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
Day 2 - Istanbul - (B/L)
After breakfast, around 8:30 AM, we will meet you at your hotel for a full-day tour of Istanbul.
Sites you will see:
* 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 is 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.
* Topkapi Palace was the residence and administrative center of the Sultans during the Ottoman Empire, and was constructed in 1459-1465 shortly after the conquest 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.
* Grand Bazaar: this is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 streets and over 4,000 shops attracting between 250,000 and half-a-million visitors every day!
The Bazaar's construction began in 1455 and opened in 1461, and is still renowned today for its jewelry, ceramics, spices, textiles, and of course, carpet shops. Many of these shops are grouped together according to the wares being sold.
The Bazaar contains two bedestens (domed masonry structures built for storage and safe-keeping), the first being constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly expanded in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and, in 1894, underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.
Today, the Grand Bazaar houses two mosques, two hamams, four fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes. This sprawling complex consists of 12 major buildings and has 22 entrances.
After the Bazaar, we will take an enlightening walking tour down to the water front near Eminonu. You'll see hundreds of interesting shops lined up cozily side-by-side. Of course, there will be time for for a break at a typical Turkish cafe before indulging our taste buds in the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, tasting lokum (Turkish Delight) and other sweets.
After the tour, return to the hotel. Overnight in Istanbul
Day 3 - Istanbul - (B)
After breakfast, around 8:30 AM, we will meet you at your hotel for your full-day 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 strait separating 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 (the last official residence of the Sultans as well as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk), Beylerbeyi Palace, angOvernight in Istanbul
Day 4 - Istanbul to Dalaman - Gulet cruise Oludeniz/Blue Lagoon - (L/D)
Early in the morning, we will provide a transfer to domestic airport for your one-hour flight south to Dalaman; upon arrival, you'll then be transferred to Fethiye's port to meet your gulet (yacht). Departure from Fethiye between 11 and 12 PM to Samanlik Bay for swimming and lunch. Butterfly Valley is our next stop for a swim and to visit to its natural reserve. Afterwards, you will cruise to Oludeniz and its Blue Lagoon. Overnight onboard - St. Nicholas Island
Day 5 - Fethiye to Kas - (B/L/D)
We'll start out early for Yesilköy; there, you will have breakfast and time to swim in the olive-tree surrounded quiet bay. Then we will journey on to Kas, a small harbor town with a charming Bohemian atmosphere.
Overnight onboard - Kas
Day 6 - Kas to Kekova - (B/L/D)
A short cruise to the ruins at Kekova, Kalekoy, and Ucagiz (the Sunken City). Lunch is on beautiful Tersane Bay where you'll see the ruins of a Byzantine church, ancient Roman ruins, both of which are underwater and along the beach. As you sail on to Gökkaya for the night, the underwater ruins of ancient Gökkaya will also be visible.
Overnight onboard - Gokkaya
Day 7 - Kekova to Demre then to Cappadocia - (B/L)
After breakfast in Demre, it's time to say good bye to your shipmates and gulet crew. Then we will transfer you to the sites of Myra and Demre, then journeying on to Antalya, where you will have some free time before our departure for Cappadocia at 8:30 PM (via first-class overnight bus). (NOTE: flight options are available instead of bus.)
Day 8 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
Early morning arrival in Cappadocia; check into your hotel After some rest and refreshment time, we will begin our tour.
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 Urgup - Cappadocia
Day 9 - Cappadocia to Istanbul - (B/L)
(For those who have bought the optional ballooning tour of Cappadocia: very, very early in the morning we will wake up to drive to the launch site. After your tour, we will come back to the hotel for breakfast and a rest before setting out later in the morning.
Today will be devoted to exploring Cappadocia's most famous sites:
* Goreme Open-Air Museum - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Goreme is a charming and ancient town carved right out of the rock (tufa); here, 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 transfer you to the Kayseri Airport for your 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After your arrival, we will transfer you back to your hotel.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 10 - Istanbul to home - (B/L/D)
Gule, gule! It's 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 heart. We sincerely hope our paths will cross again.
Prices are starting from 985 Euros per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* Centrally-located hotel in Istanbul
* 1 full day and 1 half-day guided tour of Istanbul
* All land and airport transfers
* Flight tickets form Istanbul to Dalaman
* Flight tickets from Kayseri to Istanbul
* Admissions to Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle and underground cities.
* 3 night/ 4 day "Blue Cruise"
* 8 breakfasts - 3 dinners - 6 lunches
* All taxes and service charges
* Drinks on board
* Hot-air-balloon ride in Cappadocia (15% discount if booked with this tour)
NOTE: This program is subject to change per weather conditions.
This tour can be customized by adding more sites like Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia.)