Let our expert native-born guide show you the myriad wonders of this exotic land… Extensive privately-guided sightseeing, one-of-kind cultural experiences and carefully selected restaurants will immerse you in the rich history, captivating spirit and rare beauty of Turkey and its people.
Day 1 - Welcome to Istanbul
Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and chauffeured to your luxury hotel. The balance of this day is yours to relax and enjoy as you wish.
Day 2 – Discover Istanbul with your Private Guide
Heralded throughout the ages as Byzantium, Constantinople and now Istanbul, this extraordinary city on the Bosporus straddles the European and Asian Continents and presents an intoxicating blend of both cultures. Setting out after breakfast with your private car, driver and guide, today’s sightseeing begins at the Hippodrome, a handsome public square that stands on the site of an ancient Roman stadium. Nearby at the 17th-century Blue Mosque #WHS#, you’ll marvel at its lavish interior decorated with more than 20,000 blue Iznik tiles. Next up is St. Sophia #WHS#, the Church of Divine Wisdom that was dedicated in 537 by Emperor Justinian.
Take a break from sightseeing at Giritli. Set in a restored residence in the heart of the Old City, this inviting restaurant is known for its blend of Turkish cuisine and the chef’s favorite dishes from her homeland on the island of Crete. After lunch, your sightseeing resumes as you descend into one of the city’s subterranean cisterns. The one you’ll visit, the Basilica Cistern, is the largest - famed for its 336 marble columns! Your sightseeing ends with a private cruise along the Bosphorus. With Europe on one shore and Asia on the other, the scenery is captivating – punctuated by the towering minarets of the city, charming century-old wooden homes built at water’s edge, erstwhile summer palaces, and the impressive sight of Rumeli Hisari, the 15th-century fortress of the great Sultan, Mehmet the Conqueror. This evening, you’ll dine at Kydonia, a stylish restaurant loved by city residents for its setting along the Bosphorus and fine Mediterranean fare. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 - Topkapi Palace #WHS# + Grand Bazaar
After a sumptuous breakfast buffet, another enriching day begins with a privately guided tour of the Topkapi Palace – fabled residence of sultans, courtiers, concubines and eunuchs for more than 400 years since its founding in the 15th century. In addition to its pavilions, kitchens, barracks, audience chambers and sleeping quarters, you’ll see the Harem that was the exclusive domain of the Sultan and his family. In the Treasury, you’ll discover a glittering collection including crown jewels and gem-studded daggers. Then in the heart of the bustling Old City, you’ll explore the labyrinthine passageways of the one-and-only Grand Bazaar, where colorful shops and vendor stalls overflow with a bewildering variety of items including jewelry, spices, leather goods, textiles, carpets and ceramics.
Then continue to the Egyptian Market. Dating to the 1600’s, this was once the last stop for merchants and laden camels traveling the fabled Silk Road from China, India and ancient Persia. Originally built with money from taxes that were levied on goods coming from Egypt, this landmark building is still a busy commercial center overflowing with colorful fragrant spices, tantalizing displays of Turkish Delight and myriad other delicacies from farm-fresh cheeses and Turkish Coffee to dried fruits and caviar. More recently, it’s become a great place to shop for gifts and souvenirs. Explore its bustling corridors and experience its timeless rhythms as you mingle with other visitors as well as the many city residents who still come here to do their shopping. With our in-the-know resident guide, you’ll also engage with friendly vendors, pausing to sample some of their tempting treats. Meals B
Day 4 – Onward to Cappadocia
You’ll be chauffeured to the airport this morning for your included flight into central Turkey. On arrival in Kayseri, your privately guided sightseeing begins at the Goreme Open-Air Museum #WHS#. Here in a picturesque valley, you’ll discover a complex of painted cave churches that were carved and decorated by monks nearly 1,000 years ago. Walking along a well maintained path, you’ll visit a number of these ancient churches as your expert guide offers illuminating insight into their ancient history. The Cappadocia region is also famed for its remarkable scenery of tranquil valleys, unusual rock formations and tuff cones – fondly referred to locally as “Fairy Chimneys” for their whimsical silhouettes; exploring the Pasabag and Devrent Valleys with your engaging guide offers a chance to experience some of these dramatic landscapes. You’ll also meet skilled carpet weavers and pottery artisans in the village of Avanos. This evening, you’ll dine in the home of a local family, an intimate and genuine way to experience their daily life and traditions. Enjoy two nights at The Argos in Cappadocia, our enchanting hotel in the hilltop village of Uchisar. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 – Exploring Cappadocia from Above and Below
Arise early this morning for your included hot air balloon adventure over the remarkable rock formations and remote valleys of Cappadocia. Floating silently above these amazing landscapes is singular experience you will long remember. Back on the ground, you’ll spend time in the tranquil village of Ayvali and explore the amazing scenery of Pigeon Valley.
Of course, no visit to the region would be complete without descending into the tunnels, passages and rooms that comprise Kaymakli Underground City #WHS#. As you explore living quarters, community kitchens, storage areas and even subterranean stables that descend far below ground, you’ll learn about the early Christians who built this city more than 1,000 years ago to protect themselves from Roman soldiers and later Ottoman conquests. This evening, you’ll dine at Elai. Set in a historic building partially carved into the sandstone, this inviting and stylish restaurant is known for its distinctive fusion of Turkish, Mediterranean and European cuisines. Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – Fly to Izmir
After breakfast and check out, your private car and driver will take you back to the airport in Kayseri for your included flight to Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast. On arrival, you’ll be met and chauffeured to the 5-star Swissôtel Büyük Efes. The balance of this day is at leisure to relax, enjoy and explore as you wish. Meals B
Day 7 – Excursion to Ephesus #WHS#
Today’s full-day guided excursion is highlighted by one of the most renowned cities of the ancient world - revered in antiquity for its Temple of Artemis, one of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. With your expert private guide, your exploration of Ephesus begins as you enter through the grand Magnesia Gate and walk along an ancient marble-paved roadway that still shows evidence of ancient chariot wheels. Among the excavated ruins that will astound you are the expansive Forum, the steam-heated Baths of Scholastica, and the magnificent façade of the Library of Celsus. The highlight of your visit may well be the great amphitheater where Paul preached to the Ephesians.
From Ephesus, you’ll travel into the forested hills to visit the house where it is believed that the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life. After lunch, your afternoon continues at Urla Vineyards where you’ll enjoy a tour of the vineyard and a tasting of their fine wines. This evening, we’ve made arrangements for you to dine at Adabeyi. Set in a waterfront building designed by Alexander Gustave Eiffel, this inviting restaurant is known for its traditional Meze (small-plate dishes, like appetizers) and fresh seafood. Meals B+L+D
Day 8 – Onward to Bodrum
After breakfast and check-out, sit back and enjoy the scenery as our car and driver take you southward to Bodrum. On arrival in this inviting coastal town, set on a peninsula that extends into the Aegean Sea, your guided sightseeing will include the ancient amphitheater, originally built in the 4th century BCE during the reign of King Mausolus of Halicarnassus and later expanded during the Roman era nearly 600 years later! You’ll also visit the evocative windmills of Bodrum, built in the 1700’s of stone and wooden planks. They were used for centuries to grind flour but now stand as scenic reminders of the region’s rich heritage. Enjoy two nights here in Bodrum at the 5-star Kempinski Hotel, set on the cliffs overlooking beautiful Barbaros Bay. Meals B
Day 9 – Turkey’s Turquoise Coast
This day is at leisure for you to enjoy the idyllic setting and amenities of our enchanting resort overlooking the Aegean Sean. If you wish, we can arrange a privately chartered Gulet cruise to explore Turkey’s spectacular Turquoise Coast. With a full crew and a delightful lunch served onboard your traditional wooden sailing yacht, this full-day excursion will take you to remote bays and quiet coves where you can go for a swim. It’s the best way to experience the magnificent beauty of Turkey’s Aegean shores. Meals B
Day 10 – Back to Istanbul
You’ll be chauffeured to Bodrum Airport for your included flight to Istanbul. On arrival, you’ll be met and escorted back to our luxury hotel on the shores of the Bosphorus. After check-in, the balance of this day is yours to do as you wish – a bit of independent sightseeing or some shopping might be a great way to spend your final day in Turkey. Tonight you’ll dine at one of our favorite restaurants in town. Set on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus, Rana by Topaz is a stylish restaurant loved by locals for its distinctive blend of modern Mediterranean style and traditional Ottoman cuisine. Meals B+D
Day 11 – Depart Istanbul
Your car and driver will take you to the airport today for your onward flight. Meals B