HIGHLIGHTSIstanbul | Cappadocia | Antalya and the beautiful Mediterranean Coast | Bodrum | Ephesus | Gallipoli
DURATION21 Days / 20 Nights
DEPATURESDaily on a Private Basis
PRICE FROM$7492AUD per person (Private Tour - based on minimum of 4 guests). Price does not include domestic flight between Istanbul and Cappadocia.
- Professional English speaking guide
- Driver and a/c transportation
- Entrance fees as per program
- Meals as indicated (B – Breakfast / L – Lunch / D – Dinner)
- Local taxes & service surcharges
HOTELSSpecial Category / Boutique
Day 1: Istanbul
Arrival into Istanbul, the only city in the world spanning two continents. After clearing Passport and Customs Controls, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Rest of the day is free to relax.
If you are not too tired this evening, a great introduction to Istanbul would be to view the breathtaking Sound and Light show in front of the Blue Mosque (times are displayed in front of the Blue Mosque). This is a “must” while in Istanbul. (01 May to 30 September)
Day 2: Istanbul – Bosphorus cruise
Visit the aromatic Spice Bazaar, where the smells of cloves, cinnamon and thyme rise from colourful mounds of spices at every store-front. The assortment of Turkish Delight and dried fruit is a delight to the eyes. The best Turkish Delights are served by scoops at the rear of each shop – absolutely delicious !
Cruise by public ferry through the waterway separating the two continents, Asia and Europe, viewing marble palaces, ancient wooden villas of Ottoman architecture besides modern residentials and luxurious apartments. Leave the ferry in Tarabya and travel by coach to the Rumeli Fortress, an historical armament built by the Conquerer to control and protect Bosphorus. After the visit to this unique example of military architecture you will be taken for lunch at the famous Bebek Balikci (or similar) then returned to your hotel, or to the Grand Covered Bazaar – “Kapali Carsi” – which is the biggest “souk” in the world with nearly 4000 shops of antiques. Note that the Grand Bazaar is within walking distance of your hotel. B
Day 3: Istanbul
Full day tour of Istanbul visiting the Blue Mosque, famous for its mosaics of blue Iznik tiles and its six minarets. Facing the Blue Mosque is St. Sophia, one of the great architectural marvels of the ancient world. This church – turned mosque – and now a museum, takes the breath away with the sheer size of its interior and its magnificent dome.
Cross through the Hippodrome, the scene of Byzantine chariot races, athletic events, victory celebrations, and political activities of the old city where one can also see the Obelisk from Egypt, Serpent Column from Delphi, the Fountain of Wilhelm II and the Colossus. You will then visit the marvellous Yerebatan Underground Cistern with its atmospherically lit rows of columns – 336 in total. It was built in 532, with a capacity to store 80,000 cubic metres of water. It has excellent acoustics, and, with its fabulous atmosphere, has been used by famous singers, and for film sets. Please note: as the Underground Cistern is very old and damp, appropriate footwear is advisable as the floor can be slippery.
Explore the spectacular Topkapi Palace, seat of the Ottoman sultans for 400 years. Built on one of the seven hills of Istanbul, this huge complex commands superb views of the Sea of Marmara, the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. The palace is filled with treasures of the Sultans including the extravagant Treasury with its magnificent jewels, and the priceless Chinese porcelain, one of the best collections in the world.
Following lunch you will travel to the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by master architect Sinan during the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, the Lawgiver. jewellery, gold, carpets, ceramics and leatherware. Please note that the places visited may not be in the same order as set out above. B
Day 4: Istanbul
Free day to enjoy this enchanting city. B
We suggest visiting the charming area of Ortakoy, located on the shores of the Bosphorus, with its outdoor cafes, market every day (larger market on Sunday), and its triangle of faith with a delightful baroque mosque, a church filled with marvellous embroideries and paintings, and a lovely old synagogue almost side by side.
Or perhaps an excursion to the Princes’ Islands, where time seems to have stood still, and the means of transport is horse and carriage. Go down to the port where you will embark on a ferry for a cruise of the Sea of Marmara to the Princes’ Islands. Make a stop at Buyuk Ada, the popular summer resort with sandy beaches and pine trees. This was also the pleasure island of the Byzantine Princes. You might like to go on a horse-drawn carriage tour of Buyuk Ada and see the confection of magnificent Ottoman Mansions from the turn of the century lines the park-like streets unaffected by motor traffic. This is the main and probably the most harmoniously attractive of the nine Princes’ Islands.
Day 5: Istanbul-Kayseri-Cappadocia
Morning transfer from the hotel to the Istanbul airport for a morning flight to Kayseri. Upon arrival you will then visit the unique region of Cappadocia, approximately 30minutes drive from Kayseri.
The natural wonder of Cappadocia is a result of volcanic deposits being eroded away by wind and water over millions of years. These soft rocks were hollowed out by early Christians and used as secret dwellings as they were being sought first by Roman and later by Byzantine persecutors. The sight of the Fairy Chimneys is phenomenal.
Visit the Fortress at Uçhisar, then view the colourful Pigeon Valley, the Open Air Museum in Göreme through Avcilar Valley to visit early Christian churches decorated with unique frescoes. Finally view the ‘fairy chimneys’ at Zelve before spending some time shopping in Avanos, with its excellent pottery and carpets. Overnight in Cappadocia. B
Day 6: Cappadocia
Begin the day with a spectacular balloon flight (optional extra) over the deep canyons and lush fertile valleys which provide the balloons with an ideal playground for the unique and memorable flight. Gentle winds carry you over places that could never be reached, except by balloon. You may have seen this on the Getaway program.
After breakfast, visit the Kaymakli Underground City, where early Christians hid from persecutors, then drive to Soganli Village, which is an interesting valley with some 150 churches of which some are still in good condition. Free afternoon. B
Day 7: Cappadocia
Free day. B
Optional tour to the Ihlara Valley which was a retreat for Byzantine monks. View interesting cave churches. Stroll through typical Anatolian villages which have never moved with the times, and where they live by very simple means.
Day 8: Cappadocia-Konya
Today drive to the ancient capital of Konya. You will visit the very interesting Mausoleum and Museum of Mevlana, the world-famous mystic, and instigator of the “whirling dervishes”, and the Karatay Museum with its beautiful tiles. Overnight Konya. B
Day 9: Konya-Aspendos-Antalya
Travel to Antalya through the picturesque Taurus Mountains, stopping on the way to enjoy a fresh trout lunch beside the river before visiting Aspendos, the best preserved amphitheatre in the world. With seating for 15,000 and marvellous acoustics, it is still being used today for performances. Overnight in Antalya. B
Day 10: Antalya
A free day to wander and enjoy the picturesque city of Antalya with its ancient Roman walled port, and the lovely ‘old town’, Kaleici, with its beautifully restored Ottoman mansions and Hadrian’s Gate. Kaleici and the port abound with little cafes, restaurants and boutiques. A visit to the Museum of Antalya is recommended. B
Day 11: Antalya-Termessos-Perge-Antalya
Visit the impressive ruins of Termessos, perched at an altitude of over 1000 metres up a mountainside. Continue to Perge – originally settled by the Hittites around 1500BC, with its impressive colonnaded street. Return to Antalya for a late lunch. B
Please note: To visit the Termessos site it is advised that you need to be reasonably fit and have the ability to walk up a steep walking trail.
Note: Those who decide not to take this morning tour can meet the group for lunch in Antalya.
Day 12: Antalya-Kemer-Phaselis-Antalya
Today will be a relaxing day cruising. Commence the day with a relatively short but very scenic 40km drive along the coast to Kemer to join a boat for a cruise through crystal clear waters to some small islands, and along the spectacular Mediterranean Coast, with its pine forests and the Taurus Mountains in the hinterland. Visit the very pretty site of Phaselis with its 3 harbours and ancient city ruins set amidst pine trees. There will be plenty of time devoted to swimming. Lunch will be served on board. Note that drinks are extra. Return to Antalya to overnight. B.
Day 13: Antalya-Myra-Kekova-Kas
Today the journey from Antalya is absolutely spectacular, taking you along the coast through pine forests, and the majestic mountains of the Bey Mountains Coastal National Park, with the most exquisite hues. Visit Demre/Myra with its Church and statue of St. Nicholas – Santa Claus, and site of many splendidly carved Lycian Rock Tombs overlooking an amphitheatre, circa 600 B.C.
Continue to Kekova, where you will cruise through a peaceful group of picturesque islands well scattered with very distinct rock sarcophagi, and ancient houses submerged under the clear water. Visit the ‘picture-postcard’ village of Kale with its stone houses covered in bougainvillea, and Kaleucagiz Castle. There also will be time for a swim in the Mediterranean if you desire.
Conclude the day in Kas. B.
Day 14: Kas
Free day to relish the tranquility of your seaside village. You may like to dine in one of the restaurants in the village this evening, or at your hotel. B.
Kas is a quaint seaside village that comes alive at night with its outdoor restaurants, shops and carpet sellers staying open until quite late.
Kalkan is a very picturesque harbour village with white-washed villas covered in bougainvillea, winding cobbled streets, roof terrace bars – famous for sunset cocktails, and harbourside restaurants.
Day 15: Kas
Free day, and another evening to choose where to dine. B
Whilst in the Kas/Kalkan area, it is possible to do the following:
· Swim in the very turquoise waters at Kapitas, which also boasts a turquoise grotto
· Take a trip up into the mountain villages and ancient sites by jeep
· Visit the Greek island of Meis, known as Castellorizo in Turkey
Day 16: Kas-Goçek-Dalyan Delta-Bodrum
Today’s drive along the coast will be very scenic. Visit the national heritage village of Gocek, a picturesque little fishing village where no modern building is allowed.
The highway now winds through mountains and forest of frankincense and liquidamber trees before the turnoff to Dalyan, where a real highlight is to take a small local craft through a maze of reeds in the Dalyan Delta. The delta, with a long, golden sandy beach at its mouth, is a nature-conservation area, and a refuge for large sea turtles (caretta caretta) and blue crabs. A stop will be made at Caunos which was an important city and port on the Mediterranean from 400 B.C. until the harbour silted up and the sea retreated 5km to the south. At a bend in the river, high on the cliff face, you can view magnificent tombs which were carved into the rock in the 6th century B.C.
Continue onto Bodrum, along the coast, through mountains with beautiful panoramas and fertile valleys in between, with fields of cotton and tobacco, orchards of fruit and nuts, and cool pine forests. Overnight in Bodrum. B
Day 17: Bodrum-Didyma-Priene-Kusadasi
Despite the significant influx of tourists in recent years, Bodrum has managed to retain its special atmosphere with its pretty whitewashed houses and abundant flowers, its wonderful harbour and marina, full of expensive international yachts and elegant wooden Turkish gulets, and its impressive Crusader castle which houses an excellent underwater museum. Built by the Knights of St John in 1402 to dominate the harbour, this castle is one of the last and finest examples of Crusader architecture in the east.
A visit will be made to the castle and the Underwater Museum before driving north to Kusadasi, with stops on the way to visit the well preserved Apollo Temple with its awesome gigantic pillars & head of Medusa at Didyma, and Priene – the first planned city in the ancient world. Overnight Kusadasi. B
Day 18: Kusadasi-Ephesus-Kusadasi
Most of the day today will be dedicated to visiting Ephesus, which was undoubtedly one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world. Impressive structures you will see include the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, the Theatre and the Odeon.
Nearby is the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent her last years. In 1961, Pope John XXII proclaimed the House of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus to be sacred. Also included in today’s tour is a visit of the Basilica of St. John, who came here with the Virgin Mary and wrote his Gospel and the Selçuk Ephesus Museum, a beautiful Museum of Ephesus with its attractively displayed statuary, mosaics and artefacts, and the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the world. B
Day 19: Kusadasi
Free day to relax or explore Kusadasi. B
Kusadasi means “Bird Island” and the town takes its name from the little island (whose name in Turkish means “Pigeon” or “Dove Island”) that is in the harbour and is now connected by a causeway to the shore. Although the history of Kusadasi is quite old, hardly any traces of early settlement here remain today other than a section of a cyclopean wall.
The little fort on the island was built in 1834 as a military outpost during the Morean rebellion. Thanks to the marina and a good harbour, Kusadasi is a favourite calling place for yachts and tour vessels with the result that there are many good shopping opportunities to be found.
Day 20: Kusadasi-Pergamon – Gallipoli
Early departure for Bergama to visit the hauntingly beautiful Pergamon, once the richest and most powerful small kingdoms in the Middle East. Among the impressive structures of this city, dating from 399B.C you will see the Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysus and the 200,000 volume library which was surpassed only by that found in Alexandria at the time. The most spectacular site is the theatre, a remarkable feat of engineering built into an exceptionally steep hillside. The Asclepieum of Pergamum was a famous health centre where methods of treatment included blood transfusions, music therapy and meditation. Continue to Gallipoli and overnight. B
Day 21: Gallipoli – Istanbul
This morning you will visit Gallipoli, historically famous as the site of many battles – particularly involving the Allied Forces including Australians and New Zealanders during World War I. Visit Anzac Cove where the Allied Forces landed on the 25th of April 1915 along with the other sites like Lone Pine-Australian Memorial and Chunuk Bair-New Zealand Memorial. This afternoon continue the 4-5 hour drive to Istanbul. The tour concludes either with a transfer to the Istanbul airport or to your Istanbul hotel if you wish to extend your stay. B