Explore ancient ruins and legendary architecture, otherworldly landscapes and underground cities in the country that bridges the gap between east and west. Spend three nights in Istanbul, a melting pot of cultures, historical sites, and religious communities, home to Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace. Visit the cascading thermal pools of Pammukale and bathe among the ruins of a Greco-Roman period. Discover the sparkling Aegean coast, then follow the path of the Silk Road on your way to the ethereal valleys and geological wonders of Cappadocia. From the earthly delights of Istanbul’s famous Spice Market to the transcendent power of a Whirling Dervishes ceremony, delight your senses and ignite your imagination in beautiful Turkey.
|May 5, 2024||from $5,389 CAD||Per Person|
|May 5, 2024||from $6,739 CAD||Single Traveler|
Visit Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul’s Golden Horn (UNESCO) district; Cruise the Bosphorus Strait between Europe and Asia; Walk through the ruins of Ancient Ephesus in the footsteps of Paul the Apostle.
Cruise the Dalyan River to the Aegean Coast; Explore the towering rock formations of Cappadocia; Experience a transcendent Whirling Dervishes ceremony.
Taste your way around Istanbul’s Golden Horn district and Spice Market; Savour organic wines at a vineyard on the Dardanelles Strait; Learn family recipes during a hands-on cooking class at a restaurant in Cappadocia
|1||Sun May 5||Istanbul, Turkey|
|2||Mon May 6||Istanbul, Turkey|
|3||Tue May 7||Istanbul, Turkey|
|4||Wed May 8||Istanbul – Gallipoli – Çanakkale|
|5||Thu May 9||Çanakkale – Carpet Weaving Experience – Ancient Pergamon – Izmir|
|6||Fri May 10||Izmir – Ancient Ephesus – Sirince – Izmir|
|7||Sat May 11||Izmir – Pamukkale|
|8||Sun May 12||Pamukkale – Ancient Kaunos – Dalyan|
|9||Mon May 13||Dalyan – Coastal Boat Ride – Impact Moment – Dalyan|
|10||Tue May 14||Dalyan – Isparta – Konya|
|11||Wed May 15||Konya – Sultanhani Caravanserai – Cappadocia|
|12||Thu May 16||Cappadocia – Göreme Open-Air Museum|
|13||Fri May 17||Cappadocia – Love Valley – Cooking Class|
|14||Sat May 18||Cappadocia – Istanbul – Grand Bazaar|
|15||Sun May 19||Istanbul – Tour Ends|
Day 1 – Istanbul, Turkey
Welcome to Istanbul, the bridge between East and West, and a hub of intermingling cultures, complex history, and legendary architecture. Settle in to your hotel for the next three nights, and then meet your fellow travellers at a welcome briefing before taking the rest of the evening to relax as you please.
Day 2 – Istanbul, Turkey
Today, sample some of Istanbul’s most iconic sites, which connect Greek-Roman heritage with Ottoman-Islamic Art. First, the 17th-century Blue Mosque with its impressive domes and minarets, followed by Hippodrome, the former sporting and social centre of the Roman Empire. Then on to Hagia Sophia (UNESCO), a church-turned-mosque and a true embodiment of Byzantine Architecture, followed by Topkapi Palace and Harem, former home to the Ottoman Sultans. While we explore the city’s legendary history and architecture, please know that Istanbul is also known for its legendary traffic, which is also an iconic experience — one that requires great patience! This evening, gather at a local restaurant where the chef will delight you with their Ottoman-inspired cuisine.
Day 3 – Istanbul, Turkey
Explore Turkey’s culinary heritage as you taste your way around Istanbul’s Golden Horn district during a walking to that includes a visit to the city’s famous Spice Market and multiple tastings of Turkish specialties sampled from local street vendors. This afternoon, take in the high-rises and minarets of Istanbul’s majestic skyline as you sail between two continents during a cruise of the Bosphorus Strait, which divides Europe from Asia. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore. Perhaps you’ll visit the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art, home to rare artifacts, sculptures, and one of the most important collections of woven carpets in the world, some dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Or, choose to go on an optional excursion to an historic Hammam, where you’ll enjoy an authentic Turkish scrub and foam bath.
Day 4 – Istanbul – Gallipoli – Çanakkale
Early this morning, leave the bustle of Istanbul behind and enjoy a scenic ride along the sparkling Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles Strait as you make your full-day transfer to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Learn about the many conflicts these waters witnessed over the centuries, including the devastating Battle of Gallipoli during WWI. Stop at Anzac Cove to pay your respects and learn about the site’s significance for Turks as well as Australians and New Zealanders before heading to a local organic winery for a tasting from the vineyards located between the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Finally, cross the Dardanelles Strait to Çanakkale, a small coastal city and your home for the night. The evening is yours to unwind from your day of travelling.
Day 5 – Çanakkale – Carpet Weaving Experience – Ancient Pergamon – Izmir
Another long but rewarding day of travel begins with a transfer to the countryside of Pergamon, where you’ll learn about the traditional Turkish craft of carpet weaving, from silkworm cultivation to spinning, dyeing, and patterning techniques. This afternoon, visit the Ancient City of Pergamon (UNESCO), where you’ll take a short cable car ride up to the acropolis to enjoy commanding views of the valley below and a tour of the Greek ruins. End the day in Izmir (known as Smyrna in antiquity), Turkey’s 3rd most populous city and your home for the next two nights. Enjoy free time this evening to explore the seafront promenade with its shops and restaurants, just a short walk from our centrally located hotel.
Day 6 – Izmir – Ancient Ephesus – Sirince – Izmir
This morning, your in-depth tour of Ancient Ephesus (UNESCO) takes you to the Terrace Houses for a walking tour of these impressive residential villas. See the imposing Library of Celsus, the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, and walk the paths that Paul the Apostle once walked. Conclude the morning with a visit to the Archeological Museum where most of the artifacts from the excavations are exhibited. This afternoon, travel to charming Sirince, a hilltop village once inhabited by the Greek community and abandoned during the population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923. The village today is a rare and protected example of Ottoman Christian architecture, known for its locally produced olive oil, wine, and peaches. Here, relax at a local café, taste a traditional Turkish coffee, and meet with locals who offer Turkish coffee ground readings for those who want to get their fortunes told! Afterwards, back to Izmir for an evening at leisure and dinner on your own.
Day 7 – Izmir – Pamukkale
Start the day by learning about the folklore of the nazar boncuk (evil eye) at a workshop where these traditional talismans are crafted using a process passed down through generations. Next, continue your journey inland to Pamukkale (UNESCO) to visit the famous Cotton Castle* — named for its natural cascading thermal pools and white limestone — as well as the ruins of the Greco-Roman period. While here, it’s your choice! Visit the Cleopatra Antique Pools** and bathe in thermal spring water surrounded by columns and paving stones from the ancient city -OR- take a guided tour of the archeological site via golf cart and visit the local museum. Whichever you choose, all will have free time to visit the site’s “Cotton Candy” pools as well. This evening, check into the hotel and enjoy a relaxed buffet dinner.
Day 8 – Pamukkale – Ancient Kaunos – Dalyan
Today, return to the coast after a full-morning transfer to the quaint riverbank town of Dalyan. In the early afternoon, tour the ruins of Ancient Kaunos before checking in to your hotel for the next two nights — a small, family run bed & breakfast with simple accommodations and a scenic deck overlooking the river. The evening is yours. Perhaps you’ll stroll the streets of Dalyan browsing the local shops, or find your favourite café and soak in the local life.
Day 9 – Dalyan – Coastal Boat Ride – Impact Moment – Dalyan
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning before setting off for a relaxing boat trip along the river that connects Dalyan to the Mediterranean Sea. Enjoy the unique environment as you pass through the marshland that is home to birds, fish, and turtles. Take in views of the Aegean coastline and make some stops (weather permitting) along the way for swimming.*** After lunch in a local restaurant, get ready for your Impact Moment at a loggerhead turtle rescue and conservation centre. Return to Dalyan for an evening at leisure.
Day 10 – Dalyan – Isparta – Konya
Prepare for a full day of travel, beginning early and following the path of the ancient Silk Road trading route that once led from China all the way to Istanbul. The first leg of the journey takes you to the region of Isparta where the landscape and climate have proven ideal for the cultivation of aromatic plants. We’ll stop to visit an eco-center that uses sustainable practices to cultivate their organic crops. After a light lunch of Turkish pancakes, continue on to Konya, arriving in the early evening. Pause for dinner at a local restaurant before checking in to your hotel for the night.
Day 11 – Konya – Sultanhani Caravanserai – Cappadocia
Begin the morning in Konya with a visit to the Mevlâna Museum, the world centre of the Whirling Dervishes. Next, visit Sultanhani Caravanserai, one of the largest surviving caravanserai along the Silk Road. After viewing the soaring vaults of this fortified road stop, travel on, arriving in Cappadocia in the early afternoon for a tour of one of the region’s famous underground cities. These subterranean towns, some built almost 3000 years ago, provided refuge for their inhabitants during times of war and invasions. As you head towards your hotel, take in the ethereal scenery and mesmerizing rock formations created by thousands of years of volcanic activity and erosion. This evening, check in to your home for the next three nights — a cave hotel with rooms carved out of the soft stone of the natural landscape.
Day 12 – Cappadocia – Göreme Open-Air Museum
Get an early start with an optional balloon ride**** that takes you soaring above the “fairy chimneys” and rock dwellings dotting the hills and valleys below you. After reconvening with your fellow travellers, immerse yourself in Cappadocia’s lunar landscape. Visit Göreme’s Open-Air Museum (UNESCO), a vast site comprising of 11 early Christian rock-cut churches and monasteries often adorned with colourful frescoes. For lunch, join a local family at their home for a taste of home-cooked burek (a savoury pastry filled with cheese or potatoes), accompanied by tea. This evening, come together for a Whirling Dervishes ceremony.*****
Day 13 – Cappadocia – Love Valley – Cooking Class
Start the day with a countryside walk in Love Valley, famous for its conspicuous rock formations. Follow the winding path among the fairy chimneys and contemplate the otherworldly view. Then, visit a pottery workshop and learn how locals make use of the area’s natural resources by extracting clay from the surrounding soil and developing pottery into an art form. This afternoon, participate in a hands-on cooking class learning how to make traditional Cappadocia dishes, like slow-roasted testi kebab, before enjoying the results for dinner.
Day 14 – Cappadocia – Istanbul – Grand Bazaar
Head to the airport in Kayseri this morning for a short flight****** back to Istanbul. After a drive back to the city, stop at the colourful Grand Bazaar. This intricate complex of covered streets and shops has been in operation for over 600 years and is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. Later this afternoon, check in to the hotel before regrouping for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant along the waterfront.
Day 15 – Istanbul – Tour Ends
Your exploration of Turkey comes to a close today. Reflect on an unforgettable trip as you make your way to the airport for your flight home.
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