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9 DAY – SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY TOUR

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Brief Itinerary:

Day 1 – Arrive Istanbul. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 2 – Best of Istanbul Tour. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 3 – Fly to Kayseri, drive to Kahta. Overnight Kahta.
Day 4 – Nemrut&Harran Tour. Overnight Sanliurfa.
Day 5 – Birecik drive to Cappadocia. Overnight Cappadocia.
Day 6 – Cappadocia Tour 1. Overnight Cappadocia.
Day 7 – Cappadocia Tour 2. Overnight Cappadocia.
Day 8 – Fly to Istanbul. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 9 – Transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Departure.

All our Turkey tours & holiday packages depart daily all year around & are completely customizable. Every trip can be tailored individually according to your references; interests & priorities or you can take one of our recommended tour packages. You can use the below itinerary as an outline & omit or add other attractions you have in mind. Let us help you experience a journey of a lifetime…

Detailed Itinerary;

Istanbul – Cappadocia – Kahraman Maras – Kahta – Sanliurfa 

DAY 1-  ISTANBUL ARRIVAL

Upon your arrival at the Istanbul Airport and as you exit baggage claim, you will be met by a True Blue Tour representative for transfer to your hotel. If your arrival time allows, you will pass by our office on the way to your hotel for introductions, tea and a bit of orientation about your tour. The remainder of the day will be free for you to pass at your leisure. Overnight in Istanbul.

DAY 2-  BEST OF ISTANBUL TOUR  (Breakfast, Lunch) 

Hagia Sophia, Underground Cistern, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Bosphorus Cruise, Cable Car to Pierre Loti Hill Cafe, Rustem Pasa Mosque

Underground Cistern: Built by Justinian after 532, the Basilica Cistern stored water for the Great Palace and nearby buildings. Lost to memory, it was rediscovered in the mid sixteenth century by Petrus Gyllius, who had been sent to Constantinople by the French King Francis I in search of Byzantine monuments and manuscripts. Gyllius, who noticed that the local people were lowering buckets through holes in the floors of their houses to retrieve water, found an entrance and thus put this mysterious subterranean architectural surprise back on the map. You will marvel at the almost 10,000 square meters of space supported by 336 marble columns each nine meters in height.

Sultanahmet Mosque/Blue Mosque: This mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I between 1609 and 1616 and is located in the district of old istanbul that is named after this Ottoman Sultan. It is distinguished by its six slender minarets. The central dome is 43 m in height and 33.4 m in diameter and there are 260 stained glass windows throughout the mosque. Due to the intricately decorated blue, green and red tiles of its interior it has long been referred to as theBlue Mosque. These tiles, produced and painted by hand in Iznik (ancient Nicaea), are an attraction in and of themselves. The Quranic inscriptions that you will see throughout the mosque were made by Seyyid Kasım Gubari, one of the most famous calligraphers of his time.

Roman Hippodrome and Monuments: The ancient Hippodrome was the center of Byzantine social life and the scene of fiercely competitive chariot races. It was located in the square adjacent to the Byzantine imperial palace, the site of which is now the Blue Mosque, and is still the site of ancient relics from its glory days. These relics are the Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine. Remains of the curved end of the Hippodrome wall can be seen on the southwest side of the three monuments.

Hagia Sophia Museum: The Hagia Sophia that stands today was the primary church of Byzantine Constantinople and was built upon the site of two earlier churches that had been destroyed. Emperor Justinian I (527-565) commissioned the project and had materials brought in from all around his empire for the massive church’s construction. The Hagia Sophia was the most important church of the Christian East. Structurally, it was the first of its design and boasted the largest dome that had yet been engineered which provided a voluminous and well illuminated interior that continues to be impressive in its sheer scale. After Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and was used as such throughout the Ottoman period. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the modern Turkish Republic’s most revered founding father and its first Prime Minister, initiated the process to have the Hagia Sophia transformed into a museum which opened for visitors in February 1935.

Luncheon service will be enjoyed in a local restaurant.

Bosphorus Cruise: We will cruise on the Bosphorus to allow you the prime perspective from which to view the fine palaces, pavilions, Ottoman houses and seaside neighborhoods along the shores of this famous and historic waterway connecting the Black Sea and the Maramara Sea. You will be struck by the volume and contrast of activity upon the water as fishermen in small wooden boats drop their lines in what seems to be the way of commuter ferry boats that dodge giant cargo ships and tankers as they shuttle back and forth between Asia and Europe.

Rumeli Fortress (From the sea): The largest fortification for the protection of Istanbul was built by Sultan Mehmet II in 1451 before his conquest of the city. This garrison is well preserved and its towers and walls can be seen clearly as our boat passes by.

Cable Car to Pierre Loti: Enjoy the beautiful view from the cable car as you climb the hill to the cafe named for the famous French writer and naval officer, Louis Marie Julien Viaud a.k.a. Pierre Loti (1850 -1923), who wrote fiction based on his experiences in Istanbul.

Rustem Pasha Mosque: This majestic and surprising little mosque was designed by the most famous of Ottoman architects, Mimar Sinan, for the Grand Vizier Rustem Pasha who had married Princess Mihrimah, one of the daughters of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Its construction took place from 1561 to 1563. The mosque is famous for its exquisite Iznik tiles that are set in beautiful floral and geometric arrangements and which cover not only the facade of the porch but also the mihrab, minbar, walls, and columns of the interior.

At the conclusion of the tour, you will be dropped off at your hotel. Please note that the order in which sites are visited may vary. Overnight in Istanbul. (B,L)

DAY 3-  FLIGHT TO KAYSERI AND DRIVE TO KAHTA  (Breakfast, Lunch)

After an early breakfast and check out from your hotel, you will be picked up and transferred to the airport for your flight to Kayseri. Upon arrival in Kayseri, you will be met at the airport for departure on your journey to Kahta.

The tour will be traveling along a portion of the ancient Silk Road. After about an hour and a half you will stop to see the 13th century Karatayhan Caravanserai, one of many built by the Selcuk Turks in this region that has seen centuries of trade upon this most famous of east-west routes. The journey will then continue through the Taurus Mountains affording you the opportunity to observe the countryside and the everyday life of rural Turkey, which will be very different from all that you have observed thus far. After lunch in the Tekir Forest, the tour continues towards Kahramanmaras, where you will stop in order to get a taste of the famous Maras ice cream.

By late afternoon you will arrive in Kahta/Adiyaman. Dinner will be served at a charming restaurant located on the banks of the reservoir that was created by the Ataturk Dam. Overnight in Kahta. (B,L,D)

DAY 4-  KAHTA/MOUNT NEMRUT TO SANLIURFA AND HARRAN  (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Today you will have an early start in order to catch the sunrise from Mount Nemrut. This 7000 ft. peak provides a spectacular backdrop for the stunning ruins of the temples and funerary mound erected in the mid-first century BC by Antiochus I of the Commagene Kingdom. The Romans defeated the Selucids in the early part of the second century BC. New kingdoms were then established on what had formerly been Selucid territory, by local authorities that were in alliance with Rome. The Commagene Kingdom sat upon vast lands encompassing different cultures between the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates River. It is apparent that Antiochus I had the notion to unite the disparate groups, perhaps with the goal of expanding his influence and thusly increasing his power. In any case, you will see what remains of his monumental legacy, including statuary of lions, eagles, various Greek, Armenian and Persian gods and members of King Antiochus’ family. There are several sites of Commagene ruins in the vicinity and you will see the capital of the Commagene Kingdom, Arsemia; a tumulus on Karakus Hill and the Cendere Bridge. After completing the Nemrut portion of your tour, you will continue to Sanliurfa.

You will arrive in Sanliurfa just in time for lunch; and, as Urfa is renowned for its cuisine, you will enjoy a delicious lunch of traditional local dishes before visiting Harran. The first record of Harran comes to us from the clay tablets that were discovered at Ebla, Syria dating from between ca. 2500 and 2250 BC. Harran is also mentioned in Genesis (11:31-32, 12:4-5) as being a place where Abraham lived. Located at the crossroads of major ancient trade routes, Harran was a city of great importance for a very long time. Its history is rich and complex. You will see the conically shaped mud bricks houses that warrant their beehive description. Also in Harran, you will visit the ruins of the world’s first Islamic University, which was a principal center for the translation of classical works from Greek to Syriac and Arabic.

After Harran, you will return to Sanliurfa, also a city with a very deep history and one that has been led by a succession of conquering civilizations and referenced in the Bible as a place where Abraham lived. You will visit a gardened complex that was built here to memorialize him. There is a mosque surrounding a large pool with a cave off to one side that represents his birthplace and that is a place of pilgrimage. You will also visit the local and very authentic traditional bazaar.

You will undoubtedly enjoy your dinner, which will be served at a local restaurant. Overnight in Sanliurfa. (B,L,D)

*Please note that there is a walk to the ruins at Mount Nemrut. Depending on your pace, it consists of 20 to 40 minutes up a slight grade with steps along much of the way.

DAY 5-  TO CAPPADOCIA  (Breakfast, Lunch)

After breakfast in your hotel, you will depart for your drive to Cappadocia. The tour will take a different route for this return journey than that which you will have already been on. As you will be approaching Birecik, you will hopefully have the opportunity to see the rare Hermit Ibis, which is in danger of becoming extinct. Lunch will be served at an appropriate juncture along the way. Your route will pass through some mountainous territory where you will have a tea break before arrival in Urgup/Cappadocia. Overnight in Cappadocia. (B,L)

DAY 6-  NORTH CAPPADOCIA TOUR  (Breakfast, Lunch)

Devrent and Monk’s Valleys, Avanos, Goreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle

After breakfast in your hotel, you will be picked up at around 09:30 for your full day guided tour of Cappadocia’s northern region.

Your tour will begin by making a stop to take in the landscape of Devrent Valley after which you will view the striking fairy chimneys and other rock formations in the Monk’s Valley, where you will also see a chapel dedicated to the well known reclusive monk, St. Simeon as well as some small cave habitations that were carved and used by monks one thousand years ago. In Avanos, an artistic center that dates to Hittite occupation some 3500 years ago, you will have the opportunity to witness potters at their wheels. The red clay found at the Kizilirmak River, along the banks of which the village is located, has been used since the times of the Hittites to make functional and ornamental pottery. After a lunch break, you will move on to visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum where you will marvel at the numerous cave churches and monasteries with their richly frescoed walls painted by Orthodox Monks around 1000-1200 AD. See also the Uchisar Castle. Situated at the highest point in Cappadocia and providing superb panoramic vistas, it is a large rock formation full of interconnected rooms, stairs, tunnels and passages that have been carved from the tufa. Scattered throughout the immediate surroundings are several Roman tombs also cut from the tufa.

After the tour, at about 17:30, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Urgup. (B,L)

*Please note the option for an early morning hot air balloon ride. This is a sunrise excursion. Pick up from the hotel is around 05:30 and return to the hotel allows time for breakfast before pick up for the day’s tour.

DAY 7-  SOUTH CAPPADOCIA TOUR  (Breakfast, Lunch)

Kaymakli Underground City, Cavusin, Red Valley, Ortahisar Castle

After breakfast in your hotel, you will be picked up at around 09:30 for your full day guided tour of Cappadocia’s southern region.

Today you will begin with a visit to the remarkable underground city of Kaymakli, which was occupied during the period of early Christianity when the local population went underground for protection. When the Arabs invaded Asia Minor in the 7th and 8th centuries, Cappadocia remained relatively undisturbed by the conflicts; perhaps due to the fact that the monks and local Christians went underground, literally, excavating the subterranean cities and richly frescoed cave churches which you can explore today. Kaymakli is one of many such complexes that have been discovered in the region. Wind through the network of tunnels and chambers as you descend several levels underground. The tour will then visit Cavusin, an old Christian village, where you will see a triple apse church and the Monastery of St. John the Baptist. The day’s touring includes lunch and an easy grade, three kilometer hike through the Red Gulludere Valley, inaccessible by automobile and providing absolutely breathtaking scenery. Walk among the fantastic rock formations and along the way discover hidden frescoed cave churches. Before tour’s end, visit the natural landmark of Ortahisar Castle and enjoy the panoramic view of fairy chimneys and the generally fantastic landscape.

After the tour, at about 17:30, you will be transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Urgup. (B,L)

DAY 8-  RETURN TO ISTANBUL  (Breakfast)

After breakfast and check out from your hotel, you will be picked up and transferred to the Kayseri Airport for your flight to Istanbul. As you exit baggage claim upon your arrival in Istanbul, you will be met by a True Blue representative for transfer to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy Istanbul at your leisure. Overnight in Istanbul. (B)

DAY 9-  DEPARTURE FROM ISTANBUL  (Breakfast)

After breakfast and check out from your hotel by noon, you will be picked up according to your travel schedule and transferred to Ataturk Airport for your final departure from Istanbul. (B)

Please make note of the following:

  • There is a 30% discount for children under the age of 7 and children aged 2 and younger are free
  • The Haghia Sophia Museum is closed on Mondays and replaced with the Topkapi Palace.
  • Please note that the order in which sights are visited may vary
  • It is advised to wear conservative clothing when visiting mosques and churches
  • You are kindly requested to present yourself at the pick up point 15 minutes prior to the preadvised pick up time
  • Smoking is not permitted in transportation vehicles nor in museums
  • Please see information about the optional Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour in the Cappadocia Region section our Daily Tours Around Turkey offerings or just ask us.
  • We are happy to arrange an optional daily tour for Day 8 in Istanbul. Please refer to the Istanbul Region of our Daily Tours Around Turkey offerings or just ask us.
  • In some cases, optional evening entertainment bookings are availiable. Please let us know if you are interested.
  • You have the option to add days to this itinerary.Inclusions
  • Arrival and departure transfers in Turkey
  • Domestic tickets for flights mentioned in the above itinerary 
  • 8 nights hotel accommodation at superior & special class hotels
  • New model non-smoking air conditioned and heated transportation
  • Daily tours as described in the above itinerary including entrance fees
  • Professional English speaking tour guide who is licensed by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism
  • Meals as indicated in the above itinerary
  • Luggage handling during transfers
  • Hotel service charges and local taxes
  • Personal travel insurance

Exclusions:

  • International flights to and from Istanbul
  • Note that items marked as ‘’optional’ are suggestions not yet included in the price of the tour
  • Any expenses not noted in the above list of inclusions
  • Personal expenses such as hotel extras, etc.
  • Drinks
  • Tips for driver and guide
  • Tourist Visa (obtainable upon arrival at the airport, prices vary depending on citizenship)
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