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Istanbul

Constantinople and Istanbul, two names for one city, capital of the mighty Byzantine and Ottoman empires, a city where East meets West, astride two continents, Europe and Asia. The shores of Istanbul are lapped by the Sea of Marmara, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus, and its monuments are ranged over seven hills. Minarets and domes dominate the famous skyline and a stroll through the streets reveals the city's diverse and magnificent heritage. Hagia Sophia, great cathedral of Byzantium, with magnificent marbles and mosaics vies with Ottoman mosques clad in beautiful Iznik tiles, the Topkapi palace, luxurious residence of the sultans, elegant fountains, bathhouses and bustling covered markets. Every visit to Istanbul is a pleasure, for it is one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Your Tour Includes

  • Return flights with British Airways from London Heathrow to Istanbul
  • Private coach transfers and excursions
  • Five nights’ bed and breakfast in a locally-rated five-star hotel
  • Three dinners, two lunches
  • Guided visits to sites listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes, an
  • Discover some of Istanbul’s monuments The Haghia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Suleymaniye mosque, the iconic Blue Mosque, the Dolmabahce Palace
  • Explore centuries-old Ottoman wooden houses, walk through colourful markets and relax in one of the many cafés or tea houses
  • Witness the exquisite Late Byzantine mosaics in the small church of St. Saviour in Chora
  • Enjoy a private boat trip along the Bosphorus followed by lunch by the waterside
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Itinerary

Overview

Morning flight from London Heathrow to Istanbul. Transfer by private coach to our five star hotel. Before a group dinner, we take a short stroll around the Hippodrome, once Constantinople's great arena for chariot races and other public entertainment.

Overview

A day spent exploring the Byzantine monuments, beginning with the majestic 6th century cathedral of Hagia Sophia, a remarkable testament to Byzantine architectural geometry. Continue to the Yerebetan Sarayi, an extraordinary underground cistern with a forest of over 300 columns. In the afternoon, we visit the Mosaic Museum which houses original ornamental pavements from the Great Palace of the Byzantine emperors, we then visit the little church of St. Saviour in Chora, a jewel of a house with late Byzantine mosaics and frescoes.

Overview

We begin our exploration of the Ottoman city with a morning visit to the Topkapi Palace, opulent residence of the Ottoman sultans and political centre of the empire. We see the magnificent collection of Chinese porcelain and Ottoman textiles, as well as the Imperial Treasury with its wealth of gold and jewels. Afternoon visit to the Süleymaniye mosque complex, masterpiece of the great Ottoman architect Sinan, followed by a walk through the Covered Bazaar. Afterwards there will be some free time for independent exploration of Istanbul.

Overview

A special treat this morning will be a private boat trip along the Bosphorus, the straits separating Europe and Asia, past castles and ornate Ottoman mansions and palaces. We visit the Sadberk Hanim museum, which displays both a fine archaeological collection spanning the Anatolian Neolithic to Byzantium and a magnificent range of Ottoman textiles, ceramics, calligraphy and metalwork. After lunch by the Bosphorus we return to the Golden Horn and see the mosque of Rüstem Pasha, Süleyman the Magnificent's grand vizier. The interior of the building is covered from floor to ceiling in high-quality Iznik tiles. Finally, we walk through the colourful Spice Market, with some time to stroll around the bustling market area.

Overview

Morning visit to the Dolmabahce Palace to see the opulent state rooms and ostentatious ceremonial hall. The palace’s extravagant 4.5 ton chandelier was a present from Queen Victoria to the sultan. Return to the Hippodrome area to see the mosque of Sultanahmet, also known as the 'Blue Mosque', unique in Turkey with its six elegant minarets. Visit the Palace of Ibrahim Pasha, another grand vizier of Süleyman the Magnificent, which now houses the excellent Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art. The rest of the afternoon is yours for further exploration or relaxation. In the evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together.

Overview

Drive beside the majestic Land Walls of Constantinople to Yedikule, the 'Fortress of the Seven Towers', built by Mehmet the Conqueror and used as a notorious prison. The Ottoman fortress contains a section of the Byzantine walls, which includes the famous Golden Gate. Drive across the Golden Horn and walk from Taksim Square to the Pera Palas hotel along the former Grande Rue de Pera, the height of fashion among 19th century European residents and still lined with the imposing façades of their former embassies. Our final visit will be to the Pera Museum, a private museum which houses an interesting collection of Orientalist painting. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for our late afternoon return flight to London Heathrow.

Accommodation

The five star Eresin Hotel Sultanahmet is located near the main sites in Istanbul, including the Haghia Sophia and Topkapi Palace and is close to the Sea of Marmara. The hotel displays many historic artefacts from mosaics to ceramics and sections of ancient column decorate the bar area. The hotel features a restaurant and rooftop terrace with city views.

Travel Options

When it comes to getting you to your destination. Leger Holidays make it easy, with a selection of travel options for you to choose from

Meet us at the ship

Meet us at the ship

For complete flexibility, make your own transport arrangements to and from the ship. We will provide you with times and locations as well as some useful information for you to make your own arrangements to join your cruise.

If you require any further information to assist with your travel plans, please contact our Holiday Advisors who will be happy to help.

Meet your Coach at Dover

Meet your Coach at Dover

Travel down to Dover and jump onboard your coach for your ferry crossing.

Alternatively, travel the day before your departure and enjoy an overnight stay, with complimentary parking for the duration of your cruise, before being collected after breakfast the following morning.

Travel by Eurostar

Travel by Eurostar

Step aboard Eurostar at London St Pancras for a fast and comfortable journey to mainland Europe. You can even upgrade your reserved seat to Standard Premier – speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information. On arrival in Paris, Lille or Brussels, you will then join connecting services for your onward journey.

Travel by Air

Travel by Air

Return flights from London Heathrow with transfers to and from the ship are included in our package on our specific arrival and departure dates. We also include one item of checked in luggage per person.

If our included flights are not suitable, alternative flights may also be available from other airports on our arrival and departure dates. These may have an additional supplement and are subject to availability at the time of booking.

More flexible travel options

Travelling by Eurostar?

Travelling by Eurostar?

Why not stay overnight in London?

For those travelling from further afield, you can also book overnight accommodation in London, before and after your holiday. Speak to our Holiday Advisors for more information.

Travelling by Eurostar?

Stay overnight near the port

For an even more relaxed start to your European holiday, why not stay overnight in Dover or nearby Ashford the night before your cruise from only £65pp? All our quoted prices include car parking for one vehicle for the duration of your cruise and cooked breakfast the following morning. Our coach will collect you and return you to the hotel on its way to/from the port of Dover. And if you don’t want that holiday feeling to end, why not do the same on your return journey?