This ten day tour showcases the rich history and stunning landscapes of Turkey. Take in the natural wonder of Cappadocia and Pamukkale, be inspired by the ruins of Ephesus and Troy and learn of the fated history of ANZAC cove and Gallipoli. Add a tour of Istanbul and you’ve got a fantastic 10 days on your hands!
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, situated high up and overlooking the Bosphorus, a stretch of water that divides Istanbul between Europe and Africa (Istanbul actually straddles the two continents). A guided tour will reveal the palaces long history and since it was the home of the Ottoman Sultans for around 400 of their 624 years in power it certainly has a lot of history to offer! 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 building that was unveiled as a basilica in 360.
Its design was said to have changed the history of architecture and it was the largest cathedral in the world for thousands of years. Now it stands as a museum offering the visitor interesting mosaics and relics as well as the chance to be awed by its huge ornate dome. After some lunch this afternoon, we will 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 where you will get the chance to do some shopping in 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. Cafes and restaurants are to be found as well so you can rest your feet and have a coffee before continuing on your way. 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 who was the leader of the Turkish War of Independence as well as the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. This 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 towards Cappadocia and en route will visit the picturesque Salt Lake - imagine the brightest of white salt, set against a vivid light blue lake combining to create a rather surreal setting. Take the opportunity to dip your toes in the water and feel the salt crystals under foot. Travelling east, away from the Mediterranean, the environment becomes more fertile and green which makes for a picturesque journey. 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 explore Cappadocia with visits to the Kaymakli Underground City, the Goreme Open Air Museum and the Uchisar Natural Fortress. 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. The untouched nature of the site really does create a truly remarkable atmosphere as you explore the hidden secrets of Turkey’s depths! 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 refectory monasteries all encompassing their own fanciful 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 as such provides the perfect setting to end today's tour. The rock formations are completely diverse to anything else around having been sculpted by centuries of wind and rain - there is nowhere else you would want to be as evening falls! 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 average 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: Kusadasi. Waking up amongst the natural wonder that is Pamukkale, we have a great day ahead with a visit to the ancient Hierapolis and the awesome lime cascades. We begin 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 benefitted 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. Eventually, we reach 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 you are not keen on getting wet today though, you can go and explore the large theatre nearby where you will find excavated reliefs and statues. Later we bid farewell to Pamukalle and head off to Kusadasi for our overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 7: Kusadasi. After breakfast we take a short drive to visit the impressive and historic site of Ephesus. This very well preserved site that was once home to over 250,000 people offers an impressive amphitheater as well as the ruins of Roman baths and the magnificent Library of Celsus. It takes a good hour or more to walk around and take the site in, so when you consider that only about 15% of it has been excavated you get a real sense of what an achievement its construction was.
From here we continue onto the Virgin Mary’s House. The small building in which it is believed that the Virgin Mary spent her last few days has evident religious connotations and is a sacred place that attracts many visitors wishing to pay their respects to loved ones and God. Like the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, even if you are not religious the atmosphere is serene and lends itself to contemplation. Tonight we once again stay in Kusadasi. Includes: (B & D).
Day 8: Canakkale. After breakfast at the hotel, we head North over Mount Ida and arrive at the ruins of an ancient Greek city at Pergamum. Taking a cable car up the steep slope to the entrance, enjoy the view and get ready for a guided tour around the site. An impressive amphitheater sits constructed in the steep hillside which, in its day, could hold up to ten thousand people.
There's also the remains of the library that had Alexandria so concerned that a brain drain from Egypt might occur, with scholars opting for Pergamum instead, that they stopped supplying papyrus to them! This in turn prompted the ruler of the time to instigate the creation of an alternative to the primitive paper: the solution was to be found in animal hide. From here we continue on upwards to Troy, the site where the legendary Trojan War took place. Enjoy a guided tour of the archaeological site and get a photo taken with the enormous Trojan horse! We end the day by driving to Canakkale for our overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 9: Istanbul. After breakfast at the hotel, we drive to Gallipoli and visit the historic sites of Anzac Cove, Nek, Conk Bair, Lone Pine, the 57th regiment memorial and the war museum. This area became famous following the World War 1 landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), with Anzac Cove deriving its name from its use as a base for the eight months of an attempted invasion. In April 1925, the troops approached with the intention of invading the Gallipoli Peninsula and seizing control of the Ottoman forts that guarded the Dardenelles straits.
Approaching in the pitch black of night, a terrible navigation error was made and the troops ended up landing in this exposed area that left them entirely open to attack from the surrounding hilltops. The respective forces lost many men in the conflict and the site has become somewhat of a pilgrimage for those wishing to remember their courageous ancestors. Today brings us back from the ancient and middle history that we have learnt about so far on the tour and after we head straight to the here and now as we head on to bustling Istanbul for our final night of the tour. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Istanbul. Your tour finishes after breakfast when you are free to take a transfer to the airport. Includes: (B).
Visa Information: Citizens from most countries including Britain must have a multiple entry visitor's visa valid for 90 days. These can be obtained either at the port of entry on payment of £10 in cash or from the Turkish Consulate in London. Please also ensure your passport is valid for six months after your return date and that you get your passport stamped upon entry into Turkey. This is your responsibility and not that of Nomadic so don’t forget to check!
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Middle East Turkey Local Culture Sightseeing