Discover the Hidden Secrets of Turkey on a 22 Days Tour
Explore some of the best highlights of Turkey and see some of the fantastic places of history and stunning landscape that this beautiful country has to offer. Throughout your trip, you’ll visit Istanbul’s highlights, including Hagia Sofia and cruise between two continents on a Bosphorus cruise.
Visit the Sumela Monastery, known as the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and go to Trabzon, after the crusaders invaded Constantinople in 1204, Trabzon became the capital of the Byzantine Empire for a short time.
Drive on the “Silk Road” to Dogubeyazit, a beautiful, yet rugged area with the opportunity to see Mt. Ararat from all sides. Explore the medieval Armenian City of Ani, which lies mostly in ruins, but impressive fortified walls still surround the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravansaries.
Visit Mardin, which is unique with old-Arabic style houses which are often decorated with intricate carvings. Mardin is a vivacious trading centre with people coming from surrounding villages to buy and sell, and you will have a fantastic view of the Plain of Mesopotamia.
You will go to Şanlıurfa (the Prophets' City; also known as Urfa), is a pilgrimage town and spiritual centre. You will also visit Mount Nemrut, one of the highest peaks of the Mesopotamia, with a summit at 2,206 metres above sea level. Mount Nemrut contains the tomb of King Antiochus I of Commagene that was commissioned by himself.
Explore the fairy-tale landscape of mystifying Cappadocia where you can also see the labyrinth of the underground city. You may even have the option to take a hot balloon ride, which is a memory you won't want to forget.
Visit the awe-inspiring pure white travertines of Pamukkale and take a dip in the Cleopatras pool where you can see the fallen columns below. The pure white travertine terraces at Pamukkale are one of the most magnificent natural wonders that you can see from many mineral springs in a vast white cliffside. Also, see the ruins of Hierapolis.
You will venture to the UNESCO-listed Ephesus where you will see one of the worlds best-preserved ancient sites. See where Virgin Mary spent her final days at the House of the Virgin Mary. Get to experience Temple of Artemis one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
These are just a few places you will visit on this spectacular itinerary of the hidden secrets in Turkey.
- Explore Istanbul with its many sights including Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar and enjoy a cruise on the Bosphorus
- Drive along the Silk Route and through the Zigana Mountains and visit the Sumela Monastery which is also known as the Monastery of the Virgin Mary
- Explore Ani that served as the capital of Armenia from 806 and see the Ishak Pasa Palace
- Explore the huge Van Castle and explore the unique city of Mardin with lovely old-Arabic style houses
- See the Cave of Prophet Abraham and the sacred fish pool in Sanliurfa
- Hike to the summit of the Mt. Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites)
- See the mysterious landscape of cappadocia and visit an underground city
- Visit some stunning and spectacular places along the Turquoise Coast
- See the pure white travertines at Pamukkale and the ruins of Hierapolis
- Explore the ancient city of Ephesus one of the best-preserved ruins in the world
- Visit Troy, a 4000 years old Ancient City popular with the Trojan War and Trojan horse
- Scheduling: Private
- Languages offered on activity/tour: English, German, French, Italian
- Duration: 22 days
- Printed or Mobile Voucher Accepted
- Pick-up servicePick up from Istanbul Airport
- CancellationYou can cancel your tour 7 days prior to the travel date with a full refund except for the domestic flights which are non-refundable.
- On Request
- Cut-off TimeAvailable to be booked until 3 days before the tour starts. Please note we reserve the option to confirm the tour or not due to availability.
- Domestic flights in the program
- Transportation by a comfortable AC non smoking Luxurious car/Van with professional driver
- Professional and experienced licensed guide during the tours
- All accommodation
- Entry fees to the sites and museums
- Meals as stated in the itinerary
- Other services not mentioned
- Personal expenses
- Tips and gratuities (optional)
- Meals that are not stated in the itinerary
Arrival to Istanbul Airport where our driver/guide will meet you and transfer to your hotel for check-in before having the rest of the day at your leisure.
Go to the Topkapi Palace, which was once used by the Ottoman Sultans from the 15th to 19th centuries and see the magnificent collection of priceless jewels, silver, crystal, and porcelain, robes that were worn by the sultans and the relics of the prophet Mohammed. (Entrance to the Harem is extra).
Visit the Hagia Sophia, which was built by Emperor Justinian and was the largest building in the world for over 1000 years and has intricate mosaics and a huge central dome.
After lunch, we will visit the stunning Blue Mosque that was built for Sultan Ahmet I, and is a unique piece of architecture with its six minarets and features 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles.
Visit the ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II and visit the hidden Underground Cistern.
See the Grand Covered Bazaar with its many shops perfect for your holiday souvenirs.
Visit the exotic Egyptian Spice Market located on the Golden Horn before boarding your cruise of the Bosphorus where the waterway separates the two continents Europe and Asia.
Pass by Rumeli fortress which was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1452, so he could prepare for his conquest of Istanbul.
Cross over the Bosphorus Bridge to Asia where you will visit Beylerbeyi Palace, which was once the summer address of the Ottoman Sultans, then on to Camlica Hill for a fantastic view of Istanbul.
Time for lunch in a lovely seaside fish restaurant. Cruise is on a public boat unless other arrangements are made.
Transfer to the airport in the morning and fly to Trabzon. Arrive and transfer to your hotel.
Visit the Sumela Monastery which is also known as the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, and has been said that it is neither in heaven or on earth.
Carved on the mountain, it looks like a nine-story high building that hangs down from the clouds and sits on the top of the forest.
Drive along the Silk Route and through the Zigana Mountains which will take us to Karaca Cave that is considered to be the most beautiful in Turkey for its colours and formations.
Visit Cifte Minare and Yakutiye Medrese before having some free time in Rustem Pasha Bedesten, a devoted manufacturer that sells Oltutas jewellery.
Continue to Erzurum via Bayburt where we check-in for an overnight stay in Erzurum.
After a tasty breakfast, we drive to Ani via Kars.
Ani which dates as far back as the 5th century AD, and served as the capital of Armenia from 806.
After our visits here we will then drive to Sarikamis once the Tsars of Russia favourite retreat and where we spend the night.
Today we head further south to Van via Dogubeyazit.
We will then stop and see the Ishak Pasa Palace. This complex is made up of a mosque, a palace and a fortress, which initially had a different room for every day of the year and you can also see the remains of Eski Beyazit, and Urartian City which flourished in 1000 BC.
We will have the chance to see Mt. Ararat from all sides and is claimed to be the resting-place of Noah’s Ark, but so far no one has found any evidence – yet the search is still on.
We will also visit the Muradiye waterfalls en route.
We will take a ferry across the lake to visit the most exceptional Armenian architecture, the Church of the Holy Cross that is on Akdamar Island.
Explore the huge Van Castle from the days of Urartu where you will see the hieroglyphs and sense the spirit of the once Urartu capital Tushpa and feel the salty waters of the great Lake Van called ‘the Sea’ by the locals.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we head to Cavustepe.
We have an early departure for the longest bus ride of the tour (7:30 am – 3:30 pm).
Drive west from Van around the southern end of Lake Van to Bitlis, then southwest to Mardin near the Iraqi border.
We then travel via Bitlis and Ahlat where we will visit the Conic Tombs of Seljuk-Turkish period.
In the morning, visit Mardin, a unique city with lovely old-Arabic style houses, which are often decorated with delicate carvings.
This is a lively trading centre with people coming from different villages to buy and sell. Mardin also has a fantastic view of the Plain of Mesopotamia.
It is a city that played an essential part in the early development of Christianity. Visit the fascinating Monastery of Deyr-az-Zaferan just outside of Mardin and founded in 762 A.D.
After lunch, we will drive to Hasankeyf that is situated by the Tigris river.
Soon to be submerged under the floodwaters of a new dam on the Tigris, Hasankeyf has hundreds of caves, hidden waterways, tombs, a larger and smaller Palace, as well as ruins of the Great Mosque.
We will then drive to Urfa.
Today we will visit the Mevlid Halil Mosque, the Cave of Prophet Abraham and the sacred fish pool.
You will also have a chance to wander the streets in the Old Bazaar before continuing to Harran, city of the prophet Abraham.
See Islamic school, the fortress and the curious beehive-shaped adobe houses.
We will then make our way to Kahta for an overnight stay.
Hike to the summit of Mount Nemrut (one of the most popular UNESCO world cultural heritage sites) and watch the sunset, be in awe of the colossal heads and the statues of ancient deities, as you take a step into mythology. This magnificent landmark sits at an elevation of 8000 ft.
The mountain top complex is made up of two flat areas that are strewn with statues and are separated by a false peak of crushed rock. Antiochus constructed the entire complex around 2000 years ago as a dedication to his divine ancestry.
Also, you should take time to visit the old castle, Arsemeia, cross over the still functioning Cendere Bridge (Septimius Severus bridge) dating back to the 3rd century and Tumulus Tomb of Karakus.
Then drive back to the hotel for a delicious breakfast before driving to Kahraman Maras to have some world-famous ice-cream.
Then we will then drive to Cappadocia.
Tour the Kaymaklı Underground City, one of the fascinating underground settlements in Cappadocia then drive to Sahinefendi (Sobesos) which is newly discovered (01 May 2002) mosaic houses and Archaeological excavation site.
Villages in the valleys are surrounded by the “tabletop” mountains which are spectacular.
Continue to the Keslik Monastery close to Cemil, that hides its frescoes behind a thin smoke layer which you can only see by torchlight.
Visit Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), an old Greek town with its spectacular old Greek houses; outstanding examples of late Greek settlements and architecture.
Visit Saruhan Caravanserai, a roadside inn where travellers would rest and recover from their day’s journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of information, commerce and people across a network of trade routes of North Africa, Asia, and South-Eastern Europe on the legendary Silk Road and the Spice Road.
Continue with the panorama of the Red Valley, with its fabulous volcanic rock formations and is in the heart of Cappadocia but still away from the tourist crowd.
Meet at the hotel reception after breakfast, then have your first meeting with the lunar landscape of Cappadocia with some rock formations beyond belief in Devrent valley, walk-in Pasabag near Zelve and wonder at the “fairy chimneys” where the sound of the wind mixes with the “songs of fairies”.
Lunch in Avanos which has been the centre of terra cotta work of art since around 3000 BC and you will get a demonstration in a traditional pottery workshop.
In the afternoon, visit the famous Goreme Open Air Museum and see the best examples of Byzantine art that are in Cappadocia in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings (10th to 13th century).
Continue to Uchisar Rock-Castle to have a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia.
OPTION 1: TURKISH VILLAGE LIFE AND CULINARY TOUR
Starting the day with a visit to the local market (only available only on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays) or take a morning walk to the fruit orchards in Ayvali Village.
We will pick and taste fresh fruits from the trees (harvesting between June and October), or you could choose to visit the cave storages for potatoes and lemons.
The tour then continues with a walk through the narrow streets of the village where each door opens as the villagers invite you for a cup of çay (tea) and a plate full of dessert or fruit.
According to the season, join the villagers to learn and help make grape syrup, tomato sauce productions and pumpkin seed collecting. Visit the local meeting point, Kahvehane,(coffeehouse) to learn more about their lifestyle and local games while drinking Turkish coffee and tea. Go to the mosque in the village and learn about religious customs.
For lunch, we are guests of a real village house to join a Turkish family where we will collect the ingredients from their garden and participate in cooking a delicious Turkish meal.
After lunch, we will take a walk through a beautiful hidden valley near the village then drive to a cave wine house to see the process of making the tasty and famous Cappadocia wine.
Before heading back to the hotel, there may be an optional stop to see an art and handicraft centre of Cappadocia.
OPTION 2: IHLARA CANYON HIKING
Drive to Ihlara and on the way walk in the Ihlara Canyon, a “mirage” in the Steps of Anatolia to Belisirma village, the ancient Peristrema: “Valley of the Sky” along the Melendiz River.
Rock-cut churches spread across a wild plantation that will surprise you with their successfully painted representations from the Bible.
Have lunch in Belisirma, a local restaurant by the river and stop at Selime, a village with cave houses and a “star wars” like landscape.
At the end of the day, transfer to the airport for a direct flight to Antalya ( or via Istanbul ). Arrive and meet at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Antalya.
We will see Perge, which was initially settled by the Hittites around 1500 BC. Visit the impressive collonaded street, baths, nymphaeum, and agora and the fountain of the River God, where waters once poured down the centre of the city.
Visit Aspendos to see one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world.
We will then visit the beautiful Kursunlu waterfalls or Antalya Museum.
Drive to the travertine terraces at Pamukkale which are definitely one of the most spectacular natural wonders that you will be able to see from several mineral springs in a substantial white cliffside.
About 200 m overlooking the plain you can see how the calcite-laden waters have dripped over a number of terraced levels and created a fairyland of unusual solidified cascades and shell-shaped basins and look like creations made from snow or like balls from cotton, which gave the scenery the Turkish name Pamukkale (cotton castle).
Moreover, the water in the basins changes its colour according to how the light enters.
Drive to Kusadasi, on the way, visit Aphrodisias which was primarily known as a centre 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.
Visit the ancient city of Ephesus and spend a few hours walking in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Apostles Paul, Caesar, Cicero, and John and many other well-known historical names.
The recently opened Terrace Houses (entry included) which is where the wealthiest Romans lived and are a great example of sensitive excavation and presentation and the mosaics and frescos are stunning.
Tradition has it that St John brought Virgin Mary hereafter the Crucifixion and lived her last years close to the city of Ephesus on a secluded mountaintop. A lovely chapel was constructed on the site and tended by Franciscans and open to visitors and has been designated a pilgrimage site by the Pope.
We will continue with Saint John Church where Apostle John spent his final years and was buried and visit the temple of Artemis to see the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Visit Pergamon that became an important kingdom during the Hellenistic period and had the second-best library in the time of the ancient Greek civilisation, after Alexandria.
When the Ptolemies stopped exporting papyrus because of competitors, and partly because of shortages, the Pergamenes created a new substance to use in codices, called pergaminus or parchment after the city. This was made of calfskin, a predecessor of vellum.
Asclepion that is located to the southwest of the lower city and was a sanctuary dedicated to the god of health. Asclepics that was one of the largest hospitals in history and is located to the west of the city, which was a great centre of culture, art and medicine.
Visit Troy in the morning, 4000 years old Ancient City popular with the Trojan War and Trojan horse and known as the centre of ancient civilisations.
Many years, people believed that it was a city in tales, and that is never actually existed until it was first found.
It was first known as Ilium or New Ilium. Today Troy or New Ilium places in Hisarlik at Canakkale.
The remains of the city from the thieves and destructors can be visited.
After your visit, you will be transferred to Istanbul.
Transfer to Istanbul Airport to connect to your international flight.
- Please check if you need a visa to enter Turkey
- Make sure you have adequate insurance before you travel
- Flights tickets are e-tickets. Calculation is based on promotional class and rates are subject to change until ticketed. You will receive references to flight tickets after booking.
- This itinerary is subject to change and may be reversed without prior notice according to weather, museum closing days, daily events or other unforeseen circumstances
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