Wander to Istanbul: The City of Endless Wonders (2022)

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Mar 11 — Mar 18, 2022
8 days
12/12 spots booked
BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: To reserve your spot on a tour, a $500 deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be refundable - minus a 3% transaction fee - for 30 days. [*If the deposit is paid within 90 days of the tour start date, the deposit is non-refundable once paid.]
One city, two continents, endless wonders.
Time spent exploring both the European and Asian sides of the city
Incredible historical sights such as Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque
Insanely colorful spice markets and the ancient Grand Bazaar
Try an endless variety of excellent local food, with no two meals the same
Our Expert Tour Leader and local contacts ensure this is a unique experience like no other
Local activities such as a traditional folk bar, hammam, tea cafes and gypsy market

This trip is for those travelers who really want to see Istanbul in the most rewarding way possible. In this ancient city built upon hills, with spectacular views in every direction and the bustling Bosphorus Strait connecting the European and Asian sides, we shall explore it all.

Eye-popping coastal palaces, colorful and aromatic spice markets, some of the world’s most beautiful architecture, the grandest of mosques, traditional hammams, excellent cuisine, traditional tea cafes and fascinating neighborhoods absolutely everywhere… with each step, the deep history and incredible culture will come brilliantly alive.

Also, with our local contacts, you won’t simply experience the awe and wonder of Istanbul. You’ll also interact with plenty of locals, spend time in areas tourists don’t visit, see incredible sights that few people know about and participate in genuine cultural activities that all lead to a unique, super fun and educational journey.

This trip brings you up and close and personal with Istanbul, in all its glory!

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Pay a deposit of $500 per person
  • 1
    Day 1Istanbul
    Arrival day
    Included: Dinner
    Upon arrival in Istanbul, you’ll be picked up by our private driver and taken to our hotel in the heart of the city. Once the entire group has arrived, we’ll get together to officially kick off the tour with a quick orientation and a traditional Turkish dinner.
  • 2
    Day 2Istanbul
    Highlights: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Today will be a full day of exploring the Sultanahmet neighborhood with visits to the stunning Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Basilica Cistern, some of the most eye-opening sights in the city. In the evening, we'll have a group dinner at an excellent local restaurant, followed by an evening tea and shisha session at a famous cafe right next to the Blue Mosque.
  • 3
    Day 3Istanbul
    Highlights: World-famous baklava, Beyoglu neighborhood, Asian side of the city
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    With a tour of the Beyoglu neighborhood, we'll begin with a stop at the imposing Galata Tower and the quaint artisans neighborhood, home to boutique shops that offer unique creations that are a mix of traditional and modern. We'll then walk down to the water's edge to Gullagolu - the most well-known baklava shop in the city (and possibly in the world) - where we'll learn all about this delicious treat and sample all of the varieties. After filling up on baklava, we'll board a ferry for a short 20 minute ride across the Bosphorus River to the Asian side of the city. Once there, we'll walk through the local Kadikoy neighborhood and visit Suadiye, the most modern and liberal part of the city. We'll then have dinner at a restaurant that serves cuisine from all over Turkey before returning to the European side via ferry.
  • 4
    Day 4Istanbul
    Highlights: Sunday and gypsy markets, Kurtulus neighborhood, street food
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    It's Sunday and that means we'll be able to hit the local neighborhoods beyond Taksim and visit the huge Sunday Market as well as the fascinating Gypsy Market in nearby Kurtulus. We'll also enter the last remaining active Armenian Church before taking a break for tea, borek and some traditional pudding from one of the most popular pudding shops in the city. In the afternoon we'll visit Dolmabace Palace, the largest palace in all of Turkey. Once evening comes around, dinner will consist of several tasty street foods before a night out enjoying some music at a traditional Turkish folk cafe!
  • 5
    Day 5Istanbul
    Highlights: Suleimaniyah Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    We'll begin today with the undeniably gorgeous Suleimaniyah Mosque before making our way to the massive Grand Bazaar (aka “shopping heaven”). You'll have plenty of time to roam the infinite covered lanes, nooks and crannies of this market full of stalls and shops selling every traditional Turkish craft and product imaginable. We'll then head down to the Eminonu neighborhood and visit the tiny but beautiful Rustem Pasha mosque before reaching the absolutely stunning Spice Market. Here you'll find every spice you can think for sale, with dozens of vendors vying for you business in lively fashion. Dinner will then be at the atmospheric "Flower Passage" along Istiklal Street, where locals gather for great food, great music and a festive evening out.
  • 6
    Day 6Istanbul
    Highlights: Free time
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Today you'll have time to enjoy the city as you wish, whether it's a day of relaxation or a day out and about. Our tour leader will be on hand to help you make plans and can organize and accompany visits to places such as the Rumeli Fortress, Topkapi Palace, Gulhane Park or the quaint coastal village of Bebek (where you need to try the famous Bebek waffles!) We'll then gather in the evening at a rooftop restaurant in Sultanahmet, with great views over the city.
  • 7
    Day 7Istanbul
    Highlights: Ferry ride to the Black Sea, hammam session, farewell dinner
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Our final day begins with a ferry ride through the Bosphorus strait. Instead of going to the Asian side, this time we'll continue all the way up the strait to the village of Anadolu Hisari at the entrance to the Black Sea. Here we'll enjoy a local lunch and beautiful views in this picturesque village that offers a quiet escape from the streets of Istanbul. On the ferry ride, you'll also see historical sights and coastal towns built right into the hills, making for an extremely impressive ferry ride. After we return to Istanbul, there will be an optional afternoon hammam session (Turkish bath) at one of the city's oldest and most magnificent hammams. We'll then gather for our farewell dinner to celebrate our week-long adventure!
  • 8
    Day 8Istanbul
    Departure Day
    Included: Breakfast
    Today you’ll be picked up from our hotel and transferred to the Istanbul International Airport in time to catch your departing flight.

Tour Essentials

Physical Level: Medium
While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, extensive walking, being outside in potentially warm temperatures, early morning wake-ups and other similar scenarios.
On this trip you can always expect comfortable mid-range accommodation at our centrally-located hotel in Istanbul. There is a maximum of 6 single rooms available. These rooms will be offered on a first come-first served basis. The remainder of the rooms will be shared. Solo travelers will be paired together, two travelers per room in two single beds.
During this trip, we'll move around the city by foot, trams and ferries. We don't use vans here as driving will actually take longer than other methods. Much of Istanbul consists of narrow streets where vehicles are either not allowed or there is a lot of traffic. This is an excellent city to be explored by foot!
Breakfast every day, 4 lunches and 7 dinners are included. With included meals, some will be served family style and other times you will be able to order anything you wish from the menu. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated with prior notice.
As with all of our trips, we aim to offer as sustainable an experience as we can. Trash is recycled where possible and we avoid mass tourism activities that cause harm to the environment and/or do not benefit local communities.
Small Groups
This tour requires a minimum of 8 participants and has a maximum of 12 participants in order to ensure the best small group tour experience. With such a small group, you'll be able to enjoy unique, rewarding activities that would not be accessible with more people. That's the kind of trip we love to offer!

What's included

  • Wandering Earl Tours leader throughout
  • Small group (maximum 12 participants)
  • Accommodation (7 nights – central 3* hotel)
  • Transportation within Istanbul (ferries, trams, etc)
  • Local guides
  • All mentioned activities and entrance fees
  • Breakfast every day, 4 lunches and 7 dinners
  • Water throughout the trip
  • Gratuities at hotels/included meals
  • All airport transfers
Not Included
  • Flights to/from Turkey
  • Passport/visa fees
  • Meals and activities not mentioned
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Other gratuities

What's a Wandering Earl Tour Leader?

A Wandering Earl Tour Leader is more than a guide. They’re a travel fanatic, and this is more than just a job for them. It’s a passion. They’ll be with your group every step of the way, excited to lead you around the next bend and to take care of all the logistics so that you can relax and travel with ease.

They’ll be your ambassador as they introduce you to hyper-local guides who know their part of the world better than anyone else. They’ll work hard every single day to ensure that you have the type of travel experience that brings you the most rewards. With endless connections and the freedom to improvise, our leaders know exactly how to make a trip extraordinary.

And, most importantly, they’ll always be there for you any time you need them.