Day 1 Welcome to Turkey
Welcome to Istanbul! You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 2 Best of Istanbul
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 3 Istanbul (Free Day)
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.
Explore Buyukada, the largest of Turkey’s Princes’ Islands, on this optional full-day trip from Istanbul! Cruise across the Sea of Marmara, watching the sights of Istanbul slip from view, and then explore the pedestrianized island in the best possible way – by horse-drawn carriage!
Optional Rest of Istanbul Tour – EUR 75
Enjoy an extensive tour of the Topkapi Palace and Harem Museum, the royal residence of the legendary Ottoman Sultans, now converted into a museum. Originally constructed between 1460 and 1478, the lavish palace boasts four lush courtyards made up of pavilions, kitchens, barracks and kiosks; an impressive treasury with an assortment of treasures and artefacts; and fantastic views over the Sea of Marmara.
The royal quarters where the sultan, his family and, yes, many concubines lived are there, but be sure not to miss the Chamber of Holy Relics, which has King David’s sword, a fragment of Moses’ staff, and John the Baptist’s arm and a section of his skull. Relics of Mohammed are also on display.
Before lunch, check out the labyrinthine and chaotic, Grand Bazaar sprawling over a huge area in the heart of the Old City. This was the first shopping mall ever built during the time of Mehmet the Conqueror. Starting as a small masonry bedesten (covered market), today, the bazaar has 16 hans (caravanserais), 64 lanes, mosques, banks, a police station, restaurants, workshops and more than 2000 shops, making it a world within itself. Before long, it became the center for trade in the entire Ottoman Empire. At its prime, the market was locked down and guarded by more than a hundred soldiers every night, like a fortified castle.
After lunch, enjoy a visit to the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by the greatest, richest and most powerful of Ottoman sultans – Suleymaniye I, better known as Suleymaniye the Magnificent and the nearby Kariye Museum, where you will see some of the finest examples of Byzantine art, frescoes and golden mosaics. Your guide will take you through the lifetime of Jesus and Mother Mary following the artefacts on the walls.
Your tour then ends with a visit to the City Walls, initially built by Constantine the Great, the walls surrounded the new city on all sides, protecting it against attack from both sea and land. As the city grew, the famous double line of the Theodosian Walls was built in the 5th century. Ultimately the city fell from sheer force of Ottoman forces on 29 May 1453 after a 6-week siege.
Optional Princes’ Islands Leisure Tour – EUR 55
Leave your central Istanbul hotel by air-conditioned coach and head to the port with your guide to board your boat to the Princes’ Islands. The largest and most interesting one is Buyukada – your destination of the day! While cruising, look back on the sights of Istanbul, seeing iconic landmarks like Topkapi Palace and pretty Kiz Kulesi (also known as Maiden’s Tower or Leander’s Tower), which was featured in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough.
Dock in Buyukada and then amble through the streets with your guide, soaking up the laid-back atmosphere of island life. Vehicles are notably non-existent here, and the pretty roads resonate with the pleasing clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages. Hop aboard your own carriage and explore Buyukada at a fittingly relaxed pace. Your guide will explain the island’s history as you travel, talking about its time as a place of exile for banished statesmen and royalty, and of its life as a monastic settlement during Turkey’s Byzantine-Christian period.
Pass the lovely wooden mansions that exemplify the island’s late Ottoman-era architecture, and look out over the sparkling sea lapping on the shores. Seagulls are everywhere in Buyukada, and if you want to feed them your guide will give you simits (bread with sesame seeds) so you can throw them a treat.
Stop for lunch at a seafood restaurant and then spend the rest of your day at leisure on the island. Bring your bathing suit if you want to swim, or perhaps explore the island’s craft shops and waterfront cafés. Meet your guide at a pre-arranged time for your boat ride back to Istanbul. The last leg of your journey is made by coach to your Istanbul hotel, where your tour ends.
Day 4 Ancient city of Ephesus and Sirine Village
05:00 This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Izmir. You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel located in the sea side town of Kusadasi approx. 1 hour drive south along the Aegean coast from Izmir.
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 in 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 5 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.
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 6 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)
>>Tour Package Includes:
0 Inbound and outbound airport transfers
0 Transfers between domestic airports and hotels
0 Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking minivan
0 Domestic flights as per itinerary: Istanbul to Izmir and Denizli to Istanbul
0 Professional English-speaking local tour guides
0 Guided sightseeing at Istanbul, Ephesus and Pamukkale
0 Entrance fees for all included sightseeing
0 VIP entry to many sights
0 Tips except driver and guide
0 Local taxes and service charges
0 24-hour emergency hotline
0 8 meals: 5 breakfast, 3 lunch
(This tour provides a variety of dining experiences, including buffets, à-la-carte dining and set menus. Whenever possible, we will try to honor special dietary requests)
0 5 nights – 4 star, boutique and cave accommodation in total.
– 1 night in Kusadasi http://www.efeboutiquehotel.com
– 4 nights in Sultanahmet http://www.gardenhouseistanbul.com or Taksim http://www.istanbultryp.com
>>Tour Package Excludes:
0 Entry visas where applicable
0 Meals unless otherwise stated
0 Personal expenses
0 Transport to and from Turkey
Low Season (01.11.2018-15.03.2019 ⊥ 01.11.2019-15.03.2020)
575 Euro twin share
555 Euro triple share
140 Euro single supplement
High Season (16.03.2019-30.10.2019)
615 Euro twin share
595 Euro triple share
180 Euro single supplement
If you are travelling with children you may be eligible for a discount, please advise childrens ages.
>>Please make note of the following:
0 We’ll be happy to work with you in creating and fine tuning an itinerary for your holiday. Our itineraries are flexible and you can certainly make changes to hotels and other aspects of the tour program. You can travel by air, land or sea with public transport or private arrangements. Whatever you want to include in your personal itinerary we can arrange it and maybe suggest a few things you hadn’t thought of. True Blue Tour means trouble free, pleasant and positive experience throughout Turkey…
0 We can arrange any type of accommodation you prefer, whether it be budget or five star luxury or anything in between. Our suggested hotels are based on True Blue Tour’s experience in accommodating our guests and also based on feedback from our guests. Each suggested hotel is located superbly and provides excellent service and accommodation quality. Those hotels can be upgraded or downgraded as per your preference.
0 If you prefer private transfers and/or privately serviced excursions, please inform us and we will make the appropriate revisions.
0 We’ll be happy to make alternate suggestions if you’ll let us know your general preferences.