Voyage around the Mediterranean Sea. Visit the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar, each with their own inherently Turkish representations. Then add a trip to the mysterious underground city of Kaymakli, another to the stunning Pamukkale lime cascades and even a visit to the coastal resort of Gocek.
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 privilige 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 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: Fethiye. Early the next morning we depart for Fethiye to embark on a gullet cruise. We will sail the beautiful tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea for most of the day before dropping anchor later on where we can spend the night aboard our boat. Includes: (B & D).
Day 7: Oludeniz. Today after breakfast, we depart for Oludeniz, also known as the ‘Blue Lagoon’. The stunning scenery surrounding this beautiful small lake makes for a lovely setting in which to have a swim or simply relax and take it all in. We then continue to our next stop, Gemiler Island. Gemiler Island is covered with Lycian Ruins, several Byzantine churches and the remains of a harbor that according to legend, was used by pirates! We will spend the night here to make the most of this beautiful spot and maybe even search for treasure! Includes: (B, L & D).
Day 8: Gocek. This morning we depart early for Gocek, an area of beautiful inlets and some seaside ruins. We will have lunch there and enjoy a free afternoon swimming in the crystal clear waters or again simply relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere. Our final night’s stay will then be spent in Bedirhan. Includes: (B, L & D).
Day 9: Marmaris. We will have breakfast on the way back to Marmaris. Your tour ends upon the port at Marmaris. 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 our so don’t forget to check!
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