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East meets west in Turkey in a fascinating, exotic collision of cultures and religions, ancient and modern. Combined with its reputation for good value for money, this makes Turkey “hot”. Turkey’s strategic location, straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, guarding the waterway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, means it has already had a major role to play in world events. From Turkey rose the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and in Turkish soil rest the remains of more than 2300 Kiwi soldiers who died at Gallipoli during the First World War. This tragic war that helped shape New Zealand’s identity means Turkey has a special place in our hearts. This feeling is reciprocated by the Turks who seem to have an especially warm welcome for Kiwis.
Istanbul is a city of graceful minarets, whirling dervishes, bazaars overflowing with rugs, spices and Turkish delight. Turkey also has more than 8000 kilometres of Mediterranean coastline; spectacular ruins such as Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient sites in the Mediterranean; legendary Troy; and one of the world’s most astonishing landscapes, the fairy chimneys and underground cities of Cappadocia. Sail in a traditional wooden Gulet, along the Turquoise and Aegean coasts.
Istanbul really is a Turkish delight, an intoxicating mix of breath-taking architecture, a roller-coaster ride of history and a stunning setting combined with the Turks’ zest for life. Head for Sultanahmet, the historic heart of the old city and gaze in amazement at the domes of Aya Sofaya and the Blue Mosque. Dive underground into the spooky Basilica cistern and then brace yourself for the Grand Bazaar. There are 3000 shops in here and the locals are very keen to sell you something!
While away an afternoon in the teahouse beneath the walls of the Topkapi Palace and count the ferries plying the Bosphorus and the ships sailing towards the Black Sea. At sunset the fishermen on the Galata Bridge head home just as Istanbul’s skyline forms a glowing silhouette of domes and minarets.
Topkapi Sarayi (Palace) – Home of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years, The Treasury in the 3rd courtyard is amazing. Get there when it opens at 9am and go straight to the Harem. Only a certain number of visitors are allowed at one time, so get there first to avoid the queues.
Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) – Said to be one of the great buildings of the world, it’s a former Byzantine church, a former Ottoman mosque, and now a museum.
The Blue Mosque (Mosque Of Sultan Ahmeti) –
One of the city’s premier sights, it’s called the Blue Mosque because of its light blue interior tiles. You can visit at most times of day and it’s free. Avoid all mosques on Fridays as this is the Muslim holy day and mosques can be closed for lengthy amounts of time for prayers.
Grand Bazaar – Turkey’s largest covered market sells all kinds of things like beautiful Turkish carpets, glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, leather goods, meerschaum pipes and alabaster bookends. Try out your haggling skills.
Hammams (Turkish Baths) – For something a little different why not try a Turkish Bath. You’ll be pulled and pushed, rubbed and scrubbed to within an inch of your life, but you’ll come out feeling wonderful.
Bosphorus Cruise – By far the best way to view the city of Istanbul is by boat on the Bosphorus, the most impressive sights being along the southern shores. You’ll see Topkapi Palace, the Maiden’s Tower, the Selimiye Barracks (where Florence Nightingale worked), Dolmabahce Palace, Yldz Park – Palace, the village of Ortakoy and the Bosphorus Bridge to name a few.
Turkish cuisine – Indulge in Turkish cuisine like stuffed vine leaves and sip tea in tulip-shaped glasses, or go for broke and tackle the national drink – raki or lion’s milk.
Delve into the ancient sites that are so famous in a city where east meets west and past meets present. See St Sophia
Basilica, The Hippodrome and the 6th century Byzantine Underground Cisterns before discovering the unbelievable
Grand Bazaar with over 3000 shops and stalls.
This city is steeped in almost 3000 years of history. With that much history it’s almost impossible to know where to start – The Roman Hippodrome? The Blue Mosque? St Sophia Basilica? Topkapi Palace? Don’t worry this tour will cut to the core of what makes this city so unique. Lunch is included.
Explore the famous sites of the city, including Topkapi Palace, which was the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans, The Roman Hippodrome, which was once used for chariot races, The Blue Mosque and then the Grand Bazaar for a shopping extravaganza.
Departure for Gallipoli, the scene of one of the ugliest campaigns of WWI. Visit Anzac Cove, the landing site of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on April 25, 1915, Lone Pine Cemetery, Johnston’s Jolly, The Nek and the Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial
Visit the Spice Markets full of oriental aromas followed by a cruise between the two continents. Sail towards the Black Sea and admire the amazing buildings and ottoman houses on both European and Asia sides. Return back to Sirkeci/Kabatas where you will be transferred to your hotel.
Advertised airfares are per adult and are based on a return fare in economy class on specified airline • Prices include ticket taxes & surcharges based on most direct routing with no stopovers and are correct as at time of loading, but may fluctuate depending on exchange rates • Fares are exclusive of departure fees from other airports • Prices exclude a House of Travel booking fee of $24.95 per person • Flight & routing restrictions apply • Sales end as specified above • Travel as specified above. • Full payment is required upon purchase • Min/max stays apply • Capacity is limited and may not be available on all services • Prices shown are for online bookings only.