Beauty of Turkey
7 days / 6 nights

Package: Beauty of Turkey
7 days / 6 nights

Day 1: Istanbul, Turkey

Arrival in Istanbul & group transfer to the hotel in Istanbul, the city whose historical center is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, for its important monuments and historical ruins. Welcome dinner will be served at the hotel on the first night.
Overnight: Grand Hyatt Taksim Hotel

Day 2: Istanbul

Begin your full day tour with a visit to the Roman Hippodrome, which was the scene of chariot races and the great public occasions throughout the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. You will then visit 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 interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district.

You will next step into the extraordinary Hagia Sophia Church. Built in the 6th Century by the Emperor Justinian, this church stands as a testament to the sophistication of the former Byzantine capital and influenced architecture in the medieval world for centuries. Its original design was supposedly created as a mirror image of the heavens. Converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in the 15th Century under Sultan Mehmet II, this vast edifice now includes minarets and Turkish Rococo fountains. Given its age, the church is in remarkable condition and the interiors are full of important frescoes and mosaics depicting holy subjects.

Continue your guided exploration of Istanbul with a visit to the Topkapi Palace Museum, lavish home to the Ottoman Sultans. For centuries this was the place from which the Sultans ruled over an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe to the Atlantic Ocean. It contains a priceless collection of jewelry, porcelain and costumes. Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Treasury, is the one used by Moses to part the Red Sea. Other artifacts of similar fame include John the Baptist’s gilded arm and Mohammad’s beard, fingernails and foot imprint. Visit the kitchen that currently house the greatest collection of Chinese porcelain.

We will complete our 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, for example, hand-woven carpets and kilims, gold and silver jewelry, hand- painted ceramics, leather goods, fine antiques and illuminated manuscripts
Overnight: Istanbul Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Istanbul

Begin the day by crossing the Bosphorus channel from Europe to Asia over the suspension bridge drive up to the Camlica hill, for a Panoramic view of the City. After a short photo break, continue to Beylerbeyi Palace, where the last Ottoman Sultans lived in luxury. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.

Later today, you will be treated to a Bosphorus Cruise, which will be an impressive and unforgettable experience. Bosphorus — the famously beautiful stretch of water, 32 km long with a maximum of 3.700 m width, plays a central role in the history of Byzantium, later Constantinople and today’s Istanbul. The Bosphorus, with the Golden Horn (an inlet of the Strait) and Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi) at its southern entrance, has a definite personality. Relax and enjoy close up views including the European side, Dolmabahce Palace, Bosphorus Bridge, Asian side and more.
Last but not least, visit the 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. Evening is at your leisure this evening.

Overnight: Istanbul. Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Istanbul – Cappadocia

Meeting with the guide at the hotel reception for airport pick-up service for boarding in flight bound for Cappadocia. Continue to our awaiting comfortable vehicle and drive to the land of wonders that is Cappadocia.

Afternoon visit to 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 carved into the rocks as need arose. The maze of living quarters hundreds of feet below ground is startling proof that tens of thousands of people existed deep within the earth.
Enjoy lunch of local specialties at local restaurants.

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 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: Elika Cave Suites Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Optional Evening Program: On this day we suggest the Turkish Night, a beautiful show of traditional Turkish dances and rites and dinner with unlimited alcoholic beverages.

Day 5: Cappadocia

Optional Early Morning Balloon Program.

Early departure transfer from the hotel to the take-off field where the balloon has been prepared by fully trained staff.

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 low level flight, following the landscape contours of Cappadocia, and flying high enough to enjoy the topography from above. Soft drinks and cake at the landing. Drive back to the hotel for breakfast.

Our full day sight-seeing will start with the rock formations beyond belief in Dervent Valley; then visit Zelve Valley, the oldest example of Cappadocian architecture, elaborate shelters 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 Kızıl Irmak, the largest river in Turkey. The city is known mainly for the millenarian handmade confections of tapestry and red clay pottery, extracted from the banks of Kızıl Irmak. We will stop for lunch and then visit a ceramic cooperative, where it will be possible to know the entire production process of the famous Turkish ceramics.

Then, you will 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. Then, you will visit the Goreme Valley, which has been occupied since the dawn of history. It is the valley of the churches. The wonderful and primitive 11th and 12th century frescoes cover the walls of these churches. The oldest churches in the area date back to the 6th century. Among the 356 of churches, the most important ones are Yılanlı Kilise, The Elmalı Kilise and The Tokalı 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.

Overnight: Cappadocia Meals: Breakfast , Lunch

Day 6: Cappadocia

After breakfast at your hotel, we will wander through Soganli Valley, an Open Air Museum in a wild natural setting near a typical Cappadocian village with its different style rock-cut churches and frescoes. The Villages in the valleys, surrounded by the «tabletop» mountains, are spectacular.

Lunch and visit to Sahinefendi (Sobesos) — Sobesos is a newly discovered (2002) area of mosaic houses & archaeological excavation site. The Keslik Monastery near Cemil hides its frescoes behind a very thin smoke layer, which we can only see by torchlight. Finally we will visit Mustafapasa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with spectacular old Greek houses. Sinasos is a very fine example of Late Greek settlements and architecture.

Then we will drive to a cave wine house to see the process of making delicious and famous Cappadocia wine. You will have a chance to taste many different flavors of wine all made from the local grapes grown in Cappadocia.

After the tour, return to the hotel. Enjoy the evening on your own.

Optional Activity for the evening: Whirling Dervishes Ceremony.

You will get a chance to see a ceremony performed by the Whirling Dervishes. The Mevlevi order of the dervishes arose in Turkey with the spreading of Islam, and is based on the philosophies of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi. The mystical order is based on the principles of universal love and the oneness of creation, which states, “to love man is to love God”. The ceremony 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: Cappadocia Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Cappadocia – fly out

Check-out of the hotel today and transfer to the Kayseri Airport for a flight to Istanbul connecting with your return flight.