The exceptional geographical situation of Istanbul straddled across the Bosphorus, a hyphen between Europe and Asia, has attracted through history many powers. Called “New Rome” in the 4th century, it has been the capital of the Roman Empire, and, soon after, became Constantinople under the Byzantines till the 15th century before being conquered by the Ottomans who renamed the city “Istanbul”.
Today, Istanbul is the dynamic heart of the Republic of Turkey. As one can imagine, such a rich history has left numerous monuments, a testimony to the greatness of the cultures who ruled this land. In 7 days, discover the major sites with your private guide and you will leave Istanbul filled with wonder and mostly in admiration of the kindness of its inhabitants.
This itinerary has been crafted by our Local Agency with one idea in mind: to inspire you. Every element can be adapted to your needs and your interests, from duration to accommodation and activities.
You’ll be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel located in the heart of the old city. Overnight with breakfast.
(Private guide-Walking itinerary)
Your guide will meet you at 9 AM in the lobby of your hotel.
This morning we visit the pearl of Byzance, Hagia Sofia, a 6th century masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, built as a Christian church, converted to a mosque in 1453, and made into a museum in the middle of the 20th century. See the Basilica Cistern and its 336 marble columns and the Hippodrome, the heart of Constantinople’s political and sporting life. We’ll visit the Blue Mosque with its magnificent blue tiles, six minarets and a great cascade of domes.
After lunch, we’ll visit the Topkapi Palace, the official and primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. The palace is full of examples of Ottoman architecture and also contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, armor, Ottoman miniatures, Islamic calligraphic manuscripts and murals, as well as a display of Ottoman treasure and jewelry. Visit also the Harem quarters, an absolute highlight.
(Private guide – walking itinerary). Meet up with your guide in the lobby of your hotel.
Your guide will walk you through the Museum of Archeology for an overall view of the history of Turkey and the various civilisations that lived in Anatolia. In the Mosaic Museum, you’ll admire the mosaics from the Byzantium Palace. A short walk takes us to “Small Hagia Sofia” mosque formerly the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus, built in the 6th century and most likely a model for Hagia Sophia.
At the end of the day we’ll stroll though the Grand Bazaar, Turkey's largest covered market offering over 4,000 shops and stalls and an amazing kaleidoscope of colours. Overnight at the hotel.
(Private guide – walking itinerary + ferry & tramway)
We leave to the pier by tramway or on foot and stroll through the Spice bazaar and its surroundings before embarking on a traditional Istanbul ferry for a 1.5 hour cruise on the Bosphorus.
The most impressive sights seen from the ferry are: Topkapi Palace, the Maiden's Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Çiragan Palace, Yildiz Park and Palace, the pretty Ottoman baroque Mecidiye Mosque, and the Bosphorus Bridge.
Return to the pier and cross the Galata Bridge to explore the Beyoglu district, the old Pera, where you will get an idea of the glory of Istanbul of the 19th century. At that time, embassies of many countries took residence in magnificent palaces. Now the lively center of the modern city, full of shops, restaurants and nightclubs, this is where you will get a real idea of what Istanbul is about today. Return to the hotel by tramway or by taxi.
(Private guide – walking itinerary + private vehicle or taxi)
We will start the day with the Suleymaniye Mosque complex, the second largest but by far the finest and most magnificent of the imperial mosque complexes in the city. It is a fitting monument to its founder, Soliman the magnificent, and a masterpiece of the greatest of Ottoman architects, the incomparable Sinan.
We head off in a taxi to one of the most interesting Byzantine churches in the city, the Church of the Holy Savior of Chora, whose mosaics and frescoes are among the best and most beautiful in the world.
After lunch we’ll explore the Golden Horn. Another drive will take us to the quarter of Eyup, a place of pilgrimage for Muslims. Visit the Mosque of Sultan Eyup and its tombs; sense the history and journey up-hill (either on foot or by cable car) to the Pierre Loti Café to sip a drink while enjoying the panoramic view.
Return to the hotel by taxi.
(Private guide – walking itinerary + ferry + private vehicle)
Take a huge step across the Bosphorus to visit another continent and a complete different aspect of Istanbul. We will ride down the tramway to Sirkeci and board a ferryboat to Usküdar. We will go on by cab to the Beylerbeyi Palace, summer palace of the Sultans, with its pleasant garden by the sea.
Another short drive will take us to the modern mosque of Sakirin. It is full of light, open space and elegance thanks to the woman's touch of the interior designer, Zeynep Fadıllıoğlu.
We will stroll through the lively neighbourhood of Kadikoy and, if we’re lucky, we might see the weekly market. You'll love these typical bazaars with their vivid colors and scents. Return to Sirkeci by ferry boat, and then to the hotel by tramway.
The price reflects this specific itinerary and is designed to give you an idea of the budget required for this destination. Throughout the trip-planning process, our local agency will tailor your itinerary around your budget.
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