Vira Natura

Exotic Istanbul - Turkey

19-23 September/9-13 October 2023 (or any alternative dates)
From €825.00 per person
For centuries this vast metropolis has been an major entrepot of trade and culture, the meeting place of the world, where Europe and Asia collide and merge. Explore the rich history from Byzantine to Ottoman, sample the excellent and world-renowned cuisine that blends the two continents together, revel in the exotic minaret-filled skyline at sunset. Istanbul is the perfect starting point for any journey along the great route and everyone's Silk Road journey should begin here.

Part of our Silk Road in Comfort cultural series, small groups, good hotels, convenient transport, expert guides.     

Please note: the dates given are to fit with our other cultural tours, but we can run this tour anytime that suits you.

Day 1     Arrival at Istanbul airport

On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the city. Afternoon at leisure with a welcome dinner in the evening. Overnight Istanbul Sultanahmet district. 

Day 2     Istanbul Old City Tour

A full-day tour around historic Sultanahmet, beginning at the fabulous Topkapi Palace, a lavish home to twenty-five of the Ottoman Sultans, who for centuries ruled from here over an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe to Atlantic Ocean. It contains a priceless collection of jewellery, porcelain and extravagant costumes. Next will be the Roman Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and great public occasions during the long history of Byzantine Empire. Built by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD, only fragments are left today of a stadium that held 100,000 spectators. Not far away, is the surreal underground cistern Serefiye (Theodosius Cistern). Fine the Ottoman cuisine for lunch. After lunch we continue with the extraordinary sixth century church Hagia Sophia (that was very recently converted to a mosque). Opposite this is the famed Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque with its six minarets and layered domes. Built between 1609 and 1616 at the behest of Ottoman emperor Ahmed I, the mosque was purposely situated on the site of the former Byzantine emperors’ Great Palace. Its spacious interior is decorated with blue porcelain tiles. To finish our day we visit to the famous Grand Covered Bazaar; the largest covered marketplace in the world where a dazzling array of items from furniture and carpets to jewellery and clothing sold in the bazaar’s 4,000 shops.

Day 3     Istanbul New Town Tour & Bosphorus cruise

An exploration off Beyoglu District (starting before the crowds arrive) with a visit to the iconic Galata Tower, built by Genoese merchants in 1303 as a watch tower to warn of approaching pirate ships. These days we just enjoy a great view of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and landmarks in Sultanahmet. The Old Galata and Pera neighbourhoods, have been inhabited since Byzantine times and in the 19th century the Grande Rue de Pera was a centre for foreigners, Levantines, Ottoman intellectuals and western culture admirers. Our next stop is the famous Spice Market (Egyptian Bazaar). on the Golden Horn. Afterwards, it’s on to Karakoy, one of the hippest neighbourhoods in Istanbul. The streets here are lined with artisan workshops, chic cafes and galleries, along with traditional bakeries and tradesmen. A unique feature of this neighbourhood is the colourful painted houses.

Optional private Bosphorus cruise:

There is no better way to get an overview of Istanbul and the 20-mile waterway linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Enjoy a leisurely exploration of this historic channel between Europe and Asia. This motor yacht cruise offers beautiful views of the city, including the many traditional wooden houses, mosques, and palaces along the shore. 

Day 4     Istanbul Two Continents Tour

Crossing the first big suspension bridge over the Bosphorus, (which divides Asia and Europe), we reach the Asian side of the city. First, stop is the opulent Beylerbeyi Palace, was built in the late 19th century as a summer residence for the Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz and used as a guesthouse for visiting dignitaries. Continue to explore the lovely neighbourhood of Kuzguncuk, a hidden gem which has a tradition of tolerance and a centre for the Jewish community, Armenians and Greeks. Reaching Kadikoy (Chalcedon) we will see the bustling public market and then a walk through the colourful open-air street market of Kadikoy, which is more in tune with the way most people in Istanbul cook and eat. We will continue to see examples of traditional wooden houses. We will return by ferry across the Bosphorus to overnight back in European Istanbul.

Day 5     Departure Day

Flights from Istanbul airport.

Why not connect this tour with another Silk Road cultural experiences in Uzbekistan, Armenia, Iran or other parts of Turkiye.

Contact us for itineraries and prices. Istanbul is the perfect hub to reach out across the region.



19-23 September/9-13 October 2024

Days: 5


Per person (twin share): 800 euros

Single supplement: 250 euros


  • 4 nights accommodation
  • All food
  • Ground transport
  • Guide services
  • Entrance fees

Not included:
  • International Flights
  • Visa fees (if applicable)
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses
  • Camera fees at cultural sites


Minimum number of participants 5; maximum 18.

Please note if the number of participants is less than 5 the cost may rise.


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For more information on our tours

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