Anatolia, also called Asia Minor, has been and still a junction of civilizations. That's the main reason why we centre all our tours in Anatolia. The land is surrounded by Black Sea in the north and Taurus Mountains in the south. Hundreds of ancient sites, unspoilt naturel beauties, beautiful beaches for sun-seekers and far beyond.. All are offered by Anatolia.
In "Highlights of Turkey Tour" we combine all above beauties in one package. It is an ideal tour for those looking for a bit of everything.
Day 1 – Arrival to Istanbul
Arrive at Istanbul Ataturk Airport and transfer to your hotel.The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2 - Highlights of Istanbul
We start the day with a visit to Topkapi Palace which was residence for Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years. We will also visit the "Harem" section for some more stories about the daily life in the palace. After lunch we will visit Hagia Sophia built by Justinian in the 6th century AD as a church and later on it was used as a mosque from 1453 to 1935 and finally it was converted into museum by the order of Ataturk. The tour goes on with a visit to the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet known as Blue Mosque by western world for being decorated with beautiful blue tiles inside. It was built in the 17th century and like Hagia Sophia it was a masterpiece of its time. Lastly we will visit Basilica Cistern built by Justinian in the 6th century AD. It is best known and the largest closed cistern and named as "the palace underground". The day ends up with a visit to ancient Hippodrome holding the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 3 – Fly to Cappadocia
In the morning we fly into Cappadocia by Turkish Airlines. After arrival we will have scenery drive to Cappadocia Region. Definitely we will see one of the most beautiful natural-shaped points in the world. We will have traditional lunch after checking into the hotel. Later on we will visit one of the underground cities carved from volcanic tufa to a depth of eight to ten stories. The day ends up with visits to some of the valleys for panoramic views. A possible walk in Love Valley (30 mins.). Overnight in Cappadocia
Day 4 – Highlights of Cappadocia
We will start the day with a visit to Goreme Valley and Open Air Museum including restored Dark Church with its beautiful frescoes. We will also visit one of the clay pottery workshops to see how the pottery is produced just as done in ancient times. Following the lunch in a local restaurant, we will walk upto Uchisar Castle with its surrounding panoramic view of the Cappadocia Region and walk in the area of pointed rock formations knowns as the Fairy Chimneys. Overnight in Cappadocia.
Day 5 – Konya – The Land of Whirling Dervishes
In the morning we will drive into Konya with a stop on the way to visit the largest Seljuk Caravanserai in Anatolia dating back to the 13th century. This kind of buildings used to provide lodging, supplies, refuge from bandits and all the other needs of travelling Silk Road caravans. After this visit and with a short drive we will arrive at Konya, the holy city of Turkey, which has been a land for Sufi Dervishes from 13th century. Our first visit in Konya will be for the Shrine of Mevlana Celaleddin Rum-i. His lyrical verse recounts a mystical ecstacy in which he saw all differences of race, religion and creed disappear and how he was exalted above the principles of the Sheriat. After the lunch the tour in the city goes on with a visit to Madrasa of Slender Minaret of 1267. The Madrasa (muslim theological school) is now a museum of stone and wood carvings from Seljuk and Karamanid periods from Konya and Karaman Regions. Our next visit will be for Karatay Madrasa museum of 1251. The museum holds beautiful examples of tiles: the wall tiles from a palace built by Alaeddin Keykubat I from the shore of Beysehir Lake at Kubad-Abad. These tiles have representations of people and animal on brilliantly-colored glazed tiles, shaped like stars, octagons, squares, crosses and other forms. Overnight in Konya.
Day 6 – Antalya, Aspendos, Gulluk National Park
After the breakfast we will drive to Antalya through forested 6000 feet high overpass on Taurus Mountains. On the way we will visit the best preserved Roman Theatre in the world known as Aspendos dating back to 160 AD. We will also have a chance to see Roman Aqueduct of Aspendos City. After the lunch in a local restaurant, we will have a short drive to Gulluk National Park where we start our walk. Our walk will take us to the ancient city of Termessus originally dating back to 800 BC. Many objects can be seen from different periods but most of the buildings from the period of Roman Empire and date back to 200-300 AD. The city is the only one which could not been captured by Alexander the Great. We will spend the whole afternoon walking in the Lycian trails seeing ancient buildings. Overnight in Antalya.
Day 7 – Hometown of St Nicolas, Myra, Kekova
After the breakfast we will drive to Myra and see the Lycian Necropolis carved into the cliff faces. Myra fell under the Roman Empire and many structures including baths, an acropolis, semi-circular theatre. After a short ride we will reach at the earliest known Church of St Nicolas (also knowns as Santa Claus) who was a Christian Bishop here in 400 AD. Afternoon we will start a walk to a secluded turquoise cove by passing some interesting landscape. At the end of the walk we will reach at the village of Ucagiz with a short boat ride and we will hike up to the hilltop Castle of Simena by walking through the village and ruins. Overnight in Kekova
Day 8 – Xanthos, Lycian Capital
Following the breakfast, we will drive into authentic, small, picturesque village called Kalkan-Kalamaki. Later on we will carry on the journey towards the Lycian Capital, Xanthos, which is in the world's heritage list of UNESCO. Untill the Persian invasions it was an independent state with its own money and language which they did not use to share with their neighbours. It was a city of disasters. Instead of being overrun by Persians they comitted mass suicide in 540 BC. A century later the city was destroyed by fire, rebuilt and destroyed again when the citizens of the city refused to pay taxes to the Athenians. We will walk through the ruins in the city built in Lycian, Greek, Roman and Byzantine periods.After lunch we will start our walking for two hours to the village where St Nicolas was born. If time permits, we will discover the earliest lighthouse in the world which is 2000 years old. The lighthouse is located in Patara which was an important seaport of the Roman Empire. We will return to hotel. Overnight in Patara.
Day 9 – Arrival to Kusadasi
In the morning we will drive to Kusadasi with a stop on the way for lunch. Upon arrival we will check in hotel and the whole afternoon will be free to relax. Overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 10 – Highlights of Ephesus & Fly to Istanbul
After the breakfast, we will have a very short drive to the ancient city of Ephesus which was one the biggest and the most important cities of the Roman Empire. In the city we will see the agoras, odeon, main streets, roman baths, Celsius library, gymnasium, Great theatre, Terrace Houses and many more ruins. Our day will goes on with a visit to the Temple of Artemis which was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. Later on we will visit Ephesus Museum and lastly we will visit Isa Bey Mosque, which was one of the oldest examples of Turco-Islamic mosques dating back to 14th century. Finally we will drive to Izmir Airport for an early evening flight to Istanbul. Overnight in Istanbul
Day 11 – Fly Back Home
Transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport for a flight back home