Hidden Turkey 22 Days

(You may also join this tour on the 4th day without Istanbul)

Day 1
Arrival in Istanbul and meeting at the airport, transfer to the hotel, check- in. Leisure afternoon.
Overnight Istanbul.

Day 2 – Sultanahmet – Old Istanbul (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:00am
Visit to Topkapi Palace, which was used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries. We will also see the impressive collection of priceless jewels, crystal, silver and porcelain, robes worn by the sultans and relics of the prophet Mohammed.(Entrance to the Harem is extra). After lunch break we will see the Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I, which is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Walk through the back streets of Old Istanbul and visit the Yerebatan underground Cistern. At the end of the tour, at request, free time to see the Grand Covered Bazaar (except Sundays). *May be done as a walking tour if your hotel is centrally located. Overnight Istanbul.

Day 3 – Bosphorus Cruise with St. (Haghia) Sophia & Beylerbeyi (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:45am
Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market on the Golden Horn. Board your cruise of the Bosphorus, the waterway, which separates the continents of Europe and Asia. Pass Rumeli fortress, built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 to prepare for his conquest of Istanbul. Cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia and visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was the summer residence of the Ottoman Sultans, then on to Camlica Hill for a magnificent view of Istanbul. Time for lunch in a seaside fish restaurant. Cruise is done by public boat unless other arrangements are made. Visit The St. (Haghia) Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian. It was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years. See its intricate mosaics and huge central dome. Order of visits may be reversed.. Return to Hotel around 17:00pm

Day 4 – Istanbul- Trabzon (B.D)

Pick-up from hotel 2 hours before flight departure.
Transfer to airport in the morning and fly to Trabzon. Arrival and transfer to your hotel. Visit to Sümela Monastery, is a spectacular rock-hewn monastery perched dramatically on the narrow ledge of a steep cliff in the forests south of Trabzon. It was built in the fourth century, just before the Roman Empire split into east and west, by two Athenian priests, Barnabas and Sophronius, who, according to legend, found a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave. Overnight Trabzon.

Day 5- Trabzon- Erzurum (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Drive along the Silk Route through the Zigana Mountains which will take us to Karaca Cave that is considered to be the most beautiful in Turkey for its colors and formations. Continue to Erzurum via Bayburt where we check-in for overnight stay in Erzurum. Visit Cifte Minare and Yakutiye Medrese. Free time in Rustem Pasha Bedesten, devoted manufacture and sale of Oltutas jewelry. Overnight Erzurum

Day 6 – Erzurum – Kars – Ani (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
After breakfast, today we drive to Ani via Kars. Ani dates back as far as the 5th century AD and from 806 it served as the capital of Armenia. After our visits here we drive to Sarikamis once a favourite retreat of the Tsars of Russia where we spend the night. Dinner and overnight in Sarikamis.

Day 7 – Kars- Doğubeyazıt – Van (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Today we head on further south to Van via Dogubeyazit where we visit the legendary Ishakpasha Palace built towards the end of the 18th century by a powerful local family who were the rulers of the area. We then drive further past Mt. Ararat which according to ancient tradition is the mountain on which Noah’s Ark rested. Ararat consists of 2 peaks: Buyuk Agri (5165 m) and Kucuk Agri (3925 m). We visit the Muradiye waterfalls en route. Dinner and overnight in Van

Day 8 – Van (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
After a leisurely breakfast, we first visit Akdamar Island on which an 11th Century Armenian Monastery is situated with beautiful architecture on by the Lake Van. Continue with Tusba Castle. After lunch at a local restaurant we head on to Cavustepe. Dinner and overnight in Van

Day 9 – Van – Mardin (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Early departure for the longest bus ride of the tour (7:30 am – 3:30 pm). Drive west from Van around the southern end of Lake Van to Bitlis, then southwest to Mardin near the Iraqian border. We travel via Bitlis and Ahlat where we will visit the Conic Tombs of Seljuk-Turkish period. Overnight Mardin.

Day 10 – Mardin – Urfa (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Mardin: located on a high hill overlooking the plains of southern Turkey and Syria. After breakfast, we will visit Deir-Al-Zafaran (the Saffron Monastery), center of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchy and still an active monastery. After lunch drive to Hasankeyf, situated by the Tigris river. Soon to be submerged under the flood waters of a new dam on the Tigris, Hasankeyf has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larger and smaller Palace, as well as ruins of the Great Mosque. Drive to Urfa for Overnight

Day 11 – Urfa – Kahta (Nemrud) (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Visit the Mevlid Halil Mosque, the Cave of Prophet Abraham, then the sacred fish pool. You will have a chance to wander in the Old Bazaar. – Continue to Harran, city of the prophet Abraham. See the fortress, Islamic school and curious beehive-shaped adobe houses. Drive to Kahta and overnight Kahta.

Day 12 – Nemrud – Cappadocia. (B.L)
Hike to the summit of the Mt. Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites), be amazed by the colossal heads and statues of ancient deities, as you step into mythology. There we will hire small mini-buses to drive up the mountain. This extraordinary landmark rests at an elevation of 8000 ft. The mountain top complex is composed of two flattened areas strewn with statues and separated by a false peak of crushed rock. Antiouchus built the entire complex approximately 2000 years ago as a monument to his divine ancestry. Also definitely take time to visit the old castle, Arsemeia, cross over the still functioning Cendere Bridge (Septimius Severus bridge) dating all the way back to the 3rd century and Tumulus Tomb of Karakus. Then drive back to the hotel for breakfast. Drive to Kahraman Maras to have world famous ice-cream, then drive to Cappadocia for overnight

Day 13 – Cappadocia: (B.L)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:30am
Tour to Kaymaklı Underground City, one of the most interesting underground settlements in Cappadocia. Drive to to Sahinefendi ( Sobesos )- Sobessos is newly discovered (01 May 2002) mosaic houses & Archaeological excavation site. Villages in the valleys, surrounded by the “table top” mountains, are spectacular. Continue with Keslik Monastery near Cemil, that hides it’s frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer which we can only see by torch light. Lunch break. Visit to Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its spectacular old Greek houses; very fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture. Visit to Saruhan Caravanserai, a roadside inn where travellers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information and people across a network of trade routes of Asia, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe on the legendary Silk Road and the Spice road. Continue with panorama of the Red Valley, with its fabulous volcanic rock formations, is in the heart of Cappadocia but away from the tourist crowd. Overnight Cappadocia

Day 14 – Cappadocia (B.L)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:30am
In the morning, first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia: rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley; a journey in the past with its troglodyte houses, visit to Pasabag “fairy chimneys” where the voice of wind mixes with the “songs of fairies” near Zelve. Lunch in Avanos, centre of terra cotta work of art since 3000 BC. and a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop. Afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century). Continue to Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia. Overnight Cappadocia

Day 15 – Cappadocia – Antalya (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:30am

OPTION 1: TURKISH VILLAGE LIFE & CULINARY TOUR Starting the day with a visit to local market ( available only on Monday, Friday and Saturdays ) or a morning walk to the fruit orchards of Ayvali Village. We will collect and taste fresh fruits from the trees (harvesting between June and October) or visit the cave storages for lemons and potatoes. The tour continues with a walk through the narrow streets of the village. Each door opens for an invitation as the villagers invite you for a cup of tea, a plate full of dessert or fruit from their house. According to the season, we join the villagers to learn and help make grape syrup, tomato sauce productions and pumpkin seed collecting. Visiting the local meeting point, Kahvehane,(coffeehouse) to learn more about their lifestyle and local games while drinking the Turkish coffee and tea.Visit the mosque in the village and learn more about the religious customs. For the lunch, we are invited to a real village house to join a Turkish family. We’ll collect the ingredients from their garden and we will participate in cooking a delicious Turkish meal. We are going to have lunch by sitting together with the family in a traditional Turkish fashion. After the lunch, a walk through a beautiful hidden valley near the village. Drive to see a cave wine house to see the process of making delicious and famous Cappadocia wine. Before going back to the hotel, there may be an optional stop to see an art and handicraft center of Cappadocia. Overnight Cappadocia.

OPTION 2: IHLARA CANYON HIKING Drive to Ihlara, on the way, Walking in Ihlara Canyon, a “mirage” in the Steps of Anatolia up to Belisirma village, the ancient Peristrema: “Valley of the Sky” along the Melendiz River. Rock-cut churches, spread across a wild plantation, will surprise you with their successfully painted representations from the Bible. Lunch in Belisirma, a local restaurant by the river. Stop by Selime, a village with cave houses at the end of the canyon and a “star wars” like landscape.

At the end of the day, transfer to airport for a direct flight to Antalya ( or via Istanbul ).
Arrival and meeting at the airport with your name sign. Transfer to your hotel in Antalya, Overnight Antalya.

Day 16 – Antalya (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:30am
Visit to Perge – Aspendos and Kursunlu waterfalls or Antalya Museum .Overnight Antalya

Day 17 – Antalya – Pamukkale ( B-D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:30am
Drive to Pamukkale. Discovery of Travertine terraces and Hierapolis. The travertine terraces at Pamukkale are one of the most spectacular natural wonders we ever have seen from various mineral springs in a vast white cliff side, about 200 m overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have dripped down over a series of terraced levels and created a fairyland of bizarre solidified cascades and shell-shaped basins. It looks like creations from snow or like balls from cotton, which gave the scenery the Turkish name Pamukkale (cotton castle): “pamuk” for cotton and “kale” for castle. Moreover the water in the basins is changing its color according to how the light enters Overnight Pamukkale

Day 18- Pamukkale – Kusadasi (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:00am
Drive to Ephesus, on the way, visit to Aphrodisias. Aphrodisias was primarily known as a center for the arts, specifically sculpture. The Aphrodisias School of Sculpture had a distinctive style and was very well circulated throughout the Greek and Roman world. Overnight Near Ephesus

Day 19 – Ephesus (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 09:00am
Visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. We will spend several hours walking in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Caesar, Cicero, Apostles Paul and John and many other familiar historical names. The recently opened Terrace Houses (entry extra) where the wealthiest Romans lived are an excellent example of sensitive excavation and presentation. The mosaics and frescos are spectacular. Tradition has it that Virgin Mary was brought here by St John after the Crucifixion and lived her final years near the city of Ephesus on an isolated mountaintop. A lovely chapel is constructed on the site tended by Franciscans and open to visitors. It has been designated a pilgrimage site by the Pope. Visit to temple of Artemis to see the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Overnight Near Ephesus

Day 20 – Ephesus – Assos (Troy) (B.D)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:00am
Drive to Troy , visit Pergamon or Pergamum that became an important kingdom during the Hellenistic period, Pergamon had the second best library in the ancient Greek civilization (the ancient Library of Pergamum), after Alexandria. When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus, partly because of competitors and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes invented a new substance to use in codices, called “pergaminus” or parchment after the city. This was made of fine calf skin, a predecessor of vellum. Asclepion, located to the southwest of the lower city, was a sanctuary dedicated to the god of health, Asclepics which was one of the largest hospitals in history, is located to the west of the city, which was a great center of culture, art and medicine. Overnight Çanakkale near Troy.

Day 21 – Assos (Troy) – Istanbul (B)
Meeting at the hotel reception at 08:00am
Visit Troy in the morning. Troy (Truva) – 4000 years old Ancient City Troy, popular with the Trojan War and Trojan horse is a city which existed over4000 years and known as the center of ancient civilizations. Many years, people believed that it was the city in tales and never existed until it was first found. At this time it was known as Ilium or New Ilium. Today Troy or New Ilium places in Hisarlik at Canakkale. The remains of the city – the remains from the thieves and destructors – can be visit in here. Transfer to Istanbul. Overnight Istanbul

Day 22 – (B)
Pick-up from hotel 2 hours before flight departure.
Connect to your international flight and leave Turkey.

Abbreviations

B = Breakfast L= Lunch D = Dinner (Lunch excluded on private tours)

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