Turkey delights in its diversity. Ancient culture, golden sand islands, historic city, sapphire waters; this handcrafted itinerary combines it all with seven days of private luxury yacht cruising and four days in mystical Istanbul. Tranquil, idyllic, atmospheric; these 12 days offer some of the finest experiences in Europe. You will experience both the serene beauty of the Aegean Sea with the ambient wonder of a city that mixes East and West.
Istanbul – First Impressions
Istanbul has always wowed its first-time visitors, the streets shaped by numerous empires and sultans. Lavish architecture leaves the first impression, the city dotted with memories from 2,000 years. Now come sounds; the harmonic call to prayer resonates across rooftops, a tea seller sends shouts into the air, old women chat on a city bench. Whiffs of fragrant spices seem to come around every corner while barbecue stalls add smoky grilled fish aromas into the mix. You'll be met at the airport and transferred to your boutique hotel in the city. The unique impressions are all around and, while Istanbul bursts with famous sights, there's little better introduction than walking around and opening your senses.
Istanbul – The Ottoman and Byzantine Treasures
Istanbul is about harmonious contrasts. Old meets new, East meets West, an historical trail leading from Greece to Roman to Turkey. Today's private tour starts with the Romans, the remains of the Hippodrome glimpsing at what was the centerpiece of Byzantine Constantinople; it's dominated by two World Wonders. On one side the minarets of the Blue Mosque rise to attention, iconic markers on the cityscape. To the other lies the Hagia Sophia, the world's biggest cathedral for many centuries until it was remarkably transformed into a mosque. Now it's a museum, a living example of religious harmony; Christian frescos gaze down on Arabic calligraphy, candles flicker above odes to Allah, and a dozen rooms take you on journeys back to the 6th century.
Remove your shoes to enter the Blue Mosque, a luxuriant red carpet beneath your feet, and 21,000 blue tiles leaving a colorful haze across the main room. Despite the ornate interior and huge domed ceilings, there's a humility here, one that seems to politely request silence. Next, it's the Topkapi Palace and rooms stuffed with opulence and excess. Dazzling displays of porcelain and silver abound, as does the artwork taken from empires around the world. While much of Istanbul has an ancient slant, these are very much living and breathing pieces of world history. Take your next stop, the Grand Bazaar, the ancient trading place for the East and West. Wander the narrow passageways, past the leather and antiques, then through the handicrafts and shimmering silver. Traders' calls mingle with the spices and you go on an atmospheric journey through one of the greatest markets in world history. The evening is free to savor Istanbul.
At Sea – Luxury Yacht Cruising Around Bodrum
A short flight takes you across to the twinkling waters of the Aegean Sea and to your luxury private cruise. Land in the morning and step aboard the yacht, its white exterior juxtaposed with the water. Today's journey is a short one, the yacht effortlessly sailing around Bodrum and continuing a paradigm of ancient history. Visit Bodrum Castle, perched above the sea and left in a mesmerizing state of semi-decay. The Museum of Underwater Archaeology reveals the treasures found beneath the waves, and then the replica of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus glimpses at a glorious past. While much has been made of the recently voted Seven Wonders of the World, the original ancient Seven Wonders have been somewhat forgotten. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was one of them. You'll spend the night on board, in the harbor at Bodrum.
At Sea – Cruising the Bays to Cokertme
With the sun reflecting off the waters you depart for a second day of cruising. Luxury yacht journeys on the Aegean are always tranquil, all stresses floating away on the wind as you traverse beautiful bays and beaches. Moving by water means getting far away from the tourist crowds, the sails providing access to places yet to be connected by road. Stop in Kisebuk Bay for a swim and continue to Cokertme Bay, hemmed in by forested green cliffs and dotted with olive groves. A couple of other yachts are likely to be in the harbor, but for the main part, the overnight stop in Cokertme is as tranquil and unruffled as it comes.
At Sea – Elegant Journeys to Akbuk and Sogut
Wake in your spacious bedroom for another day of cruising, breakfast served on the deck and the compass pointing towards Akbuk. Throughout these seven days, all meals are included, the gourmet perfection provided by your dedicated chef. A wide open deck provides an idyllic place to watch Turkey's coastline sail by, while the generous space below deck is well appointed with luxury fittings. Stop for lunch in Akbuk, and then spend the afternoon cruising to the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire, Sogut. It feels like time has stood still in this coastal village, the local women dressed in traditional style and crumbling buildings imbuing a marvelous charm. Enjoy the evening in the village and spend the night in your cabin onboard.
At Sea – The Fine Sand of Cleopatra Island
Turkey's coastline has held an enchantment for thousands of years, the ruins of empires littered beneath the sea and along the cliffs. Today merges history with beach paradise as you cruise to Cleopatra Island, a sublime expanse of crystal clear waters and fine sand. Legend has it that this was a meeting place for Cleopatra and Mark Anthony, a secret haven for an historic affair. Walking across the beach is like floating on a cloud, the tiny shining particles of sand unlike anything else found in Europe. Now under conservation protection, you're not even allowed to bring towels to the beach as the sand sticks to them. This sounds strange, but these rules are helping to protect a unique phenomenon.
Surrounding Cleopatra Island are numerous bays and islands; your yacht is fast enough to visit many and small enough to always dock for a cooling swim. Like always, the itinerary is flexible and is dictated by you. While each day has a set general route, the skipper can choose between different places to stop during the day and you will choose when to depart and move on. From Cleopatra you cruise to English Harbour, and while the place’s name isn't as evocative, there's still a delightful elegance and tranquility to where the anchor is dropped for the evening.
At Sea – Picturesque Swimming Around Aegean Bays
The Aegean Sea is a blue one, reflecting the clear sky and suffused with dreamy images of Southern Europe. It's fringed by a rolling mainland; traditional coastal villages, pine forests, deserted bays. The yacht takes you away from the popular resorts and into tranquil waters with hardly another person around. The bays of Ballisu and Longoz make for a gentle day of picturesque swimming and fully indulging on Aegean charms. Continue onwards to Balikasiran, another calm and peaceful place to spend the night.
At Sea – Cruising to Orak Island
Cast adrift from the mainland and wallow in a soothing expanse of azure; Orak Island dominates the itinerary today. Its long coastline is filled with bays for dropping anchor and diving below, while the cute harbor village offers cafes and ambient streets if you want to stretch your legs. With so much sand, there's always a desolate place to stop and indulge in private sunbathing. As always, all meals are freshly prepared on-board and there are few better places to unwind than on the spacious deck.
At Sea – Serene Aegean Waters and a Final Night on the Yacht
Orak is around 90 minutes from Bodrum so this final day of cruising is a relaxed and easy one. A leisurely morning can be spent circumnavigating Orak Island, swimming in the bays and snorkeling alongside the rocks. Head back to Bodrum via Karaada, the “Black Island” that's actually green, yellow, and blue. By now there's a good chance you'll have been lulled into hibernation, but if not, the healing mineral springs of Karaada should complete the job. Mud caves make for an afternoon of fun, while there's always a chance to lie back on the beach or yacht and watch the sun slowly move across the sky. You'll dock in Bodrum and spend a final night on board.
Istanbul – Soaking Up the Atmosphere
Say goodbye to the private yacht after breakfast and return by flight to Istanbul. The city's indelible atmosphere seems to delight in your return. You've been away a week but it feels like only an hour, bewitching streets immediately radiating their sensual feasts. Today is deliberately left free for you to enjoy Istanbul at your own pace. A simple to use tram system takes you around the city and the main tourist area of Sultanahmet is easy to explore on foot. Restaurants and cafes adorn rooftops with river views, markets and bazaars entice you forward, and cobblestone alleyways are lined with intrigue. Most apparent is the harmonious mix of styles; a patchwork of architecture can be found, yet it all seems to perfectly fit in the jigsaw.
Istanbul – A Sensual Tour Through Istanbul
As the sun rises on your final day in Turkey there are still a hundred sights to explore. Today's expertly guided tour starts in the Spice Market, vivid sacks of pungent produce lining every corridor through the bazaar. Saffron, ginger, purple scents, unusual flavors; it's a market for experimenting and tantalizing the senses. Nearby, the Bosphorus revels in its role as continental divider. Cruise along this famous body of water, taking in the architectural brilliance that lines the edge of both Europe and Asia. You'll cruise underneath bridges, rows of fishermen casting their lines into the water below. As soon as it's caught it gets sent downstairs to the fish restaurants beneath the bridge where it’s barbecued and served in fluffy bread. Enjoy this iconic Istanbul meal with some beautiful vistas over the river.
Take some time to indulge in the excess of the city; a visit to Dolmabehce Palace reveals some 365 rooms of opulence. This was the home of many Ottoman sultans, each stuffing the palace with surreal collections of European antiquity and furniture. One room features a four and a half-ton chandelier, twinkling and glistening. It is a defiance of gravity that it doesn't pull the ceiling down with its weight. Return to the hotel and the evening is free. Perhaps a perfect place to finish the vacation is one of the public squares, where locals drink tea as the setting sun colors the surrounding buildings. Or maybe the final night should be spent in Sultanahmet, getting lost amidst the ancient wonder and ongoing charm.
Istanbul – Departure
After breakfast it's a short transfer to the airport where your international departure awaits. Your vacation may have come to an all-to-soon end, but the memories are yours to take with you.
- Spend seven days on a private luxury yacht cruising the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea, stopping at countless bays and islands as you gently lull into hibernation
- Soak up the beauty of Istanbul with four nights of boutique elegance, the charms of the city revealed by an expert tour guide
- Explore the ancient architectural wonder of Istanbul with visits to the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and opulent palaces
- Fully relax on the waters of the Aegean, each day offering opportunities to swim in tranquil waters and rest on idyllic beaches
- Enjoy gourmet meals and attentive yet discreet service on your private yacht reserved just for you and your travel companion(s)
- Experience the delights of some of Europe's finest beaches and islands, including Cleopatra Island, Orak Island, and the traditional Ottoman village of SogutGree
Turkey has an enviable location, straddling the divide between Europe and Asia and surrounded by azure waters. This handcrafted vacation maximizes the country's bounty, allowing for four days in atmospheric Istanbul and seven days aboard your own private luxury yacht. While the city sparkles with architectural wonder and sensual journeys, the Aegean coastline provides a week of tropical bliss. For every unique piece of history to explore in Istanbul, there's an idyllic bay or island to drop anchor beside. It's the perfect blend of Southern Europe's unique experiences, offering a rich insight into culture and history as well as a serene journey through the crystal blue.
The itinerary features a private yacht, expertly skippered and enhanced by a gourmet chef who serves up all your meals. A spacious cabin allows you to sleep on-board while a wide open deck is the perfect place for lounging away days in the sun. The cruise starts and ends in Bodrum, heading out on the Aegean Sea and slowly connecting coastal villages, remote islands, historical treasures, and a seemingly endless collection of beaches. The fine sand of Cleopatra Island is for indulgent beach bliss, the cute streets of Sogut offer an insight into traditional Turkey, while the bays of Ballisu and Longoz make for picturesque swimming with nobody else around. But these are just a sample of highlights. Each day's pace is decided by you and the route includes a number of tranquil stops, both those cast adrift in the sea and those fringed by forests along the mainland.
Your private yacht cruise runs from days three to ten. On either side of the blue adventure is Istanbul, the city imbuing a wonderful sense of charm. On the first two days you get a chance to soak up the atmosphere and be guided around the famous Ottoman and Byzantine treasures, like the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. Istanbul is not restricted to its world renowned wonders. Every journey here brings a new surprise; rooftop restaurants with views to another continent, ancient Roman squares, spice markets, river cruises, opulent palaces stuffed with international antiquity. Return to Istanbul on day ten and you have a day to explore on your own. Then day 11 is guided and takes you to an eclectic selection of the iconic experiences.
Like all Zicasso itineraries, every facet of this tour is fully customizable. The exact yacht used is dependent on personal preference and there are numerous opportunities to tailor the cruise to include more or less days.
$9,595 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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