Day 1 Depart USA
- Learning the secrets of Baklava at Istanbul’s Gulluoglo Baklavicisi
- Cruising the Bosphorus in your private boat and stopping in for tea at one of the private waterside “yahlis” or mansions.
- A privately guided exploration of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis
- Shopping for embroidery and homemade olive oil in the quaint village of Sirince.
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. The city has seen three major eras. The first was as the center of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. This part, in fact lasted longer than the Eastern part of the Empire based in Rome. The next major era was the Ottoman Era when Muslims took over from Christians until World War I and the ill-fated alliance with the Germans caused the collapse. The current era began when the father of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk created a secular society beginning in the early Twentieth Century. 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 waterfront of 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 Justinian and the other Roman Emperors. You depart the hotel with your personal guide who is also a lecturer on the history of the City. The morning will primarily be spent at Seraglio Point where 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 as a water source for both the Byzantine Emperors and later the Ottomans' Topkapi Palace. (Fans of the James Bond movie "From Russia with Love" will recall that Bond paddled across the cistern to spy on the Russian Embassy.) The underground 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. After returning to the hotel to freshen up and relax, you are met by your guide and taken to a local restaurant for a delightful dinner with 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, Sultan Ahmet Camii, better known to us as 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. Housed in the 16th Century Palace of a Grand Vizier (who was executed by Suleiman the Magnificent),the museum offers an intriguing and surprising insight into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman aristocracy. The exhibits include reconstructed interiors, miniatures, carpets and manuscripts dating from the 8th to the 19th Centuries. Your last visit of the morning will be to the legendary Topkapi Sarayi. Begun by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453, it was the palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 300 years and is a supreme example of Ottoman architecture. 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 run by the fourth generation of the same family and specializing in Ottoman Imperial Cuisine. 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 returning to the hotel to freshen up and relax, you are met by your guide and taken to Cicek Pasaji which means FlowerPassage since, like Covent Garden in London 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. An excellent way you get to know Turkish food, wine and, most importantly, the people.
Day 5 The Bridge Between Europe and Asia
After breakfast you will meet your guide for a day spent on and around the Bosphorus,the body of water that not only connects the two parts of Istanbul but also the continents of Europe and Asia. You start with a drive to the Dolmabahce Palace built in the 19th Century by Sultan Abdul Mecit as a summer palace. It has an "over-the-top" European- Turkish style designed to demonstrate that the Ottomans were still a force to be reckoned with. Less than one hundred years later, however, the Sultans were overthrown. 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 waiing to take you on a personal 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 will also see the twin fortresses of Rumeli and Anadulu Hisar and Imperial palaces along the shore. You disembark on the Asiatic side of Istanbul 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 restaurant's in the world". After a pleasant and scenic 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. This evening you will once again dine on the Bosphorus but this time from 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 6 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. 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 Izmir, Kusadasi and The Journey To Antiquity
Today you will be driven to the airport for the flight to Izmir where your guide will be waiting to take you to the town of Kusadasi, one of Turkey's premier beach resorts and an up and coming cruise port. Your hotel, however, has its own bay and while avoiding the tourist throngs it does have the Mediterranean weather and white sand beaches that attract them. In the past this area of the coast was home to twelve city states that made up the Ionian league among them Samos, Ephesus and Smyrna. Over time these cities were overrun by Persians, Romans, Venetians and Genoans, adding to the Mediterranean flavor. Upon arrival you have lunch and a chance to relax perhaps by taking a dip in the Bay?
Day 8 The Architectural Legacy of Ephesus
A good portion of today will be spent in a privately guided exploration of Ephesus which dates back to 1,500 B.C. Although extensively excavated, it is estimated that only about 10% of the former city is now exposed but that small percentage is still impressive. The centerpiece is the Temple of Artemis which was the first temple ever to be built completely of Marble. At one time it was considered one of the seven wonders the world and its size, five times the size of the Parthenon, may justify that. Equally impressive is the amphitheatre carved into a hillside and still capable of holding 24,000 spectators. During your tour you will have a special opening of the "Terrace Houses" just for you. Later you will visit the Carpet Weavers village nearby where you have lunch and a lecture on the art of weaving in Turkey. Following lunch your guide will take you to the Village of Sirince which was, until the Turkish War of Independence, a Greek village so it represents a Turkish-Greek hybrid. The homes are open to visitors and you have the chance to walk the narrow streets where the local women sell homemade olive oil and embroidery. You will also have the opportunity to taste the home made wine along with sac boregi, a local specialty before returning to the hotel.
Day 9 Priene, Didyma and Halicarnassus
After breakfast you will meet your guide for the scenic and informative ride to Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Herodotus, but today known as Bodrum. Your first stop will be the Ionian city of Prieme where you have the chance to visit the Temple of Athena. The next stop is Didyma where a visit to the Temple of Apollo shows why it took over 100 years to build and needed the intervention of Alexander the Great to ensure its completion. You arrive in Bodrum which has an incredibly rich past but also an exciting present as a well known summer resort and venue for many outdoor musical events. Your hotel is the city's finest and your balcony offers views over Bodrum Bay. You can relax until dinner this evening.
Day 10 St. Peter’s Castle and the Knights of St. John
This morning you leave the hotel with your guide to visit the most visible part of the city. St. Peter's Castle sits on a mount in the center of the town and is thought to have been the site of the original settlement of the town. Built by the Knights of St. John in 1402 to dominate the harbor, the castle is one of the last and finest examples of Crusader architecture. In more cotemporary times the castle also houses an excellent underwater archeology museum. After a private tour of the castle it is time for lunch and today you get the chance to try "Manti" which is a type of mini-ravioli filled with spicy beef or spinach and served with a sauce of garlic and yoghurt. Tradition states that a good house wife should be able to fit 40 of these delicate morsels onto a serving spoon. After lunch you return to the hotel for some personal time. Dinner is at the hotel this evening but after dinner you have the option of going to one of the many music venues, most held outdoors. Your concierge can make some recommendations.
Day 11 Learning Traditional Turkish Arts
After breakfast, your driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for the flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival in Istanbul you are met by your guide. Your first stop will be the Archeological Museum, one of the greatest in Europe, known for its classical sculptures. Particularly impressive are the sarcophagi, over 2,000 years old but well-preserved. After a lunch of authentic Ottoman dishes you will be taken to a school dating back to the 16th Century where you will have a private workshop on traditional Turkish arts. Your choice of lessons includes painting, woodcarving, jewelry making and creating miniatures. After your illuminating lesson you are taken to the hotel where you have a chance to freshen up. 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. It will be a fitting end to your Turkish Experience.
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
Private Sightseeing Tours - Istanbul and Aegean Riviera ULTY03 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, Kusadasi, Bodrum
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)
Other Nearby Tours and Activities