- Explore the neighborhoods and sites of Old Istanbul
- Discover the famous battlegrounds in Gallipoli and the Ancient City of Troy
- Cruise the Bosphorus Strait and view Istanbul from the water
- Visit the renowned ruins in the Ancient City of Ephesus
- Enjoy the Orthodox town of Şirince and the ancient site of Pergamum
|Day 1||Arrive in Istanbul - Relax at a hammam||Istanbul|
|Day 2||Explore Sultanahmet, the Old City of Istanbul||Istanbul|
|Day 3||Tour the Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, and the Bosphorus Strait||Istanbul|
|Day 4||Transfer to Assos - Visit Gallipoli and the Ancient City of Troy||Behramkale|
|Day 5||Drive to Şirince and discover the ancient site of Pergamum||Şirince|
|Day 6||Tour the Ancient City of Ephesus and learn about rug-making||Şirince|
|Day 7||Depart Turkey via Istanbul|
Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul - Relax at a hammam
Welcome to Turkey!
Upon arriving at the airport in Istanbul, you'll transfer to your hotel and settle into your accommodation. Over the next two days, you'll enjoy proper tours with stops at the historic sites and monuments. So for your first few hours in Istanbul, relax and explore the cultural side of the city.
Start with a visit to a traditional hammam or Turkish bath. The 16th-century Çemberlitaş is one of the most famous hammams in the city, known for its design by Sinan the Architect, the man responsible for some of Istanbul's most recognizable buildings. You'll detox with skincare and tea, making it the perfect place to decompress after your flight.
After your hammam, expand your palate with local Turkish delicacies. You can find street food, chic bistros, and lively restaurants throughout the city, but you'll certainly enjoy the variety found in the hip Kadıköy-Moda neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul. You can't miss trying pide (flatbread), kofte (meatballs), and raki, an anise-flavored apéritif that is the national drink of Turkey.
Day 2: Explore Sultanahmet, the Old City of Istanbul
Start your day with a Turkish coffee before heading out on a privately guided walking tour of the Old City, also known as Sultanahmet. Here, you will find many of Istanbul's most famous sights while learning about the world-changing history of a city that served as an imperial capital for almost 16 centuries.
Start with a visit to the Hippodrome, a former circus used as a sporting center when Istanbul was known as Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine and Eastern Roman Empire. As you tour the grounds, imagine the horse and chariot races of the Romans in what is now Sultan Ahmet Square. You can see the Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius, Walled Obelisk, and German Fountain, all of which tell different stories about Istanbul's long and varied history.
The afternoon will be filled with tours of some of Istanbul's most famous sites: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Church Museum, and Topkapi Palace. Return to your hotel in the evening to relax and enjoy a night out exploring the vibrant nightlife of Istanbul.
Day 3: Tour the Basilica Cistern, Grand Bazaar, and the Bosphorus Strait
Your tour of the Old City continues today as you visit the Museum of Islamic Arts and take a tour of the Basilica Cistern, the largest of the several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century CE during the reign of Justinian I and is known for the Medusa heads that form the base of several of its columns.
Afterward, you'll visit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market, where your senses will be activated by the colorful sights, smells, and tastes of Istanbul's epic markets. End the day with a Bosphorus Cruise, which will take you down this strait that famously separates European and Asian Turkey. It's a great way to see Istanbul from all sides as you discover why this city, which occupies both worlds of the east and west, has held such a prominent place in history.
Day 4: Transfer to Assos - Visit Gallipoli and the Ancient City of Troy
In the morning, you'll depart Istanbul with your private driver and guide. As you make stops at some of the country’s famous sites, your guide will help you further understand and enjoy Turkish history and culture.
Your first stop is at Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish), where the famous and bloody battle was fought in World War I. The Battle of Gallipoli, which saw the Turks victorious against the then Allied forces, was one of the most decisive battles in the Gallipoli Campaign of WWI. The battle was especially significant for Turkey in that it strengthened the morale of the Turkish side, which then went on to wage a war of independence between 1919 and 1922. Eventually, it came to form its own republic in 1923 from the ashes of the old Ottoman Empire.
Today, you'll enjoy this slender peninsula between the Dardanelles and Aegean seas, encountering a scene of tranquil hills and gullies covered in pine forest and wildflowers. This protected area is popular for Turkish and foreign nationals who come to pay homage at the many gravesites and memorials, including the famous ANZAC Beach Cemetery. Here you'll enjoy a lunch break.
Afterward, you’ll take a ferry across the Dardanelle Strait to the famed city of Troy, the setting of the Trojan War. Explore the ruins of this ancient Bronze Age settlement dating back to 3,000 BCE. You can also visit the Troy Museum, which is set at the entrance of the ruins. The height of the museum building is equal to the height of the ancient city of Troy prior to its excavation, preserving the spirit of the settlement.
Finally, you'll continue your drive to picturesque Assos (also known by its modern name Behramkale). This picturesque ancient city sits along the Aegean coast and is where the Greek philosopher Aristotle once lived, studied, and opened an academy. After settling into your accommodation, you can stroll the hilly streets and enjoy dinner at one of the restaurants.
Day 5: Drive to Şirince and discover the ancient site of Pergamum
After breakfast at your hotel, you'll meet your guide and driver for a full day of sightseeing as you travel from Assos toward the coastal city of Kusadasi near Ephesus.
Along the way, you'll stop at the site of ancient Pergamum (or Pergamon) by the modern city of Bergama. This was the center of the Hellenistic civilization dating back to the 4th century BCE. With your guide, you'll visit the ancient Asclepiumand, the Acropolis of Pergamum. Here you'll have lunch at an excellent local restaurant.
Afterward, enjoy a scenic 3-drive to your hotel in the old Orthodox village of Şirince in the region. After settling into your accommodation, explore Şirince by wandering through the cobbled streets, stopping into shops and pubs.
Day 6: Tour the Ancient City of Ephesus and learn about rug-making
Today you'll enjoy some of the finest ancient ruins in Turkey with a privately guided tour of Ephesus and its surroundings. The site dates back to the 10th century BCE and covers a large area. Your tour will include the recently-opened and restored Terrace Houses, as well as the famous Celsus Library.
Later, take a break at nearby Sultankoy for a fresh and organic al fresco lunch that uses ingredients from local farms and orchards. Sultankoy is famous for its rugs, and after lunch, you can learn about the local rug-making processes that include silk extraction, dyeing, and weaving.
Today's tour concludes with a visit to the Ephesus Archaeology Museum and the Basilica of St. John, both in Selçuk. In the late afternoon, you'll return to your accommodation and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 7: Depart Turkey via Istanbul
It's time to say goodbye to Turkey. Enjoy your final breakfast before transferring to the Izmir Airport for a flight to Istanbul. From there, you can connect to an international flight home or to your next destination.