Highlights of this itinerary:
Istanbul (2 days), Cappadocia (3 days), Konya to Antalya (1 day), Antalya (2 days), Kaş and Kekova (1 day), Pamukkale and Aphrodisias (1 day), Ephesus (1 day), Pergamon, Troy and Canakkale (1 day), return to Istanbul via Gallipoli (1 day).
All our programmes include professional English-speaking tour guides, museum and sights' entrance fees, lunches as mentionned, accommodation, domestic connections and transfers, deluxe minivan with A/C.
Day 1: Istanbul Ottoman and Byzantine relics
|First we visit Hagia Sophia: The Church of the Holy Wisdom, known as Hagia Sophia in Greek, and Ayasofya or Aya Sofya in Turkish, is a former Byzantine church and former Ottoman mosque in Istanbul. Now a museum, Hagia Sophia is universally acknowledged as the supreme masterpiece of Byzantine architecture. |
|Topkapi Palace served as the residence of the sultan and administrative seat of the Ottoman Empire for 400 years. The Museum boasts an exquisite collection of crystal, silver and Chinese porcelain, as well as the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury and the Prophet Muhammed's cloak and sword. |
|After lunch, we visit The Sultanahmet Mosque, better known as the Blue Mosque, is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world and one of very few to have six minarets. Inside, the high ceiling is lined with the 20,000 blue tiles that give the mosque its commonly-used name. Fine examples of 16th-century Iznik design, the overall effect is one of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul. |
|The site of the original Hippodrome dates back to 196. Constantine the Great turned it into a vast stadium capable of seating 100,000 spectators who watched horse and chariot races, gladiatorial combats, and other spectacles. Nearby are the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column from Delphi, the Column of Constantine and the fountain of Wilhelm II. |
|Also known as the “Sunken Palace”, The Basilica Cistern, was built as a water reservoir to provide water to the Palace and nearby buildings during the reign of Emperor Justinian I. With a capacity of 900,000 m3 water and covering nearly 1,000 m2 it is the best preserved Byzantine cistern in the world. |
|For your comfort we have chosen the following hotels in Istanbul:|
Four Seasons Hotel
The Marmara Hotel
Please let us know if you would like to extend your stay in Istanbul, all our suggested programmes can be adapted to your travel schedule and interests.
Day 2: Dolmabahce Palace & Cruise along the Bosphorus
|Dolmabahce Palace was built by order of Sultan Abdülmecit in 1853. This famous palace was the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans. The ballroom is the largest of its kind in the world. A 4.5 ton colossal crystal chandelier hangs from the 36m high dome. |
|After our visit of Dolmabahce Palace, we embark for a cruise on the Bosphorus. A leisurely cruise on the famous Bosphorus is the ideal way to see Istanbul, taking you past Ottoman palaces, wooden 19th century waterfront mansions, modern pleasure palaces and fortresses. The perfect opportunity for taking photographs along both shores of this fabled waterway. |
|To end our day, we explore the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar. Grand Covered Bazaar: In this labyrinth of streets and passages are over 4,000 shops with each trade having its own area: the goldsmiths' street, the carpet sellers, Turkish arts and crafts, such as handpainted ceramic plates, hand-honed copperware, brassware and trays, water ewers and onyx-ware. Transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Cappadocia. Overnight in a Boutique Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.|
Day 3: North Cappadocia
|After breakfast leave the hotel to our first stop to see the Urgup Fairy Chimneys and then on to visit the magnificent sites of Cappadocia. The Pigeon Valley, just outside Göreme in Cappadocia, is one of Turkey’s most beautiful landscapes. The unique rock formations known as fairy chimneys, made from wind and water erosion on soft volcanic rock, rise high and are dotted on their tops with dovecotes. The world-famous Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Your guide will explain the meanings of the frescos in the cave churches, decorated with scenes of the Old and New Testaments dating back as far as the 10th century. The site has been used as a monastery since the first years of Christianity. Pasabag Valley contains some of the most striking fairy chimneys in Cappadocia with twin and even triple caps. This style is unique even for Cappadocia and these fairy chimneys are named mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon is built in one of the fairy chimneys. The red, iron-ore bearing clay deposited by the longest river in Turkey, The Kizilirmak, or "Red River" has been used to make pottery in Avanos for thousands of years. Today, the best of the ceramics and tiles on sale in Istanbul and other major cities are made here in Avanos. You can watch potters spinning their traditional potters wheels with their feet, and even try throwing a pot yourself.|
Overnight in a Boutique Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.
Optional but Highly Recommended
Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Whirling Dervishes Ceremony, Turkish Night. See details and ask us about horseriding, jeep safari, photosafari, quad/ATV or any other activities that might interest you.
|For your comfort we have chosen the following hotels in Cappadocia: |
Kayakapi Premium Caves
Please let us know if you would like to extend your stay in Cappadocia, all our suggested programmes can be adapted to your travel schedule and interests.
Day 4: Kaymakli Underground City and Ihlara Valley
| Carved by the Hittites about 3500 years ago, Kaymakli multi-level underground city was used by early Christians as a main shelter from marauding enemies during the 6th and 7th centuries. Kaymakli is one of the biggest underground cities in Cappadocia with 8 levels including stables, temples and wineries. The magnificent lush Ihlara Valley. Walk alongside the Melindiz river which winds its way through the Ihlara gorge, stopping for lunch in a restaurant on the river in the village of Belisirma. The whole canyon is honeycombed with rock-cut underground dwellings and churches from the Byzantine period. Climb to Selime Monastery, the largest rock-cut monastery in Cappadocia with a large cave cathedral and breathtaking views over the area. Selime Monastery is a three-aisled basilica. It has an apse covered with a semi-spherical dome and two lateral apses. |
Overnight in a Boutique Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.
Day 5: South Cappadocia
|Drive to Mustafapasa formerly known as Sinasos. Mustafapasa was one of the largest towns in Cappadocia with a Greek-speaking population until the Treaty of Lausanne and the 1924 population exchange. Mustafapasa is famous for its finely carved facades on the Greek mansions and the magnificent frescos of the Church of Constantine and Helen. We then visit Keslik Monastery, which boasts one of the rare examples of iconoclastic Cappadocian frescoes. Our professional guide will show you these exceptional wall paintings and discuss the iconoclastic period (726-843 AD), and how and why these type of were forbidden by the Byzantine Emperors. At Sahinefendi, you can discover the Sobesos Excavation site. Archeologists have discovered Roman baths, tombs, basilica, mosaics and other important artefacts. After lunch, we spend the afternoon exploring the Soganli Valley, once the third largest monastic center in the area and boasts many Byzantine cave churches and a beautiful hiking valley.|
Carpets and kilims from Central Anatolia are world-famous. In Cappadocia, carpets are still handmade on authentic looms using natural dyes for the wool. You have the opportunity to see a free demonstration to watch these centuries-old techniques still in use today.
Overnight in a Boutique Cave Hotel in Cappadocia.
Day 6: Konya to Antalya
|Drive to Konya, en route visit to the Sultanhani Caravanserai. On the ancient Silk Road, Seljuk Turkish Sultan Alaettin Keykubad I built a caravanserai between 1229 and 1236 which was named the Sultan Han. It is the largest Seljuk caravanserai in Turkey and a prime example of Selcuk architecture. One good reason to visit Konya is to see the Mevlana Museum which shelters the tomb of Jelaleddin Rumî (1207-1273), known to his followers as Mevlana (or Rumî), a Muslim poet and mystic and one of the great spiritual thinkers and teachers of all time. |
Overnight in Antalya.
|For your comfort we have chosen the following hotel in Antalya: Rixos Downtown Antalya Hotel|
Please let us know if you would like to extend your stay in Konya, all our suggested itineraries can be adapted to your travel schedule and interests.
Day 7: Perge, Side, Aspendos
|Drive to Perge. Perge was founded by Akhas, Mopsos, and Arnphilokhos who came here after the Trojan wars. Perge was first mentioned in 333 BC when Alexander the Great passed through here. Especially in the first and the second centuries BC, Perge became one of the richest towns in Pamphylia. Therefore it is not a surprising that St. Paul started his campaign in Anatolia from Perge in 46 AD. It is one of the better-preserved archaeological sites in Turkey. Aspendos: The eastern land of Antalya was called Pamphylia in ancient times. Aspendos (Belkis) lies 47km east of Antalya in the Pamphylian plain. Aspendos is most renowned for its theatre, the best-preserved ancient theater in Turkey. It was built by Romans and maintained by Byzantines and Seljuks. The ruins of the ancient city are extensive and include a stadium, an agora, and a basilica. Side used to be one of the most important trade centers in the antiquity. Like the other Pamphylian cities in general, Side was ruled by Lydia in the sixth cent. B. C. and Persia after 547 B. C. The coins minted in here prove that Side had at least an internal independence. Alexander the Great conquered Side in the first year of the great campaign on Asia in 334 B. C. and was introduced to Hellenistic culture. |
Overnight in Antalya.
Day 8: Antalya, Kaş and Myra
|We visit the Antalya Archaelogical Museum, before driving to Kas and visiting Myra on the way.|
The Antalya Archeological Museum is one of Turkey's largest museums. It includes 14 exhibition halls and an open air gallery and showcases the history of the Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions in Anatolia. The Museum won the “European Council Special Prize” in 1988. The Museum today covers an area of 30.000 square meters and boasts a large garden containing some fine statues and other artifacts. On the Lycian coast the remains of Pagan, Roman, Hellenistic, Byzantine and Ottoman civilizations and cultures can be seen not just on land, but also under the sea. Historic and cultural sights abound and there are a number of scenic spots of natural beauty which are a delight to visit on a hot, Mediterranean summer day. Myra: Some of the finest examples of Lycian funerary architecture are to be found at Myra, near the town of Demre. The site, about a mile from the town, includes a vast Roman theatre in good repair and build against a cliff face that also houses impressive sets of Lycian tombs. St. Nicholas Church: Best known as the patron saint of children, who was born at Patara araund AD. 300 and bishop of Myra where he died. The miracles he performed in life time and stories that surrounded him have identified today in the West with Father Christmas.
Overnight in Kas.
|For your comfort we have chosen the following hotel in Kas: Asfiya Hotel|
Day 9: Kekova Boat Tour
|Enjoy a boat trip across the sea to Kekova Island. Beneath the clear waters you can see the remains of Simena, a city ravaged by earthquakes around two thousand years ago. Structural movements of the land over the years have caused some of the ancient houses to be totally submerged while remains of the others are scattered along the shore. On the way back to Kas, we stop for swimming in the turquoise blue Mediterranean warm water.|
Overnight in Kas.
Day 10: Aphrodisias, Pamukkale and Hierapolis
|Aphrodisias is one of the oldest sacred sites in Turkey. Dedicated to the ancient Mother Goddess and then the Greek goddess Aphrodite, it was the site of a magnificent Temple of Aphrodite and the home of a renowned school of marble sculpture. Aphrodisias also offers ruins of a large theater, a stadium and a museum. Pamukkale is one of the most interesting places in the world, justly famous not only for the entrancing beauty of its unique geological formations but also for its historical remains. Hierapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hot springs there have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC. Ancient City of Hierapolis with the theatre, Temple of Apollo dating from the Hellenistic era and the magnificent Necropolis. The vast necropolis is filled with sarcophagi, including the Sarcophagus of Marcus Aurelius Ammianos. |
Overnight in Pamukkale in a Thermal Springs Hotel.
Day 11: Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary
|We drive to Kusadasi, en route visiting the House of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of Ephesus. The House of Virgin Mary, where it is believed she spent her last days. Some four to six years after the death of Christ, St. John is said to have accompanied the Virgin Mary to Ephesus. This is a holy place for both Christians and Muslims. |
The Ancient City of Ephesus is known as one of the best preserved Greco-Roman cities. Walk down the marble streets, view the magnificent Celsius Library and the Grand Theatre, just a few of the many buildings and fountains that can be found in this open air museum. The Artemis Temple was one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Occupied from the 1st century to 7th century AD, the Slope Houses in Ephesus have been compared to the 1st century villas of Pompeii in importance. The Slope Houses are still being excavated but their decor and furnishings provide a great deal of information about the lifestyle of the Ephesian upper class in the Roman and Byzantine periods.
Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 12: Pergamon to Canakkale
|We drive to Canakkale, visiting Pergamon on the way. Bergama (ancient Pergamum or Pergamon) was renowned in Hellenic and Roman times for its great library and as the medical center where Galen laid the foundation for medical practice. Its foremost attraction is the Kizil Avlu or "Red Basilica", a huge edifice on the river not far from the Acropolis, originally built as a temple to the Egyptian god Osiris and converted to a basilica by the early Christians, when it was one of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor addressed by St John in the book of Revelation. After lunch drive to Troy. Troy is the ancient town described in Homer's Iliad and the 10-year Trojan Wars against the Greeks. Today you can visit the fortification walls of Troy Vl with its tower and gateway entrance, Temple of Athena - the focal point of a great annual festival in honour of the goddess Athena, and a replica of the Wooden Horse of Troy.|
Overnight in Canakkale.
|For your comfort we have chosen the following hotel in Canakkale: Kolin Hotel|
Day 13: Istanbul via Gallipoli
|The World War I battle for control of the Dardanelles strait was fought mainly on Turkey's Gallipoli peninsula, with appalling casualties. Today, the Gallipoli battlefields are silent, preserved as a National Park strewn with marble and bronze monuments, one of the most emotionally moving places to visit in Turkey. Cross the Dardanelles Strait to Istanbul.|
Overnight in Istanbul.
|Akresa Travel has years of experience at organising private VIP tailor-made holidays to Turkey, especially designed for those who prefer to travel at their own pace and explore places not included in the brochure itineraries. Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to advise you and organise the most appropriate programme to suit your interests, travel schedule and budget.|