Discovery of Istanbul and cruise on the Bosphorus
or Excursion to the Princes’ Islands (to choose)
Built on 7 hills, Istanbul is both a theatre of history and a street theatre where traditions mingle intimately with the modern. Stroll at the foot of the Ottoman architecture and through the colorful streets of the city, taste the local gastronomy, and treat yourself to a moment of absolute romanticism during a sunset cruise in the waters of the Bosphorus. For the more adventurous, sail aboard a sailboat in the Sea of Marmara towards the Princes’ Islands, including Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada. This activity is suitable for swimming in the coves of the archipelago, during the warmest months of the year.
DAY 1 – Arrival at Istanbul Airport and private transfer service
A vehicle with a private driver will meet you at the airport (Istanbul International Airport or Sabiha Gökçen Airport) to take you to your hotel or apartment where you will be staying during your trip.
DAY 2 – Culinary and cultural walk on two continents
You will live a typical day in Istanbul and discover two iconic and bustling districts at the heart of two continents. The first district, Beşiktas, is located on the European side of Istanbul. This district is residential, family, and student-oriented, and it is a very lively place.
Structured as a tiny village, its narrow streets are full of life. Its shops, restaurants, bars, and terraces are never empty. Beşiktas is well-known for its street food, ever-present in each of the numerous shops that we will find all our walk long. It is a perfect occasion to taste some local dishes!
Then comes the Üsküdar district on the Asian side, at the other side of the Bosphorus. Another atmosphere, another mood: Üsküdar is one of the oldest districts of Istanbul, very family-oriented but also a little conservative. During the day, it comes alive thanks to its local market where you can find tourists but also locals.
DAY 3 – Visit of the classics in the Sultanahmet district
Istanbul is a millenary city that has been the capital city of three empires: the Byzantine Empire, the Roman Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. This tour is a one-day guided visit to discover this fascinating heritage.
The day will start by visiting the emblematic monument of Istanbul: the Sainte-Sophie Basilica, built in the 6th century. We will then visit the Basilica Cistern, a mythic and spellbinding place that was used as a water tank by the city but also as a James Bond movie set. After this, we offer you a small coffee break on a panoramic terrace where you will be able to enjoy an amazing view over the whole city and its monuments. You will then visit the sumptuous Blue Mosque, named after the fabulous blue stove tiles from Iznik covering the inside. Then, we will go around the Grand Bazaar to have lunch in a local restaurant (the lunch is included in the price).
During the second part of the day, we will visit the Grand Bazaar and its hans (small workshops) built-in 1455, which, with its 4000 shops, was the trade center of Constantinople. You will also discover the Suleymaniye Mosque, the biggest imperial mosque of Istanbul, built by the architect Sinan (the Ottoman Leonardo Da Vinci) under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificient.
After a small cafe with a magnificent view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the city, you will end the day with the spice market or Egyptian market which is located in the Eminönü district, below the Suleymaniye Mosque. The Egyptian Bazaar was built by the Venetians in 1663 with the money collected with taxes from Cairo, hence the name of Egyptian Bazaar. The Egyptian Bazaar is also called the spice market for the multitude of spice choices found inside.
DAY 4 – Option 1 – Private boat cruise at sunset on the Bosphorus (2-3 hours)
(Available all months of the year): The Bosporus Strait, which separates the city in two, Europe and Asia, and connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea is a unique strait in the world 32 km long. During your two or three hour cruise on the Bosphorus, you can admire a splendid panorama of the city and many monuments that are visible only by boat, such as the great palaces of Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi, Galatasaray University, and many others.
It will be an opportunity to admire some of the most beautiful Istanbulities yalıs (large wooden houses dating from the Ottoman Empire) and the two suspended bridges. During this 2 or 3 hour cruise that will take place in the late afternoon, we will discuss the history and the topicality of Istanbul, its neighborhoods, and the monuments that border the Bosphorus by sharing an aperitif composed of local products, including good Turkish wines, cold cuts, cheeses, and other very good seasonal products such as carefully selected fresh fruit. The private tour guide and the aperitif are optional for private boat tours.
The cruise will start from the Karaköy district, then we will go up the Bosphorus along the European shore to the north where you will discover the most luxurious neighborhoods and villas of the city. We will then return by the Asian shore to return to Karaköy or drop you off at another pier according to the continuation of your program (only for private boat tours). We generally recommend a late day departure to enjoy the sunset over the old town.
DAY 4 – Option 2 – Sailing Day in the Princes Islands (May to October)
During the first part of the day, the English-speaking captain will take you sailing in the Princes’ Islands archipelago, in the tiny coves of the Heybeli island. You will then go to Burgaz island, one of the four islands of the archipelago, to have lunch. There are many restaurants on the island, and one of the most renowned and charming ones is the Kalpanzakaya. We can book a table for you if you want to have lunch there. We can also organize a picnic on the boat or the island.
After lunch, we advise you to walk around Burgaz island before going back to Istanbul, as it is a very charming island. You will not find any car or motorized vehicles on it because people only walk or use bikes to move around. You can also continue sailing with the captain or swim in other coves. The day will end at 5 or 6 pm at the starting point, the Kalamış marina, located on the Asian side of Istanbul.
DAY 5 – Discovering Istanbul’s communities and contrasts off the beaten track
Byzantium, Constantinople, and Istanbul have always been a bridge for the populations between Europe and Asia, which made it an extremely cosmopolitan city. The various religious communities who lived there for centuries left a permanent legacy, still visible today thanks to the architecture and the religious monuments. After the fall of the Ottoman empire in 1923, those communities left progressively and were replaced by rural Turks coming from all over Turkey. These new inhabitants transformed these districts by importing their way of life. Today, they are pieces of Turkey inside of Istanbul and are contributing to its diversity.
The tour will start with the Fatih neighborhood, which is one of the most conservative and laden with history neighborhood of the city. Here, the first sultan who conquered Constantinople in 1453 (Mehmet II, also called Mehmet the conqueror) erected the masterful complex of the Mosque of Fatih, where it is buried., where is he buried. The area is now populated by Turks from regions where religion is fundamental. You will be intrigued by the dedication and the very pious lifestyle of the inhabitants.
We will then go to Fener and Balat neighborhoods on your way down to the Golden Horn. Populated by Greek and Jewish communities since the Byzantine empire, there are among the most fascinating of the city. In a maze of alleys, you will see beautiful typically ottoman wooden houses, in addition to religious monuments such as churches and synagogues.
Inhabited by a less conservative population than Fatih, those neighborhoods give the feeling of being in a village. Life happens outside, children play soccer on the streets, merchants chat in front of their shops drinking tea, men play cards in the cafes. It is very lively and relaxing at the same time. We will also visit the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Saint Georges church, which is the supreme holder of the religious authority for hundreds of millions of Orthodox all around the world.
DAY 6 – Istanbul’s Asian Shore: half a day in Kadıköy, the city’s new cultural and arty center
Kadiköy, formerly called Chalcedon, was a city constructed before Byzantium by those who were called « blind » by King Byzas. Today, it is a lively district at the heart of Istanbul. It is here, in this fief of the political opposition and of the Fenerbahçe soccer club, that the country’s culture is always reinvented for centuries. Many artists, rockers, actors, writers, musicians, and drawers went through Kadiköy and they founded a full new culture.
Nowadays, the district is attracting all kinds of people due to its economic vitality but also the great quality of life that it offers to the newcomers. The visit will start by the arrival by boat in the çarşı – market in English – in which locals abound at any time. This market is an incredible bazaar that mixes tradition and modernity. There, you will see cafes and hipster shops next to an incredible fruit, spices, fish, and traditional pastry market.
The Kadiköy district also represents a real intellectual vortex; during this tour, you will learn more about the career of those exceptional artists. You will learn about the Ebru culture, this ancestral Turkish tradition of water marbling art, which can be seen in many fields nowadays, such as fashion, cinema, or contemporary art. We will also learn about the rock and lefty culture of the neighborhood by meeting locals.
We will end the tour by the Moda neighborhood, the so-called « Brooklyn of Istanbul » characterized by its creativity and its way of life.
DAY 7 – Private airport transfer and departure
A vehicle with a private driver will transfer you from your hotel or apartment to the departure airport (Istanbul International Airport or Sabiha Gökçen Airport).
OUR SUGGESTIONS TO PERFECT THIS TRIP
MASSAGE IN THE HÜRREM SULTAN HAMMAM: Turkish baths remain a strong image for travelers and a unique experience. Indulge in a 45-minute massage at the Hürrem Sultan hammam, a 16th-century gem, located between the Blue Mosque, the ancient Hagia Sophia, and the Temple of Zeus. Get to know more
WINE TASTING IN BEYOĞLU, IN THE HEART OF ISTANBUL: Shiraz, Narince, Emir, Öküzgözü and many others… Let yourself be tempted by a break in one of the wine cellars of Beyoğlu, in the heart of Istanbul, to taste Turkish wines with very varied grape varieties from different regions of Turkey and discover the modern face of this wine country. Get to know more
What awaits you during this stay:
The budget may vary depending on the type of visit chosen. Indeed, we offer this program of visits with small groups or privatized. The average budget per person for this weekend is €580 for group visits, and €765 for private visits. Private boat rental and airport transfer rates do not affect additional guests who wish to travel with you (valid for a limited number of people). Our team will offer you a quote according to a personalized program.
The price does include:
- – Airport transfers
- – Program visits and activities
- – Transport as part of visits
- – Tickets to the monuments
- – Lunch on the visit to Sultanahmet
- – Tastings of local specialties during the culinary and cultural tour on two continents
- – The services of the English-speaking guides who will accompany you during the visits
The price does not include:
- – Tickets for your international and domestic flights
- – Accommodation (on request only)
- – Drinks and personal expenses
- – Insurance
YOUR PERSONAL TRIP
This travel proposal is 100% customizable according to your desires. You can change the length of stay, accommodation, activities, and services. Our team will accompany you to organize your perfect trip!
HOTELS & CONCIERGE SERVICE
We offer you to book your accommodation at the best offers on a selection of hotels in Istanbul according to your desires, your needs, and your budget.
Our selection offers different types of hotels including major international hotel chains such as Park Hyatt Istanbul, JW Marriott Istanbul Bosphorus, palaces along the Bosphorus such as Çirağan Palace Kempinski, Four Seasons Bosphorus, or even the more intimate boutique hotels, such as the House Hotel Karaköy, the Georges Hotel Galata, and the trendy and sophisticated DNA, including the Soho House Istanbul among others. Let us know your criteria, and we will send you an offer according to your desires for a successful trip.
You want an address for a restaurant, expert advice when traveling and shopping in the city, or have a specific request for us, make a request for our English-speaking concierge service. This service can be contacted every day during your stay.
BOOK YOUR TRIP!
Our team will customize your request for a tailor-made trip.