- Enjoy gorgeous coastal scenery as you hike the Lycian Way
- Bathe in the thermal pools at Pamukkale & Hierapolis
- Tour ancient Ephesus, which dates to the 10th century BCE
- See ancient Byzantine cave dwellings in Cappadocia
|Day 1||Arrive in Antalya, Transfer to Adrasan via Mount Chimaera||Adrasan|
|Day 2||Cape Gelidonya Hike||Adrasan|
|Day 3||Hike to Olympos||Adrasan|
|Day 4||Adrasan to Pamukkale & Hierapolis||Pamukkale|
|Day 5||Free Day in Pamukkale & Hierapolis||Pamukkale|
|Day 6||Pamukkale to Şirince, Tour Ancient Ephesus||Şirince|
|Day 7||Şirince to Cappadocia, Göreme Museum & Underground City||Urgup|
|Day 8||Cooking Class & Valley Visits||Urgup|
|Day 9||Cappadocia to Antalya Road Trip||Antalya|
Day 1: Arrive in Antalya, Transfer to Adrasan via Mount ChimaeraWelcome to Turkey! This historic nation is a geographic and cultural bridge between the Middle East and the West. Few cities in the world represent such a melting pot of cultures quite like Turkey's largest city, Istanbul. From the airport, you'll take a connecting flight to the southern coastal city of Antalya—gateway to the Turquoise Coast and famous for its golden beaches, seaside mountains, pine-fringed bays, and azure waters. Antalya is a premier holiday destination and a historic Mediterranean port, complete with a yacht-filled old harbor, stunning Roman ruins, and Ottoman-era houses.
Day 2: Cape Gelidonya HikeWake up early and lace up those hiking boots because today kicks off the trekking portion of this grand Turkey adventure. The couple of days you'll spend hiking in this area follow portions of a route known as the Lycian Way. This region, once controlled by the ancient Lycian League, includes the provinces of Antalya and Muğla, on the Tekke Peninsula, where the famed Turquoise Coast is located. In fact, all 335 miles (540 km) of the Lycian Way hiking route are located on this idyllic stretch of coastline.
Day 3: Hike to Olympos
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Today's 6-7-hour hike will be a bit more strenuous, as most of the trail follows an uphill route. The path first takes you through groves of orange and pomegranate trees, then up the western slope of Musa Daglari Mountain. The trail here rises through a labyrinth of shady pine forests and sandstone gorges as you pass by quaint shepherd's huts.
Eventually, you'll take a water break on a high-altitude plateau that is dotted with colorful orchids in springtime. For lunch, stop at the foot of the adjacent Tahtalı Dağı, a mountain also known as Lycian Olympus. After an extensive rest, take on the steep and rocky descent to the ruins of Olympos, an ancient Lycian city. Meet the tour bus, which will take you back to Adrasan.
Day 4: Adrasan to Pamukkale & HierapolisRise early and hop in the car for a 3.5-hour drive north to Pamukkale. This town in western Turkey is known for what might be the most stunning natural wonder in the entire country: its collection of terraced thermal springs. The name itself translates to "cotton castle," and on a day tour of this area, you'll understand why.
Day 5: Free Day in Pamukkale & HierapolisEnjoy a leisurely breakfast, then spend the day at the terraced pools of Pamukkale or bathing in the thermal waters at Hierapolis. You can also stay at your hotel and enjoy the spa services there. Whatever you decide, this is a day to relax and recharge your batteries amid sublime surroundings.
Day 6: Pamukkale to Şirince, Tour Ancient EphesusIn the morning, a driver will take you on the 3-hour ride west from Pamukkale toward the coast and the charming hillside village of Şirince. Nowadays, it's a popular tourist destination famous for its well-preserved old houses, quaint cobblestone streets, and wine and olive oil production. After checking in to your hotel, you'll head a few minutes down the hill to the ruins of the ancient coastal city of Ephesus.
Day 7: Şirince to Cappadocia, Göreme Museum & Underground City
In the morning, a driver will pick you up for the ride from Şirince to the airport in the nearby coastal city of İzmir. You'll fly 1.5 hours to Kayseri, located in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. This city is the gateway to the Cappadocia area, known for its towering geological formations and lunar valleys. Upon arrival at the airport, another driver will pick you up and transfer you to the ancient town of Ürgüp.
Cappadocia is famous for its towering rock formations, nicknamed "fairy chimneys," because of their otherworldly shape. You'll witness these geological marvels on a 3-hour tour of the Göreme Open Air Museum. This cluster of rock-hewn churches and Byzantine landmarks is home to ancient art and beautiful frescoes. As you stroll the site, you'll learn about the techniques the residents used to create these structures and artworks. Note that most of the churches here date from the 10th-12th centuries.
You'll experience another type of local art form in the afternoon when you visit a pottery studio. Pottery craft has been a long-standing tradition in the region, probably since the Hittite civilization (2000-1500 BCE). That's because the nearby Kızılırmak River has supplied all the red clay used to produce these earthenware items since antiquity. The visit includes a live demonstration from a master ceramist, plus you'll get to try making some pottery yourself.
The last excursion of the day is a descent into Kaymaklı Underground City. This is one of the aforementioned underground havens built by the early Christians to protect themselves from religious persecution. It comprises an elaborate maze of nearly 100 tunnels and various caves, and it's one of the widest of the region's underground cities. Four levels of the city are open to the public, with the fourth level located 65 feet (20 m) underground. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Ürgüp.
Day 8: Cooking Class & Valley Visits
Today you're in for a real treat, both literally and figuratively. In the morning, you'll visit a private home where a local family will teach you how to cook traditional delicacies in preparation for lunch. Learn how to make dishes such as savory borek pastries, stuffed eggplant, and delectable baklava. You'll sit down to a multi-course lunch with your new friends and enjoy your creation accompanied by rich Turkish coffee when you're done.
After lunch, enjoy more panoramic views of Cappadocia from Avcilar Valley and Paşabağ Valley (Valley of Monks). These feature some of the most incredible fairy chimneys and cave dwellings, so you'll want to take plenty of photos. Then, in the early evening, return to your hotel for a little relaxation before heading into town for dinner.
Day 9: Cappadocia to Antalya Road Trip
In the morning, head out with your driver/guide on a full-day road trip, leaving the arid plateaus of Central Anatolia as you head southwest to Antalya. It's a long ride (around six hours), but you'll break up the drive with stops at a couple of the region's highlights. The first is at Sultanhani, a town known for its 13th-century caravanserai. These were roadside inns that traders and caravaners would overnight at during their travels on the old Silk Road.
After touring the caravanserai, you'll continue the drive to Konya. This historic city is a famous pilgrimage destination for Sufis. It's home to the tomb of the Celaleddin Rumi, known as Mevlana, an important mystic and founder of the Mevlevi order. You'll visit the Mevlana Museum, which includes a 13th-century mausoleum housing Rumi's sarcophagus. Other exhibits include a collection of artifacts belonging to the Mevlevi Order, such as books, carpets, and artworks. Near the museum is the Mevlana Cultural Center, which stages whirling dervish ceremonies.
Then it will be time for lunch, after which you'll continue south. Before reaching Antalya, however, there is one more stop: the Aspendos Theater. Built in the 2nd century CE, Aspendos is regarded as the most well-preserved Roman amphitheater in all of Turkey. It's so sturdy that it's still used for performances today. You'll get to stroll around its some 7,000 seats on a tour. Then hit the road for the last leg of the trip, arriving in the evening at your hotel in Antalya's Old Town.
Day 10: Depart
No one likes to say goodbye, especially to a country as rich in history and culture as Turkey. In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Antalya, where you'll fly to Istanbul and then catch your connecting flight home. Farewell!
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