(NOTE: This program is available on ANY day of the week. Just ask!)
Let us know if you need any assistance with transfers from your own Istanbul hotel (arrival or departure).
Tuesday - Day 1 - Arrival in Istanbul
HOS GELDINIZ! Welcome to Turkey! We'll meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. After a short briefing about your tour, you will have the afternoon to rest and explore Istanbul on your own. Overnight in Istanbul
Wednesday - Day 2: Sultanahmet District of Istanbul - (B/L)
This will be a full day exploring Istanbul's most historical monuments.
Sites you'll see today:
* Blue Mosque/Sultanahmet Mosque (Camii) built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. Due to its magnificent hand-dyed blue, green and white Iznik tiles it has been named the "Blue Mosque" by Europeans. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter; it also boasts 260 windows.
* Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya is a truly awe-inspiring, 1,400-year-old Byzantine cathedral which houses mosaics, relics and iron work. Hagia Sophia was, for nearly a thousand years, the largest enclosed space in the world, and still seen as one of the world's most important architectural monuments. It is one of Turkey's most popular attractions, drawn by the sheer spectacle of its size, architecture, mosaics and art. Built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD.
.* Hippodrome: the backdrop of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the ornaments which once decorated it, only three remain: The Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.
The Obelisk is in the Egyptian style and was erected in 1547 BC and stood 60m tall. The German Fountain is also within the hippodrome area, constructed in Germany to mark German Emperor Wilhelm II's second visit to Istanbul; it was imported and officially opened on January 1 1901. The fountain's three domes are decorated with gold mosaics.
* Topkapi Palace, the residence and administrative center of the Sultans during the Ottoman Empire, was constructed in 1459-1465 shortly after the establishment of Constantinople. You'll see the Treasury that houses the Topkapi Dagger, the 86-carat Spoon Maker's Diamond, and the jewel-encrusted bones of St. John the Baptist.
he Grand Bazaar will also be visited during the tour. Overnight in Istanbul
Thursday - Day 3: Istanbul - (B)
This will be a half-day exploring the historical sites of Istanbul.
* The Spice Bazaar/Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi) transports you back to the Silk Road days with its mystical aromas of various spices. Here, you'll also find other shops selling fruits, vegetables, teas, flowers, fish, and Turkish Delight (lokum).
* Bosphorus Cruise takes you though the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia; along its shores, you can take photographs of marble palaces and antique wooden Ottoman-era villas that sit beside luxurious modern residences.You will also see Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Ortakoy Mosque.
After the Bosphorus tour, you will be taken to the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) and given plenty of time to explore and shop. The Bazaar is one of the largest and one of the oldest, covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, attracting between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily. Overnight stay in Istanbul
Friday - Day 4: Istanbul - Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
Very early in the morning, we'll transfer you to the domestic airport for the 1-hour flight to Izmir, whereupon you'll then be transferred first to Ephesus for your comprehensive full-day tour.
We'll tour Turkey's most impressive Roman and Biblical sites, in what promises to be some of your most memorable days in Turkey, in addition to visiting other significant sites.
*Ephesus is the best-preserved classical cities from ancient times, and was inhabited by Greeks, Macedonians, Romans and Turks. St. Paul lived here circa 60 AD, when it was at its most populated at 250,000. During your visit, you’ll walk its stony boulevards, stand in the grand theatre, marvel at the beauty of the Celsus Library, the agora, as well as the baths, giving you the unique chance to get up-close-and-personal with history by literally being able to walk into it.
*The Temple of Artemis is situated in serene countryside celebrates the Greek goddess Artemis, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon. This temple, known as Artemision in Greek times, was the largest of its kind at the world.
*The House of The Virgin Mary, (Turkish: Meryemana Evi), high on a hill overlooking the town of Selcuk, is where it is believed that St. Mary came to live with St. John the Baptist in the later years of her life. Masses are held here on Sundays.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Saturday - Day 5: Kusadasi - Pamukkale - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we'll depart for Kusadasi and drive to Pamukkale; upon arrival, we'll continue on with a guided tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis.
* Pamukkale ("cotton castle" in Turkish) is the result of limestone formations created over thousands of years. Warm, calcium-rich mineral water from nearby thermal hot springs flowed over these cliffs and, as these waters cooled, they deposited the calcium that we see today.
* Hierapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits adjacent to Pamukkale. It was founded as an ancient healing care center in 190 BC, taking advantage of the mineral waters. It was one of the most important intellectual, artistic, religious and commercial centers of the Roman Empire. Overnight stay in Pamukkale
Sunday - Day 6: Pamukkale - Cappadocia - (B/L)
After breakfast, we'll depart Pamukkale and drive to Cappadocia; en route, we'll stop in Konya and have lunch near the Mevlana Museum.
* The Mevlana Museum is a holy site for Muslims because of its historical significance as a lodge of the whirling dervishes; in addition, the architecture and famous Iznik turquoise tiles make this a must-see.
(Note: a museum visit is not included in the guided tour, however, you may choose to either explore this site or to explore Konya.)
In the afternoon, we'll continue on to Cappadocia, where you will check into your hotel and have free time to relax and explore. Overnight in Urgup - Cappadocia
Monday - Day 7: Cappadocia - (B/L)
As we have a lengthy drive to our first destination, we'll be starting out quite early this morning. Today, we'll stroll through an amazing subterranean city where ancient Christians once hid from Arab invaders; we'll then wander through the Ihlara Gorge and spend time in a classic Anatolian village.
* Underground City of Derinkuyu--You'll gradually make your way down into the depths of the earth of this ancient settlement that has 18-20 floors which boast depths as long as 40 meters. (Don't worry, we'll only go down to the 8th floor!) Youll marvel at the fact that Derinkuyu is just one of 36 Cappadocian underground cities, which archaeologists date back to the time of the Hittites around 4,000 years ago.
* Ihlara Gorge is an oasis in the middle of the Anatolian plain. We'll explore the canyon and take in the beautiful green scenery as we stroll casually alongside the river. Here, you'll see ancient monasteries complete with pigeon holes carved into the cliffs by the monks; the pigeons acted as messengers to communicate with neighboring monks!
* Traditional Anatolian village -- You'll see head-scarved women in the fields (where they work from sun up until sundown) and the mustachioed, vest-wearing men hard-at-work playing cards or tavla (backgammon) in the kahvehane (coffee shop). You'll get time to stroll in a village such as this and see the average Turkish villager at work...or play. Overnight in Urgup - Cappadocia
Tuesday - Day 8: Cappadocia - (B/L)
This day will be devoted to exploring more of the unforgettable sights of Cappadocia.
(If you have purchased the optional hot-air ballooning tour, please note that you'll need to rise very early in the morning to go to the balloon-launch site. After the trip has concluded, we'll come back to the hotel for breakfast and have a rest before setting out in later in the morning to see the rest of the sites listed below.)
Sites you'll see today:
* Goreme Open-Air Museum - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Goreme is an ancient town carved right out of the rock (tufa); you'll explore Byzantine-era churches, chapels and monasteries which house wonderfully-preserved 11th- and 12th-century cave frescoes.
* Fairy Chimneys--This strange geological phenomenon was created over millions of years, and were formed during regional volcanic eruptions. Reaching at times 40 meters in height, they are conical in shape and have a whimsical "hat" top to them.
* Devrent Valley--This valley is known as "the pink valley" because of the color of its soil. This is a lovely place to wander about and really take in the magical rock formations indicative to Cappadocia, including the Fairy Chimneys.
* Uchisar Castle, also known as Uchisar Fortress, is actually a formation of two gigantic rocks surrounded by smaller ones that together, form a natural fortress with towers. These formations were inhabited during both the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
We'll also visit local crafts people and learn the special art of making dolls and traditional pottery.
Overnight in Cappadocia.
Wednesday - Day 9: Cappadocia - Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we'll provide transfer to Nevsehir Airport and put you on a 1 hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, we'll take you to your hotel to drop off your luggage. Then, we are available to give you a lift to the Grand Bazaar for your last-minute shopping. You will then have a free evening to relax and explore Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul
Thursday - Day 10: Istanbul - (B)
Gule, gule! It's time to go home. We will transfer you to the airport and wish you well, asking that you keep Turkey and all of us in your hearts. We do hope that our paths cross again.
* * * Program ends * * *
Prices are starting from 985 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels (each of them individually chosen )
* All land transfers in comfortable vehicles
* All meals mentioned in the itinerary ( B-breakfast, L-lunch & D-dinner )
* Professional, English-speaking tour guides
* Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Izmir
* Domestic flight tickets from Cappadocia to Istanbul
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Ephesus, Pamukkale, all Cappadocian sites
* All taxes and service charges
* International flight tickets to Istanbul
* Drinks with meals
* Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia (15 percent discount if booked with this tour )