Day 1: Departure from USA
Overnight flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Day 2: Arrive in Istanbul
We arrive in Turkey’s cultural and spiritual heart today and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned; on our own we can explore the area surrounding our hotel or simply relax. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 3: Full Day Istanbul Tour [B-L]
After breakfast, pick up from hotel and our journey begins in Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two continents. Our first stop is the famous Topkapi Palace, the largest and oldest of the remaining palaces where Ottoman Sultans used to live; admire the gardens, kitchens, the treasury section as well as terraces overlooking the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Explore Saint Sophia, one of the marvels of Byzantine architecture. Visit the Blue Mosque covered by more than 20,000 Iznik tiles and the Roman Hippodrome. Lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, discover the handcrafts of Anatolia and shop in the labyrinth tunnels of the Grand Bazaar. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4: Istanbul – Ankara [B-D]
Free time in the historical Spice Market to feel the exotism of the Orient. Enjoy an amazing boat trip along the European and Asian coasts of the Bosphorus. Lunch. In the afternoon, cross the Bosphorus Bridge and proceed to Ankara. Dinner and overnight in the capital of Turkey.
Day 5: Ankara – Cappadocia [B-D]
Visit to Archaeological museum of Ankara, with its unique collection including Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian and Roman works and Lydian treasures. Short stop in the Mausoleum of Kemal Atatürk, founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. Lunch and proceed to Cappadocia. Visit of an underground city. Check-in to your hotel in Cappadocia, dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Cappadocia [B-D]
(Optional Hot-Air Balloon ride before sunrise)
Entire day to enjoy the natural beauty and the cultural depth of this unique region: explore the frescoed interiors of Goreme Cave Churches, which date from the VIII Century, take a walk in Avcilar, Pasabagi and the valley of Dervent where you will admire the chimney like volcanic formations and a brief photo stop at Uchisar. In the afternoon, discover the unique artifacts of Cappadocia such as pottery, onyx etc… Dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Cappadocia – Konya – Antalya (B-D)
Drive to Konya, in route, visit to Sultanhani Caravanserai, roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Caravanserai is supported the flow of commerce, information and people across a network of trade routes of Asia, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe on the legendary Silk Road and the Spice road. In Konya center, visit to Mevlana Sufi temple. Mevlana is the founder of Sufism and whirling Dervishes. Overnight Antalya.
Day 8: Antalya (B-D)
Visit to Perge – Aspendos and Kursunlu waterfalls or Antalya Museum. Overnight Antalya.
Day 9: Antalya – Pamukkale (B-D)
Drive to Pamukkale. Discovery of Travertine terraces and Hierapolis. The travertine terraces at Pamukkale are one of the most spectacular natural wonders we ever have seen from various mineral springs in a vast white cliff side, about 200 m overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have dripped down over a series of terraced levels and created a fairyland of bizarre solidified cascades and shell-shaped basins. It looks like creations from snow or like balls from cotton, which gave the scenery the Turkish name Pamukkale (cotton castle): “pamuk” for cotton and “kale” for castle. Moreover the water in the basins is changing its color according to how the light enters. Overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 10: Pamukkale – Kusadasi (B-D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 9:00 AM
Drive to Ephesus, on the way, visit to Aphrodisias. Aphrodisias was primarily known as a center for the arts, specifically sculpture. The Aphrodisias School of Sculpture had a distinctive style and was very well circulated throughout the Greek and Roman world. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 11: Ephesus (B-D)
Visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. We will spend several hours walking in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Caesar, Cicero, Apostles Paul and John and many other familiar historical names. The recently opened Terrace Houses (entry extra) where the wealthiest Romans lived are an excellent example of sensitive excavation and presentation. The mosaics and frescos are spectacular. Tradition has it that Virgin Mary was brought here by St. John after the Crucifixion and lived her final years near the city of Ephesus on an isolated mountaintop. A lovely chapel is constructed on the site tended by Franciscans and open to visitors. It has been designated a pilgrimage site by the Pope. Visit to temple of Artemis to see the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Return to hotel for overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 12: Kusadasi – Pergamum – Canakkale (B-D)
Visit Pergamon or Pergamum that became an important kingdom during the Hellenistic period, Pergamon had the second best library in the ancient Greek civilisation (the ancient Library of Pergamum), after Alexandria. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminos or parchment after the city. This was made of fine calf skin, a predecessor of vellum. Asclepion, located to the southwest of the lower city, was a sanctuary dedicated to the god of health, Asclepic which was one of the largest hospitals in history, is located to the west of the city, which was a great center of culture, art and medicine and continue on to Canakkale for overnight.
Day 13: Troy – Dardanelles – Gallipoli – Istanbul (B-L)
Visit Troy with its famous wooden horse, continue to Gallipoli and then across the Dardanelles to Istanbul for overnight.
Day 14: Istanbul Departure (B)
Transfer to Istanbul International Airport for your flight back to home.