Day 1: Istanbul
Arrive at the airport, & transfer to the hotel. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure.
Day 2: Istanbul
After breakfast, we’ll visit Topkapi Palace, home to Ottoman sultans for four centuries. See the "old city," where we will visit the Hippodrome. The Hippodrome once seated 100,000 spectators who watched the chariot races & gladiator fights performed in this monumental coliseum. Visit the Blue Mosque, the largest mosque in Istanbul, named for the hand-painted Iznik tiles that cover its walls & ceiling. Visit St. Sophia. This former church, mosque, & now museum is the finest example of Byzantine architecture in the world. Your last stop for the day will be the Grand Bazaar. The largest in the world, it features over 4,000 shops. Enjoy dinner with belly dancing entertainment (optional).
Day 3: Istanbul – Gallipoli – Canakkale
Morning departure for Gallipoli to visit Anzac Cove (famous as the site of World War I landing of the ANZAC - Australian & New Zealand Army Corps), Lone Pine Australian Memorial & Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial & Kabatepe War Museum. Then, cross the Dardanelles Strait to Canakkale for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 4: Canakkale – Troy – Pergamum – Kusadasi
Today we visit Troy, with its famous wooden horse. Then, tour the ancient Asclepion Medical Center in Pergamum. Founded in the 4th c. BC, it became world famous during the Roman period. Continue on to Kusadasi for dinner & an overnight stay.
Day 5: Kusadasi – Ephesus – Kusadasi
Today we'll depart for one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. The city of Ephesus was the second largest Roman city in the 2nd century. Its Temple of Artemis is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The east Gymnasium, the state Agora, the remains of the Temple of Isis (Goddess of Egypt), the Heracletes Gate, & Curates Street (named for the college of the virgin priests guarding Holy Fire of Vesta) are all located here. You will also see the Scholastic Baths, the Brothel, the well-preserved two-story Celsius Library, the Marble Road, & a great theater that still hosts concerts & festivals. From here, we’ll drive on to St. Mary’s cottage, the house where Jesus’ mother spent the end of her days. Later, visit a regional rug production center. Enjoy dinner & an overnight stay in Kusadasi.
Day 6: Kusadasi – Pamukkale
Drive through fertile valleys to Pamukkale (home to one of the natural wonders of the world formed by deposits of calcareous salts). Also, visit the ancient ruins of the City of Hierapolis with its basilica, theater & Roman Baths. Later, enjoy the thermal pools at the hotel.
Day 7: Pamukkale – Perge – Antalya
Take a morning drive to Antalya. Situated on the Turquoise Rivera, Antalya is one of the most beautiful cities on the Mediterranean Sea. We’ll pay a visit to the ancient city of Perge, a Hellenistic settlement which later developed into a thriving Roman city. Spend your afternoon relaxing on the Mediterranean coast.
Day 8: Antalya
Spend the day at your leisure. You may choose to take a day tour to Phaselis, a coastal ancient city, or enjoy a lazy yacht cruise along the turquoise coast of the Mediterranean.
Day 9: Antalya – Konya
After breakfast, depart for Konya. En route, visit the famous theater of Aspendos. Visit the Mevlana Mausoleum, the burial place of the founder of the Whirling Dervishes. You’ll also admire the colorful Turkish tiles while visiting the Karatay Koran School. Enjoy dinner & an overnight stay in Konya.
Day 10: Konya – Cappadocia
Travel to Cappadocia. On the way, you’ll visit the 13th-century Agzikarahan Caravansary - the land of “Fairy Chimneys,” hewn from the soft rock by the elements. You’ll also make a stop at the famous underground city of Sarhatli. Enjoy a Whirling Dervishes performance tonight (optional).
Day 11: Cappadocia
Enjoy an early morning balloon tour (optional). You’ll float over volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys, & caves, enjoying the sunrise of Cappadocia. After breakfast, visit Goreme, where we’ll see the amazing rock chapels hollowed out by early Christians. Then, on to Avanos, a center of terra cotta works of art since 3,000 BC. Visit Pasabagi, with its unique mushroom-shaped fairy chimneys, which support twin & triple rock caps. We’ll also head to Red Valley, & have a brief regional pottery workshop in a cave.
Day 12: Cappadocia – Ankara
Leave for Ankara through the salt lake area this morning. Enjoy an afternoon tour of the Ataturk Mausoleum & the Anatolian Civilization Museum.
Day 13: Ankara – Istanbul
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Istanbul. This afternoon, enjoy an optional half-day Bosporus cruise, which includes last-minute shopping in the Spice market. Tonight, we’ll have a farewell dinner.
Day 14: Istanbul – USA
Transfer to the airport, & board return flight home.