Day 1: Departure from USA
An overnight flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul
Arrive at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, meet our greeter and transfer to your hotel. Rest of the day is at your leisure. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 3: Full Day Istanbul Tour (B)
Begin with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the main residence of the Ottoman Sultans, with its jewel encrusted treasury and elegant four courts. After a lunch break, visit the main sights around Sultanahmet Square, including the famous Hagia Sophia Museum, once the largest church in the world for 1,000 years, and decorated with stunning VI Century Golden Mosaics. Then visit the Blue Mosque, designed with 6 delicate minarets and a striking blue Iznik tiled interior. Nearby, take a stroll through the site of the ancient Hippodrome, once the sporting ground of chariots and political riots, and see the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column and Fountain of Wilhelm II. Finally, visit the Grand Bazaar, where you can shop or haggle with local merchants over unusual antiques, colorful spices, beautiful jewelry and richly textured fabrics. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 4: Full Day Istanbul Tour (B)
Today, explore the bustling Egyptian Spice Market of XVII Century origin – a colorful bazaar heaped with spices, Turkish sweets, dried foods and much more. Then visit the beautifully tiled tiny Rustem Pasha Mosque hidden among the narrow cobbled market streets nearby. Next, we take a Bosphorus Tour Sightseeing Boat Trip (2 hr. boat ride) up Istanbul’s winding straits for a chance to relax and admire the shoreline of beautiful mosques, lavish palaces and decadent villas – you’ll see Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi Palaces, Ottoman summer mansions and Ortakoy Mosque, the Defensive Rumeli Fortress and Bosphorus Bridge. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 5: Istanbul – Kusadasi – Ephesus Tour (B)
Pick up from hotel and transfer to Istanbul Airport for morning flight to Izmir. Arrive in Izmir Airport, meet your guide and drive to Ephesus . We’ll first visit the Artemis Temple which is one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. Continue to Ephesus, one of the 12 cities of Ionia and one of the best preserved classical cities of the Eastern Mediterranean dated back to 2,000 years. Afternoon visit House of Virgin Mary. Transfer to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Kusadasi – Cappadocia Tour (B)
Pick up from hotel and transfer to Izmir Airport for morning flight to Cappadocia (via Istanbul). Arrive in Kayseri Airport, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel. Afternoon begin your tour in Cappadocia. Today you will visit the vast Uchisar Kale (fortress) that dominates the skyline for miles. Continue to the underground city of Kaymakli, once a refuge from Arab, Roman, and Mongolian aggressors. Our last stop will be Cavusin Village, where we will see frescoes dating back to XI Century. Overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 7: Cappadocia Tour – Istanbul (B)
You can rise early this morning (weather permitting) and get a new perspective on the intriguing tufa landscapes while gliding smoothly above them on our optional, Hot Air Balloon Excursion.
In the morning, explore the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent Valley – also known as the “Valley of the Fairy Chimneys”. Visit the conical tufa formations capped with basalt that are still used as storage units today in Pasabag. After lunch in Avanos, you will visit a cave pottery atelier where you will observe some of the local pottery creations. Our last stop will be Goreme Open-Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There, you’ll view the ancient rock-hewn churches sculpted in the hillsides almost 1,000 years ago. Transfer to the airport for your flight back to Istanbul. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 8: Departure (B)
Private transfer to the airport for your flight back home.