Turkey’s beauty spans the ages, taking you on a journey through Greek myths, Roman legends, mythical landscapes, and the juxtaposition of East and West. It is one of the world’s oldest romantic destinations. Marc Anthony and Cleopatra used to escape here, and 2,000 years later, the blend of mystery and beauty continues to captivate. Ancient relics mix with longstanding tradition, vibrant colors burst with intricate detail, and ingenious architecture reveals 4,000 years of influence. This handcrafted itinerary is an idyllic introduction to the region’s riches, each day offering a fresh angle onto a cultural and historic melting pot.
Turkey revels in its role as continental uniter, defying traditional fault lines as it blends the very best netteler of Europe and Asia. While iconic East and West captivation is an omnipresent undercurrent, Turkey has always exuded a distinct identity. Whether experiencing its ancient architectural riches, beguiling traditions, or mystifying landscapes, few countries offer such inimitability.
The minarets of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque almost mirror each other in the Istanbul skyline. The ancient city of Antalya takes you back in time with its classical Ionian architecture. The breathtaking boulders of Cappadocia are colorful and lunar-like. On this custom tailored tour through Turkey you will find the scenery spellbinding and that the exceptional culture emanates from the depths of the country’s history.
Trip at a glance
Istanbul is a city that has brought together the cultures and flavors of Europe and Asia for thousands of years. The mixture of culture continues. In conservative neighborhoods you can find men of Muslim faith sporting beards and wearing skullcaps. However, you can also find young men in designer jeans and converse walking down Independence Street. High-rise office buildings create a second skyline away from the rising minarets and looming domes of the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque in the historic district. You can feel the mixture of cultures that create the streets and the city’s energy.
Your private transfer meets you at the airport and escorts you to your luxurious accommodation in the heart of Istanbul. The ceramic tiles are lively and raucous as they tap against one another. The trolley car runs along the center of the Beyoglu district. The daily crowd is energetic. The buildings are European and are filled with restaurants and cafes that spill out onto the sidewalk. You find charming narrow alleys where old men play dominoes. The rich aroma of fresh Turkish coffee emanates from Mandabatsmaz, one of the most popular coffee houses in the city.
Overnight in Istanbul.
The morning brings the effervescent energy of the city back to life. The gentle melody of the call to prayer is captivating. You can hear Turkish coffee percolating; the scent is rich and chocolaty. After breakfast you are ready to see the iconic sites of Istanbul. Hagia Sophia is a former Byzantine church built in the 6th century. The central dome is both elegant and imposing. The main grounds stretch over 230 feet and the dome reaches a height of 102 feet tall.
Semi-domes create large archways at either end of the gallery and help support the weight of the main cupola. Light shimmers off of the marble surfaces. Roundels are decorated with Islamic calligraphy that date back to the 19th century. This is a site where religions converge. The cathedral became a mosque in the 15th century until it was transformed into a museum in the 1930s. You can find Byzantine mosaics in the upper floor of the South Gallery. You also have a commanding view of the nave. Continue to Topkapi Palace to see the opulence of Ottoman sultans.
The palace was the center of the empire’s power for over 620 years, beginning in the 15th century. You can see the walls looking over the Bosphorus. The treasury is filled with jewels and the pavilions are wonderfully lavish. The Imperial Council Chamber is found near the Second Court. The gold grill on the high wall funneled the conversation of council members to the Sultan which allowed him to eavesdrop. The adornments are endless, from crystal chandeliers to golden gilded walls. Each detail speaks to the style and culture of the historic empire.
Overnight in Istanbul.
The morning takes you to a cruise to the largest of the Princes’ Islands, where you will enjoy lunch and a sightseeing tour by horse-drawn carriage. Begin the day with a cruise on the Marmara Sea to the Princes’ Islands, once the pleasure islands of Byzantine Princes. The tour includes a visit to Buyukada, the largest of the three main islands and a popular summer resort with beautifully decorated old wooden houses, pine trees and wonderful panoramic views. Take a relaxing tour through the quiet narrow streets of the island by horse-drawn carriage before stopping for lunch at a seafood restaurant. After lunch there will be time for you to relax or explore at your leisure.
Inclusion : Transfer to the pier, cruise to Buyukada, four course lunch and a tour of the island by horse-drawn carriage.
Overnight in Istanbul.
The culture of Istanbul is an image of the city’s history, from the mosques to the coffee, the spices to the palaces. Your private transfer escorts you from your hotel to the airport where you will arrive in Cappadocia in the afternoon. The landscape is breathtaking. The hills are honeycombed and boulders tower over the unearthly plain. The foothills roll and the mountains shift from orange to cream. The stone is soft and has been carved in order to create shelter for its inhabitants for thousands of years. The lunar panorama is unforgettable and unparalleled. The valley’s ridge arches like an accordion. Avanos is a town situated alongside the river and known for its pottery. The town center is decorated with a fountain of an enormous jug pouring water into a large cup. The elegant and uniquely produced pottery has become a matter of artistic integrity in the town.
Overnight in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia is renowned for its unique and coveted landscape. There is no better way to experience the sunrise than on a hot air balloon excursion. If you choose to indulge in the morning light and breathtaking, sweeping landscape, you will step into the sturdy wicker box and listen to the powerful flame fill the balloon. The vessel begins to rise. You find yourself in the sky, drifting with the subtle breeze. A number of balloons float by, taking on the impression of silhouettes of clouds in the deep orange sunrise. Peer down and see the expanse of Cappadocia. It looks like a field of rocks has sprouted from the plain. The thin pillars are topped with conical, pointed boulders. Goreme blends into the honey-colored mountainside.
The distant mountains are layered with colors of orange and cream. After you land you will venture underground to the village of Kaymakli. A network of tunnels connects cellars, stables, homes, and wineries through the troglodyte society. Kaymakli is the largest underground city in Cappadocia and was started in the time of the Hittites. The walls are smooth and cold. The tunnels are long and arched. Storage facilities on the fourth floor provided ample space for the storage of jars. A church is situated on the second floor with a nave and two apses. The more you explore the city the easier it is to imagine an entire civilization thriving within the earth.
While Goreme reveals the outward facing beauty of the region’s Christian history, the valleys are dotted with memories of persecution. Thirty-six underground cities can be found here, the most impressive being the multiple underground stories of Kaymakli. Narrow staircases take you down into darkened rooms that somehow maintain the naturally sculpted magic of the landscape. Like every day on this itinerary, your tour is private and an expert guide offers the poignant narrative. Tales of plight and flight mark this journey, stories from when this ingenious living was the only way to survive. Each day’s tour includes a number of stops with the pace dictated by you. Stop longer to explore the eerie under-hangs and tiny cave houses within the complex, or return above ground and look for the evidence. Even though you know it’s there, these underground cities are remarkably well hidden.
The tour weaves a route through the mushrooms and chimneys, many of them towering above the road in conglomerations of flamboyance. Visit Soganli Village, where more rock carved churches stand indelibly hidden and the remote community continues its fame for dolls. Take lunch in the village and explore the narrow streets, with the option to travel in the most traditional style: by donkey. Soganli reflects the ongoing traditions of Cappadocia and there will time to chat with villagers and even experience a local wedding ceremony if one is taking place.
Overnight in Cappadocia.
The sky is brushed with the gentle pink and elegant purple of sunrise. You watch the early morning balloons rise into the colorful sky. They decorate the sunrise with an extra colorful glow. The rocky peaks of town continue to twist into the air. The hillside collects the light until the day has begun. After breakfast you are transferred to the airport and arrive in the coastal city of Antalya. The water is sapphire and calm. Antalya is a resort destination in Turkey and gateway to its southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters. During the Roman era Antalya was a major port city; today a modern metropolis surrounds ancient fortifications. Beaches are flanked by large hotels, and popular outdoor activities include golfing, diving and hiking the 500km Lycian Way footpath.
Today is deliberately left free so you can explore Antalya at your own pace that holds hundreds of treasures. Dotted across the city you’ll find historic baths, places with 500 years of cleansing history. Men and women enter different sections and deep layers of dirt are scrubbed away in therapeutic sessions revealing spa therapy exactly how it was many centuries ago. Benches fill the wide public squares, places to rest and reenergize with a cup of sugary tea from the wandering chai traders. Or perhaps try some coffee, a thick cup of beans served in the indigenous way. Maybe you will try some Turkish delight, the sweet shops lining narrow roads and propelling whiffs of sugar that mingle with the spice emporiums nearby. With glorious architectural odes all around and the intermittent call to prayer reminding everyone of the time, Antalya deserves this extra free day in the itinerary.
Overnight in Antalya.
With this fantastic City Tour and Boat Trip, you will discover Antalya’s historical sites and its amazing scenery, as well as a chance to sail on Turkey’s turquoise-colored South Coast. We depart from the hotel and start with a visit to the beautiful Duden Waterfalls. After we continue to the city center and visit Hadrian’s Gate, the clock tower at Kalekapisi, Republic Square with its Ataturk statue and overlook amazing views of the Mediterranean coast and Olympos Mountains. Descending from the square, you’ll explore the narrow winding streets of historical Antalya (Kaleici), filled with graceful Ottoman-era houses and gardens. Lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch, we will embark on a boat at the Antalya Marina where you will experience the uniqueness of having a chance to travel by a romantic wooden yacht on the turquoise-colored South Coast, passing by the Duden Waterfalls and the Antalya cliff, the Taurus Mountains. This coast is probably the most charming of the Turkish Riviera, where you will have the chance to swim in the clear-blue waters.
Overnight in Antalya.
You can hear the morning tide brush against the shore. The sun rises and casts a golden glower over the sand. The water continues to glow a remarkable sapphire. You indulge in a Turkish coffee with breakfast and soon are transferred to the airport to return to Delhi. The city feels comfortable and familiar. The streets are filled with a delightful dizzying energy. Soon you will step aboard your flight and make the journey home.