Experience the Splendor of Istanbul
A crossroad of food and culture, exotic and familiar, East and West. Istanbul has something for everyone.
October 2nd – 9th, 2016
(8 days & 7 nights)
A crossroads of cultures for many centuries, this city that straddles the continents of Europe and Asia offers a mix of exotic and familiar, historic and modern. With incredible architecture, bustling bazaars, and food from across the territories of the former Ottoman Empire, this is a city that has something for every type of traveler.
Day 1 – Arrive to Istanbul on October 2nd. We’ll meet in the lobby of our guesthouse this evening for a welcome dinner and to get acquainted, as well as to discuss in more detail what plans are for the week’s adventures.
Day 2 – To get our bearings in the city, we’ll start exploring Istanbul in the central Sultanahmet area. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern, and Topkapi Palace are all within a few minutes walk of the central Hippodrome plaza. A short distance away the Spice Bazaar, Rustem Pasa mosque, and ‘Balik Ekmek’ restaurants on the waterfront of the Golden Horn will round out the evening.
Day 3 – We’ll push a little deeper into Istanbul’s intercultural past today, into the Grand Bazaar and Buyuk Valide Han (both traditional merchant quarters that have been centers of commerce in the city for hundreds of years). After that we’ll push into less touristy neighborhoods, on a walk through the campus of Istanbul University and up to the magnificent Suleymaniye Mosque before finishing off the day in a neighborhood restaurant specializing in absurdly large plates of grilled meat and veggies.
Day 4 – We’ll ferry out for a day to the Princes’ Islands, a collection of small islands in the mouth of the Bosphorus where Istanbullus often spend beautiful summer days. After a bike ride around the island’s carless roads (watch out for horse buggies, though) we’ll head back to the harbor for a seafood feast looking out towards Istanbul across the water.
Day 5 – Today starts off with a trip to the Asian side, and a walk through the markets and neighborhoods of Kadikoy and Moda. After lunch at a traditional Kurdish restaurant we’ll head back to European Istanbul to the Taksim area to see one of the focal points of the modern city, and meander down the central shopping and promenade street ‘Istiklal Avenue’ past the Venetian-era Galata Tower and the restaurants of Karakoy down below.
Day 6 – Today we’re out on the water. We’ll spend most of the day on a Bosphorus Cruise, stopping at the far end to climb through the Anadolu Forest and up to the Yoros Castle for views out to the Black Sea. On the way back into town, we’ll squeeze in another ferry up to the top of the Golden Horn to catch sunset from Pierre Loti cafe.
Day 7 – Today is a day for architecture and history. From the former Church of the Holy Savior in Chora (now a museum highlighting the incredible 14th century mosaics therein) and nearby City Walls, we’ll head back up the Bosphorus to the Dolmabahce Palace and Rumeli Hisari Castle.
Day 8 – After one last breakfast overlooking the Bosphorus, we’ll wander around the backstreets of the Sultanahmet area until it’s time to head to the airport. If you want to stay in Istanbul longer or explore more of Turkey, we can also offer advice on how to get around and where to go for the remainder of your trip.
Based on sharing of twin/double room in a good quality and comfortable guesthouse. Single and/or cost-sensitive travelers may be able to book accommodation in a shared dormitory, please contact us for further details.
- Admissions to all included attractions and sights.
- Seven (7) nights of accommodations.
- All transportation in Istanbul except airport transfer. Airport transfer via public shuttle bus to the guesthouse can be arranged at additional cost
- Large buffet breakfast plus at least one other meal per day.
- You will be responsible for about one meal per day. Budget between $8-10 per meal.
- Air tickets to and from Istanbul.
- Visa (if necessary-details here).
- Travel/health insurance
- Personal spending
- Alcoholic drinks at meals
* $200 Non-refundable deposit required to secure place on tour
* Remainder of tour fee ($699) due by Aug 3rd, 2016
* Full refund -$200 before Aug 3rd, 2016
* 50% refund before September 3rd, 2016
* No refund after September 4th, 2016
register here –> Join the tour
Packing List for Experience Istanbul Tour (recommended)
- Comfortable shoes for walking. We’ll be up, down, and all around the city on this trip so come prepared to spend time on your feet during the day!
- October can be brilliant blue skies and sunshine, or cloudy rainy weather all day long. Bring something to keep you cool, something to keep you warm, and something to keep you dry. Also, parts of Istanbul are still quite traditional, and as we enter mosques and other holy sites, all members of the group will be expected to dress conservatively. For everybody, this means to keep your legs and shoulders covered. For women, it also means you’ll be expected to cover your head. Shawls are provided (at no cost) in most of the biggest sites where they’re required, but if you’re concerned about looking good for photos it’s also a good idea to bring a shawl or sarong for this purpose.
- Moneybelt, to keep spare cash and credit cards safe.
- Backup cash (Credit card use is somewhat common and ATMs are easy to find, but it’s always a good idea to carry a bit of cash as a backup plan.)
- Note that many nationalities require a visa to enter Turkey. Please visit the country’s official e-Visa website for more information and to complete the process. Turkish law also requires that your passport is valid for at least 60 days beyond the duration of stay of your visa, which for most of us on this trip will require a passport expiration date of 2nd March 2017 or later.
- We’ve done our best to arrange as diverse an introduction to Turkish cuisine as is possible in one week, with preference to small local restaurants that sometimes have limited menus. As such, it’s essential to inform us ahead of time if you have any dietary restrictions that need to be taken into consideration.
- If you’d like to learn some basic Turkish niceties before you visit Istanbul, online resource Duolingo is a good (and free) resource to start with.
Who is this trip for?
Travelers looking to explore an intriguing mix of cultural influences and traditions will love Istanbul. We’ll spend a lot of time immersing in the historical and religious background as well as the beautiful land- and waterscapes of the city. Though low intensity, many of our days will involve a lot of time walking from site to site through old neighborhoods over often uneven pavement. Come to Istanbul prepared to wander and explore, and you’ll find it a rewarding travel destination.