(This program can depart on any day of the week.)
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)
* 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 see:
* 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. 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 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)
In the morning we will meet you at your hotel and continue on the guided tour of Ephesus.
*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 take you back to your hotel. Overnight in Pamukkale
Sunday - Day 8 - Pamukkale to Antalya - (B)
After breakfast, we depart Pamukkale for a 4-hour scenic drive through the Taurus mountains to Antalya. Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel. Then, enjoy a free day to relax and explore Antalya at your own pace. Overnight in Antalya
Monday - Day 9 - Antalya - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will continue with a full-day guided tour (appx. 9 AM)
of Perge, Side and Aspendos.
* Perge is a magnificent example of how an ancient classical city looked. Records date it to roughly the 4th century BC. It was settled by the Greeks following the Trojan War, then visited by St. Paul and his disciples when it was a leading city of Pamphylia. It then fell under the leadership of Alexander the Great and eventually to the Byzantines. It was during the reign of Constantine that Perge became an important center of Christianity.
* Side was the site of Pamphyilia's largest port and was probably first colonized in the 7th BC. Coming from Cyprus, St. Paul would have very likely visited en route to Perge (another site you'll see today). The great ruins are among the most notable in Asia Minor. They cover a large promontory where a wall and a moat separate it from the mainland. During medieval times, the wall and moat were repaired, and the promontory housed a wealth of structures.
* Manavgat Waterfalls is where we'll have a cool rest, right next to the falls. Local vendors offer beverages and ice cream.
* Aspendos and Aspendos Theatre is another beautiful example of a well-preserved classical city that is most famous for its theatre, which dates to 160-180 AD. Depending on performance dates, we may be lucky enough to see a summer evening opera or ballet performance in a theatre that's widely-considered to be the most intact classical theatre in existence.
After the tour, we will return you to your hotel, where you will have a free evening to relax and explore Antalya on your own.
Overnight in Antalya
Tuesday - Day 10 - Antalya - (B/L)
After breakfast, around 9:30 AM, you will be picked up from your hotel to begin your full-day tour that includes a boat tour of Kekova.
After the tour, at appx. 7:00 PM, you will be transferred to your hotel (or you can opt to be dropped off elsewhere).
* Myra : In the shadow of the Church of Saint Nicolas, the ruins of Myra, its ancient city walls, and myriad rock tombs sit dramatically on a steep mountain slope.
* Kekova ("The Sunken City"): Kekova has a surface area of 5.7sq km and while the majority of its ruins are submerged underwater, they are visible. Kekova was declared a specially-protected area in 1990 by Turkish Ministry of Environments and Forestry
The Kekova region encompasses the island of Kekova, the villages of Kaleköy and Üçagiz and the four ancient towns of Simena, Aperlae, Dolchiste and Teimioussa.
* Kalekoy was a small village dating back to the Lydian civilization, and partially-submerged ruins of nearby Aperlae as well as a castle. Access to Kalekoy is only possible by boat.
* Ucagiz is another Lydian village one kilometer from Kaleköy, north of a small bay by the same name, with the ruins of Teimioussa to the east. The name "Ucagiz" means "three mouths", referring to its three exits to the open sea.
*Simena: The village of Kale, (known in ancient times as Simena) is a very charming historical site, with its underwater ruins and well-preserved fortification walls dating back to the Middle Ages. Most of the structures have two floors.
After the tour we will return you to your hotel.
* St. Nicholas Island: According to ancient sources, St. Nicolas, known the world over as Santa Claus, was born at the end of the 3rd century near the town of Patara ,(60 km west of Demre), to a wealthy family, was educated and devoted himself to the betterment of mankind. Overnight in Antalya
Wednesday - Day 10 - Antalya to Cappadocia - (B/L)
After breakfast, you will depart from Antalya for a scenic 4-hour drive to Konya. You will have some of the day to relax and explore Konya.
Site you will visit:
*The Mevlana Museum is an Islamic holy site as it is the former whirling dervishes lodge is here.
Around noon, you will depart from Konya and go on a 3-hour scenic drive
to Cappadocia. After arrival, you will check-in at the hotel & have a free day to relax and explore Cappadocia on your own.
Overnight in URGUP Cappadocia
Thursday - Day 11 - 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
Friday - Day 12 - Cappadocia to Istanbul - (B/L)
Today will be devoted to exploring more of Cappadocia's unforgettable sites.
(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.
After the tour we will provide a transfer to Nevsehir Airport and put you on a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, we will take you on to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
Saturday - Day 14 - Istanbul to Home - (B)
Gule, Gule! It is time to head for home. We will transfer you to the airport and wish you well, asking that you keep Turkey in your heart. We truly hope that our paths will cross again.
Prices are starting from 1585 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 Cappadocia to Istanbul
* Admission to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli Museum, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Perge, Aspendos, and sites in Cappadocia
* All taxes and service charges
* International flight tickets to Istanbul
* Drinks with meals
* Hot Air Balloon ride in Cappadocia (15% discount if booked with this tour)
(NOTE: This is a fully-customizable program and is available all year round. If you are interested in obtaining more information about early booking, cash-paying discounts, hotel names (and web sites), or daily departure times, simply send back to us your e-mail inquiry, letting us know the dates you wish to travel, and we'll get back with you very soon.