Arrive in Istanbul, Turkey’s
cultural, economic and historical heart.
After breakfast, travel beneath the city to the Basilica Cistern or
“Sunken Palace.” Next, see the brilliant mosaics of the Hagia Sophia,
which dates back to the year 537. Continue to the 400-year-old Topkapi
Palace. This sprawling complex contains holy Muslim relics such as Mohammed’s
cloak and sword and is considered one of the best examples of palaces from the
Ottoman period. Have lunch in the Pera District, a bustling area brimming
with restaurants, shops and historical sites. In the afternoon, a private guide
will take you on a cruise down the Bosphorus, a stunning strait that forms the
boundary between Europe and Asia.
Visit the Walls of Constantinople, which protected the city from attacks
waged from both the land and sea. Inside the walls you will find the Chora
Museum, comprised of brilliant mosaics and frescoes dating back to the 14th century.
See the work of Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect who designed an
estimated 360 structures. Begin at the Suleymaniye Mosque, a spectacular domed
structure and the largest mosque in the city. Continue to the Rustem Pasha Mosque,
famous for its magnificent floral and geometric designs crafted from Iznik tiles.
Finally, bask in the exotic scents of the Spice Bazaar before ending your day at
the sprawling Grand Bazaar. One of the largest covered markets in the world, the
Grand Bazaar takes up 60 streets and contains 5,000 shops selling everything from
leather goods and gold jewelry to inlaid weapons.
Take a short flight to Cappadocia, known for its “fairy chimneys” (formations
created from volcanic eruptions), caves and labyrinths – many of which have
been turned into historic mansions and cave houses. Begin your journey at the
Göreme Open Air Museum, where you will see numerous churches carved from rock.
Take a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia and see the breathtaking landscape
from above. Later, wander through the Kaymakli Underground City, which contains
a labyrinth of churches, living spaces, kitchens, tunnels, wine and oil presses
and more. After, travel to the city of Avanos, known for its pottery crafted
using traditional techniques with clay from the Red River.
Board a relaxing flight to Izmir, an ancient city located on the coast of the
Mediterranean Sea. Wander through the Agora and see the stone ruins of an ancient
market constructed by Alexander the Great. Then, explore the Kemeralti Market,
where you can find jewelry, carpets, clothing, kitchen utensils, Turkish coffee
and other goods. After, enjoy a meal at one of the many excellent restaurants
while looking out over the glistening Mediterranean Sea.
See the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean
as you explore the ancient city of Ephesus. Surrounded by soaring mountains,
this architectural wonder is characterized by intricately carved statues,
massive arches, towering columns and a breathtakingly grand theater hewn from rock.
Stop by the village of Camlik and see how weavers use animal wool dyed with natural
root and plant coverings to create beautiful carpets.
Euromos and Bodrum
Begin your day at the fortified city of Euromos, where you can wander through a
hillside peppered with olive trees and ancient ruins. Next, visit the Bodrum Museum
of Underwater Archaeology. Housed in a castle overlooking the sea, this museum takes
visitors into the worlds of ancient mariners and contains relics salvaged from shipwrecks.
Board a flight home at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport.