Get to know awe-inspiring Turkey on this popular 8 day tour. The Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, the mysterious underground city of Kaymakli, the stunning Pamukkale lime cascades and the coastal resort of Antalya. A classic journey that shows you everything that’s great about Turkey and certainly one not to miss!
Day 1: Istanbul. Welcome to Turkey! Upon your arrival, you will be met by our representative before transfer to your Hotel. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure and stay overnight at the joining hotel here in Istanbul.
Day 2: Istanbul. After breakfast at the hotel, we set out on our first day of sightseeing. First up is the impressive Topkapi Palace. Home of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 of their 624 years in power, it has a lot of history to offer! On a guided tour expect to see treasure, jewellery, weapons, shields and armour as you explore the Palace and learn of its past. Next up is St. Sophia, an incredible basilica unveiled in 360. Its design was said to have changed the history of architecture and it was actually the largest cathedral in the world for thousands of years.
Now it stands as a museum offering interesting mosaics, relics and an impressive, ornate dome. After lunch we head over to the Blue Mosque, another of Istanbul’s famous landmarks. Six towering minarets overlook the mosque and the central courtyard with its vaulted arcade that runs around its perimeter, providing shelter from the sun. Inside we find a beautifully decorated, holy place: 20,000 decorated tiles and 200 stain glass windows provide a spectacle for the visitor. With its domed roof and beautiful decoration, the Blue Mosque is a serene place to be, especially around the Muslim prayer times when many local people are visiting to pray.
Our last stop is the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest indoor markets in the world. 58 streets hold over 4000 shops offering plenty from leather, jewellery and pottery to spice and carpet shops as well souvenirs everyday goods and clothes. Of course there are cafes and restaurants so you can rest your feet and have a coffee before shopping some more! It’s a busy place with up to half a million visitors everyday so the atmosphere is great. Just make sure you find your way back to the right gate to get out, there are 22 in all! This evening, eat in town and stay overnight here in Istanbul. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Cappadocia. After breakfast, we depart for Ankara where we will visit the Anitkabir or, translated literally, the “memorial tomb”. This is the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. The amazing memorial was created by an architect who won the privilege of designing it in a Turkish Government run competition! Wander around the site which overlooks Ankara and then explore the interesting museum that outlines, in detail, the work of Ataturk.
You really get a sense of what an impressive person he was and just how much he means to Turkish people to this day. Afterwards, we continue travelling east away from the Mediterranean towards Cappadocia. See the landscape become more fertile and green which making for a picturesque journey. En route we will visit the picturesque Salt Lake - imagine the brightest of white salt, set against a vivid light blue lake. Dip your toes in the water and feel the salt crystals under foot. We will also pass by the 13th century Seljukian Caravanserai Agzikarahan on the ancient Silk Road before coming to rest at our destination for an overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 4: Cappadocia. Today we get to grips with the area of Cappadocia. Beginning at the underground city of Kaymakli, we descend underground to find some 100 tunnels joining features such as stables and churches to kitchens and storage facilities. It's hard to believe that they were man made and hearing about the various rooms and chambers is fascinating. Having explored the four floors that are open to the public, we head back to ground level and move on to the open air Museum at Goreme. Resembling a huge monastic complex, it offers numerous decorated churches.
If frescoes are your thing, then this is certainly the place for you: scores of incredible wall paintings can be seen with many retaining much of their original colors. From here we head to our final stop, the natural fortress at Uchisar. This remarkable feature, riddled with man-made dwellings and dove cotes, dominates the Cappadocia skyline and provides a perfect setting to end today's tour. The rock formations have been sculpted by centuries of wind and rain leaving a kind of lunar landscape that is unlike anything you've seen before! Tonight we stay overnight in Cappadocia. Includes: (B & D).
Day 5: Pamukkale. Leaving early for Pamukkale, we visit the 13th century Sultanhan Caravanserai. An impressive, decorated stone work structure, the Caravanserai was built during the Seljuk period and was built on the old Silk Road that was an important trade and military route. It provided safe shelter for travellers and their animals especially in winter when temperatures could plummet. There would have been many of these lodges once, their locations being based on the distance your avergae camel could walk in a day!
After taking in this early form of a motorway service station, we head onto Konya and the Mausoleum of Mevlana. Also known as the Green Mausoleum or Green Dome this was the original lodge of the Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes, an ancient spiritual Sufi Muslim group. Nowadays it is still an important place of pilgrimage despite now also being an international tourist attraction. From here we continue to Pamukkale where we will spend the night here in one of Turkey’s most astonishing places. Includes: (B & D).
Day 6: Antalya. We begin today by taking a walk through the ancient ruins of Hierapolis that form a convenient approach to the natural phenomena of the lime travertines. Here we learn about the ancient city that benefited from the hot springs pouring from the surrounding rocks and witness the ruins of the bathes as well as the necropolis and impressive Domitian gate. Strolling down the stone roads that bear grooves ploughed by carriages in days gone by, you really get a sense of how life might have been back then. Next is the natural phenomenon at Pamukkale, or “cotton castle”.
The white travertine mineral deposits, cascading down the hillside in terraces upon which pools of hot spring water have been formed are an incredible sight. Walking down through the warm water pools really is a unique experience and well worth doing. Some are deep enough to bathe in should you wish and the view over the terraces and valley as you descend is spectacular. In addition, there is a center that has a restaurant as well as a larger dedicated hot spring pool that you can pay to use. If this doesn't appeal, there are ruins of a large theatre nearby where you will find excavated reliefs and statues. Later we bid farewell to Pamukalle and head off to Antalya for our overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 7: Antalya. Spend today at your leisure in this popular sea resort. Antalya is blessed with a stunning setting atop a limestone plateau. Explore the central old quarter of the town of Kaleici with its narrow winding streets surrounded by Roman walls as well as the pretty harbor. In addition, there's a great archaeological museum with plenty of historic buildings and ancient ruins nearby. A great day to finish the tour on! Tonight we will stay in Antalya for our final dinner and overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 8: Antalya. Your tour finishes after breakfast when you are free to take your transfer to the airport. Includes: (B).
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