"Wonders of Turkey": Istanbul / Cappadocia / Ephesus / Gulet sail along the Turquoise Coast (11 days/10 nights)

2016 scheduled departure dates (from Istanbul): September 14

2017 scheduled departure dates (from Istanbul): June 14 & September 13

Trip package rates start from $2,990 per person, in USD, based on double occupancy in  both hotels and on the private gulet yacht
Single supplement rate: $700
Maximum number of participants:14

Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk airport
You’ll arrive at Ataturk Airport and enjoy a comfortable transfer to your centrally-located hotel. Traveling along the old city fortifcation walls, you’ll learn a bit about this exciting city along the way. The remainder of the day is at leisure; why not stretch your legs with a walk around the neighborhood, then perhaps with dinner on your own at a rooftop restaurant. We can suggest several with great views over the Sea of Marmara! 

Day 2: Istanbul
The morning begins with an extensive tour of the historic part of the city, stopping at the Roman –era Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia Museum (Aya Sofya). Also, we will visit Sirkeci Train Station, famous as the final destination of the Orient Express, as well as the Spice Market (Misir Carsisi), one of Istanbul’s most mesmerizing bazaars. After some free time for lunch, enjoy a leisurely hour-long Bosphorus cruise along the shores of the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. Disembarking on the Asian side district of Uskudar, we’ll visit the produce and fish market, the Mimar Sinan-designed Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, and one of the city’s most famed sites, the Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi). Finally, we’ll enjoy some Turkish tea while on our 20-minute ferry ride, that takes us back to the European side. (B)

Day 3: Istanbul
This morning, we continue visiting the iconic sites of Istanbul, including Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi), former residence of the Ottoman sultans and the underground Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici) - both are marvelous testimonies to two empires, the Byzantine and the Ottoman. Then, try your hand at bargaining at the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi), one of the oldest (1461) and largest covered markets in the world, with over 4,000 shops. Later this afternoon, we will enjoy another walking tour, this time, from Galatasaray to Pera. Along the way, soak up the architectural elegance of the British Consulate, St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Consulates of the Netherlands, Russia and Sweden, as well as  the Galata Whirling Dervish Hall, the Tunel area, the Galata Tower and the Neve Shalom Synagogue. We end our walk at the Pera Palace Hotel and have a short drive back to the hotel. Those who wish to stay back and dine on their own may choose a local restaurant such as Kivahan or Guney (Turkish/Ottoman cuisine), Fureyya, (seafood) or Agatha Restaurant (inside the Pera Palace Hotel). (B)

Day 4: Istanbul / Cappadocia – Flight to Kayseri or Nevsehir
As we land in Cappadocia (“Land of Beautiful Horses”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll immediately begin to discover the wonders of this incredible region. What awaits us today are the breathtaking panoramas created over millions of years and the outstanding frescoes created by unsung artists, dating back over 1,000 years, preserved in more than 3,000 rock-cut churches. We will enjoy some of the best examples of these works at the Goreme Open Air Museum, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in a dream-like landscape is the Church of the Buckle, the Apple Church, and the Churches of St. Barbara and St. Basil, all of which will delight art lovers with vivid examples of early Christian-era art that date back to the 10th century AD. (B)

Day 5: Cappadocia
An optional early morning hot-air balloon ride is available for those wishing to try this unforgettable experience. After breakfast, we head out on another private tour  to one of the remarkable underground cities of Cappadocia (such as Ozkonak or Kaymakli), which housed amazingly-complex communities replete with houses, churches, storage areas, a communal kitchen, burial chambers and many more astounding features. Next, we visit the beautiful town of Uchisar -  its natural fortress was used both for housing and defense.  You will also see the iconic and otherworldly fairy chimneys at Pasabag, and the small town of Avanos, known for its local pottery made with clay from the Kizilirmak River. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a cozy family village home. (B, L) 

Day 6: : Cappadocia/Ephesus – Flight to Izmir 
We arrive in Izmir early this afternoon and begin our drive to the Ephesus area. We will visit the Basilica of St. John before continuing onto the beautiful seaside town of Kusadasi, where you will stay overnight. (B) 

Day 7: Kusadasi / Ephesus/old Greek village of Sirince
One of the most important cities of antiquity awaits us today: Ephesus is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-preserved ancient cities, with its ruins attracting thousands of visitors from across the globe every year. In Roman times, Ephesus was the provincial capital of Asia Minor with a population of some 250,000 at the height of its glory. The most significant ruin is the immense theater that holds 24,000 spectators and is still used today. We will walk along the Sacred Way and see an ingenious water and sewer system that was constructed beneath the marble pavement; see the Temple of Hadrian, a Corinthian-style structure featuring the head of Medusa as the talisman to keep away evil spirits; and the Library of Celsus, which once held 12,000 ancient scrolls stored in niches in its walls. We will also visit the newly-excavated Terrace Houses where Ephesus’ wealthiest residents lived.  We will also visit the the Museum of Archaeology in Selcuk. Our lunch today is in the quaint village of Sirince, located on a hilltop near Ephesus. We’ll have a chance to socialize with the locals and taste the simple but delicious cuisine of the Aegean region. Originally a Greek-Orthodox community, Sirince is a wonderful example of the two cultures co-existing together. Overnight is in Sirince. (B)

Day 8: Sirince - Dalyan River cruise – gulet yacht embarkation in Ekincik 
This morning, on the way to our yacht, we will pay a visit to Sultankoy, where we learn about local rug-making proceses which include silk extraction, dyeing and weaving. Then, we will break for a fresh and organic al fresco lunch using ingredients from Sultankoy’s own farm and orchards.  We then continue to Dalyan  and chug up the Dalyan River, gliding on a boat through a maze of bamboo and cattails while taking in stunning views of the ancient Lydian civilization’s rock tombs. Time permitting, we may  visit the nearby Dalyan Estuary, home to many species of birds, including kingfishers, herons, and egrets. The natural lagoon at Iztuzu Beach protects the endangered loggerhead sea turtles that lay their eggs here in mid-summer. After our river cruise, we will meet our traditional gulet yacht and enjoy a freshly-made gourmet dinner on the open deck. Overnight in a beautiful cove near Ekincik. (B, L, D)

Day 9: Tersane / Agalimani Cove/ Cleopatra's Cove 
After a leisurely breakfast onboard, we set sail towards Gocek and will drop anchor in Tersane and Agalimani Coves; you may choose to swim, snorkel, or just relax and sunbathe from your deck chair. Later, you’ll visit Cleopatra’s Sunken Baths in the Gocek Lagoon, which, according to tradition, is the spot where the fabled Egyptian queen and Mark Antony had their romantic rendezvous. Meet your gulet again here and, winds permitting, we’ll raise sails and cruise to another private cove for dinner and another peaceful overnight stay. (B,L,D) 

Day 10: Fethiye and Kayakoy 
Following breakfast, set sail for Fethiye and anchor at a secluded cove for lunch.  Later in the afternoon, we will arrive in the town of Fethiye, where you will have some free time to visit its marketplaces for souvenir shopping before our transfer to the Greek village of Kayakoy. A thriving town of 3,500 until 1923, when Ataturk instituted the exchange of Greek and Turkish populations, Kayakoy became a ghost town overnight, even more ruined over the years by subsequent earthquakes. Only a few Turkish families inhabit houses at the bottom of the town’s rolling hills; it’s an eerie and marvelous place. We will then transfer you back to the yacht and sail to another tranquil cove near Fethiye for your last night at sea. (B,L,D)

Day 11: Disembark at Fethiye Harbor and return to Istanbul
This morning, we’ll enjoy a short sail to the harbor of Fethiye where you’ll bid farewell to the gulet and the crew. We will provide a ground transfer to Dalaman Airport for your return flight to Istanbul, where you’ll connect to your international flight. (B)

Price of the package includes:

  • Accommodations: 
    3 nights in Istanbul:  Hotel Ottoman Imperial / Sura Ayasofya for 2016
    2 nights in Cappadocia: Hotel MDC Cave
    2 nights in Kusadasi / Ephesus: Hotel La Vista  
    3 nights aboard a traditional gulet yacht 
  • Domestic flights in coach class within the program (Istanbul to Cappadocia, then Cappadocia to Izmir (direct flight when available) and  Dalaman to Istanbul)
  • Meals as indicated by (B, L, D) - B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
    17 meals: 10 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners (including bottled water)
  • Private, licensed, professional English-speaking guide throughout trip
  • All transfers and travel in a non-smoking, modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a driver
  • All entrance fees to the sites and museums mentioned in the program
  • Parking, ferry, and toll road fees (not applicable if driving a rental car)
  • Gratuities at restaurants where a meal is included in the program
  • Porter fees at hotel(s) and airports

Price of the package excludes:

  • Beverages other than water during included meals
  • Optional gratuities to tour guide(s), driver(s) and gulet crew
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas, laundry, and personal items