Turkey: the only country that occupies two continents. Turkey: a land of so much diversity of seacoasts, mountains and plains that it could be one continent by itself. Turkey: home to well-preserved archeological sites that show the vast expanse of the ancient Greek and Roman empires. Turkey: a cradle of Christian civilization harking back to the days when Istanbul was called Byzantium and Constantinople. Turkey: home to the Ottoman Empire that extended far beyond the borders of today’s nation. Turkey: a primarily Muslim country in which secular government has long been enshrined in its constitution. Join us to explore this amazing land with our articulate Turkish guide!
- Istanbul +Day 1-3 After arriving in Istanbul and checking into our hotel during the afternoon of Day 1, we meet with our tour guide, and take a short walking tour of the area near our hotel. Tonight we’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation. We’ll spend the next two days exploring the city, which is dramatically situated upon three waterways: the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Golden Horn. Istanbul’s exotic flavor comes alive in its magnificent mosques with their minarets, the bustling bazaars, and along the boulevards and bridges. We’ll have ample time to soak in the atmosphere of the city and enjoy its many exciting vistas.
- Home of the Ephesians +Day 4 This morning we will take a short flight from Istanbul south to Izmir (included in the price), then drive to the ancient Roman site of Ephesus, one of the largest and best-preserved ancient cities in the world. A walk down the well-preserved wide marble streets lined with columns offers the vision of the ancient Hellenistic and Roman empires, complete with theaters, temples and baths.
- Sailing the Turquoise Coast +Day 5-7 In contrast to our busy day the day before, we devote a day to relaxing on an all-day ride on a gulet, a charming and comfortable wooden sailing vessel. We’ll have lunch on board, then return to Bodrum for the night. The following day we will drive to the port city of Fethiye, one of the best sailing harbors of the Mediterranean, where we will have lunch. We will then drive along the coast to Kalkan, one of the most beautiful locations along Turkey’s Lycian Coast. We’ll have dinner at a local restaurant overlooking the bay, and spend the night in a seaside boutique hotel.
- Perge, Aspendos and Antalya +Day 8 Today we explore the ancient sites around Antalya. Our first stop will be the ancient city of Perge, which was founded after the Trojan wars, and was first mentioned in 334 BC when Alexander the Great passed through. Later Perge was where the apostle Paul and Barnabus began their first mission in Anatolia. Renowned for its schools of sculpture during the Roman period, Perge was also important because of its strategic location on the Pamphylian plain, linked to the Kestas River by road but far enough from the sea to be safe from pirates.
- Do All Dervishes Whirl? +Day 9 After breakfast we drive north for about four hours over the impressive Taurus Mountains to Konya, home of the Whirling Dervishes. The Sufi Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, founder of this unique Islamic group and a great Turkish poet and mystic, is buried here and consequently Konya has become a holy place of pilgrimage. Most tourists get a quick glimpse of the Sufi tradition then move on, but we are going to slow down and spend one night here so that you will have a chance to see what makes this unique spiritual center so special.
- Caves of Cappadocia +Day 10-12 From Konya we drive across the central Anatolian plain to Cappadocia, where we’ll check into our hotel and have an orientation of the area. Over centuries, soft volcanic rock has been sculpted by wind, rain, and erosion into magnificent columns and fantastical shapes, creating one of the most interesting landscapes in the world. Our first afternoon in the Cappadocia region we will descend to the remarkable underground city of Derinkuyu. In the 2nd century AD, as armies swept across Asia Minor, the residents of Cappadocia created uniquely defensible communities by digging approximately eight stories down into the volcanic tufa stone. This unusual subterranean development is nearly as eerie as the above ground formations we have seen. We will ascend from Derinkuru for lunch, then go to the Caravanserail to see a Whirling Dervish ceremony. After the ceremony we’ll check into our unique lodgings at a cave resort, where we will have first-hand experience of the unique characteristics of cave dwellings. We’ll conclude our tour with a three-night stay in this other-wordly destination.
- Istanbul Return & Departure Day +Day 13 From Cappadocia, we will provide a transfer to the airport for a morning flight to Istanbul to connect with flights home or to your next destination. The closest airport to our hotel is Nevsehir (NAV), but transfers can also be arranged to Kayseri Airport (ASR) (fare to Istanbul is typically about $280). For those who would like to spend more time in Istanbul, our local partners can also arrange transfers and lodging to extend your stay.
- Important Notes
For shared room
For solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom
To fully enjoy this tour you need to be able to walk around unevenly paved ancient sites for 1-4 hours each day. During the season we visit Turkey, days should be warm with occasional showers.
All transportation within Turkey, including flight from Istanbul to Izmir; Airport departure taxes for group flight; Transfer from Istanbul Airport to hotel on arrival; Deluxe hotel rooms in double occupancy, with private bath (limited number of single rooms available upon request); All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 6 dinners; Entrance fees to included sites, as well as to a Turkish bath in Istanbul; One full day and one half day ride on classical gulet (sailing vessel) along Turquoise Coast; Gratuities for porterage and included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
What’s NOT Included
Airfare between home and Istanbul; Airfare from Cappadocia (Nevsehir or Kayseri) to Istanbul Airport at end of tour; departure taxes for international flights (if any); Turkish visa obtained upon arrival (cost has recently been US$20 payable in cash upon arrival at Istanbul); Gratuity for guides and hotel staff; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
Tour Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar in the city known as Istanbul, Constantinople and Byzantium.
Take in vistas of Istanbul from a cruise along the Bosphorus.
Be dazzled by Istanbul’s dizzying nightlife.
Experience a traditional Turkish bath (hamam).
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