Istanbul Express

plus Athens and Classical Greece optional extensions

This itinerary is for a past tour program.
Check out our current tour & cruise packages in Turkey.

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the most exciting and magical places in Europe and the Middle East. It is at once the bustling, cosmopolitan capital of the modern nation of Turkey, as well as an ancient center of civilization that stretches back over two thousand years and more. Here you'll find extraordinarily beautiful palaces, mosques, churches and markets from every period of history among skyskrapers, bustling traffic, shopping malls and vibrant nightlife. Istanbul is a world traveler's dream destination and now, it's yours at a price you'll hardly believe.

Detailed Itinerary

Istanbul Express tour map Day 1: Depart USA. Your exciting journey to Istanbul, Turkey, begins this evening as you check in for your United/Lufthansa overnight jet flight.

Day 2: Istanbul. Late morning arrival in Istanbul, one of the greatest and most strategic cities in the world for the better part of two thousand years. You'll be met by our representative in Istanbul and then escorted to your hotel in the heart of the Old City, near many of the historical sites you will be visiting during your stay. Eresin Topkapi Hotel

Spice Market, Istanbul Day 3-6: Istanbul. You'll have four full days to explore on your own. Your hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city, within short distance of many major attractions, as well as the best shopping and dining. Our Istanbul representatives will be glad to make suggestions if you prefer to explore independently. To make the most of your visit and enrich your experience, our representatives will offer you a chance to join some exclusive excursions to the city's highlights as well as memorable evening activities.

Bosphorus, Istanbul Day 7: Istanbul/USA. Today you'll be escorted to the airport and bid farewell to Istanbul as you board your return flight. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. Or, add an extension to Athens, the birthplace of Western Civilization.

Athens Post-Tour Extension

Columns, Athens, Greece On select departures of our Istanbul Express program, we invite you to take advantage of your already-included international airfare and add an extension to Athens. Your extension includes 5 nights deluxe hotel accommodations, full buffet breakfast and all transfers, including the flight from Istanbul to Athens.

Add $400 per person, double occupancy or $630 single occupancy.

Classical Greece 3 Day Post-Tour Extension

Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare and add three nights in Greece to visit the classical cities of Mycenae, Olympia, and Delphi? Your extension includes first class hotel accommodations, full buffet breakfast and dinner daily, guided touring and all entrance fees to places visited.

Theater at Epidaurus Day 7: Athens/Olympia. Today we'll drive across the Corinth Canal, which connects the Ionian Sea with the Aegean, to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where 4,000 years of history are more fully and comprehensibly illustrated than anywhere else in Europe. Here we'll visit the famous theater of Epidaurus, the best preserved in Greece, which reached the height of its fame in the 5th & 4th centuries B.C. The acoustics are so perfect that even from the last of the 55 tiers, every word can be heard. Continue to ancient Mycenae, which, according to the poets, was founded by Perseus and built with the aid of the mythological Cyclops. Drive on to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games, for dinner and overnight. Breakfast & dinner provided. Hotel Amalia Olympia

Nafplion, Greece Day 8: Olympia/Delphi. This morning we'll tour the archeological site and museum at Olympia, where the Olympic games were conceived as a tribute to Hercules, son of Zeus. These games were the most important international event in the Hellenic world from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D. and continue today, with the lighting of the Olympic flame that is carried by runners throughout the world. Visit the Sanctuary of the Olympian Zeus and the Museum. This afternoon we drive via Patras to Rion where we board the car ferry to Antirion and picturesque Nafpaktos, where according to mythology, Hercules slew the Erymanthine boar and where we'll view the lovely circular Venetian harbor. Continue our drive to Delphi for dinner and overnight. Hotel Amalia Delphi Breakfast & dinner provided.

Greek Statue Day 9: Delphi/Athens. This morning we'll visit the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios and the Museum. Later, we'll drive through the village of Arachova, renowned for its colorful rugs and carpets, to the Byzantine monastery of Ossios Loukas where we'll view it's beautiful mosaics. Continue to Athens via Levadia, which, under Turkish rule, became the second most important town in Greece after Athens, then on to Thebes, which out of jealousy, allied itself with the Persians against Athens in 479 BC and then suffered defeat at the hands of the Athenians. Divani Palace Hotel (or Athens Imperial Hotel) Breakfast provided.

Day 10: Athens/USA. Early this morning board your homebound flight. Your magical journey to Greece ends as you arrive the USA later today.

Add $359 pp double/$160 single room supplement for the Classic Greece Extension

Optional Tours in Istanbul

Here are some of the optional tours offered in Istanbul:

Agia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey *Half day Imperial Istanbul
Enjoy a half day exploring the famous Agia Sophia, once the largest church in the Christian world, the Blue Mosque with its 21,000 blue tiles from which the name is derived, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, the Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar, where carpets, gold, leather goods and other fantastic treasures are found. ($41)

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey *Half Day Ottoman Wonders
Visit the magnificent Topkapi Palace, official residence of the Ottoman Sultans and the Suleymaniye Mosque, dedicated to the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and built by the Turkish architect, Sinan. ($41)

Ortakoy Mosque at Bosphorus and the bridge connecting Europe and Asia *Bosphorus Cruise
Board your boat for a half day cruise on the Bosphorus, which runs between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, both former lakes during previous geological eras. The Bosphorus is 22 miles long and considered one of the most important waterways in the world. View the architectural masterpieces lining the shores of the channel, built during various historical periods, and experience the thrill of sailing between two continents, close enough to both shores for even the most avid photographer to catch close-up shots of the wonderful sites along the way. ($36)

*Istanbul by Night, including Dinner
Enjoy an evening of Turkish cuisine and entertainment at one of Istanbul's top restaurants. Transfers, a delicious a la carte dinner and show are included. ($83)

Optional Tours in Athens

Here are some of the optional tours offered in Athens:

Children in Athens *Half Day Athens
Enjoy a morning tour of the principal modern and classical sights including Constitution Square, the Panathenian Stadium (site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896), the Presidential Palace, The Roman Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Parthenon with its many monuments atop the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. ($40)

Parthenon at Night *Athens by Night Dinner/Tour
Your evening dinner-tour begins with a gorgeous orientation drive along the illuminated boulevards of Athens, as far as Piraeus, Greece's principal commercial port. Continue to Marina Zea, one of the busiest yacht harbors on the Mediterranean and home to many luxury pleasure yachts belonging to Greece's shipping and jet-set communities. From here, a short drive to lovely Mikrolimano, another picturesque yacht and fishing harbor. Return to Athens and the renowned "Plaka" district, located around the base of the Acropolis, for dinner with live floor show at a typical Greek taverna. ($44, dinner included)

Corinth Canal, Greece *Ancient Corinth
Drive west from Athens, along the scenic coastal highway to the bridge crossing the spectacular Corinth Canal. Continue to the site of Ancient Corinth, one of the most celebrated cities of antiquity, owing its great importance to its strategic physical location that controlled the only land route into the Peloponnese. Here you'll view remains of the ancient Romans as well as the ancient Greeks, with a portion of the Temple of Apollo, one of the oldest ruins in Greece. ($43)

Ruins at Delphi
Ruins at Delphi
Depart this morning for a full day to Delphi, the ancient sanctuary of Apollo. Visit the Museum in which you will see archaeological treasures, the unique bronze Charioteer and the Athenian treasury. Your tour includes visits to the Temple of Apollo and the Castalia Spring, among other sites. ($70, lunch included)

Destination FAQs

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Turkey, click here.

For quick answers to Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Greece, click here.

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St. Sophia Church, Istanbul
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