Welcome to a land rich in archaeological sites, historic monuments and a huge variety of spectacular scenery. On arrival at Istanbul airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. At 18:30, join your Travel Director for a Welcome Dinner and get to know your fellow travellers over a pleasant evening.
Drive along the shores of the Sea of Marmara to the Peninsula of Gelibolu, better known in the west as Gallipoli. Here are the battlefields where, for nine disastrous months during the Great War, Anzac troops fought unsuccessfully to gain control of the strategic Dardanelles Strait. Visit Anzac Cove and Lone Pine Cemetery. From Eceabat, a 30-minute sea crossing to Çanakkale takes you from one continent to another as you leave Europe for Asia.
Journey to Homer’s legendary city of Troy, where archaeological excavations have established nine levels of habitation, including the great city that was captured in 1200 B.C. with the famous Trojan Horse. A huge replica of this stands beside the city’s ancient walls. Continue to Pergamon, the seat of an ancient kingdom. Visit the Asklepion, one of the most famous shrines and therapeutic centres in the ancient world. Carry on to the cosmopolitan coastal city of Izmir that overlooks an inlet of the Aegean.
Visit the Archaeological museum at Selçuk where many of the excavated artefacts of Ephesus are displayed. Explore Ephesus itself, one of the world’s finest archaeological sites. Walk through the colonnaded Arcadian Way, take in the splendid facade of the Library of Celsus and see the huge Amphitheatre. Visit the House of the Virgin Mary, spectacularly situated above the Ephesus ruins, and head to the lively coastal town of Kusadasi.
Follow the Maeander River Valley - so full of twists and turns it gives us the word ‘meander' - to reach a local organic farm. You will be met by the Farm Director who will take you on a walking tour and head to the fields where you will experience picking fruits or vegetables. After, enjoy a Farm-to-Table lunch made with the fresh produce found on the farm. You will then continue onto Pamukkale, famous for its dazzling chalk-white array of fantastic limestone terraces. See the ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy at your leisure. Why not take advantage of your hotel's thermal pools and spa facilities?
Head to Konya, the old capital of the Anatolian Seljuk Empire and home to the mystic Whirling Dervish sect. Visit the Mevlana Tekke, a museum and national monument with its beautiful fluted turquoise dome. See the Karatay Medrese and Ince Minaret before travelling across fertile plains to Urgup, in the heart of Cappadocia. En route, visit one of the best preserved Seljuk caravanserais in Anatolia.
In the morning, enjoy an experience to Göreme, a region of striking volcanic landscapes. See rock-hewn churches decorated with ancient wall paintings, some of which you can view in the open-air museum. Continue to the Pasabag Valley where the scenery is dotted with mushroom-shaped 'fairy chimneys' and troglodyte dwellings and explore the underground city of Ozkonak. After stopping at a Turkish Carpet center, experience Turkish hospitality first-hand when you visit a village house, home of a Cappadocian local for decades. Enjoy dinner at the hotel followed by a cultural night at a cave venue. Witness a spectacular Sema performance of Whirling Dervishes - followers of Sufism, which developed from devout followers of Islam.
Learn about pottery making in Avanos and continue to Ankara. Visit the Hittite Museum and Anit Kabir, the Mausoleum of Atatürk, Turkey's greatest modern leader.
Enjoy a scenic journey through the Turkish countryside to Istanbul. Upon your arrival in Istanbul, embark a cruise along the waterway of Bosphorus. Travelling towards the old city from close to the Black Sea, the scenery complements the grandeur of the Ottoman palaces, old mansions and fortresses.
Visit the Blue Mosque with its beautiful tiles and the Hippodrome, where Roman chariot races were held. Explore Hagia Sophia, now a magnificent museum, before continuing to Topkapi Palace, a walled city perched above the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. Your Local Expert will give you a full explanation of the time-honoured ritual of bargaining before you move on to the Grand Bazaar! Finally, embark upon a cruise along the waterway of Bosphorus. Travelling towards the old city from close to the Black Sea, the scenery complements the grandeur of the Ottoman palaces, old mansions and fortresses. In the evening, join your fellow travellers for your Celebration Dinner at a colourful local restaurant.
After breakfast, a transfer will deliver you to the airport for your onward travels.