Greece. Sailing the Dodecanese

Extend Your Stay

Ask out Greece Program Director about extension options to other areas of the Mediterranean.
It’s well worth spending at least one, if not several days exploring other parts of exotic and diverse Istanbul. We arrange guided explorations on foot and by car of many neighborhoods and more specialized sites based on your interests possibly including more in-depth shopping exploration of Istanbul's Kapali Carsi Grand Bazaar and the underground Byzantine Cisterns, Jewish heritage sites, the Archaeology Museum (one of the best museums in Turkey featuring archaeology, Oriental antiquities, and the tiled pavilion), the Dolmabache Palace (the last residence of Ottoman Sultans), and many of the lively, colorful and interesting neighborhoods of Istanbul.

Day 1: Golden Horn Walking Tour
Starting our guided walking and vehicle exploration through Fener and Balat neighborhoods, we cross the Galata Bridge heading midway up the Golden Horn where we walk among the outer walls of the ancient city by former elephant stables and dungeons of Byzantine days, along entire streets filled with old wooden houses, churches, and synagogues dating from Byzantine and Ottoman times. We walk through this historic neighborhood meeting local residents along the way and stopping for tea in local cafes. Depending on interests we enter several monuments including the most important church of the Greek Orthodoxy’s Patriarch, the Chora (Kariye) Museum formerly a Byzantine church converted by the Ottomans into a mosque covered with ornate mosaics and frescoes, as well as other prominent landmarks of this classic neighborhood. The neighborhood has a relaxed atmosphere, with narrow and steep alleys, traditional wooden Turkish houses colorfully decorated and small cafes where we can enjoy a cup of tea. Enjoy lunch at a favorite neighborhood restaurant. Overnight in Istanbul [BL] 

Day 2:  Beyoglu and Kadidoy Districts
Start our walk in the Beyoglu quarter along the pedestrian promenade of Istiklal Caddesi to Taksim Square through the grand European center of 19th century Istanbul. Here you experience the contrasts and composition of the city: fashion boutiques, bookshops, cinemas, markets, hand-carts selling trinkets and simit (sesame bread snack), the Pera Palace Hotel, fish market and flower market (Cicek Pasaji), and the nostalgic tram. By mid-day we take a commuter ferry across the Bosphorus to the Asian district of Kadikoy. Walk through the outdoor markets famous for antiques, local nuts and dried fruits, patisseries, and our favorite ice cream shop. But first we head up through the winding streets to have lunch at the famous local restaurant Ciya, a small restaurant where Chef Musa Dagdeviren has gained international notoriety for his exquisite dishes representing centuries of cultures and geographical regions throughout the Ottoman Empire. 

Return by ferry to the Besiktas dock on the European side to walk amongst the shady shoreline park at Ortakoy with its lovely mosque, cafes and waterfront flea market. Time-permitting, we may walk among the winding, narrow cobblestone streets, Ottoman homes and eclectic shops of Ortakoy or Cukurcuma. Beyoglu has for centuries been the center of nightlife, which today also includes the adjacent Galata neighborhood with its sunset bars and spectacular views overlooking the Istanbul skyline. So catch a nap and return on your own to enjoy dinner and music (or ask in advance for an evening guide). . Overnight in Istanbul [BL]

Azade Hotel or Georges Hotel in Istanbul (or similar).

Western Black Sea

The hills above the Black Sea hold many surprises for the traveler who seeks an unusual path in Turkey.  Here you will find old Ottoman towns with stone houses, along with historic mosques and impressive castles.  Enjoy fresh fish while overlooking the harbor in Amasra.  Venture into the national parks which attract Turks during the winter for skiing and in the summer for hiking and horseback-riding. Ask the Turkey Program Director how you can add this adventure before or after your main trip, connecting to Istanbul, Ankara or Cappadocia.  

Day 1: Ankara – Safranbolu

After breakfast your guide will drive you to Safranbolu (140 mi / 3 hrs from Ankara).  Safranbolu is an UNESCO World Heritage site with beautifully preserved wooden Ottoman houses. Start your exploration of this historic town.  Stay in one of the old historic houses of Safranbolu [B]

Day 2: Safranbolu

Spend the day wandering the old cobblestone streets visiting the historic houses, the governors’ house and the old bazaar.  You can enjoy tea in one of the gardens. Overnight in Safranbolu [BL]

Day 3: Safranbolu – Amasra 

Enjoy a free few hours in the morning then depart for the lovely coastal town of Amasra (60 mi / 1.5 hrs).  Amasra is a seafood paradise with an ancient harbor called “The Eye of the World” by Mehmet the Conqueror.  Enjoy a seafood dinner while watching the sun set over the Black Sea. Overnight in Amasra [BLD]

Day 4: Amasra

Explore Amasra’s gems: two Byzantine castles, the museum, the Faith Mosque, and the historic Cekiciler bazaar.  Walk across the old stone bridge to the small Boztepe Island and then hike uphill where you will be rewarded with a lovely view of the town. The afternoon is free. Overnight in Amasra [BL]

Day 5: Amasra – Kastamonu

Drive into the forested hills to Kastamonu (125 mi / 3 hrs), a historic town dominated by its castle built in Byzantine times and updated by the Selcuks and Ottomans.  Visit the castle and the ancient market buildings where you can find hand-woven textiles and other local handicrafts. Visit the wooden mosque in nearby Kasaba, built in 1366.  Optional hike in the hills.  Overnight in Kastamonu [BL]

Day 6: Kastamonu – Amasya 

Enjoy breakfast, and then depart for Amasya (160 mi / 4 hrs).  Amasya is set in a rocky ravine with the Yeslirimak (Green River) running through.  It is one of the loveliest small towns in Turkey with picturesque wooden Ottoman houses and rock-hewn tombs from the Kings of Pontus. 


Spend the afternoon in Amasya – climb to the tombs, some of which are decorated.  Visit the remains of the Harsene Castle.  The city also has many historically and architecturally precious buildings including the Ferhat water channel, the 13th century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, the 15th century Yildirim Beyazit Mosque and Complex and the octagonal Kapi Aga Medrese (theological school). There are traditional Turkish mansions which have been well-preserved such as the 19th century Hazeranlar Mansion which an art gallery on its first floor and an ethnographical museum on the second. The Archaeological Museum of Amasya has an interesting collection including the mummies of the Ilhanli rulers of Amasya. Amasya has a very old, pleasant hamam (Turkish bath).  You may relax at the local hamam in the evening – you can ask your guide to about hours for men and for women.  Overnight in Amasya [BL]

Day 7: Amasya

Spend the day in Amasya and surroundings. You have options today to venture into the hills for hiking, visiting villages or staying in town to continue your exploration.  Overnight in Amasya [B]

Day 8: Amasya – Ankara

Depart for Ankara (235 mi / 6 hrs), stopping to explore the Hittite city of Hattusa which was the Hittite capital in the Bronze era.   Upon arrival in Ankara, check in to your hotel. [BL]

Day 9: Ankara

After breakfast, continue your adventure in another location or transfer to the airport for your departure flight. [B]

We use boutique hotels which reflect the character of the place they are set.  In the Black Sea, stay in old Ottoman houses and small pensions.

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