11 Days – Classical Turkey
Day 1 Friday Arrive Istanbul
Meet and greet on arrival by your tour representative & transfer to your hotel. You are at leisure for the remainder of the day. A welcome briefing will be held together with other tour participants. Overnight at your hotel.
Istanbul is Turkey’s most developed and largest city, with the latest discoveries indicating that the history of human habitation there goes back some 400,000 years. The purple years of İstanbul may have started in 330 when Emperor Constantine declared the city the capital of his empire – royal purple is the colour of the Byzantine imperial family. Until 1453, when it was conquered by the Ottomans, the city served as the capital of the Byzantine Empire. During the reign of the Byzantines, İstanbul was adorned with a number of great monuments, which made it the most magnificent city in the world, even during the declining years of the Empire.
It is İstanbul’s endless variety that fascinates its visitors. The museums, churches, palaces, grand mosques, bazaars and sites of natural beauty are countless. As relaxing on the western shores of the Bosphorus at sunset and watching the red evening light reflected on the other continent, you may suddenly and profoundly understand why so many centuries ago settlers chose to build a city on this remarkable site. At such times you can see why İstanbul is truly one of the most glorious cities in the world.
Day 2 Saturday Istanbul (B)
Enjoy a full day optional tour (additional cost) including a visit to Topkapi Palace Museum, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans between 1453 and 1852 (excluding harem). Visit the Hippodrome, which was once the centre of life where chariot racing and other public events took place. Tour the Blue Mosque built between 1609 and 1616, famous for its blue ceramic tiles. Your last stop will be the famous Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest and oldest covered market with over sixty streets. Tonight, consider joining an optional (Additional cost) dinner with belly dancing entertainment.
Day 3 Sunday Istanbul – Ankara (B, D)
This morning, depart on an optional tour (additional cost) of St. Sophia, a church built in the 6th-century Byzantine capital, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, and now a museum and one of the world’s greatest architectural wonders. Continue to cruise along Bosphorus cruise enjoying views of the strait that separates Asia and Europe. Its shores are lined with fine neighbourhoods, Ottoman Palaces, fortresses, old wooden villas, hotels, parks and gardens, restaurants and cafes. Evening departure for the capital city of Ankara. Overnight at your hotel.
Day 4 Monday Ankara – Cappadocia (B, D)
The city of Ankara lies in the centre of Anatolia on the eastern edge of the great, high Anatolian Plateau, at an altitude of 850m. With its yellow wheat fields, young volcanoes and infinite steppe, the plateau offers a stern landscape through a look at its history reveals millennia rich with emotive episodes. Due to its location in the centre of the country, the region has been a historical junction of major trade routes and a crossroads of migratory streams. The Hittite Empire, one of the superpowers in antiquity, emerged here in Central Anatolia. The Hittites distinguished themselves not only through the civilizations they created but also through the state structure they evolved and their tolerance and respect for human rights.
Drive to Cappadocia, touring a 13th-century caravanserai enroute. Visit the Underground City of Saratli, one of the many underground settlements built for protection from religious persecution during Roman times. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant and join an optional (at additional cost) Whirling Dervishes performance. Overnight in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia offers visitors an extraordinary and lavish banquet of natural wonders that exceed their wildest imaginations. These wonders are elegantly graced with works created by the hand of man. With its unique natural features displaying a harmonious combination of natural and cultural landscape elements, Cappadocia is an enchanting open-air museum and an unparalleled example of the common cultural heritage of humanity.
Day 5 Tuesday Cappadocia (B, D)
Consider an optional tour (additional cost) early morning hot air balloon tour and experience floating through volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys and caves at sunrise. After breakfast visit Goreme, a historical region of Turkey, located among the rock formations, which was first settled back in the Roman period. Many rock churches can still be seen today, as Christianity was then the prevailing religion in that region. Continue to the town of Avanos renowned for its high-quality earthenware. Also visit Pasabagi, Red Valley and attend a brief regional pottery workshop in a cave. Overnight at your hotel
Day 6 Wednesday Cappadocia – Konya – Pamukkale (B, D)
Drive to Pamukkale. Enroute, visit the famous mausoleum of the Sufi philosopher, Mevlana Rumi in Konya. This was also the dervish lodge of the Mevlevi Order, better known as the Whirling Dervishes. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Konya is one of Turkey’s oldest continuously inhabited cities and was known as Iconium in Roman times. As the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to the 13th centuries, it ranks as one of the great cultural centres of Turkey. During that period of cultural, political and religious growth, the mystic Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi founded a Sufi order known in the West as the Whirling Dervishes. The striking green-tiled mausoleum of Mevlana is Konya’s most famous building. Attached to the mausoleum, the former dervish seminary now serves as a museum housing manuscripts of Mevlana’s works and various artefacts related to the mysticism of the sect. Every year during the first half of December, a ceremony is held in commemoration of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, with the controlled, trance-like turning or Sema of the white-robed men creating a fascinating performance for the viewer.
Day 7 Thursday Pamukkale – Kusadasi (B, D)
Visit the unique “Cotton Castle” in Pamukkale with its white lime cascades formed by mineral springs and the ruins of the Roman health spa of Hierapolis. Tourists travel to Pamukkale to relax in warm, soothing and therapeutic waters of the myriad spas. Drive on to Kusadasi for dinner and overnight stay.
Pamukkale would enchant visitors at the first sight. Under the spell of travertine, Pergamon Kingdom established the Hierapolis city nearby 2.000 years ago. At that era, Hierapolis served as a thermal health centre and visitors from various parts of Anatolia flocked to the city to receive a balneal treatment in search of health or beauty. In our age, those who seek beauty or health still dip in the thermal pools. You may also enjoy swimming the timeless pools as your ancestors did, and enjoy the majestic sight of the travertine.
Day 8 Friday Ephesus & St. Mary’s House – Kusadasi (B, D)
Optional full day tour (additional cost), the famous ruins of Ephesus, an important cultural centre of the ancient world, and explore 2000-year-old marble streets, a theatre, the Library of Celsius, a gymnasium and Hadrian’s Temple. Take a short drive to see St. Mary’s stone cottage where it is believed the Virgin Mary spent her last years accompanied by St. John. Continue to a regional rug production centre to have a first-hand experience of this unique art form. Drive onto Kusadasi. Join an optional tour (additional cost) afternoon tour of Sirince.
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus was famous for its Temple of Artemis (near present-day Selçuk), which was recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The annual festival of Artemis (Diana to the Romans) became a month-long spring fest, drawing thousands from across the empire. Ephesus also attracted Christian settlers (Greeks and Jews), including St. Paul who lived in Ephesus for three years (in the AD 50s) There is a tradition that St. John settled here with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and also wrote his gospel here.
Kuşadası is one of the Turkish Mediterranean’s most popular cruise ship ports, and this harbour town is all about sun, sea, and fun holidays. Known for its bargain shopping and lively entertainment scene, it has become, over the past few decades, a favourite destination for visitors from Europe on package holidays. Hotel developments are scattered all along the coast surrounding town, and the beaches are packed in peak season. Nearby, the majesty of ancient sites such as Priene and the natural beauty of the Dilek Peninsula are tourist attractions that will convince even the most adamant sun-worshipping tourist to brush off the sand and head out on a day trip for some sightseeing.
Day 9 Saturday Pergamum – Troy – Canakkale (B, L, D)
Visit the ancient Medical Center Asclepion in Pergamum and continue to a traditional local village for lunch with locals. Then continue to Troy with its famous Wooden Horse, best known for being the setting of the Trojan War and many cities built on top of each other. Continue to Canakkale for overnight.
Pergamum was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014, and it has been one the rare settlements that have survived several invasions and devastations over the ages but reoccupied again on the merits of its strategic location. As confirmed by the findings of the excavations held, the prehistory of Pergamon reaches back to second millennia BC. The city survived Persian domination and conquest of Alexander the Great. The most brilliant phase of its history lasted almost one hundred and fifty years when it was the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. At this time, one of the largest libraries of the world was built here and the city became a healing centre. The arts also flourished, and the city particularly became renowned for magnificent sculptures.
Troy is an enchanting and historic place, embracing the cultural treasures of the east and the west, brought to life by the ancient epics. With over five thousand years of history, Troy has been a fertile source of inspiration for bards and poets and has gained immortality in the imagination of those who have read her story. This timeless story, which weaves together themes of power, victory and love, has attracted people for hundreds of years and the many civilisations acquainted with the Troy have been enriched by the descriptions of the legendary Trojan heroes and their exploits. Troy, which forms a priceless part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, welcomes visitors to be inspired by her magical history and precious archaeological finds.
Canakkale is an honourable resting place for the soldiers who lost their lives in Gelibolu during World War l. The city of Çanakkale lies at the narrow 1200m entrance to the Çanakkale Strait (Dardanelles) that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Passenger and car ferries run daily between Çanakkale on the Asian side and Eceabat and Kilitbahir on the European side. Yachts navigating the straits stop at the well-equipped Çanakkale Marina to allow tourists more time in the area. Hotels, restaurants and cafes along the promenade offer visitors a place to enjoy the harbour, as well as providing a view of the Kilitbahir Fortress and Çanakkale Archaeological Museum.
Day 10 Sunday Dardanelles – Gallipoli – Istanbul (B, D)
In the morning, depart for Gallipoli, the site of many battles during World War I. Visit Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery and Chunuk Bair, and then drive to Istanbul. Enjoy a Farewell Dinner. Overnight in Istanbul.
Gallipoli, also known for its Turkish name Gelibolu, is a peninsula located in the northwestern part of Turkey near Istanbul. Gallipoli is also an extensive battlefield during World War I and the Battle of the Dardanelles. It serves as a commemorative site for the British, French, and Turkish soldiers and casualties who participated fought and died during these wars. The Battle of the Dardanelles served as the defining moment in Turkey’s history, where it gained its freedom and nationality. Gallipoli is considered one of the most sacred sites in Turkey. Many tourists visit Gallipoli annually, especially during the ANZAC Day which is celebrated every 25th of April.
Day 11 Monday Depart Istanbul (B)
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Itinerary ends.