Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul. You will be met by our driver at the airport. Please look for him holding a sign with your name. Transfer to your hotel in the historic Sultanahmet district of old Istanbul. Relax and rest after your flight.
Day 2: Istanbul. After breakfast, meet your guide in the hotel lobby at 9:00am. Begin your walking tour of Old Istanbul at the historical Roman Hippodrome where chariot races were held 1700 years ago. There see the Obelisk of Theodisius which dates back to 1500 BC brought over from Luxor, Egypt, the Serpentine Column with dates back to 479 BC brought over from Delphi, and the beautiful domed Fountain of Wilhelm II. Visit the stunning Blue Mosque with beautiful 17th century Iznik tiles still used for worship today (ladies will need to cover their hair with a scarf to enter).
Step across the street to the famous Hagia Sophia; then see the lavishly ornate Topkapi Palace home to Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and its impressive collection of jewels, silver, and treasures of the Ottoman Empire including the 86 carat Spoonmaker’s diamond – found in a rubbish heap in the 17th century and purchased for three spoons. Next visit the enchanting Underground Basilica Cistern with lantern lit passages and eerie giant stone Medusa heads. Finish the day by visiting the Grand Bazaar. Return to your hotel.
Day 3: Istanbul. Today you will visit the delicious Spice (Egyptian) Market on the Bosphorus River where ships would travel (especially from Egypt) to trade world spices. Then visit the luxuriously opulent Dolmabahce Palace and her courtyards on the Bosphorus, home to the last six Ottoman Sultans. Have lunch at a quaint seaside fish restaurant, then cross the Bosphorus River to the Asian side of Istanbul and visit Beylerbeyi Palace, summer home to the Ottoman sultans. Then travel to Camlica Hill for a stunning panorama overlooking Istanbul. Finish the day with a leisurely, relaxing cruise of the Bosphorus River where you can see the Rumeli Fortress and beautiful mansions lining the shore. Return to your hotel. Have dinner in the lively Kumkapi district.
Day 4: Istanbul. Ephesus. Pick up at your hotel and transfer to airport for your flight to Izmir. Meet your guide and driver at the airport. Begin by seeing the spectacular ancient Greek and Roman city of Ephesus from the 2nd century BC, thought by many to be the best Greco-Roman ruins in the world. Here you will pass through the Gate of Hercules to see the Terrace Houses currently undergoing renovation. Continue to see other wondrous remains including the famed Library of Celsus. Next travel to the House of the Blessed Virgin where Virgin Mary spent her last days. Jesus asked St. John to look after her, and he came to Ephesus with Mary in 37 AD. Stop for lunch then visit St. John’s Basilica. Finally travel to the site of Ancient Temple of Artemis, one of the original seven wonders of the world. From here you can see the Isa Bey Mosque. Check into your hotel and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 5: Ephesus. Aphrodisias. Pamukkale. Drive to Aphrodisias in the morning and see the Ancient City of Aphrodisias which was dedicated to the arts, particularly sculptures. There visit the Sculptor’s Museum with many reclaimed ruins from the site. Then continue to Pamukkale. In Pamukkale begin by visiting Heiropolis an ancient Greek and Roman city from 2nd century AD known for its thermal springs. Start by seeing Ancient Roman Tombs in the Necropolis, the largest ancient graveyard in Turkey with over 1200 tombs. Continue to see the well-preserved theater and take a dip in the sacred bathing pool with remains of the Temple of Apollo. Next take a walk in the thermal waters over the white terraces for which Pamukkale is known and named (Pamukkale means “cotton castle”). Check into your Pamukkale thermal hotel and enjoy the thermal springs.
Day 6: Pamukkale. Fethiye. Drive to Fethiye. Visit the ruins of the ancient Lycian city of Telmessus where you can see the Lycian Rock Tombs. Visit the gorgeous Saklilent Gorge. When the weather is warmer walk through river to get to the valley. Eat lunch near the gorge, then see the deserted Greek village of Kayakoy. Drive to and overnight in Kas.
Day 7: Kas. Antalya. In the morning, drive to the seaport where you will take a glass-bottom boat to see the Sunken City of Kekova. Then drive to the Ancient City of Myra where you will see the famous Lycian Rock Tombs. Then see the tomb and chapel of St. Nicholas who was the bishop of Myra in the 4th century a.d. and later became known as Santa Claus. Drive to and overnight in Antalya
Day 8: Antalya. Cappadocia (Konya). Leave early today. Drive to Aspendos, the best preserved amphitheatre in Turkey built in 162 AD which is still used today for modern performances. Continue to Konya where you will visit the Mevlana Museum and Tomb, dedicated to Celaleddin Rumi (also known as Mevlana) the founder of the whirling dervishes. Eat lunch then continue to Cappadocia. On the way stop by Sultanhani Caravanserai the largest and best preserved caravanserai where traders would stop to overnight while traveling on the Silk Road. Arrive in Cappadocia and check into your hotel.
Day 9: Cappadocia. Pick up at your hotel and leave for the Kaymakli Underground City, the most excavated underground city in Turkey used by various civilizations since 1500 BC See where entire villages would retreat in the threat of invaders continuing their daily activities for up to 2 months (even in the summer it is cool down here – a light jacket is recommended). Continue to the recently discovered archaeological site of the ancient Roman city of Sobesos which is still under excavation. Visit Mustafapasa, an old Greek village, and have lunch at the Old Greek House, an historic, family-owned B&B with original decorations reminiscent of the village that flourished here over a hundred years ago. Transfer to your hotel and check-in. End the day with a trip to Rose Valley to enjoy the sunset with a glass of local wine.
Day 10: Cappadocia. Begin your day early with an optional, but highly recommended unforgettable hot air balloon ride watching the sun rise over the unique and beautiful Rose Valley. Meet your guide for a trip to Devrent (or Imagination) Valley where your imagination can find various shapes in the formations as it can with the clouds in the sky. Continue your enchanted journey to Pasabag Fairy Chimney Valley where some local elderly people still believe nature spirits reside.
Next see the village of Avanos, a center for terra cotta work for 5000 years where you will have lunch with the locals. Continue to the amazing Goreme Open Air Museum with some of the best preserved cave churches murals and frescoes including the elaborate Dark Church. Stop at Esentepe for a Turkish coffee, a rest, and a beautiful view; try Maras, a unique, delicious, taffy-like ice-cream made with orchid flowers. Continue to Uchisar “Castle”, a giant rock that was carved as a fortress used from the 7th – 12th centuries. Stop by Pigeon Valley on the way back to your hotel.
Day 11: Cappadocia. Drive to the verdant and beautiful Ihlara Valley for a walk by the Melendiz Stream. The canyon gorge is honeycombed with ancient churches and dwellings of the first Christians escaping Roman soldiers in the Byzantine era. End the journey for lunch at the small village of Belisirma on the Melendiz River. Drive to Selime. Stop by Yaprakhisar for a photo opportunity to see part of the landscape used by George Lucas in “Star Wars”. Continue to Selime Monastery, the largest monastery in Cappadocia carved into a cliff dating from the 10th century where you can get a glimpse of ancient monastic life. Return to your hotel.
Day 12: Cappadocia. Istanbul. Pick up from your hotel in the morning and transfer to the airport for your flight to Istanbul.
Might be little bit less or more depends of the flight costs. You will be informed about it.
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