- An in-depth personal exploration of Byzantine Istanbul with your knowledgeable guide and lecturer
- The chance to participate in a shopping trip to the food market followed by a cooking class of current Istanbul cooking followed by an after lunch Hammam or Turkish Bath
- Dinner at a renowned restaurant on the water’s edge of the Bosphorus
- Hot Air Ballooning across the “ fairy chimneys” of Cappadocia
Day 1 Depart USA
This evening you board your overnight flight to Istanbul, one of the most fascinating cities in the world. A blend of east and west, old and new, traditional and yet, very contemporary. While still overwhelmingly Muslim in religion, the city honors all of its past and keeps its eyes both on Europe and Asia which it connects across the Bosphorus.
Day 2 Arrival in Istanbul
You arrive in Istanbul in the morning feeling reasonably alert thanks to your Business Class seat. After completing formalities you will be met by our guide who will take you to the car for the private transfer to your deluxe hotel located directly on the Bosphorus. You have a chance to relax, unwind and do a little exploring around the hotel before dinner is served.
Day 3 The Byzantine City of Constantinople
Today you will focus on Constantinople as it was in the days of Constantine and the other Roman Emperors. You depart the hotel with your personal guide who is also a lecturer on the history of the City. You are first taken to the site of the famous Hippodrome. Here you will see the obelisk of Theodosius with its 4th Century reliefs. You then visit Aya Sophia, the great church built by the Emperor Justinian. After a private and instructive tour you are then taken to the impressive Yerebatan Saray which is an underground cistern created by the Romans. The chamber is supported by rows and rows of columns and has been totally restored to its original splendor. Leaving the cistern you go to Istanbul's best Kebab restaurant for lunch then head for the Theodosian Walls built in the 5th Century to protect the city. Nearby is the Kariye Museum, once the church of St. Saviour in Chora, famous for its superb mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Christ. This evening, you are met by your guide and taken to Cicek Pasaji which means Flower Passage since it was once the city's flower market. Today it has been transformed into a glass covered arcade with over 60 restaurants filled with local people. In addition to tasting Turkish wines you will be offered a variety of foods to accompany the wine.
Day 4 The Reign of the Ottoman Turks
Today we concentrate on Ottoman Istanbul beginning with a visit to one of the city's (and the world's) greatest monuments, The Blue Mosque. With your expert guide you will learn that the Mosque was built in the 17th Century and is famous for its great dome, six minarets and an interior covered in blue Iznik tiles. After a detailed visit you then visit the Museum of Islamic Art which offers an intriguing and surprising insight into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman aristocracy. Your last visit of the morning will be to the legendary Topkapi Sarayi With the help of your expert guide you will explore its many pavilions, courtyards and gardens, including the famous Harem, and see unrivalled treasures from the collections of the Ottoman Sultans including dazzling jewelry and unique porcelain. You'll break for lunch at a restaurant located inside the Topkapi Palace Gardens. After lunch you are off to the Grand Bazaar, a unique covered market with over 4,000 shops selling carpets, leather goods, jewelry, and many other items. You will have a chance to shop but with your guide nearby to ensure that you don't get lost. Before returning to the hotel you stop by Gulluoglo Baklavacisi to learn the secrets of real Turkish Baklava. After resting at the hotel, you meet your guide who, in keeping with the Ottoman theme, will take you to the Haci Abdullah restaurant which was founded in the 19th Century and specializes in Ottoman-Turkish Cuisine.
Day 5 Today's Istanbul
Today you move into the 21st Century and explore contemporary Istanbul. Your driver will be waiting to take you first to the Levent District and the Canyon shopping complex which, while an open-air venue, has special air conditioning that cools in the summer and heats in winter. You have a chance to peruse the many upscale and, in some cases, funky shops before rejoining your driver for the trip to Nisantasi known as "The Aristocrats' Quarter". Between the Macka, Valikonagi and Harbiye Streets you will discover old mansions along with Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Gucci, Balenciaga and Chloe to name a few. After you have wandered around and enjoyed lunch the rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Dinner is at the hotel this evening but after dinner we suggest you explore some of Istanbul's nightlife especially if you are visiting between May and October since many outdoor venues feature music of all tastes, drinks and views of the Bosphorus.
Day 6 A Day on the Bosphorus
After breakfast you will meet your guide for a day spent on and around the Bosphorus.You start with a drive to the Dolmabahce Palace built in the 19th Century by Sultan Abdul Mecit as a summer palace.The Palace, which overlooks the Bosphorus, is divided into ceremonial and private quarters, with marble, gold, silk and crystal in abundance. After the downfall of the Sultans, Kemal Ataturk lived and died here and all the clocks are stopped at 9:05 a.m. the time that the founder of modern Turkey died. After a private tour of the palace you are escorted to a nearby pier where your boat is waiting to take you on a private cruise of the Bosphorus. During the journey your guide will point out the various "yali" which are picturesque wooden houses built along the water's edge. You disembark at the Korfez Restaurant's Private Pier where a table for lunch has been reserved. With its unique views, state of the art cooking and excellent service it is no wonder that Departures Magazine named it "one of the ten best waterfront restaurants in the world". After lunch we have arranged for you to visit with a Turkish family whose family has lived in a ‘yali' for several generations. It is one of the rarest mansions on the Bosphorus possessing the original architecture and furniture. After enjoying afternoon coffee or tea, you are returned to your hotel for a chance to relax. Dinner is at the hotel this evening but after dinner we suggest you explore some of Istanbul's nightlife especially if you are visiting between May and October since many outdoor venues feature music of all tastes, drinks and views of the Bosphorus.
Day 7 The Culture and Cuisine of Istanbul
Today we want to immerse you in the culture of Turkey, particularly Istanbul. Your guide picks you up and delivers you to your chef/instructor who is going to introduce you to the basics of Turkish cooking. The first stop will be the markets where you pick up the fresh ingredients needed for today's lunch preparation. You depart for the kitchen where you will assist in both the preparation and consumption of lunch. After lunch you have the opportunity to try to unique Turkish pastimes. The first is the Hamman or Turkish Bath which both refreshes and rejuvenates. You then are invited to try a Nargile in which tobacco or, more recently, fermented fruit are smoked through a long pipe with the smoke being cooled by passing through water and thus removing the harmful elements. Turks can spend several hours in discussion while using the Nargile but we just expect you to give it a try. On this, your final evening we take you to 360 Istanbul located on top of an apartment building. With high ceilings and a glass curtain system opening on to a panoramic terrace, the views are spectacular. The focus of the restaurant is to have small plates of many of the variety of foods on the menu.
Day 8 Departure for Cappadocia “The Land of the Faeries”
This morning your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for the flight to Cappadocia. This area of unusual rock formations and cave structures is noted for what are called fairy chimneys, monoliths sticking out of the ground and often likened to the tops of ice cream cones. During its history, Cappadocia has been ruled by Hittites, Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Sassanids, Emevians, Selcuks and, more recently Ottomans. Upon arrival in Kayseri a historical town located below the majestic Erciyes Mountains, you are met by your guide and driven to the region of Cappadocia which takes about an hour. Upon arrival you will be invited to try some Cappadocian Wine while you are checking in. After lunch you will head out to visit the "fairy chimneys" and climb the steps of the Uchisar Castle a giant rock-like structure whose summit will give you a splendid view over all of Cappadocia. There is a village built into the base of the formation including cave dwellings, some made into hotels. Your next visit will be to Goreme National Park to see the rock-carved churches. In early times, Christians fled to Cappadocia to escape persecution by the Romans. Churches were built and many early Christians like Saint Simon lived in hollowed out caves only coming out for food After a detailed visit you will head to a restaurant which was formerly a "Guve Hamani" a place where a groom and the male members of the wedding party would meet to prepare for the wedding. The restaurant is situated on the lower slopes of Uchisar Castle and offers spectacular views of the valley along with excellent food.
Day 9 Hot Air Ballooning and a Turkish Cooking Lesson
Early in the morning, before sunrise, you will be taken to a meeting point where your balloon will be waiting to take you on a spectacular ride as the sun rises over Cappadocia. The overwhelming beauty of the silence combined with the awakening colors as the sun kisses the earth will create a lasting impression and a great start to the day. After landing a champagne breakfast will be served before returning to the hotel. After a chance to freshen up your guide will first take you to the underground village of Tatlarin which includes storage rooms and a large number of churches leading some to think that it was a monastic order rather than a true village. You then drive to Zelve Valley for some more cave dwellings. After lunch you will visit the potters of Avanos who have practiced their craft, generation to generation for more than 4,000 years. Your last stop will be Kizilcukur Valley which offers spectacular sunsets. As the sun sets it is our pleasure to offer you local Cappadocian wines to toast the sunset much as you toasted the sunrise. After freshening up at the hotel you are taken to one of Cappadocia's best restaurants where you will learn the basics of Turkish cuisine. You will then be able to enjoy your meal while admiring the scenery of Cappadocia.
Day 10 The Ihlara Valley and the Wines of Cappadocia
After a leisurely breakfast, you meet up with your guide who will first take you to the Ihlara Valley which was created over the years by the erosion of volcanic lava. This untamed valley has the Melendiz river running through it creating stunning scenic contrasts. Today you will learn about the creation and history of the wines of Cappadocia. Wine has been produced in this area for five thousand years as far back as the Hittites. We will examine the origins of the Emir grape which produces a very dense white wine and the local red wines, Kalecik Karasi and Papazkarasi. A visit to the local wineries will allow the opportunity to taste wine that was drunk by Hittites. After toasting the sunset you return to the hotel where dinner awaits.
Day 11 Shop 'til Your Drop...Istanbul style
This morning your guide will pick you up at your hotel and take you to back to Kayseri where you board your flight for the return to Istanbul. Upon arrival you are met by your guide and offered a choice of shopping opportunities. You can return to the Grand Bazaar for some unique and interesting purchases including a superb carpet or you can opt for a visit to the more modern areas of Levent and Nisantasi if your shopping urges run more to Armani and Balenciaga. Where you elect to shop will determine where you have lunch. Of course, the option is yours if you want to have lunch and then do some further sightseeing on your own. Regardless of your choice, in the evening you will again dine on the Bosphorus but this time on the European side. Feriya is located in a restored historical building with a dining terrace right on the waterfront. Its cuisine matches its location.
Day 12 Return to USA
After breakfast, your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for your return trip to the USA. You arrive back later that same afternoon.
Available Year Round
Adventures Cooking Classes in Cappadocia Location and other villas and tours nearby
Disclaimer: Pins in map may not be accurate if Google Maps cannot find the exact address. In this case an approximation is made.
Tour Location / Places Visiteds
Istanbul, Cappadochia, Istanbul
Additional Pricing Information
- 1st Class rail travel as indicated on the itinerary
- Superior Rooms at the properties indicated in the accommodations area (We reserve the right to substitute a property of equal quality in advance of departure should the designated hotel be unavailable)
- Private Transfers to and from the airport or rail station at destination
- All meals as indicated on the itinerary by B=Breakfast, L=Lunch and D=Dinner
- Private guides for city explorations and private driver/guide while traveling.
- Entrance fees to all museums, attractions and other venues as indicated on the daily itinerary
- Baggage handling at all hotels
- All applicable taxes and service fees
Services Not Included
- International airfare (round-trip from hometown departure gateway to destination)
- Beverages with included meals (unless otherwise indicated on itinerary page)
- Any meals not indicated on the Itinerary page
- Items of a personal nature e.g. minibar, film, postcards etc.
- Gratuities to Guides and Driver/Guides (we provide suggested guidelines for your selected destination in your pre-departure material)
- Any passport or visa fees or government departure taxes (It is the traveler’s responsibility to secure the latest information regarding passports and visa requirements)
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