We have used our extensive knowledge and contacts to create the definitive Istanbul tour, the very finest historical adventure and exploration of this vibrant and exotic city, Peter’s favourite metropolis in the world. Your base for this fabulous journey is a beautifully restored and luxurious special class historic hotel.
The key, as with all our trips, was to find the best possible expert guide to help shape and lead the tour. Jim Crow was the man we wanted. The many years he has spent leading archaeological projects in Istanbul have given him an unparalleled knowledge of the city throughout its history: from its roots as a small Greek town on the Bosphorus to the teeming and opulent capital city that it became under the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires.
It’s hard not to speak in superlatives when describing this epic cradle of civilisation. No other city in the world has been besieged so many times, so greatly was it coveted by peoples outside of its walls. Not just age old, and, like no other city on earth sat astride two continents; during its time as capital of the Ottoman Empire it was the most multicultural city in Europe, on whose streets more than a dozen languages were spoken, from Italian to Persian, Greek to Arabic. This city utilised its mercantile dominance over the narrow waterway that connects the Mediterranean and Black Sea to grow wealthy and enhance its political strength. These succeeding cultures have liberally endowed the city with beautiful symbols of imperial power, from its imposing fortifications to its serene places of worship.
On this escorted tour of Istanbul you will see such world-famous sites as Topkapı Palace, Haghia Sofia and the Blue Mosque through expert eyes, and compare them with some seldom-visited wonders that only the true connoisseurs of the city ever visit. We sample some of the best food that Istanbul has to offer, from the long-established cornerstones of Turkish cuisine to traditional local eateries that have raised the simplest of local dishes to a culinary art form. Our Istanbul tours allow you to immerse yourself in a city that has been shaped and moulded by some of the key cultures of the western and eastern worlds for over 3,000 years.
If you’d like to know more about our expert-led tour of Istanbul, please get in touch. One of our specialists, even Peter himself, will be only too pleased to give you a call and answer any questions you might have.
Day 1: Our beautiful hotel is about 40 minutes from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Welcome drink and dinner.
Day 2: We begin our historic tour of Istanbul with a stroll around some of the key sites of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. We visit the extraordinary column filled underground cistern, the Yerebatan Sarayi, the Hippodrome, the Archaeological Museum, and the beautiful church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus, the prototype of the great Haghia Sophia.
Day 3: We head out to the walls of Constantinople, the mighty fortifications that kept besiegers at bay for centuries. We explore the beautiful little church of St. Saviour in Chora, housing some of the world’s finest Byzantine mosaics, and conclude with the Haghia Sophia itself, the greatest church in Christendom for almost a thousand years and one of the most spectacular buildings ever created.
Day 4: We delve into Istanbul’s rich Ottoman legacy, walking around some of the city’s finest sights, including the great mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent, the elegant Rustem Pasha Camii, and the lively streets and market areas between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar. After a lovely lunch you have the remainder of the afternoon and evening free to relax or explore.
Day 5: We head out onto the water on a private boat and cruise up the Bosphorus, the vital water way separating Europe and Asia, and linking the Black Sea with the Mediterranean, which gave Byzantium its strategic significance. We visit Rumeli Hisarı, the impressive Ottoman fortification built by Mehmet the Conqueror during his siege of Constantinople and the beautiful Sadberk Hanım Museum, a private cultural gem.
Day 6: We cross the Golden Horn to discover some of the city’s best known and loved highlights. We visit Topkapı Palace, seat of the Sultans, their family and harem for centuries and the majestic Blue Mosque, built to rival the Haghia Sophia, still a place of worship whose six minarets shine silver in the sun. In the afternoon we take tea and cake at the gloriously restored Pera Palace hotel, which first welcomed European travellers on the Orient Express.
Day 7: A morning in Asia. We cross continents by ferry to sample the sights of Asian Istanbul. It was on this side of the Bosphorus that the first ancient Greek settlement in the area, Chalcedon, was made, prior to the founding of Byzantium. We’ll visit the Florence Nightingale Museum in the Selimiye Army Barracks. It was here in the British Military Hospital that Florence Nightingale worked during the Crimean War. You’ll enjoy a wonderful lunch on Asian soil before heading back to Europe. A free afternoon before our farewell dinner.
Day 8: Transfer to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, about 40 minutes away.