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06 Turkish Delights

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16 Days
Istanbul
Max People : 25
Tour Details

Situated at the cross roads of Asia and Europe, Turkey is the treasure trove of a dozen civilizations and a diverse cultural heritage. Visit Istanbul (former Constantinople) with thousands of years of history, beautiful architecture and exciting bazaars where you can shop for jewelry, leather goods and carpets. Explore the famous archaeological sites, the surrealist landscapes of Cappadocia and travel along the enchanted shores of the Mediterranean coast.

Arrive

Istanbul Airport (IST) / Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW)

Overview

Experience the wonders of Turkey on this 16-day tour, which you will travel&discover almost half of the country. Explore the city of contrasts, Istanbul, home to the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar. Visit the stunning region of Cappadocia, known for its lunar rock formations, underground cities, and cave dwellings. Take a hot air balloon ride and explore the Pasabag Valley. Finally, visit the city of Konya, home to the Mevlana Museum and the Karatay Medrese.

Meet and witness the best remaining architectural structures of Greek&Roman civilizations in Anatolia in the South western Türkiye.  The second week of the tour will take you to some of the most popular and iconic archaeological Greek-Roman sites in Anatolia; including Perge, Aspendos, Hierapolis, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Priene, Miletos, and Didyma. You will see natural wonders like the “Cotton Castle” and well-preserved ruins of ancient cities, including theaters, temples, and agoras. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore the rich history and culture of Türkiye.

Itinerary

Day 1Arrival Istanbul

  • On arrival at IstanbulAirport, you will be welcomed at the exit of the terminal and transferred to your hotel. Spend three night in the heart of the Old City.

Istanbul is a city of contrasts, an enchanting blend of Eastern and Western culture, a vibrant, modern city, with a unique identity. Its rich past coexists with modern life. Although no longer the capital of Türkiye (which is now Ankara), Istanbul still remains the country’s cultural and business centre.

The city has a stunning location, surrounded by water: the narrow strait of the Bosphorus and the serene Sea of Marmara separating Europe from Asia. Formerly Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally, Istanbul, this has been the capital of three Empires, each leaving their mark in the form of palaces, castles, mosques, churches and monuments. The legacy of its rich past can be seen on every corner of the modern city.

Day 2Istanbul

  • Walking tour of Istanbul will introduce you to the Old Istanbul and give you a feel of the area. Start with a visit to the Hagia Sophia, the “Church of Divine Wisdom”. On to the German Fountain, a gift from the Kaiser to the Ottoman Empire. Continue your walk on the Hippodrome where chariot races were held during Roman and Byzantine times. The Blue Mosque, the only mosque with six minarets, and its surroundings will be your last stop before lunch.
  • In the afternoon, continue your tour with a visit to the underground cistern of Yerebatan (the Basilica Cistern). This is the largest of several hundred ancient Byzantine cisterns lying beneath the city of Istanbul.
  • From the Spice Bazaar (the Egyptian Bazaar), walk to the embankment of Eminonu to embark on a 2 hour cruise on the Bosphorus. As the boat passes the shores of the Bosphorus you will enjoy views of the Dolmabahce Palace, Leander’s Tower, two suspension bridges, the Rumeli Hisari Fortress, beautiful wooden mansions (“Yali”) before disembarking at the Spice Bazaar to return to your hotel.

Day 3Topkapi Palace & Dolmabahce Palace

  • Tour starts at Topkapi Palace, the most important museum of Türkiye. This is an incomparable rich treasure-chest, filled with objects of historical importance. In the courtyards are the Audience Hall, the High Court “Divan”, the kitchens, royal stables, the treasury, gardens, kiosks and the Harem, the private apartments of the Sultans with over 400 rooms!
  • Transfer to the next stop. Imagine a palace with 285 rooms, 6 baths (hamam), 68 toilets and a ceiling made of 14 tons of gold! This is the Dolmabahçe Palace, an architectural jewel, influenced by French architecture built by the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmecid between 1843-1856.
  • (Optional) Bosphorous evening tour, including dinner and a show.

Day 4Cappadocia

  • After breakfast and check-out, drive to the Chora Museum. Built in the early 5th century, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine church. Converted into a mosque in the 16th century, it became a museum in 1948. The interior is covered with mosaics and frescoes.
  • Continue to the Covered Bazaar (Grand Bazaar) a huge shopping mall. With more than 4,000 shops in 64 streets and with 22 gates, the Grand Bazaar looks like a labyrinth. Your visit is not the usual shopping tour but a walk through a maze of shops selling leather goods, sweets, dried fruit and spices, jewelry, glassware, pottery, fabrics, belly dancing costumers, t-shirts and every kind of souvenir.
  • Free time for lunch before transferring to the airport to take a flight to Kayseri Airport in Cappadocia.
  • Check in to your hotel where you will spend three nights.

Cappadocia is a stunning area of lunar rock formations. The area is also famous for its carpet-weaving, wines and the distinctive red pottery of the Avanos area. Cappadocia was a refuge for the early Christians, who escaped persecution by living and worshipping underground.

Day 5Hot Baloon Tour (Optional), Goreme Air Museum, Uchisar & Cappadocian Wine Tasting

  • (Optional) If you wish to enjoy a unique experience, try the hot air balloon tour at sunrise. Pre-booking is necessary.
  • After breakfast, start your exploration of Cappadocia with a visit to the Devrent Valley with its different types of fairy chimneys: some with caps, others in the shape of cones or mushroom-shaped pillars and pointed rocks.
  • Take a walk through this amazing valley before visiting the Pasabaglari (Monk’s Valley) where you will see fairy chimneys with multiple stems and caps, unique to this area. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit’s shelter have been carved into a “three headed” fairy chimney.
  • Drive to Avanos, a village known for its pottery, a local craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay which is worked by local craftsmen is obtained from residue in the Kizilirmak, Anatolia’s longest river.
  • In the afternoon, drive to the Goreme Open Air Museum where you will visit the churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the fairy chimneys between the 10th and 13th centuries and decorated with frescoes.
  • Sightseeing ends with an opportunity for photos in Uchisar and Esentepe. Uchisar Castle is the highest point in the region and the hill at Esentepe provides a magnificent panorama of the surrounding area. Return to the hotel.
  • This evening you will enjoy a Cappadocian Wine Tasting. Wine has been produced in Cappadocia since the period of the Hittite Empire, 3,000 B.C. The chalk soil of the Cappadocian plateau, combined with the mineral water of the Kizilirmak creates the ideal conditions for the ripening of the grapes, whilst the constant temperatures in the caves ensure the perfect fermentation environment.

Day 6Red Valley, Zelve Valley & Kaymakli Underground City

  • On your second day in Cappadocia take a hike from the Red Valley to the village of Cavusin, one of the old Greek villages found in this area, where you can wander through the old village streets lined with houses carved into the rock. Time for a leisurely lunch in Cavusin.
  • In the afternoon, visit the Zelve Valley and Ortahisar Castle. The inhabitants of Ortahisar earn their living by storing fruits in the caves cut from the volcanic rock.
  • Visit Kaymakli Underground City where early Christians lived in fear and faith.
  • On the way back to your hotel make a last stop for a wonderful panoramic view.

Day 7Konya, Sultanhani Caravanserai & Aksaray

  • After breakfast and check-out, depart to the valley of Ilhara: created by the cracking and collapsing which occurred as basalt and andesite lava from Mt Hasandag cooled. The Melendiz River found its way through these cracks, eroding the canyon bed and helping to form the canyon we see today.
  • After hiking in the Ilhara valley, you will stop for lunch near the village of Belisirma, at a waterside restaurant.
  • In the afternoon, on the way to Konya, stop to visit the Sultanhani Caravanserai: this fortified structure was built in 1229 along the trade route from Konya to Aksaray (the Silk Road leading to Persia). It is one of the best remaining examples of Anatolian Seljuk architecture.
  • Early evening arrival in Konya to check in to your hotel for overnight.

Day 8Mevlana Museum Konya & Antalya

  • After breakfast and check-out, take a short walk to the Mevlana Museum. The Seljuk Sultan Kayqubad, invited Mevlana to Konya and offered his rose garden as a fitting burial place for Mevlana’s father. After his death, Mevlana was buried next to his father. Later a mausoleum was built (finished in 1274). The conical dome is covered with turquoise faience tiles.
  • Travel to the South in the direction of Antalya with a stop en-route to visit the mosque of Esrefoglu in Beysehir, included in the tentative list of World Heritage sites since April 2011. This mosque includes all the main elements of early Anatolian Turkish architecture and is the largest and best preserved wooden columned, roofed mosque in the Islamic World.
  • Lunch stop at the lake, then continue to Antalya where you will spend the next two nights.

Antalya, located on the Mediterranean coast at the foot of Mount Taurus (Toros), is Türkiye’s second most important tourist destination, after Istanbul.

Although a modern city, Antalya is home to historical gems, many of which can be discovered on a meander through its old quarter (Kaleici) within the Roman city walls. Visit the archaeological museum and the archeological sites in the surroundings such as Termessos, Side, Perge, Aspendos, Olympos, Phaselis, or one of the many waterfalls in the area.

Day 9Antalya, Aspendos & Perge

  • For your first contact with Greek and Roman culture, visit the archaeological site of Perge and the Roman theater of Aspendos. Perge was an ancient Greek city and the capital of Pamphylia, now in Antalya province. Today it is a large site of ancient ruins on the coastal plain with an acropolis dating back to the Bronze Age.
  • Aspendos is renowned for its best-preserved theatre of antiquity. With a diameter of 96 meters, the theatre provided seating for 7,000 people. Built in 155, it was periodically repaired by the Seljuks and converted into a palace in the 13th century. Nearby stand the remains of a basilica, agora and nymphaeum.
  • Before returning to Antalya, stop at a waterfall for lunch.
  • Afternoon visit to Antalya’s Archaeology Museum. One of the world’s leading museums due to its collection of sculptures from the Roman period and unique pieces found during excavations in the area.

Day 10Kas & Fethiye

  • After breakfast and check-out, follow one of the most beautiful coastal roads along the Mediterranean.
  • On arrival in Kas, there will be some free time for a walk and lunch in the village. Kas is a quiet pleasant town with its blue sea and narrow streets scented with jasmine flowers. There are plenty of cafes and small bars serving home cooking. After lunch continue to Fethiye where you will spend the next two nights.

Day 11Telmessos & Gulet Cruise (Optional)

  • Modern Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos, the ruins of which can be seen near the main quay. Day at leisure to explore on your own.
  • (Optional) Perhaps join a gulet cruise in the blue waters of the Turkish Mediterranean.

Day 12Pamukkale

  • Early breakfast and departure. The road from Fethiye to Pamukkale passes through rural villages and farms.
  • Just before arriving in Pamukkale, make a stop to visit the archaeological site of Hierapolis, which was an ancient city located on hot springs in classical Phrygia. The city was founded by the Pergamum king around 190 BC. It was also home to an early Christian community. The ruins comprise an archaeological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Pamukkale, the “Cotton Castle”, is a white cascade of calcite bearing water, which formed stalactites, pools and terraces. The water is renowned for its healing properties.

The hot springs have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC, with many patrons retiring or dying there. The large necropolis is filled with sarcophagi, most famously that of Marcus Aurelius Ammianos. The great baths were constructed with huge stone blocks without the use of cement and consisted of various closed or open sections linked together.

Day 13Kusadasi & The Temple of Aphrodite

  • Depart Pamukkale and travel towards the Aegean Coast, to reach the archaeological site of Aphrodisias. This ancient city, dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, Love and Fertility, was built near a marble quarry which was extensively exploited during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
  • The resulting marble sculptors from Aphrodisias became famous in the Roman world. You will visit the stadium, the best preserved in Anatolia, the Temple of Aphrodite, the Tetrapylon, the Theatre and finally visit the museum, with its splendid exhibition of the most beautiful artifacts of ancient times.
  • After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to Kusadasi where you will spend 3 nights.

Originally a quiet garden where farmers harvested thyme, sage, wild roses, figs, grapes and olives, Kusadasi, or Birds’ Island in Turkish, was known as a “fishermen’s” village. Kuşadası was conquered by the Ottomans in 1413 and became an independent district in 1865. Until the end of World War 1, it was an important commercial centre inhabited by Greeks, Armenians, Jewish and Italian business men. Today it is a popular seaside resort.

Day 14Ephesus & Virgin Mary House

  • Just a 30 minute drive from Kusadasi is the most famous archaeological site of Turkey: Ephesus, where your first stop will be at the House of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that Mary, mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by Saint John and lived there until her death. The humble chapel you will see has been built on top of the remains of Mary’s House.
  • Ephesus epitomizes Greek and Roman life style. All that is needed for a perfect town is there: the agora, Odeon, theater, streets, fountains, library and monuments to the glory of their heroes – even public toilets!
  • Transfer to the old Greek village of Sirince. Some free time to taste the locally produced fruit wines, visit one of the Orthodox churches or do some shopping in the family run shops selling handmade table linens, oils, spices, soaps, teas and clothing.
  • On way back to Kusadasi, stop at the archaeological museum of Ephesus in the village of Selcuk, to view the magnificent artifacts found during the excavations.

Day 15Priene, Miletos & Didyma

  • On your last day, discover three important archaeological sites. Priene, one of the oldest examples of geometric city planning and once one of the most active ports of the Ionian Federation.
  • Continue to Miletos, which before the Persian invasion in the middle of the 6th century BC, was a great port and an important centre of philosophy and science, where elements of our current alphabet originated.
  • Last stop will be in Didyma, to visit the Temple of Apollo, well known for its oracles. Although looted and burnt many times, the building kept its original impression.
  • Return to Kusadasi and free time for the rest of the day and evening.

Day 16Return

  • Transfer to the İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport for onward flight connections.
Map

Price Includes & Options

Price Includes

  • Accommodation in 3, 4 or 5 star hotels
  • Transfers from/to airports
  • Transportation on a comfortable vehicle during tour with wi-fi equipment
  • Breakfasts & Dinners
  • Professional guiding service
  • Entrance fees for the museums & ruins

Optional Tours & Activities

  • Bosphorus evening tour on boat (day 3)
  • Hot air balloon tour in Cappadocia (day 5 or 6)
  • Turkish night (day 6)
  • Turkish hammam in Antalya (day 9)
  • Gulet cruise in Fethiye (day 11)
Photos
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