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 | Turkish & Islamic Arts
Visit timeless Hagia Sophia, with its marvelous Byzantine architecture, and the sixth-century Basilica Cistern. Next, tour the newly renovated Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum in Sultanahmet Square to view its extensive collections of tiles, rugs and calligraphy. See the nearby Hippodrome as well, and view the City Walls, dating to the time of Constantine. Enjoy time at leisure for lunch, and then proceed to Chora Church (subject to renovations). 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, before embarking on a private cruise of the Bosphorus.
Istanbul/Bodrum | Byzantine Wonders
Briefly visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and then discover Topkapi Palace, the headquarters for the Turks who once ruled most of the Mediterranean. Enjoy time for lunch at your leisure. Then, fly to Bodrum and check in to your hotel, enjoying breathtaking views of the Aegean coastline.
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.
Euromos/Izmir | Temples of Zeus, Apollo and Athena
Journey to Euromos to explore the ruined yet magnificent Temple of Zeus. Continue to Didyma to discover the Temple of Apollo, dating to at least 300 BC. Then, proceed to Priene for a walking tour at the age-old Temple of Athena before continuing to Izmir, where you enjoy an evening at leisure.
Ephesus | Archaeological Grandeur
Explore the remains of the great Ionian city of Ephesus, where Saint Paul once lived and preached. 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.
Istanbul/Kayseri | Open-Air Museum
Fly to Kayseri, to explore its volcanic stone “fairy chimneys” — curved slopes and pointy spires sculpted by wind and rain. View frescoes at the rock-carved churches of Göreme, and visit the stunningly restored Dark Church at this enchanting open-air museum.
Cappadocia | Incredible Underground City
This morning, enjoy an optional hot-air balloon excursion over Cappadocia. Then, visit the Göreme Weavers Association on an engaging Artisan Visit. In the afternoon, explore the fascinating underground city at Kaymakli, which dates to as early as the eighth century BC and includes chapels, kitchens, air vents and living quarters carved out of volcanic rock.
Istanbul | Tea with the Locals
Today, sit down to tea with a local family in their home before flying back to Istanbul later this morning, where you tour glamorous Dolmabahçe Palace.
Istanbul | Suleymaniye Mosque & the Grand Bazaar
Ride Like a Local on a public ferry, and then 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.