Welcome to Istanbul
Delve deep into the historic magnificence of Istanbul, the cultural meeting point of two continents where East is fused with West in a unique and fascinating way. Famed in the annals of history under its former name of Constantinople, the crowning glory of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires seamlessly juxtaposes historic mosques and graceful minarets of the orient with the aesthetic and engineering achievements of Europe.
- Discover Istanbul's Byzantine treasures
- The Hagia Sofia and Basilica Cistern
- Experience the Ottoman Sultan's Topkapi Palace and the serene Blue Mosque
- Sail between two mighty continents on a memorable Bosphorous cruise
- Enjoy the centuries-old retail culture of the colourful Grand Bazaar
Dates & Prices
The prices shown below include return flights from a specified UK airport. If you are travelling from outside of the UK, please .
March 1 - March 5, 2019 (5 days)
Standard Blind Price: £899 Book Now
Discounted Sighted Price: £499 Contact us for availability
The prices shown below are for non-UK travellers and do not include return flights and transfers. If you are travelling from within the UK, please .
Standard Blind Price: 749 GBP Book Now
Discounted Sighted Price: 349 GBP Contact us for availability
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- Flights and transfers from the UK
- 4 nights accommodation at Celal Sultan in Istanbul
- All breakfasts
- Specified excursions
- Services of a local tour guide
- Services of a Traveleyes tour manager
- Istanbul city tour including Hagia Sofia and Basilica Cistern
- Guided tour of the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace
- Guided Grand Bazaar experience
- Turkish Bath experience (optional- £35)
- Bosporus Cruise (optional -£25)
Below is the itinerary for the holiday. Please click each day for more information.
Friday 1st March
We arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel in the city centre. The rest of the afternoon can be spent at leisure as we acquaint ourselves with this uniquely attractive city.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Saturday 2nd March
Today we’ll explore Istanbul’s Byzantine history on a guided tour of the Old Town district.
Istanbul is particularly renowned for the iconic Eastern Orthodox Cathedral of Hagia Sophia, which was built in 537AD as the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople. This landmark structure is notable for its massive Byzantine dome and for having been the largest Cathedral in the world for almost a thousand years. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453 the Cathedral was transformed into a mosque, an identity which it sustained until 1935 when it became a museum.
We’ll also visit a hidden Byzantine heritage site situated beneath the ground when we venture into the Basilica Cisterns, known in Turkish as the ‘Sunken Palace’. Built during the 6th Century, this colossal complex is supported by 336 ancient marble columns. Whilst exploring this subterranean wonder we’ll remain under the watchful gaze of classical Medusa-headed pillars which peer ethereally into the darkness.
This afternoon we’ll visit the Grand Bazaar, world renowned for its 61 covered streets containing over 4,000 shops and stalls. This sheltered market is a labyrinth of barrel vaults and skylights with the distinction of being one of the largest and oldest of its type in the world. Here the endless exotic delights include the purveying of silks, leather goods, carpets, jewellery and fragrant spices. There are countless wonderful cafes where it’s possible to sample Turkish coffee or green apple tea whilst soaking up the appealing hustle-bustle ambience which has changed little since ancient times.
Breakfast included. Overnight in Istanbul
Sunday 3rd March
After our exploration of the Byzantine monuments in the Old Town, today will be dedicated to the oriental Ottoman culture. First we shall visit the Hippodrome of Constantinople, one of the largest chariot grounds of the Byzantine Empire. We’ll then make our way to the Blue Mosque, famed for its exquisitely tiled interior. Considered to be the last great mosque from the classical period of the Ottoman Empire, this massive building tantalises the senses with its cascading series of domes and minarets. The interior features more than 20,000 handcrafted Iznik tiles in dazzling shades of blue, giving the mosque its name.
Another Ottoman highlight is the incomparable Topkapi Palace, home to a succession of sultans for almost 400 years. This lavish complex includes a mint, mosques, bakeries and a hospital as well as a harem and a ‘courtyard of the eunuchs’. The Palace houses many Islamic holy relics including Mohammed’s cloak and sword, alongside Ottoman treasures such as the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s Diamond and an ornamental emerald dagger.
This afternoon we’ll have the opportunity to experience a genuine Turkish Bath in a traditional Hamam, to be bathed and pampered using the delightful sensory rejuvenation techniques which have remained unchanged here for centuries.
Breakfast included. Overnight in Istanbul
Monday 4th March
Today will be free to explore at your own leisure. Having experienced the quaint Old Town district, some might choose to visit the new town which boasts all the fashionable amenities of a modern city. Otherwise, a relaxing stroll around the Old Town never fails to evoke an oriental ambience, incorporating the exquisite adhan, (the Islamic call to prayer), hauntingly intoned from gracefully slender minarets. Alternatively, some may choose to join us aboard a fine cruise boat to sail across the Bosphorous Straits which separate the Black Sea from the Mediterranean, and in effect, Europe from Asia. Our graceful water-borne progress will take us past a fascinating sequence of decadent mansions, small fishing villages and Ottoman fortresses, providing a memorable treasure trove of characteristically Turkish experiences.
Breakfast included. Overnight in Istanbul.
Tuesday 5th March
Following breakfast we’ll transfer from our hotel to the airport for our return flight back to the UK.
Single Supplement cost- £120
British nationals need a visa to enter Turkey. You can get an e-Visa online before you travel through the official Republic of Turkey e-Visa website.
– Please note, optional excursions are subject to minimum participation and should be booked 12 weeks prior to departure.
Dress code for the mosques:
- Women should cover their arms, legs and hair. Opt for loose-fitting clothes.
- Men should cover their legs. Opt for loose clothes and avoid singlets and vests.