Istanbul, city of 1001 Nights, a bridge between East and West, former capital of three empires…
The Aegean Sea (“Ege Denizi” in Turkish) is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey .
The Aegean Region consists of nine provinces in southwestern Turkey :
- Izmir , the capital of the region with the archaeological sites of Ephesus, Bergama
- Manisa with the archaeological sites of Sardis
- Aydin with the archaeological sites of Priene, Miletos, Didyma, Aphrodisias
- Denizli with the archaeological sites of Laodikea and Hierapolis and the natural site of Pamukkale
- Mugla with the famous beach resorts Bodrum (Halicarnassos), Marmaris and Fethiye, the Oludeniz lagoon,
- Balikesir (partly), Usak, Küthaya and Afyon
This Aegean Region is not only rich in history (above we only named the most famous sites) but is also a very fertile region : citrus, grapes, figs, cotton, olives…
Due to the lack of organized tours to some of the proposed places, this tour will be best organized with a rental car…
Unless you feel to try the local public transportation ? Intercity buses in Turkey are operated by private companies who endeavor to give the best possible service : stewards, each seat with a television screen, with USB-plugs…
Day 1 : Kusadasi
Upon arrival in Istanbul, connecting flight to Izmir.
Transfer to your hotel in Kusadasi and overnight.
Day 2 : Kusadasi (Ephesus Tour)
Join a morning (only Ephesus archaeological site) or full day Ephesus Group Tour (also includes the Shrine of Virgin Mary and the Archaeology Museum or the Isabey Mosque)
Ephesus, famous in antiquity for its Temple of Artemis - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - and later the home of St. John. As you arrive at Ephesus, enter the ancient site through the Magnesian Gate, follow your guide as you discover the monuments such as the Forum, the Odeon, the Library of Celsus, the Thermal Baths of Scholastica and the Great Theatre, built in the Greek era and reconstructed in the Roman period, which is still remarkable for its acoustics.
Observe the symbols and ancient Greek inscriptions all around which can still be read. As your guided tour comes to an end, leave Ephesus along the Arcadian Way, where once Mark Anthony and Cleopatra rode in procession.
Driving back to Kusadasi, just outside Ephesus , you will notice the Basilica of St. John, erected over the grave of St John in the 6th Century AD by the Emperor Justinian. Just downhill, lays the site of the famous Temple of Artemis, today in ruins.
You also have the option to have a private tour to Ephesus : Meet at the port of Kusadasi or your hotel with your tour guide and driver and depart for the Shrine of Virgin Mary.
After a short visit of this site, we will proceed to the upper gate of Ephesus. The visit of this site is expected to take between 1,5 and 2 hours.
If you wish, you may consider visiting the Terraces Houses (instead of the Shrine of Virgin Mary), an exhibit of several antique mansions representing lifestyle and decoration of the Antique period.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 3 : Kusadasi (Pamukkale Tour)
Full day excursion to Pamukkale (with group) :
After a trip of about 2 1/2 - 3 hours through the wild landscapes and cotton fields, we will reach Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish.
This natural site and attraction in south-western Turkey enjoys a temperate climate over the greater part of the year. The ancient city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white "castle" which is in total about 2700 meters long and 160m high. After a tour on the travertine’s and a swim in one of the numerous thermal pools, we will continue our tour with the visit of Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As the hot springs of Pamukkale were used as a spa since the 2nd century B.C. great baths were constructed with huge stone blocks without the use of cement and consisted of various closed or open sections linked together.
There are deep niches in the inner section of the bath, library, gymnasium and other closed or open locations. The complex, constructed in the 2nd century, was visited by people who came to soothe their ailings here. Many of them retired and died here which explains the origin of the large necropolis filled with sarcophagi.
If you prefer to enjoy a private excursion, you will have the possibility to also visit :
Aphrodisias : The ancient city dedicated to Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, Love and Fertility. Aphrodisias, a small city in Caria, Asia Minor, was built near a marble quarry which was extensively exploited in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and sculptors in marble from Aphrodisias became famous in the Roman world. Many examples of statuary have been unearthed in Aphrodisias, and some representations of the Aphrodite of Aphrodisias also survive from other parts of the Roman world, as far afield as Portugal. We will visit the stadium, which is the best preserved in Anatolia, the Temple of Aphrodite, the Tetrapylon, the Theatre and finish our tour with a visit of the museum, an exhibition of the most beautiful artifacts of ancient times.
Laodikea : One of the seven churches of the Revelation, Laodicea is situated on the long spur of a hill between the narrow valleys of the small rivers Asopus and Caprus, which discharge their waters into the Lycus. It was approximately 10 km south of Hierapolis and, according to Strabo, it was on a major road. The existing remains attest its former greatness. The ruins near Denizli are well preserved and are being substantially renovated (2012). Its many buildings include stadium, baths, temples, gymnasium, theatres, bouleuterion, etc… On the east the line of the ancient wall may be distinctly traced, with the remains of the Ephesus gate; there are streets traversing the town, flanked by colonnades and numerous pedestals. North of the town, towards the Lycus, are many sarcophagi, with their covers lying near them, partly imbedded in the ground, and all having been long since rifled.
Return to Kusadasi for overnight.
Day 4 : Kusadasi (PMD Tour)
Excursion to Priene, Miletos and Didyma
Priene : Set dramatically at the foot of a sheer mountain wall, Priene overlooks the aptly named Meander River. This 2500 years old Ionian city was among the first to be planned with a gridded streets system.
Miletus : These ancient ruins lie on a hill near the Aegean Sea. Explore the ancient theater, built circa 4th century BC. The theater could accommodate over 15,000 spectators. Visit the well-preserved Bath of Faustina, named after the wife of Marcus Aurelius, who ordered their construction.
Didyma : In antiquity, Didyma was connected to Miletus by a sacred road. Visit the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, one of the largest temples from the Hellenistic Period. Despite extensive construction, the temple was never fully completed.
At the end of this tour, transfer to the airport and flight to Istanbul for overnight.
Day 5 : Bergama or Ayvalik
Rent A Car for 3 days
You will follow the coastal road till Izmir (stop possible) and then further till Bergama.
Bergama, known for its cotton, gold, and fine carpets, the city was the ancient Greek and Roman cultural center of Pergamon; its wealth of ancient ruins continues to attract considerable tourist interest today.
Located on a promontory north of the Bakırçay river, 26 km removed from the Aegean Sea, Bergama has a population of about 55,000.
The ruins of the ancient city of Pergamon lie to the north and west of the modern city; Roman Pergamon is believed to have sustained a population of approximately 150,000 at its height in the 1st century AD.
Among Bergama's notable ruins are the Sanctuary of Asclepius (or Asclepeion), a temple dedicated to an ancient Greek god of healing, and the "Red Basilica" complex ("Kizil Avlu" in Turkish), a 2nd century AD construction of the Emperor Hadrian that straddles the Selinus River.
The town also features an archaeological museum.
At the end of Pergamum visit, you proposed to the old Greek village of Ayvalik / Cunda for overnight.
Day 6 : Çanakkale
A few hours further from Bergama you can discover the legendary site of Troy!
Ancient Greek historians variously placed the Trojan War in the 12th, 13th, or 14th centuries BC. In the Iliad, the Achaeans set up their camp near the mouth of the River Scamander where they had beached their ships. The city of Troy itself stood on a hill, across the plain of the Scamander, where the battles of the Trojan War took place.
The site of the ancient city is some 5 km from the coast today, but the ancient mouths of Scamander, some 3,000 years ago, were about that distance inland, pouring into a large bay that formed a natural harbour that has since been filled with alluvial material.
Besides the Iliad, there are references to Troy in other major works attributed to Homer, the Odyssey, as well as in other ancient Greek literature.
The Homeric legend of Troy was elaborated by the Roman poet Virgil in his Aeneid.
The Greeks and Romans took for a fact the historicity of the Trojan War and the identity of Homeric Troy with the site in Anatolia.
Alexander the Great, for example, visited the site in 334 BC and made sacrifices at tombs they associated with the Homeric heroes Achilles and Patroclus.
For the overnight, you can stay in Canakkale.
Day 7 : Istanbul or Bursa
From Canakkale to Istanbul, there are several ways :
1. You follow the strait of the Dardanelles after having crossed it by ferry and explore Gallipoli Peninsula;
2. You drive towards Bandirma where you will take the ferry to Istanbul
3. You drive to Bursa – the first capital of the Ottoman Empire – to visit the highlights of the city (ie, the Green Mosque, the Green Toms and the Grand Mosque, the Silk bazaar)
Overnight in either Bursa or Istanbul
Day 8 : Istanbul (Classics & Highlights)
Today we will visit the capital of three empires, the only city spread over two continents, bridge between East and West... a metropolis full of surprises!
The highlights of this city, the must do’s are the Ayasofya Museum, the Topkapi Palace, the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque, the Hippodrome… !
To better feel, live Istanbul, we propose a walking tour (max. 2km – 1,5Mi) :
Our visits will start at the Saint Sophia, a basilica built by Constantine the Great in the 4th century and reconstructed by Justinian in the 6th century. Once the symbol of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul and reconverted to a mosque, the Saint Sophia is today a museum and one of the architectural marvels of all times.
Just opposite the Saint Sophia, the Sultanahmet Imperial Mosque : this building of the 16th century is also known as the Blue Mosque because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles.
The Hippodrome was the scene of chariot races in the Byzantine times. The three monuments in the middle, the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine column and the Column of Constantine, are relics of these glorious times.
After lunch, we continue with the visit of the Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Ottoman sultans for about 5 centuries which today houses a marvelous collection of crystal, silver and Chinaware, robes worn by the sultans and their families, the imperial jewels, miniatures. Except from these you will also enjoy wandering in the gardens entering imperial rooms and salons.
The Saint Sophia museum is closed on Mondays, official and religious holidays. This tour does not include the visit of the Harem. The Topkapi Palace is closed on Tuesdays, official and religious holidays.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 9 : Istanbul (The Bazaars & the Bosphorus)
Bosphorus Cruise & Spice Bazaar:
We visit Rustem Pasa Mosque and then walk to the embankment. You take the boat and cruise for 90 minutes. The boat goes by the shores of Bosphorus while your guide specialist on Bosphorus will explain you everything en route. You will see the views of Dolmabahce Palace, Leanders Tower, two suspension bridges, Rumeli Hisari Fortress, beautiful mansions by the shores of Bosphorus and finally we disembark near the Spice Bazaar.
What about a different way to spend your last evening in Turkey… by joining a “Dinner and Cruise on the Bosphorus” ?
The Bosphorus is the most scenic and the most romantic part of Istanbul. It is a strait that connects the Black Sea on north with the Marmara Sea on south. It is a natural border between Europe and Asia and it is the only outlet on the Black Sea, which is connected to the Aegean through the Bosphorus and the strait of the Dardanelles. The most beautiful mansions and palaces of Istanbul, mosques, restaurants and beaches along its shores are located on two sides of this natural waterway. There are two suspension bridges that are illuminated in the evenings, fortresses both from the time of Byzantium and Ottoman Empire. The Bosphorus looks majestic in every season and is especially impressive in May when Judas trees are blooming. We embark to our private boat at the Kabatas Pier and the guide explains everything that you shall see. Dinner is served onboard.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 10 : Time to think about coming again ?
After a last night and breakfast in Turkey, the time to return to the airport has come.
For international flights the departure from your hotel will be 3 hours prior to expected take-off.
Yet, you may be lucky and only need to depart in the afternoon.
This may be an opportunity to visit the Museum of Archaeology and / or the Museum of Ottoman and Islamic Arts.
1. Depending the seasonality or some international events (congress, fairs...) prices of the proposed hotels may vary.
2. Due to closure days of some sites and museums, tours may be swapped to ensure the best running of your program. We have endeavored to show these in the program.
3. Due to practical reasons, the sequence of the activities may be altered.
Possible program alternatives :
1. Private excursions at any or all destinations (supplement to be added)
2. Higher or lower hotel category (price difference to be reflected)
3. Guide services in other language than English (supplement possible)
4. Possible connection with other tours you have booked with third parties
5. Chauffeur driven rental car (supplement to be added)
6. This is a program proposal. We are open to any additions or reductions you may require. These will be reflected in the new quotation.
The price quoted is based on a party of 2 adults in a double room