The most popular image many visitors have of Turkey is one of idyllic Mediterranean beaches, lapped by an azure sea. Sun and sand, however, barely hint at the riches this country has to offer. A bridge between Asia and Europe, Turkey is one of the great cradles of civilization - a proud country whose cultural and historic treasures will delight and inspire even seasoned travellers.
Contrasts between old and new add greatly to the fascination that overwhelms visitors to Turkey. Istanbul, the metropolis of this fast-changing nation, displays all the hustle and bustle of a great world city. Pictures can only hint at the enchantment that awaits visitors in Cappadocia. Here, centuries of underground activity have resulted in entire cities carved deep into the porous tuff, while aeons of erosion have carved the landscape into fantastic fairy-tale like mushroom formations. Add to this countless ancient ruins, and the friendliness and hospitality of the Turkish people, and you are guaranteed an unforgettable holiday.
Join us on this beautiful tour to Turkey, sampling its culture and heritage....
The city has numerous interesting places to visit. Our tour will concentrate on the most famous monuments, namely Topkapi Palace, Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.
Trying to describe Cappadocia in physical terms simply does not do justice to the air of mystery that pervades the area. Remarkable conical outcrops, called peri bacalan (fairy chimneys), are the region's most famous and characteristic feature.
Konya is set on a high, bleak plain in the middle of the Anatolian steppe. The city was known as Iconium to the Romans, and the Byzantines. Your visit will include the Mevlana Museum, originally a dervish lodge. It contains the tomb of Rumi, the founder of the Mevlevi dervish sect - better known as the whirling dervishes.
Perge was once a wealthy city. It declined in Byzantine times, and was abandoned in the 7th century. However, it still represents an impressive sight. The theatre is one of the most impressive remnants (its frieze of Neptune can bee seen in the Archaeological Museum in Antalya) and the huge stadium is still intact.
The site was given the name of Aphrodisias in the 2nd century BC. During the Byzantine era, the Temple of Aphrodite became a Christian Basilica. The Temple of Aphrodite's fourteen columns have been re-erected, and the stadium is one of the best preserved structures of its kind from the classical era.
The spectacular white travertine terraces at Pamukkale, next to Hierapolis, have long been one of Turkey's most popular and photographed sights. These terraces have earned the name of Pamukkale, which means cotton castle.
The ruins of the city we see today was founded in the 4th century BC by Alexander the Great's successor, Lysimachus. However, it was under the Romans that the city became the chief port on the Aegean. Most of the surviving structures date from this period.
The most western-leaning of Turkish cities, it has been a trading port since the 3rd century AD. It is Turkey's third largest city, regional headquarters of NATO, and a multicultural and sophisticated center. Here you will visit the Archaeology Museum, with displays ranging from about 3000 BC to the Byzantines and the Romans.
Welcome to Turkey! Arrive in Istanbul, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, and transfer to your hotel. In the evening, a welcome dinner and welcome cocktail alumni gathering with your fellow travellers.
Full day of sightseeing tour of Istanbul starting at the Blue Mosque, the only one in the world with six minarets, shimmering with over 21,000 blue Iznik tiles. Next, visit the Hippodrome. Inspired by the Circus Maximus in Rome, the Hippodrome served as a stadium for chariot racing and public gatherings. Next, we visit Hagia Sophia, Greek for "Church of the Divine Wisdom". Erected in 537 AD, the church created by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian was later proclaimed as a mosque following the Muslim occupation of Constantinople. It served as Istanbul's most revered mosque until the 20th century, when Kemal Ataturk, recognizing its world-historical significance, proclaimed it a museum. Stop for lunch in a local restaurant before ending the day at the Grand Bazaar. Explore the labyrinth of streets and passages with more than 4,000 shops displaying jewels, leathers, carpets and more. Dinner this evening will be your hotel.
Today's tour will begin in the Spice Market, a haven of common and rare spices from around the world. Take part in a gourmet hunt for spices among the many shops and vendors. You'll have the opportunity to interact with locals and learn the basics of shopping in such a lively atmosphere. After leaving the spice market, we board a boat for a private cruise that crosses the legendary Bosphorus. Photo opportunities abound in the Strait's natural beauty, the 15th century Rumelihisari Fortress, summer palaces and the old wooden houses. The cruise ends at the fishing village of Sariyer near the Black Sea. Then, we arrive at the astounding Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans between the 15th and 19th centuries. The jeweled turban crests, silken caftans and priceless Chinese porcelains of the palace bear witness to the grandeur of a bygone era. The porcelain collection in the Palace museum is arguably the finest anywhere outside of China. Dinner and overnight will be at your hotel.
Depart Istanbul by flight to Cappadocia. Upon arrival, explore Kaymakli, once an eight-story underground city that was refuge for over 5000 people, half of which is open to tour. The people of Kaymakli constructed their houses around nearly one hundred tunnels of the underground city. Continue to Ayvali Village, tucked away from the crowds, which still has an untouched style of living. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with produce grown on their own Eco Garden. Balance of the day at leisure. Dinner this evening will be at your hotel. After dinner, enjoy a performance of the Whirling Dervishes.
Enjoy a full day exploration of Cappadocia. Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site, resembling a vast monastic complex composed of scores of refectory monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own church. The museum showcases 11 early Christian rock-cut churches containing spectacular frescoes with vibrant colors still luminous after standing for centuries. On to the Pasabag Valley with its earth pillars in the midst of a vineyard, also called Monks Valley. In Pigeon's Valley (Guvercinlik) we visit the area that housed countless pigeons during ancient times; villagers used the droppings as a fertilizer for the land. End the day with a visit to a nearby carpet shop for a hands-on experience and lesson in how fine Turkish Carpets are created. In the evening, we are invited to join a local family for a specially arranged home-hosted dinner and conversation.
After breakfast, we begin our day with a drive to Avanos, a center for carpet weaving and pottery crafts. You can see the pottery craftsmen using the same techniques as the Neolithic men of Anatolia, namely the ancient revolving potter's wheel. You'll even have a chance for to try this technique for yourself! Then continue via Urgup to the Dervent, also called the "Valley of the Fairy Chimneys." Enjoy the very special experience of wandering through the valley and climbing the hillsides with the unusual chimneys. Afternoon at leisure in Cappadocia. Dinner will be at your hotel.
Depart Cappadocia and travel to Konya. First, visit the Sultanhani, a prime example of the Seljuk-Turkish caravansari, with its lofty, portal framed by massive walls; its stone-paved courtyard surrounded with rooms that served as treasury, refectory, hamam, mosque, shops and sleeping quarters. Next, take a visit to the Mausoleum of Mevlana and the museum at the Mevlana convent in Konya. Proceed to the Karatay Theological School to see the beautiful collection of colorful tiles on display. Then, enjoy a specially arranged visit for our group to a local home in the village of Beysehir. Meet with the residents, share tales and conversation, and enjoy home-brewed Turkish tea. Continue to Karatay Medrese to see some of Konya's Seljuk Turkish tile work. At the end of the day arrive in Antalya, the trendy "resort capital" on the Turkish Mediterranean coast for dinner and the night.
Begin today's venture at ancient Perge, founded around 1500 BC by the Hittites and later occupied by the Romans. See the ancient theater, stadium, towers, and unusual Hellenistic-Roman towers leading to an impressive street once lined with shops. Then, continue on to Aspendos, known for its huge theatre seating over 30,000 people, and its beautiful fountain. All of these ruins have remained from the Roman period and the theatre is still being used for contemporary concerts. Our next stop is the Antalya Archaeological Museum, one of the most important of museums in Turkey. It houses 13 exhibition halls and an open-air gallery, with statues of ancient gods and goddesses. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in this vibrant seaside city on the Mediterranean Sea. Dinner and overnight will be at your hotel.
Today we travel to ancient Aphrodisias, one of the finest archaeological sites of Anatolia, still only partially excavated. The name of the city is derived from the familiar and storied Goddess of Love, Aphrodite, also called Venus by Romans. Here, under Greek and Roman rule a center for the arts once prospered. After lunch at a countryside Anatolian restaurant , we continue to Pamukkale to see the cascading snow white "cotton castle". Visit the impressive ruins of Hierapolis, where the hot thermal baths were once considered sacred. Continue to your hotel in Pamukkale for dinner and the night.
Spend an extraordinary day at the ancient city of Ephesus. The ruins at Ephesus are the best preserved in the region and one of the most beautiful cities from antiquity. Once a flourishing port, Ephesus witnessed successive settlements at many different times in history. As you walk along the marble and cobblestone streets see the Great Theatre that once seated over 20,000, the Library of Celsus, the baths and the grand Temple of Artemis. Proceed to the House of the Virgin Mary, where it is believed that she spent the last days of her life. There will be a stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Sirince Village. All the narrow streets of the village are filled with different handicrafts, including olive oils, other local specialties and the renowned locally-produced wine. Arrive in the beautiful port city of Izmir for dinner and the night.
The morning tour begins with expansive panoramic views of the city and the Bay of Izmir from the walls of Kadifekale, an ancient fortress built by Alexander the Great. Tour the Museums of Archaeology and Ethnography, then visit the symbol of Izmir, its magnificent Ottoman Clock Tower. The rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps re-visit some of the sights, or just relax in this scenic seaside city. Dinner will be at a local Izmir restaurant.
Transfer to the airport in order to take your flight to Istanbul. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Istanbul.
Today, visit Suleymaniye Mosque, built by the order of Suleyman the Magnificent and constructed by the great Ottoman architect, Sinan in the year 1557. Designed to be an architectural counterpoint to Byzantine St. Sophia, it is regarded as the most beautiful of all imperial mosques. You will see the magnificent architecture of the outside of the building and visit the tombs of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his wife, Roxelana. Afterwards drive along the City Walls of Constantinopolis to the district of Edirnekapi. The 5th-century city walls built by Emperor Theodosius II stretch for 6.5 km (4 miles) from the Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. One can admire them at many points in Istanbul, but your tour will seize the optimal opportunity by marrying an external view of the walls with a visit to the Chora Church (13. cent. A.D.); the Chora Church is famous for its well-preserved wall-mosaics showing scenes from the Old and New Testament. After a stop for independent lunch, we will continue to Eyup, one of the most important Pilgrimage places on earth for the Islamic World. This will be followed by a relaxing stop for a cup of coffee or tea at the Coffee-House of Pierre Loti, from where a beautiful panoramic view over the Old-City can be enjoyed. Afterwards, your tour will visit Dolmabahce Palace, built by Sultan Abdulmecid I. Dolmabahce Palace was constructed between 1843 and 1856. The tour will end at your hotel around 5:00pm. Farewell dinner will be served at your hotel.
Transfer to the airport in order to take your flight home (own arrangements).
Our Tour Escorts are personable and knowledgeable. Contact us for more information on any of the travel experiences we offer.
Transfers between airports and hotels
Domestic flights Istanbul to Cappadocia and Izmir to Istanbul
13-nights accommodations in carefully selected 4-star hotels (based on double occupancy), as follows:
- 3 nights in Istanbul
- 3 nights in Cappadocia
- 2 nights in Antalya
- 1 night in Pamukkale
- 2 nights in Izmir
- 2 nights in Istanbul
Buffet breakfast every morning;
4-course dinners at hotels and restaurants (including 1/2 L of wine, mineral water and coffee).
Deluxe chartered coach transportation throughout the tour;
Sightseeing tours and excursions as follows:
- Full day Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar (Istanbul)
- Full day Gourmet Hunt at Spice Market, Bosphorus Cruise, Topkapi Palace (Istanbul)
- Tour of Kaymakli Underground City and Ayvalli Village (Cappadocia)
- Tour of Goreme open Air Museum, Pasabag Valley (Cappadocia)
- Tour of Avanos and the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys (Cappadocia)
- Tour to Konya, Mevlana Museum, Tea with locals in Beysehir (Antalya)
- Tour of Perge, Aspendos and Antalya Archaeological Museum (Antalya)
- Tour of Aphrodisias and Pamukkale (Pamukkale)
- Tour of Ephesus (Ephesus)
- Tour of Izmir, Museums of Archaeology and Ethnography (Izmir)
- Full day Golden Horn and Dolmabahce Palace Tour (Istanbul)
Includes entrance fees to the places mentioned in the itinerary.
Services of a TOURINGHOUSE representative from the time of arrival until departure
Baggage handling at the hotels and tips to the bus driver and guides
All service charges and taxes