10 Days | 9 Nights
Welcome to Turkey! You will be met at Istanbul Airport. Transfer to your hotel in Istanbul to check-in. Rest of the day is at leisure or to start your own explorations of the city.
In the old city discover the sights of its glamorous past. Visit 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. 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, weapons and royal garments. Then to Misir Carsisi, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, where spices, herbs and teas are sold since the 17th century. Time to wander along the shops with its aromatic smells. Return to the hotel. *The Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, as replacement we’ll visit the underground Basilica Cistern from the 6th century.
We head three hours to the Abant Lake. The seven kilometer walk around the lake offers a great opportunity to enjoy the area and the pleasant countryside. From here we reach within 2.5 hours the small town of Safranbolu. It was a center for growing the spice saffron, the town’s name derived from this business. From the 13th century to the advent of the railway in the early 20th century, Safranbolu was an important caravan station on the main East-West trade route. In the old town, known as carsi, we see the mosque and the Suleyman Pasha Medrese built in 1322. The town is listed as World Heritage Site due to the highly concentrated numbers of royal Ottoman architecture of the 17th and 18th century, buildings with red-tiled roofs and many windows. Walk along cobbled streets through the historical Bazaar, passing by candy stores and continuing on to Cinci Hodja Caravanserai and Bath House as well as the Kaymakamlar House. Overnight in Safranbolu.
Drive 1.5 hours to the pretty little fishing town of Amasra. Free time to roam around. Visit the Amasra Castle, walk over a Roman stone bridge which links the two islands of Amasra, see the Byzantine church built with bricks in the 9th century, or relax at the beach. Then a scenic drive along the Black Sea coast to Sinop, the most northerly point in Turkey. There we see the impressive natural harbor Hamisilos, which has dug into the country like a fjord. Then to the old city wall with its imposing towers. See the fortress from the 8th century. Inside, we tour the oldest and most famous Turkish prison, turned into a museum. It was a high-security prison with no escape possibility. Check into your hotel, the rest of the day is at leisure in Sinop.
The day starts with a 3 hours’ drive to Amasya, "City on the Green River". The town is located idyllically in a narrow cleft of the Yesilirmak River and is considered as one of the most beautiful places in Central Anatolia. The history goes back around 7,500 years and many civilizations left their mark on the town and its surroundings. It was the home and of the famous geographer Strabo. In the remains of the Citadel perched on a rock you find 2,000 years old water channels and 1,000 years old bridges. Worth seeing is the mental hospital from the 14th century, the Sultan II Bayezid Mosque Complex from the 15th century, wooden houses of the Ottoman period and the Archaeological Museum. Above the town you see the tombs of Pontus kings carved into the rock of Harşena. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Amasya.
Head 1.5 hours to the city of Tokat. Have a look at Tokat Castle with 28 towers, then we start exploring the historical old town. Tour the Garipler and the Ali Pasa Mosque, the Islamic complex Hatuniye Külliyesi and the Gök Medrese, a Seljuk building from 1270. Continue 3 hours back to the Black Sea coast, more precisely to Ordu, the ancient Kotoyora. Take the cable car to the 550 meters high Boztepe viewpoint to enjoy spectacular vistas of the Black Sea coasts and the city. Check into your hotel for a rest, to make your own explorations and try at a local restaurant a fresh seafood recipe.
In the morning a short drive to Giresun. The region has a rich agriculture like tobacco, cherries and hazelnuts. As we are in hazelnut country we visit one of the plantations. Continue to the Altindere National Park, where one of the most impressive monastery complexes in Turkey is located, the Sumela Monastery. Carved into the rock, it perches on a bare, 340 meters high ledge, surrounded by forest. Founded in the 4th century the monastery has seven floors. Most of the buildings such as the church, the guest house, the holy well and the library date from the 12th century and the magnificent wall paintings from the early 18th century. The facility also had an aqueduct built into the rock wall that supplied Sumela with water. Then drive 45 minutes to Trabzon, check into your hotel.
Trabzon was founded in the 8th century BC and prospered from its location at the trade routes. Worth seeing is the Hagia Sofia Church, today a museum with an integrated mosque. The complex was built under the Trapezuntian emperor Manuel Komnenos in the 13th century. The frescoes are among the most important surviving Byzantine works of art. We visit the Gulbahar Hatun Mosque, built at the beginning of the 16th century for the wife of Sultan Bayezid II. Afterwards drive 1.5 hours southwards to the beautiful Uzungöl Lake, nestled in a mountain valley. Free time to stroll around the lake and relax at one of the cafés. Return to Trabzon to spend the rest of the day as you wish.
Today we uncover more of the fantastic nature in northern Turkey. Start with a visit to the Firtina Valley, the “Storm” Valley, in the Pontic Mountains with its rivers and high-arched stone bridges. See also the medieval castle of Zilkale. Onto the Ayder Highlands, 1400 meters above sea level, at the foot of the Kaçkar Mountains. The region is famous for its natural beauty, waterfalls and traditional highland houses. There are also hot springs in this area. You'll be heading to the most beautiful waterfalls situated at the summit of the Ayer highland. You have time on your own to enjoy and unwind before we return to your hotel in Trabzon.
Dependent on your departure time transfer to Trabzon Airport to board your departure flight and say farewell.