SINGAPORE
We engaged Erkan to give us an insight to the Bosphurus (very beautiful) and the following day, his colleague took us on a walking tour of Istanbul. I must say that they have a very in-depth knowledge of the historical sites and stories behind every prominent buildings or monuments , plus also they give good recommendations of places to see during our free time there. And also, being a shopaholic myself, Erkan did give us ideas of what to expect from the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. I do recommend Bitinya Tours to you for their professionalism , competency and their trustworthyness.....and they show genuine concern of our safety during our stay there....they have become a friend, more than just a tour guide........
Dr. N. White - CANADA
I have been on 3 Bitinya tours and enjoyed all of the thoroughly. I especially liked the out of the way, non tourist aspects, the excellent leadership; open, friendly, helpful and flexible and great value for a sinking Canadian Dollar... I have sent 5 or 6 friends along on these tours as well and all were completely happy with great times and the new breed of travellers they met... And still in touch with!
Esther Perica - USA
Bitinya Tours arranged a 5 day trip from Istanbul to Ankara several years ago. As I am interested in architecture,they arranged an architect to guide me. It was an excellent experience and I especially enjoyed the stay in various historic properties,most expecially in Safronbolu.

CONTACT US

Macka Meydani Sokak No 34/3 Ruya Apt.
34357 Besiktas ISTANBUL

+90 212 259 10 40
tours@bitinya.com

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