Discover the cultural and natural wonders of Turkey as you journey through its past during seven magical days. Straddling Europe and Asia, Turkey is a country that binds the present to the past and where the ruins of ancient civilisations can be found at every turn. This tour begins and ends in Istanbul, taking in the city’s top cultural treasures before journeying to deepest Anatolia to discover Cappadocia then continuing to Izmir to explore the remnants of the ancient city of Ephesus. Domestic flights are used for long journeys thus sparing you hours sitting on a coach. Groups vary in size but are typically made up of about 6-10 travellers.
Istanbul: Head to the cool cafés off İstiklal Caddesi to sip on a Turkish tea… or something a bit stronger
Cappadocia: Visit the ‘cave town’ of Urgup in the evening to enjoy a local dinner or have a fun night
Eye spy: The nazar is an omnipresent amulet that Turks believe will ward off the evil eye
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer İbrahim Ünlü for rates and conditions
Istanbul: Visit Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar as well as the Egyptian Bazaar before enjoying a Bosphorus cruise and crossing to Asia to discover the Beylerbeyi Palace and taking in the views from Camlica Hill
Cappadocia: Explore Love Valley and see the ‘fairy chimneys’ of Pasabagi and the carved rock churches of Goreme Open Air Museum before discovering Devrent Valley. Wander through the ancient underground city of Kaymakli, enjoy the panoramic views from Uchisar Castle and hike in the Rose Valley
Izmir: See the awe-inspiring Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Meet at the airport and transfer to your hotel. You will be given your room key and the rest of the day is yours to explore Istanbul. Transfer from Atatürk Airport to your hotel is included while a surcharge applies to transfers from Sabiha Gökcen Airport.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before departing for the Topkapi Palace, the vast residence of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Wander its elaborately decorated halls and admire the exquisite collection of crystal, silver, Chinese porcelain and robes worn by the sultans and their families as well as the glittering jewels of the Imperial Treasury. (The Harem visit is an optional extra.) Head to the nearby Sultanahmet Mosque, which is popularly known as the Blue Mosque because of the elaborate blue Iznik tiles decorating its interior. Adjacent are the ruins of the ancient Hippodrome, where chariot races were held during Roman and Byzantine times. Today you can see the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine, and the German Fountain. Visit also the Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir from Byzantine times, which features an eclectic selection of columns. In the afternoon, there is free time to visit (on request) the Grand Bazaar. This covered labyrinth of streets and passages houses more than 4,000 shops with each trade having its own area: goldsmiths, carpet sellers, copperware pipes etc.
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a visit to the Egyptian Bazaar by the Golden Horn. After wandering this aromatic market, head to the quays for a one-hour Bosphorus cruise to explore the landmarks on the banks of the waterway that separates Europe and Asia such as the Rumeli Castle, which was built by the Ottomans in preparation for their conquest of Constantinople. Alight and cross the 1.5km-long Bosphorus Bridge to Asia to visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was the summer residence of Ottoman sultans. Continue to Camlica Hill to admire the magnificent views if offers of Istanbul before enjoying a lunch at a waterfront seafood restaurant. In the afternoon, visit jewellery centres before continuing to Hagia Sophia, the ancient basilica built by Emperor Constantine the Great in the fourth century, which for a thousand years was the largest church in the world. Here you can admire some of the most beautiful Byzantine mosaics to have survived the passage of time. Transfer to airport to catch domestic flight to Cappadocia or Kayseri.
Explore breathtaking Cappadocia after breakfast at the hotel, visiting some of the most beautiful natural attractions in Turkey. This volcanic region is the result of geological formations that began 10 million years ago and, as a result, large stalagmite-like pillars rise upwards from the earth, creating a unique otherworldly landscape. The first stop is at ‘Love Valley’, where dozens of tall rocks created an unusually ‘romantic’ panorama. Continue to Pasabagi to see the fairy chimneys’, which were hollowed out and used as graves during the Roman period. Break for lunch in picturesque village of Avanos.In the afternoon to Goreme Open Air Museum, which is famous for the Christian churches cut into the rock and decorated with delicate Orthodox frescos relating the life of Jesus. Most of the churches date from the 10th to 12th centuries. The last visit of the day is to Devrent Valley to see natural rock formations that resemble animals.
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for Kaymakli underground city, which dates back to Hittite times more than 3,000 years ago and penetrates fives levels below ground. Head afterwards to a shop selling products made from onyx, a locally sourced mineral, which has been used since ancient times. Continue to Uçhisar Castle, the highest point in Cappadocia, a stack riddled with tunnels built over thousands of years. Enjoy the mesmerising panoramic views of Cappadocia from this natural vantage point. Lunch in Goreme is followed by a 2km hike in Rose Valley, which is so called because of the colours of its rock formations. Then head to explore the eerie abandoned cave village of Cavusin, which has lain empty since its Greek residents were transferred to Greece in the 1920s. After the tour, stop at a pottery shop to admire local crafts. Transfer to either Cappadocia or Kayseri airport to catch a flight to Izmir.
Meet and greet by a local guide after breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Ephesus for a guided tour of the ruins of this ancient city. Follow in the footsteps of classical greats such Alexander the Great, Cicero and the apostles Paul and John as you explore the more than two dozen monuments to have survived the ravages of time. Stroll along the Curetes Street, visiting the Temple of Artemis, the Roman baths, the Library of Celcus and the Grand Theatre among other sites. See also the recently opened Slope Houses, where you can observe in what opulence the wealthy of the ancient world lived. Return to Izmir for check-in at the hotel.
Morning free at leisure to explore Izmir at your own leisure before transfer to either Izmir Airport for flight to Istanbul.