10 Days | 9 Nights
Welcome to Turkey! You will be met at Istanbul Airport and driven to your hotel in Istanbul to check-in. Rest of the day is at leisure or to start your own explorations of the city on two continents.
Today discover the old city. Start with a visit to the Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine church, now classified as a mosque. Be amazed by the interior with its striking mosaics and frescoes. Next is a visit to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, better known as the 'Blue Mosque'. With its six minarets, it is unique in the Islamic world. It is considered the largest and most magnificent mosque in Istanbul and is a true work of art of Ottoman architecture. Walk across the Sultan Ahmet Square, once the Hippodrome, the former horse racing track in ancient Constantinople. See here the Obelisk of Theodosius and the German Fountain. In the afternoon, visit the Topkapi Palace, the centuries old residence of the mighty Ottomans. It houses the imperial treasury, holy relics and royal garments. After the tour, we transfer you to your hotel or leave you at the city centre.
Visit to Misir Çarsisi, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where spices, herbs and teas are sold since the 17th century. Time to stroll through the market with its colours and aromatic smells and shop for some tasty ingredients to take home. Then take a boat trip along the Bosporus, the waterway separating the continents of Europe and Asia. Get a different perspective of Istanbul and sail past famous sights such as the Golden Horn - the 7 km long arm on the Bosporus -, and the Dolmabahçe Palace from 1856. Then we start with a long-distance drive of 5 hours to Ankara in Anatolia. Check into your hotel.
Visit Ankara, the capital of Turkey, with five million inhabitants. This makes Ankara the second largest city in the country after Istanbul and the seat of the Turkish parliament. In the oldest part of the city visit the Citadel from where you have great views. Then to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. It houses the most extensive collection of Hattis, Hittites, Urartians, Phrygians and Anatolian history from the Stone Age to the Roman era. Also visit the Mausoleum of Kemal Atatϋrk, the burial place of the national hero who founded the modern Republic of Turkey. Then journey about 300 km to Cappaddocia with a stop at the salty Lake Tuz along the way.
Over centuries volcanic eruptions, wind and weather have created a landscape with bizarre tufa formations in Capaddocia that is second to none. The locals call these towers romantic and poetic 'fairy chimneys'. Start with the Uchisar castle with its great views over the surroundings. Then to the Göreme Open Air Museum to see the cave churches with paintings and frescoes from the early Christian era. The nearby town of Avanos is well-known for its pottery workshops. The Monks Valley is another highlights with its cone topped rock pillars. The name of the valley derives from the many monk refuges carved into the rock cones. Then to the Pigeon Valley, where you find many carved pigeon houses. Overnight in Cappadocia.
Departure from the hotel and start our day with a 3 km hike in the Red Valley famous for the red-rose colour of the rocks. You’ll have a chance to see many hidden cave dwellings and natural formations while ending up in Cavusin Village where you can picture the oldest church in the region dedicated to St. John. Then visit Kaymakli as an example of the underground cities in Cappadocia. They had been built as shelter from raids and attacks, and Kaymakli was able to house up to 3,500 persons. You see here stables, churches, storage places, kitchen, wineries, ventilation shafts and a copper processing workshop. Afterwards we drive through the multifaceted landscape of Anatolia 3.5 hours to your hotel in Konya.
In Konya visit the Mevlana Museum. It was the home of the Whirling Dervishes and you find here the Mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. Rumi was a Persian poet and Islamic scholar of the 13th century, a famous Sufi mystic. Therefore Mevlana is still today a popular place of pilgrimage. A long distance drive of 6 hours to Pamukkale lies ahead of us. You will be rewarded with the incredible natural phenomenon of the travertines. Warm water dissolved in white calcium, erupts to the surface and by running down the hill the calcium forms beautiful snow-white travertines. For a swim in the thermal waters you have time to visit the Cleopatra Antique Pool (extra fee for swimming not included), on its bottom you see marble columns belonging to the nearby Temple of Apollo. Overnight in Pamukkale.
Start the day with a long 5 hours’ drive to Bursa, in the 14th century for a short while the capital of the Ottoman State and surrounded by sulfur springs. We visit the Green Tomb of Sulta Mehmed I and two of the largest mosques, the Green Mosque and the Great Mosque, both built in the early Ottoman style. Tour of the covered bazaar with many Turkish products from local farmers, offering a glimpse into the daily Turkish life. Spend this afternoon exploring the fascinating labyrinth of streets and old Ottoman warehouses, known as hans, for example the Koza Han, the old silk market. Bursa was the center of silk farming in Turkey. Overnight in Bursa.
Check out of the hotel for a 2 hours drive to Istanbul. Free afternoon to spend as you wish. Browse the Grand Bazaar with its 4,000 shops under one roof and 60 labyrinth-like alleys and streets. Visit the Galata Tower for the panoramic view or relax at one of the Turkish baths – the choice is yours!
Free time at leisure until we pick you up from the hotel lobby. Transfer to the airport to say farewell to Turkey.