GETAWAYS: Splendors of Istanbul

Tour Code :PER040GAW
City :ISTANBUL
Tour Name :Splendors of Istanbul
Tour Dates :ARRIVE IN ISTANBUL ANY DAY
Duration :3 Nights | 4 Days
Available Languages :EN

What is in this city that draws the generations of ordinary travelers, pilgrims, and art and architecture experts? Is it just a cluster of jaw-dropping buildings like Hagia Sophia, Roman Cisterns or Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent? Or it is the cities’ diverse and rich history; unrivaled atmosphere of fusion of East and West, each with its own traditions and colors and people… so different and so similar, so affable and communicable? 

Day 1 - ISTANBUL | 3 nights

ARRIVAL | transfer to the hotel upon request

Arrival at Ataturk International airport and (optional) meet and greet and be transferred to the hotel for overnight
Transfer to the Hotel along the Sea of Marmara with orientation en-route (according to traffic, from 30 to 45 minutes…). The panorama of the seaside transfer road is really beautiful: drive along the Sea of Marmara, where hundreds of cargo ships anchor, waiting to sail through the straits of the Bosphorus. The shoreline is made up of a series of gardens and tea-houses. Arrival at the hotel, accommodation and overnight. 

Meal (s): No meals
Hotel (s): ST, FC, SF, MF * (see hotel class key below)

Day 2 | ISTANBUL

HIPPODROME, HAGIA SOPHIA, BLUE MOSQUE, GRAND BAZAAR, TOPKAPI PALACE, LITTLE HAGIA SOPHIA MOSQUE

Breakfast at the hotel, pick up from the lobby for a full day tour.
This tour covers the main sites, which belong both to Byzantine & Ottoman Empire periods and are located around Sultanahmet Square, the former Imperial Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, which once could hold 100.000 spectators and features objects from all corners of the Empire.
Stroll around this witness of the bygone epochs and see the impressive granite Obelisk of Theodosius carved in Egypt around 1450 BC; so-called Serpentine Column, the three intertwined bronze serpents form the column; the Colossus or the column of Constantine Porphyrgenitus; the German Fountain or Fountain of Kaiser Wilhelm II that commemorates the alliance of German Empire and Ottoman Empire against the allied powers of Russia, Great Britain, France and Japan before the World War I.

Later, visit Hagia Sophia Cathedral Museum (closed on Mon between mid Oct & beginning Apr). The church of Holy Wisdom is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest architectural creations in the world. Nowhere is Istanbul's exceptional status as former capital of both the Christian and Islamic empires more evident than in this monumental basilica crowned with four minarets. Built by the Emperor Justinian circa AD 535, it was converted to a mosque by the conquering Ottoman armies in 1453. But it's only when you enter the building that you get a true sense of its awesome proportions. For a thousand years its dome was the largest in the world - 30 m in diameter, surpassed only in the 16th century with the construction of St Peter's in Rome.

Directly facing Hagia Sophia, rises another architectural masterpiece, the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet or better known as Blue Mosque (closed on Fri until 2 pm), perhaps the most instantly recognizable - and unforgettable - silhouette on Istanbul's skyline. It was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 1600s to rival the grand old lady of Christianity. Peek inside to see the wall-to-wall over 20,000 glazed blue porcelain Iznik tiles, predominantly in shades of blue, that have given the mosque its popular name.
Then, spend some time on the Istanbul’s legendary Grand Covered Bazaar (closed on Sun), a labyrinth of over 4,000 little shops, occupying 30.7 hectares. It is everything one dreams an oriental market could be and indeed one of the most fascinating and irresistible attractions of Istanbul. Established by Mehmet the Conqueror in mid-15th century, it is a small city in itself. Its shops are full of treasures – including carpets and kilims, silks, jewellery, ceramics, icons, and leather goods.

After having lunch at one of the local restaurants visit Topkapi Palace (closed on Tue), the Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans is the most extensive and fascinating monument of Ottoman civil architecture in existence. In addition to its architectural and historical interest, it contains as a museum, superb and unrivalled collections of porcelains, armour, fabrics, jewels, illuminated manuscripts, calligraphy and many objects of art formerly belonging to the Sultans. Topkapi was built between 1459 and 1465 as the seat of government of the newly installed Ottoman regime. The palace is not a single building but a series of graceful interconnecting courtyards. One of the highlights of the museum is the Imperial Treasury.

Later, see Little Hagia Sophia Mosque, formerly the Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, is a former Eastern Orthodox Church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. Return to the hotel for overnight

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast | Lunch 

Day 3 |ISTANBUL

SPEICE MARKET, GOLDEN HORN, BOSPHORUS CRUISE, BEYLERBEYI PALACE, CAMLICA HILL

Breakfast at the hotel, pick up from the lobby for a full day tour.
Your first visit will be to hustling and bustling Spice Market, also known as Egyptian Bazaar, built in 1665. Spices, dried fruits, cheeses, sausages, jams, nuts and seeds, lokum (Turkish delight) and other edibles fill most of the shops.
Then, walk to the nearest pier to take a regular touristic ferryboat that will take you for 1h30m enjoyable trip on the Bosphorus Strait. From your cruise boat, you will view the dramatic sights lining the Bosphorus’ wooded shores: mosques, the Bosphorus Bridge that for a time was the world longest and the massive Rumeli Hisari, a fortress built by Fatih the Conqueror in just three months as he did preparations to conquer Istanbul. The 19th century mansions of the Ottoman elite and the Sultan’s fanciful gingerbread palaces and hunting lodges; most famous of them is Dolmabahçe Palace, yet another residence of the Ottoman Sultans. Pass by the Ortaköy area with its restaurants, bars and cafes. It was also an area were, through centuries three religions have peacefully coexisted: there are still active church, mosque & synagogue at the same area.

After lunch at one of the local restaurants, drive via the Intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge to the Asian Continent. The First Bosphorus Bridge is one of the two bridges in Istanbul, spanning the Bosphorus strait and thus connecting Europe and Asia. The Bosphorus Bridge had the 4th longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed in 1973, and the longest outside the United States. At present, it is the 19th longest suspension bridge span in the world.
While on the Asia Side, enjoy an absolutely magnificent site of the whole city from Çamlica Hill, the highest natural point in Istanbul, at about 267 meters above sea level. The panorama around embraces the Bosphorus almost as far as the Black Sea, the Marmara Sea with the Princes Islands, and behind that, the great snow covered ridge of  Mt.Uludag, the Bithynian Olympus.

Next, visit Beylerbeyi Palace Museum (closed on Mon & Thu), a famous summer residence of Ottoman Sultans, built on the Asian side in 1861-65 of white marble to host Princess Eugenie (Napoleon III’ wife) on her long visit in Constantinople. In recent years the palace has been splendidly restored, one can admire the elaborate furniture and decoration as Hereke silk carpets, Bohemian crystal chandeliers, French clocks, vases from China and some superb murals. After the tour, be transferred back to the hotel.

Meal (s):  Buffet Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 ISTANBUL | ...

DEPARTURE| transfer to the airport upon request

After breakfast at the hotel be transferred to the airport (optional)

Meal (s): Buffet Breakfast

INCLUDES

- Transportation by fully air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle on the tours
- Professional English-speaking tour guide on the tours
- Entrance fees to the museums featured on the itinerary
- 3 nights of accommodation at the featured hotels or similar with a buffet breakfast daily
- 2 lunches at the local Turkish restaurants during the tours (all drinks are excluded)

EXCLUDES

- Any personal expenses
- Meals unless specified above and any kind of drinks except for tea/coffee/juice during breakfast
- Airport Transfers on the first & the last day of the trip
- Tips and gratuities
- Optional activities costs
- Turkish visa fee
- Travel and Health insurance

NOTES

Airport Transfers
Pera-Kaktüs Travel pleased to offer complimentary airport transfers at any time either on the first or last day of the holiday or on other days in conjunction with pre- and post trip accommodation booked through Pera-Kaktüs Travel. Note that flight times must be provided to Pera-Kaktüs Travel no fewer than 21 days before flight departure.

Disclaimer
- These prices are LAND-ONLY. All trip information is correct at time of trips going live, however prices and itineraries are subject to change, please confirm all details and final cost at time of booking.
- For full terms and conditions, please refer to our Term & Conditions page. Conditions can be found in the footer under Information.
- Early Payment Discounts are not available on every Pera - Kaktus Travel trips; some trips may be excluded.Book early to avoid disappointment as the number of seats available at discount prices are limited.The Early Payment Discount icon will be indicated on the "Pricing and Availability" page of the selected trips where this Early Payment Discount is applicable.

Please note:
- On Mondays, when Hagia Sophia is closed, we visit the Yerebatan Museum (the Underground Roman Cisterns), built by Emperor Justinian in 532, possibly as an enlargement of an earlier cistern of Constantine. The vast awesome columned cavern was the water source for both the Grand Palace of the Byzantine and for the Ottoman’s Topkapi Palace. It is 140 meters long by 70 meters wide with 336 columns.
- In winter the Dolmabahçe (Bezm-i Alem Valide) Mosque is visited instead of the Yildiz Royal Gardens 
- Harem Section of the Topkapi Palace is not included into the program. Should you wish to visit it, you may do so during the free time your guide will give you 
- While visiting mosques, please cover your shoulders, knees & women, additionally, heads 
- Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016), Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016), National Republic Day (29 October 2016), and will be replaced by other authentic shops.
- Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar is closed during Ramadan Festivities (5-6-7 July 2016) & Kurban Festivities (12-13-14-15 September 2016)
- Other languages are available with an extra fee upon request

*Hotel Class Key
ST = Superior Tourist (3*), MF = Moderate First Class (classic boutique, ranked as 4*), FC = First Class (4*), SF= Superior First Class (5* classic), MD = Moderate Deluxe (5* Deluxe), and D = Deluxe (5* Boutique or Luxury)
Hotels are subject to change. 
- Twin-share option is not available for trips unless you travel with your own partner or travel companion.

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Kaktüs Tourism Travel Agency - Pera Air and Tourism
Cumhuriyet Mah. Nakiye Elgün Sok. No: 22 Osmanbey Apt. D.1 Şişli 34380 Istanbul / Turkey
Phone : 0 212 241 05 66 (pbx) Fax : 0 212 241 72 88
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