Express Turkey (10 Days)
Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul
Upon arrival at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, you will be met by Esendal Travel's representative and transfer to your hotel district. Orientation informative tour around your hotel
Accommodation: 5 Star deluxe Hotel in Istanbul
Meet your guide at hotel lobby at 08:30 for a full day to explore the magical city of Istanbul. We first walk to the Rustem Pasha Mosque built in the middle of the interesting busy shopping district this little beautiful mosque is a gem built in 1560 by the famous Ottoman Architect Sinan. It is a showpiece of the best Ottoman architecture and tile work, albeit on a small scale, and then the Spice Market, where Genoese and Venetian goods were sold at a time when there was no Suez Canal, and spices from the East were also bought here after being loaded on vessels in Egypt. Today spice bazaar is a peril for all nuts, spices, herbs, nuts, Iranian caviar and saffron and Turkish delight. Afterward we will get on board and take the leisure Bosporus Cruise from Eminonu or other Pier, to the still unspoiled village of Sariyer. While we are sailing along the Bosporus you will view both on Asian and European sides the expensive new Villas, Ottoman Palaces, Fortresses, old water side Residences(yalis) along the Bosporus built by the Ottoman aristocracy and foreign ambassadors in the 17th,18th,and 19th centuries. All are now protected by the country’s heritage laws. The Topkapi Palace is our next visit. The palace was the administrative seat of Ottoman Empire and the residence of Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years. It is an assemblage of museums, containing several collections amassed by the Sultans over almost five centuries.
Accommodation: 5 Star deluxe Hotel in Istanbul
Day 2: Istanbul
Following breakfast, we will visit the Dolmabahce Palace built in 1856, by Sultan Abdulmecit, who wanted the Ottoman Empire in European image .Employed Turkish Armenian architects the Balyans to build a luxurious palace on the shore of Bosporus shore. Dolmabahce Palace is certainly a luxurious palace with its 45 reception rooms, 285 rooms and six long balconies, galleries, and lavish decoration in gold and crystal that rivals the palace of Versailles in France. Ironically this extravagance hastened the end of Empire, and the last emperor fled from here into exile in 1922. Chora Church (Kariye Muesum) is home to one of the world’s finest collections of Byzantine art: more than 100 magnificent early 13th century mosaics, and frescoes depicting biblical images. And the Suleymaniye Mosque crowns one of the seven hills and dominates the Golden Horn, providing a land mark for the entire city. It was commissioned by the greatest, most powerful of Ottoman sultans, Suleiman known as magnificent. it is one of the largest Ottoman mosques. It was designed by Mimar Sinan, the most famous and talented of all imperial architects. The Mosque was built between 1550-1557; records show that 3523 craftspeople worked on its construction. The mosque‘s setting and plan are outstanding with well tended gardens and complex of buildings surrounding the mosque. After lunch at a local restaurant, we finish the day with Grand Bazaar visit. Grand Bazaar the oldest and most famous mall in the world. With over 3500 shops and several meters of lanes as well as mosques, banks, police station, cafés, restaurants and workshops, the bazaar is a covered world which was designed as the trading heart of Ottoman Empire.
Accommodation: 5 Stars Deluxe Hotel in Istanbul
Day 3: Istanbul – Kayseri Airport – Cappadocia
Following breakfast taken at the hotel, check out of your room and start our third morning in Istanbul strolling to the great square which was once the Byzantine Hippodrome where sports, games, meetings, festivals, riots, uprising and maturities took place.. Now it is a great park like area surrounded by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Underground Cistern, commonly called the Basilica Cistern, , Hagia Sophia after that, transfer to Istanbul airport for the evening flight to Kayseri. Arrival in Kayseri and private transfer to the hotel for check in and accommodation. Dinner and overnight in Cappadocia.
Accommodation: CCR Hotel /Yunak Houses or Similar one in Cappadocia
Blue Mosque was built for the young Sultan Ahmet in 1617 to rival to Hagia Sophia in grandeur and famous for its glamorous blue Iznik tiles
Hagia Sophia the Church of Holy Wisdom is an owe –inspiring expression of religious faith and one of the world’s foremost architectural wonders. The third church on the same site was inaugurated by Emperor Justinian in 537-stands firm today, despite countless wars, earthquakes. The church was converted into a mosque in1453.Since 1934 it has been a museum.
Basilica Cistern built in 532 AD by Emperor Justinian the Great; this was just one of a network of 18 cisterns under the city, creating a vast underground waterway. The volume of water was considered enough to sustain this area of the city for a considerable length of time during a siege.
Day 4: Cappadocia
Today we start to explore a stark lunar landscape of Cappadocia, a mysterious open air sculpture carved by Mother Nature’s chisel. The erosion that carved out this fascinating topography began over 60 million years ago and can be seen in various stages even today. The ash, lava and boulders of three extinct volcanic mountains covered the whole region, throughout centuries the natural forces (wind, rain, snow) eroded the region and created (formed) such a unique landscape in the world. We start our exploration with Dervent Valley which is like a forest with its beautiful Fairy Chimneys, then we head to Zelve Open Air Museum carved into a uniquely tufa( white volcanic soft rock), Zelve was once home to one of the largest communities in the region , inhabited until 1952. The first known inhabitants of the valley were monks .Zelve is a national park consists of three consecutive valleys whose walls are riddled with living quarters, blind tunnels, passageways, and traps for protection against attacks. Afterward we will see the best examples of fairy chimneys next Zelve at Pasabag Fairy Chimneys Valley now has beautiful seeing the best examples of fairy chimneys at Pasabag Fairy Chimneys Valley. Pasabag also known as Valley of Monks, is a forest of cone –shaped fairy chimneys that harboured a number if chapels and dwellings used by Christian Hermits. We drive further to Avanos, where we will have lunch at a local restaurant following lunch we will visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. Goreme Open Air Museum is the Cappadocia’s main attraction and the customary starting point for an overview of what the region has to offer , the Goreme Open Air Museum is a monastic complex composed of churches, refectories, and dwellings, and one of the earliest canters for religious education which is also one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements of Cappadocia. The biblical frescoes in the rock carved churches are outstanding. We end the day hiking up to the top of Uchisar Castle, which is the highest peak and the most dominant land formation in the region; it has a breathtaking panoramic view of the region.
Accommodation: CCR Hotel / Yunak Houses or Similar one in Cappadocia
Day 5: Cappadocia
Breakfast at the hotel, our tour begins a descent towards the centre of the earth, with a trip to the Underground City of Kaymakli or Derinkuyu; two of the largest and deepest of Cappadocia’s many such settlements. The complexes are organized and functionally advanced public spaces were home to approximately 15,000 people at a time, with galleries, rooms, chapels, access tunnels , water wells, and air shafts and storage spaces capable of supporting the population for several months for when the communities had to dig in for the long haul. From here we drive to Ihlara Canyon (Valley), the barren steppes of the Ihlara Valley split open to reveal a 15 km (9 miles) fissure carved by Melendiz River. a walk /hike through the canyon is an opportunity to see another face of Cappadocia, the bottom of canyon ,nourished by the riverbed , is a valley full of vegetation , supporting village life as it did centuries ago. The canyon is home to over 100 churches and an estimated 4,000 dwellings, hidden in the cliffs, or behind a landslide. We will have lunch in Belisirma at a local restaurant by the river. On the way back to our hotel, we visit the beautiful Village of Selime.
Accommodation: CCR Hotel or Yunak Houses or Similar one in Cappadocia
Day 6: Cappadocia – Ankara – Kusadasi
We take an early departure and start driving to Ankara, the young capital of the young Turkish Republic. We stop for a visit to early 13th century Agzikarahan Caravanserai (Caravan Palace), on the old silk road ‘Used as military base during wartime and as inn in peace time which was providing protection to the medieval merchants travelling along the trade routes, offering them up to 3 days of free lodging and then we keep on driving around the shore of Salt Lake, the second biggest lake in Turkey. After lunch in Ankara which lies deep within the hearth land, protected and insulated from the uninvited guests. Ataturk deliberately chose Ankara as a capital for the new republic in 1923. Ankara is the second largest city of Turkey after Istanbul, we visit the Anatolian Civilizations Museum. This is the finest archaeological collection in all of Turkey and primary reason Ankara is worth a stopover. Housed in a 15th –century caravanserai and covered bazaar, the museum was an awarded the museum of the year in Europe in 1997. The museum is very famous with its special collections of artefacts from all over Turkey dating from Palaeolithic. Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze (the Hattian Period), the Hittites. The Assyrians , the Phrigians, the Urartian, Hellenistic , and Romans periods Then we take our flight to Izmir , drive to Kusadasi and enjoy sun setting over the Bay of Kusadasi. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel in Kusadasi or similar one
Day 7: Kusadasi – Ephesus – Kusadasi
Today we first drive to the Virgin Mary’s House, where she spent her lat years ,it is a holy shrine for Christians and after that we visit Ephesus one the best preserved classical cities in the world. Ephesus was a great trading city and centre for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess and Artemis. Ephesus is the highlight of every trip to Turkey. During the Roman era, Ephesus was known worldwide a city of trade, art, entertainment, banking, finance and religious sanctuary. Ephesus was extremely a wealthy city. It was a dream city that everybody at the time wanted to see Ephesus. This was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and ornamented with magnificent public buildings. It was the most bustling metropolis in the world, with a population of 250,000. Ephesus had streetlights, and running water .It was a nerve centre for the world’s commerce, joining the western end of the Royal Road to Babylon with Mediterranean Sea trade. Strolling through the streets of Ephesus, we will witness the perfection of the Greco-Roman Art. Later in the afternoon we will visit the Temple of Artemis was one of the seven wonders of ancient world. We end the day with our visit to the Ephesus Archeaoligical Museum which houses fascinating collection of statues, reliefs and artefacts from Ephesus and other ancient sites, then we head on to Kusadasi for rest. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel or similar one in Kusadasi
Monday: Kusadasi – Priene – Miletus – Didyma – Kusadasi
After breakfast we drive first to Priene, formerly a leading member of the Panionic League. Priene has breathtaking view of Meander Valley and in good state of preservation. The agora, council chamber and Temple of Athena are highly worth to exploring. As we drive further south, we visit Miletus was more renowned for its art, politics and trade. It was once the principal port of the Ionian league and flourishes as a centre for art and industry that had more than eighty colonies in Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. Then we continue to Didyma, where we have lunch at a local restaurant, after lunch we will visit the Temple of Apollo , one of the largest and most elegant temples in the ancient world built in the 7th century BC to honour the god of prophecy and oracle by 500 BC. People would travel many miles to consult the oracle of Apollo, seeking advice on marriage, business ventures, and military campaigns and on many other issues, it was an important holy shrine in ancient world. Dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Accommodation: Kismet Hotel or similar one in Kusadasi
Day 8: Izmir – Istanbul – Home
Transfer to Izmir Airport to board a morning flight to Istanbul. Board your homeward flight or book additional nights in Istanbul. Please advice us on your departure flight of Istanbul so that we could book you on the best connection flight from Izmir.
Accommodation: You may book additional night is Kusadasi or Istanbul
- Accommodation at the mentioned hotels including breakfast
- Lunches and dinners as described in the itinerary
- Transportation with an A/C luxury minivan
- Professional guiding
- Admission fees to the museums, palaces and sights
- Domestic flight tickets (airfare) as described in the itinerary
- International flight tickets
- Visa fee on arrival to Turkey
- Personal travel insurance
- Non-mandatory but customary tips