You will live the spirit of adventure on this tour.
This is the Turkey less travelled, and in the hands of your local tour guide it will captivate you. From the Black Sea and the unspoilt Ottoman old town of Safranbolu to the out-of-this-world landscapes of Cappadocia, the hidden heart of this fascinating destination is revealed.
Day 1: Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. Famous for its role of capital of the Eastern Roman Empire as Byzantium, then as Constantinople during the Constantine Empires and finally as Istanbul from the Ottoman Empire to the present day. The city today is vibrant and innovative.
Day 2: Istanbul
This morning you will see some of Istanbul’s most important sites, starting with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, Aya Sofya. You will also visit the Basilica Cistern. You will then have the remainder of the day at leisure, enabling you to explore the famous covered Grand Bazaar or Spice Market, armed with advice from your tour leader as to how to get the best bargains and become more savvy in the art of haggling! There is everything from clothing to jewellery, sweets to spices on offer in the cheerful marketplaces.
Day 3: Istanbul – Amasra
After breakfast you will drive to Amasra, arguably one of the prettiest of the coastal towns on the Black Sea with a fortified
promontory that sits high overlooking the old harbours and a sandy beach.
You will explore the highlights of Kale (citadel) including the old bedesten (covered bazaar) and Byzantine church, which became a mosque known as Kilise Camii during the Ottoman period.
Day 4: Amasra – Safranbolu – Kastamonu
Today you will visit Safranbolu, a world heritage site known for its traditional buildings.
The town is like a living museum with a strong Ottoman heritage; alive with well preserved timber Ottoman houses and traditional artisans. This visit is a great opportunity to really get a sense of local Turkish life. You will walk through the town’s quaint cobblestone streets and laneways and discover a culture reminiscent of yesteryear, and see traditional trades and crafts still being practised.
Day 5: Kastamonu – Amasya
Today you will journey to Amasya, one of Turkey’s most charming towns. It is set back in the mountains behind the Black Sea Coast, in a narrow valley on the banks of the Yeşilırmak River.
The half-timber Ottoman period houses that line the north bank of the river are some of Amasya’s most endearing features. These side-by-side terraced houses were built in the 19th century and have all the features of traditional Ottoman houses.
You will venture out and explore the city including the 13th century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, the fountain, Seljuk tombs (mausoleum) and the bedesten.
Day 6: Amasya – Sivas
Your destination, Sivas, is the most mountainous city of the central Anatolian region and sits at an altitude of 1275 metres. Once an important commercial centre due to its location at the crossroads of the Persia and Baghdad caravan routes, the city later became an important centre for learning and culture during the rule of the Seljuks.
In the afternoon, you will visit some of the most famous monuments and sites of Sivas.
The Ulu Cami or Great Mosque, built in 1197 by the Seldjoukids Sultan Kýlýçaslan II, is the oldest building in the city.
The Gok Medressa (theological school) and the Buruciye Medressa, both built in 1271, display the best examples of Seljuk artwork.
Day 7: Sivas – Darende
Arrive to Darende. Here you will enjoy an orientation walk of the town and can see its 300-year old covered bazaar; there’s also the possibility to sample the Turkish dried apricot (famous in the area) in one of the local shops.
Day 8: Darende – Mt Nemrut – Kahta
After breakfast you will drive to Kahta, the base for your visit to Mount Nemrut National Park – one of the most impressive in Turkey.
The peak of Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Daði) reaches 2150 metres and is the site of a collection of colossal statues adorning the temple and tomb of King Antiochus.
The 10-metre high stone heads were first discovered in 1881 during engineering work and in 1953 archaeological work began to uncover the history of the site, which also includes relics from the Commagene civilisation.
You will sit and watch the sunset over the site – the perfect time to capture great photos of the stones in their best possible light.
Day 9: Kahta – Sanliurfa
You will visit the neolithic site Göbekli Tepe, set high on a mountain ridge and considered the oldest man-made religious structure in the world.
You will then drive to Urfa, the City of Prophets, where you’ll visit the ancient bazaar built in the mid 16th-century. The most interesting part of the bazaar is the old bedesten (covered market), where silk products have been sold for hundreds of years.
You will also explore the ruined Crusader castle of Urfa (known as Urfa Kalesi), which sits high above the city and from where you can enjoy magnificent views.
Day 10: Sanliurfa – Gaziantep
You will drive to the town of Gaziantep, known as Aintab during Ottoman rule. The city, Turkey’s sixth largest, has a vast and interesting history spanning as far back as the Hittites.
It is the hub of pistachio cultivation in the country and is renowned for its baklava production which many claim to be the best in the world.
Expansive olive groves and vineyards can also be found in the city’s surrounds. You will pay a visit Gaziantep’s impressive mosaics museum, which houses stunning mosaics from the nearby Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma. Many of these mosaics have been restored to their original state.
Day 11: Gaziantep – Niğde – Cappadocia
Today you will journey into Central Anatolia to your next destination – Cappadocia. On the way you will stop for a lunch break in Niğde, a small rural province in the southern part of Central Anatolia.
The province is surrounded on three sides by ranges of the Taurus Mountains, including Mount Hasan and the Melendiz mountains. The plain is covered with nutritious volcanic soil and Nigde is a successful agricultural region, particularly apples and potatoes. The area has been settled since the Neolithic period of 8000-5500 BC, and later settled by the Hittites, who lived here for a thousand years up until 800BC.
Late in the afternoon you will arrive at Cappadocia. You will be based here for the next three nights to explore the wonders of Turkey’s most surreal region. Don’t forget to pack sturdy, well worn in, walking shoes or boots and a comfy day pack for exploring the valleys of Cappadocia.
Day 12: Cappadocia
You will take a walk through Love Valley, where magnificently sculptured, phallic rock formations have created one of the most other-worldly valleys of Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating caves.
In the afternoon you will discover the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys hewn from the rock and shaped by centuries of erosion lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit’s shelter are built into one of the fairy chimneys, which appears to have three heads!
Day 13: Cappadocia
For early birds, you will have the chance to rise before dawn to take an awe-inspiring optional hot-air balloon ride over the ‘otherworldly” Cappadocia landscape and witness an amazing sunrise in the process.
This morning you will visit the Göreme Open Air museum, a fascinating complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out of rock. The people of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia region, realised that the soft rocks of the area could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries.
This Christian sanctuary contains many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from the 10th – 12th centuries. There are several fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes.
Day 14: Cappadocia – Konya
You will enjoy a short walk through the Ihlara Valley this morning.
After your walk, you will visit Belisirma, a tiny and picturesque village in the region of Cappadocia.
You will drive on to the religious hub of Konya in the afternoon.
Day 15: Konya – Antalya (end)
This morning you will visit Mevlana’s Mausoleum, home of the ‘whirling dervishes’. The Mausoleum was built for Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic also referred to as Mevlâna or Rumi.
You will continue on to the city of Antalya from here, where your tour will come to an end at approximately 6pm. Please keep this ending time in mind if booking onward travel arrangements.
To make the most of this wonderful coastal city, we recommend you book additional accommodation in Antalya.