6 Days 5 Nights
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the hotel. Overnight at the hotel.
We start our tour of the Sultanahmet area, the hub of ancient Istanbul, with breakfast at the hotel and a visit to Hagia Sophia Mosque. The church, which was built by Emperor Justinian in the early sixth century AD and planned by Anthemius of Tralles and Isodore of Miletus, is one of the world's architectural wonders. Its huge dome still dominates the ancient Istanbul skyline.
It's also known for its mosaics, which include gilded images of emperors and empresses as well as a moving Virgin and Child. The Blue Mosque (closed on Friday mornings) is our next stop. It gets its name from the beautiful tiles that cover its interior. It is the only imperial mosque with six minarets, having been built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century and planned by a disciple of Sinan, the greatest of Ottoman architects. Its courtyard is particularly impressive.
The Hippodrome, an old Byzantium stadium that could seat 100,000 people, displayed antiquities from all around the empire. An Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three intertwined serpents from Delphi are among those that have survived. The Grand Bazaar was the economic core of the ancient city, with 4,000 stores filled with treasures such as carpets and kilims, silks, jewelry, pottery, icons, and leather items. While strolling through the Grand Bazaar, indulge in some Ottoman-style shopping. We returned to the hotel at 13:00 and spent the rest of the day relaxing. The evening is yours to shop. Spend the night at the hotel.
We start with a quick stop at Istanbul's 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of the city's most colorful and crowded attractions. After that, we go on a spectacular trip around the Bosphorus, Istanbul's magnificent waterway that connects Europe and Asia. From our cruise ship, we see the stunning sites along the Bosphorus' forested shores: mosques, a bridge that was once the world's longest, and the huge Rumeli Hisar (no entry), a fortification erected by Fatih the Conqueror in just three months as he prepared to seize Istanbul. The Sultan's extravagant gingerbread castles and hunting lodges, as well as the Ottoman elite's 19th-century residences, are also remarkable. In the afternoon is free to go shopping.
*On the rare occasions when the Spice Bazaar is closed on a Sunday, we provide an orientation session.
**Depending on the number of tour participants, the Spice Bazaar may be visited before the Bosphorus Cruise.
After breakfast, transport to the airport for your trip to Cappadocia; upon arrival, transfer to your accommodation for the night.
In the morning, meet in the hotel lobby for a tour to Rose Valley, one of the most stunning trekking valleys in Cappadocia, and hike through the valley to discover the famed rock-cut churches. Rest in Cavusin, a historic Greek hamlet noted for its Christian buildings and churches.
After lunch, proceed to Ortahsar Castle, which is styled similarly to Uchisar Castle and contains storage caves. In the afternoon, explore Kaymakli (or Ozkonak) Underground City, where early Christians lived in dread and trust.
On the way back, stop at the scenic Pigeon Valley to see how pigeons helped villagers by fertilizing the grapes with their dung. You might also visit a nearby winery and sample Cappadocia wine. Return to the hotels.
After breakfast, head to the airport to catch a flight to your next destination through Istanbul.