(NOTE: This program is available on ANY day of the week. Just ask!)
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 tour exploring the following:
* 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, 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)
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 can drop you off at the Grand Bazaar and give you time to explore and shop.
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 down to Kusadasi, evening arrival in Kusadasi, check in the hotel.
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 be transferred to Ephesus for your comprehensive full-day tour.
We'll tour Turkey's most impressive Roman and Biblical sites, in what promises to be one of your most memorable excursions in Turkey.
*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.
*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'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 8 - Pamukkale to Fethiye - (B/D)
After breakfast, we will provide a bus transfer from Pamukkale to Oludeniz/Fethiye. Upon arrival, you will check into your hotel and have a free day to relax and swim on Oludeniz's beautiful blue lagoon beach Overnight in Oludeniz
Monday, Day 9 - Fethiye's Coves - (B/D)
After breakfast, we will meet you in your Fethiye or Oludeniz hotel and transfer you to the Fethiye port for your departure. Check-in at the Gulet (yacht), with a departure from Fethiye Harbour between 11 and 12 PM to Samanlik Bay for swimming and lunch. Butterfly Valley is our next stop for a swim and to visit the nature reserve.
Afterwards, you will cruise on to Oludeniz (blue lagoon). Overnight at St. Nicholas Island
Tuesday, Day 10 - Fethiye to Kas - (B/L/D)
An early start for Yesilköy where you will have breakfast and time to swim in this quiet bay surrounded by olive trees. Then we will journey on to Kas, a small harbour town with a charming Bohemian atmosphere.
You'll spend the night in Kas's harbour.
Wednesday - Day 11 - Kas to Kekova - (B/L/D)
A short cruise to the ruins at Kekova, Kalekoy, Ucagiz (the Sunken City). Lunch is at Tersane Bay where you'll see the ruins of a Byzantine church, ancient Roman ruins under the water and along the beach. As you sail on to Gökkaya for the night, the underwater ruins of ancient Gökkaya are also visible.
Thursday - Day 12 - Kekova to Demre then to Antalya - (B)
After breakfast in Demre, it's time to say good bye to your shipmates, gulet & crew. Then we will be transferred to Antalya, upon arrival you will check into your hotel that is located in the old part and after check in you will have a free day to relax and explore Antalya at your own pace. Overnight stay in Antalya.
Friday - Day 13 - Antalya - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will take you on a full-day tour of Side, Perge, Aspendos and to the Manavgat Waterfalls. Pick-up time will be around 9:00 AM after breakfast.
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
Saturday, Day 14 - Antalya - (B)
After breakfast, you will have a free day to relax and explore Antalya at your own pace.
Overnight in Antalya
Sunday, Day 15 - 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
Monday, Day 16 - 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 17 - 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.
Wednesday, Day 18 - 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
Thursday - Day 19 - Nemrut Tour then to Urfa - (B/L/D)
Around 3:00 am in the morning 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 still stand watch. We will visit the nearby capital of the Commagene Kingdom, Arsaemia; a tumulus on Karakus Hill as well as Cendere Bridge. We will then hea to Sanliurfa.
* Mount Nemrut : 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.
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
Friday - Day 20 - Urfa to Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to Urfa Airport and put you on a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, we will take you to your hotel to drop your luggage, and then give you a lift to the Grand Bazaar so you can do your last-minute shopping. You will then have a free evening to relax and explore Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul
Saturday - Day 21 - Istanbul to Home - (B)
Gule, Gule! It is 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 hope that our paths cross again!
Prices are starting from 2185 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels
* 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 Urfa to Istanbul
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli Museum, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale Perge, Aspendos, and all sites in Cappadocia and Nemrut
* 3-night, 4-day Blue Cruise (full board)
* 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)