DAY 1 ARRIVAL
Arrival in Istanbul and transfer (optional) to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
DAY 2 ISTANBUL OLD CITY TOUR (FULL DAY WALKING TOUR – EXCEPT ON TUESDAY)
8:00 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. We will first visit the Hippodrome, a stadium for chariot races and other events in Byzantine times and also see the Serpent Pillar from Delphi and the Egyptian Obelisk. We continue to the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and is the only imperial mosque with 6 minarets. We also see the ornate German fountain which was a gift of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Finally, we see the magnificent Saint Sophia (Hagia Sofia) which was built by the emperor Justinian in the 6th century A.D and stands over much older remains of a church, which can still be seen. We will see both levels of the former church with intricate mosaics of biblical scenes and the Byzantine emperors and empresses, then on to the Grand Bazaar, which has over 4000 shops full of treasures where you will see a demonstration of Turkish handicrafts. We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then explore the Topkapi Palace including four courtyards. It was the home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th-19th centuries A.D. We see the Imperial Treasury with the famous Spoonmaker Diamond. Also the Baghdad Kiosk, Audience Hall, and Divan. We will also have a view of the Haghia Irene Church from outside. (Harem section is optional and due an extra entry fee). We continue to the Caferaga Medrese which was designed by the architect Sinan and built in the 16th century, now used as a learning center for traditional Turkish arts. We will also take a stroll down Sogukcesme Street with its cobblestones and charming Ottoman Houses. *Note that the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sunday and on Fridays the Caferaga Medrese is visited in the morning and Blue Mosque in the afternoon. This tour is a combination of two half-day tours and is done all or partially as a walking tour. *Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesday and is replaced by the Chora Museum. Overnight in Istanbul. B. L.
DAY 3 ISTANBUL GOLDEN HORN AND BOSPHORUS CRUISE BY PRIVATE BOAT* WITH DOLMABAHCE (OR CHORA)
8:10 – 8:45 Departure from your hotel. You will first see the “Egyptian” Spice Market, which stands near the mouth of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. The market was built in the 17th century A.D. and is still a thriving place with spices and souvenirs of all types. We will also visit the beautiful Iznik tile-covered Rustempasa Mosque, which was built by the architect Sinan in 1560 for the grand vizier of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. We embark on our Bosphorus Cruise up the strait that divides Europe from Asia and leads to the Black Sea. From the ship, you will see beautiful mosques, palaces, new luxury villas, very old Ottoman houses and the Rumeli Fortress. We end our cruise, cross the Bosphorus Bridge from Europe to Asia in 2 minutes, then head for the Camlica Hill viewpoint over Istanbul where you can also see the Princes’ Islands and the Marmara Sea. We conclude the tour with a visit to the “Selamlik” chambers of the incredible 19th c. Dolmabahce Palace which was the first European style palace in Turkey. It was built by Ottoman Sultans between 1843 and 1846 and has 365 rooms and 22 salons. Ataturk lived the final years of his life here. We will pass by the picturesque and cosmopolitan neighborhood of Ortakoy on the shore of the Bosphorus. Return to your hotel around 17:00. B. L.
DAY 4 ISTANBUL – KUSADASI/SELCUK
Today is at leisure until the time of your choice and transfer (optional) to the airport for flight to Izmir and transfer (included) to Kusadasi or Selcuk and overnight. B. (D)
*For budget option you will make your own way to the bus station and overnight bus at 22:00 to Selcuk – upon arrival around 8:00 you will be met and picked up for the tour of Ephesus (no breakfast or accommodation included with overnight bus).
DAY 5 EPHESUS – HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY
8:30 - 9.00 Departure. We start our tour with a visit to the house where the Virgin Mary allegedly spent her last days, which is a pilgrimage site. We continue to Ephesus, which was one of the largest and most interesting ancient cities of Asia Minor. The tour of Ephesus includes the Library of Celsius, Temple of Hadrian, Agora and fantastic Greco-Roman theater. After lunch in a local restaurant, a visit is made to a cooperative weaving center to see how the Turkish carpets are made by hand. We will also see the Isabey Mosque which is a beautiful example of Selcuk architecture and the remains of the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Overnight in Kusadasi or Selcuk. (B) L. (D)
DAY 6 PAMUKKALE AND HIERAPOLIS
8.00 – 8.30 Departure. We will drive through the Meander Valley. On the way, your guide will give information about the towns we pass through such as Aydin, Nazili, and Sultanhisar. Arrival in Pamukkale, which has been a thermal spa center since before the Roman era. After lunch, we visit the ancient city of Hierapolis, which is said to have been founded by King Eumenes II of Pergamon. We visit the great Roman baths, the Temple of Apollo and the well-preserved theater. You will see the tomb of St. Phillip from a distance. It is possible to bathe in the Cleopatra antique thermal pool with ancient columns (an extra fee is due) or you will have some free time at the terraces or to explore more on your own. We will also visit the calcium terraces and pools for which Pamukkale is named “Cotton Castle”. *Note: The total round trip driving time for this tour is over 6 hrs and if you are doing a group tour there may be pick-ups from Pamukkale and Karahayit on the return for guests who have taken the tour the previous day and stayed overnight. Departure at 16:30 for Kusadasi and Selcuk. Overnight in Kusadasi or Selcuk. B. L. (D)
DAY 7 KUSADASI/SELCUK – PERGAMON – CANAKKALE
Pick up at 10.00 - 10.30 from Kusadasi or 11.00 from Selcuk. We continue to Pergamon. After lunch, we will visit the Pergamon Acropolis, where the ruins of Zeus Altar "Throne of Satan" can still be seen today. Pergamon was a center of Roman authority and a place of persecution for Christians who denied imperial worship. The Acropolis is situated high above the plain and has a unique panoramic view. The very narrow and steep theater on the hillside could seat up to 10,000 people. Parchment paper was first produced in Pergamon. We will visit the remains of the Great Library, which rivaled the one of Alexandria in Egypt, the palaces of the kings, and Temple of Trajan. Overnight in Canakkale. B. L. (D) *Tour is done with English speaking travel officer on transfer from Kusadasi or Selcuk to Canakkale and local guide in Pergamon.
DAY 8 CANAKKALE – TROY – GALLIPOLI – ISTANBUL
8.30 Depart from Canakkale to visit the legendary site of Troy with its nine levels of civilization. Troy is the city of Helen and was famous in Homer’s Iliad. You will see the reproduction of the Trojan Horse and learn about the Trojan Wars as well as seeing the Sacrificial Altars, ancient city walls and houses of Troy which are thousands of years old, the Bouleterium, Odeon and current excavations. We will proceed by ferry across the part of the Dardanelles known as “the Narrows”; the ferry pulls in at the small fishing village of Kilitbahir, which is known for its fort built by Mehmet the Conqueror. After lunch in Eceabat head to Gallipoli. You will be given a full explanation of the famous WWI battle. We will visit: Brighton Beach, the intended landing place, Beach Cemetery on the southern tip of Anzac Cove, the landing place of the first wave of Australian and New Zealand troops and home to up to 30,000 troops during the campaign, Ariburnu Cemetery, Anzac Commemoration Site, Lone Pine Australian Memorial, site of the successful attack and capture of Turkish trenches by the Australians during the August offensive, Johnston’s Jolly where you will visit the original Allied and Turkish trenches and tunnels, 57th Regiment Turkish Memorial, The Nek and the Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial. Continue to Istanbul at 18:30. Arrival around 23.45. B. L *Tour is done with local guides in Troy and Gallipoli and English speaking travel officer on transfer to Istanbul.
DAY 9 DEPARTURE
Transfer to airport (optional) for departure. B.
- Accommodation in hotel category of your choice
- Meals as mentioned only (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Main museum entry fees
- Transport in non-smoking vehicles with prof. English speaking guides on tours (Istanbul Old City is a walking tour)
- Izmir Airport transfer (Except for Budget program)
- Bus tickets Istanbul –Selcuk and bus station transfers as mentioned only if taking budget option
NOT INCLUDED: International or domestic flights, Istanbul airport transfers, drinks, tips to guide and driver and items of a personal nature.
OPTIONAL: Domestic flights, 3 x Istanbul airport transfers 135 EUROS total - up to 3 passengers (valid for Istanbul Ataturk Airport only), domestic flights, additional nights in Istanbul, Turkish Night.