Day 1 : Istanbul
Arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel and free time to recover from travel.
In the event your arrive in the morning and wish to already attend some activity in the afternoon, we propose a sightseeing tour along the Bosphorus and the Byzantine City Walls to end at the Café Pierre Loti from where you can enjoy - as the famous French writer did - a unique view over the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and the city both Asian and European shores while sipping a welcome tea or coffee.
An alternative – as introduction to Istanbul – would be to stroll the bazaars and then embark a 2 hours cruise on the Bosphorus…
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2 : 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 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 3 : Istanbul or Cappadocia
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 or fly to Kayseri, transfer to your hotel in Cappadocia for overnight
Day 4 : Cappadocia
Join the group tour “Goreme”
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 5 : Cappadocia
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 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.
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 or fly to Izmir, transfer to Kusadasi for overnight
Day 6 : Kusadasi
In the morning, we depart for Selcuk and will visit the archaeological site of Ephesus and its area :
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 :
1. You proceed with visit of archaeological sites such as the Basilica of Saint John, the Mosque of Isabey and the Archaeology Museum of Selcuk.
2. Take a lighter program and enjoy a tour to the old Greek village of Sirince where - while strolling the streets - you will enjoy fruit wine tasting and / or admire handmade household linen.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 7 : Kusadasi
Day 7 : Kusadasi
Full day excursion to Pamukkale (with group) :
After a trip of about 2,5 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 travertines 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 :
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.
OR 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 8 to Day 10 or 11 : Cruising
Day 8 : On Board
In the morning transfer to the Kusadasi port and check-in procedure for the Cruise which will depart at noon.
Two Cruise routes are on offer :
Departure on Tuesday (5 days – 4 nights) :
Tuesday afternoon : Patmos
Wednesday : Rhodes
Thursday morning : Heraklion, Crete
Thursday afternoon : Santorini
Friday morning : Athens – disembarkation
Departure on Saturday (4 days – 3 nights) :
Saturday afternoon : Patmos
Sunday morning : Heraklion, Crete
Sunday afternoon : Santorini
Monday morning : Athens - disembarkation
Day 10 or 11 : Athens
Day 10 or 11 : Athens
Upon disembarkation, transfer to your hotel.
In the morning then join a group to discover Athens…
Athens Sightseeing with Acropolis Museum : From Tuesday to Sunday, all year round - Dep: 08:30 - Ret: 13:30From 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 on this comprehensive morning tour. Offering a perfect overview of the modern city, this guided halfday tour will help you get your bearings if this is your first visit to Athens.
The Athens half-day tour depart for a photo stop at Panathinaiko Stadium where the first Olympic Games took place in 1896. It is the only stadium built out of white marble. Proceed, passing by Zappeion and Temple of Olympian Zeus. You will then pass the Athens Trilogy which includes the University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, and the National Library. Continue passing by National Garden, Hadrian’s Arc, St. Paul’s Church, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown soldier, Schliemann’s House (Numismatic Museum), Catholic Cathedral, Old Parliament, Constitution Square ,Russian Orthodox Church, and finally ACROPOLIS (visit Propylae, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheion with its Porch of Maidens). Continue the expert guided Athens sightseeing and museum tour with a pleasant short walk passing by Herodion and Dionysos Theater, in order to visit the ACROPOLIS museum. Avoid and skip the lines of the new museum. Main attractions such as votives, artifacts of every day life, statues from archaic period, Caryatids, and of course the Parthenon hall with the metopes, the pediments and the frieze will impress you.
Free afternoon to stroll the “Plaka” (old town) area.
Overnight in Athens
Day 11 or 12 : Athens
Day at leisure in Athens or possibility to join a one day excursion :
Daily service from 01 April to 31 October (except Mondays)
Dep: 08:45 - Ret: 18:45
Depart from our terminal for one day trip from Athens to Delphi to expore one of the most famous archaelogical sites of Greece. Along the way, you will see the plain of Beotia, an agricultural center and you will also pass by the city of Theva, the birthplace of King Oedipus.
From 01 April to 31 October : Monday to Thursday and Saturday
Dep: 08:45 - Ret: 18:45
Explore with this guided one full day trip from Athens the remains of the ancient city of Mycenae a major centre of Greek civilization from 1600BC to 1100BC and a world heritage monument. Depart from our terminal for one day tour via the coastal National highway for the Corinth canal (short stop). After the Corinth Canal, you enter the region of Argolis, land of Homer’s Golden Mycenae, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Continue on to Epidaurus and visit the ancient theatre.
Overnight in Athens
Day 12 or 13 : All good times have an end...
Time at leisure till transfer to the Athens airport for your home flight.
If you still have a morning free, you may consider to join a morning tour to the canal of Corinth. OR
Possibility to join a 2 or 3 days cultural tour to the Meteora.
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.