Discover Istanbul & Turkey with Serif Yenen & Team

“All travelers are tourists; not all tourists are travelers.” Be a traveler! Go beyond the ordinary. Mix with locals. Immerse yourself in the local culture. Go through the back streets and eat at local restaurants.

To discover Istanbul or Cappadocia or Ephesus; we have a variety of choices for all kinds of budgets, depending upon your preferred time and personal interests. You can either join one of our small group tours and enjoy the benefit of being in a small-size group with very reasonable prices or allow us to tailor a private tour for you. Daily rates start at $100 USD per person.

Apart from private tours, Serif Yenen Signature Tours are high-end tailor-made private tours by Serif or expert guides with almost everything planned and included.

We are eager to share our knowledge and experience with you in your selection of choices.

On our tours, in addition to showing you the highlights of the city, we are prepared to take you to places not on the tourist’s typical itinerary, where we can have local experiences and meet local people. If you wish, we can use public transportation, try various kinds of street food, and take any opportunity for a spontaneous detour.

As a tour guide, I have almost 30 years of field experience. I served in the Tour Guide Organization for 13 years, and was elected as President for four terms. I have authored many guidebooks and lectured on Turkish travel.

VIPs who have used my services include: Pope Benedict XVI, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. George Friedman, Matt Lauer, Lester Holt and many others…

We are a team of very competent guides with good command of English and a lot of knowledge to share with you. When I am unavailable on a particular travel date, I will handpick someone from our team specifically for you and your interests.

We look forward to hearing from you. Ask for a Quote!

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  • Biography

    My first name, Serif, has a tail at the bottom of the “S” (Şerif), that gives it a “sh” sound, so my name is pronounced “Sheriff”. I am married and have three children.

    I was born into a middle-class family in Ödemis near Izmir in 1963. After completing middle school, I became a military student at the Kuleli Military High School in Istanbul, where instruction was mainly in English.

    After earning degrees in Linguistics, English and American Literature, I taught English in the armed forces for four years. After reaching the rank of lieutenant, I left the army, and was selected from a large field of candidates to become a tour guide. I loved it, and have been working ever since with the same enthusiasm I had my first year, in 1989.

    I’ve traveled extensively, to more than 35 countries, but Turkey is my home, the place I’ve studied and explored in depth.

  • Career

    Tour guide: 1989 to the present. Past president of Tour Guide Organization of Turkey.

    Author: Turkish Odyssey, the first guidebook of Turkey to be written by a Turk; published in four languages; 4th edition currently sold out; several other books used as textbooks or on suggested reading lists at various universities; articles and columns published in international magazines and national newspapers.

    Producer, director and writer: Istanbul Unveiled (, a travel documentary featuring interviews with people in occupations unique to Istanbul, as well as a tour of the city’s main attractions. The documentary has won nine international awards.

    Lecturer: In the U. S. and Turkey, to academic communities, at museums, universities, travel clubs, and libraries, and for tour and cruise companies. Lecture sites in the U.S. have included The Smithsonian, Boston University, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    Advocate: Introduced legislation to recognize tour guiding as a regulated profession.

  • Personal Touch and Controversial Topics

    I pride myself on adding personal touches to every tour. I want my guests to have memorable experiences, and return home with a great deal more than just having visited one more country. This is extremely important to me as a person and as a professional.

    By the way, I have no trouble discussing controversial issues, which travelers love to bring up—whether it’s Turkey’s relationship with the European Union, or political or ethnic issues. Also, from years of doing tours, I know how my guests love to experience spontaneity. On every trip I lead, I try to introduce something new, or even, perhaps, a surprise!

  • Why Serif Yenen?

    • * Experienced, yet still enthusiastic about what he does – giving you, the traveler, a personalized tour of the country he knows so well.
    • * Private Tours with the author of one of the best cultural guidebooks of Turkey: Turkish Odyssey.
    • * Orientation, with map overview.
    • * Complimentary copies of some of Serif’s publications.
    • * No crowds, no queues! Priority ticket booths for professional tour guides.
    • * Open to all questions and discussions. Effective and entertaining communicator.
    • * Individually designed itineraries, from a few hours in Istanbul to days or weeks around Turkey.
    • * Families with children are welcome. This father of three children has ideas on how to engage them.
    • * Senior citizens accommodated with pleasure.
    • * A Serif Yenen Tour qualifies you for a 25% discount on any C.I.P. event or cultural activity in Istanbul
    • * Because individual travel is our specialty, we do get to know our guests and see if they have special requests, off-the-beaten track quests, interests beyond the mainstream. We are uniquely qualified to make sure all expectations are met, and usually exceeded.
    • * One of Serif’s greatest passions is shopping and gathering information about where to buy what. Therefore, if there is interest, he provides personal shopper services ensuring hassle-free purchasing and fair prices.
    • * Local restaurant recommendations. (Turkish cuisine is among the best in the world.)
  • Transportation

    Depending on the location of your hotel or the place you are staying, we may need transportation. For transportation, we have three options:

    a) Private air-conditioned van with a driver, which I can arrange separately
    b) Taxi cab (they hold 4 passengers maximum, you need to count me in)
    c) Public transportation, which may be fun depending on the location of your hotel.

  • Concierge Services

    We have experience in planning highly personalized tours and providing VIP services. Do you want to celebrate a special occasion? Do you want a luxurious spa experience, a personalized adventure, a particular private tour? Just let us know. We can also arrange special luxury accommodations at hotels or resorts. We have the resources to customize your travel.
  • Visa Information for Turkey

    For visitors from many countries, a visa is required for entry into Turkey. I strongly suggest that you get an electronic visa before your arrival. This will make things much easier. You can get the visa and more information about the visa procedures at When you get the electronic visa, I remind you that you must keep the visa together with your passport.