Istanbul has now joined many other international tourist destinations with its very own red, open top bus tour service.

There is now a sightseeing bus that takes you around Istanbul with commentary in several languages (you wear headphones and select your language).

It leaves from just opposite Aya Sofya in the old city and takes 1.5 – 2 hours, depending on traffic, to drive across the Golden Horn on the lower bridge, give you a look at many sights on the European side, then crosses back by the upper bridge to take you around the highlights of the old city including driving around the original city walls.

It costs 20 euros which we feel is a bit steep for a comparatively short experience. Although it is fairly comparable with UK cities such as Edinburgh that charge around 15 Euros for a much shorter trip.

However, for your first visit it could be worthwhile to get your bearings, and maybe a look at parts of the city you wouldn’t otherwise explore.

And after we originally compiled this article we ran into friends from Üzümlü, recently returned from their first visit to Istanbul, who had taken this sightseeing bus.

They agreed it was expensive but felt it was worth the cost as it gave them an overview of Istanbul they wouldn’t have got otherwise.

Plus, it showed them places they wouldn’t have gone to and gave them ideas for places to see on their next visit.

So if you are visiting Istanbul for the first time – get on the bus.