Explore Turkey, visiting Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace in peace as they open privately for you; tour the Dark Church in Cappadocia, and see ancient ruins and architectural wonders. Day 1: Arrive Istanbul, Turkey
Arrive in Istanbul, where you are met and provided VIP assistance through immigration and customs procedures. For your convenience, your visa for Turkey has been obtained for you in advance. Transfer to your hotel, where you meet your Tour Director and fellow guests for a welcome dinner.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet | Meals: D
Day 2: Istanbul | Hagia Sophia and Topkapi
Begin your adventure with a private, before-hours opening of the timeless Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture. Next, you are treated to a private opening of Topkapi Palace, once the governmental and judicial center of the Ottoman Empire. Explore its breathtaking grounds and marvel at its wealth of alluring exhibits. Continue to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum, which houses the renowned Sarcophagus of Alexander. After lunch, stroll the Pera District, in the heart of Istanbul, learn about life here from the locals and view its beautiful buildings. Time permitting, visit an Istanbul coffeehouse.
Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet | Meals: B L
Day 3: Istanbul & Cappadocia | The Fairy Chimneys
Embark on a private, before-hours opening of the sixth-century Basilica Cistern (subject to completion of renovations). Next, view Istanbul,™s impressive city walls, which once helped repel Attila the Hun. Enjoy a private tour of Chora Church, a museum featuring Byzantine wall decorations. Fly to Cappadocia to visit dwellings carved from volcanic outcroppings dubbed fairy chimneys. View the rock-carved churches of GÃ¶reme and their colorful frescoes. Privately visit the stunningly restored Dark Church. Later, at your hotel in UÃ§hisar, dine on Cappadocian delicacies and then enjoy a private screening of the classic motion picture Topkapi.
The Museum Hotel | Meals: B L D
Day 4: Cappadocia | The Ancient Art of Weaving
This morning, you may choose to take an optional hot- air balloon excursion over Cappadocia. Then, explore the fascinating underground city at Kaymakli. These enigmatic cellar villages comprise an extensive network of rock-carved subterranean tunnels and hallways, storage and sleeping cells, air shafts and chapels. Enjoy tea with a local family in their home and visit the GÃ¶reme Weavers Association to learn about the tradition and art of weaving in Turkey. Rugs have traditionally served as dowries and many villages have their own way of defining their meaning. Enjoy dinner at your leisure.
The Museum Hotel | Meals: B L
Day 5: Bodrum | Excursion to Iassos
Fly to Bodrum via Istanbul. Upon arrival, travel to nearby Gulluk on the Aegean where a local boat is waiting to take you to the ancient port of Iassos, a site that has been settled continuously since the Bronze Age. Return to Bodrum to your hotel, which overlooks Bodrum Harbor. Relax and enjoy the view of a 15th-century castle built by the Knights of St. John.
The Marmara Bodrum | Meals: B L D
Day 6: Bodrum | Shipwrecks and Their Bounty
Today, visit the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum, housed in the romantic Castle of St. Peter. Built by the Knights of St. John, who were later driven out by Suleyman the Magnificent, the museum houses ancient amphorae and glassware dating from 2000 BC to AD 1200, an early Byzantine shipwreck, a medieval Islamic shipwreck, and the oldest shipwreck of all time, from the 15th century BC all excavated from along the coast of southwest Turkey. Meet the chef who prepares your lunch in a wonderful Aegean courtyard restaurant. Spend the rest of your day exploring Bodrum or relaxing.
The Marmara Bodrum | Meals: B L
Day 7: Izmir | Gods, Philosophers and Oracles
Drive to Izmir to explore ancient Ionian ruins that are among the finest remnants of the Classical Age in the Mediterranean. Begin at the Temple of Zeus at Euromos, which is tucked amid olive groves into a well-concealed gorge, and then proceed to the ornate Temple of Apollo at Didyma. Continue up the coast to the well-preserved ruins of Priene, which overlook the fertile delta-plains of the Meander River. Across this former gulf lie the remnants of the once-mighty city of Miletus, ancient home to great philosophers.
SwissÃ´tel Grand Efes | Meals: B L D
Day 8: Ephesus | Archaeological Wonders
Visit the spectacular archaeological excavation at Ephesus, an important seaport during the Hittite Empire and a powerhouse of the ancient world. Roots of early Christianity are found here: Saint Paul taught in Ephesus and a tomb here is attributed to John of the Book of Revelation. View the site of the gigantic Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the recently excavated Terrace Houses. Their mosaic floors and frescoed walls are so delicate and valuable they have been enclosed for protection. Not usually open to the public, you tour them by special permission arranged by A&K. Also visit the Theater, the Library of Celsus, the Public Baths, the Arcadian Way and a local museum.
SwissÃ´tel Grand Efes | Meals: B L
Day 9: Istanbul | Privately Cruise the Bosphorus
Fly back to Istanbul to explore DolmabahÃ§e Palace, the largest and the finest example of Ottoman Baroque in the city. After lunch in the chic Nisantasi district, embark on a private cruise along the Bosphorus, which links the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and subsequently, the Mediterranean. The palaces, mansions and gardens on its banks provide a stunning backdrop as you cruise along.
Shangri-La Bosphorus | Meals: B L
Day 10: Istanbul | Ottoman Architectural Glory
As the Ottoman Empire reached its zenith in the 16th century, its royalty and elite competed to embellish the capital with wonderful mosques, schools, bathhouses and fountains. This was their Golden Age, and its master architect was Mimar Sinan. Travel like a local on a leisurely public ferry ride, and then start to explore Sinan,™s legacy at Suleymaniye Mosque, a symbol of the reign of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (subject to completion of restorations). Proceed to the Grand Bazaar, test your bargaining skills and enjoy lunch at a restaurant in the bazaar. Tonight rejoin your Tour Director and fellow guests for a festive farewell dinner.
Shangri-La Bosphorus | Meals: B L D
Day 11: Depart Istanbul
After breakfast, transfer to the airport to depart for home or begin the Mount Nemrut & Bible Lands Post-Tour Extension.
Dardanelles & Troy Pre-Tour Extension
3 days, priced from $1,695.
Available on all departures.
DAY 1: Upon arrival in Istanbul, you are met, receive express visa acquisiton and VIP meet and greet, and then transfer to your hotel. Park Hyatt Istanbul ,“ MaÃ§ka Palas
DAY 2: Drive through the the Thracian peninsula, cross the Dardanelles by ferry, and continue to the once-thought- mythical Troy, site of the legendary Trojan War recounted in Homer’s epic, The Iliad. Enjoy exploring Troy, learning more about it and mingling with the locals. Akol Hotel | Meals: B
DAY 3: Travel to the Gallipoli Peninsula to tour sites of the massive battle fought here in 1915, in which Turkish folk hero Ataturk and his troops defeated the western Allied army. Continue to Istanbul. Meals: B
Mount Nemrut & Bible Lands Post-Tour Extension
5 days, priced from $3,195; internal air priced from $335.
Available on all departures.
DAY 1: From Istanbul, fly to Mardin to view structures left by the several ancient religious cultures. Erdoba Houses
DAY 2: Tour Mor Gabriel, a monastery dating to AD 379 where Aramaic is still spoken. Erdoba Houses | Meals: B
DAY 3: Visit GÃ¶bekli Tepe, oldest man-made place of worship. See Abraham’s alleged birthplace. Manici Hotel | Meals: B
DAY 4: Marvel at the gigantic statues of Greek gods on Mount Nemrut. Tugcan Hotel Gaziantep | Meals: B
DAY 5: Transfer to Gaziantep Airport and depart. Meals: B