Istanbul's many historical areas were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1985. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and is among the 15 larger urban areas in the world. It is located on the Bosporus Strait and covers the entire area of the Golden Horn, a natural harbour. Because of its size, Istanbul extends into both Europe and Asia. The city is the world’s only metropolis to be on more than one continent.
An exciting day of discovery to some of Istanbul's famous sights in the old part of town. Istanbul was the hub of the Ottoman Empire and many of the grand buildings of this period are still present.
During its 3,000 years of turbulent history, it has been home to the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and, finally, the Turks themselves – all leaving their mark.
Istanbul's Old City surrounding Sultan Ahmet is rich in ancient architecture which includes the famous Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Once known as Constantinople - the capital of the Byzantine, Istanbul was centred historically around Sultan Ahmet. Istanbul's historical architectures are deeply influenced by the Byzantine, and Ottoman Empires, which all, at some point in history, controlled Constantinople, thus the architectural designs are diverse and are deeply seeded in history.
Day 1: Arrive
Meet and greet at Istanbul Airport. Transfer to our hotel..
Day 2: Old City Tour (Sultan Ahmet)
Today’s highlights are;
*Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian partriarchal catheral later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum (Ayasofya Müzesi) in Istanbul. Built in AD 537 at the beginning of the middle ages. it was famous in particular for its massive dome It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time. It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have "changed the history of architecture.
*The Blue Mosque was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed. Its Kulliye contains Ahmed's tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.
* The Egyptian (spice) Bazaar may be the largest and most famous of Istanbul's covered bazaars, this spice market wins the prize for being the most colorful, fragrant, and often the most fun – as visitors can taste the goods on offer. Built in 1664, as part of the Yeni Camii, complex, it is known in Turkish as Mısır Çarşısı, and sometimes translated to Egyptian Bazaar or 'Corn Market'(mısır means both Egypt and corn in Turkish).
*The Basilica Cistern the Basilica Cistern, is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The cistern, located 150 metres southwest of the Hagia Sophia on the historical peninsula of Sarayburnu, was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
Evening optional itinerary: Turkish Night Dinner Cruise for £50 pp
Day 3: Princess Island and boat tour on the Bosphorus
Pick up from the hotel, transfer to the Harbour of Kabatas, take the ferry to one of the Princess Islands, Buyukada (Big island). During the cruise, we will view the charming sights of Istanbul along the way and the stunning Bosphorus – the famous strait that separates Europe and Asia.
Buyukada is an island with a historic pier, market square, spectacular million-pound historical wooden summer mansions, and Aya Yorgi Monastery overlooking the blue sea. The island has a slow pace, you can hear the sound of silence, away from the rush. The island is vehicle free with only horse-drawn carriages. We will be exploring the beautiful island on foot.
Day 4: Modern Istanbul
Pick up from hotel;
Today’s Highlights are;
Pick you up from your hotel, transferred to Airport to take a flight to Cappadocia
airport. You will be met and greeted at the airport. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy the
rest of the time in Goreme town. Stay in Cave Hotel.
Day 6: Cappadocia Day 1
The first Day is in South Cappadocia: You will be met and transferred to your hotel. Hotel pick up at 09:30am.
Today’s highlights are;
We will start with a hike in the Meskendir Valley, which is full of old cave houses and complexes from the old Christian civilisation. Next we cross over to the beautiful Red and Rose, and Love Valleys with their spectacular formations and colours where, time permitting, there is an opportunity to visit some hidden churches.
Walking time/distance: 4-5 hrs, 9 kms; Ascent: 85m / Descent: 135m (Meskendir Valley; Red & Rose Valley).
Optional excursion: Hot air Balloon at sunrise £250
Your tour will finish at 17.30 and you will be dropped atto your hotel.
Day 7: Ihlara valley
Hotel pick up at 09:30 am.
This morning we drive to Ihlara, en route we visit the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu (8 levels connected by a series of tunnels, extending to a depth of 64m under the ground). Carved in ancient times as a shelter during periods of siege and continuous raids, this huge hidden city under the plains of Central Anatolia can best be described as “Swiss Cheese”! Then we visit the Ihlara Canyon area for a beautiful half-day walk. Ihlara is one of the best hiking areas in the region and home to a river that has gouged a 100m vertical gorge through this valley. Here the trees, birds and the sound of running water offers a very pleasant walk as well as a good taste of ancient Christian life. We will have time to visit a couple of churches and have lunch at 13:00 before we visit the Selime Monastery, one of the largest in the region. Afterwards we drive back to Cappadocia. Afterwards we return to our hotel.
Walking time: 3-4 hrs; Walking Distance: 8 km (Ihlara - Belisirma). Transfer time: 1/2 h; Transfer Distance: 95 km.
Your tour will finish at 17.30 and you will transfer back to the hotel.
Optional Turkish dinner: Sema Whirling Dervishes of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi. The Sema ceremony symbolises the mystical journey of a man's spiritual growth through mind and love to perfection. The dinner includes belly dancing, Turkish mezes, main meal, dessert and delicious local Wine or soft drink for £50pp.
Boutique Hotel accommodation in Istanbul, Boutique Cave Hotel and Stone Hotel in Cappadocia
What is not included