- Discover the sites of Istanbul, such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque
- Explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus, Troy, and Assos
- Learn about the significant World War I battles in Gallipoli
- Enjoy the mineral-rich waters of Pamukkale and the Roman spa of Hierapolis
- Stroll through ancient Pergamon and stay in the charming village of Sirince
|Arrive in İstanbul, Guided Tour of the Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet District
|Tour İstanbul's Historic Old Town & Grand Bazaar
|Discover More of İstanbul by Foot & Boat
|Witness World War I History in Gallipoli, Transfer to Çanakkale
|Discover the Ancient Ruins of Troy & Assos, Transfer to Adatepe
|Taste Delicious Olive Oils, Visit Greco-Roman Pergamon, Transfer to Şirince
|Explore Şirince, Visit the Ancient City of Ephesus
|Discover the Natural Wonders of Pamukkale & Hierapolis
|Fly to İstanbul, Depart
Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Guided Tour of the Beyoğlu or Sultanahmet District
Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul, often called the bridge between Europe and Asia, as it's the only city located on both continents. Upon arrival at İstanbul International Airport, you'll be privately transferred to your centrally-located hotel. Settle into your accommodation and meet your guide for an introduction to the bustling city. They'll take you to either the Beyoğlu district on the European side of the city or the historic center of Sultanahmet, depending on the location of your hotel.
The district of Beyoğlu showcases posh, early 18th-century buildings, embassies, and boutiques. Admire these grandiose structures along the historic street of İstiklal Caddesi before turning down Çiçek Pasaj (Flower Passage), where you can grab a bite to eat or just explore the many shops lining the road. Head to the Beyoğlu Fish Market next to see the many stalls selling fresh fish, produce, and souvenirs. Listen to your guide because as you walk, they'll point out notable landmarks, like famous churches, mosques, and synagogues.
The Sultanahmet district sits in the heart of the historic center and is home to many of the city's most famous buildings. Your walking tour will take you past plenty of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, and the İstanbul Archeological Museum. Once your feet have had enough, find a local restaurant to sit back and enjoy some local dishes, like pide, a Turkish pizza, or a classic doner kebab.
Day 2: Tour İstanbul's Historic Old Town & Grand Bazaar
Meet your host for another action-packed day exploring the streets of İstanbul after a nourishing breakfast. Today's focus will be the Old Town district, home to nearly all the most important buildings and sites. Start at one of the city's most famous sites, the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century. It earned its name from the intricate blue tiles lining its interior. You can easily combine your visit with the Hippodrome, which sits on the west side of the mosque. This ancient Roman stadium is now a park known as Sultanahmet Square, where you can admire the exterior 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 true size of this landmark until you enter and marvel at its interior. In the afternoon, follow your guide through the winding streets of the Grand Bazaar, 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 selling goods like Turkish rugs, lanterns, teas, and spices.
Day 3: Discover More of İstanbul by Foot & Boat
Today, you can get a deeper look at some of the landmarks you've already seen, starting at Topkapı Palace, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century. These days it houses a beautiful museum, where you can learn more about the previous residents. Visit the Spice Market next, one of the longest bazaars in the city. It's the perfect 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 along the Bosphorus Strait, admiring the shores of both the European and Asian sides of İstanbul.
Seeing the city by boat offers an entirely different perspective, allowing you to truly grasp the size of the city and understand why it's played such an important geographic role for centuries. Disembark in the Beyoğlu district to explore landmarks like St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Tünel district, and the Neve Shalom Synagogue. Cap off the day with a stop at Galata Tower, and take an elevator to the top to enjoy views of Beyoğlu, the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus, and the historic peninsula.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Witness World War I History in Gallipoli, Transfer to Çanakkale
Today you'll trade the vibrant city of İstanbul for the incredible seaside region of Gallipoli, which has the perfect microclimate for producing the high-quality grapes used to create Turkish wine. Your transfer begins early in the morning, as the drive is around four hours. When you arrive, visit a local winery where you can taste several different varietals, including the common white grape, beyaz. As you sip, learn about the history of wine and the wine-making process in Turkey.
The peninsula of Gallipoli was an important area during World War I, home to a significant battle between the British and Ottoman forces in 1915, so after lunch, you'll visit some of the most pivotal sites in the region. Stop at the Çanakkale War Simulation Center to learn about the history of the famous battle on the Gallipoli Peninsula with high-tech presentations. To truly understand the regional war history, you can also visit the 57th Regiment Turkish Memorial, the Helles Memorial, and the Ari Burnu Cemetery, which commemorates over 200 of the countless soldiers killed during the battle.
Visit Anzac Cove and Sedd el Bahr Cape next. 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, take a ferry to the waterfront city of Çanakkale. Settle into your hotel and relax a bit before heading out for dinner. You'll find many delicious restaurants in the city's historic district and near the port.
Day 5: Discover the Ancient Ruins of Troy & Assos, Transfer to Adatepe
After breakfast, head to the ancient city of Troy, popular today for its massive Trojan horse replica from the Trojan War. The Troy immortalized by Homer used to be thought of as a mythological location, but when the site was excavated in 1870, archaeologists found remnants of the ancient city. You can now visit the Troy Archaeological Site to walk among crumbling city walls, temples, and dwellings. Stop in the museum before you go to view over 2,000 excavated artifacts. Afterward, drive along a scenic seaside road toward Babakale, a historic harbor town, where you can enjoy a delicious seafood lunch.
Your next stop is another area of important Greek ruins, the Assos Archeological Site. Visit the ruins of Athena's temple and the gymnasium where Aristotle taught while enjoying incredible views over the Aegean Sea. Transfer an hour south to the village of Adatepe, lying on the western slopes of Mount Ida, to settle into your accommodation and relax a bit before exploring this little town, known as one of the most well-preserved old villages in Turkey. Meander through the narrow cobblestone streets and admire the traditional Ottoman architecture as you look for a local café or restaurant for dinner.
Day 6: Taste Delicious Olive Oils, Visit Greco-Roman Pergamon, Transfer to Şirince
Spend today exploring some of the most beautiful sites in the region, starting at an olive oil museum. Learn all about the origins of the olive tree, its significance, and the production of olive oil (Turkey is the world's fifth-largest producer of the liquid gold). Don't worry; you'll have the chance to enjoy tasting some of the products before you leave. Head toward the ruins of Pergamon, a Greco-Roman city, next. Marvel at the ruined library, where the use of parchment started, and admire monuments like the Altar of Zeus and the Roman amphitheater.
Stop at the most intact structure here, the Pergamon Acropolis, to appreciate the city's architectural achievements. After exploring the ruins, transfer an hour south to your hotel in the charming hillside town of Şirince. Until the 1920s, the village was populated by a Greek-Orthodox community. Nowadays, Şirince is a popular tourist destination, famous for its well-preserved old houses, its quaint cobblestone streets, and its production of wine and olive oil.
Day 7: Explore Şirince, Visit the Ancient City of Ephesus
After a short panoramic tour in Şirince, head to the ancient city of Ephesus, which the Greeks established in the 11th century BCE before it fell under Roman rule in 129 BCE. You can tell this is one of the most well-preserved classical-era cities in the world because as soon as you enter, you're greeted by the towering facade of Celsius Library, which could hold up to 15,000 scrolls. Walk along the marble roads lined with intricate statues to see other preserved monuments, like the Temple of Artemis and the Great Theater.
Stop in the Ephesus Archaeological Museum on your way out to see some of the items excavated from the site. In the afternoon, visit the House of the Virgin Mary, which is located on the top of the beautiful greenery of Bülbül Mountain. It's believed that Mary came to the area and lived here with St. John, who spent several years spreading Christianity in Ephesus. Today, many people visit the house to pay their respects and visit the sacred spring nearby, which is said to possess healing properties. In the evening, return to Şirince for an early dinner.
Day 8: Discover the Natural Wonders of Pamukkale & Hierapolis
After breakfast, meet your driver for the three-hour transfer east to the incredible town of Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey, famous for its baby-blue, mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces. Meaning "Cotton Castle" in Turkish, this unreal landscape is made up of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and a series of terraced basins. Pack your swimsuit, as you can swim in some of the hot springs, which are rich in minerals like sulfur and silica and said to be beneficial for the skin.
Nearby is ancient Hierapolis, a Roman spa city founded around 190 BCE. Its name means sacred city, and the ancient residents believed it was founded by Apollo and named for the god of the underworld, Pluto. Explore the incredibly well-preserved theater and a necropolis, a cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments, and admire the Antique Pool, full of submerged Roman columns due to an earthquake. In the afternoon, settle into your spa hotel and enjoy a delicious dinner for your final night in Turkey.
Day 9: Fly to İstanbul, Depart
It's time to say farewell to beautiful Turkey. After your final breakfast, transfer to Denizli-Cardak Airport for your flight to İstanbul. From there, you can catch a connecting flight home or spend a bit more time in the city. Explore any landmarks you missed, or stop by the Grand Bazaar to pick up some last-minute souvenirs. If you have time, visit a Turkish spa for a relaxing treatment before your flight. Safe travels home!
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