Since his first visit in 1985, Iconic Journeys Worldwide (IJW) founder, Jerry Sorkin, has visited Turkey over thirty times, including having led tours throughout the country. IJW has a wonderful cadre of well-educated/well-traveled guides who know the history and culture and have the ability to share their knowledge with the context of having traveled widely…thus providing a wonderful insight into this ancient and diverse. From exotic and exciting Istanbul to the vast regions of Cappadocia in central Anatolia, to the Roman ruins of the Mediterranean coast and much more, you will find this small group travel experience provides wonderful diversity, with nice hotels and excellent Turkish cuisine.
Jerry Sorkin will be joining portions of this tour to share his longtime passion for this country. Jerry is also an expert on the history of Oriental rugs and their iconography.
Day 1, Thursday, September 3 Istanbul
Upon arrival at the Istanbul Airport, you will be met by our Turkish tour guide who will be with you throughout the entire trip. He/she will transfer you to your hotel for check-in.
Istanbul is one of the very few existing cities of the world that contributed to any existing cultures and peoples for thousands of years. Bringing together elements from Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Turkish civilizations, a visit to Istanbul is like walking through a time tunnel where history and tradition live alongside in perfect harmony.
Today will be independent, providing you an opportunity to rest up from your flights or stroll the interesting and very safe neighborhood of your hotel. You will rendezvous this evening for your welcome dinner where you will meet your fellow traveling companions. Your welcome dinner will be at a traditional Turkish tavern that will be a great introduction to Turkish culture and cuisine. Overnight in Istanbul. (D)
Day 2, Friday, September 4 Istanbul – Hippodrome – Blue Mosque – Topkapi Palace – Hagia Sphia
Begin your day with a visit to the Hippodrome, in the heart of Istanbul’s historic district. The Hippodrome was once the social center of Constantinople (the Byzantine name of the city). Built by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD, only fragments are left of what was once a grand stadium that held 100,000 spectators for public meetings and important events, including chariot races, coronations, political discussions, and executions. Continue your touring with the nearby Blue Mosque, one of the most important temples of worship in the world. It is named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district.
Lunch will be at the restaurant located on the terrace of the Topkapi Palace, which offers a beautiful view of the Marmara Sea and the Asian Side.
This afternoon, visit the extraordinary Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans, also referred to as the Topkapi Palace. Here you will be able to step back into time as you explore 500 years of Ottoman history. The Topkapi Palace complex is regarded as a multi-ethnic construction with influences from Central Asia, Asia Minor, Persia, and Mesopotamia.
We complete the day visiting the enormous mass of Hagia Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Justinian and inaugurated in 537 AD. For over nine centuries it was the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church and remains the world’s fourth-largest church. It contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived the Byzantine period, including a haunting Virgin and Child in the Eastern apse.
The rest of the day, as well as dinner, will be at your leisure. Dining suggestions will be provided. In a city with an abundance of great restaurants of all different price ranges, Iconic Journeys Worldwide will provide you ample suggestions. Overnight in Istanbul. (B, L)
Day 3, Saturday, September 5 Istanbul – Cistern Basilica – Grand Bazaar
Enjoy another full-day tour including a visit to the famous Old Spice Market where you can find a vast diversity of spices, sacks of henna, many varieties of oils and herbs, and of course the world’s very best Turkish delight during a cruise up the Bosphorus. Your leisurely exploration of this historic waterway between Europe and Asia is delightfully relaxing. Continue with Cistern Basilica, the hidden Byzantine beauty of Istanbul just across the St. Sophia; the 4th-century Basilica and a small cistern that were transformed into a huge cistern in the 6th century. Meanwhile, the level of the ground had changed dramatically because of the destruction in the area. It is a great atmospheric place with 360 columns, which is why it is also called the Subterranean Palace. Water shortage problems in the town directed Romans to have many open-air and covered cisterns. This one is the largest roofed cistern in the town.
We will complete today’s tour at the Grand Bazaar. The Bazaar’s first phase of construction began in 1455 under Mehmet the Conqueror, but it was added to many times over the centuries. The end result is an enormous labyrinth of covered streets lined with thousands of shops selling hand-woven carpets and kilims, gold and silver jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, leather goods, fine antiques, and illuminated manuscripts.
Lunch suggestions to be provided, giving time to explore and have lunch prior to regrouping with your companions.
Dinner tonight is at a small and stylish Istanbul restaurant near the hotel that specializes exclusively in cuisine from the Turkish city of Antakya in the Hatay Province. The Hatay region borders Syria and is known for its multi-ethnic population and is famed for its spicy foods and grilled meats, but also for some unusual mezes that are rich in spices and layers of flavor, reflecting the culinary influence of the many ethnicities who call this area home. Overnight in Istanbul. (B, D)
Day 4, September 6 Istanbul Fly To Cappadocia
This morning, meet with your guide at the hotel reception for airport pick-up service taking you to the domestic airport terminal for your flight to Cappadocia. Upon arrival, we drive to the land of wonders that is Cappadocia. Cappadocia has an interesting and remarkable topography and a dream-like landscape, complete with beautiful villages and houses carved from soft volcanic ash, underground cities and frescoed churches. The so-called fairy chimneys and troglodyte dwellings will take you to another world and will guarantee an unforgettable impression.
Our touring starts with the amazing underground city of Kaymakli. Signs of an early troglodyte lifestyle are evident in the communal kitchens blackened by smoke, stables and storage spaces are carved into the rocks. The maze of living quarters hundreds of feet below ground is startling proof that tens of thousands of people existed deep within the earth.
Lunch will take place at a local restaurant in the village in an ancient Greek town with spectacular old Greek houses – fine examples of late Greek settlements and architecture can be seen here. You will be served regional local dishes.
Later, you will see the Pigeon Valley, where for centuries the locals used to keep pigeons in niches carved in the rock for their valuable fertilizing manure.
Our last stop is Uchisar, an extraordinary rock formation towering above the landscape and is visible for miles around. This rock, riddled with windows and tunnels, was once used as a fortification and offers a magnificent panoramic view of Cappadocia and Mt. Erciyes in the distance.
Check in to your unique cave hotel in Cappadocia; a popular area famous with its cone-shaped geological formations. Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L)
Day 5 – Cappadocia
Optional Early Morning Balloon Program
For those who wish, we will arrange an early transfer from the hotel to the take-off field a hot-air balloon has been prepared. Following the safety briefing from the pilot, the balloon takes off and we expect to be airborne approximately 15 minutes before sunrise. 45 minutes of flying includes a low-level flight, following the landscape contours of Cappadocia, and flying high enough to enjoy the topography from above. Soft drinks and cake await you at the landing. Drive back to the hotel for breakfast.
Our full day of sightseeing will start with admiring the rock formations in Dervent Valley. Next, we visit the Zelve Valley, the oldest example of Cappadocian architecture where elaborate shelters are carved into the rock by the earliest monastic settlers. Nearby Pasabag, also known as Monk’s Valley, has amazing examples of hermitages hollowed out of volcanic rock formations.
We will visit the village of Avanos which is situated on the banks of the river Kizil Irmak, the largest river in Turkey. The city is known mainly for handmade confections of tapestry and red clay pottery, extracted from the banks of Kizil Irmak. We will stop for lunch and then visit a ceramics cooperative, where you can learn about the entire production process of the famous Turkish ceramics.
Following lunch, we head to visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum, where icons and other figurative representations were prohibited. The 11th century represents the “golden age” of religious art in Goreme. You will then visit the Goreme Valley, which has been occupied since the dawn of history and is known as the valley of the churches. The wonderful and primitive 11th and 12th-century frescoes cover the walls of these magnificent churches, which date back to the 6th century. Among the 356 of churches, the most important ones are Yilanli Kilise, The Elmali Kilise, and The Tokali Kilise.
Before going back to the hotel, there may be an optional stop to see an art and handicraft center of Cappadocia and see craftspeople possibly including a traditional rug workshop.
Optional tour for the evening: You will get a chance to see a ceremony performed by the Whirling Dervishes. This order was founded by a Sufi mystic who believed that music and dance can induce an ecstatic state liberating one’s soul from the stress and suffering of daily life. The ceremony consists of five parts including prayers, greetings, and musical improvisations. Its culmination is the whirling, which symbolizes the spiritual accent to divine harmony.
Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L)
Day 6, Tuesday, September 8 Sultanhan Andkonya (Rumi)
I n the morning, depart for Konya, which is an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims.
On our way, stop at the 13th century Sultanhani Caravanserai, a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information and people across a network of trade routes of Asia, North Africa and South-Eastern Europe on the legendary Silk Road and the Spice road. In Konya center, visit to Mevlana Sufi temple. Mevlana is the founder of Sufism and whirling Dervishes.
Lunch today is at a local restaurant, then head back to your hotel.
Dinner will be at the hotel and the rest of your evening will be at your leisure.
Overnight in Konya. (B, L, D)
Day 7, September 9, Konya – Aspendos – Antalya (The Turquoise Riviera)
This morning we will head for Antalya, the principal holiday resort of Mediterranean, a majestic coastline of beaches and rocky coves. On the way to Aspendos, we will visit one of the best-preserved amphitheaters in the world.
Lunch is at a local restaurant near the Aspendos theater. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure.
Dinner this evening will be at a local restaurant in Kaleici. Overnight in Antalya. (B, L, D)
Day 8, Thursday, September 10 Antalya/City Museum/Perge/Antalya
Today we will explore the archaeological museum of Antalya followed by the visit of the ancient city of Perge; originally settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. We will visit the impressive colonnaded street, baths, nymphaeum, agora, and the fountain of the River God, where waters once poured down the center of the city. Recommendations for your independent dining will be provided, as there are many options in Antalya. Overnight in Antalya. (B)
Day 9, Friday, September 11 Antalya – Travertines – Hierapolis – Pamukkale
This morning we head to Pamukkale to discover the Travertine terraces and Hierapolis, an ancient city located on hot springs in classical Phrygia in southwestern Anatolia.
Lunch will be along the way, between Antalya and Pamukkale.
The travertine terraces at Pamukkale are one of the most spectacular natural wonders we ever have seen from various mineral springs in a vast white cliff side, about 200 m overlooking the plain, calcite-laden waters have dripped down over a series of terraced levels and created a fairyland of bizarre solidified cascades and shell-shaped basins. It looks like creations from snow or like balls from cotton. In the ancient city of Hierapolis we will se the Necropolis, Bath and Basilica, Frontinius Gate, Frontinius Street, Latrina, Northern Byzantine Gate, Fountain of the Tritons and the Temple of Apollon and finally the well-preserved Theatre.
Overnight in Pamukkale. (B, L, D)
Day 10, Saturdayn September 12 Pammukkale – Aphrodisias – Kusadasi
On our way to Kusadasi we will visit Aphrodisias: which was primarily known as a center for the arts, specifically sculpture. The Aphrodisias School of Sculpture had a distinctive style and was very well circulated throughout the Greek and Roman world.
Lunch will be at a local pide house along the way in Karacasu, Sirin Pide House.
Pide is a flat bread baked with toppings in a stone oven. Pide and its various varieties are wide spread through Turkey and are established as an important food. The base is a flat-bread of a similar style to pita, chapati, or western pizza crust. Toppings vary widely and include but are not limited to: cheese, onions, peppers, tomatoes, sausage, pastrami, eggs, mushrooms, ground beef, and parsley. Their specialty tahini with pistachio pide.
Overnight in Kusadasi. (B, L)
Day 11, Sunday, September 13 – Kusadasi – Ephesus – Kusadasi
Today we will explore the ancient city of Ephesus – UNESCO World Heritage site. Its renowned ruins are among the most extensive in the world. In its heyday, Ephesus rivaled Rome in its splendor.
Visit the Gymnasium, Odeon, Prytaneion, Nymphaion, Domitian Temple, Thermal Baths, Octagon House, Celsus Library, Agora, Serapeum, Arcade, and Double Church. The Temple of Artemis is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Explore The Terrace houses situated on the slopes of Mt. Coressus. The houses, occupied from the 1st to 7th centuries AD, offer a fascinating look at family life during the Roman period. The houses were abandoned after Arab raids during the 7th century and slowly fell into decay. They were preserved over time by soil from landslides.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant that lays in the garden, surrounded with olive, cherry and orange trees.
Also enjoy the Archaeological Museum in Selcuk, this recently renovated museum of Ephesus contains artifacts from the ancient city, including scales, jewelry and cosmetic boxes as well as coins, funerary goods and ancient statuary.
Overnight in Kusadasi. (B, L, D)
Day 12, Monday, September 14 Kusadasi/Izmir + Flight to Istanbul For Departure
In the morning drive one hour and a half to Izmir International Airport and take a short flight to Istanbul to connect with outgoing flight back home.
End of our services.
Istanbul: Radisson Blu Pera Hotel ★★★★
http://www.pointhotel.com/point-hotel-taksim-home-page.aspx Cappadocia: Kapadokya Lodge ★★★★★
Konya: Hilton Garden Inn Konya
https://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/turkey/hilton-garden-inn-konya-turkey-KYAGIGI/index.html Antalya: Best Western Plus Khan Hotel★★★★
http://www.khanhotel.com/ Pamukkale: Richmond Pamukkale Thermal ★★★★★
https://www.richmondint.com.tr/en/richmond-pamukkale-thermal-hotel-denizli/ Kusadasi: La vista Hotel Boutique hotel
$3,595 per person! No Single Supplement!
Meals indicated by B, L, D
Hotels listed in the itinerary
English speaking guide and private vehicle and driver
Gratuities to guide and driver
Alcoholic drinks not included during group meals
**While Iconic Journeys Worldwide does not specifically handle Visa applications directly, we are providing the link below for the Turkey E-visa.