Istanbul is one of the most attractive cities in the world for shoppers. The world-famous Covered Bazaar, it is said, is the oldest giant “mall” in the world, with thousands of stores under a canopy of hundreds of domes, where they sell almost “everything under the sun.” If you are good at bargaining, which is half the fun, you might find great buys in Istanbul. The shops are full of the finest Turkish carpets, clothing including leather and suede coats, skirts, pants, etc., fantastic jewelry in gold, silver and precious stones (including the famous puzzle rings and harem rings), brass, copper, onyx, silk and other textiles, the world-renowned Turkish towels and robes, as well as rare food items. The “Spice Bazaar”, dating back to the 1500’s, probably offers most of the spices in the world. You will also find exceptional food in Istanbul; you can bring back the famous Turkish Delights with pistachios or nuts of various kinds, gourmet baklava and Turkish Halvah, just to name a few of the delicacies. This tour is designed to give you ample opportunity to do your holiday shopping in exotic Istanbul, and also to provide you with the chance to see some of the famous sites. You will also visit Bursa, home of a fascinating silk market. For those who have more time, there is also the option of extending this voyage with small modules to visit Izmir, Ephesus, Pergamum or the Antalya region on the “Turquoise Coast” of the Mediterranean, before or after visiting Istanbul.
DAY 1: ISTANBUL You will be met at Istanbul airport and transferred to your hotel. Get acquainted with your “fellow shoppers” at the “Welcome Cocktail” and dinner at the hotel. (D)
DAY 2: BURSA After breakfast, there will be a briefing on what to buy, art of bargaining, export regulations, etc. to get you started. After lunch at a fish restaurant, drive to Bursa, the first major capital of the Ottoman Empire, for overnight stay. (B,L,D)
DAY 3: ISTANBUL Morning sightseeing in Bursa, visiting the early Ottoman monuments, where the “Silk Market” used to be, and the Grand Bazaar to shop for beautiful silk scarves and clothes, as well as the Turkish towels for which Bursa is famous. After lunch (the best “gyro” in the world), drive back to Istanbul and transfer back to your hotel. Evening on your own, to do as you please. (B,L)
DAY 4: ISTANBUL This morning, visit the St. Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and the Underground Cistern. After lunch, visit the Covered Bazaar and a jewelry center. (B, L)
DAY 5: ISTANBUL Today visit the Suleymaniye Mosque and the famous Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman Sultans for 500 years, to see the Harem and the Treasury, full of world’s most expensive and beautiful jewelry. After lunch on the grounds of the Topkapi Palace, visit the Bedesten, and see a carpet manufacturing shop to learn about different types of carpets and what to look for in Turkish carpets. Return to your hotel. (B,L)
DAY 6: ISTANBUL Today, visit the “Spice Market” (also known as the “Egyptian Bazaar”) with ample time to browse through this aromatic bazaar. Lunch is at one of the oldest restaurants in Istanbul, located at this complex. After lunch, enjoy a leisurely cruise on the Bosphorus. Tonight, a memorable Farewell Dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Early morning transfer to the airport for the return flight. (B)
B = Breakfast included, L = Lunch included, D = Dinner included, D/E = Dinner and entertainment included
NOTE: The city or region designated next to a tour day (e.g., DAY 6: ANTALYA) indicates the location of overnight stay.