Your journey begins as you board your overnight flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
On arrival in Istanbul you are met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel.
Established in the 7th century B.C. by the Megaran leader Byzas, Istanbul is the world’s only city that bridges two continents, Europe and Asia. The balance of the day is free to settle in and begin exploring independently this sophisticated city known for wonderful Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. From your location in the heart of the city it is easy to immerse in Istanbul’s life and culture. We suggest strolling along the magnificent Bosphorus, the Nisantasi district, one of Istanbul’s most exclusive neighborhoods, and Macka Park, a natural oasis in this busy city.
Tonight, enjoy authentic Turkish cuisine and get to know the other members of your group at the local restaurant Nisantasi’ Baskose Turkish Grill.
Situated in a luxurious neighborhood surrounded by popular cafes, restaurants and art galleries, your boutique hotel features 98 guestrooms not far from the Bosphorus Straight. The rooms come equipped with air conditioning, hair dryers, plasma televisions and high-speed internet access. The rest of the city is easily accessible either by foot or by public transportation. Overnight at the AC HOTEL ISTANBUL MACKA. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/istac-ac-hotelistanbul-macka/
Today’s tour highlights the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman treasures. Begin at the early 17th century Blue Mosque, masterpiece of Turkish architecture of rare proportion and elegance. Admire its six slender minarets and the interior masterfully decorated with over 20,000 glazed blue porcelain tiles and enormous, intricate silk carpets. Continue to the Hippodrome, one of the Byzantine Empire’s largest chariot race grounds, site of athletic events, victory celebrations and political activities. Next is iconic Hagia Sophia (Church of Divine Wisdom), today a museum. Built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian as a triumph of Christianity and true symbol of Byzantium, Hagia Sophia was the grandest church of Christendom until its conversion into a mosque by Sultan Mehmet II. After the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 the Ottomans added minarets, buttresses and calligraphy medallions and – due to the prohibition of Islam to represent human figures – plastered over the Byzantine mosaics (several have now been cleared and restored).”
Visit the spectacular Topkapi Palace (Harem section is not included), perfect example of Ottoman architecture. Built on 80 acres between the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, this sprawling complex – which at its peak housed 4,000 people including the sultan, his court and harem – was also seat of the Ottoman Empire government. Your tour includes the palace’s main highlights such as gardens and spectacular display of jewelry, weaponry and calligraphy examples and priceless Chinese porcelains. The palace’s Treasury still houses the world’s seventh largest diamond, the pearshaped “Spoonmaker’s Diamond”.
Conclude at the Grand Bazaar, Turkey’s largest and oldest covered market. Browse Turkish handicrafts, Oriental carpets, rare jewels and inexpensive trinkets. With more than 4,000 shops and ninety-two streets named after trades – gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, booksellers etc. – it makes for a unique shopping experience. Return to the hotel or opt to spend more time on your own at the bazaar. The balance of the day is at leisure. Overnight at the AC HOTEL ISTANBUL MACKA.
Today, enjoy another full day of sightseeing around Istanbul. Begin your day by returning to Topkapi Palace to revisit the highlights and areas you may have missed. Continue to the famous (and fragrant!) Spice Bazaar, also known as Egyptian Bazaar, Istanbul’s second largest covered market. Built in the 1660s inside the Yeni Camii (New Mosque) complex and named after the spices imported from Egypt it is still the best place to buy Turkish delight, dried fruit, exotic spices and fragrant herbs.
Proceed to the pier to embark on a leisurely boat ride along the Bosporus, the narrow strait between Europe and Asia that connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. Its shores are dotted with magnificent marble palaces, traditional wooden mansions and the impressive Rumelian Fortress.
In the afternoon, walk along Beyoglu Street and visit the Galata Mevlevi Lodge and the panoramic Galata Tower. Overnight at the AC HOTEL ISTANBUL MACKA
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Izmir. Upon arrival you will be met by your local guide outside the baggage claim area and transferred to your hotel located in the city center.
Izmir (ancient Smyrna) is Turkey’s second-largest port and third largest, and most Westernized, city. A modern, vibrant city pleasant year around, Izmir is beautifully set on the Aegean Sea on the shores of a large bay. Behind the palm-lined promenades and avenues along the shoreline, the city develops over horizontal terraces gently ascending along the slopes of the surrounding mountains.
This afternoon, visit the Kemerakti Bazaar, which dates back to the 17th century and is home to shops, eateries, artisans’ workshops, mosques, coffeehouses, tea gardens and synagogues. Within the bazaar, you’ll come across the Hisar Mosque. The largest in the city and dating from 1597, the Hisar Mosque features an interior that is quintessentially İzmiri: blueand-gold motifs on the domed ceiling, notably simpler and less Oriental than classic Ottoman designs. Visit the panoramic Old Elevator in the Old Jewish Quarter and enjoy an afternoon walk through Alsancak, another neighborhood in the city.
The Movenpick Hotel Izmir, overlooking the Izmir Bay, is an elegant 5-star hotel that offers traditional Aegean hospitality and service. The spacious, modernly furnished guest rooms are well equipped to make your stay most comfortable. Its restaurants and bars serve Turkish and European cuisines. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, a fully equipped gym, sauna, and indoor swimming pool. Overnight at the MOVENPICK HOTEL IZMIR. https://www.movenpick.com/en/europe/turkey/izmir/hotelizmir/overview/
Drive along the beautiful Aegean coast to ancient Pergamum, set in a sloping, verdant hill. Capital of a prosperous independent kingdom of western Asia Minor (part of modern day Turkey), Pergamum was already thriving in the centuries preceding Christ. Its kings built impressive palaces and temples, a library and medical facilities that made it one of antiquity’s most renowned cultural and political centers. It was Ephesus’ commercial and Alexandria of Egypt’s artistic rival and the place where parchment paper (pergamena) was invented. Its Library, second only to the one in Alexandria, at its peak housed 200,000 volumes. Later, as part of the Roman Empire, because of strategic location and importance, it became Rome’s administrative center for the province of Asia. In the years following the death of Christ, by the time the New Testament’s Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) was written, Pergamum was included amongst the Seven Churches.
Pergamum’s dominant feature is the Acropolis, the hill where the highest portion of the city was built, which commands spectacular view of the surrounding region. Visit to the remains of the 2nd century A.D marble Temple of Trajan. Dedicated to the powerful Roman emperor, it sits next to the remains of the Library. Nearby is the sprawling 4th century B.C. Asclepion (a modern ‘health spa’), an important medical center where to heal and socialize. Dedicated to the Greek and Roman god of health, medicine and healing, Asclepius, it was expanded over the centuries until, under Emperor Hadrian (2nd century A.D.), it was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Conclude at the Pergamum Museum before driving back to Izmir in the early evening.
Tonight, enjoy a seafood dinner at the Balik Pisiricisi Restaurant. Overnight at the MOVENPICK HOTEL IZMIR
Depart for Ephesus, endlessly coveted by invaders for its coastal position and wealth and one of antiquity’s most complete cities to be excavated – according to artifacts found on site the area was settled from at least 3,000 B.C. Ephesus, dedicated to the goddess Artemis, is a definite highlight of the trip with its excellently preserved ruins from the time of St. Paul. Highlights include the magnificent, colonnaded Library of Celsus, the Temple of Artemis, the Odeon, the monumental fountain, temples, the Great Theatre and the Double Church. Time permitting, also visit the Archaeological Museum. Continue to St. John’s Basilica and his tomb and the Shrine of Virgin Mary, where she spent the last years of her life.
Enjoy shopping opportunities in the Ephesus area before returning to your hotel. Overnight at the MOVENPICK HOTEL IZMIR
Bid farewell to Turkey as you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.