Meet your guide at your central Istanbul hotel and start your small-group Istanbul tour. Aboard an air-conditioned minivan, head to the old neighborhood of Karaköy formerly known as the Galata district. As you drive, learn about Istanbul’s Jewish heritage and how Jewish immigrants who were exiled from Europe were welcomed into the Ottoman Empire.
Arrive in Galata, situated just north of the Golden Horn where European Istanbul separates into two parts, and hear about the Jews who landed here in the 15th century. Begin with a visit to the Zülfaris synagogue. Step into its Jewish Museum and see an abundance of artifacts. Then, explore the beautiful interior of Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, the city’s last functioning synagogue for Ashkenazi Jews.
Continue back to the streets for a promenade to the distinguished synagogues like the Camondo Building. Hear about the Camondo family, Venetian Jews, who commissioned this synagogue and built their wealth banking for Ottoman sultans in the 19th century.
After, take a break and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine during a 3-course lunch. Taste savory kebabs or other local favorites. Then, hop aboard a cable car for a climb to the peak of Pierre Loti Hill.
Capture stunning expansive views and then enjoy a drive along the Golden Horn. Gaze at this beautiful arm of the sea as you pass by regal buildings and elegant churches. Plus, hear some Istanbul lore from your guide.
Finally, chill on a boat for a 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise of the Bosphorus Strait which divides the two continents. Traverse beneath Bosphorus bridges, pass Rumeli Fortress and other landmarks. Ogle Ottoman mosques and stately mansions as you return to shore and Dolmabahçe Palace.
Here, visit this luxurious residence and learn about the six generations of Ottoman royalty that resided here. Admire its opulent rooms and twinkling Crystal Staircase whose handrails are chiseled from fine crystal.
End your tour with a drive back to your hotel and wave bye to your guide.