(This program is available May through late September.)
Thursday - Day 1 - Arrival in Athens - KALOS ORISATE! Welcome to Greece!
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/or explore Athens on your own. Overnight in Athens
Friday - Day 2 - Athens - (B)
After breakfast around 8:30 AM, we will meet you in the lobby of your hotel and take you on a guided tour of Athens.
You will first visit the Temple of Olympian Zeus; then we will continue on to Panathinaiko Stadium, where the first Olympic Games took place in 1896.
After that will drive by the Prime Minister's residence, Royal Palace, (guarded by the colorful Evzones), Zappion (Conference and Exhibition Hall), National Garden, Hadrian’s Arc, St. Paul’s Church, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Schlieman’s House (Numismatic Museum), Catholic Cathedral, Academy, University, National Library, Old Parliament, Constitution Square, the Russian Orthodox Church.
At the Acropolis, you'll visit Propylaea, the Temple of Athena (Nike), Parthenon, Erechtheion and the Museum of the Acropolis.
In the early afternoon, we will provide a transfer to your hotel, or we can also drop you off at the Plaka so you can wander and explore. Overnight stay in Athens
Saturday - Day 3 - Athens and Delphi - (B/L)
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel and will continue on with a full-day guided tour of Delphi. On the way, we will be passing by the OLYMPIC STADIUM, site of the 2004 Olympics. We continue on to Thebes, Levadia (short stop) and Arachova/Delphi, once known in ancient times as "the navel of the world". We'll pass by Castalia Spring, visit the Temple of Apollo famous for its oracle and its museum, with its spectacular artifacts, including the bronze Charioteer sculpture, the Naxian Sphinx and the Statue of Antinous.
After lunch, return to Athens via the picturesque mountain village of Arachova, which was built on the south slopes of Parnassus. This town is well-known for its attractive hand-woven carpets, rugs and quilts, as well as for its wine and cheese. After the tour, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Athens
Sunday - Day 4 - Athens - (Mycenae & Epidaurus ) - (B/L)
After breakfast, you will be picked up from your hotel for a trip to the Corinth Canal (short stop). Drive to Myceanae and visit the tomb of Agamemnon (optional stop for souvenirs).
After lunch, we pass through Argos, and proceed to Nauplia, the first capital of modern Greece with its Venetian fortress, Palamii; we will also see the fortified islet of Bourtzi (short stop).
Continue to Epidaurus and visit the ancient theatre, world-famous for its outstanding acoustics. Finally, we'll drive along the coastal road along the Saronic Gulf to Athens. You will then be transferred back to your hotel. Overnight in Athens
Monday - Day 5 - Athens to Mykonos & overnight cruise to Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Piraeus Harbour where you will board your ship. After checking into your cabin, you will have free time to relax and get acquainted with the boat. We'll depart for Mykonos around 11:00 AM; arriving at around 6:00 PM. You'll then have until midnight to explore the island. We'll then set sail for Kusadasi, Turkey.
Tuesday - Day 6 -
Kusadasi to Patmos - then overnight cruise to Rhodes - (B/L/D)
HOS GELDINIZ! Welcome to Turkey!
At 7:00 AM, when you arrive in Kusadasi, your tour guide will meet you and take you on your guided tour of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis.
*Ephesus is the best-preserved classical cities from ancient times, and was inhabited by Greek, Macedonian (Hellenes) , Romans and Turks. St. Paul lived here circa 60 AD, when it was it most populated at 250,000. During your visit, you’ll walk its 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.
After the tour's completion, you will be transferred to the harbour where you will board the ship for your next destination, Greece's Patmos Island. Upon arrival, you will have free time to wander about the island. We'll depart Patmos at midnight for an overnight cruise to Rhodes (Rodos) Island.
Wednesday - Day 7 - Rhodes to Crete (B/L/D)
You will have until 6:00 PM tonight to explore Rhodes at your leisure. (Ask us about optional day tours to help acquaint you with the island.
*Rhodes: in ancient times, Rhodes was home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World - the Colossus of Rhodes. This giant bronze statue once stood in the harbour. It was completed in 280 BC, but was destroyed in an earthquake in 224 BC. No trace of the statue remains today. However, the fortification walls and towers that once protected the citizens of Rhodes Town are still intact.
Evening departure from Rhodes to Crete. Overnight onboard
Thursday - Day 8 - Crete to Santorini then to Athens - (B/L/D)
Your tour guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of the ancient city of Knossos,
the ceremonial and political center of the ancient Minoan civilization.
* Knossos remained important all throughout the Classical and Roman periods, but its population eventually moved to the town of Handaq (modern-day Heraklion) during the 9th century AD. By the 13th century, it was called Makryteikhos ('long wall'); however, the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves the Bishops of Knossos all the way up until the 19th century. Today, the name is used only for the archaeological site itself.
At about 11:30 AM, we'll depart Crete (from Heraklion town) for Santorini, arriving at around 4:30 PM. You will have free time to explore Santorini until 9:00 PM. At midnight, 12:00 AM we'll bid farewell to Santorini and head to Athens. Overnight onboard
Friday - Day 9 - Athens to Istanbul then Pamukkale - (B/D)
We arrive early in the morning at Athens' Pireaus Harbour, where you'll then be transferred to the arport for your 1-hour, 20-minute flight to Istanbul. Here, you will transfer planes for your domestic flight to Denizli/Pamukkale.
Upon arrival in Denizli, you will be met and transferred to your thermal spa hotel; after check-in, you will have the day free to relax, swim and enjoy your day in Pamukkale. Tonight's dinner will be at the hotel.
Overnight in Pamukkale
Saturday - Day 10 - 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 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. Overnight stay in Pamukkale
Sunday - Day 11 - Pamukkale to Antalya - (B)
After breakfast, we will depart Pamukkale for a 4-hour scenic drive through the Taurus mountains to Antalya, whereupon arrival you will check into your hotel that is located in the old section of the city. You will then have the rest of the day free to relax and explore Antalya at your own pace. Overnight in Antalya
Monday - Day 12 - Antalya - (B/L)
Around 9:00 AM, you will be picked up from your hotel.
All day you will explore the ruins of Side, Perge, Aspendos and Manavgat Waterfall. We can either transfer you back to your hotel or drop you off at the down town. 6:00 PM is the approximate time for the tour's conclusion.
Sites you'll see today:
* 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.
Overnight in Antalya
Tuesday - Day 13 - 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:
*Mevlana Museum, 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
Wednesday - Day 14 - 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
Thursday - Day 15 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
Today 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.
If time permits, we'll also visit local craftspeople and learn the special art of making dolls and traditional pottery.
Overnight in Cappadocia
Friday - Day 16 - Cappadocia to Nemrut - (B/D)
In the morning, we will depart from Cappadocia and go on a scenic drive to Adiyaman. On the way, we will stop and enjoy lunch and also enjoy the world famous Maras' ice cream (dondurma) After arrival we will check in the hotel. Overnight in Adiyaman - Kahta
Saturday - Day 17 - Mt. Nemrut then to Urfa - (B/L/D)
Around 3:00 AM, we will start our tour and drive up to Nemrut Mountain to watch the sunrise. It is truly a postcard setting as the amazing statues of the ancient Commagene Temple continue to stand watch. We will visit the nearby capital of the Commagene Kingdom, Arsaemia; a tumulus (mounds made of earth and stone built atop graves) on Karakus Hill as well as Cendere Bridge.* Mount Nemrut is a high mountain that has a number of massive statues from the 1st century BC.
King Antiochus (Theos of Commagene) was in power when the tomb-sanctuary was built. It is flanked by massive statues (8–9 m/26–30 ft high) of himself, two lions, two eagles and various Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods, such as Hercules-Vahagn, Zeus-Aramazd or Oromasdes (associated with the Iranic god Ahura Mazda), Tyche, and Apollo-Mithras. These statues were once seated, with names of each god inscribed on them. The heads of the statues have at some stage been removed from their bodies, and they are now scattered throughout the site.
The western terrace contains a large slab with a lion, showing the arrangement of stars and the planets Jupiter, Mercury and Mars on the day of July 7, 62 BC. This may be an indication of when construction began on this monument. The eastern portion is well-preserved, being composed of several layers of rock, and a path following the base of the mountain is evidence of a walled passageway linking the eastern and western terraces.
We will then head to Sanliurfa.
After lunch, we will explore more of Urfa, a city that's not only famous for its "Urfa Kebap", but also for its great historical past: the Lake of Sacred Fish, the Halilurrahman Mosque and the Dersa Mosque.
Near Urfa, which borders Syria, we come across the famed city of Mesopotamia, Harran, with earthen mud huts and its palace and mosque ruins. Overnight in Urfa
Wednesday - Day 18 - Urfa to Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to the Urfa Airport for a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, we will take you to your hotel to drop off your luggage. If you would like to go to the Grand Bazaar for any last-minute shopping, we can take you there. You will then have a free evening to relax and explore Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul
Thursday - Day 19 - Istanbul - (B)
After a short briefing about your tour, you will commence on a half-day orientation tour 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. Overnight in Istanbul
Friday - Day 20 - Istanbul - (B/L)
This will be a full day of exploring the historical sites of Istanbul.
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.
* Kucuk Aya Sofya (Little Aya Sofya) and the Grand Bazaar will also be visited during the tour. Overnight in Istanbul
Saturday- Day 21 - Istanbul to your next destination - (B)
Gule, Gule! Farewell! It's time to go home. We will transfer you to the airport and wish you well, asking that you keep Turkey in your heart. We hope that our paths cross again soon.
Prices are starting from 2585 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels
* All land transfers with comfortable vehicles
* All of the meals mentioned in the itinerary (B-breakfast, L-lunch & D-dinner)
* Professional, English-speaking tour guides
* International flight tickets from Athens to Istanbul
* Domestic flight tickets from Istanbul to Pamukkale
* Domestic flight tickets from Urfa to Istanbul
* 6-day Greek Island hopping cruise - with full board
* Private shore excursions to Ephesus and Knossos
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli Museum, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, all of the sites in Antalya, Cappadocia, Nemrut and Urfa.
* 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)