- Go on a self-drive wine tour of Turkey's Thrace region
- Visit historic towns dating back to the Bronze Age
- Tour Istanbul and see impressive landmarks like Hagia Sophia
|Day 1||Arrive in Istanbul, Drive to Lüleburgaz||Lüleburgaz|
|Day 2||Free day in Lüleburgaz||Lüleburgaz|
|Day 3||Lüleburgaz to Tekirdağ||Tekirdağ|
|Day 4||Tekirdağ to Istanbul, Walking & Boat Tours||Istanbul|
Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul, Transfer to Lüleburgaz
Welcome to Turkey! This culturally rich nation is a geographic and cultural bridge between the Middle East and the West. It's been a central plot point on the global map ever since the days of the old Silk Road, and few cities in the world represent such a melting pot of cultures quite like Turkey's largest, Istanbul. This city lies on the Bosphorus Strait, which divides it into European and Asian halves, thus bridging the two continents. It's known for awe-inspiring architecture spanning the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and delicious food.
Upon arrival at the airport, pick up your rental car and travel about two hours west from Istanbul toward Europe. This area is part of Thrace, a region that borders Greece and Bulgaria. The ancient Thracians were known for, among other things, their winemaking prowess. Ancient wine routes in this part of Turkey led to the coast where Thracians would ship countless barrels to Italy and France. Turkish wine production slowed during the early 20th century but has since enjoyed a renaissance with new, family-run wineries popping up.
Your destination is Lüleburgaz, a city in Kırklareli Province, the center of viticulture in Turkey since the 3rd century BCE. You'll learn why on a visit to a winery for a tour and tasting. Thrace's location is ideal for wine production for many reasons: the alluvial soil is perfect for grape-growing; the winds off the nearby Istranca Mountains offer a fresh breeze to cool the grapes; and the Aegean and Black seas that flank the region moderate its climate. The result is winemakers can produce a wide array of varietals—from cabernet sauvignon to pinot gris to narince—with minimum manipulation.
After the wine tour, you'll return to the hotel in Lüleburgaz, where you'll stay overnight.
Day 2: Free day in Lüleburgaz
Today you can spend driving around the various wineries in Kırklareli Province. Another optional activity is a visit to Vize for a self-guided walking tour. Located in the foothills of the Istranca Mountains near the Black Sea coast, this town was once the capital of an ancient Thracian tribe. Several impressive Byzantine landmarks still stand today and include the remains of an amphitheater plus the town's significant highlight, Hagia Sophia. This church dates to the 5th or 6th century CE, and today it is a mosque.
Day 3: Lüleburgaz to TekirdağIn the morning, you'll hop back in the car and drive from Lüleburgaz to Tekirdağ. This lovely coastal city sits on the Sea of Marmara and is also part of the Thrace region, meaning plenty of great wineries are around. First, though, you'll learn more about this region's deep history on a fascinating tour of the Tekirdağ Museum of Archaeology and Ethnography.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Tekirdağ to Istanbul, Walking & Boat ToursAfter breakfast, you'll make the return trip to Istanbul and drop off your rental car. Then, once you've checked into your hotel, you'll head out and explore the city on a walking tour. Your guide will take you right to the heart of Istanbul, around the lively Karaköy and Galata districts. Important landmarks include St. Antoine's Church (the largest Catholic Church in Istanbul), the 19th-century Tünel (the oldest underground train in Europe), and Neve Shalom Synagogue.
Then head up Galata Tower. This 14th-century watchtower was built by the Genovese and offers stunning views of the European side of Istanbul, the Golden Horn waterway, the Bosphorus, and south to the Historical Peninsula (Old City). Then head down to the waterfront enclave of Karaköy via the stunning Camondo Steps. This curved stairway was built in the 1870s in an Art Nouveau, Gaudi-esque style you have to see to believe. Afterward, cross the Golden Horn via the Galata Bridge before arriving at the Eminönü waterfront, known for its many bazaars.
At the waterfront, board a boat for a 2-hour excursion along the Bosphorus. You can admire the shores of both the European and Asian sides of the city from the deck. This vantage point reveals the full scope of Istanbul and how all its minarets, ancient buildings, and colorful homes dotting the hills comprise one of the most impressive skylines in the world.