Located along the banks of the Bosphorus strait, the city of Istanbul is rich in culture and history, and is an amazing place to visit. See dazzling displays of artwork and architecture that were created during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. But first, a few days in Cappadocia, famous for its distinctive rock formation, historical heritage, and scenic hot air balloon trips. 

September 1-2: Depart from the US for Istanbul. Once we meet and collect our luggage in Istanbul, we will take an hour and twenty minute non stop flight to our first destination, the magical land of Cappadocia. The Cappadocian region was formed during the tertiary period around 60 million years ago after a sequence of volcanic eruptions hit Central Anatolia. The eruptions formed what is known today as the fairy chimneys and many other stunning landscapes.

Our unique cave hotel for the next four evenings is an old house of cave bedrooms, which was fully renovated and refurbished to the highest standard and comfort. Located in a very central village in Cappadocia, the hotel has a magnificent view, overseeing the Ortahisar castle and old town. All rooms each have a unique design and charm.

September 3-5: We’ll explore the whimsical Cappadocia, known for its “fairy chimney” cave dwellings, making it one of the most unique places to visit in Turkey. What lies beneath the surface is just as impressive. Cappadocia was one of the earliest Christian settlements, and to avoid persecution, thousands of people lived underground. We can wander through the narrow tunnels and passageways and see the labyrinth of cave systems that include places for livestock, churches and wineries. 

Cappadocia is one of the world’s top destinations to ride in a hot air balloon. Viewing the landscape of Cappadocia from the air is the ultimate bucket list experience!

September 6th: Today we’ll explore the area until it’s time to make our way back to the airport for an hour and twenty minute non stop flight to Istanbul.

Our hotel for the next four evenings is at the very center of Istanbul’s history and culture, ancient and modern. More than a comfortable travelers’ refuge in the heart of the city, it was conceived and designed to honor and reflect all of the cultures who have enriched the city and its empires. The swimming pool, Turkish bath, massage spa, cultural library, and museum-quality decorative arts are supplemented with complimentary fine arts musical performances, cuisine demonstrations and cultural events exclusively for hotel guests.

September 7-9: Take advantage of Istanbul and it’s many treasures over the next few days. In order to get to know the city, a tour has been scheduled for our first day. We’ll begin at the Roman / Byzantine Hippodrome, where the chariot races were organized by the Romans and Byzantines. Blue Mosque, the only mosque with six minarets and its surroundings will be the next stop. After, you will see the German Fountain – a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm. Hagia Sophia – The Church of Divine Wisdom is the highlight of today. Following the visits our guide will take us the Grand Bazaar for demonstration of Turkish Handicrafts.

Magnificent Topkapı Museum, the most important museum of Turkey and the Balkan Peninsula. It is an incomparably rich treasure chest, brimming with things of historical importance. First, second, third and fourth courtyards; the Audience Hall, Divan-the High Court, Historical Kitchens, Royal Stables, the Treasury, gardens, kiosks. Probably the best commentary on Ottoman History, art and its culture is simply to come direct to the First Courtyard of this amazing Palace.

Next stop is Hagia Irene Church (from outside). Our final places of interest are Caferağa Medrese and Soğukçeşme Street. Lunch will be served en route in a local and authentic restaurant where we will be able to taste various types of local cuisine.

Shop the Grand Bazaar, the world’s oldest and largest market, boasting 61 streets and over 4,000 individual stalls selling spices, sweets, dried fruit, jewelry, and more. One full day is not enough.

The Bosphorus Strait is the body of water that cuts through Istanbul – it’s seen not only as the midpoint of the city but also as the place where Europe and Asia meet. It connects the  Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and while you can see it from the shore, there’s nothing like cruising the Bosphorus and enjoying the views of Istanbul’s grand architecture. More details to come about a dinner cruise….

Sunday, September 10th: Return flights to US today.