Get a feel for life in ancient times by exploring the beautifully preserved city of Ephesus. Your local guide will walk you through the remarkable ruins and bring its colourful 1500-year history to life.. Relax in the coastal town of Antalya – marvel at the Roman relics of the Old City or take a dip in the crystal blue gulf and soak up views of the surrounding mountains.. Get a birds-eye view of Cappadocia’s caves, fairy chimneys and honeycomb terrain with an optional balloon ride over this other-worldly landscape.. Indulge in a local lunch while sailing the Kekova islands – spot underwater cities, explore the quaint village of Ucagiz, then spend the afternoon snorkelling.
Experience the stunning sights and tantalising tastes of Turkey on this two-week adventure that takes in all the highlights and then some. Become acquainted with illustrious Istanbul, behold landscapes like no other around Cappadocia, and sail the all-too-pretty islands off Kekova. Marvel at the ancient ruins of Ephesus, settle in for a spectacular soaking in Pamukkale’s thermal hot springs, and reflect on the tragedies and gallantries that took place along Gallipoli’s windswept peninsula. Brimming with history, bustling with progress and bursting with flavour, Turkey intrigues and delights at every turn of this perfectly paced small group adventure.
Welcome to Turkey. This adventures kicks off in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. . You have the whole day free to explore the capital until a Welcome Meeting at 6pm – make sure you have all your important documents and details for your leader. Double check with the hotel reception or the noticeboard for meeting confirmations. Until then, maybe get out and explore the frenetic streets of Turkey's crown-jewel metropolis. After the meeting, maybe gather together your new friends and seek out some Turkish cuisine in a street-side cafe.
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. For Monday departures we recommend you visit the magnificent opulence of Topkapi Palace on Day 1 as it is closed on Tuesday.
Kick start the day with a leisurely guided walk and discover some of Istanbul’s hidden charms. Visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque and learn more about its one-of-a-kind architecture, with its six minarets and 20,000 dazzling handmade Iznik tiles. Next, head to the ancient Hippodrome, with its intriguing monuments, like the Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II. Later this morning, take a private minivan to the beautiful rural town of Beypazari. Located approximately 100 kilometres from Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Beypazari’s historic houses and welcoming community reflects the essence of the Turkish Culture. On arrival, enjoy free time at leisure to explore the streets of this quaint town.
Spend your morning visiting the Living Museum of Beypazari, which offers re-enactments and interactive experiences that allow you to gauge a deeper understanding into traditional Turkish folk culture. Afterwards, board a minibus and make your way to the town of Goreme in Cappadocia (approximately 4 hours). Goreme lies in a beautifully diverse landscape of cones, needles and columns, fashioned by nature from the soft volcanic tuff rock. Its unique, honeycombed terrain consists of a network of caves, scooped out to make churches and dwellings, known as fairy chimneys and castles. In times of peace, the people in this region lived on the land, but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground. With no activities planned for the rest of the day, you’re free to explore this intriguing town at your own pace.
For early birds, a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape is a highly recommended experience, otherwise, enjoy a sleep in before heading to the Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex and Christian sanctuary of carved houses, churches and monasteries. The museum was one of the earliest centres for religious education and there are at least ten churches and chapels in the complex, dating between AD900 and 1200. Enter the cave chapels and witness the exquisite colour of the biblical frescoes found within, followed by a free afternoon – perhaps consider a sunset hike, ask your leader for the best places.
After breakfast this morning, head out on a walk of the surrounding valley and witness the fascinating rock formations and fairy chimneys, as well as manmade cave chapels from early Christian times. Later in the afternoon, visit the red river of Cappadocia – famous for its clay which is still used to make magnificent pieces of Art. Meet a local potter and learn about this ancient craft and perhaps take the opportunity to purchase a hand-crafted souvenir. Continue your journey into the valleys of Cappadocia, stopping at Devrent Valley (Imaginary Valley), with unique fairy chimneys. After a day of exploration, enjoy the rest of the evening at leisure.
After breakfast, spend your last morning in Cappadocia exploring the Underground City of Derinkuyu– an ancient metropolis made up of subterranean labyrinths and dwellings, some of them extending as deep as seven levels underground. Later this afternoon, travel to the city of Konya, where the mystic Sufi practice of 'whirling' originates. On arrival, enjoy an orientation walk of the town followed by a guided tour of the Mevlana Museum, where you’ll get a fascinating insight into the history of Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes.
This morning, drive across the magnificent Taurus Mountains to reach one of Turkey's true coastal gems, Antalya. Your leader will introduce you to the delights of the Old City with an orientation walk along its cobblestone streets. Visit the clock tower, Hadrian’s gate and the old Roman Harbour before venturing to the historical zone of Kaleici – an area within Antalya’s historic centre that’s protected from modern development, and home to relics of Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman occupation. Afterwards, feel free to swim, relax and enjoy stellar views overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean.
Today you’ll enjoy a guided tour of the Antalya Museum, home to an excellent collection of Turkey’s archaeological treasures. The beautifully preserved statues in the Hall of Gods, Heracles now among them, are not to be missed. After lunch, continue to the seaside village of Kas – its whitewashed houses adorned with bougainvillea, as well as an ancient Greek theatre, makes this a great place to be explored on foot. If you feel like cooling off with a refreshing dip, why not head to one of the waterfront restaurants which often have their own private water access – for the price of an occasional drink, you get your own deck chair, umbrella and unbeatable views. When the sun goes down there’s the chance to explore the handicraft markets, where you can find beautiful handmade wares with a distinctly Turkish twist. For dinner this evening, make sure you sample the delicious local cuisine in the fishing village.
Today you’ll drive to Kekova where you’ll board a local boat and take a relaxing cruise through a series of peaceful and picturesque islands, each with distinctive rock formations – keep your eyes peeled for the ancient houses submerged in the clear water. For lunch, enjoy a homemade Turkish meal onboard before arriving in the settlement of Ucagiz, a township of stone houses draped in colourful flowers. Explore this quaint township before continuing to cruise to beautiful protected inlets – perfect for a refreshing dip just off the boat. Return to Kas for the evening.
After breakfast make your way to Pamukkale, stopping enroute to enjoy some local home-cooked fare prepared by a group of inspiring women who are changing the face of tourism in Turkey. Hear their stories over some delicious Turkish dishes before continuing to Pamukkale. Renowned as one of the most photographed spots in Turkey, Pamukkale is home to spectacular natural hot springs of high calcium bicarbonate content, which cascade over the edge of the cliffs, leaving bright white deposit terraces. These pools have been used as a spa since 200 BC and although you won't be able to bathe in these travertines, you can take a walk through them (after removing your shoes). Afterwards, take some time to visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Cleopatra’s old pool – sculpted as a gift from Mark Antony. You can also check out the other ruins of the city, Hierapolis is known for its abundance of temples and religious structures, vast necropolis and strange tombs, and the amphitheatre shouldn’t be missed. After exploring these extensive ruins, return to Pamukkale for the night.
It’s an early start this morning as you make your way to Selcuk, your base for visiting Ephesus. Selcuk itself is culturally rich and retains many Turkish traditions, and its relatively undisturbed nature means this is an opportunity to experience the ‘real’ Turkey. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings – you’ll see the Isa Bey Mosque and the imposing Byzantine citadel of the Grand Fortress. Just below the fortress are the ruins of the Basilica of St John, built over the supposed burial site of the saint. Just a short distance out of Selcuk is one of the ancient world's Seven Wonders, the Temple of Artemis, although, sadly, only a single column (of 127 originally) remains. The Temple of Artemis was unfortunately destroyed in AD 401, after being successively damaged by floods, a Greek arsonist seeking notoriety, and the Goths. You’ll arrive in Selcuk with enough time to check in to the guesthouse and then take a leader-led orientation walk of the town.
Today you'll visit Ephesus, one of Turkey's most important ancient sites. Explore this beautifully preserved classical city with your local guide who will bring its colourful 1500-year history to life. Watch in awe as the sophistication of this former metropolis reveals itself: it had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well-preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but the marvellous library might just be the highlight. Later you will stop for lunch at a family-run restaurant, where you’ll feast on gozleme – the famous and very popular Turkish pancake – made fresh before your eyes.
This afternoon there is an opportunity to visit Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms. Regardless if you are in the market for a new rug or not this is an opportunity to support local weavers enjoy some Turkish hospitality, and discover the beauty of Turkish Rug Making.