You will be met by your guide at Istanbul International Airport and transfer to your hotel by private vehicle. Check into your hotel with some time to relax, as the afternoon is free for you to explore at your leisure.
After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby for a full-day tour of Istanbul. Begin with a visit to the Church of St. Savior in Chora, built in the 11th century. Over the period 1315 - 1321 the church was remodeled with mosaics and frescoes added by Theodore Metochites, a theologian, philosopher and an elite Byzantine official. The interior walls are decorated with breathtaking scenes depicting the life of Virgin Mary, the genealogy of Christ, the infancy of Christ and his ministry. Then, you will visit the Rustem Pasa Mosque, built in 1561 by the imperial architect, Sinan. The mosque was built for Rustem Pasa, son-in-law of and Grand Vizier to Suleyman I. Its interior is adorned by a magnificent blanket of Iznik tiles. Next, visit the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum situated in the historical palace of Ibrahim Pasha, opposite the Blue Mosque. The museum opened in 1983 after 15 years of restoration. This unique collection was previously on display in the soup kitchen of Suleymaniye Mosque! Finally you will visit the Underground Cistern. This amazing underground cavern measures roughly 210 feet wide and 420 feet long, with a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters of water. The 336 beautiful columns that support the cistern were salvaged from pagan temples destroyed during the Roman Empires conversion to Christianity. At the end of the day, you will return to your hotel.
The next day, after breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby for another full-day tour of Istanbul and surroundings. First, you will visit the Byzantine Hippodrome, along with its famous Egyptian Obelisk, the Obelisk of Constantine, the Serpentine Column and the German Fountain. Then, proceed to the Blue Mosque, completed in 1616-a triumph of harmony, proportion and elegance. The mosque was a part of a complex that consisted of a mosque, tombs, fountains, kitchens and a bath. Its colorful 260 windows enable the sunlight to reach inside. The blue Iznik tiles covering the walls lend the mosque its name. Next, you will visit the magnificent Topkapi Palace-residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. It is located on the promontory between the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. This setting provides a magnificent view. As the imperial residence of the Sultan and his court, the palace was also the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire. 4,000 people lived here. Visit the general exhibitions and the Treasury Section displaying the priceless pieces of jewelry that once belonged to the Ottoman Sultans. Afterwards, you will visit one of the greatest buildings in the world: St. Sophia, the Church of the Divine Wisdom. It was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian (AD 537) and remained the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Sultan Mehmet II ordered the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque. The great dome, the semi-domes, the north and south tympana and the vaults of the narthex, aisles and gallery were all covered with gold mosaics, many of which are still intact today. Continue to the famousGrand Bazaar, where you will explore some of its 92 streets and 4,000 shops. A variety of Turkish handicrafts, oriental carpets, rare jewels and inexpensive souvenirs are all sold here. The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, booksellers, etc. At the end of the day, you will return to your hotel.
After breakfast you will check out and meet your guide at the lobby for a half-day tour. A short drive will bring you to the pier where you will board a private motor-yacht for a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. The Bosphorus bisects Istanbul, separating Europe and Asia, and connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Its shores showcase Istanbuls beauty. Your motor yacht will pass by magnificent palaces, old seaside mansions, and impressive fortresses. You will be surprised to see that the old Ottoman buildings harmonize perfectly with the more modern architecture. Watch for the Imperial Pavilions of Yildiz Palace, the famous Ciragan Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, Ortakoy, Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the Rumeli Fortress, built to control the Bosphorus and protect Istanbul from its enemies. Next you will disembark from the yacht and visit the Egyptian Bazaar to explore the second-largest covered market in Istanbul. It was named for the herbs, and spices imported from or through Egypt, and although the Egyptian market dates back to the 1660s, ironically it is part of the "New Mosque" complex! This is still the best place in the city to buy Turkish Delight, dried fruit, exotic spices and herbs. Later in the afternoon, transfer to your cruise ship or airport.
A deluxe air-conditioned VIP vehicle with a professional driver
All arrival and departure transfers
Licensed professional tour guide in preferred language
Entrance fees of all the sites and museums as marked on the itinerary
Bosphorus cruise by a private motor yacht
Accommodation at your preferred style hotel
Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner where indicated on the itinerary
Gratuities to guide and driver
Items of a personal nature
Any items not specifically mentioned as included
Meals that are not indicated on the itinerary