(This program is available any day of the week.)
Sunday - Day 1 - Arrival in Istanbul
As we say in Turkey, 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)
Sites you will see today:
* 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
After lunch we will continue on the tour and 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") and the 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 day of exploring more of Istanbul's most iconic sites:
* 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)
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 first to Ephesus for your comprehensive full-day tour.
*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 your hotel. Overnight in Pamukkale
Sunday - Day 8 - Pamukkale to Cappadocia - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will depart from Pamukkale and drive to Cappadocia; on the way we will stop and visit the Mevlana Museum in Konya.
* Mevlana Museum is a holy site for Muslims because it is the former lodging place for the whirling dervishes. The architecture and turquoise tiles make for a stunning backdrop. (Note: we don't offer a guided tour for this, but you can explore this site on your own.)
In the afternoon, we will provide a transfer to Cappadocia; after arrival you will check in the hotel & have a free day to relax and explore Cappadocia on your own. Overnight stay in Urgup - Cappadocia
Monday - Day 9 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
Today will be spent walking through an underground city where ancient people once fled for their lives escaping the Arab invaders, wandering through Ihlara Gorge and spending time in an Anatolian village.
Sites you’ll see today:
* 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 Cappadocia
Tuesday - Day 10 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
(For those who have purchased the optional hot air ballooning tour of Cappadocia: very early in the morning you will wake up to go to landing site. After this, we will come back to the hotel for breakfast and a short rest before setting out in late morning to see the rest of the sites.
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. Overnight in Cappadocia
Wednesday - Day 11 - Cappadocia to Istanbul then to Athens - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to Nevsehir Airport and put you on a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival you'll go to the International Departures terminal to board your 1-hour 20-minute flight to 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 explore Athens on your own. Overnight in Athens
Thursday - Day 12 - 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 explore Temple of Olympian Zeus, Panathinaiko Stadium (where the first Olympic Games took place in 1896). After that, we will drive by the Prime's Minister's residence, the Royal Palace, (guarded by 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, Russian Orthodox Church
At the ACROPOLIS, you will visit Propylaea, 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
Friday - Day 13 - Athens - (B)
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
Saturday - Day 14 - Athens to Mykonos
Very early in the morning, you will be transferred to the Athens Ferry Port, for a fast ferry to Mykonos. After arriving in Mykonos, you will be transferred to your hotel. You'll then have a full free day to relax and explore the island on your own.
Overnight in Mykonos
Sunday - Day 15 - Free day in Mykonos - (B)
Breakfast in the hotel; free day to relax and explore Mykonos Island.
Overnight stay in Mykonos
Located in the middle of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is one of the most popular islands in Greece. With its crystal clear beaches, charming windmills, waterfront cafes and shops, archeological sites and nightlife, Mykonos has something for everyone.
Archaeological finds indicate that the Ionians settled on Mykonos in the early part of the 11th century BC. More recent discoveries have uncovered remnants in Ftelia beach from the Neolithic Kares tribe dating back as far as 3000 BC.
Monday - Day 16 - Mykonos to Santorini - (B)
After breakfast, you will depart from Mykonos Island on a 3-hour ferry to Santorini. Upon arrival, you will be met at the ferry port and transferred to your hotel. After check in, you will have a free day to relax and explore Santorini.
Overnight in Santorini
Tuesday - Day 17 - Santorini - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will take you on a full-day tour of Santorini. You will visit Acrotiri, and go on a boat trip to the volcano crater, visit some hot springs, experience the ruins of Thirrassia, and wrap up the day watching a very romantic sunset from Oia. Later, you will be taken back to your hotel. Overnight in Santorini
Day 18 - Santorini - (B)
After breakfast, you will have a full free day to relax and explore Santorini on your own. Many take this opportunity to relax and tan on one of Santorini's famous beaches, such as Red Beach, or return for some more sightseeing in Oia.
Overnight in Santorini
Thursday - Day 19 - Santorini to Crete Island - (B)
After breakfast you will depart from Santorini Island for a 3-hour ferry to Crete. Upon arrival, you will be met at the ferry port and then transferred to your hotel. After checking in, you will have a free day to relax and explore Crete, which boasts fine beaches and terrific cuisine. Overnight in Crete
Crete is the biggest of all the Greekl islands and lays claim to a rich archaeological and cultural history. Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization (ca. 2600–1400 BC), the oldest Greek civilization. You can visit the Minoan sites of Knossos and Phaistos, the classical site of Gortys, the Venetian old city and the port of Chania, the Venetian castle at Rethymno, and the Samaria Gorge.
Friday - Day 20 - Crete - (B)
After breakfast, we will meet you at your hotel and take you on a tour to the Ancient City of Knossos, the ceremonial and political center of the 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.
Overnight in Crete
Saturday - Day 21 - Crete to Athens - (B)
Early in the morning, we will provide a transfer to Crete's Heraklion Airport and put you on a 1-hour flight to Athens. Upon arrival you will walk to the International Departures terminal and board your flight to your next destination.
*** Program ends
Prices are starting from 2185 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
(Ask for early booking discounts.)
* All hotels (each 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
* International flight tickets from Istanbul to Athens
* Domestic flight tickets from Crete to Athens
* Ferry tickets from Athens to Mykonos
* Ferry tickets from Mykonos to Santorini
* Ferry tickets from Santorini to Crete Island
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli Museum, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale; all Cappadocian sites; Athens, Delphi, Santorini and Crete
* 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 )