The more you see of Turkey, the more you realise you have yet to see. From the cosmopolitan delights of Istanbul to the Roman remains of Ephesus, you’ll discover a country of fascinating contrasts. You’ll cover a lot of ground in 15 days but still have plenty of time to stroll, shop and relax with a pot of apple tea.
Day 1: Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul; the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home.
Day 2: Canakkale
After breakfast we begin the drive to Çanakkale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles.
After lunch we will visit Gallipoli, visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove. Then head up the hill toward the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. You will tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. Return to Canakkale for the night. (B)
Day 3: Selcuk
En route to Selcuk today you’ll stop at the site of Troy. As well as seeing the remnants of the ancient city walls and the famed wooden horse, you will learn more about the ground breaking archaeological digs here and how the site has baffled historians. Arrive at Selcuk later in the day and visit Sirince to enjoy a tasting of local fruit wine. (B)
Day 4: Selcuk
This morning enjoy an orientation walk around the village of Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. You’ll visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque.
Later this afternoon visit Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Tour around the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and beautifully restored Library of Celsus. (B)
Day 5: Pamukkale
After breakfast this morning we drive to Pamukkale, also known as ‘Cotton Castle’ and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a myriad of pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties for a person’s circulation and digestive systems. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC and by the 2nd Century AD it had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. (B)
Day 6: Fethiye
This morning we travel to the Greek ghost-town of Kayakoy. Stroll around and take in the eerie atmosphere, due in no small part to population repatriation and earthquake damage. Continue on to Fethiye, a culturally fertile town located on a bay, surrounded by pine forests and islands. (B)
Day 7: Kas
Continue on to the seaside village of Kas. Here you’ll see charming whitewashed houses covered in bougainvilleas as well as an ancient Greek theatre. Sample the local cuisine and enjoy the night in the town’s quaint centre. (B)
Day 8: Kas
Drive to Kekova and embark on a boat cruise around the local islands. The cruise takes you to the settlement of Ucagiz and also to the village of Simena. You’ll also sail from large bays to beautiful protected inlets where you can go for a swim. Onboard the boat you’ll enjoy lunch in Tersane bay. Return to Kas in the evening. (B, L)
Day 9: Antalya
Head to the coast this morning, and eventually to Antalya. Your hotel is located in the Kaleiçi (old city) and you’ll go on an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the old Roman Harbour and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, and take a guided tour of the Antalya Museum this afternoon. (B)
Day 10: Konya
Continue on to Konya, an ancient city important in Roman times, and where the mystic Sufi practice of ‘whirling’ originates. You’ll visit the mausoleum of the famous mystic Mevlana, the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect.
Day 11: Cappadocia
Today’s itinerary includes a visit to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu. See dwellings that span seven levels beneath the ground. From here you’ll make your way to the archaeological site of Asikli Höyük, which was first settled in 8,000 BC. Then settle into the relaxed pace of Goreme for the next three nights. (B)
Day 12: Cappadocia
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away.
After a relaxing breakfast from your Terrace overlooking the valley we visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the many incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face. Later in the afternoon, you’ll go on a short walk through ‘Love Valley’ which is famous for its phallic rock formations. Then head back to your hotel in Goreme. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day. (B)
Day 13: Cappadocia
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and then go for a walk to the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur. You’ll see fascinating rock formations such as cones, peaks and fairy chimneys, as well as manmade cave chapels from early Christian times. (B, D)
Day 14: Istanbul
This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and fly to Istanbul; the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. On arrival into Istanbul you will be transferred to your hotel. The afternoon is yours to explore some of the hidden charms of Istanbul. (B)
Day 15: Istanbul
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast in Istanbul. (B)
Meals: 14 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
Transport: Boat, Plane, Private aircon bus
Travel Tip – Istanbul
Istanbul needs a good three days to explore all the highlights. Don’t miss the Haghia Sofia, Yerebatan Cistern and Egyptian Spice Bazaar.
Ref: TPE – PETT 2020
Images courtesy of IntrepidGroup