- Sunday - Day 1 - 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
- Monday - Day 2 - (B/L) Istanbul
This will be a full day of exploring the historical sites 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 through the waterway separating the 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, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Ortakoy Mosque.
After lunch, we will continue on the tour and will visit:
* Topkapi Palace was the imperial residence and administrative heart of the massive Ottoman Empire, beginnng with Fatih Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror, in 1453, until 1856. It was converted to a museum in 1924. Parts of the palace such as the Harem, Baghdad Pavilion, Revan Pavilion, Sofa Pavilion, and the Audience Chamber distinguish themselves with their architectural assets. The museum also has collections from the Imperial Treasury, as well as Chinese porcelain, weapons, calligraphy, etc. The Treasury also houses the Topkapi Dagger, the 86-carat "Spoon Maker's Diamond", and the jewel-encrusted bones of St. John the Baptist.
The Grand Bazaar and the Suleymaniye Mosque will be visited during the tour.
After the tour we will return to your hotel.
Overnight in Istanbul.
- Tuesday - Day 3 - (B/L) Istanbul
This will be a day of exploring the historical sites of Istanbul.
Sites you'll see today:
* 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 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.
* 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.
*Hippodrome: The ancient Hippodrome, scene of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the ornaments which once decorated it, only three remain: The Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.
Theodosius Obelisk is originally an Egyptian piece of art erected in 1547 BC and originally 60m tall. German fountain is also within the hippodrome area, constructed in Germany to mark German Emperor Wilhelm II's second visit to Istanbul, it was imported and officially opened on January 1 1901. The fountain's three domes are decorated with gold mosaics.
After the tour, we will leave you at the Grand Bazaar and give you free time to explore and shop.
Overnight in Istanbul.
- Wednesday - Day 4 - Istanbul to Cappadocia - (B/L)
Early in the morning, we will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the domestic airport for a 1-hour flight to the central Anatolian city of Kayseri. After arrival, we will transfer you to Cappadocia and continue on the program.
This day will be devoted to exploring the most unforgettable sites of Cappadocia:
* 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.
Overnight in Urgup - Cappadocia
- Thursday - Day 5 - Cappadocia - (B/L)
As we have a lengthy drive to our first destination, we'll be starting out quite early this morning. Today, we'll stroll through an amazing subterranean city where ancient Christians once hid from Arab invaders; we'll then wander through the Ihlara Gorge and spend time in a classic Anatolian village.
* 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
- Friday - Day 6 - Cappadocia to Kusadasi - (B/D)
We will depart Cappadocia for our flight to Izmir; upon arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Kusadasi. After check-in, you will have free time to relax and explore Kusadasi. Overnight in Kusadasi
- Saturday - Day 7 - Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
* Pamukkale ("cotton castle" in Turkish) is the result of limestone formations created over thousands of years. Warm, calcium-rich mineral water from nearby thermal hot springs flowed over these cliffs and, as these waters cooled, they deposited the calcium that we see today.
* Hierapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and sits adjacent to Pamukkale. It was founded as an ancient healing care center in 190 BC, taking advantage of the mineral waters. It was one of the most important intellectual, artistic, religious and commercial centers of the Roman Empire.
After the tour, you will depart Pamukkale and drive to Kusadasi. Overnight in Kusadasi.
- Sunday - Day 8 - Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
We'll tour Turkey's most impressive Roman and Biblical sites, in what promises to be some of your most memorable days in Turkey, in addition to visiting other significant sites.
*Ephesus is the best-preserved classical cities from ancient times, and was inhabited by Greeks, Macedonians, Romans and Turks. St. Paul lived here circa 60 AD, when it was at its most populated at 250,000. During your visit, youíll walk its stony boulevards, stand in the grand theatre, marvel at the beauty of the Celsus Library, the agora, as well as the baths, giving you the unique chance to get up-close-and-personal with history by literally being able to walk into it.
*The Temple of Artemis is situated in serene countryside celebrates the Greek goddess Artemis, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon. This temple, known as Artemision in Greek times, was the largest of its kind at the world.
*The House of The Virgin Mary (Turkish: Meryemana Evi), high on a hill overlooking the town of Selcuk, is where it is believed that St. Mary came to live with St. John the Baptist in the later years of her life. Masses are held here on Sundays. Overnight in Kusadasi.
- Monday - Day 9 - Kusadasi to Mykonos (Via Samos Island)
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to Kusadasi Harbor for your 2-hour ferry to Samos Island; after arrival, you will have free time to relax before our departure to Mykonos, which we will reach around midnight. You will then check into your hotel. Overnight in Mykonos.
- Tuesday - Day 10 - Mykonos - (B)
Breakfast provided in the hotel; today is yours to relax and explore Mykonos.
Located in the middle of the Aegean Sea, Mykonos is one of the most popular Greek islands, thanks to its beaches with crystal-clear water, windmills, charming waterfront buildings, stunning archeological sites and excellent nightlife. Archaeological records here indicate that the Ionians settled Mykonos in the early part of the 11th century BC; more recent discoveries have uncovered ruins in Ftelia beach from the Neolithic-era Kares tribe dating back to 3,000 BC.
Overnight in Mykonos.
- Wednesday - Day 11 - Mykonos to Santorini - (B)
After breakfast, you will depart from Paros Island on a 2-hour, 30-minute ferry to Santorini. Upon arrival, you will be met at the ferry port and transferred to your hotel. After check-in, you will have a free day to relax and explore Santorini.
* Santorini is one of those iconic places that will be permanently etched in your mind. Everywhere you turn is a photo opportunity. Essentially, the island is what remains of an enormous volcanic eruption, which destroyed the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island. The aftermath of the explosion created what you see today, a caldera. All of the whitewashed, charming houses cling to the high cliffs of the rim, while the deep blue Aegean Sea wraps around the geological masterpiece, hundreds of feet below. Its spectacular physical beauty, along with its lively nightlife, has made this island a perennial tourist favorite. Overnight in Santorini.
- Thursday - Day 12 - Santorini - (B/L)
After breakfast, we will take you on a full-day tour of Santorini. You will visit Acrotiri, hop on a boat to explore the caldera, take in the hot springs, view the ruins of Thirrassia, and finish off this very memorable day by watching the famous sunset from Oia. Afterwards, you will be taken back to your hotel. Overnight in Santorini.
- Friday - Day 13 - Santorini - (B)
After breakfast, you will have a full free day to relax and explore Santorini on your own. Many take this opportunity to relax and tan on one of Santoriniís famous beaches, such as Red Beach, or return for more sightseeing in Oia.
Overnight in Santorini.
- Saturday - Day 14 - Santorini to Athens
After breakfast, we will provide a transfer to Santorini Airport and put you on a 50-minute flight to Athens.
*** End of tour ***
Total cost: __ Per person in double ____ for single supplement - contact us for rates
* All ferry tickets
* All ferry port transfers
* Flight tickets from Istanbul to Cappadocia
* Centrally-located, distinctive hotels - with breakfast
* All guided tours mentioned in the itinerary - entrance fees, guide(s), transfers
* All taxes and service charges
International fligh tickets
Want to add other destinations? We can easily build an itinerary to fit any budget and schedule!