Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, Kusadasi, Canakkale
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Turkey revels in its role as historical theater, the landscape sculpted with over 4,000 years of kingdoms and legends. Greek temples, Roman ruins, a dozen civilizations radiating through ancient cities. This handcrafted luxury Turkey tour package blends the astonishing relics of history with the atmospheric traditions of Turkey, taking you on a journey across Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Troy,...
Cappadocia – Hypnotic History in Ankara
Turkey's rich history leaves an immediate impression as you start the vacation in Ankara, the capital city bursting with treasures from across the centuries. Land in Istanbul and take the flight to Ankara, where you're met by your guide and driver. The world-renowned Anatolian Civilizations Museum provides a thorough narrative of the land's history, an ideal starting point for exploring the country. Four thousand years stretch out through the rooms before you visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the revered founder of modern Turkey. Lunch then transports you to another era, a grand Ottoman house the setting for the first of many handpicked a la carte lunches on this itinerary. Despite its capital status, Ankara retains a relaxed atmosphere. This is further enhanced as you head into rolling green landscapes and pause beside the glistening Salt Lake. Merely a couple of valleys later, the surreal chimneys of Cappadocia make for a mesmerizing first night in Turkey.
Cappadocia – Fairytale Landscapes and Churches
Cappadocia bristles with geological inimitability, a patchwork of eroded chimneys and caves filling the valleys. It's a setting from a fairytale, the strange moonscape extending in every direction as it hides an evocative history. During the morning you tour the valleys, strange rock formations towering above the road and lookout points offering photos of the lunar-like Dervent and Pasabag Valleys. Carved into the rocks is a Christian history, the rock churches ingeniously sculpted on the outside and packed with vibrant frescos on the inside. Visit the Zelve and Goreme Open-Air Museums, where the churches and monasteries stand side by side, camouflaged from a distance yet intricately detailed from up close. After a traditional lunch, spend the afternoon in Avanos, exploring tile and pottery workshops with a powerful scent of tradition. As the landscapes dazzle and the villages evoke yesteryear, you continue the journey through Cappadocia to Uchisar Rock Castle, the ancient fortress a fitting conclusion to a day of discovery.
Cappadocia – Underground Cities and Traditional Villages
Cappadocia is astonishing from above the ground, the valleys of troglodyte dwellings and fairytale chimneys are unlike anywhere in the world. The uniqueness of the experience continues underground. Kaymakli extends many stories below the earth’s surface, narrow passageways and steep staircases taking you into an eerie world of underground existence. Persecuted Christians built these vast dark lairs and your guide reveals a poignant and sometimes haunting narrative. Back above ground, Soganli village showcases the expressionism of those that inhabited Cappadocia in the 14th century, the rock-cut churches elegantly carved into overhanging stone. Thirteenth-century Taskinpasa Mosque and the Keslik Monastery then offer new angles on local history.
After a morning of touring local attractions, the afternoon is very much about meeting the people and soaking up Cappadocian heritage. A local family welcomes you into their village home for lunch, the delights of traditional home cooking enjoyed in the quaintest of settings. Nearby Mustafapasa town continues the enchantment, its old Greek houses further Cappadocian photo opportunities. Finish the tour by visiting local carpet and kilim workshops before another relaxed evening amidst the landscapes of Cappadocia.
Antalya – Beautiful Tauros Mountains and Konya City
As the sun casts amber tones on the chimneys you head off towards Antalya, the next base for your Turkey adventure. Drive via Konya city, where Seljuk architecture and an air of serenity radiate through the streets. You'll visit the famous Mevlana Museum, where ancient copies of the Koran are housed in the original home of the city's whirling dervishes. After lunch, the road winds into the Tauros Mountains, weaving a journey up through the pine forests and onto the hidden cascades of Manavgat Waterfall. Descend from the mountains and the cute harbor of Antalya marks your arrival in the ancient town.
Antalya – Roman History and Cleopatra Beach
Antalya's history is a Roman one. It's etched in the ruins and evoked through the names; Hadrian Gate, the 2nd century Roman theater of Aspendos, the ancient city of Perge, and the glowing sand of Cleopatra Beach. Despite the fame, Antalya runs on a gentle rhythm and exploring the ruins is done at an easy pace. With the delightful harbor as your starting point, the morning takes in columns and gladiatorial arenas, towering rocks and the relics from 1800 year old cities. After lunch there's another ancient Roman heirloom, the city of Side. So much history, so many iconic sights, yet there's still a whole afternoon free to enjoy the sand of Cleopatra Beach.
Antalya – The Ancient Cities
Antalya revels in its role as historical excavator, the whole region cascading with riches from an ancient civilization. Start today by driving up to Solymos Mountain, where vistas extend onto shimmering waters and tiny villages. Termessos ancient city takes you back to Pisidian influence, the amphitheater and walls evoking the ingenuity and beauty of an empire. Nestled between green mountains, and filled with huge slabs of carved rock, Termessos is perhaps the most impressive of the old cities in the region. Lunch comes direct from the ocean at a renowned fish restaurant before the eclecticism of historical influence is revealed at Antalya Archaeological Museum. Phaselis’ ancient city continues the theme of marvelous relics before the afternoon concludes like yesterday's, by lying back and relaxing on a golden sand beach.
Pamukkale – Soothing Mineral Pools
Today you leave the glistening waters behind, swapping blue for green as you meander along the Taorus Mountains towards Pamukkale. As this is a private tour the pace is dictated by you, so take advantage of the fabulous photo opportunities that seem to come around every corner. Nomads continue to inhabit this landscape and they live in tents on the slopes. You'll visit some of these and learn about their unique way of life, before arriving in Pamukkale and checking into your spa hotel. Sooth your legs with a leisurely afternoon in the mineral pools as you soak up the allure and tranquility of Pamukkale.
Kusadasi – Ancient Hierapolis and Aphrodisias
As the warm mineral water relieves the muscles and the twinkling terraces of Pamukkale impress the eyes, it's easy to see why this area was lauded by the Greeks. Today begins in the famous Pamukkale pools, where white terraces and crystal waters provide a photo that looks more Arctic winter than summer in Turkey. Calcite waters flow down from the cliffs, slipping into this Cotton Palace and forging a surreal landscape that shimmers like snow and ice. The water is warm, so take a dip and feel the therapeutic power.
Nearby Hierapolis was built on the naturally warm water some 2,200 years ago. A huge amphitheater remains remarkably intact, while the ruins of baths and temples engulf the landscape. This was a sacred city, supposedly founded by Apollo, and a mystical slant remains in the air. Aphrodisias is arguably even more impressive, the columns and temples forming an ode to the city's founder, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Towering above the surrounding landscape, the pillars provide an enchanting conjuring of the mythical gods. After lunch you return to the coast and the vibrant resort town of Kusadasi. With countless beaches and restaurants, it's a vibrant place to stay on the Aegean waters.
Kusadasi – Iconic History and Archaeology in Ephesus
Sometimes it's difficult to imagine how a region can detail so much ancient history. Turkey has carefully preserved and maintained the centuries of influence, allowing 4,000 years of architectural brilliance to shine. Ephesus sparkles in the sun, rays reflecting off the temple of Artemis. This famous Ionian city needs a full day, each row of Greek columns suggesting a time before Christ, and the House of the Virgin Mary reveals Ephesus's essential role in world history. This was where Mary spent her final days and the Basilica of St John offers further early Christian memoirs. Some relics stand gloriously restored, powerfully displaying their original power and majesty. Others still have a hypnotic state of decay, like the Library of Celsus that rises far above Ephesus. After a traditional lunch, visit the Ephesus Museum in the afternoon, as well as the Isa Bey Mosque. Return to Kusadasi and there will probably be at least a few hundred photos from an ancient city of staggering scale.
Cannakkale – Greco Roman Pergamum and Legendary Troy
Today's journey really ignites the imagination, taking you across the throne of Satan and onto the legendary town of Troy. First you will encounter Pergamum. Four rising terraces stand to attention, shining the Greco Roman city that historians have labeled the Throne of Satan. Steeply descending down from the top of the hillside, the amphitheater is as remarkable as any in Turkey, while the carved columns and pillars continue their stunning portrayal of an ancient land. The Acropolis and Asclepion have been well restored and point to the power of this mountain top town.
Troy needs little introduction, the town depicted in Homer's Iliad made even more famous by the Hollywood movie. Troy's old settlements are scattered, a huge area bristling with 4,000 years of archaeological evidence that was only discovered 150 years ago. While other ancient cities may have more impressive individual ruins and temples, Troy offers a wonderful impression of a real lived in city. You can picture the corridors running between houses and the revered entranceways that would have headed towards the temple remains. Amphitheater, a reconstructed giant horse, carved lion heads; this is a city with the complete set of historical musings. Spend the night in Cannakkale.
Istanbul – Crossing the Dardanelles and Onwards to Istanbul
All journeys in Turkey are memorable ones; drives that wind through the mountains, stops at hidden Greek cities lost in the hills and a gentle ferry ride across the famous Dardanelles. Today's touching history comes from a more recent period, the sites of The Gallipoli Campaign revealing the shocks of the First World War. This handcrafted itinerary then heads to its final destination; the East meets West hypnotism of Istanbul. Drive into the famed city via the Marnara Sea, where your hotel is nestled amongst the city's sensual feast.
Istanbul – Mesmerizing History
Ottoman and Byzantine treasures are laced through the streets of Istanbul, weaving into the atmosphere like the whiffs of saffron that emerge from spice markets. Today you will tour through 2,000 years of history, starting at the Hippodrome and a narrative from Roman times. In the historic suburb of Sultanahmet, situated beside the divide between Europe and Asia, the domes of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia stand across from each other. Look right and minarets dominate the skyline, look left and a tumbling of domes mark what was the world's biggest cathedral for many centuries. Wander inside the Hagia Sophia where Christian murals cover walls overlooking Islamic calligraphy and odes to Allah. Then walk into the Blue Mosque's inner courtyard, framed by a peace and humility that seems to demand silence. Remove your shoes and go inside, a thick red carpet beneath the toes and thousands of azure tiles leaving a haze across this hypnotic sanctuary.
Istanbul has always been a city of indulgence and excess, centuries of sultans taking the finest from around the world. The Royal Topkapi Palace overflows with opulence; Chinese porcelain, golden antiques, lavish carpets, trinkets and memories from kingdoms of yesteryear. Now the Basilica Cistern offers wonder from another civilization before your guide takes you into the atmospheric mingling of yesteryear and today. Wander the maze that is the Grand Bazaar, some 5,000 stalls curving around corridors and taking you on a journey through leather, handicrafts, candles, silver, carpets, and deep into perhaps the world's most famous old bazaar. You'll probably get lost. But your guide will know how to locate an exit in the labyrinth.
Istanbul – Spices and Palaces
Spices spill onto the streets beside the continental divide, saffron and turmeric among the scents that guide you into the Spice Market. While nostrils are tantalized the shocks of vivid color excite the eyes, huge sacks of bright powders lining the corridors. Emerge from the smells and take a cruise along the Bosphorus, Europe to one side and Asia to the other. Fishermen dangle their rods over the bridges and their catch makes for Istanbul's most famous meal; grilled fish served on a fluffy fresh bread. Enjoy this traditional treat in a restaurant along the Bosphorus before driving out to Dolmabahce Palace, another ostentatious display of wealth. Over three-hundred-fifty rooms and twenty-two saloons are filled with European antiquity, arguably the most impressive being the four and a half ton chandelier that graces a room unremarkable in size. As the sun sets on your vacation, Istanbul provides a final dose of evening memories, the charming streets perfect for independent exploration and a dinner on the rooftops.
Istanbul – Departure
After breakfast you're transferred to the airport for your international departure, a thousand competing memories guiding the trip home.
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- Start the vacation with three nights in the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia, the ethereal chimneys hiding rock cut churches, underground cities, and quaint villages
- Explore Roman history in Antalya as the ancient cities unveil massive amphitheaters, beaches named after Cleopatra, and sculpted rocks reminiscent of the empire's power
- Head into the mountains and the lost cities that stand proud on mountain tops and hillsides; like Hierapolis, Aphrodisias, Termessos, and Phaselis
- Gawp at the calcified landscape of Pamukkale, the terraces of mineral water shimmering white and blue and making for another surreal experience
- Discover the world famous historic cities of Ephesus and Troy, both vast archaeological sites that deserve their fame
- Istanbul provides a mesmerizing final stop, the beauty of its buildings blending with the sensual delight of its cultural streets
Turkey is an ancient land, a crossroads for civilizations that have always left their mark. Greek mythology stands resplendent and real, Roman relics evoke the power of an empire, Ottoman and Byzantine treasures proudly cascade through cities, and hidden narratives abound; such as churches carved into fairytale rocks, thermal pools shimmering blue and white, nomads in the hills and sun loungers on the beaches. This luxury two week Turkey itinerary takes you through the ages, joining the dots of history and evoking an unrivaled archaeological and architectural splendor. Yet it's not just about what happened in the past; traditions live on and the itinerary is sprinkled with unique opportunities to dine with villagers, explore longstanding customs, and soak up an atmosphere of endearing elegance.
This handcrafted itinerary starts in Ankara and Cappadocia before journeying through mountains and coastlines as it takes in ancient cities from both Roman and Greek history. It then culminates with three nights in Istanbul. Cappadocia's surreal chimneys and caves make a soothing introduction to Turkey, the mythical landscapes an ideal antidote to any travel fatigue. Explore valleys of troglodyte dwellings, wander into vast underground cities, and marvel at the frescos and ingenuity of churches hand carved into the rock. On day four you travel into Antalya, where ancient cities and Roman theaters offer a splendid immersion in the famous empire. Cleopatra Beach, Termessos, Phaselis, Perge; Antalya bursts with treasures to discover over the next few days.
Drive into the mountains where the soothing spa waters of Pamukkale are your overnight stop on day seven. Gasp at the mineral water terraces as they twinkle white and blue, then garner fresh impressions of scale as the ancient cities of Hierapolis and Aphrodisias are revealed. While the itinerary packs in many sights each day, this is a private tour that runs at your pace and always features a leisurely a la carte lunch. With the afternoons and evenings spent on the coast, you're also never far away from a golden stretch of sand. Ephesus and Troy are perhaps the most world renowned of Turkey's old cities, and there's a day dedicated to each of them.
The final three days are spent in Istanbul, where the rich cultures of Europe and Asia are harmoniously juxtaposed. The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the 365 rooms of the Dolmabahce Palace; it's a city that dazzles every visitor and your itinerary includes many of these renowned sights. However, Istanbul also imbues a welcoming atmosphere that brings history up to today, epitomized by the scents of beauty in the Spice Market and the maze of stalls in the Grand Bazaar. Like always, a private guide and driver takes you to both the famous and more offbeat experiences, so for every palace to ogle there's a unique restaurant lunch to savor. While Turkey's historic treasures are what entice visitors to the country, it's the friendly ambiance and mix of styles that leave the longest impression.
$3,635 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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