Istiklal street in Istanbul Turkey near Taksim.
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, September 21 Thursday – Istanbul
Istanbul is a treasure chest of East and West and a unique destination, which served as the capital of empires, religions, culture and cuisine. Is 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. Return to your hotel to refresh yourself. Opening night dinner with the rest of the group. Overnight in Istanbul. (D)
Day 2, September 22 Friday – Istanbul – Hippodrome – Blue Mosque – Topkapi Palace – Hagia Sphia
This morning after having a wonderful Turkish breakfast, you will visit the Hippodrome, which 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 100,00 spectators for public meetings and important events, including chariot races, coronations, political discussions and execution. Later, you will continue your touring with a visit to the 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 interiors. 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, offering a beautiful view of the Marmara Sea and the Asian side of Istanbul. The menu is old Ottoman. Following lunch, you visit the extraordinary Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans, the Topkapi Palace Museum. Here you will be able to step back in time to explore 500 years of Ottoman history. The Topkapi palace complex will be regarded as a multi-ethnic construction with influence from Central Asia, Asia Minor, Persia and Mesopotamia. We complete the day visiting the enormous Haghia 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 4th largest church. It contains some of the finest mosaics to have survived from the Byzantine period, including a haunting Virgin and Child in the Eastern apse. Overnight in Istanbul. (B L)
Day 3, September 23 Saturday – Istanbul
After breakfast, enjoy another full day of touring including a visit to the famous Spice Market, also referred to as the Egyptian market, where you find an endless supply of spices, sacks of henna., many varieties of oils and herbs and of course the world’s best Turkish delight.
The nearby is the boat docks of the boats that go up and down the Bosphorus bringing people into the city for work and then returning to a myriad of stops on both sides of the Bosphorus. These local ferries are a wonderful way of seeing Istanbul as the view from the water is very different from a view on land. Your leisurely exploration of this historic waterway between Europe and Asia is very relaxing. Continue to the Cistern Basilica, a hidden Byzantine beauty of Istanbul just across the St Sophia. The 4th century Basilica and a small cistern were transformed into a huge cistern in the 6th century. Meanwhile, the level of the ground had changed dramatically because of the destructions in the area. It is a great atmospheric place with 360 columns. That is why it is called also the Subterranean Palace. Water shortage problems in the town directed the Romans to have many open air and covered cisterns. This one is the largest roofed cistern in Istanbul.
Your tour of old Istanbul takes you to 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. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. (B, D)
Day 4, September 24, Sunday – 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. View of Kaymakli Underground City
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 hotel in Cappadocia; a popular area famous with its cone-shaped geological formations. Overnight in Cappadocia. (B, L)
Day 5, September 25, Monday – 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 ceramic 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.
This 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, September 26, Tuesday – Sultanhan Andkonya (Rumi)
In the morning, depart for Konya, which is an important place of pilgrimage for Muslims. On our way, stop at the 13th century Sultanhan 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 the Mevlana Sufi temple. Mevlana is the founder of Sufism and whirling Dervishes.
A Day out and about in Konya.
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. Dinner and overnight in Konya. (B, L, D)
Day 7, September 27 Wednesday – Konya – Aspendos – Antalya
This morning we will head for Antalya, the principal holiday resort of the Turkish 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, September 28, Thursday – 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, Sep 29 Friday – 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 beautiful travertine terraces at 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 200m 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 see 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, September 30, Saturday – 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.
A typical Turkish dinner.
Pide is a flat bread baked with toppings in a stone oven. Pide and its various varieties are widespread 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, October 1, Sunday – 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. A special “Farewell Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi. (B, L, D)
Day 12, Oct 2, Monday – 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 flights back home.
Istanbul: Radisson Blu Pera Hotel or similar ★★★★
Cappadocia:Mustapha Lodge ★★★★★ or similar
Pamukkale: Colossae Thermal Hotel ★★★★★ or similar
$4,295 per person! No Single Supplement!
- Domestic air
- Meals indicated by B, L, D
- Hotels listed in the itinerary
- English speaking guide and private vehicle and driver
- International air
- Gratuities to guide and driver.
- Alcoholic drinks not included during group meals.
- Visa application
**While Iconic Journeys Worldwide does not specifically handle Visa applications directly, we are providing the link below for the Turkey E-visa.
Click below to register for the tour. You need to fill out the Traveler Registration Form and send it back to us. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.