Sample Turkey Itinerary can be customized to fit your interests!
WHAT MAKES THIS TOUR DIFFERENT FROM THE REST?
Mass tourism has come to Turkey noisily and in a big way. Turkey now hosts over ten million holiday-takers from all over the world. The tourist industry has meanwhile grown in size and professionalism. The big resorts have become adept at feeding and entertaining several thousands of tourists at once, while the tour operators run numerous tours dealing with thousands of persons. Resort airports handle many charter landings a day.
In this rush for numbers, the individual traveler is often a casualty. We believe that the romance and excitement of travel for an individual is lost in such a rush. Therefore, to begin with, we prefer to accommodate our guests in the small, family owned Ottoman style hotels in the old part of the towns- the sort of place where the hotelier joins a guest for a drink after dinner and the cook actually cares whether you liked your food. The groups are limited to 10 guests each. This ensures that each guest receives the special attention he or she deserves.
The people of Turkey are exceptionally warm and friendly and your Turkey trip will allow plenty of opportunities to meet them personally. Unscheduled forays to places not usually found on a tourist’s itinerary such as a villager’s home, a firehouse, or a bread factory are frequent, unexpected surprises.
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You are met at the airport by your official guide. Drive into the city along the shores of the Sea of Marmara, by the Byzantine city walls; arrive in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district- old Byzantium – to check in to your hotel; one of the oldest among the renovated Ottoman mansions. Welcome cocktail and orientation. ( D )
The old Ottoman & Byzantine monuments are within walking distance of the hotel. Your guide will offer an overview of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Visit magnificent Topkapi Palace with its porcelain, miniatures, armor, calligraphy, Spoonmaker’s Diamond, Topkapi Dagger and Harem. Learn about Islam at Blue Mosque, a masterful Ottoman structure with marvelous turquoise tiles. Our optional lunch will be served at a typical Turkish restaurant with different varieties of Turkish Cuisine.
Its magnificent setting will increase your appetite as you enjoy looking at the old part of the town. In the afternoon, visit St. Sophia Church (once Christianity’s grandest shrine) with its 6th century dome, and Underground Cistern with its 336 columns. Finally, visit the city’s oldest covered Grand Bazaar. Finalize the day by having tea at Piere Loti CafÈ over the banks of Golden Horn. We will dine out in Rami Restaurant – an exquisite Ottoman house next door to Blue Mosque – ex owner was a renowned expressionist painter; the whole house is decorated with his paintings, superb setting with excellent Ottoman Cusine. ( B – D )
In the morning, tour the Spice Market – an aromatic cornucopia of exotic seasonings, then nearby visit R¸stem Pasa Mosque – designed by Ottoman architect Sinan – decorated with very fine Iznik tiles. Later, cruise on the Bosphorus. During the cruise, enjoy the view of the old wooden villas, marble palaces and ancient fortresses. Disembark at B¸y¸kdere on the European side for the optional fish lunch at Fuat Pasa Restaurant; an ol d sea front wooden mansion.
Aftewards, visit The Sadberk Hanim Museum, housed in two storeyed Ottoman Konak, includes the finest Ottoman art work of textile goods. Then drive over the intercontinental bridge to Asiatic side to visit Beylerbeyi Palace, the summer residence of Ottoman Sultans with its original furniture and magnificent gardens. Later drive to «amlica Hill to see a beautiful panoramic view of Istanbul and finish the day off having tea at the Ottoman Tea House. Dinner at Beyti Restaurant – the finest meat house in the city where many celebrities dined; among were some American Presidents. ( B – D )
The capital of the fledgling Ottoman State in the 14th century, Bursa has grown into a modern city of nearly two million inhabitants without losing its “Turkish” flavor. Its bazaar is one of the largest in the country, yet remains untouched by tourism. It is also famous for its silk industry, for its thermal baths used by Emperors and Sultans, the Turkish Karag^z and Hacivat (shadow Puppet Theater). Upon arrival, visit the Grand Mosque; built in the 13th century – the 5th important Mosque in Islam. Then, visit the Green Mosque and the Green Tomb of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet the 1st. Finally, we visit Bursa’s famous Silk Bazaar situated in an old restored Caravansaria. Our hotel is located on a protected landmark street, which is close to the city centre yet very quiet with a pleasant small-town feel. Safran hotel is modern hotel that replicates the architecture of Bursa’s beautiful traditional houses. Dinner at the hotel. ( B – D )
The ruins of St. Sophia, where the first Ecumenical councils were held in 325 A.D. Our optional lunch will be in Iznik. Safranbolu is a museum-town which preserves some of the most beautiful surviving examples of traditional Turkish civil architecture. The old town clusters clinging to the slopes of a ravine, full of stately half-timbered mansions seemingly bypassed by the 20th century. Our hotel is one of the finest of the old Turkish houses of Safranbolu, the Asmazlar residence, features a basin of cut stone – almost a swimming pool – in the midst of its upper-floor reception room. It is an epitome of the traditional Ottoman art living: one can imagine turbaned gentlemen reclining on the divans that run round the pool, picking cooled grapes from the water. Dinner at the hotel. ( B – D )
Once the capital of a great Pontic Kingdom, Amasya, located on the Yesilirmak River and surrounded by high mountains, is one of Anatolia’s most attractive and fascinating towns. We will visit the museum containing mummies of Mongol rulers, see the tomb of Toruntay – Gok Medrese, Hazeranlar Konagi and Darusifa, an ancient medical asylum where the earliest recorded treatment of insane patients with music was practiced. Our hotel is an old Armenian mansion in the center of Amasya. Dinner in the centrum of Amasya. ( B – D )
On the way to Cappadocia we will stop at Hattusas, the ancient Hittite capital which dates from 3,000 BC. Highlights will be the Great Temple, Lion’s Gate, the impressive Sphinx Gate, the King’s Gate and the Citadel. We will also see the famous Hittite shrine of Yazilikaya. Here carved out of rock wall are reliefs of many as 63 gods and goddesses. Arrival in Cappadocia. Our Hotel is in Esbelli Mansion. This could be the world’s classiest cave. Behind the facade of a splendid old stone mansion lies a labrynth of hidden courtyards where the seven rooms of the Esbelli House are carved into Cappadocia’s volcanic rock. The guest book gushes with praise from Ankara’s diplomatic community – a half-dozen ambassadors have placed their names among devotees of this unique establishment. (B-D)
The fantastic landscape of Cappadocia is the product of three volcanoes whose prehistoric eruptions covered the earth with a blanket of ashy rock. This was eroded over the ages into strange natural formations known as “fairy chimneys”. First we visit the Goreme Valley, now an open-air museum with its dozens of painted cave churches, the pottery making town of Avanos, the monastic valley of Zelve and underground city of Kaymakli, where thousands of early Christians lived in a warren of tunnels cut from volcanic rock. We will have our evening meal in a rock cut night club with folkloric show and unlimited local drinks. ( B – D )
Today we will explore the Ihlara Gorge with many rock cut churches. Today’s sightseeing tour will also include the magical Fairy Chimney landscape of Pasabagi. We will also climb the Uchisar Fortress and take in the breathtaking view of the Goreme Valley. Just before our evening meal we will call in one of the wine tasting houses in Urgup which is also famous for it. ( B – D )
On the way to Konya we will stop at one of the SelÁuk’s Kerevansary ( camel place ) to explore Selcuk architecture. Konya is the city where Mevlana founded the Mevlevi Order of Whirling Dervishes. We will visit the Museum of Mevlana, perhaps the most important Islamic shrine in Turkey. Our optional lunch will be in Konya. Arrival in Side. This holiday resort of Antalya offers ancient ruins within the village – although the theater is under restoration while this itinerary was written – the Hellenistic City Walls, the Agora and Temple of Apollo which stand partly are still worth seeing. Dinner in the hotel. ( B – D )
The capital city of Tourism in the Mediterranean region. A full day to enjoy the nearby Greco-Roman remains in the region by visiting the ancient cities respectively: Perge; with its Agora, Theater , Stadium and baths. Next comes the Amphitheater at Aspendos in southern Turkey still holds the secret of its perfect acoustics. As such, it is continued to receive the highest accolades since the second century. Our optional lunch at Manavgat waterfalls. Arrival Antalya. This city is blessed with the perfect climate, a beach season that lasts – with luck – from March to December, and a stunning setting against the backdrop of the snow-capped Taurus peaks. The city forms the nerve center of a nearly unbroken belt of beaches and beach resorts stretching 200 km from Kemer in the west of Alanya. Among the attractions of Antalya is one of the most picturesque historic districts of Turkey. The old town of Antalya retains its 2156 year – old walls and our hotel is situated in the old district. The city’s Roman, Byzantine and Turkish history lie liberally scattered across the Old Town. They include the monumental Gate of Hadrian, the Fluted Minaret of the 13th century. Our hotel, a wonderfully stylish old-timer in the old town with glassed – in veranda and an orange garden hidden behind high walls. Its restaurant, set romantically under the orange trees of the garden, is one of the best in town. Dinner in the hotel. (B – D )
En route, we will pay a visit to the church of St. Nicholas – known to most as Santa Claus, his legend originated here. We also visit the ruins of Mayra; the rock tombs located here as well as the ancient theater. Our optional lunch stop will be in Demre. Arrival in Kalkan. This area was once occupied by the Ottoman Turks. Attractively located at the foot of a steep mountain, it has managed to keep much of its character as small Turkish fishing village. Many of the shops such as bakery, tailor shop, butcher shop, and general store are retained for the local citizenry. Our hotel is a restored house in the plain stone-and-timber manner of Kalkan’s traditional houses. Its lobby art gallery attracts well-known names of contemporary Turkish Art. Dinner at the hotel. (B – D)
Seeing Roman and Hellenistic sites of Asia Minor may sometimes seem like one long blur of agoras and theaters, but Patara is something special. It also has one of the longest and widest sandy beach in Turkey and, unlike much of Mediterranean, has a tide, which allows body surfing. It is blisteringly hot in summer, an irony when one thinks that this is the birth place of St. Nicholas, the Santa Claus associated with snowy winters in the northern hemisphere. Most of the ancient ruins of Patara lie on the shore. North of Patara and near the present day town of Kinik lies Xanthos, the leading town of Lycia which dates back to 600 B.C. This city is remembered especially for the bravery of its defenders who fought to the very last man against the invading Harpagus. Among the many ruins we can wander through are a Roman Agora, Theater, Acropolis and Temple of Artemis. Then comes Saklikent to visit. Arrival in Fethiye. Dinner in the hotel. (B – D)
Near Fethiye, we pay a visit to the eerie ghost-town of Kaya, which was home of the tens of thousands of Greek until the deportations of the 1920’s. Departure for Bodrum. Today we will drive through the most beautiful part of the Mediterranean Sea. We will drive near G^Áek Bay. This bay is one of the best sailing spots in the Mediterranean and favorite place of British Royal family members to spend their holidays – among are the Price Charles and Princess Margaret. Arrival in Dalyan. The unusual thing about Dalyan as a holiday town is that it is set on a riverbank rather than the more usual seashore. Upon arrival, we will have a boat ride on the Dalyan River to Iztuzu Beach – this beach became the hatching grounds of giant loggerhead turtles ( Caretta Caretta ) endangered by callous developers. The rock-carved tombs of Lycian rulers from the 4th B. C. is visiable from a distance. Arrival in Bodrum. Dinner at the hotel. ( B – D )
Bodrum or ancient Halicarnassus is situated in a peninsula facing the island of Kos, and is the hometown of Herodutus, known to some of us the “Father of History”. After breakfast, visit Bodrum’s famous castle – built by the Knights of St. John – with its underwater archaeological museum. Then, drive to Milas to see the striking G¸m¸skesen, built in the second century, a mini – replica of the Halicarnassus Mausoleum. En route also visit Kapikiri – Heraklia under Latmos by the Bafa Lake; used to be arm of the Aegean Sea in antiquity. See the ruins of Heraklia mingled with the local village of Kapikiri. Arrival in SelÁuk. Our small hotel is located SelÁuk’s old quarter below the Castle. Enjoy your dinner; scrumptious cooking from the host of the hotel. ( B – D )
The city dedicated to Artemis, the best preserved ancient city of Asia Minor. Visit The Shrine of Virgin Mary. Later, see the ruins from the period of St. Paul, Odeon, Monumental Fountains, Brothel, Library and many others. After our optional lunch in SelÁuk, we visit the celebrated museum of SelÁuk. Continue to the Basilica of St. John, a massive 6th century edifice where the evangelist is said to be buried. Later in the afternoon, we drive to Sirince Village; the most beautiful village of the Aegean. Sirince retains its traditional architecture almost wholly intact, mainly from the 19th century. We visit one of the village houses and two former Greek churches. Unusually for Turkey, most households in Sirince make and sell wine. Dinner in the village with their local wine. ( B – D )
After breakfast, transfer to Izmir Airport for your flight. ( B )
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