Day 1: Departure from USA
An overnight flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
Day 2: Arrive in Istanbul
We arrive in Turkey’s cultural and spiritual heart today and transfer to our hotel. As guests’ arrival times may vary greatly, we have no group activities or meals planned; on our own we can explore the area surrounding our hotel or simply relax. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 3: Full Day Istanbul Tour (B)
After breakfast, pick up from hotel and our journey begins in Istanbul, the only city in the world situated on two continents. First visit Hagia Sophia the Byzantine church which was converted to a mosque in 15th century. We visit the Topkapi Palace, The Blue Mosque and Hippodrome where chariot races and the Byzantine riots took place. At the end of the day visit the Grand Bazaar for shopping.
Day 4: Istanbul – Ankara (B-D)
Today, you will visit the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar). The air here is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, and thyme. Later we will join a boat trip on the Bosphorus, a traditional excursion by boat along the waterway separating Europe and Asia. The shore is lined with old wooden villas, palaces of marble, fortresses, and small fishing villages. Depart for Ankara in the afternoon. Dinner and overnight in Ankara.
Day 5: Ankara – Cappadocia (B-D)
Visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk, father of modern Turkey, and the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations with its Hittite treasures and artifacts from the world’s oldest city. Continue to Cappadocia, famous for its “moon-like” landscapes. En route visit the 13th century Caravanserai. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 6: Cappadocia (B-D)
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. Medieval Christian monks established a community of monasteries by carving their churches out of the soft volcanic stone that is part of this terrain. On the stone walls of the caves, they depicted the New Testament with paintings and vibrant frescoes. Tonight you have the option of watching a Whirling Dervishes Ceremony or relaxing in your room.
Day 7: Cappadocia (B-D)
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.
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 11th century. After lunch break, you’ll enjoy an informative discussion on the Turkish tradition of hand-looming at a carpet workshop. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 8: Konya – Pamukkale (B-D)
Morning departure and at around mid-day, you’ll reach the historic holy city of Konya. Once known as Iconium, Konya was home of the Whirling Dervishes. Here, you visit the Mevlana Museum, containing the mausoleum of the founder of the Whirling Dervishes. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale.
Day 9: Hierapolis – Kusadasi (B-D)
Today you’ll visit Hierapolis and travertine to experience the healing center and its natural formations. Pamukkale is famous not only for the stunning aspect of its unique geological formations, but also for its historical remains. Hot, calcium oxide-rich waters flowing down the slopes that overlook the fertile river valley have, over the millennia, built up deposits of white travertine on the plateau. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 10: Kusadasi – Ephesus (B-D)
After breakfast 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 city 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 11: Pergamon – Canakkale (B-D)
After breakfast we will depart for Pergamon. First we’ll visit the Asclepium, ancient medical center built in the name of Asclepios, God of Medicine. Following lunch, continue to Pergamon Acropolis, where the temple of Athena, Altar of Zeus, Temple of Dionysos, Library, Agora, Great Theater and the Roman Baths will be seen. Then visit Troy’s legendary walls and replica of the famous wooden horse used during the Trojan War. Dinner and overnight in Canakkale.
Day 12: Troy – Istanbul (B)
Today you’ll visit legendary Troy, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is the city where, in Homer’s monumental Iliad, Helen’s face is said to have launched a thousand ships. Until 1870, it was thought that Troy was a fictional place. Depart for Istanbul this afternoon. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 13: Departure from Istanbul (B)
Transfer to Istanbul Airport for your flight back home.