Want to see everything that Turkey has to offer? Then this is the trip for you! Leaving few stones unturned, see the best of Istanbul, venture to Anzac Cove and Troy, witness Pamukkale’s lime cascades, visit Fethiye and the nearby gorge and finally stop in Antalya to unwind amongst the beauty of the Turkish Coast...phew!
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. We move on to the Spice Bazaar now and the chance to explore one of the oldest bazaars in Istanbul. The large covered shopping area consists of 88 vaulted rooms where you will find all manner of herbs, spices and tantalizing fruits, nuts, seeds and, of course, Turkish Delight! This evening, eat in town and stay overnight here in Istanbul. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Canakkale. 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. Afterwards we will cross the Dardanelles, a stretch of water that connects the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmaris. The ferry journey does not take too long and you will soon be arriving at the hotel in Canakkale where a swim and relaxing evening await. Includes: (B, D).
Day 4: Kusadasi. After breakfast at the hotel, we head south 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 continue 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 are also the remains of the library that had Alexandria so concerned that a brain drain of 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. We wind up in Kusadasi where we will stay tonight. Includes: (B, D).
Day 5: 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 the visitor an impressive amphitheater as well as the ruins of Roman baths, 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.
We continue to one of the most beautiful villages in Turkey, Sirince. So proud were the locals of this beautiful spot that they once tried to eschew unwanted new comers by calling the place Cirinke which literally means ‘ugly’! If there’s time, enjoy some shopping and taste the delicious wines of the village. Later, we head back to Kusadasi for the night. Includes: (B, D).
Day 6: Marmaris. You could argue that we’ve saved the best until last on this tour because today we will visit the awe inspiring natural wonder of Pamukkale. Here you will find white travertine mineral deposits cascading down a huge hillside in terraces upon which pools of hot spring water have been formed. As you approach the site, you could be mistaken for thinking that you’d stumbled upon a small ski resort, it really is something to behold! Before we spend some time exploring the travertine terraces however, we take a walk through the ancient ruins of Hierapolis that form a convenient approach to the natural phenomena.
Learn about the ancient city that benefitted from the hot springs pouring from the surrounding rocks so enjoying hot, rejuvenating bathes. Witness the ruins of these as well as the necropolis and impressive Domitian gate. Strolling down 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. So on to the main site at Pamukkale, or (cotton castle”) and the opportunity for some fantastic views and a dip in the terraces.
Walking down through the warm water pools 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 the valley as you descend is spectacular. Also, 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, you can go and explore the large theatre that is set nearby where you will find excavated reliefs and statues. We depart the cotton castle and head to Marmaris where we will stay tonight. Includes: (B & D).
Day 7: Fethiye. After breakfast, this morning we drive to the lakeside town of Koycegiz. The town of Köycegiz is a placid town and a perfect starting point for our boat cruise. It’s situated at the northern end of the lake which is joined to the Mediterranean Sea by a natural channel called Dalyan. Here the unique environment is preserved as both a nature and wildlife sanctuary. We will explore the maze of channels by boat, which will eventually lead us to the mouth of the Dalyan delta with its long golden sandy beach, a common refuge for the loggerhead sea turtles.
We also have the opportunity to smother ourselves in mud at the local mud baths! We then continue our journey to Fethiye. En route we’ll stop to explore Kayakoy, a preserved museum village of Greek style houses and churches. Greek speaking Christians lived here until the 1920’s and most of the buildings are still intact. Arriving in Fethiye we have dinner in a local restaurant before our overnight stay. Includes: (B & D).
Day 8: Fethiye. After breakfast spend the day at your leisure. Fethiye is a bustling harbor town situated on the so called Turquoise Coast. It is a great place to visit with lots of markets and shops as well as lots of sights nearby such as the Lycian rock tombs, especially the Amyntas Tomb. If you prefer take the time to relax on Calis beach. With its long stretch of beautiful, golden sand it's perfect for lying back and catchinig some rays!
Calis is most famous for its sunset and the beach front with its many restaurants and bars will provide an ambience to suit your taste. If you would like to venture out a bit further still, you can also visit Oludeniz, the famous ‘Blue Lagoon’, which is popular for its watersport activities. Overnight today will be spent in Fethiye. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Antalya. After breakfast, we leave Fethiye to visit the stunning Saklikent Gorge. Saklikent Gorge, or the "Hidden Valley", is 18 km long making it one of the longest and deepest gorges in Turkey. You can walk into the gorge over the natural style bridge and into the canyon, wading through the water. There are even restaurants built on wooden platforms suspended just above the rushing water -what a place to have a drink! We will then continue our journey to Antalya, crossing the Tauros Mountains, where we have dinner at our hotel and stay overnight. Includes: (B & D).
Day 10: 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 11: Antalya. Your tour finishes after breakfast when you are free to take a transfer to the airport. Includes: (B).
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Middle East Turkey Local Culture Cultural Journey