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Cue the exotic music. It’s the perfect pairing to your first day in Istanbul, a sprawling metropolis which has connected Europe and Asia for centuries. The former centre of the Old World appears cloaked in mystery, but you won’t need to dig deep to discover its dramatic history and vibrant melting pot of cultures, remnants of which can be seen throughout the city’s well-preserved façades. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to your hotel and later meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a glimpse of what lies ahead. Tonight, seek out the best terrace in town for illuminated views of the city’s rooftops right down to the Bosphorus.
The 'Pearl of the Orient' reveals her hidden treasures this morning as you join your Travel Director for a visit to the Byzantine Hippodrome. Just as it was centuries ago, today the expansive promenade is a vibrant centre of the city’s social life. Standing amidst its obelisks and statues, you can almost imagine the thundering roar of chariots cheered on by Emperor Constantine the Great, who is credited with making Istanbul a glorious replacement for Rome. Visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque with its beautiful interior of Iznik tiles and Hagia Sophia, once the leading church in Christendom. Your afternoon and evening are free to explore Istanbul your way, but you won't want to miss an Optional Experience visit to Topkapi Palace, the lavish former home of the Ottoman sultans, and the Grand Bazaar with its dazzling displays.
Follow in the footsteps of medieval traders, taking the same journey they once took on the east-west trade route between the Black Sea and Mediterranean. You’ll arrive in UNESCO-listed Safranbolu, an important caravan station whose Ottoman-style wooden houses and narrow streets once witnessed bustling trade. Join your Travel Director this afternoon for a sightseeing tour and insights into its history, starting on Hidirlik Hill for panoramic views. You’ll have time to get lost in its cobbled streets and soak up the colourful sights and sounds at the Eski Carsi and Arasta Bazaar. Try your hand at haggling as a tribute to the town’s trading past.
Travel south to the Turkish capital, Ankara and visit the Mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder and father of the Turkish Republic. Continue to the whimsical landscapes of Cappadocia, a region famed for its unique geological features and ‘troglodytes’ cave dwellings.
It’s impossible to take a bad picture in Cappadocia. Fairy-tale rock chimneys rise up from the ochre and rust-coloured depths of Paşabağı and the Red Valley – a landscape forged by wind, rain and a volcanic touch. Visit a regional rug production centre where you’ll learn how every shape and colour embedded in an intricately woven Turkish carpet tells its own story. Then enjoy an afternoon on your own amidst the fantasy landscapes left by Mother Nature in the ochre rock. An Optional Experience in Göreme reveals how Christians once worshipped in the many rock churches that remain to this day. This evening you could choose to witness a real highlight by joining an Optional Experience with the Whirling Dervishes. Watch them whirl around and around in their trance-like remembrance of God – a dizzying religious custom that represents man’s spiritual journey. After this astounding performance dinner is served at a local restaurant.
See master craftsmen at work turning their pottery wheels to craft the beautiful terracotta pottery characteristic of this region this morning, before visiting Saratli Underground City. Later, on your journey to Konya, you’ll see a 13th-century caravanserai. You can almost imagine the jostling of camel trains as they stopped to rest and replenish their stocks before continuing east or west along the popular trade route that winds through Cappadocia. Arriving in Konya, the home of the mystic Whirling Dervishes, you’ll visit the final resting place of the Sufi philosopher Mevlana to gain insights into the traditions and rituals of the Sufi religion.
Learn how the village of Sille was inhabited by Greeks who lived peacefully alongside the nearby Turks of Konya for over eight centuries. You’ll see remnants of their heritage in the landmarks that remain, before heading to Antalya on the Turquoise Coast. Retreat behind the ancient walls of the Old Town and stroll past the beautifully restored Ottoman-era houses in its historic centre. Visit the Roman harbour connected to the city by 44 Venetian stone steps, then spend the rest of the day getting lost in Antalya’s labyrinthine cobbled lanes. This evening, you could choose to sample the local Antalyan dishes at a favourite restaurant.
Ease into the laid-back seaside vibes of Antalya on this full free day dedicated to soaking up sun-kissed Mediterranean shores. If you can drag yourself away from your sun lounger, we recommend joining an Optional Experience cruise along the glittering coast. This afternoon, an optional journey into antiquity could see you visit the Aspendos Theatre, built in the second century and dedicated to 'the gods of this country and to the Imperial house'. Also included on this optional afternoon excursion is a visit to the Roman Aqueduct, the Kursunlu Waterfall and the Aspendos Bridge, spanning the Eurymedon River.
The powdery white sands and crystal-clear water of Lake Salda provide a beautiful backdrop for a quick photo stop today. Besides being noteworthy as a popular tourist resort and archaeological site, the lake is one of only two places in the world said to have similar rock structures to the planet Mars. Contemplate life in outer space before continuing to Kaklik Cave with its sparkling white travertines, before heading for the cotton fortress of Pamukkale.
The ethereal white pools and terraces that cascade down surrounding cliffs are a sight to behold this morning as you see the ruins of the ancient Roman health spa of Hierapolis. Head west to the Aegean coastline, arriving in Izmir in time to spend some time exploring this pretty port town, with its lengthy promenade. Learn about its multicultural past, and its history as a Greek city. Consider joining an optional seafood dinner at a favourite local restaurant renowned for its stunning views.
Today an Optional Experience could see you visit Ephesus, a 2,000-year-old site and home to the iconic Library of Celsus and Hadrian’s Temple. Included in this experience is a visit to the stone cottage, where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her final years, and the enchanting hillside village of Sirince, where guests can soak up the historic atmosphere and quaint market-town culture of a traditional Turkish village. Sample some of the delicious local olive oil, take a bite out of a juicy peach and wander through cobbled marketplaces into a world before cars and supermarkets.
Ancient legends and symbols take centre stage today. Your first stop this morning is in Pergamon, famed for its Asclepion Medical Centre, which still bears the image of the snake-entwined staff that remains a symbol of medicine in modern times. Next on today’s agenda is a visit to Troy, the ancient city that inspired Homer’s tales about the wrath of Achilles and the famous siege, which was broken through the clever construction of a wooden Trojan horse. A replica of the horse can still be seen today. Continue to Çanakkale later.
Pay tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives in the World War I battles at Gallipoli. You’ll visit Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery and Chunuk Bair, before returning to Istanbul. As your journey through Turkey draws to a close, you’ll want to consider joining your new friends for an optional cruise along the Bosphorus, celebrating the mighty waterway which serves as the boundary between Europe and Asia. See grand fortresses, palaces and 19th-century mansions of the Ottoman elite that line this busy strait.
Your in-depth exploration of Turkey with its cultural and historic treasures has come to an end. You’ve stood amidst man-made wonders and ethereal landscapes, walked in the footsteps of traders and Whirling Dervishes and forged special memories with new friends. For now it’s time to end this chapter with a heartfelt farewell to your newfound friends. Find out more about your available transfers at costsavertour.com/transfers.
Prices shown are per person based on two people sharing a twin room. To request a personalized travel quote, click "Request Quote" and a Travel Specialist will send your custom quote including airfare if requested.
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
Available on Day 2
Begin your city tour of mesmerizing Istanbul with a visit to Topkapi Palace, the lavish former home of the Ottoman sultans and the administrative centre of the empire, a true treasure trove in every sense. Before returning to your hotel, stroll by the colourful displays of lanterns, ceramics and fabrics that decorate the Grand Bazaar – one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets.
Adult Price: $46
Available on Day 5
A highlight of your travels through Cappadocia, tonight is all about experiencing the authentic culture of Turkey. Sema, known as the ‘dance’ of the Whirling Dervishes, represents a man’s spiritual journey and is significant to local history, culture and beliefs. Once the ceremony is over, you’ll enjoy dinner in a nearby restaurant to savour the unique flavours of the region’s signature dishes. Drinks are not included with this dinner.
Adult Price: $45
Available on Day 6
Nestled amid the ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations of Cappadocia, Göreme is a historic town first settled in the Roman Period. Many rock churches can still be explored today, with your guide pointing out the best sights to see. Next, you’ll continue to Avanos, renowned for its colourful and high-quality earthenware. Stroll the picturesque streets of this charming town and maybe even pick up a souvenir from your holiday!
Adult Price: $36
Available on Day 8
It is possible to see many traditional home foods, which are made by the experienced cooks, in the various restaurants lined up from the smallest settlement areas up to the big cities. However, today is the day to try a legendary food both for Turkey and for the Middle East, and that is “kebab’. You will have the chance of sampling various kinds of ‘meze” with traditional tastes. Vegetarians should not worry at all as your Travel Director knows the ways that will satisfy your palate.
Adult Price: $42
Available on Day 9
Explore the picturesque streets of Antalya’s Old Town, Kaleici, in the centre of present-day Antalya. Led by a Local Specialist, you’ll discover the must-see sights including the imposing Hadrian’s Gate, dating back to 130 AD when the Roman Emperor visited the city. After soaking up the history and culture of Old Town, you’ll enjoy a yacht cruise to the cascading Düden Waterfalls in the Mediterranean Sea.
Adult Price: $40
Witness the world's best-preserved theatre of antiquity during your first stop in Aspendos this morning. Learn more as you explore the Roman Aqueduct and the Ottoman bridge together with your fellow travellers. Before leaving the area and driving back to your hotel see Kursunlu Waterfall.
Adult Price: $27
Available on Day 11
Step off the tourist trail and live like the locals this evening, as we head to the Kordon to enjoy dinner at one of Izmir’s best seafood restaurants. Known for stunning views of the sea from its prime position along the promenade - and the best fish dishes in coastal Turkey – it's a must-visit on your holiday. Sample a variety of seafood and meze delights as you relax and unwind after an exhilarating day of sightseeing. Excludes drinks.
Adult Price: $42
Available on Day 12
Stroll through the ruins of one of the most important cities in the ancient Mediterranean world, the 2000-year-old settlement of Ephesus. Exploring the collonaded Arcadian Way, Amphitheatre and the amazingly intact façade of the Library of Celsus. Next, we’ll visit the House of the Virgin Mary at Mount Koressos, spectacularly situated above the Ephesus Ruins. After uncovering some of Turkey’s most impressive historic sights, we’ll enjoy lunch in a typical local restaurant outside the colourful town of Selcuk on the way to Sirince, a former Greek Village.
Adult Price: $75
Available on Day 14
No tour of Istanbul would be complete without a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, a winding waterway separating Europe and Asia. Boasting unbeatable views of the cityscape, you’ll see a beautiful mixture of modern hotels, ancient wooden villas, marble palaces, fortresses and small fishing villages as you kick back on board with your camera in hand.
Adult Price: $45
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