Istanbul City Breaks
Mythical, ancient, cosmopolitan, magical, exciting… there are not enough words in English to describe Istanbul. It is a city that stays in the memory and in the heart forever and is definitely a city that everyone should visit. You could return any number of times and still find something new and exciting, but with regular flights from many UK airports, it remains an ideal place for a short city break. We are experts in Turkey and Istanbul and we can make arrangements for you for your holiday here. Naturally, we can arrange flights and accommodation, but we have put together two, three-night stays including alternative guided tours to help you get the very most from a stay in this wonderful city.
For all our Istanbul city tours, accommodation is normally provided in the excellent Tria Hotel. Sited on the shores of the Bosporus, the Tria Hotel is comfortably furnished and in a superb location – within an easy, short walk of all of the old city and ideal for visiting all the landmarks of Istanbul. There is a stunning roof terrace offering stunning views over the river and the heart of the city. Artfully decorated and comfortably furnished, meals on the terrace are a delight. From the moment you enter the hotel, you will be in a tranquil haven – ideal after a busy day of sightseeing and shopping!
Full tour city break
Encompassing all the best of the city, the full-tour break includes all the major historical areas of the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, the oldest part of the city, a Bosphorus river cruise and visits to the bazaars to test your bartering skills! The tour is available year round with departures on virtually all days from numerous airports. All entrance fees are included, transfers are in air-conditioned vehicles and all tours are accompanied by at least one, professional, English-speaking guide.
Day 1 – UK to Istanbul
On arrival at Istanbul Airport you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day and evening are free for you to explore at will, or just relax.
Day 2 - Istanbul City Tour
You will be picked up from your hotel after and early breakfast. Our first stop is the Hagia Sophia Museum. This ancient basilica, built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, is one of the architectural marvels of all time with stunning interiors and priceless mosaics. From there we travel to the Topkapi Palace. The mome of the Ottoman sultans for some 400 years, the palace is now an extensive museum housing exquisite collections of crystal, silver, stunning Chinese porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury, miniatures, and the Holy Mantle, enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed. Our next stop is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. This is more commonly known as the Blue Mosque. The principal place of worship in Istanbul, the name derives from its interior, which is decoaretd with more than 20,000 hand-made and decorated blue ceramic tiles. Then on to the Hippodrome. The scene of chariot races in ancient times, it is home to the ancient monuments of the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine.
Finally, you can enjoy the staggering scale of Istanbul’s Grand Covered Bazaar. Here you will find a labyrinth of streets and passages, containing more than four thousand shops, with each trade having its own area: the goldsmiths’ street, carpet sellers, Turkish arts and crafts, such as hand-painted ceramic plates, hand-honed copperware, brassware and trays, water jugs, onyx-ware and meerschaum pipes. After the tour, you will be transferred back to your hotel. The evening is free for you to enjoy yourself. Alternatively we offer the optional extra of Istanbul evening shows, or a Bosphorus Dinner Cruise including traditional Turkish entertainment and dinner.
Day 3 - Bosphorus cruise and shopping
You will be p[icked up from your hotel after an early breakfast and taken to the departure pier for the Bosphorus cruise. En-route, we stop of at the spice bazaar. Here, just about every kind of spice, herb and nuts can be found and the aroma is stunning. The Bosphorus by Boat trip is a traditional excursion, visiting points of interest along this wonderful river that joins the East and the West; Europe and Asia. The shore is lined with old wooden villas, marble palaces, fortresses, and small fishing villages. During the excursion you will see the magnificent sights of the of the Dolmabahce Palace, and further along, the parks and imperial pavilions of Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge of this park is Ciragan Palace with three hundred metres of its marble facade facing the shore. At Ortakoy a great variety of artists gather every Sunday to display their work along the street. Ortakoy is a symbol of tolerance, where a church, a mosque and a synagogue have existed side by side for centuries.
During the cruise we stop off to visit the Rumeli Fortress. Built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to the conquest of Istanbul, it was completed in only four months to control and protect the Bosphorus passage. It is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture anywhere in the world. Then Beylerbeyi Palace. This, the summer residence of Ottoman sultans, exists in its original renovated glory featuring original antique furniture and magnificent gardens with the Harem on the Asian side of Istanbul. After that, the Bosphorus Bridge, where you can enjoy a unique chance to step from one continent (Asia) to another (Europe). Finally, Camlica Hill, the highest point in Istanbul. At the top of it you can rest and admire the magnificent panorama of Istanbul and the Bosporus from the beautiful gardens, landscaped in traditional Turkish Ottoman style.
After the cruise, comes the shopping! Experience the traditional silk weaving skills of Turkish women at the carpet weaving courses provided by The Ministry of National Education. You will get the opportunity to see jewellery, handcrafts centre and a modern leatherwear show. Enjoy the experience of shopping whilst gaining the knowledge of the ancient craftsmen, with our local guide full of knowledge about how to haggle in the streets of Istanbul! Then a return transfer to your hotel, where you are free to explore Istanbul for the evening and night.
Day 4 - Istanbul to the UK
After breakfast, check out from the hotel. Depending on your flight time, you can do some more exploration or some more relaxation. Then, return transfers to Istanbul Airport will be provided.
Part tour city break
Still including all the substantial places of interest, our part tour city break allows you more options for free time and fewer organised tours. However, the major ‘must see’ places of interest are included and you can always add on some optional extra tours if you wish!
Part tour city break itinerary
Day 1 – UK to Istanbul
On arrival in Istanbul you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day and evening is free for you to explore, or just relax.
Day 2 – Istanbul city tour
After breakfast, we will take you to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque. Alternatively called the Blue Mosque because its interior is adorned with over 20,000 hand-made blue tiles. After that, we visit the Hippodrome, where you can view the ancient relics and imagine yourself racing chariots in Roman times. Then we stop at the Ibrahim Pasa Palast, which is a museum for Turkish and Islamic art. Inside are exhibited nomad tents and antique Turkish carpets. In addition, you will visit the spice market and have the opportunity to marvel at the incredible aromas and colours. We will have a break where you can buy lunch and relax, that we will drive over the Golden Horn to the ancient Taksim district, where you have the opportunity to take a stroll in Istiklal street. At the end of the day, the visit finishes in the Grand Bazaar, where over 4000 shops eagerly await your custom!
Day 3 – Free time
Today, you can book the optional Bosphorus cruise, or you can simply explore the city for yourself and catch up on anything you might have missed!
Day 4 – Istanbul to UK
After check out, you can explore or relax to your heart’s content, until we pick you up and transfer you to Istanbul Airport for your flight back to the UK.
When planning your departure dates, please note that the Hagia Sophia museum is closed on Mondays, the Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, and the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays. On appropriate days, tours will not stop at destinations that are closed and no refunds will be made. Depending on availability, we may substitute alternative hotels. These will be still in the Sultanahmet district and will be at least of an equivalent rating.