(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).
Day - 1: Istanbul - Safranbolu
11:00 AM: Departure from your hotel, we will transfer you to Istanbul's main bus terminal.
12:00: Depart from Istanbul for a 5-hour bus ride to Safranbolu. Upon your arrival, the hotel manager will be there, holding a sign displaying your name(s); then, you'll be transferred to the hotel, an antique Ottoman-style house that's been recently restored and has stayed true to the orginal decor and furnishings. After you check in, the evening is yours to rest, relax and explore.
Safranbolu is a quaint and traditional Black Sea town with narrow cobblestone streets and shops; there are many restored Ottoman dwellings here, and, therefore, Safranbolu has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Ottoman times, the town lay on a major trade route. Its many handsome three-story stone-and-timber konaks (mansions) were erected by wealthy merchants and craftsmen. In the summer, these people lived in the cooler Baglar district, and in winter, they moved to the more sheltered Carsi (bazaar) quarter around the Kazdagi Mosque.
Overnight in Safranbolu
Day - 2: Safranbolu - (B)
After breakfast, you will depart from your hotel for a day trip to Amasra; we'll enjoy a beautiful 1-hour scenic drive through little mountain villages. Once in Amasra, you'll have free time to explore. If the weather permits, you may choose to hire a boat for 15 Euros (approximate cost) for a 40-minute trip through the old city and its castles. Later in the afternoon, the driver will transfer you from Amasra to Safranbolu. Overnight in Safranbolu
In the 6th century BC, Amasra was known Sesamus, and its inhabitants were known as the Megara. The town has a lovely small harbour with a Roman bridge and watchtower, and is arguably the most charming town in the Black Sea region. Interesting places to see in the town include the Fatih Mosque, a Byzantine-era church and a 19th century harbor (iskele) mosque. Some portions of the Byzantine walls are still standing, as is a Roman-era bridge in the harbor.
Day - 3: Safranbolu - Amasya - (B)
After breakfast, you'll take a bus from Safranbolu to Ankara, which is about 3 hours. Once you arrive, you'll have a few hours of free time. (If you choose to stay in Ankara, we can extend your tour and provide a couple more nights' accommodation in Ankara.) You'll depart from the Ankara bus terminal for Amasya (5 hours). Once you arrive, you will be picked up and transferred to your hotel.
Overnight in Amasya
Day - 4: Amasya - (B)
Today is at your leisure to discover Amasya.
In Amasya, one can see the remnants of the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Ilhanli, and Ottoman civilizations, as well as many important buildings from the early days of the Republic of Turkey. Amasya's museums contain a wealth of cultural treasures, and the city itself is endowed with historical and cultural opulence. Amasya Yaliboyu Houses have two stories and are excellent examples of Ottoman architecture, and are now being restored by AKTAV (Foundation of Protecting Cultural and Natural Wealth).
Amasya is famous for its thermal springs, as well as its apples, cherries, peaches and okra. If you would like to experience natural beauty as well as deep-rooted cultural traditions, look no further than Amasya.
Overnight in Amasya
Day - 5: Amasya - Trabzon - (B)
After breakfast, you will depart for Trabzon by bus, cutting through the Black Sea mountains the entire way. After your arrival in Trabzon, you'll check into your hotel and have the evening free at leisure.
Overnight in Trabzon
Day 6: Trabzon and Sumela Monastery
After breakfast, we'll drive through the picturesque Pontic Mountains and continue with a full-day tour of Sumela Monastery, Gumushane and Karaca Cave.
* Sumela Monastery sits high up on the cliffs of Mela, southeast of Trabzon. It was founded in the 4th century by two Greek monks, Barnabas and Sophronius, who were guided to the site by an icon of a "black" image of the Virgin Mary, elegantly painted by St. Luke. After their deaths, Sumela became a place of pilgrimage. Decorated with frescoes, Sumela's treasures include priceless manuscripts and silver plates. Since the monastery was rebuilt several times, the ruins seen today date largely to the 19th century. During the Ottoman era, Sumela enjoyed the protection of the sultans, but it was ultimately abandoned and also badly-damaged during the War of Independence. In recent years, thankfully, extensive restoration has been carried out.
Overnight in Trabzon
Day 7: Trabzon - Ayder - (B/D)
After breakfast, we'll depart Uzungol and drive on to Ayder and visit tea and kiwi plantations on the way. We'll be driving through the Firtina Valley and visit Camlihemsin and Goksu Falls. Later, we'll arrive in Ayder and check into our Ottoman-era wooden hotel.
Overnight in Ayder
Day 8: Ayder - Kars - (B/D)
After breakfast, we'll depart Parhal and drive on to Kars, and check into our hotel. In the afternoon, we'll visit the medieval city of Ani, a ruined and uninhabited medieval Armenian city-site in Kars province, which sits alongside the Armenian border. It was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom which covered much of present-day Armenia and eastern Turkey.
A fortress once encircled Ani, with its most powerful defenses along the northern side of the city (the only part not protected by rivers or ravines). Overnight in Kars
Day 9: Kars to Dogubeyazit - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will depart Kars and drive to Dogubeyazit, a settlement with a long history. Dogubeyazit is in Turkey's most eastern district and is on the border with Iran. After arrival we will check into the hotel.
Overnight in Dogubeyazit
Day 10: Dogubeyazit - Van - (B/L/D)
After breakfast we will start the day exploring and visiting the Ishak Pasa Sarayi (Palace).
* Ishak Pasa Palace is an Ottoman-period palace whose construction began in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province. According to the inscription on its door, the Harem section of the palace was completed by his grandson Ishak (Isaac) Pasha in 1784. The Palace is more of a complex than it is a palace; it was the second-most important administrative center after Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The palace, built on the side of a mountain 5 km (3 mi.) east of Dogubeyazit, is a rare and magnificent example of the architectural style from the 18th-century Ottoman "Lale Devri" period.
After our visit, we'll be on our way to Van; on the way, we'll stop at Muradiye Falls, and also make other stops at scenic points where you may take pictures of Mt. Ararat. We then arrive in Van, whereupon you'll check into your hotel.
Overnight in Van
Day 11: Van - (B/D)
Today, you'll enjoy a full-day tour of the city of Van and surroundings.
Sites you will visit:
* Hosap Castle, situated on a craggy outcropping along many of the area's silk routes, was built in the 17th century. The castle is impressive in both its size and the view it affords.
* Akdamar Island is the island's main attraction. Other than its stunning location within Lake Van, it is the home to the 10th-century Armenian cathedral, the Church of the Holy Cross. It was built by Bishop Manuel during the King Gagik I, in 915-921 AD. The reddish volcanic stone of the church set against the backdrop of Lake Van'a vividly-blue waters makes for an instant and unforgettable impression. After visiting these sites we will return to our hotel.
Overnight stay in Van
Day 12: Van - Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide transfer to the Van Airport and put you on your 2-hour flight back to Istanbul.
*** End of program ***
We look forward to seeing you on a future trip!
Prices are starting from 1685 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All transportation in comfortable vehicles
* Centrally-located charming hotels with breakfast & 3 lunches
* Meals mentioned on the itinerary - with (B/L/D) codes
* Professional, English-speaking guides
* Entrance fees to ancient sites
* Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Trabzon
* Domestic flight tickets from Van to Istanbul
* All of the service charges and local taxes
* Drinks with meals