Day 1: Australia –– Istanbul
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible Turkish holiday.
Day 2: Istanbul
Welcome to Turkey! Arrive at Ataturk International Airport and be transferred to your hotel. You are then at leisure to enjoy Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Later today, join your fellow group members for a Welcome meeting with your tour leader at 6pm.
Hotel: Dossi Dossi (or similar)
Located in the prominent Sultanahmet district, Dosso Dossi Hotels Old City is within walking distance of many historic sites and the ideal base from which to explore this historic city. Property facilities include a Turkish bath, sauna, and a fitness centre.
Day 3: Istanbul (B)
You will start your journey in the footsteps of the city’s most famous ruler. Head to Sultanahmet (also known as the Old City, formerly Constantinople), where ancient empires based themselves and historical sites intertwine with backstreets filled with hidden gems. Here you’ll visit the jaw-dropping Hagia Sophia, whose stunning construction is said to have changed the history of architecture. When not erecting splendid buildings, the Byzantine Emperors loved a bit of entertainment, and the hippodrome was their stadium. Inspect some of the decorative statues and obelisks that remain from a time when this now tree-lined land would hold thousands of chariot racing fans.
Continue the tour with a visit to the almighty Grand Bazaar, packed with over 3,000 stalls of handcrafted jewellery, textiles and books. Enjoy some free time at the nearby Spice Market to explore on your own. Then comes the Suleymaniye Mosque, crowning one of Istanbul’s seven hills and dominating the Golden Horn – a landmark for the entire city. Though it’s not the largest of the Ottoman mosques, it is certainly one of the grandest and most beautiful. It’s also unusual in that many of its original külliye (mosque complex) buildings have been retained and sympathetically adapted for reuse.
Optional tour (at own expense): Istanbul Night Tasting Trail
Day 4: Istanbul –– Cappadocia (B,L,D)
This morning, you will be transferred to Ataturk Airport for you onward flight to Cappadocia. Beat the crowds as you replace a full day’s bus drive typically arranged by other operators with convenient plane transfers for maximum value! After you settle to your beautiful rooms at one of the world-famous cave hotels made from ancient stone, your tour leader will take you out for local lunch.
One of Turkey’s Unesco World Heritage sites, the Göreme Open-Air Museum is an essential stop on any Cappadocian itinerary. First an important Byzantine monastic settlement that housed some 20 monks, then a pilgrimage site from the 17th century, this splendid cluster of monastic Byzantine artistry with its rock-cut churches, chapels and monasteries is 1km uphill from Göreme’s centre. You will continue your tour with a stop at Avanos where you can try your hands at pottery making. Avanos with the Red River crossing by is famous for its red clay worldwide. Finish the day with a traditional Turkish Night as you experience local customs and traditions.
Hotel: Exedra (or similar)
In the town of Ortahisar; which means ‘middle fortress’ as a reference to its towering volcanic rock formation, Exedra Cappadocia recovers the history of the ancient culture buried deep within the soils of Cappadocia.
Day 5: Cappadocia (B)
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and go for a walk to the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur. You’ll see fascinating rock formations such as cones, peaks and fairy chimneys, as well as manmade cave chapels from early Christian times. Around noon, your tour leader will take you to the enchanting underground complex of Kaymaklı with its miraculously well-maintained structure. One of the most famous and wonderful underground cities in Cappadocia, Kaymaklı is situated on Ihlara Road and protected by the UNESCO World Heritage initiative. Established under a great hill well known as the Citadel or Sanctuary of Kaymaklı, the city’s history dates to the Hittites and Phrygians Period in B.C. 3000. The rest of the day is at your leisure.
Optional tour (at own expense): Hot Air Ballooning
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. Please note this activity can only be booked locally. Please speak to your tour leader for details. It is important you arrange this on day 1 of the tour due to high demand and limited availability.
Optional tour (at own expense): Wine and sunset tour
Optional tour (at own expense): Whirling Dervish Show
Day 6: Cappadocia – Konya (B,L,D)
Today’s itinerary starts with a 3-hour transfer to Konya. Upon arrival, freshen up and enjoy lunch before heading to Mevlana Museum which is the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian Sufi mystic also known as Mevlâna or Rumi. It was also the dervish lodge of the Mevlevi order, better known as the whirling dervishes. Later this evening, join your tour leader for a taste of local food culture to round off the day.
Hotel: Şems-i Tebrizi (or similar)
This elegant hotel enjoys a charming design. The guest rooms have been designed with functionality and modernity in mind, ideal for the discerned traveller.
Day 7: Konya – Antalya (B,L)
Heading down to the coast we take a 4-hour scenic drive to the jewel in the Mediterranean crown – Antalya. Following lunch, join an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the old Roman Harbour and the stunning turquoise waters.
Optional tour (at own expense): Antalya Museum
Hotel: Aspen (or similar)
Strategically located, you are surrounded by the beautiful scene of the Toros Mountains, Kaleici and the Marina. The garden area with its tranquil ambience presents an ideal spot to replenish your energy levels.
Day 8: Antalya (B)
Today is a free day for you to enjoy the Mediterranean coast at leisure.
Optional tour (at own expense): Antalya Museum
Optional tour (at own expense): Visit the Greco-Roman city of Aspendos
Optional tour (at own expense): Explore the ancient Anatolian city of Perga
Optional tour (at own expense): Take a relaxing boat trip on the coast’s wondrous turquoise waters
Optional tour (at own expense): Admire the majestic Düden Waterfalls
Optional tour (at own expense): Explore the Pisidian city of Termessos in the Taurus Mountains
Day 9: Antalya – Pamukkale (B,L,D)
After breakfast, take a 3.5-hour transfer to Pamukkale. Enjoy a hearty lunch at the hotel, then join your tour leader for a trip to Hierapolis. The surreal, brilliant white travertine terraces and warm, limpid pools of Pamukkale hang, like the petrified cascade of a mighty waterfall, from the rim of a steep valley side in Turkey’s picturesque southwest. Truly spectacular, the geological phenomenon that is Pamukkale, literally “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, is also the site of the remarkably well-preserved ruins of the Greek-Roman city of Hierapolis. With such a unique combination of natural and man-made wonders it is little wonder that Pamukkale-Hierapolis has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Hotel: Hierapark (or similar)
A luxury accommodation with spa and thermal facilities, Hierapark has welcomed guests in Pamukkale since 2017, proudly representing one of the newest additions in the area.
Day 10: Pamukkale – Izmir (B,L,D)
A 3.5-hour drive will take you to Izmir today, stopping at Sardis on the way. Sardis was an important ancient city and capital of the kingdom of Lydia, located in western Anatolia, present-day Sart. Its strategic location made it a central point connecting the interior of Anatolia to the Aegean coast. Throughout the course of history, control of Sardis changed many times, but it always maintained a high status among cities. Upon arrival in İzmir, your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk across the city. In the evening, indulge in delicious local seafood for dinner.
Hotel: Izmir Ibis (or similar)
Located in Izmir city centre, this property offers all the required amenities for a pleasant stay, such as open buffet breakfast, free WIFI and air conditioning throughout.
Day 11: Izmir – Ephesus – Sirince – Selcuk – Izmir (B,L,D)
Start your day with an excursion to Ephesus, which was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. During the Classical Greek era it was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League. The city flourished after it came under the control of the Roman Republic and was later famed for the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Among many other monumental buildings are the Library of Celsus, and a theatre capable of holding 25,000 spectators. Lunch will be served near the famous Sleepers cave (The “Seven Sleepers” were seven young men who had been walled up in a cave during the persecutions under Decius. They fell asleep, miraculously waking up in the time of Theodosius II).
Continue your tour with a visit to the Ephesus Museum, housing finds from the nearby Ephesus excavation site. Its best-known exhibit is the statue of Artemis retrieved from the temple of the goddess in Ephesus. Continue to Sirince and enjoy a tasting of delicious local wines. Look forward to dinner in Selcuk and return to your hotel after a long and breathtaking day.
Day 12: Izmir – Pergamon – Troy – Canakkale (B,L)
Leave Izmir behind this morning and take a 1.5-hour drive to the Pergamon ancient site. During the Hellenistic period, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon under the Attalid dynasty, who transformed it into one of the major cultural centres of the Greek world. Many remains of its impressive monuments can still be seen today, particularly the outstanding masterpiece of the Pergamon Altar. Pergamon is cited in the Book of Revelation as one of the seven churches of Asia. After lunch, continue the tour with the transfer to Troy. Troy is the name of the Bronze Age city attacked in the Trojan War, a popular story in the mythology of ancient Greece, and the name given to the archaeological site in the north-west of Asia Minor (now Turkey) which has revealed a large and prosperous city occupied over millennia. Round off the day with a quick transfer to Canakkale for an orientation walk around the city. The evening is free at your leisure.
Optional tour (at own expense): Carpet Demonstration in Bergama
Hotel: Grand Anzac (or similar)
Surrounded by shops and dining options, this relaxed hotel on a bustling city street is in the perfect position for a convenient stroll along the main roads.
Day 13: Canakkale – Istanbul (B,L,D)
Visit the Gallipoli Peninsula, a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealanders. Turkey’s most westerly point may feel serene despite its dark history as a major backdrop of the Great War. You’ll visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill to pay homage at the Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair memorials. From the Ataturk Memorial, you can look down on the blue waters of the Dardanelles and see them in a more sombre light. You’ll find the remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers around this area. After touring the former battlefields, take a 4.5-hour drive back to Istanbul, arriving in the late afternoon or early evening. Your tour leader will be inviting you to his favourite restaurant for a special farewell dinner tonight!
Hotel: Dossi Dossi (or similar)
Day 14: Istanbul –– Australia (B)
Bid farewell to Turkey today and take a transfer to the airport for your homeward flight.
Day 15: Australia
Arrive home today.