5. Istanbul: Full-Day Bosphorus & Ottoman Splendors Tour
Cruise the Bosphorus and from the deck of your cruise boat, take in the sights and sounds of this legendary waterway, lined with historic villages, grandiose waterfront mansions, imposing fortresses, like Anadolu Hisari, and the Baroque palaces of the late Ottoman sultans. After your cruise, travel along the breathtaking Golden Horn to the Spice Bazaar, a thrilling riot of colors, sounds and the smells of exotic spices. Enjoy your lunch at a rooftop restaurant with Bosphorus views.
The great palace of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries, Topkapi Palace houses an exquisite collection of precious gems, jewelry thrones of sultans, robes worn by the sultans and their families, miniatures, the Holy Mantle and Chamber of Sacred Relics. Then visit the New Mosque, completed in 1665. Originally named Valide Sultan Mosque, the construction was ordered by Safiye Sultan, the wife of Sultan Murad III and the mother of his successor Sultan Mehmed III, hence the name Valide Sultan meaning Queen Mother. The mosque is an Imperial Mosque and one of the famous architectural landmarks of Istanbul. At the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Market), the air here will be filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice. After the Spice Bazaar, you will take a short tour of the Golden Horn and go to Kabatas for a Bosporus tour on a private boat. Not only does the Bosporus connect the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, it also separates the continents of Asia and Europe from one another. As a natural and extremely secure harbor, the Golden Horn has played an important role in the development of Istanbul. The inlet separates the European shore into two. It is approximately 8 kilometers long, and the widest part is the entrance from the Bosphorus. Two streams drain into this inlet at its far end.
Enjoy an amazing cruise between the two continents, Europe and Asia, along the Bosphorus by the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions up to the Rumeli Fortress. The first breach of the walls was by the Fourth Crusade in 1204, the second by the cannons and troops of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453. View the Rumeli Fortress from the sea (no interior visit). Istanbul had been besieged many times before Mehmet the Conqueror took the city in 1453 but it managed to defend itself with the help of the Roman city walls.