Peter Sommer Travels - vacations and travel

Exploring Istanbul

Turkey, Europe, Middle East

from £1,925* per person 8 Days September
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Peter Sommer Travels 18 people max
  • Istanbul airport, turkey
  • Culture & Nature trips
A large number of our guests spend time in Istanbul before or after their tour. So many of them ask us to recommend hotels, restaurants, sites to see and local guides, that we thought we should use our extensive knowledge and contacts to create the definitive tour of this vibrant and exotic city.

Your expert guide, Dr. Richard Bayliss, is a Byzantine specialist and passionate enthusiast. The many years he has spent leading archaeological projects in and around Istanbul have given him an intimate knowledge of the city throughout its history: from its roots as a small Greek town on the Bosphorus, via its reincarnation as Constantinople, opulent centre of the Byzantine Empire, to the teeming capital of the Ottoman Empire.

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 tour 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 Istanbul-cuisine to traditional local eateries that have raised the simplest of local dishes to a culinary art form. This is a tour that allows 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.

Locations visited/nearby

Turkey, Europe, Middle East

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3 testimonials about the provider, Peter Sommer Travels:

  • Reviewer: located in Winchester, UK
    “We so enjoyed the cruise. As a tour guide myself, I am, I suppose, the most critical sort of audience, but I was simply knocked over by the whole experience: we loved Almira, the wonderful gulet with its delightful and efficient crew, and those beautiful sites explained with such passion and sensitivity. Well done indeed.”
    5
  • Reviewer: located in Roseville, NSW Australia
    “The combination of sailing, walking through fascinating archaeological sites, meeting friendly Turkish villagers, swimming in warm clear waters and being fed delicious healthy Turkish food in good company - is just a winner. It is the best holiday we have ever had. Many thanks for your meticulous attention to our comfort.”
    5
  • Reviewer: located in London UK
    “After 2 wonderful cruises with Peter we thought it might be hard to repeat the magic - we needn’t have worried. Sailing to Ephesus was the best of them all. The 5 kids with us loved it and still talk about it as one big adventure. Hats off again to Peter who manages effortlessly to hold adults and children entranced with his evocative narratives.”
    5

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Itinerary

Day 1: Our hotel is about 30 minutes from Istanbul’s Ataturk airport in the heart of the old city. Welcome drink and dinner.

Day 2: We begin our historic journey 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: A day out in the country, in Thrace. We head west out of the city, to visit two of Richard’s personal survey projects, the great aqueduct of Constantinople, the longest in the ancient world, and the Anastasian Wall, part of the city’s outer defences.

Day 4: 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 5: 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.

Day 6: 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 7: Our historic odyssey concludes as we 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 aftertoon we take tea and cake at the gloriously restored Pera Palace hotel, which first welcomed European travellers on the Orient Express.

Day 8: Transfer to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, about 30 minutes away.

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