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This 15-day tour takes you into the heart of historic and beautiful Turkey during the low season, so you can avoid the heat and the crowds. Ramble through famous ruins like Greco-Roman Ephesus and lofty Pergamon, explore the dreamlike rock spires of Cappadocia and the terrace pools of Pamukkale - all with cooler temperatures and fewer people to step around. Fall in love with the mystery, the legacy and the culture of Turkey on this two-week winter odyssey.
Day 1: Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all called home at various points throughout history. Enjoy a complimentary transfer to the accommodation from the airport. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. After the meeting, head out to visit the 17th-century Blue Mosque. If you arrive with time to spare before the meeting, you can find a list of recommended optional activities below. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is a great place to spend a few hours and whet your appetite for the historic treasures you will discover on this trip.
Day 2: Istanbul
Discover Istanbul today on guided walking tour. You’ll visit the cathedral turned mosque turned museum that is considered an unparalleled example of Byzantine architecture – the Hagia Sophia; the sporting capital of the Byzantine Empire, the Hippodrome of Constantinople; the Ottoman-era Suleymaniye Mosque and the 3000-stall-strong Grand Bazaar. After a day sent exploring, perhaps relax in the evening and ask your leader where to get the best mix of meze close to your accommodation.
Day 3: Canakkale
Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale. located on the shores of the Dardanelles (the strait that connects Europe and Asia via the Gelibolu Peninsula and the Biga Peninsula). Arrive in time for an included lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit the cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill toward the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After a day that will no doubt be full of sombre reflection, the evening is free for you to do as you wish in Canakkale.
Day 4: Bergama/Izmir
Travel to Bergama, a city famous for two things – the ancient city of Pergamon and pide (flatbread with toppings). Arrive and begin exploring the World Heritage-listed city. Take a cable car ride to the Acropolis and wonder at the steep seats of the Theatre of Pergamon, the terrace ingenuity of the Altar, plus temples, palaces and yet more evidence of a once-thriving city. For lunch, enjoy the local culinary icon of pide, then continue on the road to Izmir. Arrive in Turkey's third-largest city in the evening. Once the Greek city of Smyrna and the centre of the war of independence in 1953, these days life here revolves around the seafront kordon (promenade). Enjoy an evening walk on the kordon with your leader and fellow travellers. Along the way, perhaps buy a kumru from a street vendor to snack on. This meat-stuffed sandwich is something the locals are very proud of.
Day 5: Selcuk
Drive to Selcuk and enjoy an orientation walk on arrival, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque. In the afternoon visit Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Tour around the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and beautifully restored Library of Celsus.
Day 6: Pamukkale
After breakfast this morning, travel to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming myriad pools and terraces. As the water overflows, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that – from afar – resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with waters that many believe have healing properties for circulation and the digestive system. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC. Explore the extensive ruins of Hierapolis, which include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis.
Day 7: Antalya
Take a scenic drive to the jewel in the Mediterranean crown – Antalya. Your accommodation is located in the Kaleici (Old City), so settle in on arrival and then head out on an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and more stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Spend the night in the ancient Kaleci. While dinner this evening is not included, it would be a crime not to try some of the fresh, local seafood served in one of the many restaurants.
Day 8: Antalya
This morning take a guided visit though the Antalya Museum. The province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenistic and Roman cities, and some of the best artefacts are on display in the museum’s 13 exhibition halls and open-air gallery. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Maybe relax in the Kaleici, beat the heat with a swim or take an optional visit to the ancient cities of Side, Perge or Apsendos. Be sure to speak to your leader for details on these optional activities.
Day 9: Konya
Continue on to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born. Stop at the 13th-century Esrefoglu Mosque en route, which retains some original wooden sections along with its intricate tiling. Arrive in Konya and visit the mausoleum of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the famed Islamic mystic, poet and theologian. Visit the small museum dedicated to his life and work, which includes various manuscripts and artefacts.
Day 10: Cappadocia
This morning continue to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains. Arrive in Goreme and take an orientation walk around town, then enjoy a short hike to stretch your legs and explore the incredible landscape. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day.
Day 11: Cappadocia
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After breakfast head out to see the highlights of the region up close. Tour the tunnels of underground city of Kaymakli, see the surral rock formations of Devrent Valley and Pigeon Valley and enjoy a pottery demonstration that utilises clay from the Red River. Later, learn about the practice of Turkish rug making during a demonstration on the craft. After a day packed with activity, spend the evening enjoying a leisurely homecooked meal in a local home with some friends of Peregrine.
Day 12: Ankara
Travel to Ankara, the nation’s capital. On arrival, take a guided visit of what is arguably the best-known museum in the country. The Museum of Anatolian Civilisations has collections of artefacts from the Palaeolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Assyrian and Urartian periods, plus more. This is the perfect place to tie together your historic tour of Turkey thus far, and the superbly curated exhibits house items from just about every significant archaeological site in Anatolia. Later, enjoy free time in Ankara. If you’re itching for another activity, the Anit Kabir – the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk – is a fascinating place to spend a few hours.
Day 13: Bursa
Make the drive to Bursa, an old city that had a central role in the creation of the Ottoman Empire. On arrival take a walking tour with your leader and discover the Ottoman-era Koza Han market and the many domes of the 14th-century Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque of Bursa). Enjoy a few free hours in which you might want to sample the mighty iskender kebap – grilled lamb with generous lashings of tomato sauce and butter. Tonight, you have the pleasure of being a guest at a local Dervish lodge. Witness a Sufi whirling performance and be hypnotised by the rhythmic, dance-like worship.
Day 14: Istanbul
Return to Istanbul. Once back in the city, you’re free to spend a free afternoon and evening however you’d like. Perhaps head out for some last-minute exploring, the perfect opportunity to see anything you may have missed at the beginning of your trip. In the evening consider joining up with your new travel companions for a last night dinner in this cosmopolitan city
Day 15: Istanbul
Your adventure ends today after breakfast. There are no activities planned for the final day. If you wish to spend more time in Istanbul, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Please speak to your Peregrine representative or travel agent at the time of booking.
- Istanbul - Blue Mosque
- Istanbul - Hagia Sophia
- Istanbul - Grand Bazaar
- Istanbul - Suleymaniye Mosque
- Gallipoli - guided visit
- Pergamon - Akropolis Cable Car
- Pergamon - Acropolis Entry
- Izmir - Kordan Evening Walk
- Seluck - Orientation Walk
- Ephesus - archaeological site
- Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
- Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
- Antalya - Kaleici visit
- Antalya - Antalya Museum
- Konya - Mevlana Museum
- Cappadocia - Valley Walk
- Cappadocia - Highlights
- Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
- Cappadocia - Pottery Demonstration
- Goreme - Carpet Demonstration
- Anatolian Civil. Museum Visit
- Bursa - Orientation Walk in Bursa
- Bursa - Ulu Cami (Mosque)
- Bursa - Koza Han
- Whirling Dervishes at Teke in Bursa
14 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
1 Dinner(s) Included
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