Exploring Istanbul: ‘City of the World’s Desire’ 2021

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26 Sep – 6 Oct 2021

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Exploring Istanbul: ‘City of the World’s Desire’ 2021
Tour Highlights

A regular visitor to Turkey since the early 1980s, our tour lecturer is Dr Susan Scollay, an art historian with a special interest in the art and architecture of the Islamic world – especially that of the Ottoman empire – and the intersections and shared culture between Islam and Christianity, East and West.

  • Trace the evolution of the great city of Byzantium – Constantinople – Istanbul through its Byzantine and Ottoman palace architecture, religious monuments, material culture and mercantile links with Venice and the Italian Renaissance.
  • Visits to imperial and other, little-known, sites of the third Ottoman capital, Istanbul (1453-1923) and a side trip to the first capital, Bursa (1300-1360).
  • Explore the Byzantine forerunners of the Ottoman palaces, especially through the mosaics of the Great Byzantine Palace and their counterparts in Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya), the great 6th-century patriarchal basilica of eastern Christianity.
  • Privileged access and private visits to collections of historical costume, textiles, tiles and other decorative arts that were a vital component of the luxury of the great city’s way of life and its trade and influence in Europe.
  • View highlights and enjoy curatorial introductions to modern art, design and innovative architectural venues of the 17th Istanbul Art Biennal.
  • Savour Istanbul’s famed cuisine and hospitality in historic hotels, acclaimed restaurants and atmospheric teahouses.


Travel with Dr Susan Scollay an art historian and curator specialising in the arts and culture of the Islamic world and in historic textiles.Surrounded by water on three sides, the city of Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia and is one of the largest urban centres in the world. It is a global city whose layers of archaeology and architecture have evolved over centuries in the historic political and religious centre of the eastern Mediterranean. The enviable site was first settled in the seventh-century BC by Greek fishermen.  In 330 AD, the Emperor Constantine chose the trading centre, then known as Byzantium, as his new capital of the eastern Roman Empire. Renamed Constantinople, the holiest and most magnificent city in eastern Christendom was graced with the great domed basilica of Aya Sofya, the ‘Church of Holy Wisdom’. Completed in 537 AD, it was the world’s largest cathedral and an architectural inspiration for nearly a thousand years. The coveted city, was all but destitute in 1453 when the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, ‘the Conqueror’ (r. 1451-1481), stormed its ancient defence walls. After taking control from the final Byzantine emperor, he began the process of transforming the stricken city into the third and last Ottoman capital, Istanbul, with one of the most distinctive skylines in the world. Modern Istanbul is a booming metropolis, with fascinating street life, beguiling bazaars, lively restaurants and internationally-recognised and fast-evolving architecture, design and contemporary art. This eleven-day tour highlights the unique, and sometimes hidden, character of Istanbul through its different eras – with visits to significant sites and collections, both ancient and modern, public and private – with sufficient time to savour its hidden delights, layered history and sheer diversity.

11-day Cultural Tour of Istanbul

Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul (7 nights) • Çelik Palace Hotel, Bursa (1 night) • Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul (2 nights)



The following itinerary describes a range of museums and sites which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but others require special permission which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. In addition, a number sites indicated in the itinerary with an asterisk* are currently under renovation, however they are expected to be reopened by 2021. Participants should note that the daily activities described in this itinerary may be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate changes in museum opening hours, flight schedules etc. Meals included in the tour price are indicated in the detailed itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch and D=dinner.

Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Mansions - 7 nights

Day 1: Sunday 26 September, Arrive Istanbul
  • Airport Transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
  • Optional afternoon orientation walk
  • Evening orientation talk & pre-dinner drinks, Welcome Dinner

Our tour commences in Istanbul. Participants taking ASA’s ‘designated’ flight are scheduled to arrive in Istanbul in the afternoon and will join a private transfer to the recently-restored Hagia Sophia Mansions hotel. Participants who have made alternative flight arrangements should meet the group at the hotel.

For those who have arrived earlier in the day there will be an orientation walk to the Hippodrome, the site of the old Byzantine Palace and the 16th-century ‘palace’ of Ibrahim Pasha, a walk around Aya Sofya and along picturesque Sogukçesme Street (‘The Street of the Cold Fountain’) with its restored wooden houses, past the main gate of the Topkapi Palace and back to the hotel. There will be a short introductory talk for all participants before drinks and dinner. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) D

Day 2: Monday 27 September, Istanbul: The Byzantine City (on foot)
  • Hippodrome & Divan Yolu
  • Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya), the ‘Church of Holy Wisdom’
  • Emperor Justinian’s Basilica Cistern (Yerebetan Sarnic)*
  • Arasta Bazaar
  • Great Palace of Constantinople Mosaic Museum
  • Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (Küçük Aya Sofya)
  • Reception and private viewing at a leading gallery for textile arts, costume and jewellery

The city of Istanbul, currently one of the largest urban centres in the world, has evolved over centuries in the historic political and religious centre of the eastern Mediterranean. Inaugurated by the Emperor Constantine in 330 AD on the site of ancient Byzantium, the city of Constantinople was the capital of the eastern Roman Empire and later the holiest city in eastern Christendom. We will position ourselves on the Hippodrome, the most significant remnant of Constantine’s early development of the city and from there appreciate the significance of Divan Yolu, once the main ceremonial route of the Byzantine city and now a major thoroughfare and tram route.

Constantinople was all but destitute in 1453 when the Ottoman sultan Mehmet II, ‘Mehmet the Conqueror’ (r. 1451-1481), stormed its ancient defence walls, wrested control from the final Byzantine emperor, and began the process of transforming the stricken city into the third and last Ottoman capital, Istanbul. Mehmet II is said to have gone straight to Aya Sofya (Haghia Sophia, the ‘Church of Holy Wisdom’, 531-37 AD) and touched his forehead to the ground in reverence at the sight of the great domed cathedral. Almost immediately he ordered Justinian’s great cathedral to be transformed into a mosque for the symbolic and ceremonial Friday prayer service attended by the Ottoman sultans. Today the monumental building is preserved as a museum.

After lunch in a local restaurant, we explore more public and palatial buildings of the Byzantine era, including the impressive water storage capacity of the Yerebatan Cistern, an early church now functioning as a mosque, and the mosaic remains of the Great Palace. These are accessed by walking through the gently-paced Arasta Bazaar area, once used as workshops for various guilds attached to the so-called ‘Blue’ Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I (r. 1603-17) and now a popular shopping precinct for better quality jewellery, souvenirs and carpets.

In the late afternoon, a prestigious gallery will host us to a private reception and viewing of their collections. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BL

Day 3: Tuesday 28 September, Istanbul: The Byzantine City (by coach)
  • Byzantine City Walls
  • Palace of the Porphyrogenitus (Tekfür Saray)
  • Church of St Saviour in Chora (Kariye Cami)
  • Lunch at Asitane Restaurant
  • Coach tour of the Golden Horn

This morning we drive to view the remains of the Byzantine city walls built in the 5th century by Emperor Theodosius II. The defensive stone structure originally stretched for almost 7 kilometres and what remains is now listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Nearby, the Tekfür Saray is the last of the Byzantine imperial palaces still standing. The ruined complex was built in the 13th century and served a variety of purposes after the Ottoman conquest. The Emperor Alexius I Comnenus made the edifice there his main residence, with its vast substructures built up against the inside of the land walls at their highest point above the level of the land outside.

Afterwards, we visit the beautiful Church of Saint Saviour in Chora, or Kariye Cami as it is known to the Turks. Situated inside the Theodosian Walls on the Sixth Hill of the city, the first church and monastery on the site were out in what was then the countryside. The words ‘in Chora’ refer to its original siting in the country. The present church dates from the 11th century and was founded by Maria Doucina, the sister-in-law of Emperor Alexius I Comnenus, from 1077-81. It was remodelled in the 12th century and again in the early 14th century, continuing in use as a church until 1510 when it was converted into a mosque by Atik Ali Pasha, the Grand Vizier of Beyazid II. The church’s mosaics and frescoes, considered some of the best in the world, were covered over but not destroyed during the conversion. In 1948 restoration commenced under the sponsorship of the Dumbarton Oaks Centre for Byzantine Studies in Washington, DC. The restoration is now complete and the building is open to the public as a museum.

After lunch at the renowned restaurant, Asitane, we drive along the Golden Horn, past the Eyüp Mosque, one of the city’s most sacred sites and the place where Ottoman sultans were girded with the sword of Osman on their accession to the throne. We stop at the Greek Patriarchate & walk in the atmospheric Fener/Balat district, an old Jewish neighbourhood, where nowadays traditional tradesmen and street vendors work alongside hip cafes and design studios in historical wooden houses. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BL

Day 4: Wednesday 29 September, Istanbul: The Ottoman City (on foot)
  • Topkapi Palace Museum and Harem
  • Carpet Museum
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • The Mosque of Ahmet I (‘Blue Mosque’) & precinct
  • Dinner at Balikçi Sabahattin Restaurant

This morning we visit the Topkapi Palace Museum. Mehmet II built his first palace in Istanbul in 1454 along the Byzantine ceremonial route to and from the Hippodrome and Aya Sofya. The first palace’s mostly wooden structure was destroyed by fire in 1714, but it had long been relegated to lower status as a royal building because the Conqueror had begun the Topkapi Palace in 1459. He chose the spectacular site of the old acropolis of Byzantium on a point seemingly surrounded by the waters of the Bosphorus Strait. The location was redolent with symbolism and Mehmet set about building an imperial complex of airy pavilions in garden settings with a series of large open spaces or courtyards that defined the outer, inner and protected (harem) zones of palace life. The various zones allowed for grand ceremony but also the increased seclusion that Mehmet II sought as ruler of an expanding empire.

After lunch at leisure in the palace grounds we visit the Carpet Museum housed in the old soup kitchens of the Haghia Sophia (Aya Sofya) complex. Three atmospheric galleries display a tightly curated range of spectacular and rare carpets ranging from the pre-Ottoman Seljuk era to magnificent examples of those once used in the imperial palaces and mosques.

A short walk away is the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, a magnificent collection of fine calligraphy, tiles, woodwork, and selections from one of the world’s most impressive antique carpet collections – all displayed in a well-preserved mansion/palace built in 1524 for Ibrahim Pasha who, until his untimely death, served Süleyman the ‘Magnificent’ as Grand Vizier.

Another short stroll takes us to the Mosque of Ahmet I & its garden precinct. Completed in 1616, the so-called ‘Blue Mosque’ punctuates the city skyline with its vast dome and six elegant minarets. Still used for daily prayer, its light-filled interior is lined with blue-toned tiles from the later period of Iznik production.

Dinner tonight is in a fish restaurant long-established in Sultanahmet, in a restored wooden house with a covered terrace area facing on to the narrow neighbourhood streets. (Overnight Haghia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BD

Day 5: Thursday 30 September, Istanbul: The Ottoman City (by coach)
  • Dolmabahçe Palace
  • Yildiz (‘Star’) Park & Sale Kiosk (Chalet Pavilion)
  • Lunch in the grounds of Yildiz Park
  • Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque
  • Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarsısı) & surrounds
  • Rüstem Pasha Mosque

We start the day with a visit to the Dolmabahçe Palace, the opulent, European style palace on the European shore of the Bosphorus Strait, completed in 1856 by Sultan Abdül Mecit I (r. 1839-1861), to which the Ottoman sultans moved in the dying days of the empire. It is the largest of the Ottoman palaces with 285 rooms and 46 halls, decorated with extensive use of gold leaf and crystal chandeliers.

Afterwards, we visit the nearby Yildiz Park, which was once part of the imperial grounds of the Yildiz Palace of Sultan Abdül Hamid II (r. 1876-1909) who abandoned the Dolmabahçe Palace because he feared attack from the Bosphorus waterfront. The 60-room Chalet Pavilion, built to house a visit from Kaiser Wilhelm II, is the largest wooden chalet in the world and an impressive showcase for decorative arts of the period.

We have lunch in one of the historic pavilions in the grounds of Yildiz Park and then visit the peaceful Yildiz Hamidiye Mosque, built in the late 19th century at the entrance to the park. Its interior is a beautiful mix of East and West, with Orientalist and Gothic decoration.

Next, we visit the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarsısı), one of the most colourful covered bazaars in the city, built in 1664 as part of the complex of the nearby New Mosque (Yeni Cami) commissioned by Turhan Hatice, the mother of Sultan Mehmet IV (r. 1642–1693). In the bustling surrounds of the Spice Bazaar the Rüstem Pasha Mosque is accessed from a narrow street of food vendors, who use it for daily prayer. The small structure was designed and built in 1561 by the great architect Sinan, for Süleyman’s Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha. Its exquisite tilework marks the high point of Iznik production in the 16th century. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BL

Day 6: Friday 1 October, Istanbul: The Ottoman City (on foot)
  • Süleymaniye Mosque, tombs and precinct
  • Lunch in a Grand Bazaar restaurant
  • Grand Bazaar (‘Kapalı Carsı’) and surrounding trading area
  • Optional visit to the Archaeological Museum* and the Çinili Kiosk (Tiled Pavilion)

The Süleymaniye is Istanbul’s most important mosque complex. Commissioned by Süleyman the Magnificent and built between 1550 and 1557, it remains mostly as designed and built by the great court architect, Sinan. The monumental mosque, Sinan’s masterpiece in Istanbul, is flanked by the well-preserved tombs of Süleyman and his wife, Roxelana, as well as buildings that once served as religious schools, a school of medicine, a school for the study of the Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), a hostel, a public kitchen, a hammam (bath house), a caravanserai and a row of small shops. The building was a step up in size in terms of the monumental architecture of the Ottomans, and it also introduced a new style in the decorative arts used in both religious and secular buildings throughout the empire. It was the first royal mosque to use underglaze painted tiles from Iznik in a colour scheme that was new to Ottoman art and new to Islamic tilework in general. The warm tomato red colour developed in Iznik tiles in the 1550’s and the exuberant style of their decoration became the preferred form of embellishment for all buildings constructed under court patronage in Süleyman’s era.

We then walk to the precinct of the Grand Bazaar and have lunch in one of its leading restaurants, tucked away amongst textile and leather traders and graced with a marble fountain at its entrance. The Bazaar, now one of the biggest covered markets in the world, was constructed by Mehmet II in 1455. The original trading halls dealt in textiles and precious stones and jewels and were aimed at stimulating the economy of the newly-conquered city. Although the range of goods sold here has outgrown that of a traditional souk, the bazaar still retains its Ottoman plan and decoration. This complex has now fused with the nearby ‘Balkan’ bazaar area which has grown in recent years as large numbers of Eastern Europeans visit for shopping and trade. The presence of Balkan traders reflects the city’s continuing role as an emporium at the cross roads of Europe and the East.  We walk through the labrynthine complex, visiting selected trading and craft specialists in several of the old caravanserais or hans and have a private visit to a long-established textile wholesaler.

Afterwards, those who wish can visit Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum, which contains one of the great collections of pre-classical and classical works, including the famous so-called ‘Alexander sarcophagus’, a 4th-century tomb of a Seleucid prince found in Sidon (Syria). Nearby, the Çinili Kiosk (‘Tiled Pavilion’), built in 1472, is Istanbul’s oldest remaining secular building and houses an outstanding collection of historic ceramics. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BL

Day 7: Saturday 2 October, Istanbul: The Bosphorus (by coach and boat)
  • Sadberk Hanim Museum
  • Bosphorus Cruise with lunch on board

This morning we drive to the Sadberk Hanım Museum, a private house museum that occupies adjacent waterfront villas on the shores of the Bosphorus near Sariyer. This type of wooden mansion was built for wealthy residents of Istanbul during the 18th and 19th centuries. The highly ornamented buildings served as summer residences and usually incorporated a jetty and boathouses. The museum is named after the wife of the late Vehbi Koç, one of Turkey’s wealthiest businessmen. It houses her private collection of archaeological and ethnographic material and also hosts changing exhibitions of Ottoman art.

Afterwards, we have lunch on our private boat followed by a cruise along the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus is the world’s narrowest strait used for international shipping and divides the Asian and European sides of Istanbul, providing a passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and beyond. From the water there is an unrivalled view of the Istanbul skyline and its landmark bridges and monuments.  Many historic villas  – or yalıs as they’re known in Turkish – have been restored in recent years and make a great display as we cross over to the Asian side and stop briefly for a stroll along the lively waterfront and then resume our cruise back to the historic city centre. (Overnight Hagia Sophia Mansions, Istanbul) BL

Bursa: Çelik Palace Hotel - 1 night

Day 8: Sunday 3 October, Istanbul – Bursa (by coach)
  • Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque)
  • Yesil Cami and Yesil Türbe (‘Green’ Mosque of Mehmet I and his ‘Green’ Tomb)
  • Upper Town district
  • Muradiye Complex (Mosque of Murat II and tiled and painted dynastic tombs)
  • Ulumay House Museum of historic costume and jewellery
  • Thermal Swimming pool & historical hamam (bathhouse), Hotel Çelik Palas

This morning we depart Istanbul and journey 154km south to Bursa, the first capital of the emerging Ottoman empire after it was taken from the Byzantine empire in 1326. The modern-day town sprawls for some distance from its historic and well-preserved centre and sits in the shadow of Mount Uludag, one of a number of Turkish mountains to claim the title of Mount Olympus.

Every sultan from 1326 until 1451 built a mosque or a tomb in Bursa, so it is possible to trace the earliest development of Ottoman building styles and see outstanding examples of early tilework. Monuments such as the early 15th-century Green Tomb and Green Mosque are more closely related to architecture and decoration of the Seljuk dynasty of the 13th century than they are to later Ottoman buildings. Mehmet I’s Green Mosque commissioned in 1421, is one of the most refined mosques built by the Ottomans before the conquest of Constantinople. There are many well-preserved houses in Bursa, several of which are now operating as house museums.

On arrival at our Bursa hotel we have the opportunity enjoy the hotel’s thermal swimming pool and spa which includes a restored hamam. This evening we dine together at the hotel’s restaurant. (Overnight Bursa) BLD

Istanbul: Pera Palace Hotel - 2 nights

Day 9: Monday 4 October, Bursa – Iznik – Istanbul (by coach)
  • Emir Han & Koza Han (silk karavansaray) bazaar area, Bursa
  • Lakeside lunch, Iznik
  • Roman and Byzantine Nicaea, Iznik

We begin the day by exploring the karavansaray area, centre of the traditional silk markets that marked the end point of the fabled Silk Route from Central Asia and China. The rent from the various market stalls once provided the upkeep for the city’s mosques.

Mid-morning we depart Bursa for Istanbul. Our journey takes us via Iznik, a busy Turkish town that was once Roman Nicaea and a flourishing centre of the 13th century Byzantine empire. It was here at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD that the liturgical statement of belief was first adopted by the Christian Church.

After lunch at a lakeside restaurant, we visit the Roman and Byzantine walls, towers and gates of the town that are still reasonably preserved, as is the church of Hagia Sophia, converted to a mosque in Ottoman times and still used today. In the 17th century, Iznik became famous as the centre of production of the glazed ceramics and tiles that contributed to the so-called ‘golden age’ of Ottoman art during the reign of Süleyman the ‘Magnificent.

In the late afternoon we continue the drive to Istanbul and check in to the recently-restored Pera Palace Hotel, built in 1892 to host passengers arriving from Europe on the legendary Orient Express. (Overnight Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul) BL

Day 10: Tuesday 5 October, Istanbul
  • Beyoglu and Istiklal Caddesi: Contemporary Art Galleries
  • Istanbul Modern art museum, private tour of Arter, various Istanbul Biennal venues
  • Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence
  • Farewell Dinner at the Pera Palace Hotel

We start the day with a stroll through the Pera Palace Hotel’s neighbourhood of consulates, elegant apartments buildings, restaurants, bars and music venues. The Beyoglu district is considered the heart of the modern city with the pedestrian thoroughfare, Istiklal Caddesi, its main artery. Many private art galleries and design workshops have gravitated here in the past decade and form a network of venues for Istanbul’s famed Art Biennal which will be in full-swing during our visit. We visit Istanbul’s newest contemporary art museum, Arter, and have a private tour of its outstanding architecture by Grimshaw Architects, London, and view it changing exhibits.

Afterwards, a visit to Orhan Pamuk’s quirky, Museum of Innocence, allows a glimpse of a bohemian residential neighbourhood and insight into the world of Turkey’s esteemed, Nobel-prize winning, writer. Our farewell dinner is taken in the grand surrounds of the Pera Palace Hotel. (Overnight Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul) BD

Day 11: Wednesday 6 October, Depart Istanbul
  • At leisure/Check out
  • Airport transfer for participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight

Our tour officially ends today. Passengers travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport for the return flight to Australia. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Istanbul. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B



11-day Cultural Tour of Istanbul

ASA has selected 4- and 5-star hotels that are themselves historical buildings and/or are located in historical centres. All hotels provide rooms with en suite bathroom.. Further information on hotels will be provided in the ‘Tour Hotel List’ given to tour members prior to their departure.

  • Istanbul (7 nights): 4-star Hagia Sofia Mansions Istanbul, Curio Collection by Hilton – located in the heart of Istanbul, this 19th-century hotel comprising of individual mansions, is a 2-minute walk from the Aya Sofya and the Sultanahmet Mosque. www.curiocollection3.hilton.com *Please note, the traditional mansions are not equipped with elevators. Hotel staff are happy to assist with any luggage, or alternatively you could request a lower-floor room, which are subject to availability.
  • Bursa (1 night): 5-star BB Çelik Palace Hotel – an historic hotel founded in 1935 by Atatürk, featuring a magnificent domed marble thermal pool. www.bluebayresorts.com
  • Istanbul (2 nights): 5-star Pera Palace Hotel – established in 1892 by the French-Ottoman architect Alexander Vallaury, the Pera Palace is a special category museum hotel designed in Neoclassical, Art Nouveau and Oriental styles. Built for the purpose of hosting the passengers of the Orient Express, detective writer Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was allegedly written in the hotel. The hotel offers spectacular views of the Golden Horn, an indoor pool, and luxurious rooms with city views in the historical Pera district of Istanbul. www.perapalace.com

NoteHotels are subject to change. In this instance a hotel of similar standard will be provided.

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation in a double (or twin) room for single occupancy throughout the tour. The number of rooms available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

How to book

How to Book

Making a Tentative Reservation before the tour price has been published


Some ASA tours fill almost immediately. Don’t miss out! You can register your ‘Intention to Travel’ by completing this application and returning this to ASA with a AUD $100.00 per person deposit. Once the tour price has been published, the itinerary and ASA Reservation Application Form will be sent to you. From the time you receive the itinerary you will have two weeks to either:

  • Send us a completed ASA Reservation Application Form together with an additional deposit of AUD $400.00 per person. On receipt of this Reservation Application and deposit, ASA will process your booking and if approved, send you a tour confirmation. At this time your deposit of AUD $500.00 is subject to the tour’s Booking Conditions.


  • CANCEL your Intention to Travel in writing. ASA will refund your AUD $100.00 per person deposit, less a $33.00 service fee (including GST).

Participation Criteria

To participate in an ASA tour, you must be reasonably fit, in good health and able to participate in all activities without assistance from Tour Leaders or other tour members. If you require assistance, a fit and able travel companion must undertake to accompany and assist you with all tasks for the duration of the whole tour. ASA’s ability to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your specific needs, your health and safety and the health and safety of other tour members, is of paramount importance to us. For this reason the ASA Reservation Application includes a Medical Information section. As a general guideline, you must be able to accomplish each of these activities without assistance or support:-

  • walk and stand unassisted for at least 2-3 hours a day in hot, humid conditions
  • walk confidently on and over uneven surfaces
  • climb at least 3 flights of stairs
  • embark and disembark from ferries, buses and trains
  • walk up and down steep slopes
  • walk at a steady pace and no less than 1km every 15-20 minutes
  • organise, manage and carry your own luggage
  • follow and remember tour instructions
  • meet punctually at designated times and places
  • administer your own medication

Single Supplement

Payment of this supplement will ensure accommodation is for sole occupancy throughout the tour. The number of spaces available for single occupancy is extremely limited. People wishing to take this supplement are therefore advised to book well in advance.

Practical Information

Practical Information

The number of flags is a guide to the degree of difficulty of ASA tours relative to each other (not to those of other tour companies). It is neither absolute nor literal. One flag is given to the least taxing tours, seven to the most. Flags are allocated, above all, according to the amount of walking and standing each tour involves. Nevertheless, all ASA tours require that participants have a good degree of fitness enabling 2-3 hours walking or 1-1.5 hours standing still on any given site visit or excursion. Many sites are accessed by climbing slopes or steps and have uneven terrain.

This 11-day tour of Istanbul involves:
  • Exploring Istanbul on foot and by coach; excursion to Bursa & Iznik by private coach.
  • Extensive walking (up to 5km per day) and standing during museum and other site visits.
  • 4 to 5-star hotels with two hotel changes.
  • You must be able to carry your own hand-luggage. Hotel porterage includes 1 piece of luggage per person.

It is important to remember that ASA programs are group tours, and slow walkers affect everyone in the group. As the group must move at the speed of the slowest member, the amount of time spent at a site may be reduced if group members cannot maintain a moderate walking pace. ASA tours should not present any problem for active people who can manage day-to-day walking and stair-climbing. However, if you have any doubts about your ability to manage on a program, please ask your ASA travel consultant whether this is a suitable tour for you.

Please note: it is a condition of travel that all participants agree to accept ASA’s directions in relation to their suitability to participate in activities undertaken on the tour, and that ASA retains the sole discretion to direct a tour participant to refrain from a particular activity on part of the tour. For further information please refer to the ASA Reservation Application Form.

Practical Information

Prior to departure, tour members will receive practical notes which include information on visa requirements, health, photography, weather, clothing and what to pack, custom regulations, bank hours, currency regulations, electrical appliances and food. The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers: www.smartraveller.gov.au

Tour Price & Inclusions

Tour Price & Inclusions

AUD $TBA Land Content Only – Early-Bird Special: book before 30 September 2020

AUD $TBA Land Content Only

AUD $TBA Single Supplement

For competitive Economy, Business or First Class airfares and/or group airfares please contact ASA for further information.

Tour Price (Land Content Only) includes:
  • Accommodation in twin-share rooms with private facilities in 4-5-star hotels.
  • Meals indicated in the tour itinerary, where: B=breakfast, L=lunch & D=dinner
  • Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
  • Bottled water during excursions
  • Transportation by air-conditioned coach as indicated in the tour itinerary
  • Airport-hotel transfers if travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Porterage at hotels and airports
  • Lecture and site-visit program
  • Tour Notes
  • Entrance fees to museums and monuments
  • National guide in Turkey
  • Use of audio headsets during site visits
  • Tips for the coach driver, local guides and restaurants for included meals.
Tour Price (Land Content Only) does not include:
  • Airfare: Australia – Istanbul, Istanbul – Australia
  • Personal spending money
  • Airport-hotel transfers if not travelling on ASA ‘designated’ flights
  • Luggage in excess of 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • Travel insurance
  • Turkish Visa
Tour Map

Tour Map

Terms & Conditions

A deposit of $500.00 AUD per person is required to reserve a place on an ASA tour.

Cancellation Fees

If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:

  • More than 120 days before departure: $500.00**
  • 120-46 days prior 30% of total amount due
  • 45-0 days prior 100% of total amount due

**This amount may be credited to another ASA tour departing within 12 months of the original tour you booked. We regret, in this case early-bird discounts will not apply.

We take the day on which you cancel as being that on which we receive written confirmation of cancellation.

Unused Portions of the Tour

We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.

Will the Tour Price or Itinerary Change?

If the number of participants on a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates ASA reserves the right to amend the advertised price. We shall, however, do all in our power to maintain the published price. If an ASA tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all tour monies paid. Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of ASA make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes in due course.

Travel Insurance

ASA requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. A copy of your travel insurance certificate and the reverse charge emergency contact phone number must be received by ASA no later than 120 days prior to the commencement of the tour.

Final Payment

The balance of the tour price will be due 120 days prior to the tour commencement date.

Limitation of Liability

ASA is not a carrier, event or tourist attraction host, accommodation or dining service provider. All bookings made and tickets or coupons issued by ASA for transport, event, accommodation, dining and the like are issued as an agent for various service providers and are subject to the terms and conditions and limitations of liability imposed by each service provider. ASA is not responsible for their products or services. If a service provider does not deliver the product or service for which you have contracted, your remedy lies with the service provider, not ASA.

ASA will not be liable for any claim (eg. sickness, injury, death, damage or loss) arising from any change, delay, detention, breakdown, cancellation, failure, accident, act, omission or negligence of any such service provider however caused (contingencies). You must take out adequate travel insurance against such contingencies.

ASA’s liability in respect of any tour will be limited to the refund of amounts received from you less all non-refundable costs and charges and the costs of any substituted event or alternate services provided. The terms and conditions of the relevant service provider from time to time comprise the sole agreement between you and that service provider.

ASA reserves the sole discretion to cancel any tour or to modify itineraries in any way it considers appropriate. Tour costs may be revised, subject to unexpected price increases or exchange rate fluctuations.

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