5 Day Istanbul Mini Break
Magical Istanbul – former home to the Sultans, the only city in the world to straddle two continents, and the perfect place to spend a few days. You’ll see iconic landmarks such as the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Hagia Sophia. Marvel at the beautiful old buildings, haggle for bargains in the Grand Bazaar, and feel the wind in your hair as you cruise the Bosphorous. After seeing the highlights of the city’s history, it’s time for some retail therapy and a look at the city from the top of Turkey’s highest building.
Day 1 – Istanbul
Your Istanbul mini-break commences when you are met on arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and transferred to your hotel. Early check-in is subject to availability, however, we will do our best. It is easy to fall in love with this vibrant city with its mass of colours and incredible architecture. You will be amazed by its beauty as well as its history. You will also be captivated by its nightlife, with many shops, cafés, bars,and nightclubs open till late night. This afternoon enjoy a rest after your long flight. Lunch and dinner excluded.
Day 2 – Istanbul Old City
Pick-up from your hotel at approximately 8.00am for your full-day city tour which includes:
- The Hippodrome – once the scene of ancient chariot races, and its four monuments. These include: German Fountain of Wilhelm II; the Obelisk of Thedosius; the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine.
- Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque – across from the St. Sophia, and built in the 17th century by the architect Mehmet. It is referred to as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior, which is decorated with thousands of blue Iznik tiles.
- St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia). Built by Constantine the Great in the 4th Century, and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century, this ancient basilica is one of the greatest architectural marvels of all time.
- Grand Bazaar (covered market). Here you will be able to wander the streets and passages of more than 4000 shops organized into different trade areas including the goldsmiths’ street, the carpet sellers street and areas devoted to Turkish arts and crafts. These include hand-painted ceramic plates, copperware, brassware and trays, water ewers, onyxware, meerschaum pipes and more.
Lunch at a local restaurant (Drinks are extra).
- Little Hagia Sophia Mosque – a former orthodox church, which was converted to a mosque around 1506. Built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, its early domed-basilica is similar in style to that of the famous Hagia Sophia. Dating back to the 6th Century, it is one of the oldest churches in Istanbul.
- Topkapi Palace – the great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Today it houses an exquisite collection of precious gems, jewellery, thrones, robes and beautiful miniatures. It also includes a collection of religious items gifted to the Ottoman Sultans including including some items associated with Muhammed. (Note: the Harem is not included in the program. You will have free time to visit, however please note that entrance is subject to an additional entrance fee).
After finishing the tour, return to your hotel.
Overnight Istanbul (B,L)
Day 3 – Istanbul Bosphorus and Two Continents Tour
Pick up from your hotel. We start our day with a drive along the old city walls which were breached only twice in history. The first breach was during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, and the second by the cannons and troops of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453.
We then continue our drive along the Golden Horn, a natural and secure harbor which divides the European shore of Istanbul into two. As a result, the Golden Horn has played an important role in the development and protection of Istanbul.
Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar). The aromas from every conceivable herb and spice, including cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint and thyme will entice you as you walk through.
Boat Trip on the Bosphorus. Finally, we finish our day with a relaxing cruise along the Bosphorus between the two continents of Europe and Asia. We will cruise past Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions. We will also pass by the Rumeli Fortress (viewed from the sea – no interior visit), which was critical to the conquer of Istanbul by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.
Lunch at a local restaurant. (Drinks are extra)
Turkey is one of the world’s top countries for leather production. Therefore, after lunch we will watch a fashion show at an outlet centre which manufactures and sells a range of leather products, including jackets and handbags. It’s lots of fun, and a good opportunity to have a look at reasonably priced, high quality leather goods.
While we are on the Asian side of Istanbul we will also visit Beylerbeyi Palace. This palace was once a summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans.
We will also drive up Çamlıca Hill, one of the highest points in Istanbul. At the top, you can admire the magnificent panorama of Istanbul and the Bosphorus from the beautiful traditionally-landscaped gardens. You’ll have a chance to rest and enjoy a drink in the cafeteria.
We then drive across the famous Bosphorus Bridge, giving you a unique chance to cross from one continent (Asia) to another (Europe).
After finishing the tour, return to your hotel.
Overnight Istanbul (B,L)
Day 4 – Istanbul
Today it’s time to hit the shops with the help of our English-speaking assistant. You will take the metro to the 4. Levent station, to the Sapphire Shopping Mall.
Our first stop is the Sapphire Observation deck, which although it is not as high as the Empire State building or New York’s Top of the Rock, is a great example of contemporary architecture. At 261 metres high, from here you will enjoy an incredible 360-degree view of the city. Before leaving the observation deck, you will have a chance to go on the Skyride—a 4D helicopter simulated journey over the city.
Shopping opportunities in the Sapphire mall. Here, East and West, traditional and contemporary have come together in a unique attraction and shopping experience. The Sapphire’s shops include a combination of designer and more affordable brands along with a bazaar floor which houses traditional flavors. When you are done shopping, you will have a chance to rest and enjoy the range of Turkish and International cuisine served in the Sapphire’s food court.
Finally, you will be dropped back to your hotel.
Overnight in Istanbul (B)
Note: alternative activities for today include a Gallipoli Day Trip or a Food Tasting Walking Tour for an additional $50USD per person
Day 5 – Istanbul
Your Istanbul mini-break concludes after breakfast. Check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport. (B)
- 4 nights accommodation in Istanbul on BB basis – Momento Hotel or similar:www.hotelmomento.com
- 4 breakfasts, 2 local lunches
- Inbound and Outbound Airport Tansfers
- Professional English-speaking tour guide during the tours
- English-speaking assistant for the shopping trip on Day 4
- Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking coach
- Entrance fees for the museums and sites
- Entrance fee for Observation desk and Skyride
- Round trip Metro ticket
- Personal expenses
Twin Share / Double: $515 per person
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