- Discover the sites of Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, and Grand Bazaar
- Explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus, Troy, and Assos
- Learn about the significant WWI battles in Gallipoli
- Enjoy the mineral-rich thermal waters of Pamukkale and the Roman Spa of Hierapolis
- Stroll through ancient Pergamon and stay in the charming village of Şirince
|Day 1||Arrive in Istanbul - Explore||Istanbul|
|Day 2||Discover the Vibrant City of Istanbul by Foot and Boat||Istanbul|
|Day 3||Explore the Historic Sites of Istanbul's Famed Old Town||Istanbul|
|Day 4||Explore the WWI Sites of Gallipoli - Drive to Çanakkale||Çanakkale|
|Day 5||Discover the Ancient Ruins of Troy and Assos||Adatepe|
|Day 6||Taste Delicious Olive Oils - Drive to Şirince via Ancient Pergamon||Şirince|
|Day 7||Explore Şirince and the Ancient City of Ephesus||Şirince|
|Day 8||Discover the Incredible Landscape of Pamukkale and Hierapolis||Pamukkale|
|Day 9||Depart Turkey via Istanbul|
Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul - Explore
Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of Istanbul!
Upon arriving at Istanbul International Airport, you'll be privately transferred to your centrally-located hotel. Settle into your accommodation and meet your guide for a quick preview of the city. You have two options for your walking tour, depending on the location of your hotel.
Option A: Beyoglu District
Settled on the European side of Istanbul, the district of Beyoglu showcases posh, early-eighteenth-century buildings, embassies, and boutiques. You'll find many of these grandiose structures along Grande Rue de Péra, which is now known as İstiklal Caddesi. Some of the noteworthy places you’ll visit include the French and Greek Consulates, several Christian churches, the Flower Passage, and the bustling Produce and Fish Market.
Option B: Sultanahmet District
The Sultanahmet District sits in the heart of historic Old Istanbul, and is home to many of the city's most famous buildings. Your walking tour will take you to the sites of Topkapı Palace, Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia), the Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Camii), the ByzantineHippodrome, Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Saray), and the Istanbul Archeological Museums.
After getting a better feel for the city, find a buzzy restaurant for dinner and enjoy some of the spectacular cuisines of Istanbul.
Day 2: Discover the Vibrant City of Istanbul by Foot and Boat
Awake in Istanbul with breakfast at your hotel, then begin your full day of exploring this amazing city. You'll start at Topkapi Palace, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century. Today it houses a beautiful museum. Next you'll visit the Spice Market, which is one of the longest bazaars in the city. It's also a wonderful place to buy local gifts such as nuts, coffee, teas, and Turkish delight, a traditional confection.
After some free time for lunch, you'll enjoy a boat cruise through the Bosphorus Strait, admiring the shores of both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Seeing the city by boat offers an entirely different perspective, allowing you to truly see the size of the city and why it's played such an important geographic role for centuries.
Later on, your journey will take you back into the beating heart of Istanbul, starting in the Pera/Beyoglu district. Important landmarks along the way include: several consulates, St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Tunel District, and Neve Shalom Synagogue. You can't miss the Galata Tower, which was built by the Genovese as an observation tower, allowing you to enjoy the stunning views of Beyoglu, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the historic peninsula.
After a long day of sightseeing, head back to your hotel for a little relaxation before venturing out again for another dinner in bustling Istanbul.
Day 3: Explore the Historic Sites of Istanbul's Famed Old Town
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then meet your host for another adventurous day exploring the streets of Istanbul. Today's focus will be the old town district, which is home to nearly all of the most important buildings and sites. This includes the Byzantine-era Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern.
One of the city's most famous sites is the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and earns its name due to the stunning blue tiles that line its interior. You can easily combine your visit with the Hippodrome, which sits on the west side of the mosque. The other famous site is, of course, the Hagia Sophia, which was built prior to the Middle Ages in the year 537 CE, making it the largest building in the world during that time. It's difficult to fully understand the massiveness of the building until you go inside and marvel at its interior.
In the afternoon, your host will take you to the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. You'll have your pick of 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops.
Head back to your hotel before enjoying dinner in one of the neighborhoods you explored earlier.
Day 4: Explore the WWI Sites of Gallipoli - Drive to Çanakkale
Today you'll trade the vibrant city of Istanbul for the incredible seaside region of Gallipoli. You'll leave Istanbul early in the morning so that you may spend the day touring the area. You'll start at a local winery where you can taste several different varietals, including the common white grape, Beyaz. You'll also learn about the history of wine and the wine-making process in Turkey.
After lunch, you'll visit some of the famous WWI sites in Gallipoli. The peninsula of Gallipoli was an important area during the Great War, home to a significant battle between the British and Ottoman forces in 1915. Along your sightseeing route, you'll stop at the Çanakkale War Simulation Center, which exposes the history of the famous battle on the Gallipoli Peninsula with high-tech presentations. To learn a bit more about the regional war history, you can also visit the 57th Regiment Turkish Memorial, the Helles Memorial, and the Ari Burnu Cemetery, which commemorates the 200+ soldiers killed during the battle.
The environment of Gallipoli is truly stunning. If you want to learn more about the war while enjoying the scenery, don't miss a visit to Anzac Cove and Sedd el Bahr Cape. They were both important locations to significant battles during the war, but today they offer tranquil scenes of sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
After learning all about Gallipoli's incredible history, you'll take the ferry to the waterfront city of Çanakkale. Settle into your hotel and relax a bit before heading out for dinner. There are many delicious restaurants in the city's historic district and near the port.
Day 5: Discover the Ancient Ruins of Troy and Assos
After breakfast, you'll leave Çanakkale and head to the ancient city of Troy, famous for its massive Trojan Horse replica. There's a lot to see, so plan on spending about 1.5 hours at the Troy Archeological Site. Afterward, you'll drive along a scenic seaside road towards Babakale, a historic little harbor town where you'll enjoy a delicious seafood lunch.
Your next stop is another area of ancient ruins, the Assos Archeological Site. Here you'll discover the ruins of the gymnasium where Aristoteles taught, plus visit the Athena Temple. The entire site offers incredible views over the sea.
Upon arriving in the village of Adatepe, settle into your accommodation and relax a bit before exploring this little town. Adatepe is known as one of the most well-preserved old villages in Turkey. Enjoy dinner at one of its delicious cafes.
Day 6: Taste Delicious Olive Oils - Drive to Şirince via Ancient Pergamon
You'll spend today exploring some of the most beautiful sites in the region, starting at an olive oil museum. Here you'll learn all about the origins of the olive tree in Turkey, its significance, and the production of olive oil, where you can enjoy tasting some of the products. Turkey is the world's fifth-largest olive oil producer.
Next, head toward the historical city of Pergamon. Despite its history dating back to the second millennia BCE, the city's golden age was during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE. At that time, the Pergamon became a significant healing center and hosted one of the most important libraries of the ancient world. The use of parchment started in Pergamon, which is where the city gets its name. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city also had one of the first Seven Churches of Early Christianity.
After visiting Pergamon, you'll drive to your accommodation in the charming, hillside town of Şirince. Until the 1920s, the village was populated by a Greek-Orthodox community. Nowadays, Şirince is a popular touristic destination, famous for its well-preserved old houses, its quaint cobblestone streets, and its production of wine and olive oil.
Day 7: Explore Şirince and the Ancient City of Ephesus
After a short panoramic tour in the village of Şirince, you'll head to the town of Ephesus, which attracts three million tourists each year. It's an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Hellenistic, Roman Imperial, and early Christian periods. This ancient city undergoes annual excavations, uncovering new sections and amazing artifacts every year.
The scientific, artistic, and cultural city of Ephesus was home to many classical philosophers, including Heraclitus. It's also a religiously important site, as its believed that St. Paul spent more than two years in Ephesus and wrote some of his famous letters there. The city also hosts the Council Church and the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Later in the afternoon, you'll visit the House of the Virgin Mary, which is located on the top of the beautiful greenery of Bulbul Mountain. It's believed that Mary came to the area with St. John, who spent several years spreading Christianity in Ephesus.
In the evening, you'll return to Şirince for a lovely dinner.
Day 8: Discover the Incredible Landscape of Pamukkale and Hierapolis
After breakfast, you'll start the drive to the incredible town of Pamukkale, famous for its baby-blue, mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces. Pamukkale means “Cotton Castle” in Turkish, as it is truly an unreal landscape made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and a series of terraced basins.
Nearby is ancient Hierapolis, a Roman spa city founded around 190 BCE. Its name means "sacred city" and the ancients believed it was founded by Apollo and named for the god of the underworld, Pluto. You'll also explore the ruins in Pamukkale, which include an incredibly well-preserved theater and a necropolis. It also hosts a very unique site, the Antique Pool which is full of submerged Roman columns due to an earthquake.
In the afternoon, you'll settle into your spa hotel. Enjoy a relaxing stay and a delicious dinner for your final night in Turkey.
Day 9: Depart Turkey via Istanbul
Sadly, it's time to say farewell to beautiful Turkey. After your final breakfast, you'll transfer to Denizli-Cardak Airport for your flight to Istanbul. There you can catch a connecting flight home or spend a bit more time in the city.