You are free to arrive in Istanbul at any time. A G Adventures representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to our joining hotel. Please note that check in time is approximately 2pm, but the hotel will be happy to store luggage if you arrive early. There are no planned activities today, until the evening when you will meet your Tour Leader and fellow group members for a welcome meeting. Check the notice board for a message from your Tour Leader or ask at reception for the exact time and location of this group meeting. Afterwards, why not take the option of heading out for a meal in a local restaurant nearby with your travel companions. If you arrive late, your leader will leave you a message at the front desk. Today is a good day to visit the atmospheric Grand Bazaar if you have some free time, as it is closed on Sundays. Overnight in Istanbul.
We begin our day in Istanbul with a tour to the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and the magnificent Aya Sofya. Built as one of the great churches of the Byzantine Empire, it was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest. We explore the beautiful Blue Mosque, admiring the symmetry and internal tile work of the building. As it is a working mosque, take the chance to learn more about the ceremony behind Islam, the religion of around 98% of Turks. In front of the Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome was once the scene of chariot races and now houses monuments from various stages of Istanbul’s history. The remainder of your time is free - consider visiting the Topkapi Palace, the magnificent former home of the sultans, or wander down to the Bosphorus to check out the hubbub of the ferries and fishermen going about their daily business. Take a rest at a café overlooking the busy waters and sip on some sweet Turkish tea. Overnight in Istanbul.
Flight to Ankara then transfer by private bus to the town of Goreme, our base for exploring Cappadocia. We will have plenty of free time to take in the area and its attractions. Why not visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks. There are more than 10 caves to visit, many of the churches are up to 1000 years old and still retain amazing colour and vibrancy. Hire a bike or catch a local bus and explore some of the other villages in the area. The village of Mustafapasa, is a popular choice. Many of the houses date back to the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries and display fine examples of stonework. One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is on foot. Take the two-hour trek through the beautiful Pigeon Valley, named for its many dovecotes. Explore many old houses, churches and orchards, all boasting fabulous views. The walk finishes in the town of Uçhisar, which is well worth exploring. The natural castle-like fortress is riddled with man-made cave homes and dovecotes and dominates the skyline of Cappadocia. This is a great place to take a lunch break in one of the many restaurants before catching a local bus back to Goreme. One of the most beautiful vantage points to view this beautiful and unusual region is from the air. Why not book a dawn balloon ride for a spectacular bird’s eye view. During one of our evenings here, we will travel to a local village and have dinner with a local family. While enjoying the home made menu, with dishes that change according to the food in season, take the chance to ask our friendly hosts all about life in rural Cappadocia. Overnight in Goreme (2 nights). Estimated travel time: Flight Istanbul to Ankara, 45 minutes Ankara to Goreme, 6hrs
Departing Goreme, we head to the underground city of Derinkuyu. First built by the Phrygians between the eighth and seventh centuries BC, this underground city was most famously used as the hiding place for the first Christians of the area, when they were escaping from the persecution of the Roman Empire between the fifth and tenth centuries AD. During our visit you’ll be able to see how people transferred their surface lives to the underground. There are cellars, rooms for food storage, kitchens, churches, stables, wine and oil presses and shafts for ventilation. The underground city, covering eight levels and extending to a depth of 85m, was large enough to shelter thousands of people together with their livestock and food stores. Part of its mystery is that what you see is only one tenth of the city’s true size. We continue our journey to the beautiful Ihlara Valley. The Ihlara valley is a canyon with cliff-like walls 100-150m high and was created long ago when the Melendiz River eroded into the region’s porous volcanic rock. The valley proved to be an ideal place for the seclusion and worship of monks, and a hideaway and defense area for people during times of invasion. The valley's churches were decorated between the sixth and thirteenth centuries. We will wander the valley exploring the numerous dwellings, churches and graves built into the valley walls, some of which are connected by tunnels and corridors, all set in a spectacular riverside, canyon landscape. Konya was the ancient capital of the Seljuk Turks, and is home to some of the best Seljuk architecture in the country. Wander the streets and enjoy these beautiful and historic buildings. It was here that in the thirteenth century a poet, Mevlana Rumi, founded the mystic Islamic sect known as the whirling dervishes. Consider visiting the museum, dedicated to Mevlana Rumi himself. As well as finding out more about the history of the dervishes, it is a fascinating place to people watch, continuously flooded with faithful pilgrims coming to pay homage. Overnight in Konya. Estimated travel time: Goreme to Derinkuyu, 30mins; Derinkuyu to Ihlara, 50mins; Ihlara to Konya, 3hrs
Today is an relatively early start (8am) as we travel by private vehicle directly to the city of Antalya. Arriving around lunchtime, spend your time wandering the charming cobbled hillside streets of the district of Kaleici. This is a great place to stop and have a drink at one of the restaurants with great views of the marina below. Those searching for a little culture may want to check out the Antalya Museum, offering some great reconstructions of life under the Ottoman Empire. For a break from the hustle and bustle why not head for the greenery and teashops of one of Antalya's beautiful parks. Sunlovers may want to head to one of the nearby beaches. Overnight in Antalya Approx travel time: Konya to Antalya, 5hrs
Continuing on our journey we arrive at the beautiful coastal village of Kas. You’ll be charmed by Kas’ cobbled streets and white washed buildings. Spend time wandering the little antiquities stores, or enjoying a coffee and cake at one of the stylish cafes. Afterwards head down to the picturesque harbour. While there is no beach as such, buying a drink at one of the many seaside cafes entitles you to a deck chair and direct access to the turquoise waters. In the evening, pick one of the many attractive outdoor restaurants for a meal of local seafood specialties. The following morning we head to the small village of Uçagiz, where we will board our boat, ready to enjoy a full day excursion on the beautiful Turkish waters. On board, the facilities are simple. There is a toilet and open air shower. Lunch is included and cold drinks are available for purchase. This really is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the crystal waters Turkey is famous for! We return to our hotel in Kas this evening. Overnight in Kas (2 nights). Estimated travel time: Antalya to Kas, 4hrs; Kas to Uçagiz, 1hr30mins (rtn)
Today we travel to the Aegean coast, and the city of Fethiye. Choose to relax by the hotel pool or take a dolmus (local bus) to the the famous "Blue Lagoon" beach at nearby Oludeniz. On day 10, we travel to the the river town of Dalyan, to embark on a boat excursion for a close-up view of the famous Carian rock tombs and some remains of the ancient city of Kaunos and Dalyan. Cruising to Iztuzu Beach, past rock faces peppered with ancient tombs, there is time to relax at the beach and enjoy a cold drink. There is also the chance to make an optional visit to some local mudbaths before we make our way back to Dalyan and then then Fethiye. Overnight in Fethiye (2 nights). Estimated travel time: Kas to Fethiye, 2hrs; Fethiye to Dalyan, 2hrs (rtn)
Start the day with a visit to the village of Kayakoy. This old Greek village became a virtual ghost town overnight when in 1923 the Turkish and Greek governments ordered an immediate population exchange. Now preserved as a museum village, it consists of hundreds of run down but still mostly intact Greek-style houses and churches covering a small mountainside. We take a lunch break here - a great chance to taste some gözleme, sometimes called "Turkish pancakes": fresh pastry rolled out, filled and sealed, then cooked over a hotplate - delicious! After lunch, we will make our way by private bus to the famous white cliffs of Pamukkale, where we spend tonight. Overnight in Pamukkale. Estimated travel time: Fethiye to Pamukkale, 4hrs
This morning, we visit the famous white cliffs of Pamukkale. 2700m long, 160m high and visible from up to 20km away, it is made up of 17 hot water springs in which the temperature varies between 35 and 100 degrees. The white cliffs, or travertine, are formed when the calcium carbonate deposited at first as a soft jelly hardens with time. We will also explore the ancient site of Hierapolis which was built on top of the white "castle" of Pamukkale. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is evidence that the hot springs of Pamukkale have been used as a spa since the second century BC and vestiges of large public baths can be seen in the city. After lunch, we continue our journey to the town of Selçuk, arriving in the early evening. The following morning, we visit the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Ephesus. One of the foremost cities of the world in its time, with a strategic location on the trade route, this well preserved city is one of the best places in the world to get a real feeling of what life must have been like during Roman times. The massive, well preserved theatre dominates the view down Harbour Street, which leads to the long-silted-up harbour. The impressive two-storey library, whose façade has been carefully reconstructed from all original pieces, was built in 125AD and once held nearly 12,000 scrolls. There is even a chance to see 2000 year-old public toilets! Once part of Ephesus itself, but now to be found on the outskirts of Selçuk, are the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Today only one column remains of this ancient structure. You might like to compliment your exploration of the site, by visiting the small but exquisite Ephesus Museum in Selçuk. On day 13 we will take an excursion to the picturesque village of Sirince where you can sample some of the local wine or shop for crafts. On our return to Selçuk, why not walk up the the remains of the town's hilltop castle or just wander the streets and cafes of this vibrant Turkish town. Overnight in Selçuk (2 nights). Estimated travel time: Pamukkale to Selçuk, 3hrs; Selçuk to Ephesus, 15mins; Selçuk to Sirence, 40mins (rtn)
This morning we head to the airport for a short flight back to bustling Istanbul. After transferring to our hotel, enjoy some free time for last minute sightseeing and shopping before meeting your group for a final optional dinner to celebrate your journey. Overnight in Istanbul. Estimated travel time: Selçuk to Istanbul, 1hr (flight time)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally mid-morning, but luggage storage facilities are available. We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days. Please ask at the time of booking.