Istanbul Mini Break (4 Days)
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.
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
We pick you up from your hotel, then your Istanbul Old City tour starts with a visit to the famous Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque because of the colour of the thousands of tiles that decorate its interior. Built between 1609-1616 during the reign of Ahmed I, the Blue Mosque has six minarets, which was more than any other mosque in the world at the time it was built. As you enter you will be dazzled by the visual effect provided by the beautiful tiles, lighting and the curves of the domes.
We then take a short stroll across Sultanahmet Park, and along some cobblestone streets to the impressive Topkapi Palace, former home of the Ottoman Sultans and some of the most colourful stories in history. As we wander through the impressive courtyards of the palace you will learn what life was like in the Ottoman court and see the palace kitchens, the Treasury, the Armoury, various pavilions and more. Your guide will entertain you with stories of ambitious Sultans and courtiers and the women of the Harem. Your tour does not include a visit to the Harem. However, you will have free time to visit (entrance fee extra).
After stopping for a lunch break where you will have a chance to sample some tasty local cuisine, we will continue on to visit the Hagia Sophia, built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, and consecrated as a church in 537. It is one of the most important monuments in Istanbul because of its architectural innovation, its rich history, religious importance and incredible beauty. It became a mosque in 1453, and finally, a museum in 1935.
Our walk continues towards the Grand Bazaar. We stop at the Byzantine Hippodrome along the way. The Hippodrome was the centre of Constantinople’s sporting events such as horse and chariot races. It was also the scene of political protests. The Hippodrome is home to a number of important monuments such as the Serpent Column which originates from the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. It also features an Obelisk bought in from Egypt by Theodosius the Great, and the German Fountain, gifted to Istanbul by Germany.
After a short stroll through Sultanahmet we will arrive at the Grand Bazaar. This colourful and chaotic labyrinth of more than 4,000 shops boasts traditional Turkish wares such as copperware, carpets, leather, hand-painted ceramics and more. It is also home to artisans who still practise traditional art forms such as copper engraving, woodwork and more. If you are lucky, you might be able to watch one at work.
Your guide will give you an overview of the history of the Grand Bazaar. You will then have free time to browse the shops. Drop back to your hotel.
Overnight Istanbul (B,L)
Day 3 – Istanbul Bosphorous and Two Continents Tour
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 continents of Europe and Asia. Our cruise will take us past Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces. You will also see lots of wooden villas and mansions on the shores. We will also pass Rumeli Fortress (viewed from the sea). This fortress was critical to the conquer of Istanbul by Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II in 1453.
Lunch at a local restaurant (Drinks extra)
Turkey is one of the world’s top countries for leather production. Therefore, after lunch we will watch a fashion show at a leather outlet. There are lots of reasonably priced, high quality leather goods for sale. Products include jackets and handbags. It’s lots of fun, and a chance to better understand the importance of this industry in Turkey.
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. You’ll have a chance to rest and enjoy a drink in the cafeteria.
We then drive across the famous Bosphorus Bridge, crossing from one continent (Asia) to another (Europe).
After finishing the tour, return to your hotel.
Overnight Istanbul (B,L)
Day 4 – Istanbul
Your Istanbul mini-break concludes after breakfast. Check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport. (B)
- 3 nights accommodation in Istanbul on BB basis
- 3 breakfasts, 2 local lunches
- Inbound and Outbound Airport Transfers
- Professional English-speaking tour guide during the tours
- Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle
- Entrance fees for the museums and sites
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