Saturday. Upon arrival into Istanbul airport you will be met and transferred to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon offers free time for you to relax or explore. This evening our tip filled welcome meeting takes place. A great opportunity to meet your tour guide and travelling companions before our exciting 18 day adventure gets under way.
Istanbul is the only city in the world to span two continents resting on the shores of the Bosphorus - the strait of water that divides the continents of Europe and Asia. Its illustrious past leaves a rich legacy of churches, mosques, palaces and museums, complemented by the behemoth Grand Bazaar and colourful street life.
Today we embark on a classic guided tour of the city's highlights. Our first stop is Sultanahmet, the compact old city filled with parks, gardens and stunning sights. The Blue Mosque is famed for it’s blue Iznik tiles and unique 6 minarets. The Hagia Sofia, constructed in the 6th century, reigned as the grandest and biggest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, when it became a mosque. Just around the corner is the stunning Topkapi Palace where we spend time exploring the grounds and various museums contained within the Palace walls. Evening at leisure.
Overnight: Istanbul | Breakfast
Istanbul – Gallipoli. Early this morning we travel to the WW1 battlefields of Gallipoli. Here, we’ll embark upon a guided tour of the region, once the site of fierce fighting and today almost hauntingly beautiful, with its wooded landscape dotted with understated memorials to the war dead.
Our guided tour of the region will take in sights such as ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine Australian War Memorial and cemetery, Chunuk Bair New Zealand War Memorial and cemetery, the Nek, Johnston’s Jolly and the many fortified trenches still clearly visible amongst the scrub after all these years. Roughly 3 feet deep, the system of trenches provided much need safe cover for troops as they desperately fought the enemy.
Crossing the Dardenelles by ferry (offering panoramic views of the entire Gallipoli Peninsular) we proceed to our hotel for a little rest and relaxation, waterside.
Overnight: Canakkale | Breakfast, Dinner
Gallipoli – Kusadasi. At Troy (the inspiration for Homer's Illiad and much more recently the movie Troy) we visit the Trojan Horse and ruins. We enjoy a guided tour of the ancient city that dates back to 3000BC! En route to Kusadasi, we explore the ruins of Pergamum with it's impressive temples, library and medical facilities which made it a famous cultural and political centre of it's time.
Overnight: Kusadasi | Breakfast, Dinner
Kusadasi - Sirince. Today, we enjoy a guided tour of the legendary Roman ruins of Ephesus. Positively the best preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus, under the Romans, was a vast city with a population nearing 250,000 and became the Roman Capital of Asia Minor. It revelled in it's prosperity from commerce and visiting pilgrims who came to see the great Temple of Artemis - one of the Seven Ancient Wonders. Exemplifying the finesse of Roman urban life, Ephesus boasts carefully restored elements including a Great Theatre, Curetes Way, the Temple of Serapis and the Library of Celsus. Stop by the ancient public toilets and public brothel!
Carpet weaving has long traditions in Turkey and afterward we stop to watch a demonstration of how they are made before visiting the quaint Greek village of Sirince peached mountainside within a valley of vineyards and orchards.
Overnight: Kusadasi | Breakfast, Dinner
Kusadasi – Pamukkale – Marmaris. Meandering through the sweeping plains and endless cotton farms we arrive at the ruins of Roman Hieropolis and the hot springs of Pamakkule. Admire this surreal landscape created by frequent earthquakes in the fault depression of the Menderes river basin. Marvel at the crystalline marble, quartzites and stalagtites, which shimmer in the sunlight. There will be time to paddle our feet as you walk the terraces or opt for a dip in the thermal baths. Later we stop at a leather manufacturing house.
Overnight: Marmaris | Breakfast, Dinner
Marmaris - Koycegiz - Fethiye. Arriving at the lakeside town of Koycegiz, we embark upon a boat cruise to Turtle Beach and smother ourselves in mud at the local mud bath. We continue our journey to Fethiye, a charming port town on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, fringed by the Taurus Mountains where we'll spend the next two nights.
Overnight: Fethiye | Breakfast, Dinner
Fethiye - Kayakoy Greek village - Oludeniz - Fethiye. After breakfast today we explore the quaint Greek village of Kayakoy. This afternoon we drive to Oludeniz, a popular resort town which is home to the beautiful Blue Lagoon. Here you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a swim before travelling back to neighbouring Fethiye.
Overnight: Fethiye | Breakfast
Fethiye - Antalya. Today we visit the stunningly beautiful Saklikent Gorge, Turkey’s longest and deepest canyon, take a walk through nature, or just relax and watch the world go by from the fig tree-shaded wooden platforms that overlook the river. Weaving our way through the Touros Mountains we arrive to Antalya visiting the Duden Waterfalls en route.
Overnight: Antalya | Breakfast, Dinner
Antalya – Cappadocia. Early morning departure for Konya, en route we visit the ancient theatre of Aspendos. Arriving at Konya, we tour the monastery of the Mevlana whirling dervishes and the mausoleum of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi. A further stop is made along the Silk Road at the Seljuk - a fine example of an ancient Silk Road caravanserai.
Overnight: Cappadocia | Breakfast, Dinner
Today we tour the stunning Cappadocia region - an extraordinary national treasure The utter improbability of the seemingly surreal landscapes have to be seen to be believed, where whole troglodyte villages, subterranean churches and fortresses have been hewn from the soft, porous, eerily eroded rock of Cappadocia.
The crumbling legacy of persecuted Christians trying to escape the Muslim onslaught in 1st - 10th centuries AD by effectively heading underground is one of Turkey’s finest attractions.
A guided tour of the region includes the World Heritage Listed Goreme Valley to see stunning examples of rock-cut Byzantine churches and chapels, Kaymaki Underground City and Uchisar Castle. Stopping on the outskirts of Goreme Village we have the opportunity to see Pigeon Valley where century’s old pigeon houses are carved into the surrounding cliffs, the pigeon droppings that litter the area have been used as fertilizer on crops for generations. Here you will also have the opportunity to visit an Onyx shop, specialising in historic jewellery designs unique to Turkey and using local materials and craftsmen. For those not interested in shopping spend a little time relaxing and grab a drink from the local cafe. An optional Turkish dinner and folklore evening is available tonight.
Overnight: Cappadocia | Breakfast
Cappadocia – Kahta. This morning we leave the weird rock formations of Cappadocia and head out across Turkey’s hinterland following the ancient Silk Road route via Kayseri. Along the way we stop at Karatay Han, a well-preserved caravanserai with ornately carved features.
Overnight: Kahta | Breakfast, Dinner
Kahta – Adiyaman. After breakfast we travel to Narince Village and Mount Nemrut. At Mt. Nemrut in Adiyaman, discover the magnificent funerary monument that stands at the peak of the mountain, a testament to an ancient king’s ambition. We will also visit Nemrutdagi National Park, the Cendere, the Roman bridge and Karakus cemetery (the tumulus where the royal women of Kommagene were buried).
Overnight: Adiyaman | Breakfast, Dinner
Adiyaman - Diyarbakir. Today we travel to Diyarbakır, passing the Ataturk dam on the Euphrates River. Diyarbekir is another ancient settlement and at 5000 years old is one of the oldest cities in the world. An overwhelmingly Kurdish city, Diyarbekir is famed for its ancient city walls (built by the Romans) and the current walls, built of massive black basalt blocks are, after the Great Wall of China, the longest continuous defensive wall in the world.
Overnight: Diyabekir | Breakfast, Dinner
Diyarbakir – Hasankeyf – Tatvan. After breakfast we drive to Hasankeyf, situated by the Tigris River; soon to be submerged under the flood waters of a new dam on the Tigris, Hasankeyf has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larger and smaller palace, as well as the ruins of the Great Mosque. After Hasankeyf we will drive to Tatvan where we visit the tombs of the Seljuk Kings in Ahlat and return to Tatvan for dinner.
Overnight: Tatvan | Breakfast, Dinner
Tatvan – Van. After breakfast we begin our journey to the sophisticated city of Van. Along the way we visit the beautifully restored 10th century Armenian Church of the Holy Cross on the island of Akdamar. The church was built as part of a palace and religious complex between 915 and 921 by an Armenian king, and enjoys a stunning mountain setting on Lake Van. From Akdamar we continue to Van city.
Overnight: Van | Breakfast, Dinner
Today we follow the Silk Road once again to Hosap Castle. The main castle structure of Hosap was built straddling the Silk Road and served as both a means of protecting the road and as a point of charging tolls on travellers. From Hosap we return to Van where you will have time for lunch. We end the day with a visit to the Citadel of Van to enjoy sunset. Dominating the city’s skyline atop a large rock outcrop, the 3,000 year-old castle was once the centre of the Urartian capital and commands wonderful panoramic views of the city and lake, as well as Mt. Nemrut.
Overnight: Van | Breakfast, Dinner
Tuesday. Today marks the end of our unique adventure. After breakfast, hotel check out and transfer to Van Airport for your onward flight.
End Your Tour In Istanbul
If you would like to return to Istanbul on day 18, we can arrange the internal flight for you upon request. Please contact us for details.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
Opened in 2011, Crowne Plaza Harbiye is housed in a brand new building close to downtown. Guest rooms are well equipped with state of the art design including a rain shower and high speed internet. The hotel includes 2 restaurants including the Palm Court Restaurant that serves delicious Mediterranean dishes. Facilities at the hotel include a fully equipped Spa and a Turkish Hamman for the ultimate Turkish experience! Well located in Taksim, close to the Military Museum.
Looking out across the Dardanelles the modern and bright Kolin Hotel offers well appointed rooms with hard wood flooring and tasteful decor. The hotel also boasts a luxury spa, wellness centre and a number of mouth watering restaurants all set within perfectly manicured lawns. Sipping a sundowner on the Roof Bar overlooking the beautiful strait is the perfect way to end the day. The hotel is located on the water’s edge a short drive from the town centre with beautiful views out to sea.
Sitting along the magnificent Aegean Coast, the Grand Belish is impressively designed hotel. Offering guests a fantastic service and rooms with quality amenities and a private balcony overlooking the grounds. The delightful outdoor pool is great for lazing by during the day and at night a trip to the Terrace Bistro Bar for a delicious cocktail whilst looking out across the magnificent sea views is a must. Located just outside Kusadasi on a gorgeous stretch of beach along the Aegean Coast.
Just a stone’s throw from the beach, the Anemon Hotel welcomes guests in its grand marble lobby. Rooms are comfortable with modern amenities and excellent en suite facilities. The buffet breakfast is plentiful and the Sensus Wine and Cheese Boutique is well worth a visit. Starting the day with a traditional Turkish Bath is our top tip! Well located just two blocks from the beach on the main boulevard.
Set with a beautiful green backdrop, the Hotel Ata Park is a comfortable with well equipped rooms and a gorgeous outdoor pool. The rooms boast hard wooden flooring, some quirky furnishing and balconies with fantastic views across the bay. Tempt your palate with delicious local seafood at the in house Bahriyeli Fish House or a quaff beautiful local wines at the Wine House. Both come highly recommended. Located right on the bay overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean Sea with the wonderful green peninsular as a good looking backdrop.
Built in 1997, the white washed Dedeman Park offers wonderful views of the Mediterranean coast. Rooms are modern and bright with excellent en suite facilities and some benefitting from stunning balcony views. Complementary Wi-fi is available throughout and guests also receive free access to the nearby Aquapark . Relaxing at the complimentary in house Turkish baths is our top tip for ending the day. Beautifully located overlooking the stunning Mediterranean Sea and in the centre of town.
The Dinler Hotel has breathtaking Urgup / Kayakapi views, from all the rooms, which are spacious and welcoming.
Built in the 16th century to offer travellers and pilgrims on the Silk Road a place to stay, the Karvansary is a wonderful heritage building set around two traditional courtyards. Rooms are simple and cosy but the courtyards and the restaurants are a major draw card. There are three restaurants and a couple of bars – perfect for sitting relaxing and enjoying this wonderful authentic environment. Located at the south end of the old city, just a 10 minute walk to the centre.
Affording great views of Lake Van, the Rescate Hotel is a chic and luxurious hotel. Guestrooms are tastefully decorated with modern amenities and wonderful views of the lake, city or mountain. Ending the evening with a delightful Turkish Bath is the perfect way to relax after a busy day sightseeing. Perfectly located on the shores of Lake Van just south of the city and 5 minutes away from the airport.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in Turkey, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.