(We can always customize this program by adding more sights in both Turkey and Greece, or providing extra nights at any destination. According to time of the year, some changes may occur in this program.)
Saturday - 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 explore Athens on your own.
Overnight in Athens
Sunday - Day 2 - Athens - (B)
After breakfast around 8:30 AM, we will meet you at your hotel for your 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 in Athens
Monday - Day 3 - Athens to Mykonos then 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.
11:00 AM: depart Athens for Mykonos; arrive around 6:00 PM. You'll then have until midnight to explore the island at your leisure.
12:00 AM: depart Mykonos for overnight cruise to Kusadasi (Turkey).
Tuesday - Day 4 -
Kusadasi to Patmos then Overnight cruise to Rhodes - (B/L/D)
Around 7:00 AM, you will arrive in Kusadasi; you'll be be met by your tour guide who'll take you to 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. Overnight onboard
Wednesday - Day 5 - Rhodes to Crete (B/L/D)
You will have until 6:00 PM tonight to explore Rhodes at your leisure.
*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 6 - 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. 11:30 AM: Depart Crete (from Heraklion town)
4:30 PM: Arrive in Santorini; you will have free time to explore Santorini until 9:00 PM.
12:00 AM: Depart Santorini for Athens. Overnight onboard
Friday - Day 7 - Athens to Istanbul then to Pamukkale - (B/D)
You'll arrive early in the morning in Athens at Piraeus Harbour, whereupon you'll be taken to the Athens Airport for your 1-hour, 20 - minute flight to Istanbul. You will change planes for your flight to city of Denizli (gateway to Pamukkale).
Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your "spa" hotel, where you can then have the rest of the day to relax or swim. Dinner provided in the hotel. Overnight in Pamukkale
Saturday - Day 8 - 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 in Pamukkale
Sunday - Day 9 - Pamukkale to Cappadocia - (B/L)
After your breakfast, we will depart Pamukkale and drive to Cappadocia, and, on the way, we will stop in Konya, where, if you wish, you may visit the Mevlana Museum (a holy site for Muslims as it was a former lodge for the whirling dervishes).
In the afternoon, we will provide a transfer to Cappadocia; after arrival, you will check into the hotel and have a free evening to relax or explore. Overnight in Urgup - Cappadocia
Monday - Day 10 - 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 11 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
Today will be spent exploring more of Cappadocia's amazing sites.
(For those who have bought the optional hot-air-ballooning tour of Cappadocia: very, very early in the morning we will wake up to got to the launch site. Afterwards, we will come back to the hotel for some breakfast and a short rest before setting out in late morning for more sighseeing.
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 12 - Cappadocia to Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to Nevsehir Airport for a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival, you'll have a half-day tour.
* 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 the tour, you may opt to go back to the Grand Bazaar for some souvenir shopping. Overnight in Istanbul
Thursday - Day 13 - Istanbul - (B/L)
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 (now a museum) 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.
*Kucuk Aya Sofya ("Little Aya Sofya) and the Grand Bazaar will also be visited during the tour.
* Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi - covered bazaar) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 streets and over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily.
The grand bazaar began construction in 1455 and opened in 1461. It is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by the type of goods they sell, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry, textiles, and the like. Overnight in Istanbul
Friday - Day 14 - Istanbul to your next destination - (B)
Gule gule! Good bye! It's time to head home. We will transfer you to the airport and wish you well, asking that you keep Turkey in your hearts, and hope that our paths cross again.
Prices are starting from 1685 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels (each individually-chosen)
* All land transfers with 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
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gallipoli Museum, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and all of the 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)