- The famous Hagia Sophia
- Delicious baklava
- Istanbul’s gastronomy
- The Bosphorus dividing East from West
East Meets West in Istanbul
- Half board plus
Experience Istanbul’s history, culture and cuisine
Join us in the city where two continents meet; where Asian and European influences are as likely to be found on the dinner plate as they are in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. During your seven-night stay, you will step inside the world-famous Hagia Sophia, explore the colourful lanes of the city’s Spice Bazaar and get up-close with history at the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
Your base for this Istanbul exploration is The Bank Hotel Istanbul (4Q+), a comfortable and contemporary hotel with views over the Bosphorus and located in the city’s trendy Karakoy district. Itself a historical building, the hotel has been restored and tastefully decorated, in keeping with the building’s traditional design.
7 nights at your hotel
17 meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 7 dinners
Carafe of wine, a beer or soft drink per person per evening meal
- Return flights and transfers
Excursions and visits
- Hagia Sofia & Baklava Cooking Show (full day)
- Archaeology Museum and Grand Bazaar (full day)
- The Famous Spice Market (half day)
- Gastronomy show at the Ozyegin University (full day)
- East meets West in Kadikoy (half day)
Use of audio headsets on guided tours
Day 1 UK to Istanbul
After being met by your Saga Host, you will transfer to your hotel.
During check in a welcome drink will be offered for the chance to better acquaint yourself with your fellow travellers. D
Day 2 Hagia Sophia and baklava cooking show
Hagia Sophia is one of the world’s most impressive landmarks.
Constructed in the 6th century as a Christian church, the building was repurposed as a mosque in 1453 - with the addition of four minarets - and converted to a museum in the 20th century. Also open to visitors, Hagia Sophia invites you to gaze in wonder at its central dome, Byzantine frescoes and Islamic artwork. Astounding historians and visitors alike is the presence of Viking graffiti on the building’s white marble parapet dated more than 1,100 years ago. The graffiti illustrates just how far the Viking warriors ventured and that they too wanted to make their mark on the world on a very personal level. Exploring the bucket-list landmark will work up quite an appetite.
Sit down to a local lunch at a nearby restaurant followed by a demonstration of how baklava is made. B, L, D
Day 3 Ozyegin University gastronomy show
On this truly unique gastronomic excursion, an associate professor of gastronomy welcomes you to Ozyegin University for a culinary show provided by the institution’s student chefs.
The university is partnered with Le Cordon Bleu and your meal will provide an insight into the flavours of Turkish cuisine. B, L, D
Day 4 East meets West in Kadikoy
Begin today with a presentation given by Associate Professor Ozge Samanci, whose academic passion is for the history of Ottoman cuisine.
The unique East meets West characteristics of Istanbul are shared by its cuisine. Board the ferry and take a trip across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of the city. Spend some time exploring the narrow lanes of Kadikoy before taking your seat at Çiya Sofrası. This restaurant’s owner, Musa Dagdeviren, appeared on a recent Netflix show called Chef’s Table. You will be served a flavour-filled tasting menu, illustrating the points highlighted in Professor Ozge Samanci’s presentation. B, L, D
Day 5 Archaeology Museum and Grand Bazaar
Step into Istanbul’s distant past with a visit to the city’s archaeology museum.
During your visit, the museum’s collection of statues, sarcophagi, documents, tools and tiles will tell the area’s story, from tribal influence to empires and into the modern era. Of particular note is the Tiled Pavilion, constructed in the 15th century and celebrating a time when Istanbul produced some of the world’s finest coloured tiles.
For bucket-list attractions, look no further than the Grand Bazaar which is next on your itinerary. Boasting more than 40,000 shops it is the largest covered market in the world, showcasing locally made textiles, antiques and jewellery. The bazaar provides an unmissable glimpse of local life. B, D
Day 6 Istanbul Spice Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar’s scale is undeniably impressive, however, it is the colour and scents of the Spice Bazaar that captivate visitors. Visitors who explore the market’s covered stalls are met by pyramids of paprika, sticks of cinnamon and multicoloured mounts of loose-leaf tea. It is from this bazaar that many of Istanbul’s top chefs source their ingredients.
Spend the afternoon at leisure or join a cruise along the Bosphorus. B, D
Day 7 At leisure
Spend the day exploring Istanbul or venturing further afield.
Alternatively, you may like to join an optional morning excursion to Topkapi Palace. In the evening of this final full day, a special menu has been prepared by Chef Fehmi Samanci, the perfect way to conclude your East meets West experience. B, D
Day 8 Istanbul to UK
Transfer by coach to the airport for your flight back to the UK. B
It is to the Bosphorus that Istanbul owes its identity. The waterway splits the continent of Europe from that of Asia, providing the city with two distinctly different halves. Keep your camera to hand as you cruise along - it is a unique perspective from which to view Hagia Sophia.
Optional on 7 nights itinerary
The Sultans of the Ottoman Empire ruled from Topkapi Palace since the 15th century. During your guided tour, you will discover the many architectural changes that have been made to the palace complex. You will also be shown around the living quarters belonging to the sultan’s family. Topkapi truly is a window into the indulgence of a sultan and his family.
Optional on 7 nights itinerary
During your time at leisure, consider visiting the Blue Mosque. Officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, it was built in the early 17th century and earned its nickname from the blue tiles used throughout the mosque’s interior. If you would like to visit, bear in mind that the Blue Mosque is closed to non worshippers during prayer time.
The Bank Hotel Istanbul 4Q+
Located in the trendy harbourside district of Karaköy, your hotel for this exploration of Istanbul was once a 19th-century bank. Today, its Renaissance Revival façade welcomes you inside and invites you to enjoy a luxury stay. Views from The Vault’s restaurant extend across the Bosphorus to Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s most iconic landmark.
The hotel’s 63 spacious and contemporary guest rooms are all en suite and feature free Wi-Fi, tea-making facilities and a minibar. When not exploring the city or relaxing in your room, you might like to enjoy time in the spa, the facilities of which include a sauna, steam room, gym and treatment rooms.