Starting in Istanbul, we explore the incredible architectural wonders of this vibrant city before journeying on to Cappadocia; one of the world’s truly awesome landscapes. A myriad of deep, volcanic valleys, bizarre rock formations and fretted ravines have been sculptured over eons by wind and water. This surreal, otherworldly terrain is best explored on foot. Walk through the valleys and discover the distinctive, banded colours, ‘fairy chimneys’ and rock cones unique to each. A land that has been inhabited by man for thousands of years, explore intricate cave dwellings, rock-cut churches, monasteries and elaborate underground cities. From Cappadocia, head to the religious town of Konya, the white terraces of Pamukkale and the fabled Greco-Roman ruins of Ephesus, before continuing north and paying homage at the battlefields of Gallipoli.
- Enjoy 3-nights at our 'feature stay' hotel in Goreme; one of the earliest boutique hotels in the region. Watch the sunset from the charming rooftop terrace and take in the extraordinary landscape
- Enjoy your first bite of Ayvalik Tost while looking over the bay in the Aegean Coast of Turkey and its myriad of fishing boats
- Spend some time reflecting on battles fought and lives lost in Gallipoli. This peaceful place has seen many atrocities due to its significant role in WW1
- Step back in time at Ephesus, where the Greco-Roman world still feels very much alive. This is one of the best preserved classical cities in all of Europe and yet to be completely excavated
- Visit the iconic 17th century Blue Mosque, with its unusual number of six minarets and striking collection of Iznik tiles
- Walk in the heated thermal waters of Pamukkale. These cotton-coloured calcium pools cascade down the cliffs overlooking the town of Pamukkale and are said to have remarkable healing powers
- With an included flight from Istanbul to Goreme you'll be able to quickly get to the heart of Cappadocia
Please note: while prices are accurate at time of loading they are subject to change due to currency fluctuations and currency surcharges may apply. Please check price at time of booking
- Start Date
- End Date
- Start Date:3 May 17
- End Date:14 May 17
- Availability:7+ Available
- Start Date:10 May 17
- End Date:21 May 17
- Availability:7+ Available
- Start Date:24 May 17
- End Date:4 Jun 17
- Availability:7+ Available
- Start Date:7 Jun 17
- End Date:18 Jun 17
- Availability:7+ Available
- Start Date:6 Sep 17
- End Date:17 Sep 17
- Availability:7+ Available
- Start Date:27 Sep 17
- End Date:8 Oct 17
- Availability:7+ Available
Day - 1
Location: Istanbul - Welcome to Istanbul, Turkey! If you arrive at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport (IST), you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If you arrive at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer). Today is an arrival day and you are free to arrive at the joining point hotel at any time before 6pm. This evening, meet your leader and fellow travel companions at a welcome meeting at 6pm (details will be posted on the hotel noticeboard). Until then, head out and get your first taste of this metropolis that so many civilisations have called home. Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that it is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. In the streets and laneways, discover the cosmopolitan modern world that thrives between the Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
Day - 2
Location: Cappadocia - Meet your local guide early this morning to journey in the footsteps of the city’s most famous ruler and conquer Istanbul in just a day. Head to Sultanahmet (the Old City, formerly Constantinople), where ancient empires based themselves and historical sites intertwine with back streets filled with hidden gems. Gaze upon the beauty of the cascading domes of the Blue Mosque, so called for the blue tiles found on its interior walls, and maybe gain a deeper insight into Islam from your guide. When not erecting splendid buildings the Byzantine Emperors loved a bit of entertainment, and the hippodrome was their stadium. Inspect some of the decorative statues and obelisks that remain from a time when this now tree-lined land would hold thousands of chariot racing fans. In the afternoon, drive to the airport for your flight to Cappadocia (approximately 75 minutes). In the heart of Cappadocia, the town of Goreme lies in a fantastic region of cones, needles and columns, fashioned by nature from the soft volcanic tuff rock. Your hotel in Goreme is one of the first boutique hotels in Goreme, with spectacular views of the popular valleys in Cappadocia.
Day - 3
Location: Cappadocia - This region is honeycombed with caves scooped out to make churches and dwellings that are known as fairy chimneys and castles. In times of peace, the people of the area lived on the land, but in times of war or persecution, they took to living underground. The first included activity for the day is a visit to the World Heritage-listed Goreme Open Air Museum. It’s a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings, and one of the earliest centres for religious education. There are at least 10 churches and chapels in the museum area, dating between AD900 and 1200, each one named after a prominent attribute by the local villagers, who were exploring these caves long before there was an entrance fee. See stunning examples of Byzantine art in the Christian sanctuary and colourful frescoes from 1,000 years ago. In the afternoon, go to a carpet workshop to see how this beautiful handicraft is made, and learn about its connection to the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. Later, take a short walk through 'Love Valley', a strange landscape of phallic rock formations (don’t forget to pack sturdy, well worn-in walking shoes or boots and a comfortable daypack for this trip). Afterwards, head back to your hotel, where it will not take much to convince you to take an optional Turkish bath to unwind after a long day. Notes: Without a doubt, one of the most amazing memories of this journey is a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape to see this otherworldly scene at sunrise. Those who are interested in this optional extra will have a truly awe-inspiring experience. The cost of this activity varies depending on what type of flight you choose. This activity can only be booked locally. Please speak to your trip leader on Day 1 to organise this.
Day - 4
Location: Cappadocia - Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and then go for a walk to the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur (Red Valley). Here small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating cave chapels that date back to the early Christian period. In the afternoon you will drive to the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys hewn from the earth and shaped by centuries of erosion lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. You'll see a chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit's shelter built into a three-headed fairy chimney. You will walk today for a total of about three hours, and the path may be slippery, so make sure you bring appropriate walking shoes. Later, discover the local handicraft of pottery before returning to Goreme for the night. Tonight you may have the opportunity to attend a folk dance performance or witness an original Whirling Dervish performance.
Day - 5
Location: Konya - Relax over breakfast before regrouping and leaving the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia behind, driving to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu (approximately 45 minutes). Some of the dwellings here contain rooms expanding seven levels underground. You will then continue to Asikli Hoyuk, where an ancient Neolithic settlement has revealed fascinating details of the lives of the people who lived in this area 11,000 years ago. Continue on to Konya (approximately 2.5 hours), your stop for the night. This ancient city was important in Roman times, and was the capital of the Seljuk Empire between the 12th and 13th centuries. Konya is the perfect opportunity to sample a traditional Turkish city where mainstream tourism is yet to arrive. The city is closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi (or Mevlana), considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Tonight perhaps enjoy a refreshing tea in one of the many tea gardens, and try some central Anatolian cuisine. Notes: Konya is a very religious town, so to be respectful remember to dress conservatively.
Day - 6
Location: Pamukkale - A five and a half hours drive through mountainous landscapes (approximately 3.5 hours) brings you to one of Turkey's most photographed sites, Pamukkale, which literally translates to “cotton castle”. Here spectacular natural hot springs with high calcium bicarbonate content cascade over the edge of the cliffs, leaving bright white deposit terraces (the ‘cotton’). It's been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC. Though you won't be able to bathe in these travertines, you can take a walk through them (after removing your shoes), and these pools are said to fix up any circulation and digestion problems. Take some time to visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Celopatras’s old pool – the transparent water-filled pool, sculpted as a gift from Marc to Cleo, is stunning. You can also check out the other ruins of the city – Hierapolis is known for its abundance of temples and religious structures, vast necropolis and strange tombs, and the amphitheatre shouldn’t be missed. Spend the night in a hotel in Pamukkale.
Day - 7
Location: Selçuk - Get up early for a 2.5 hour drive to the traditional farming village of Selcuk. This will be your base for exploring the nearby ruins of Ephesus, the former capital of the East Roman Empire and the best-preserved ancient city in Turkey. Take an orientation walk of this a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill and the Isa Bey Mosque. Those who wish can take an optional visit to the last home of the Virgin Mary, who legend says came here accompanied by St John, and lived out her days in this beautiful spot.
Day - 8
Location: Selçuk - This morning take a guided tour of Ephesus. The city has a fascinating history that really comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. Considering their age, the ruins are in incredible shape, and it’s not difficult to imagine them in their full glory 2,000 years ago. You will be awed by the sophistication of this ancient city, which had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away. Also not to be missed are the tomb of the Seven Sleepers, Marble Street, and the Church of the Virgin Mary. Return to Selcuk, a culturally rich town that retains many Turkish traditions. Its relatively undisturbed nature means this is an opportunity to experience the ‘real’ Turkey. The afternoon is yours to relax and keep exploring this quaint town
Day - 9
Location: Ayvalik - Drive approximately 3 hours to the seaside town of Ayvali. Take a guided orientation walk and discover a town that’s a fascinating mix of Greek and Turkish cultures (in fact the island actually swapped all its Greek residents for Turks in 1923). Discover the cobblestone backstreets, beautiful houses and lively cafes. Lunch is included for you today and includes some of the region's delights. Fishing boats line the shore, and the local produce fresh from the sea is in abundance, so your tasting trail takes advantage of some of these delicious fruits of the Aegean. This includes Miyde Dolma or stuffed mussels – these plump orange morsels are stuffed with a herb and currant rice and are just an explosion of flavour. You can wash it all down with a local beer or a salty Ayran (yoghurt drink).
Day - 10
Location: Canakkale - Early this morning after breakfast, you will begin the drive to Çanakkale (approximately 5 hours), located on the shores of the Dardanelles, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and touches both Europe (with the Gelibolu Peninsula) and Asia (with the Biga Peninsula). On the way, you will visit the ruins of Troy, the heritage-listed site of the mythic Trojan War made famous by Homer's the ‘Iliad’. The city was long thought to exist in legend only after all traces of the city appeared to have vanished. The city was gradually overshadowed by eponymous neighbouring cities like Alexander the Great’s Alexandria Troas and Constantine’s Constantinople, and then disappeared under centuries of dust. However, working from a tip off, ruins of the city were uncovered in the 1870s by amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Despite his shoddy excavating work, Schliemann did mange to uncover nine different layers of settlement, dating back over 4,500 years. Now you will explore the ruins of the Troy, including a city thought to have been destroyed by an earthquake around 1275BC, and a city rebuild during the powerful days of the Roman Empire. See the Trojan Horse monument, learn about Homer’s tale of the city and its war, and decide for yourself how much of it was true. Arriving in Çanakkale, you will have the remainder of the day free to wander around this vibrant waterfront town that has a great range of dinner and nightlife options, not to mention medieval ruins to explore.
Day - 11
Location: Istanbul - Cross the Dardanelles and return to 'Europe' today, visiting the Gallipoli Peninsula, a place of immense significance for Australians and New Zealanders, and a spot of pilgrimage and reverence. Gallipoli was the site of the Anzac landings in 1915 and one of the Allies' great disasters in the First World War. Gallipoli was the plan created by Winston Churchill to end the war early by creating a new front that the Central Powers could not cope with. You’ll see the battlefields of Nek and Lone Pine, and be amazed at how this now serene coastline once saw such brutal scenes of war. Look down upon the rough and barren hills and gullies that sadly became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men from both sides. Tour the former battlefields and encounter remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. Hear stories of the heroism and camaraderie that unfolded among the tragedies, and take the time to read moving inscriptions etched onto a sea of gravestones. Drive back to where your adventure began, Istanbul (approximately 4.5 hours). You'll arrive in the late afternoon or early evening and have the remainder of the evening free. Maybe gather together your travel companions and head for Istiklal Caddesi for an celebratory dinner, and take advantage of the late night entertainment as your Turkey adventure comes to an end.
Day - 12
Location: End Istanbul - Your trip comes to an end after breakfast. There are no other activities planned for the day and you can leave the accommodation at any time. For those who want to stay on in Istanbul to further explore the city, we are happy to help in booking accommodation (subject to availability).