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18 DAY – GRAND TURKEY & GREECE TOUR

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Day 1                                                  Welcome to Greece
Welcome to Athens! You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace. Overnight Athens.

Ancient and modern, with equal measures of grunge and grace, bustling Athens is a heady mix of history and edginess. Iconic monuments mingle with first-rate museums, lively cafes and al fresco dining – and it’s downright fun.

The historic centre is an open-air museum, yet the city’s cultural and social life takes place amid these ancient landmarks, merging past and present. The magnificent Acropolis rises above the sprawling metropolis and has stood witness to the city’s many transformations.

Post-Olympics Athens, even in the face of current financial issues, is conspicuously more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than ever before. Stylish restaurants, shops and hip hotels, and artsy-industrial neighbourhoods and entertainment quarters such as Gazi, show Athens’ modern face.

Day 2                                                  Athens Old City
Meet your guide in central Athens and head off on your 5-hour sightseeing tour around the Greek capital by luxury air-conditioned coach. Pass the must-see Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that stands in front of Parliament House on Constitution Square, and see the Presidential Mansion that served as the Royal Palace before the country’s monarchy was abolished in 1974.

Watch out for Panathenian Stadium – site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 – and then relax as your coach drives along Panespistimiou, home to Athens’ National Library and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, known locally as Mitropoli.  After seeing the highlights of modern Athens, you’ll step back in time with a tour of Athens’ past. Visit the Roman Temple of Olympian Zeus, and then stop at Athens’ crowning glory – the incredible Acropolis of Athens. Built on a rocky hill towering above the city, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Acropolis is a cluster of ancient buildings that acted as a fortress – all reflecting the splendor and wealth of Athens during the 5th century BC.

Highlights of the Acropolis include the Pantheon, the Propylaea gateway and the Temple of Athena Nike – built to represent Athens’ ambition to be the leading Greek city. After spending time at leisure here, you’ll make your way back to your starting point by coach.

If you opt to upgrade your tour to include an entrance ticket to the Athens Acropolis Museum, your guided tour will actually finish here at the Acropolis. After receiving your ticket from your guide, head inside this fascinating museum to see a staggering collection of more than 4,000 artifacts. Highlights include statues from the Archaic period and the impressive Pantheon Hall — dedicated to the history of the famous temple on the peak of the Acropolis. Overnight Athens. (B)

Day 3                                                  Athens to Santorini
The ferry ride from Athens to Santorini is approximately ? hours (??:?? to ??:??).

Early morning departure today for the breathtaking Island of Santorini, your home for the next two nights It’s the most geologically interesting of all the Greek islands, and arguably the most picturesque, with idyllic villages perched on the rim of a collapsed and flooded volcano crater.

The island is famous for its breathtaking and rugged landscapes, whitewashed houses, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques which cling to steep cliffs, accessible by foot, cable car or mule. Overnight Santorini. (B)

This tour is semi independent in style from days 3 – 7, so from once you arrive in Santorini until you depart from Samos you will not be fully escorted by a tour guide.

Day 4                                                  Santorini
Today is free to explore this Greek paradise. Be sure to walk the streets of bustling Fira, the island’s iconic capital city, a vision of pristine whitewashed buildings. Take an optional boat trip in the world’s biggest volcanic crater above sea level. Visit the active volcano, swim in the warm thermal waters and take a therapeutic mud bath. Perhaps head to one of Santorini’s volcanic beaches, such as red, white or black beaches of Perissa, Vlhada, Perivolos or Agios Georgios.

Consider optional tour of a traditional winery and sample the grape variety unique to Santorini. Santo Wine, the largest winery on Santorini. This winery is idyllically located with marvellous views over the island and the sea – a lovely place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, chees and olives! Santorini is a feast for the senses.

Don’t miss the sunset for which the island is justifiably famous. They are spectacular from anywhere but particularly from Oia on the northern tip of the island, which offers an uninterrupted view of the sun as it sinks below the horizon. Santorini has an abundance of dining establishments to suit all tastes where you can dine on a full range of international cuisine, including Greek specialities. Overnight Santorini. (B)

Day 5                                                  Santorini to Mykonos
The ferry ride from Santorini to Mykonos is approximately ? hours (??:?? to ??:??).

Leaving Santorini behind, we board ferry for another stunning Greek Isle. Mykonos is legendary both in ancient and modern times. Known in ancient Greek mythology as the battlefield where Zeus fought the Gigantes and named in honour of Apollo’s grandson. Today the island is best known for the windmill-topped fishing village slathered in white and thronged by a hard-partying international crowd, enjoying its many beaches and side-tripping to the ruins on nearby Delos. Time on your own to enjoy the energetic ambiance. Find a table at a harbor side taverna and just savor the bustle of Cycladic island life and experience the completely outrageous Mykonian nightlife. Overnight Mykonos. (B)

Day 6                                                  Mykonos
Today is yours to explore all this island paradise has to offer. Relax at one of the many golden sandy beaches, stroll through little Venice where colourful balconies hang precariously over the sea and the town with its labyrinth of winding alleyways and whitewashed cubic houses with blue wooden shutters and balconies line labyrinthine cobbled streets. Take an optional day trip to the neighbouring island of Delos, a charming island and the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo. This Mecca of Ancient Greece is today an island wide, open-air museum.

Maybe you would prefer to visit the Archaeological Museum or Aegean Maritime Museum displaying ancient and nautical artifacts relating to the island’s seafaring heritage.Grab a seaside table and unwind, sipping ouzo and watching the sunset while listening to traditional Greek music. Overnight Mykonos. (B)

Day 7                                                  Mykonos to Kusadasi via Samos
The ferry ride from Mykonos to Samos is approximately 4 hours (12:45 to 16:20), from Samos to Kusadasi is approximately 1,5 hours (20:00 to 21:30).

Today our Greek Islands dream comes to an end as we leave Mykonos and board an early afternoon ferry to cosmopolitan resort town of Kusadasi via Samos, home of the great mathematician Pythagoras. Small window of time to explore this lush green island at your own pace before continuing onto Turkey. Overnight Kusadasi. (B)

Day 8                                                  Ancient city of Ephesus and Sirince Village
09:00 Today, we explore legendary Ephesus open-air museum – positively the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean. Ephesus, under the Romans was a vast city with a population nearing 250,000, revelling in prosperity from commerce. We have plenty of time to tour the marble ruins of Ephesus. Be sure to see the famous Library of Celsus, the gymnasium of Vedius, Stadium, and the Great Theatre. We’ll see ancient public toilets, a brothel, fountains and various temples.

You will also have the chance to visit the pilgrimage point claimed to be the last home of the Virgin Mary before driving to the nearby Ottoman-Greek village of Sirince, trying some of their specialty fruit wines and take a break to enjoy a delicious lunch of Turkish cuisine at a local restaurant, while your local guide explains interesting facts about gourmet’s paradise of Turkey. As you approach the village, the road passes through vineyards, orchards and olive groves which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Tuscany of Turkey. Have your cameras ready as you stroll with your guide up and down the narrow cobblestone lanes between buildings of stone, wood, and plaster. The fragrance of burning wood or the local orchards in bloom will captivate your senses.

Continue to the nearby site of the Temple of Artemis also known as the Temple of Diana, built in around 550 BC and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. See the restored column that marks the site and hear how the temple was rebuilt three times before its destruction in 401 AD. It was discovered during excavations that were undertaken by the British Museum, in 1869-1874 under the supervision of J.T. Wood and in 1904-1905 under David G. Hogart. Many of the ruins are displayed at the museum in England.

Before tour’s end, visit the wonderful example of the Seljukian architecture, Isabey Mosque located just beneath the citadel in Selcuk near the Basilica of Saint John. It’s interior is carved and decorated beautifully and a masterpiece of its time. There is an inscription to God that decorates the main doorway.

Opt to visit amazing tile murals and artwork of the Terrace Houses in the free time given while you are inside the open-air museum. Excavated from the 1960s to the 1980s, the structure is a city block of 1st-century AD (Roman) private residences, comparable to a condominium and occupying about 4,000 square metres (about an acre). In many regards, the remains are on a par with the famous ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy – making them one of the world’s key sites to experience and admire the sophistication, luxury and aesthetic refinement of upper-class Roman domestic life. Surprisingly, only about one in twenty visitors to Ephesus explores this unique structure. (Entrance to the Terrace Houses is not accommopanied by a guide and requires additional entrance fee paid on the spot, 15TL or 5 Euro). Overnight Kusadasi. (B, L)

Day 9                                                  White calcium formations of Pamukkale
08:00 Driving east, we arrive at Pamukkale – home of the famous gleaming white calcium terraced pools. Known locally as the Cotton Castles, they are a natural phenomena and gift of Mother Nature. Pamukkale was formed when warm, calcium rich mineral water cascaded over the cliff edge, cooling and depositing in the process. The calcium built natural shelves and pools on the cliffs, known as travertines. Today, many of the pools are closed to tourists. However, areas of the travertines can be walked upon, albeit in bare feet.

We can also opt to enjoy a unique and very pleasant dip in the warm waters at the Pamukkale Thermal, with its submerged fragments of fluted marble columns near the centre of the ruined spa town of Hierapolis, which was a was a cure centre founded around 190 BC by the Romans. The Romans were aware of the curative powers of mineral springs and created communal baths.

This afternoon you are transferred to the bus station and board an afternoon local bus driving south towards the Aegean coast to the resort town of Bodrum, once known as Halicarnassus, the popular resort and yachting port of Bodrum, at the western end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Overnight Bodrum. (B, L)

Bodrum may be just as much of a hyperresort as Kusadasi and Marmaris, but with its sugar-cube houses, draped in bougainvillea, and the palm-lined streets it has been more successful at clinging to its original charm. Despite the influx of charter deals and lager louts in high summer, a short walk along the waterfront will show Bodrum is gaining a reputation as the Monte Carlo of the Aegean, with a smart new marina, sophisticated restaurants and millions of dollars worth of sailing craft laying over for a night or two. Bodrum’s outstanding Museum of Underwater Archaeology is also well worth a stop in itself.

But it’s certainly not a place for those whose idea of a dream holiday revolves around peace and quiet. For years the outdoor Halikarnas disco revelled in its fame as the loudest disco in the Med and these days it has competitors too. Come in spring or autumn, however, and Bodrum reverts to a pleasant, relatively low-key resort. Not surprisingly, tourism is the local economy’s lifeblood, although there’s a plentiful tangerine crop in winter.

Day 10                                                 Bodrum
Enjoy a day at leisure in Bodrum. Maybe you would prefer to visit Bodrum castle, museum of underwater archaeology and antique theater of Halicarnassus or spend the day relaxing on the beach on your own.

Alternatively, you can choose an optional day trip to the Greek Island of Kos or relax on a day cruise around the crystal waters of Bodrum. The choice is yours. Overnight Bodrum. (B)

Optional Kos Island Independent Day Trip from Bodrum
Start your day with a hotel pickup from your Bodrum hotel, and then board your hydrofoil in Bodrum to cruise southwest to the island of Kos, roughly twenty minutes away. The most easterly Greek island, Kos sits adrift in the southeastern Aegean Sea and boasts paradisaical scenery and history in equal measures.

After docking at the port, how you spend your time on the gorgeous island is up to you. All entrance fees, food and drinks are at your own expense. Follow the footsteps of sun worshipers to the island’s best beaches and enjoy a day of soaking up the sun on the sand. Visit Paradise Beach for soft sand and calm waters, relax in tranquil seclusion at Limnionas Beach or maybe stroll along the pebbled shores of Agios Theologos Beach.

If you are keen to discover the island’s urban delights, head into Kos town to explore its palm-fringed streets, thronged with restaurants, bars and shops. The town is home to some of the island’s more interesting historical landmarks and Roman ruins. Perhaps pay a visit to the Castle of the Knights (Kos Nerantzia Castle), to explore the ruined towers, battlements and ramparts that date to the days of the knights’ reign. The group of Christian crusaders occupied the city from the 14th century for some 200 years.

Having enjoyed your day, make your own way back to the island’s port at the prearranged time. Then, simply re-board your hydrofoil, and cruise back over the sea to Bodrum. Your independent day trip then finishes with a drop-off at your Bodrum hotel.

Optional Bodrum Peninsula Full-Day Cruise
Spend a day cruising around Turkey’s glorious Bodrum Peninsula on a full-day cruise from Bodrum! Soak up the scenery from out on deck and admire the region’s sun-drenched shoreline framed by forests and hills. The route taken on the relaxing cruise includes several stops for swimming, snorkeling and walking, plus a visit to Kara Ada, a gorgeous yachting island that’s known for its mineral-dense waters. Lunch is served roughly halfway through the day and beer, wine and soft drinks are available while on board (own expense).

Start your day with a pickup from your centrally located Bodrum hotel, and then travel by minivan to the port. Step aboard your hydrofoil boat and take a seat out on deck as you cruise away from the city and around some of Turkey’s most unspoiled stretches of coastline.

The exact route taken depends on the sea conditions on the day of your cruise, but it will always take in several of the beautiful sheltered bays and pine-fringed beaches that personify the Bodrum Peninsula. Enjoy frequent stops to swim, snorkel and top up your tan. Perhaps take a book with you to read in the sun, or simply sit back and ogle the scenery as you cruise from cove to cove.

Kara Ada — or Black Island — is a site that is always taken in on your cruise, so enjoy a stop to bathe in the grotto and see if its mineral waters enhance your complexion, as legend suggests. The island is a popular stop-off on cruises around Turkey’s so-called Turquoise Coast, so look out for swanky yachts and gulets(traditional Turkish sailing boats) bobbing around the island’s chic shores.

Roughly halfway through the day, enjoy a stop for lunch, cooked on board by your crew. Meals vary, but typically include a fresh salad, grilled chicken and rice or pasta. After exploring the scenic coastline of the Bodrum Peninsula, start cruising back to Bodrum. On arrival at the city’s port, swap from your hydrofoil to your minivan, and finish your day trip with a drop-off at your Bodrum hotel.

Day 11                                                 Bodrum to Fethiye
Relaxing morning before an afternoon drive further south the Mediterranean coast to Fethiye, rests on a broad Mediterranean bay boasting some of Turkey’s best beaches and yachting. Tonight we choose to stay either in the resort town of Oludeniz, famous for paragliding or harbour town of Fethiye. Overnight Fethiye or Oludeniz. (B)

Oludeniz (Dead Sea), about 15km southeast of Fethiye, is not devoid of life like its biblical namesake. Rather, it’s a sheltered lagoon hidden from the open sea. The scene as you come down from the pine-clad hills is absolutely beautiful: in the distance open sea, in the foreground a long spit of sandy beach.

Unfortunately the paradise that many past travellers fondly recall has all but been ruined by the tightly packed belt of hotels behind the beach. Oludeniz (the lagoon) and Belcekiz (the adjacent beach resort) used to be one of the highlights of independent travel in Turkey but the development of identical air-conditioned hotels, loud bars and overpriced restaurants has hardly bolstered its appeal. Many travellers may prefer to shoot straight through. Note that the name of the lagoon (Oludeniz) is becoming synonymous with the town and that asking for Belcekiz may draw a blank.

Day 12                                                 Fethiye/Oludeniz
You have the option to relax on a day cruise around the 12 Islands of Fethiye, discover Dalyan river and experience the therapeutic properties of the mud and thermal baths, explore one of Turkey’s highlights Saklikent Gorge, Turkey’s longest and deepest canyon or visit the stunning Greek Island of Rhodes. Overnight Fethiye or Oludeniz. (B)

Optional 12 Islands Full-Day Cruise
The word fantastic will fall short in describing this tour. We promise a perfect day on board our fully equipped and comfortable vessels with all the services you or your family might need provided. This tour will make a climax in your holiday. There are a lot of activities on this boat trip for every taste and state of vintage we dont call it age anymore!

After pick-up from your accommodation and a drive to Fethiye harbour, when you embark our comfortable and spacious boats, our hospitable crew will take you for an enchanting ODYSSEY along the 12 Islands. On a myriad of bays and islands where navies and corsaires sought shelter from tempests all through mans nautical history, you will find yourself in the bosom of Mediterranean like no other boat trip can compare. Swim in the aquarium-clear crystalline waters, disembark and take strolls at various islands and bays, sunbathe and fall asleep in tune with mother natures most tranquil lullaby, and have BBQ lunch on board. You will return with unforgettable memories.

With more than enough legroom for our guests on our 65 foot single and double decker boats you will find comfort and peace. Clean toilets and shower facilities, bar, sun beds and shades, fishing tackle and snorkelling apparatus, jackets for non-swimmers and beginners for all ages provided on the boats.

Optional Dalyan River, Sultaniye Mud Baths, Caunos, Turtle Beach Tour
We drive through pine and frankincense forests along a most spectacular scenery of Taurus chain of mountains on one side, the Mediterranean coast on the other.

A vast green area with unique properties Dalyan is a very popular small town not spoiled by buildings. The wonderful 7 kilometres sandy Iztuzu Beach, which is accessible by a 45 minutes boat trip, is one of the last nesting areas for the Caretta caretta, Sea Turtles. Between May and September, the female turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, to keep check on them from time to time and finally to take their babies to the sea.

A 15 minutes boat trip will take you to the sulphur bath which is a different experience for many people visiting the city. The mud containing sulphur and other elements is said to be good for skin conditions and makes you feel refreshed and revitalized. Also there is a small spa where you can just relax.

Caunos, the ancient city near modern Dalyan, was founded around the 9th century BC. Once it was a Mediterranean city port, but over the centuries the silt from the Dalyan River choked the harbour and today the town lies several kilometres from the sea. Caunos is famous for its rock-cut tombs. These were graves for the kings and important people of the city. Since the pagans of the area believed in resurrection, they put lots of food, money, jewellery and other valuable items in holes at the entrance of the tombs, but because of grave robbers nothing is now left today.

Optional Rhodes Island Independent Day Trip from Fethiye
Start your day with a pickup from your centrally located Fethiye hotel or meet your air-conditioned vehicle at a pre-arranged location. Then, travel to the port and board your high-speed catamaran to Rhodes, the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands.

Enjoy the views of the Aegean Sea as you make your 45-minute crossing to Rhodes Town, the island’s charming capital. Conveniently, the ferry port is an easy walk from the walled Rhodes Old Town, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities.

When you arrive, you’re free to do as you wish, with no itineraries tying you down. Do as most visitors do and head straight for the UNESCO-listed Rhodes Old Town, entering through one of the seven gates in its walls. Then, spend the day exploring the cobbled streets and Gothic, Frankish and Ottoman gems of this stunning district founded by the Knights of St John in the 14th century.

Admire the Street of the Knights and visit the Palace of the Grand Masters, Archaeological Museum and Museum of Decorative Arts. Delve into the maze-like alleys to see the gorgeous medieval architecture; shop for Rhodean lace and ceramics, and sample Greek dishes at the tavernas and cafes.

Alternatively, hit the capital’s modern shopping district, laze on its beaches or absorb the views from historic Mandraki Harbour, once the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. All entrance fees, meals and drinks are at your own expense.

Return to the port in the late afternoon to catch your catamaran back to Turkey. Then, on arrival in Fethiye enjoy a drop-off back at your hotel.

Day 13                                                 Fethiye to Cappadocia
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Kayseri via Istanbul or Ankara. On arrival you will be met and transferred to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is an extraordinary national treasure and is perhaps even the jewel in Turkey’s illustrious crown. Turkey’s most visually striking region, where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, fairy chimneys and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock. Overnight Cappadocia. (B)

 

Day 14                                                 Northern Cappadocia
09:30 Start the tour by visiting Esentepe, a hillside with spectacular views over the Goreme Valley. Here, take photos of the magnificent, lava-formed landscapes as a taster of what’s to come, and then set off with your guide to explore properly. Visit Pasabag (Monk’s Valley), whose chimneys are widely regarded as the best in Cappadocia, see a chapel dedicated to the well known reclusive monk, St. Simeon as well as some small cave habitations that were carved and used by monks one thousand years ago. and ogle the Devrent Valley, where more mushroom-shaped pinnacles cover the hillsides.

Drive to the pottery town of Avanos, where the longest river Kizilirmak (Red River) in Turkey passes through. Have the chance to view the pottery making demonstration and even try your hand at making your own unique pot. Break for a buffet lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open-Air Museum, famous for its rock-cut chapels coated in Byzantine frescoes. Admire the beautifully painted chapels. Marvel at the numerous cave churches and monasteries with their richly frescoed walls painted by Orthodox Monks around 1000-1200 AD.

See also the Uchisar Castle. Situated at the highest point and providing superb panoramic vistas, it is a large rock formation full of interconnected rooms, tunnels and passages that have been carved from the tufa. Scattered throughout the immediate surroundings are several Roman tombs also cut from the tufa. Board back to your coach and end your experience with a hotel drop-off. Spend the evening at leisure amid Cappadocia’s magical landscape or don’t miss the optional traditional Turkish folklore evening and performance of a whirling dervish! Overnight Cappadocia. (B, L)

Optional Whirling Dervish Ceremony & Traditional Turkish Folklore Evening
19:30 A great night out where dinner, unlimited drinks and entertainment is included in the price, which takes place in a cave restaurant, which is carved into the region’s soft volcanic rock. The show features belly dancers, traditional folk dancers and traditional Turkish musicians.

Before drinks are served, Mevlevi Dervishes perform the whirling sema ceremony with Sufi music concert. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the ‘The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony’ of Turkey as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The dervish music and whirling event lasts about 15 minutes. These shows not only to introduce you to Turkish culture and various Anatolian dances, but provide you with a genuinely entertaining show.

Day 15                                                 Southern Cappadocia
This morning you have the option of taking a hot-air balloon ride in a region famed for being one of the best places in the world for ballooning.

Optional Hot Air Ballooning
05:30 Start the day with a balloon ride over the moonscapes of Cappadocia. Discover the stunning landscape of the region from a hot-air balloon! Admire Cappadocia’s beautiful scenery of tall, volcanic rock spires and high plateaus from the air on a 1-hour flight.

Toast to your unforgettable experience with a glass of Champagne during the post-flight celebration and receive a souvenir medal. Your Cappadocia hot-air balloon flight includes a complimentary pre-flight buffet breakfast and convenient round-trip hotel transportation.

09:30 Today you will begin with a visit to the remarkable underground city of Kaymakli, which was occupied during the period of early Christianity when the local population went underground for protection. When the Arabs invaded Asia Minor in the 7th and 8th centuries, Cappadocia remained relatively undisturbed by the conflicts; perhaps due to the fact that the monks and local Christians went underground, literally, excavating the subterranean cities and richly frescoed cave churches which you can explore today. Kaymakli is one of many such complexes that have been discovered in the region. Wind through the network of tunnels and chambers as you descend several levels underground.

The tour will then visit Cavusin, an old Christian village, where you will see a triple apse church and the Monastery of St. John the Baptist. The day’s touring includes lunch and an easy grade, three kilometer hike through the Red Gulludere Valley, inaccessible by automobile and providing absolutely breathtaking scenery. Walk among the fantastic rock formations and along the way discover hidden frescoed cave churches. Before tour’s end, visit the natural landmark of Ortahisar Castle.

18:00 This evening you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to the exotic city of Istanbul. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation. Overnight Istanbul. (B, L)

Day 16                                                 Best of Istanbul
We would suggest that you go ahead and have the tour on the day following your arrival so that you will be familiarized with your surroundings enough to enjoy the remainder of your time visiting some other spots that you may like to see, those can easily be negotiated on your own after you’ve had a good day of orientation.

This morning, embark upon a fully guided tour of the only city that spans two continents, Europe and Asia. Before lunch, we start with Eyup cable car, and then ride up it to the Pierre Loti Café, where the French poet Pierre Loti wrote while admiring views of the Golden Horn. Sit down and relax here, while soaking up commanding views of the horn-shaped fjord below that splits the city’s European shoreline into two. Step inside Rustem Pasha Mosque for a short tour. Small yet spectacular, this city secret boasts an eye-catching interior with a liberal smattering of geometric and floral tiles that adorn the walls and ceiling before a visit to the Egyptian Spice market (stock up on bargain saffron, spices and Turkish delight here!).

Why hit just one continent when you can get double value from the city that straddles two?

No stay in Istanbul would complete without a traditional and unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the winding straits seperating Europe and Asia. The humble fishing villages and suspension bridges set against the dramatic outline of the Strait exemplify the newest link between the East and West. While onboard, seeing Bosphorus Bridge and Rumeli Fortress, built in just 4 months in 1452 by Mehmet the Conqueror in preparation of his planned siege of Byzantine Constantinople.

The Marmaray provides you a unique chance to make a link between the European and Asian continents by train in a sub-sea tunnel (resting upon the sea floor beneath the waters of the Bosphorus Strait). This engineering feat was first conceived by a legendary Ottoman sultan in 1860. Designed to withstand earthquakes, this is the world’s first underwater tunnel that connects two continents. In theory, it brings closer the day when it will be possible to travel from London to Beijing via Istanbul by train! The giant rail system of Istanbul’s Marmaray Project was inaugurated and opened on October 29, 2013 following four years of construction delays that were largely due to the discovery of ruins dating from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

After lunch, a visit to the Hippodrome area – famed as the centre of Byzantine life for 1000 years and of Ottoman life for another 400! Continuing, visit the stunning Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, built by Emperor Justinian. Once a church, then a mosque, today it is a museum. Before tour’s end, visiting the Basilica Cistern an ancient underground water tank replete with carved and fluted Corinthian columns and a puzzling head of Medusa. Visitors walk on walkways suspended above the clear, now shallow water. It’s very cool and peaceful. Overnight Istanbul. (B, L)

Day 17                                                 Istanbul
Day at leisure. Istanbul is easy to get around on foot and there are plenty of restaurants and cafes dotted about the city. Perhaps check out the Grand Bazaar for exotic souvenirs or soak up the ambiance of the city at your own pace. Overnight Istanbul. (B)

Absorb yourself in history and beauty of Istanbul on our optional ‘Rest of Istanbul’ tour and visit the home of legendary Ottoman Sultans-Topkapi Palace with accommpanying Harem Museum. Continue to the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora, the interior of the building is covered with fine mosaics and frescoes and Turkey’s largest covered market-Grand Bazaar and more. Marvel at these famous monuments alongside your expert guide who will give you individual attention on this small-group tour.

This link will give you more info http://truebluetour.com/rest-of-istanbul-tour/

Day 18                                                 Istanbul
You are free to depart at any time today. After breakfast your tour draws to a close and we say goodbye to our new friends before being transferred to the airport. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally noon, but luggage storage facilities are available.

We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation and day tours/activities if you wish to extend your stay. Happy travels! (B)

(B – Breakfast, L –Lunch, D –Dinner)

2017 Departures
Jun: 25,27
Jul: 2,4,9,11,16,18,23,25,30
Aug: 1,6,8,13,15,20,22,27,29
Sep: 3,5

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