Friday 2 to Monday 5 April 2021
Accommodation in a central 4* hotel
Direct flights Brussels Airlines
Although the title may suggest another epic road trip, this time we make a trip through the history of one of the world’s historically most influential cities. The only city that is literally on two different continents, Istanbul is not only strategically located but also boasts a stunning city panorama that few other cities have. During this long weekend we will discover both the European and Asian sides of the city formerly known as Constantinople, as well as the magnificent Bosporus sea strait that separates them. Learn about early Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and contemporary Istanbul during this long Easter Weekend. Visit extraordinary cultural and historic highlights with a local expert guide, such as the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar and Dolmabahci Palace. Enjoy the spectacular views from the water, and experience the amazing Turkish hospitality and food. This is another trip arranged from A to Z, and a great opportunity to finally visit this city in safety and comfort.
Alternative flights on Thursday evening or Friday evening possible!
This trip is not yet confirmed in terms of dates, program and time. Unfortunately, we also cannot yet give you a price indication. Expat Club is keen on adding Istanbul to the list of destinations and travel there with a group of fun people (max. 25-30 people). If you are interested, we would love to hear that. You can now pre-reserve a spot for free and without obligations. We will then inform you whenever we have more information available. If you are a member and logged in, simply click on the RSVP button. If you are not a member, you can register first and follow these stops, or simply submit your name and email address on this page. Membership is not required for any of our trips because we only offer this online option for those who want to connect more with others.
What is included in the trip fee?
We have a smartly designed schedule that allows us to see as much as possible without having the feeling that you have to run. We just want to avoid unnecessarily losing time by planning things well beforehand, including lunches and dinners, so you won’t have to think what to do next. A worry-free trip that includes the following items:
- Direct flights to/from Istanbul
- Airport transfers
- 3 nights in 4* hotel in Istanbul centre
- 3x buffet breakfast
- Dinner on Friday and Saturday
- Lunch on Friday and Saturday
- Private local transportation
- 3 days of guided tour in Istanbul
- Visit to all major tourist hotspots
- All entrance fees for group visits
- A great group of international people
- A lifetime expat memory
What is the trip fee?
At this moment we cannot yet tell you the trip price. We can just say that we are making use of a good 4* hotel, private transfers and guides, and that we include all entrance fees. We do so to ensure you will get the best possible experience and that you can focus on enjoying this amazing part of Europe.
Who can join us?
Expat Club is known for welcoming a wide variety of international people on its trips. This creates a special open-minded, safe and friendly environment in which everyone feels comfortable.
- Members & non-members
- Expats & (international) Belgians
- All ages, including children
- Singles / couples / retirees / friends / colleagues / families
Expat Club and families
Expat Club welcomes everyone, including families with children. However, due to the extended guided tours and the academic nature of this trip it is not meant for young children (we recommend at least 10-12 years old). Contact us if you are interested so we can ensure you get the right rooms and a family/child discount. These discounts are valid on the early-bird and regular trip fees (no further discounts apply, including pre-reservation discounts).
What is the group size?
For this trip we accept about 25 people.
As with all Expat Club trips we carefully think about the entire program to arrange a smooth trip for everyone. This includes the chosen flights, the location of our hotel, pre-reserved entrance times, organised lunches and dinners, good local transportation etc. In a city of 15 million, smart planning is more than essential because travelling from one place to another may take hours. Unforeseen things, such as traffic and road blocks, unexpected closed destinations etc, are likely to happen to stay. We always do our best to come up with the best possible alternative in collaboration with local guides, bus drivers, hotels and welcoming restaurants and museums. The below program is a first outline, but gives a good indication of what you can expect in combination with the next session on the destinations we visit. The program will be updated as soon as we can confirm this trip.
Friday 2 April
Morning or evening flight to Istanbul
Saturday 3 April
Sunday 4 April
Monday 5 April
Late afternoon / evening flight to Brussels
Let’s just say it like it is … Istanbul is huge! Quickly going around and visiting a few places is simply not possible. Therefore we develop a smart “plan of attack” so we can explore different parts of the city one by one, and minimise time in traffic. We cannot yet tell you the order of the visits, but we plan to visit the main sights on Saturday and Sunday (Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi, Dolmabahci etc), so for those who can only leave on Friday evening will not miss the key highlights.
Historic Areas of Istanbul With its strategic location on the Bosphorus peninsula between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul has been associated with major political, religious and artistic events for more than 2,000 years. Its masterpieces include the ancient Hippodrome of Constantine, the 6th-century Hagia Sophia and the 16th-century Süleymaniye Mosque, all now under threat from population pressure, industrial pollution and uncontrolled urbanization. (source: UNESCO World Heritage Website)
We begin in a highly mysterious place. If you don’t know about this, you may easily walk by. But it definitely needs to be part of our visit to the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul where we will also visit the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace.
The Blue Mosque
The beautiful Sultanahmet Camii mosque, or Blue Mosque, has been dominating the Istanbul skyline for 4 centuries. It provides space or 10.000 worshippers and is a major tourist attraction nowadays, together with the neighbouring Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia.
The Hagia Sophia
Few buildings in the world have a history that can match this 1500-year old domed structure. Finished in 537 AD, it was initially a Greek Orthodox Cathedral and later turned into an Ottoman mosque. Nowadays it is a museum and must be on the itinerary of any tourist visiting Istanbul.
To finish our day in this district we will visit the Topkapi Palace. It was built for the Ottoman sultanas and served as their residence and administrative buildings.
The Grand Bazaar
You can, like James Bond, take a motor cycle and drive over the red terracotta roofs of the Grand Bazaar, or like any normal person take one of the many entrances and enjoy this incredible maze of little shops. This complex is not too far from the Blue Mosque, so we will be able to spend the late afternoon here.
North side Golden Horn
Yesterday we saw the South Side of the Golden Horn, today we explore the other side of the Golden Horn, the old town of Istanbul with areas such as Karakoy, Taksim Square, Besiktas, and Ortakoy.
Built in the mid 1800s, this super opulent palace is located in the Besiktas district right on the Bosporus. The power of the Ottoman’s Empire was based here from 1857 to 1887 and from 1909 until 1922. Another palace was used from 1887 until 1909. After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey the palace was primarily used as a national and international conference center. It consists of many buildings, which all can be visited nowadays.
A must-see little neighbourhood is Ortaköy, a part of town with a multi-religious historical background. Nowadays the main attraction is Ottoman Neo-Baroque Ortaköy Mosque, which is built right on the waterfront providing great photo opportunities with the bridge in the background.
What the Thames is to London, or the Seine to Paris, is the Bosporus to Istanbul. Although this waterway does not concern a river, it runs through the city and is an unmistakable part of it. The Bosporus is also called the Strait of Istanbul and has a length of 31km. It is unique in the world, in the sense that it connects two salt water bodies, namely the Marmara Sea in the South and the Black Sea in the North. The width varies from 700 meters at its narrowest part and over 3km at its widest. The depth varies from 13 to 110 meters, and therefore it is open for large international sea ships. There are 2 massive suspension bridges connecting the European and Asian sides in Istanbul itself, and since 2016 there is another bridge at the Northern end, as well as a tunnel at the Southern end.
One thing is for sure, the Turkish love and are very proud of their food. As a foreign guest you will quickly find yourself in the middle of a gigantic feast of all kinds of meats, fruits and vegetables, juices, teas, coffees and a wide range of desserts. Just be warned, if you join this trip your weighing scale will certainly not have good news for you on Monday morning 😉
For your comfort, convenience, and safety, we will be staying in a good 4* hotel in Istanbul. We cannot yet share which hotel yet, but as usual we always pick good one at a great location and with good reviews. In this hotel you can choose between the following room types.
- Single room – 1 large bed for 1 person (surcharge applies)
- Double room – 1 large bed for 2 persons (a couple or parent/child)
- Twin room – 2 single beds for 2 persons (two friends sharing a room)
- Twin room – 2 single beds for 2 solo travellers who share a room
- Triple/family rooms – at request
Room sharing for solo travellers
If you travel alone, you can share a “twin room” with 2 single beds (only females shared rooms, male room upon request). We introduce you to the other travellers who also want to share a room. This means you don’t have to search for a friend who wants to join. We also do not assign you to a room, but you choose who you want to share the room with. You can select this room sharing option during the reservation processs. It is a perfect way to lower your costs and to meet another friendly expat.
For this trip we are in principle flying Turkish Airlines in collaboration with Brussels Airlines. Due to the relatively long flying time to Istanbul (for a European flight), scheduling our flight well is important. For the outbound flight there are 2 alternative flights, but they will come at the cost of you missing out on the late Friday afternoon and evening program. We will visit the most important sites on Saturday and Sunday though.
- Friday: Brussels 11h20 – Istanbul 15h50
- Friday: Brussels 14h50 – Istanbul 19h15 (alternative 1)
- Friday: Brussels 19h15 – Istanbul 23h40 (alternative 2)
- Monday: Istanbul: 19h15 – Brussels 21h50
- The trip will be carried out by Turkish Airlines in collaboration with Brussels Airlines
- The trip is carefully planned. Still, all timings are indicative and may change if required by circumstances.
- The trip is sold as a package. You cannot go with your own transportation or arrange your own accommodation. If there are specific things that you do not want in the package, please let us know.
- You are personally responsible for getting good cancellation and/or travel insurance that covers you for unforeseen emergencies and medical expenses before or during the trip.
- You are personally responsible for using the hotel room in an appropriate way. Any missing or broken items will be billed after the trip.
- Expat Club cannot be held liable for unforeseen delays that influence the program (e.g. missed guided tours), neither can Expat Club be held liable for weather-related cancellations or any other unforeseen events that influence the course of the trip, including, but not limited to technical problems with the coach, strikes, weather etc.
- Expat Club cannot be held liable for personal injuries during the trip, such as, but not limited to, things that happen during the guided tours. Joining this trip is safe but still at your own risk.
- If you do not find a room partner on your own, we will find one for you (male/male, female/female). During the outbound trip we will connect you with others in the same position. If you decide to take a single room during the trip, then you will have to fully pay for it yourself.
- If you book a double / twin room and your travel partner cancels, you will have to pay the single room supplement or share a room with another person (if available).