In an ancient han, watch artisans perfect the skills passed down over the centuries. Explore the Grand Bazaar, a web of vaulted passages packed with thousands of stalls. Soak up the sight of the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque as the whole city stretches beneath.
Uncover the multi-layered city of Istanbul; the continent-straddling metropolis that so many civilisations have called home over the past nine thousand years. Get an intimate and local feel for the city with an expert guide, surrounded by the remains of great fallen empires. In the streets and laneways between the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture, a cosmopolitan modern world thrives. Mix with Istanbulites at the Grand Bazaar that lies at the end of the historic Silk Road. Discover the Ottoman architecture of the city’s mosques and cruise along the Bosphorus taking in the sights to the Black Sea. Istanbul is a city that takes the best of the East and West and infuses it with its own unique character. Discover it on this illumining independent experience.
TRIP CHANGES FOR 2018:
In 2018 this trip will be discontinued. We recommend our PEGBX Istanbul & Gallipoli Battlefields – Experience that will include a home cooked meal with a local family in Istanbul as well as a guided tour of Gallipoli.
Breakfast Included: 3 Lunches Included: 2 Lunches Included:
Welcome to Istanbul, Turkey! If you arrive at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport (IST), you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If you arrive at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer). Today is an arrival day and you are free to arrive at the joining point hotel at any time before 6pm. Please ask for your welcome note when checking in and be available in the hotel lobby at 6pm for your evening experience. Until then, head out and get your first taste of this continent-straddling metropolis that so many civilisations have called home. In the streets and laneways, discover the cosmopolitan modern world that thrives between the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. This evening you will experience a unique traditional ritual that has been proclaimed as Intangible Cultural Heritage, or Human Treasures, by UNESCO. You will visit the Hodjapasha Cultural Centre and witness a performance of the Sema, the ceremony of the Whirling Dervish. The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony represents the mystical journey of man’s spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection. The ceremony involves poetry, Turkish classical music, chanting of the Koran and precise twirling that seeks to summon the divine. Dating back over 700 years, it forms an important part of the heritage of Turkish culture. After the ceremony, take the opportunity to try your first taste of local Turkish cuisine.
Meet your local guide early this morning to journey in the footsteps of the city’s most famous ruler and conquer Istanbul in just a day. Head to Sultanahmet (the Old City, formerly Constantinople), where ancient empires based themselves and historical sites intertwine with backstreets filled with hidden gems. Here you’ll visit the jaw-dropping giant church/mosque/museum of the Hagia Sofia, whose stunning construction is said to have changed the history of architecture. Don’t miss the excellent mosaics found inside. Gaze upon the beauty of the cascading domes of the Blue Mosque, so called for the blue tiles found on its interior walls, and maybe gain a deeper insight into Islam from your guide. When not erecting splendid buildings the Byzantine Emperors loved a bit of entertainment, and the hippodrome was their stadium. Inspect some of the decorative statues and obelisks that remain from a time when this now tree-lined land would hold thousands of chariot racing fans. Eat a tasty Turkish lunch with locals at a hidden café, and then listen to stories of how generations of sultans lived at the grand Topkapi Palace. The palace consists of four courts, each more lavishly decorated than the last, and the fourth has spectacular views across the Bosphorus Strait. Next, head to the edges of the Grand Bazaar, perhaps peering in to an ancient han – former inns transformed into shops dedicated to a merchant’s particular craft. Finish it all off with a backstreet tour and some good-natured haggling with local artisans in the Grand Bazaar, packed with over 3,000 stalls of handcrafted jewellery, textiles and books. This evening is free for you to explore more or just sit at a cafe and take in the unique atmosphere.
This morning you will be picked up from your hotel at 9.00am . Back on board we continue our Bosphorus exploration with a stop at Rumeli Hisari, constructed by Mehmet the Conquerer strategically situated at the narrowest point on the Bosphorus. You will enjoy a delicious lunch served on Board, continuing to the northen point of the Strait you will stop at a cove right near the mouth of the Black Sea, enjoy some swimming and relaxing before exploring Anadolu Kavagi a picturesque fishing village. Return to the port of Kabatas where a service vehicle will drop you back at your hotel.
Your independent Istanbul exploration comes to an end after breakfast. Perhaps choose to extend your stay and take your haggling skills back into the Great Bazaar.