Discover the ancient cities of Anatolia on an 8-day tour of Turkey. Visit the ruins of Ephesus and Hierapolis, marvel at the “Cotton Castles” of Pamukkale, wander among the “Fairy Chimneys” of Cappadocia, and see the main monuments of Istanbul.
What to Expect
Discover some of the ancient cities of Anatolia on a journey through southwest Turkey, following 3 days in Istanbul. Travel through great empires as you explore the main monuments, mosques and Ottoman palaces of cosmopolitan Istanbul on land and water. Then, go to the sculpted landscapes of Cappadocia and walk among the rock-cut houses and churches. Continue to the ruins of Ephesus, and see the house where the Virgin Mary may have spent her final days. Marvel at the white limestone deposits of the thermal springs of Pamukkale, and more.
Day 1: Istanbul Highlights City Tour
Following a pick-up from your hotel at 08:30, explore the historic monuments, mosques and bazaars of Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia, the religious heart of ancient Byzantium, built by the Emperor Justinian I between 532 and 537. Continue to the Blue Mosque, where the blue iznik tiles and slender minarets have become the icon of Istanbul. Go to the ancient Hippodrome, the social center of Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire.
After lunch, visit Topkapı Palace in the Ottoman ccenter, and marvel at the buildings and courtyards of the Sultan’s vast compound. Next, get lost in the labyrinthine alleys of the Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest indoor market. Return to your accommodation for an evening at leisure.
Day 2: Bosphorus Cruise and Dolmabahce Palace
Your guide will pick you up at about 08:30 to take you to the Spice Bazaar and Spice Market. Marvel at the mounds of fragrant spices in one of the city’s largest bazaars. Next, relax on a 1.5-hour cruise of the Bosphorus Straits by public boat. After lunch, go to Dolmabahce Palace on the shores of the Bosphorus, and explore the main administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 3: Free Day in Istanbul
Today, you are free to explore Istanbul at leisure. Revist some of the sights from your previous days, or wander the boutique shops of Nişantaşı. Catch the historic Taksim-Tünel tram, or linger over a mint tea in one of the cafés of Beyoğlu. Meet for your overnight transfer to Cappadocia at around 18:30, with an 11-hour journey from the scheduled departure time of 20:00.
Day 4: Cappadocia
Upon arrival in Cappadocia, transfer to your hotel to freshen up. Your guide will collect you at about 09:30 to drive you to the Devrent Valley for the start of your tour of the extraordinary rock formations of Cappadocia. Stroll between the “fairy chimneys” of Pasabagi, before the drive to Avanos for lunch.
Next, discover some of the most beautiful examples of Byzantine art at the Goreme Open Air Museum. Continue to Uchisar Castle at the highest point of Cappadocia for fabulous panoramic views over the sensuous rocks. Return to your hotel at about 17:30 for an evening at leisure.
Day 5: Cappadocia
This morning you will take a short (4-kilometer) hike through the Rose Valley to see some of the rock-carved churches. Continue to the historic village of Cavusin, before lunch in Pigeons Valley, famous for the large number of dovecotes carved into the rock. Next, explore the remarkable underground city of Kaymakli, where the houses were constructed around a network of nearly 100 tunnels. Get more panoramic views over Cappadocia from the beautiful Ortahisar Castle.
Take the 10-hour overnight bus to Pamukkale, departing at around 21:00.
Day 6: Pamukkale - Ephesus
Upon arrival in Pamukkale at 07:00, transfer to your hotel for refreshments and to freshen up. Your guide will collect you at about 09:00 for the start of your tour of the thermal springs and limestone “cotton castles” of Pamukkale. Get up-close to the limestone deposits, and learn how chemical properties in the water created the white travertines and stepped water terraces on the mountain slopes of the Büyük Menderes River valley. The springs ripple over the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, site of the largest necropolis of Anatolia.
Then, relax on the 4-hour bus transfer to Ephesus, and check in to your overnight accommodation on arrival.
Day 7: Ephesus - Overnight Transfer to Istanbul
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before the 09:00 pick-up and transfer to Ephesus. Wander among the ruins of one of the most impressive sites of antiquity. See the impressive amphitheater, the ruins of the Temple of Hadrian, and the extraordinary Library of Celsus, once home to more than 12,000 scrolls. To date, the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean, Ephesus reveals layers of history, from the archaic, through the classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine eras.
After lunch, drive to the Temple of Artemis (Diana) in the hills of Selcuk, and see the site of one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Next, go to the House of the Virgin Mary, thought to be where Mary spent the last years of her life. Experience the spiritual peace of the site, before going to the 14th-century Isa Bey Mosque on the outskirts of the Ayasluğ Hills. Transfer to your hotel at about 17:30 to prepare for the overnight bus back to Istanbul. The bus departs at 21:00 and takes about 10 hours.
Day 8: Departure
Your scheduled arrival in Istanbul is 07:00. Upon arrival, use the free shuttle at the bus station to get to Sultanahmet Square, or take the public transportation links to Ataturk Airport.
- Accommodation in 3-star hotels or similar boutique hotels
- Meals throughout the tour as per the itinerary
- Transportation by air-conditioned buses
- Licensed guides
- Entrance fees to museums as per itinerary
What's Not Included
- Tips (optional) and personal expenses
Know Before You Go
• Local tours may include some shopping opportunities, if time allows
• Please note that quoted price is per person, based on accommodation on a double/twin room basis. A single supplement of EUR 135 applies