Day 1 : Athens
Upon arrival in Athens, transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Athens alone is worth a trip to Greece : the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the National Museum, the Plaka area, the Syndagma (Constitution) Square alone are worth to go to Athens. Athens, capital of modern Greece, at its foundation in 3000 B.C. was a small fortified village at the top of the Acropole. It owes its name to the Goddess Athena who won a fight against Poseidon.
Athens, today, counts about 4 million inhabitants. To discover the city, wandering in through the tiny streets and the popular areas are incomparable : bazaars, gardens, Byzantine churches and magnificent ruins remind the turbulent past and dynamical present of Athens.
Overnight in Athens
Day 2 : Athens
Athens Sightseeing with Acropolis Museum :
From Tuesday to Sunday, all year round - Dep: 08:30 - Ret: 13:30
From the Acropolis to Omonia Square, with the half-day sightseeing and Acropolis museum tour you'll see all the famous sites of ancient and modern Athens and visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum on this comprehensive morning tour.
Free afternoon to stroll the “Plaka” (old town) area
Overnight in Athens
Days 3-4-5 : On tour to Delphi & the Meteora
Today we join a cosmopolite English speaking group for a 3 days tours to Delphi and the Meteora.
With this three day sightseeing tour in Greece from Athens including Meteora and Delphi, you will visit some of the most interesting sites in Greece. Visit the archeological site of Delphi with Apollo temple and the Unesco World Heritage-listed rock-tower monasteries of Meteora
1st Day: Depart through Thebes, Livadia (short stop) and Arachova for Delphi, known in ancient times as the navel of the world. Visit the archaeological site and the museum of Delphi. Afternoon free. Overnight stay in Delphi.
2nd Day: Morning free. In the afternoon depart through Central Greece to Kalambaka, a small town built at the foot of the majestic grey rocks, crowned by the Meteora Monasteries. Overnight stay in Kalambaka.
3rd Day: Leave in the morning for nearby Meteora to visit the Byzantine monasteries. Return to Athens passing by the heroic monument of King Leonidas of Sparta at Thermopylae.
Return to Athens for overnight
Day 6 : Santorini
In the morning, transfer to the port of Piraeus where will take the ferry to Santorini.
Port of Piraeus :
The largest Greek seaport is also one of the largest seaports in the Mediterranean Sea basin and one of the top ten container ports in Europe. The port is also a major employer in the area, with more than 1,500 employees who provide services to more than 24,000 ships every year. The Port of Piraeus has been the port of Athens since Archaic times.
Upon arrival in Santorini, transfer to your hotel. Free time and overnight.
Day 7 : Santorini
Day at leisure in Santorini.
Also classically known as “Thera” and officially as Thira, the island of Santorini is located in the southern Aegean Sea about 200km (120Mi) southeast from Greece’s mainland. It is the largest island of a small, circular archipelago which bears the same name and is the remnant of a volcanic caldera. It is the most southern island of the Cyclades group of islands with a population of around 14.000.
The Must Do’s in Santorini :
Go up the Caldera on a mule ride :
One of the most authentic experiences is going up from the Old Harbor (or Ammoudi) on a mule. These friendly animals carry you through the 587-step winding path on the steep slope that designates the shortcut to Thira. The itinerary begins in a relaxing way with the orders given in the mule drivers’ language but soon enough, when the distance from the sea level becomes higher and higher and, the donkey gets closer and closer to the edge of the cliff, the adventure is on!
Dive into the sunet :
The Caldera, generously embracing the Aegean, is the spot where the silence of the East meets the serenity of the West and creates a divine melody of colors alternativing so harmoniously as if overflown from the palette of the volcano. You don’t need to go till Oia : wherever you are in the Caldera, the sunset is magical !
Try the local cuisine :
Looking at the volcano, escaping in the Caldera. What is the importance of all this if you cannot feel it deeply inside yourself ? And how is it possible to feel the power of this land, unless you sense its aromas through the products of its earth, cooked by a chef who really loves it ? And, of course, by accompanying them with a bottle of “Santorini”, the Assyrtiko wine of the island with its metallic
Stay in a “Yposkafo” :
The architecture of Santorini is unique. The “yposkafa”, i.e. the plain dwellings the local islanders used to build within the rocks in order to protect themselves from the winds are one of a kind ! Nowadays, in Santorini they have been handed over to renowned architects who converted them into wonderful places to stay. It is worth experiencing even for one night the claustrophobic feeling of the yposkafo, the characteristic smell of the rock, the immediate closeness with the Caldera...
Overnight ferry from Santorini to Kos or Rhodes (These ferries are running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays). This will be the same ferry yet arrival in Kos will be approx. 3 hours earlier than in Rhodes.
Day 8 : Overnight Ferry Santorini-Kos/Rhodes
In the evening, you embark the ferry for Turkey : - From Kos to Bodrum - From Rhodes to Marmaris
What can you do while waiting in Kos or Rhodes ?
Steeped in history, Kos boasts many interesting sights to see, including the fascinating ancient hospital of Asklepion, the plane tree of Hippocrates, Neratzia Castle and the ruins at Thesi Palatia. From a lively day out exploring the vibrant and bustling streets of the capital Kos Town, to a taste of Greek tradition strolling around a remote unspoilt village, the island of Kos offers something for everyone.
No trip to the island is complete without a visit of the wonderfully preserved Rhodes Town, a medieval centre (Castle of the Templers) complete with fortified walls and charming cobbled streets - a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. Take a trip to the Palace of the Grand Masters and the Colossus, as well as the beautiful bay of Lindos, the Valley of the Butterflies and Monolithos Castle.
Upon arrival in Bodrum or Marmaris, transfer to Kusadasi for overnight.
Day 9 : Kusadasi
Relaxing day in Kusadasi… or if you wish, you can use this day to prolounge your stay in Kos or Rhodes.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 10 : Kusadasi
Join a morning (only Ephesus archaeological site) or full day tour to Ephesus (also includes the Shrine of Virgin Mary and the Archaeology Museum or the Isabey Mosque)
You also have the option to have a private tour to Ephesus :
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. Meet at 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.
In the afternoon, we propose two alternatives :
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 11 : Cappadoca
In the morning, we will fly from Izmir to Cappadocia (direct or via Istanbul). Upon arrival at the Airport of Kayseri, meet with your driver and join the group tour “Goreme” :
Program of the day :
Goreme Open Air Museum : Goreme was known, in the ancient times as Korama. The first references to it are in the early 7th Acts of St.Hieron, a 3rd C. saint, a native of Matianoi, or the modern Maccan. Goreme is an amphitheatre surrounded by steep cliffs leading to a pleasant, verdant valley, which puzzles every single visitor, by the interesting access to the many caves. The place we refer as the Goreme Open Air Museum is located in a small part of the whole valley and right next door to the modern village of Goreme. It is famous for its monastic complex of rock churches and chapel covered with frescoes.
Zelve Valley: Fairy chimneys with multiple stems and caps are the attraction of this area. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit’s shelter built into a fairy chimney with three heads is one of the highlights of the valley.
Devrent Valley: Devrent is one km. from Zelve Valley. The ruins at Devrent are spread over three valleys, which also house several pointed fairy chimneys with large stems.
Cavusin Village: One of the oldest settlements in the area, Cavusin is 2 km. from Goreme, on the Goreme-Avanos road. The Church of St.John the Baptist offers a panoramic view of the village. This church and its paintings date back to the 5th century, making it the oldest church in the region. Avanos: A center of terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. You will be invited to visit a traditional pottery workshop, which is possibly set deep into the hillsides. The clay, which comes from the Red River (Kizilirmak, the longest stream of Turkey) passing through the town gives life both to the land and to the local economy.
Ortahisar Village: Ortahisar is dominated by a fortress-like rock rising above winding roads. The present-day town is located at the foot of the “fortress” and a complicated network of paths leads to abandoned rock dwellings. In addition to cultivating the land, the inhabitants of Ortahisar earn their living by storing fruits yearlong in the caves cut from the volcanic rock. From the summit of the fortress which is accessible by stairs, one can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding area.
In the village directly below the fortress are dozens of tuff cones hollowed out as rooms. Many of these are still in use.
At the end of the tour, transfer to your hotel and overnight.
Day 12 : Cappadocia or Istanbul
Early birds may want to enjoy a warm air balloon ride before continuing with the program: Enjoy a unique Sunrise balloon ride and view the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. Balloon, though agreed for up to 20 passengers, are rarely taking off with more than 12 persons. Return to your hotel for breakfast before joining a group tour. A choice: Kaymakli : Kaymakli Underground City: Kaymakli is one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia with eight stories. It covers an area of approximately 4 km2 /1.5SM. Visitors can see only about 10% of the city by going down a maximum of five floors. The population of Kaymakli is thought to have been about 3000.
Pigeon Valley: Here you will see where the Pigeons and learn how they were used to help the people : sending messages, fertilizing the grapes... Also you will enjoy a wonderful panoramic view.
Uchisar Rock Castle: Uchisar is the name of the fortress and the town where it is located (“Uc” is tip, “hisar” is fortress in Turkish). This 60 mt. high (200ft) fortress was not built but carved out of a natural hill dominating the area with a breathtaking view of all the surrounding Cappadocia formations.
Esentepe Panorama: This is the best panoramic viewpoint from which to contemplate the view of Goreme Village; fairy chimneys, rock formations and cave houses.
Rose Valley: This isolated valley behind Urgup has beautiful rock formations with some great hidden rock-carved churches. The most interesting part of this area are the countless tracks connecting the small villages and towns through vineyards and gardens like a spider web. It is always possible to see villagers working in the area and offering grapes, apples or apricots to you. OR Ihlara : Ihlara Canyon: Near Mount Hasan (one of the three volcanoes of Cappadocia) is a canyon with a depth of approximately 100 m carved by the Melendiz River thousands of years ago. It begins at Ihlara Village and ends at the village Selime after making 26 bends along 14 kilometers. It is believed that the valley housed more than four thousand dwellings and a hundred churches. It is estimated that arround eighty thousand people once lived here.
It is very pleasant to walk through the Ihlara Valley by the vineyards, poplars and pistachio trees to the shooting sound of the rushing water and sorrounded by a rich wildlife of lizards, frogs, butterflies, birds and sometimes eagles and some mammals like lambs and sheep.
The churches in the Valley can be divided into two groups; The Ihlara group including the Agacalti, Purenli Seki, Kokar, Egritas and Yilanli churches that reflect Oriental influences, and the Belisirma group, comprising the Sumbullu church and others with Byzantine characteristics.
The churches of the Ihlara group display scenes dissimilar to the scenes depicted in other Cappadocian churches. In fact, they are reminiscent of the early churches of Syria and the Coptic churches of Egypt. The texts in Ihlara group churches are unusually long. In this group special emphasis was laid upon Satan and women as the source of evil.
Selime Monastery: ancient monastic site and several rock hewn churches.
Belisirma Village: We enjoy a 4 km. hike through the Ihlara Valley to arrive in the Belisirma Village.
Derinkuyu Underground City: : Derinkuyu is one of the largest underground cities in Cappadocia with eight stories.
Overnight in Cappadocia unless you prefer to already depart for Istanbul…
Day 13 : Istanbul
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 surprizes ! 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 14 : Istanbul
The Bazaars and the Bosphorus :
For those who want to enjoy there time in Istanbul other than by visiting, we propose a tour of the famous Istanbul covered and Egyptian bazaars. The Covered bazaar is a labyrinth of streets and passages counting more than 4000 shops where each trade has its own area : goldsmiths, carpet sellers, arts and crafts such as ceramic plates, copperware, brassware, onyx ware and meerschaum pipes. While wandering in this historical shopping mall, enjoy also shopping.
The covered bazaar is closed on Sundays, official and religious holidays. At the end of the Covered Bazaar, you will enter the Egyptian Bazaar also known as the Spice Bazaar.
After lunch, we will head for the Eminönü pier where we will embark a 2 hours cruise on the Bosphorus sailing up along the European shore and back along the Asian shore. The unique view of the Yalis (wooden mansions along the water), the Rumeli Fortress are among the attractions of this cruise.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 15 : Time to go... but Anker Travel will be glad to welcome you 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.