(This program is available on days other than Sunday, and can depart from any city; please ask for more details.)
Sunday, Day 1 - Arrival in Istanbul
HOS GELDINIZ! Welcome to Turkey! We will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. After a short briefing about your tour you will have the afternoon free to rest and explore Istanbul on your own. Overnight in Istanbul.
Monday, Day 2: Istanbul - (B/L)
This will be a full day of 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 lunch, we will visit:
* Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi), 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.
We'll also visit the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi - "covered market") After the tour we will return to your hotel. After the tour we will return to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul
Tuesday, Day 3: Istanbul - (B/L)
This will be a full day of exploring the historical sites of Istanbul.
Sites you'll see today:
* 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.
* 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..
* 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.
After the tour, we'll give you the option of going back to the Grand Bazaar to get in some souvenir shopping.
Overnight in Istanbul
Wednesday, Day 4: Istanbul to Canakkale - (B/L/D)
Early in the morning we will drive west, skirting the northern shore of the beautiful Sea of Marmara, heading towards the Aegean Sea.
Sites you’ll see today:
*Gallipoli (Gelibolu) and the Dardanelles --After our lunch, we willl devote our afternoon to visiting Gallipoli, where fierce World War I fighting took place between Allied forces and the Turkish Army. At ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Armed Corps) Cove, thousands lost their lives on one fateful dawn morning. We'll also visit other famous WWI battlesites and cemetaries in this area, including Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. From here, we'll board a ferry and cross the Dardanelles Strait. World War I history buffs will know that the Dardanelles Strait was a strategic crossing point for the Allied armies to cross from Europe into Asia Minor.
Over a 9-month campaign, more than half a million soldiers lost their lives in the struggle to control this strait and the nearby Gallipoli peninsula. Still today, many villagers in this quiet and peaceful region speak of seeing ghosts wandering the cemeteries and hearing the sounds of battle.
*Canakkale will be our final destination for today and where we will spend our evening. After dinner, you might want to stroll the harbor wall; here, locals buy sunflower seeds and take evening strolls with their families to watch the sunset. When they reach the end of the promenade, they turn around, perhaps buy ice cream and walk again. Why not join them? Overnight in Canakkale
Thursday, Day 5: Canakkale to Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
We continue our scenic drive along the Aegean, stopping for photo opportunities and perhaps to indulge the taste buds at one of
We continue our scenic drive along the Aegean, stopping for photo opportunities and perhaps to indulge the taste buds at one of the many farmer road side stands that sell olives, figs, pistachios, and other seasonal fruits. We then will head east towards Troy.
*Troy (Truva) is the ancient site written about by Homer in the classic Iliad. It dates back to approximately 3,000 BC and has been the site of nine different cities through the thousands of years it has been in existence. Upon entering Troy, a large wooden Trojan horse full-scale reproduction will dominate your view. You'll definitely want to climb up and get your picture taken! There is also a small museum on-site to help you get oriented.
After lunch, you will depart from Canakkale, driving along the Aegean Sea south to the seaside city of Kusadasi. Upon arriving, you will check into your hotel. Overnight in Kusadasi
Friday, Day 6: 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 to Ephesus for your comprehensive full-day tour of some of Turkey's most impressive Roman and Biblical sites, in what promises to be some of your most memorable days in Turkey.
*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 7: Kusadasi to Pamukkale - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, we will depart from Kusadasi to Pamukkale; upon arrival we will continue on the guided tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis. Our drive will take us through a rich agricultural area, teeming with cotton fields and fruit orchards.
* 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. 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. Over time, the city hosted large numbers of both Jewish and Christian residents.
After the tour we will provide a transfer to Denizli Airport for your 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, we will take you to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul
Sunday, Day 8: Istanbul to home - (B)
Gule, Gule! Farewell! It is time to go home. We will transfer you to the airport and wish you well, asking that you keep Turkey in your heart, and we hope to have the opportunity to serve you again
Prices are starting from 885 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels (each of them individually-chosen by guest)
* 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 Pamukkale to Istanbul
* Admission fees for Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, and Pamukkale
* All taxes and service charges
* International flight tickets to Istanbul
* Drinks with meals