Arrive Istanbul, Turkey
Arrive in Istanbul, former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, where you are met and provided VIP assistance through immigration and customs procedures. Transfer to your hotel.
Istanbul | The Imperial City
Visit timeless Hagia Sophia, with its marvelous Byzantine architecture, and the sixth-century Basilica Cistern. See the nearby Hippodrome, city walls and Chora Church. Stroll the Pera District, an ancient section of the city also called Beyoglu — today a thriving center of arts and entertainment. Stop at a coffeehouse for a cup of kahve prepared Turkish style.
Istanbul | Crossing the Bosphorus
Briefly visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and then discover Topkapi Palace, the headquarters for the Turks who once ruled most of the Mediterranean. Ride Like a Local as you board a public ferry and cross the Bosphorus. Disembark in Kadiköy, a neighborhood on Istanbul’s Asia side, pausing at a local market.
Cappadocia | Caves of God
Fly to Cappadocia and explore the frescoes at the rock-carved churches of Göreme. Next, take in the Fairy Chimneys (curious rock spires) of Paşabağ, a cave town honeycombed with dwellings hewn from the soft volcanic rock ages ago. This afternoon, visit the potters of Avanos and witness their time-honored craft.
Cappadocia | Incredible Underground City
This morning, enjoy an optional hot-air balloon excursion over Cappadocia. Next, delve into the fascinating underground city at Kaymakli, exploring its chapels, kitchens, air vents and living quarters — all carved from volcanic rock. Proceed to the Red Valley for an engaging artisan visit with the Göreme Weavers Association. Then, sit down to tea with a local family in their home. Later this afternoon, tour local vineyards to learn about Turkish winemaking and sample regional varietals.
Izmir | Archaeological Grandeur of Ephesus
This morning, fly to Izmir. Continue overland to explore the remains of the great Ionian city of Ephesus. Access the breathtaking Terrace Houses (provided excavation work is not taking place). Unmatched as an archaeological site, the sheer size and grandeur of the ruins make this the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean, complete with stunning frescoes that reveal aspects of ancient life here. Also believed to be the place where Mary, the mother of Jesus, lived out her later years, Ephesus is adorned with temples.
Bodrum | Wonders of Ancient Ionia
Today, head south toward Bodrum, pausing to explore the remains of the great ancient Ionian city of Priene and the age-old Temple of Athena. Continue on, stopping to take in the Temple of Apollo at Didyma and the ruined yet magnificent Temple of Zeus at Euromos.
Bodrum | Maritime Archaeology
Explore picturesque Bodrum, the home of Herodotus, the “Father of History,” and visit the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, which honors the crucial role that maritime activities have played in the history of civilization. Enjoy your afternoon at leisure to continue exploring Bodrum with its stunning harbor, or simply relax. Schedule permitting, visit a local weekly farmers market.
Istanbul | Echoes of the Ottoman Empire
This morning fly back to Istanbul. Visit Dolmabahce Palace, once a great seat of Ottoman power. This afternoon, embark on a private cruise of the Bosphorus. Alternatively, consider extending your journey to include a two-night visit to the Turquoise Coast before returning to Istanbul.
Istanbul | Suleymaniye Mosque & the Grand Bazaar
Enter the beautiful domed 16th-century Suleymaniye Mosque, created by the great Ottoman architect Sinan, whom Frank Lloyd Wright called “the supreme master builder of all time.” Afterward, explore the dazzling Grand Bazaar, a monument to the “Rise of Istanbul.” Wander, shop and bargain among its 3,500 shops. Explore the Spice Bazaar as well as the Rustem Pasha Mosque, also built by Sinan, to marvel at its breathtaking tile decorations.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.
Enhance Your Journey
Elevate your experience with a host of options available for an additional cost.
Alternate hotels and room upgrades are available for this journey.
Turquoise Coast Extension
Add two days in Turkey’s Turquoise coast, cruising the Dalyan River, exploring the ruins of once-mighty Caunos and encountering the nesting sea turtles of Iztuzu Beach. Spend the second day of your extension exploring the ruins of the Lycian Peninsula or cruising the Turquoise Coast aboard your own private gulet (traditional Turkish boat).
Craft Traditional Turkish Art
Try your hand at the traditional Turkish art of marbling, pottery, calligraphy or painting with expert instruction from a local artisan.
Cook Like a Local
Join your instructor for a Chef’s Table demonstration of traditional Turkish recipes. Then, savor the delicious regional dishes you’ve prepared with your chef.