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Travel from Istanbul through the very best of Turkey - Gallipoli, Fethiye, Pamukkale, Antalya, Cappadocia and Mount Nemrut - and discover the people, cultures, cuisine and landscapes that make this country such a treasure. Historically rich with its medieval Ottoman period and chronicle of Gallipoli, and fashionably chic with the cosmopolitan buzz of Istanbul and celebrity getaway of Antalya, Turkey is an unmissable country that overflows with character. Pay your respects in Gallipoli, hike into the Valley of Love in Cappadocia, cruise the south coast on a traditional gulet and understand why Istanbul is considered the centre of the world. Take 18 days with Lonely Planet and Intrepid to get the absolute best out of this intriguing nation.
IstanbulHosgeldinz! Welcome to Istanbul, a bustling mega-city with a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you will meet your leader and fellow travellers. After the meeting, you might want to head out as a group to grab dinner and get to know each other.
IstanbulMeet your local guide early this morning for a guided tour of Sultanahmet AKA the Old City, formerly Constantinople, to see Blue Mosque, the Hippodrome and the Grand Bazaar. Enjoy free time for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Maybe visit the jaw-dropping Hagia Sofia, said to have changed the history of architecture. Or maybe enjoy a steam session at a traditional hamam (public bath). Your tour leader knows all the best places, so they can recommend some great options for places to eat.
GallipoliHead for the shores of Gallipoli, the site of the ANZAC landings one of the most disastrous Allied campaigns of WWI. Visit the battlefields of Nek and Lone Pine and encounter remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. Hear stories of the heroism and camaraderie that unfolded among the tragedies and take the time to read moving inscriptions etched onto a sea of gravestones. There will also be the option to visit the Kabatepe Museum, which includes interactive presentations of the battle, as well as numerous relics from the campaign. Then, take the short ferry ride from Europe to Asia across the Dardanelles to Canakkale, a charming traditional fishing town that has a great range of dinner and nightlife options, not to mention medieval ruins to explore.
SelcukAfter breakfast, take a local bus to the traditional farming village of Selcuk. Take a guided walk around the town and the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill in the afternoon. See the 14th-century Isa Bey Mosque, the imposing the Grand Fortress and the ruins of the Basilica of St John. According to Christian lore, St John came to Ephesus with the Virgin Mary from Jerusalem and lived here until his death sometime around AD 100. The basilica stands over his alleged burial site. Your evening is free.
SelcukToday, choose whether you would like to take a guided tour of Ephesus with your tour leader or strike out on your own via a dolmus (local bus). One of the best-preserved Greco Roman cities in the world, Ephesus once had running water, public toilets, in-house heating, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. In the afternoon, you can choose to join an optional excursion to Sirince to taste some local wines.
PamukkaleTake a train inland to one of Turkey's most photographed sites, Pamukkale, which literally translates to ‘cotton castle’. Here spectacular natural hot springs with high calcium bicarbonate content cascade over the edge of the cliffs, leaving white terraces (the ‘cotton’). It's been used as a spa since the 200 BC. Though you won't be able to bathe in these travertines, you can take a walk through them (after removing your shoes). You can choose to take an optional excursion to the ancient city of Hierapolis in the afternoon – speak to your leader for more information.
FethiyeTake a local bus to Oludeniz and enjoy some time at the three-kilometre-long beach. Please note you will need to pay a small fee if you want to access the Blue Lagoon. Later, transfer to the quaint town of Fethiye. If conditions allow, it is possible to take an optional excursion to Kayakoy ghost village, an abandoned town that is both eerie and beautiful. This evening, enjoy a walk by the harbour and look up to see massive Lycian rock tombs cut from the cliffside.
Southern Coast CruisingThis morning take a local bus to Ucagiz. Board a boat for a memorable voyage along the Turquoise Coast, viewing some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the world. Cruise to the sunken cities around Kekova Island, where ancient remains can be viewed just below the water’s surface, and take a walk to Simena Castle, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding bays and islands. Spend your time on the boat swimming in the Med, relaxing and exploring the natural and historical sites along the way.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
AntalyaDisembark the boat in Ucagiz this morning after breakfast and continue to Antalya, your base for the next two nights. Enjoy free time on arrival to explore at your own pace.
AntalyaEnjoy a free day to explore at your own pace. There are a number of optional excursions to choose from if you want a little guidance. For those after a nature fix, Duden Waterfalls is a lovely spot to relax. If you’re interested in visiting historical sites, there are optional excursions to Termessos, Aspendos or Side to choose from. Alternatively, stay in Antalya and soak up the charms of this seaside town.
KonyaThis morning take a local bus inland to Konya, a traditional Turkish city where mainstream tourism is yet to arrive. The city is closely linked with the Whirling Dervish sect of Islam developed by in the 13th century by Rumi (or Mevlana). Get your bearings on an orientation walk with your leader and enjoy a refreshing drink in one of the many tea gardens. Later this evening, maybe join your group for some central Anatolian cuisine.
CappadociaThis morning after breakfast, travel by local bus to Goreme, Cappadocia, a city made from the soft volcanic rock of the region. On arrival stretch your legs with an orientation walk with your leader.
CappadociaToday is free for you to explore Goreme and surrounds, including the World Heritage-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex is composed of churches, rectories and dwellings carved from the earth. Perhaps explore one of the region’s underground cities, the largest of which are almost ten levels deep with narrow passages connecting the floors like hamster tunnels. If you’re a hiker, you may like to walk the valleys of Red, Rose, or Love. Your leader is available help you organise your day.
Cappadocia/DarendeGunaydin! Your Lonely Planet Experience continues bright and early at 8.30 am with another welcome meeting in Cappadocia. With the formalities out of the way, hop on a private bus to Darende. On the way, stop for a short walk to Gunpinar Waterfall. Arrive in Darende in the afternoon. Best known as the resting place of the contemplative Sufi Seyyid Hamid-i Veli (1331–1412), Darende was once a thriving Silk Road centre and it still a cultural hub. Explore the town centre on an orientation walk and visit the 300-year-old bazaar, where local women sit working on embroidery and other needlework. There’s also the chance to sample the area’s famous dried apricot in a local shop. Afterwards, settle in for a relaxing night in Darende.
Kahta HomestayHead to the Kahta region for a unique homestay experience in a small village. Spend the afternoon playing a game of football, walking in the fields and experiencing the simple pleasures of village life. It’s possible that you may even get to pick the vegetables for your dinner! Learn about the local culture and enjoy a feast prepared by your host family. You can choose to curl up on a mattress or bunk under the stars.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Mt NemrutThis morning, visit the Karakus Tumulus – a monumental tomb that King Mithradates II of the Commagene civilisation built for his mother. A handful of colossal columns remain to mark the burial place; the Romans dismantled most, with the limestone blocks used to construct the nearby Cendere Bridge. This is one of the world’s oldest bridges still in use, spanning an impressive 122 metres. Arrive in the village of Khata in the afternoon, then make the journey up to the top of Mt Nemrut. See the ruins of Arsameia – a holy burial area built by King Antiochus I in memory of his father almost 2500 years ago. At the top of the mountain, Antiochus I also constructed a tomb-sanctuary for himself and surrounded it with statues of various gods and ancestors. The size and magnitude of the colossal stone heads is stunning, and the views from the summit are sublime, especially as the sun begins to set.
IstanbulDepart early this morning for the south-eastern city of Adiyaman, where you’ll board a 2-hour flight to Istanbul. Land and take the local metro and tram to tonight’s hotel in Sultanahmet. This afternoon, your tour leader will introduce you to the lively Taksim district, the beating heart of modern Istanbul. Walk across the Golden Horn in view of the medieval Galata Tower. Board one of the world’s oldest funicular railways, operating since 1875, for the short journey 500 metres to Taksim. Alight at Istiklal Caddesi, arguably the city’s most popular strolling, shopping and snacking street, and take a walk among the local people who call this city home. Try an islak burger (a burger drenched in sauce) and visit a hidden local coffee house. Maybe stay with your travel companions for an optional celebratory dinner and take advantage of the late-night entertainment.
IstanbulWith no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation any time after breakfast. If you plan to stay on to see all Istanbul has to offer – which is highly recommended – we are happy to book additional accommodation (subject to availability). Please enquire at the time of booking to see if this is an option.
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The trip was both both educational and exciting. I very much enjoyed the sights and culture.
The itinerary was just as I expected! The guide was very good as were the accomodations
Intrepid did such a great job. I never had to worry about where I was supposed to be and it felt so good not to worry about a thing but just to enjoy myself. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable about culture and history.
Taiwan people very friendly. Accommodation were centrally located and easily accessible. Did extra activities then in brochure which was greatly.
Larus our tour guide did an excellent job and was very attentive to our needs. He is very knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor.
Our guide Tarang chandola was exceptional. Courteous, knowledgeable, organized, polite, professional and went above and beyond taking care of our needs and requests offen anticipating what that might be. He made sure we all had the best possible time and offered suggestions to meet the needs of everyone on the tour. This made the trip even more enjoyable.
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