EAST & WEST TURKEY TOUR

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13 days

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Duration: 13 days / 12 nights
Departure: Everyday
Route: Istanbul-Ephesus-Pamukkale-Cappadocia-Kahta-Mount Nemrut-Harran-Sanliurfa-Istanbul


Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive Istanbul (no meal)
Arrival in to Istanbul Ataturk airport and then be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 2 : Full Day Istanbul Classic City Tour (breakfast-lunch)
Pick-up from your hotel. You will visit the main attractions of Istanbul (capital of the Ottoman Empire untill 1923) by this full day tour. visit St. Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia is one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture and is of great artistic value with its decorated interior been made up with mosaics and marble pillars. The actual temple itself was so richly and artistically decorated that Justinian proclaimed “Solomon, I have outdone thee “ Justinian himself had overseen the completion of the greatest cathedral ever built up to that time, and it was to remain the largest cathedral for 1,000 years more up until the completion of the cathedral in Seville in Spain. Just across from St. Sophia is the Blue Mosque, which is most recognizable from its six minarets, the mosque was built between 1609 and 1616 for Sultan Ahmet I had decorated the inside with 21,043 tiles from Iznik in a dominant blue colour and because of its magnificent interior decoration of blue Iznik tiles is how the mosque came to be called ‘ Blue Mosque’. After we will head on to see the Ancient Hippodrome, here was scene of the all chariot races that took place, and also houses the three famously known monuments; the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine. Our journey will continue on to Topkapi Palace, this great palace was home of the Ottoman sultans from the 15th – 19th centuries and is host to an exquisite collection of cyrstal,silver, and Chinese porcelain, also the robes to which were worn by the sultans and their families, the famous jewels of the Imperial Treasury, and the Holy Mantle; with enshrining relics of the Prophet Mohammed. To conclude your first day of touring we will take a short drive to the exotic Grand Bazaar, it is one of oldest/largest covered markets in the world with having upto 61 covered streets and more than 3,000 shops for you to delve into. At the end of the day you will then be transferred back to your hotel in Istanbul.

Day 3 : Half Day Bosphorus Cruise (breakfast)
Even if you are a short term or long term visitor to Istanbul, a bosphorus cruise is really a good way to experience what Istanbul really looks like and its diversity. Your first point of call for today which is to go and visit the Spice Market / Spice Bazaar you will notice that the air in here is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other concievable herb and spice that you can name, once we are at the Spice Market you will be given free time so you can tak yourself around and explore, and of course you will be able to buy yourself some of the fresh herbs and spices that you can strongly smell for take back home. Onwards with our journey will take us next to joing the Bosphorus Tour By Boat, This boat trip is very traditional excursion and as we sail along the coastline you will be able to understand why, the narrow waterway seperates the 2 continents that are Europe and Asia. The shore is lined with old wooden villas, palaces of marble, fortresses, and small fishing villages, during the excursion you will pass by some of the most amazing buildings such as –  the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace, the parks and imperial pavillions of Yildiz Palace. You will also be able to see Ciragan Palace which is 300 meters of its is marble facade facing the shoreline. Rumeli Fortress, was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452 prior to the conquest of Istanbul and was completed in only four months its purpose was to control and protect Bosphorus from any raiders/attack. Rumeli Fortess is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture to be seen anywhere in the world. Also Beylerbeyi Palace, – which was the summer residence of the ottoman sultans and with its orginal furniture and magnificent gardens with the Harem and can be seen the Asian side of Istanbul. As we approach Bosphorus Bridge it truly shows a unique change from one continent to the other (Asia to Europe). After we will be able to see the Camlica Hill that is the highest point in istanbul and as you reach the top of it you can take a rest to admire the magnificent panorama of Mystical Istanbul and also Bosphours with its beautiful gardens, landscaped in a traditional style. As the day ends you will then be transferred back to your hotel for an overnight stay.

Day 4 : Ephesus and Virgin Mary Tour(breakfast-lunch)
You will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Izmir, and upon arrival in to Izmir airport you will be met by a transfer service that will then drive you to Selcuk, as the next destination for you to see is the ancient city of Ephesus and Virgin Mary House. Today you will first go to see the Ancient City of Ephesus where you will see one of the most spectacular excavations to ever exist in the world, you will have the chance see also the Odeon, The Fountain of Trajan, the stream baths of Scholastika, the Temple of Hadrian, the Grand Theater and last but no means the least the very impressive library of Ephesus. The Ephesus library is adorned with columns and statues and is still in relatively excellent condition, by standing in the middle of the Library or taking a walk down the main street in Ephesus you will feel like you have stepped back in time amongst the romans and the visuals here are fantastic to see. Also within Ephesus is The Grand Theater where Saint Paul preached its believed to be the largest outdoor theater in the ancient world with a capacity of 25,000 seats. The last and perhaps the most important, site in Selcuk is the great Temple of Artemis (Diana) , which is one of the Seventh Wonders of the Ancient World. The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured draped with eggs or multiple breasts as symbols of fertility. Our tour today will come to an end after visiting the Mosque of Isa Bey, which was built in the 19th century, it was also used as a caravanserai, it definately is a perfect architectural building that you must-see. Once you have seen Ephesus we will make a stop so we can endure a traditional lunch before head back on our tour, as afterwards we will take you to see The House Of Virgin Mary which is situated on the top of Bulbul Mountain, the house was discovered back in the 19 th century. Catherina Emmerich (1775-1824), an invalid German nun who had never visited Ephesus went on to describe in great detail the house and its location which she had been known to have seen in a vision. It is also believed that St.John brought Mary (the mother of Jesus) to Ephesus sometime between AD 37-48 and its the place she spent her last years of her life. (Return to your hotel and overnight in Kusadasi).

Day 5 : Hierapolis and Pamukkale tour (breakfast-lunch)
In the morning you will visit the Hierapolis City which can also be known as ‘Holy City’ and just outside the main entrance is the Necropolis (Grevyard), with more than 1200 tombs and sarcophagi the people who wished to have been buried here believed that bee within close proximity to the hot springs and vapor-emiting that the cracks would ease their trip to the Underworld. Among the tombs lies the Martyrium which is a octagonal 5th centruy edifice believed to have been erected upon the site where St.Philip was martyred in 80 CE. Hierapolis CityBath – The springs of Hierapolis were particularly popular among vacationing Romans. The cities bath’s had a glossy marble interior that has now been converted into a mediocre Archaelogical Museum.You will notice that carved into the side of the mountain is the monstrous Grand Theater that dominates the Vista of Hierapolis, almost all of the seating area which had a capacity for 25.000 is still intact,and so are various ornately sculpted decorative elements adorning the 3rd century CE. Then after its a short stroll to Pamukkale when translated means ‘Cotton Castle’ and has been drawing the weary and the curious from all around the world to its thermal springs for more than 23 centuries. The Turkish name refers to the extraordinary surface of the snow white cliffs, shaped over millennia by the accumulation of calcium deposited by mineral springs. Legend has it that the formations are actually solidified cotton (the area’s principal crop) that was left out to dry by giants. Dripping slowly down a vast mountainside, mineral rich water foams and collects in bowls that terrace the decline, spilling over petrified cascades of stalacties into milky pools below. The site of ancient Hierapolis and the accompanying museums are overshadowed by the springs but are nevertheless fascinating.You shouldn’t leave Pamukkale without having a healing dip in the sacred fountain of Cleopatra’s pool. Cleopatras Pool has warm clear fizzy water that bubbles from the springs source, but in these days has now blocked off to prevent divers from disappearing into its hidden depths. On the bottom surface of the pool you can clearly see the Ancient remains of the Roman columns – Cleopatras Pool is an Oasis. After you have explored around Pamukkale we will then make our way back to Kusadasi where you will have an overnight stay. (There shall be a lunch stop during the day).

Day 6 : Izmir / Cappadocia (breakfast)
You will be picked up from your hotel and then transferred to izmir airport for your flight to Kayseri. As you arrive in Kayseri airport there will be a transfer serive waiting to take you to your arranged hotel, ready for your overnight stay as tomorrow we will heading out to see the amazing city of Cappadocia.

Day 7 : Full Day Cappadocia Tour 1 (breakfast-lunch)
Pick-up from your hotel and our first visit of the day will be to Devrent Valley – Devrent Valley is also known by the name of ‘Imagination Valley’ this valley has none of the cave churches, Byzantine frescoes or Roman citadel ruins that are famous throughout the rest of Cappadocia; but dont be put off as what it does have is very unique and extraordinary landscape shapes that are formed in many kinds of animals, so let your imagination run away with you and see what you animals you can spot, it will most certainly make you laugh with wonder. Our next visit will be to Pasabag (Monk’s Valley) where you will be able to take a look at the mushroom shaped fairy chimneys, these chimneys are very interesting structures and were formed due to the harder rock material been deposited above. The valley gets the nickname Monks valley because of the ascetic monks who came here as early as the 5th century and lived hermit lifestyles here. It was a so called ‘stylite’ way of living, from the greek work stylos, meaning pillar – the christian monks built dwellings inside the pillars and its where they lived, fasted and prayed. After discovering Pasabag we will then head over to the town of Avanos, Avanos is set on the banks of Kizilirmak which is translated to ‘The Red River’. We will first start with the old village of Avanos that winds up the hills leading away from the town it truely is a beautiful magical maze of old stone houses, some that have been  restored over time and some that have been converted to other purposes. In some of the abandoned houses the features oftraditional Ottoman architecture can still be seen along with ancient decorations, motifs and murals. You will also get the chance to participate in a hands-on pottery work shop. We will then take a lunch break ( thats included) for recharge our batteries. After your lunch we will proceed to the Goreme Open Air Museum, this museum has incredible rock formations and the most fascinating rock-cut churches, you will definately enjoy your time exploring the depth of Goreme and im certain that you will need extra camera film. Our last stop for today will be to Uchisar – which is a village perched on a steep rock formation, this town provides some of the most dramatic panoramas of the astonishing Cappadocia that you will never want to leave. Take a wander into the town as its a very nice place to sit and watch the harmony between nature and human. During the tour today there will be 1 hour free time for you to relax, grab some cold refreshments and just simply soak up the panoramic views that surround you. Our tour for today shall finish around 17:00 to which we will then transfer you back you your hotel for the evening. (Lunch Included).

Day 8 : Cappadocia Tour 2 (breakfast-lunch)

During our tour today we will be first visiting Red Valley and Rose Valley. Red Valley has to be one of the nicest and most beautiful places to go walking in Cappadocia. The two valleys are next to each other and are easily combined. Once in Rose Valley you don’t want to miss the Hacli Church and the Ayvali Church, both of which have astounding painted decorations one the interior. Afterwards we will take a visit to the old Christian Village of Cavusin, followed by a tour to Pigeon Valley, the path through Pigeon valley offers spectacular views of the natural cliffs and the man-made caves, it passes through a few tunnels that have been carved into the rockside. Finally we will visit Kaymakli Underground City and Ortahisar Castle, here in Kaymaklı underground city there is 8 levels of the underground city that date from 6th – 9th centuries and 5 of which are open to the public. The tunnels, cellers, store rooms, stables have all been exacvated from the soft volcanic rock they are absolutely astonishing on your eyes. Castle of Ortahisar is situated at 86 m height cave in the period of Eti and is the most pronounced structure of Nevsehir. During your today today you will have 1 hour free so if you wish you can take some refreshments and take the time to relax. Our adventure through Cappadocia will come to an end around 17:00 pm and you will then be transferred back to your hotel in cappadocia.

Optional tour: Hot Air Baloon Ride (please ask)

Day 9 : Cappadocia / Kahramanmaras / Kahta(breakfast-lunch-dinner)
Meet the guide and driver in the hotel at 08:00am, and depart from Goreme. After passing Kayseri, we visit the Seljuk Karatayhan Caravanserai on the famous Silk Road. We then drive for lunch through the Taurus Mountains, affording us the opportunity to observe the countryside and everyday life of rural Turkey. After lunch we drive to Kahramanmaras for a different experience-tasting best ice-cream in Turkey. We then drive to Kahta and check-in our hotel. Overnight in Kahta or Adiyaman.

Day 10 : Mount Nemrut/ Harran / Sanliurfa (breakfast-lunch-dinner)
We depart from hotel very early in the morning up to the Mount Nemrut. At the end of the road, we get off the van and walk twenty-five minutes until the summit. Here we watch the memorable sun rise between the colossal size statues and heads of the kings and Gods. We then visit Arsemia which was once the capital of the Commagene Kingdom before continues to the ancient Septimus Severus Bridge bridge over the Cendere stream, and the Karakus tumulus where members of the royal family were buried. We keep driving to Sanliurfa and Harran. We visit the Ataturk Dam which is the biggest dam in the Middle East, en route. We check-in the hotel in Sanliurfa and have lunch there. After lunch we visit Abraham s Cave and the Pools of Holy Carp surrounding it. We than walk around oriental covered bazaar and Gmrkhan. We drive to Harran a village of Mud-Brick “beehive” houses mentioned in the book of genesis where Abraham spent the last years of his life. Dinner and overnight in Sanliurfa.

Day 11 : Sanliurfa / Cappadocia (breakfast-lunch)
After breakfast we depart from Sanliurfa to Birecik which is famous for its bald-ibis (Kelaynak) birds. These birds are living only in Birecik in the world and there is a very limited population of them. We visit the breeding farm of Bald Ibis birds. After our lunch, we drive up to the Taurus Mountains. We have a short tea break and drive back to Goreme.Overnight in Cappadocia.

Day 12 : Cappadocia /Istanbul (breakfast)
Pick-up from your hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to Istanbul. Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul.

Day 13 : Departure (breakfast)
Pick-up from your hotel and transfer to the airport for your flight to home. End of the tour.

What’s Included

  • 12 nights accommodation in Turkey.
  • All mentioned transfers in the program.
  • Flight tickets from Istanbul to Izmir/ Izmir to Cappadocia / Cappadocia to Istanbul.
  • All mentioned tours in the program including transportation with air-conditioned buses,guidance and entrance fees.
  • All meals as described in the itinerary.
  • All local taxes.

What’s Not Included

  • Tips (optional).
  • Drinks with meals (except the drinks served in breakfast).
  • Visa (if needed).
  • Travel insurance.