Arrival at Istanbul Airport. Please look for your name after clearing customs. Meet and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.
DAY 2: (SUN) ISTANBUL – SULTANAHMET
You will meet your guide in the morning and s/he will brief you and the others in the group about the tour and answer any questions you may have. Visit the St. (Haghia) Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian. It was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. See its intricate mosaics and huge central dome. Continue to the Topkapi Palace, which was used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will also see the impressive collection of priceless jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and relics of the prophet Mohammed. (Entrance to the Harem is extra and optional). After lunch, we will see the Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I, which is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Overnight in Istanbul. B.L. *This tour may be done completely as a walking tour.
DAY 3: (MON) ISTANBUL – GRAND BAZAAR – GALLIPOLI – CANAKKALE
We will visit the Grand Bazaar with its 4000 shops full of treasures. After the shopping spree, we begin our drive to Gallipoli, stopping for lunch in Tekirdag, which is a pleasant port town famous for its meatballs. We then pass through farm areas with fields of sunflowers arriving in Gallipoli late afternoon. We drive the windswept hills of this famous WWI battle site, which heralded the birth of the Turkish Nation and also resulted in a great loss of life. Visit the Lone Pine Australian Memorial, Johnston’s Jolly (Allied and Turkish trenches and tunnels) The Nek and Chunuk Bair (visits according to passengers’ wishes and dependent upon the time). We cross the famous Dardanelles Straight by ferry pulling away from Kilitbahir Fortress. Dinner in Canakkale. You are on your own after dinner and may want to walk along the port area and see the Trojan horse from the movie “Troy”. Overnight in the friendly waterside town of Canakkale. B.L.D.
DAY 4: (TUE) CANAKKALE – TROY – ASSOS – BERGAMA
Today is an enjoyable odyssey of the North Aegean Coast past the area is known as the “Troad”. We visit Troy, the legendary city of Homer and the beautiful Helen, which has nine principal levels of occupation covering a period of 3000 years. We will continue to Behramkale Village and visit the ancient city of Assos and Temple of Athena, high upon a hill. You can see the Greek Island of Lesvos from here. Aristotle founded his first school of philosophy in Assos. We will also visit the harbor area of Assos. We continue to the town of Bergama and overnight. B.L.D.
DAY 5: (WED) AYVALIK – PERGAMON – SELCUK/KUSADASI
Departure in the morning after breakfast and we will visit the lofty Pergamon Acropolis, and the ruins of Zeus Altar. The Acropolis is situated high above the plain and has a unique panoramic view, with a very narrow and steep theater that could seat up to 10,000. Parchment paper was first produced here. See what remains of the Great Library, which rivaled the one of Alexandria in Egypt, and Temple of Trajan. We will drive by the Red Hall for a view then continue to the Aesclepion, which was the first known hospital and therapy center in the world. Overnight in Selcuk or Kusadasi. B.L.D.
DAY 6: (THU) EPHESUS – HOUSE OF VIRGIN MARY – ST JOHN – SELCUK/KUSADASI
Today we will visit the b, which is a major pilgrimage site, then Ephesus, with the Library of Celsius, Temple of Hadrian, Agora and fantastic Greco-Roman theater (Terrace Houses are extra and optional). We will also see a carpet weaving demonstration today and learn about Turkish carpets. Continue to Sirince Village, where you may taste different types of fruit wine. We will also visit the Basilica of St. John and remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Overnight in Selcuk or Kusadasi. B.L.D.
DAY 7: (FRI) SELCUK/KUSADASI – APHRODISIAS – PAMUKKALE
We will drive through the valley following the Meander River, which gave us the word “Meandering. We spend some time at the Greco-Roman site of Aphrodisias, which is still being excavated. It features the Temple of Aphrodite, two agoras, a huge intact stadium, baths of Hadrian and theater, and was the site of a famous sculptural school. We continue to Hierapolis (Pamukkale) with the Temple of Apollo and extensive Necropolis not to mention the famous calcium formations it is famous for. Overnight in Pamukkale. B.L.D.
DAY 8: (SAT) PAMUKKALE – DALYAN BOAT TOUR – FETHIYE
Today we will drive to Dalyan and have an enjoyable day in this fishing town with lunch and a Riverboat tour, where you may enjoy thermal waters and a mud bath, view ancient rock tombs and lay on the natural sandy Iztuzu Beach, which is a breeding ground of the famous Caretta Caretta turtle. We will continue to Fethiye and will have some time in the old town with remains of the ancient theater, bazaar area, and promenade by the seashore. Dinner and overnight in Fethiye. B.L.D.
DAY 9: (SUN) FETHIYE – KAYAKOY – XANTOS – PATARA – KALKAN – KAS
We visit Kayakoy (abandoned Greek village) with its crumbling houses overgrown with ancient fig trees. We will visit the charming village of Minare where they grow Pomegranates, Mulberry, Grapes and other fruits and vegetables and have lunch with a Turkish Family (Subject to availability). We then continue to Xantos, which was the capital of Lycia. It has a fine Roman theater and Lycian pillar tombs. The next stop is Patara, with its 17km long white sandy beach and ruins half buried in sand dunes. Patara was the birthplace of the 4th c Byzantine bishop known later as Santa Claus. Excavations are still underway. It is possible to see the baths with an oasis-like pool surrounded by ancient palm trees, the agora with rows, of columns, theater, and bouleterium. We will visit the old part of Kalkan, which was a fishing village once occupied by Ottoman Greeks. Kalkan is on a steep hill and boasts old whitewashed churches (now mosques) and small stone houses with wooden balconies. Passing some wonderful coves and beaches we continue to the small waterside town of Kas which means “Eyebrow” in Turkish as it faces Meis “Eye”, the Greek Island known also as Kastellorizo. Overnight in Kas. B.L.D.
DAY 10: (MON) KAS – LEISURE DAY OR OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES
Today you are free to discover the pleasant fishing and tourist town of Kas on your own or go with your guide and see the Lycian Tomb, the Theater and the Hellenistic Temple or even a visit to a Turkish Village or beach depending upon groups’ wishes, or you may join an optional cruise to Kekova, a peaceful group of picturesque islands with very distinctive rock sarcophagi and ancient houses submerged under the clear water. The cruise also includes Ucagiz Village with Lycian Tombs and Simena Village with its stone houses and the castle and opportunities for swimming OR you may take the ferry to the Greek Island of Kastellorizo which is picture perfect with its small tavernas, old churches and a fortress. Overnight in Kas. B. D. *Note that excursions are optional
DAY 11: (TUE) KAS – ANDRIAKE – CHURCH OF ST NICHOLAS – ANTALYA
We drive to Demre and will have a view of villages and the Toros Mountains on the way. We approach the ancient harbor and view Andriake with the Granary of Hadrian and shops at the edge of the water bordering on Bird Paradise. According to weather and the wishes of the group you may want to take a dip in the cold curative waters of the Burguc Spring or a swim on one of the unspoiled bays nearby. We will also see the Church of St. Nicholas (The legend of Santa Claus originated in Turkey and the church is a pilgrimage site). If available, we will spend some time in a Turkish family’s home and be treated to a short cooking class where you will see how and can help to make different Turkish dishes. Then we enjoy the meal. We will continue along the unspoiled scenic coast and then arrive in Antalya in a few hours where we will get settled into the old city and can visit the old part of Antalya called Kaleici, with the Gate of Hadrian, the Clock Tower, Fluted minaret and the ancient harbor. Overnight in Antalya. B.L.D.
DAY 12: (WED) ANTALYA – PERGE – ASPENDOS – KONYA
Today we visit Perge, which was originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. We will see the impressive colonnaded street, baths, nymphaeum, and agora and the fountain of the River God, where waters once poured down the center of the city. Aspendos, which is one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world. Then we turn inland and drive through the Toros mountains to Konya. Konya was known as Iconium in Roman times and was the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th centuries. Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi founded a Sufi order known as the Whirling Dervishes. We will visit the Museum of Mevlana and see some of the great Seljuk monuments such as the Karatay Medrese and the Ince Minareli Medrese from outside. Overnight in Konya. B.L.D.
DAY 13: (THU) KONYA – SILK ROAD – CAPPADOCIA – WHIRLING DERVISHES
We will continue from Konya on the Old Silk Road trade and see Sultanhani Caravanseraybefore arriving in Cappadocia. Visit Selime, a village of rock cones below a mesa. We will have lunch in Belisirma village on the Melendez River then visit Ihlara Valley. Descend into this incredible gorge, and then walk in the most scenic part of this canyon flanked by sheer rock walls we will descend deeper into the earth through the passages and tunnels of Kaymakli Underground City. See the ingenious "millstone" defense doors, wineries and rooms carved from the living rock. Our last stop is Pigeon Valley where we see the ancient dovecotes from across the ravine. Tonight we will also enjoy a performance of the Whirling DervishesOvernight in Cappadocia. B.L.D
DAY 14: (FRI) OPTIONAL BALLOON TOUR – CAVE CHURCHES AND GOREME VALLEY
In the morning you will experience the feeling of living in an Anatolian village, where houses are built in caves, and life goes on as it has for centuries. You may see villagers baking bread, drying fruit on their rooftops or riding on donkeys to their fields. Before the tour begins today it is possible to take a balloon tour (optional) over the valleys and rock formations of Cappadocia. We will begin our visit to the “fairy chimneys” (conical and unusual rock formations) in Devrent Valley. We continue to the Goreme Open Air Museum, which was once a Byzantine monastery. See the finest examples of religious frescoes in rock-cut churches from the 10th to the 13th centuries. Enjoy Pasabagi Valley, while walking through vineyards among strange multiple "mushroom-capped" volcanic rock formations. We then continue to Avanos, the center of terra cotta work since 3000 BC. We see how pottery is made from both white and red clay as well as the painting techniques. Overnight in Cappadocia. B.L.D.
DAY 15: (SAT) CAPPADOCIA – NEVSEHIR – ISTANBUL
Transfer at 07:30 to the Nevsehir airport for morning flight to Istanbul at 09:25 and upon arrival at 10:45 transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure and overnight in Istanbul. B.
DAY 16: (SUN) DEPARTURE
Pick up from your hotel and transfer to the airport 3 hours prior to your flight departure. (B)
All airport transfers
Meals as indicated (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Water during meals (When guide is present)
Museum entry fees
Transportation in non-smoking minibus with English speaking guide and driver (in the case that the group size falls below 4 pax we reserve the right to conduct the tour by car with professional guide only)
Whirling Dervish performance
Domestic flight Nevsehir-Istanbul. *Domestic flight price, listed separately is approximate.
NOT INCLUDED: International flights, tourist visas, drinks, optional excursions in Kas, tips to guide and driver and items of a personal nature.
Kekova boat tour excursion or ferry trip to Kastellorizo
Pre - or post hotel accommodation in Istanbul. Balloon Tour in Cappadocia
Grand Naki Hotel, Ilkay Hotel, Niles Hotel, Nowy Efendi Hotel, Orient Express Hotel, Almina Hotel, Amber Hotel, Dersaadet Hotel, Dosso Dossi Old City, Hotellino Hotel, Recital Hotel, Zeynep Sultan Hotel Canakkale:
Helen Park Hotel, Limani Hotel; Cura Hotel Bergama:
La Bella Hotel or similar Kusadasi or Selcuk:
Carina Hotel, Derici Hotel, Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel, Kalehan Hotel Pamukkale:
Hal-Tur, Lycus River Thermal Hotel, Pamuksu Hotel, Ayapam Boutique Hotel, Tripolis Hotel Fethiye:
Villa Daffodil, Yacht Boutique Hotel, Marina Vista Fethiye Hotel Kas:
Linda Hotel, Hideaway Hotel, Sonne Hotel Antalya:
Argos Hotel, Dogan Hotel, Mediterra Art Hotel Konya:
Anemon Hotel Konya, Bera Mevlana Hotel, Ney Hotel, Pasapark Hotel, Rumi Hotel, Selcuk Sems-i Tebrizi Cappadocia:
Riverside Mansion Hotel, Jacobs Cave Suites, Elika Cave Suites, Fresco Cave Suites
*Similar hotels may be used if the featured hotels are not available at the time of booking and some Istanbul hotels require a supplement during certain periods – the final price of the tour depends upon your hotel choice in Istanbul, the price of the domestic flight and if you require any additional nights or tours in Istanbul.
The Grand Tour of Western Turkey is a combination of our favorite places which are mainly located on the Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas of Turkey. Our small group Grand Tour is conducted by comfortable non-smoking minivan with A/C and separate professional driver and we allow a maximum of 10 passengers on the tour. Your English speaking guide is certified by the Ministry of Culture. This is a full-service escorted tour with entry fees to the sights as mentioned. There are no expensive hidden extras.
We start in Istanbul on the Marmara Sea, cross the Dardanelles to Canakkale, visit ancient Troy and continue to the enchanting Assos Harbor. As we continue along the coast of the Aegean Sea, we begin our discovery of the classical and biblical sights including Pergamon, Ephesus, Aphrodisias and Hierapolis.
After your immersion in all this history, we head southeast and come to the Mediterranean. This is the relaxing part of the tour, but we will also visit some amazing sights of the Lycian coast including the church of St. Nicholas, who was born near here in Turkey and also get off the beaten path to see the ancient site of Andriake which is coming to light under the excavations of the Akdeniz University. You may also get a chance to have a home-cooked lunch in a village or learn how to cook Turkish cuisine with a family in their own home.
We continue along the coast to Antalya and overnight in the historic old city (Kaleici), which is still for the most part enclosed by its ancient city walls. Wander the narrow streets and take pictures of the huge dilapidated manors with their bay windows. The finale of the tour is our visit to central Anatolia. We cross the Toros Mountains, coming to the plains. Here we visit Konya, the city of Mevlana and continue to the magical Cappadocia region, which is known for its unusual wind and weather sculpted rock formations, cave dwellings and early Christian churches. It is possible to take a balloon tour (optional) over the valleys and rock formations of Cappadocia. We will also enjoy a performance of the Whirling Dervishes.
Hotels are a mix of nice quality boutique or 3/4 star hotel, all with private ensuite facilities, heating and A/C. (With the exception of cave/stone hotels in Cappadocia which do not need or have A/C). All Istanbul hotels are located in convenient locations of the historical district. Most meals are included in this tour. Breakfasts are taken in the hotel, lunches in local restaurants, dinners in both hotels and restaurants. We introduce you to a variety of tasty regional Turkish dishes along the way.
We think you will be enchanted with the varied sights, tastes and culture of Turkey and you will appreciate the comfortable spacious vehicle and the nicely paced journey that allows you some time to discover and enjoy the best of Turkey.
How to sign up for this tour: Insight Grand Tour of Turkey small group cultural tour departs on Saturdays in season per request. Those wanting to sign up for this tour request a departure at least 3 months in advance and when we have a minimum of 6 people we confirm the tour departure.
SATURDAY DEPARTURES ON DEMAND Contact us to book and post your dates!