Day 1 Welcome to Turkey
Welcome to Istanbul! You will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of the day is yours free to explore at your own pace. Overnight Istanbul.
Day 2 Best of Istanbul
This morning, embark upon a fully guided tour of the only city that spans two continents, Europe and Asia. Before lunch, we start with Eyup cable car, and then ride up it to the Pierre Loti Café, where the French poet Pierre Loti wrote while admiring views of the Golden Horn. Sit down and relax here, while soaking up commanding views of the horn-shaped fjord below that splits the city’s European shoreline into two. Step inside Rustem Pasha Mosque for a short tour. Small yet spectacular, this city secret boasts an eye-catching interior with a liberal smattering of geometric and floral tiles that adorn the walls and ceiling before a visit to the Egyptian Spice market (stock up on bargain saffron, spices and Turkish delight here!).
Why hit just one continent when you can get double value from the city that straddles two?
No stay in Istanbul would complete without a traditional and unforgettable cruise along the Bosphorus, the winding straits seperating Europe and Asia. The humble fishing villages and suspension bridges set against the dramatic outline of the Strait exemplify the newest link between the East and West. While onboard, seeing Bosphorus Bridge and Rumeli Fortress, built in just 4 months in 1452 by Mehmet the Conqueror in preparation of his planned siege of Byzantine Constantinople.
The Marmaray provides you a unique chance to make a link between the European and Asian continents by train in a sub-sea tunnel (resting upon the sea floor beneath the waters of the Bosphorus Strait). This engineering feat was first conceived by a legendary Ottoman sultan in 1860. Designed to withstand earthquakes, this is the world’s first underwater tunnel that connects two continents. In theory, it brings closer the day when it will be possible to travel from London to Beijing via Istanbul by train! The giant rail system of Istanbul’s Marmaray Project was inaugurated and opened on October 29, 2013 following four years of construction delays that were largely due to the discovery of ruins dating from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
After lunch, a visit to the Hippodrome area – famed as the centre of Byzantine life for 1000 years and of Ottoman life for another 400! Continuing, visit the stunning Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, built by Emperor Justinian. Once a church, then a mosque, today it is a museum. Before tour’s end, visiting the Basilica Cistern an ancient underground water tank replete with carved and fluted Corinthian columns and a puzzling head of Medusa. Visitors walk on walkways suspended above the clear, now shallow water. It’s very cool and peaceful. Overnight Istanbul. (B, L)
Day 3 Northern Cappadocia
05:00 This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Kayseri. On arrival you will be met and transferred to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is an extraordinary national treasure and is perhaps even the jewel in Turkey’s illustrious crown. Turkey’s most visually striking region, where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, fairy chimneys and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock.
09:30 Start the tour by visiting Esentepe, a hillside with spectacular views over the Goreme Valley. Here, take photos of the magnificent, lava-formed landscapes as a taster of what’s to come, and then set off with your guide to explore properly. Visit Pasabag (Monk’s Valley), whose chimneys are widely regarded as the best in Cappadocia, 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. and ogle the Devrent Valley, where more mushroom-shaped pinnacles cover the hillsides.
Drive to the pottery town of Avanos, where the longest river Kizilirmak (Red River) in Turkey passes through. Have the chance to view the pottery making demonstration and even try your hand at making your own unique pot. Break for a buffet lunch at a local restaurant before visiting the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open-Air Museum, famous for its rock-cut chapels coated in Byzantine frescoes. Admire the beautifully painted chapels. 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 and providing superb panoramic vistas, it is a large rock formation full of interconnected rooms, tunnels and passages that have been carved from the tufa. Scattered throughout the immediate surroundings are several Roman tombs also cut from the tufa. Board back to your coach and end your experience with a hotel drop-off. Spend the evening at leisure amid Cappadocia’s magical landscape or don’t miss the optional traditional Turkish folklore evening and performance of a whirling dervish! Overnight Cappadocia. (B, L)
Optional Whirling Dervish Ceremony & Traditional Turkish Folklore Evening – EUR 45
19:30 A great night out where dinner, unlimited drinks and entertainment is included in the price, which takes place in a cave restaurant, which is carved into the region’s soft volcanic rock. The show features belly dancers, traditional folk dancers and traditional Turkish musicians.
Before drinks are served, Mevlevi Dervishes perform the whirling sema ceremony with Sufi music concert. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed the ‘The Mevlevi Sema Ceremony’ of Turkey as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The dervish music and whirling event lasts about 15 minutes. These shows not only to introduce you to Turkish culture and various Anatolian dances, but provide you with a genuinely entertaining show.
Day 4 Southern Cappadocia
This morning you have the option of taking a hot-air balloon ride in a region famed for being one of the best places in the world for ballooning.
Optional Hot Air Ballooning – EUR 175
05:30 Start the day with a balloon ride over the moonscapes of Cappadocia. Discover the stunning landscape of the region from a hot-air balloon! Admire Cappadocia’s beautiful scenery of tall, volcanic rock spires and high plateaus from the air on a 1-hour flight.
Toast to your unforgettable experience with a glass of Champagne during the post-flight celebration and receive a souvenir medal. Your Cappadocia hot-air balloon flight includes a complimentary pre-flight buffet breakfast and convenient round-trip hotel transportation.
09:30 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.
18:00 This evening you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Izmir. You will be met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel located in the sea side town of Kusadasi approx. 1 hour drive south along the Aegean coast from Izmir.Overnight Kusadasi. (B, L)
Day 5 Ancient city of Ephesus and Sirince Village or White calcium formations of Pamukkale
09:00 Today, we explore legendary Ephesus open-air museum – positively the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean. Ephesus, under the Romans was a vast city with a population nearing 250,000, revelling in prosperity from commerce. We have plenty of time to tour the marble ruins of Ephesus. Be sure to see the famous Library of Celsus, the gymnasium of Vedius, Stadium, and the Great Theatre. We’ll see ancient public toilets, a brothel, fountains and various temples.
You will also have the chance to visit the pilgrimage point claimed to be the last home of the Virgin Mary before driving to the nearby Ottoman-Greek village of Sirince, trying some of their specialty fruit wines and take a break to enjoy a delicious lunch of Turkish cuisine at a local restaurant, while your local guide explains interesting facts about gourmet’s paradise of Turkey. As you approach the village, the road passes through vineyards, orchards and olive groves which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Tuscany of Turkey. Have your cameras ready as you stroll with your guide up and down the narrow cobblestone lanes between buildings of stone, wood, and plaster. The fragrance of burning wood or the local orchards in bloom will captivate your senses.
Continue to the nearby site of the Temple of Artemis also known as the Temple of Diana, built in around 550 BC and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. See the restored column that marks the site and hear how the temple was rebuilt three times before its destruction in 401 AD. It was discovered during excavations that were undertaken by the British Museum, in 1869-1874 under the supervision of J.T. Wood and in 1904-1905 under David G. Hogart. Many of the ruins are displayed at the museum in England.
Before tour’s end, visit the wonderful example of the Seljukian architecture, Isabey Mosque located just beneath the citadel in Selcuk near the Basilica of Saint John. It’s interior is carved and decorated beautifully and a masterpiece of its time. There is an inscription to God that decorates the main doorway.
Opt to visit amazing tile murals and artwork of the Terrace Houses in the free time given while you are inside the Ephesus open-air museum. Excavated from the 1960s to the 1980s, the structure is a city block of 1st-century AD (Roman) private residences, comparable to a condominium and occupying about 4,000 square metres (about an acre). In many regards, the remains are on a par with the famous ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in Italy – making them one of the world’s key sites to experience and admire the sophistication, luxury and aesthetic refinement of upper-class Roman domestic life. Surprisingly, only about one in twenty visitors to Ephesus explores this unique structure. (Entrance to the Terrace Houses is not accommopanied by a guide and requires additional entrance fee paid on the spot, 15TL or 5 Euro).
08:00 Driving east, we arrive at Pamukkale – home of the famous gleaming white calcium terraced pools. Known locally as the Cotton Castles, they are a natural phenomena and gift of Mother Nature. Pamukkale was formed when warm, calcium rich mineral water cascaded over the cliff edge, cooling and depositing in the process. The calcium built natural shelves and pools on the cliffs, known as travertines. Today, many of the pools are closed to tourists. However, areas of the travertines can be walked upon, albeit in bare feet.
We can also opt to enjoy a unique and very pleasant dip in the warm waters at the Pamukkale Thermal, with its submerged fragments of fluted marble columns near the centre of the ruined spa town of Hierapolis, which was a was a cure centre founded around 190 BC by the Romans. The Romans were aware of the curative powers of mineral springs and created communal baths. Overnight Kusadasi. (B, L)
Day 6 Embarkation – Patmos
The Greek Islands are calling you. Transfer to Kusadasi port mid-morning and embark on your 4-day Greek Islands cruise. The Celestyal Olympia cruise ship, is a cozy floating resort. We will take you to some of the most beautiful Greek Islands and Athens on a perfectly planned trip – one that includes Patmos where St. John the Divine wrote the Revelation, then to Crete for the famous capital of Heraklion nestled picturesquely between two mountain ranges with archaeological treasures and beautiful scenery. Breathtaking Island of Santorini where you can soak up the sun and relax on the beach, perhaps explore the picturesque capital, Fira or swim in the warm thermal waters and take a therapeutic mud bath in the world’s biggest volcanic crater.
Sail into the deep-blue waters of the Aegean Sea, easily settling into the cruising routine of sunbathing, sipping cool drinks, splashing in the pool, and reveling in the delights prepared by the ship’s expert chefs. Plus, during your cruise, you set the pace: choose from a range of optional excursions or relax in any way you want.
Board your ship in the early afternoon and leave for Patmos, in the Greek Dodecanese archipelago. Known for its picture-postcard looks, Patmos boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the hilltop Monastery of St John, and the Grotto of St John, where the saint reputedly penned the bible’s Book of Revelation.
After mooring, join an optional excursion to visit these religious sites, with the chance to see the capital of Chora spread beneath the monastery. Afterward, enjoy dinner on board before you sail overnight to Rhodes. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Rhodes
All day is dedicated to the island of Rhodes. Explore the sights in the historic Old City with its ramparts and palaces built by the Knights of St. John during the Crusades. Another possibility—join an optional excursion to Lindos and Athena’s fabulous temple. And if sightseeing is not your thing, Rhodes’ sun-drenched public beaches and colorful shopping districts are within easy walking distance of the port. Sail from Rhodes around dinnertime. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Crete – Santorini
Arrive at Crete in the early morning, and enjoy breakfast on board. Greece’s largest island, Crete is a fabulous mix of archaeological treasures, bustling towns, brilliant shopping and beautiful beaches.
After docking at the capital, Heraklion, set off to explore the historical highlights of this interesting town at leisure, or choose one of the optional excursions on offer, including a trip to the Palace of Knossos.
After lunch on ship, sail to Santorini, the breathtaking Greek island that overlooks a semi-submerged volcanic crater (caldera).Explore the capital, Fira, at leisure or enjoy an optional excursion (own expense), perhaps discovering the interior by 4×4, island-hopping in the crater, or visiting the village of Oia for magical sunset views over the caldera. Return to your ship and sail for Athens overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Athens
Moor early at Athens’s Lavrion port and enjoy breakfast as you absorb the views of the Acropolis before heading to our hotel, set right in the heart of Athens.
Meet your guide in central Athens and head off on your 5-hour sightseeing tour around the Greek capital by luxury air-conditioned coach. Pass the must-see Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that stands in front of Parliament House on Constitution Square, and see the Presidential Mansion that served as the Royal Palace before the country’s monarchy was abolished in 1974.
Watch out for Panathenian Stadium – site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 – and then relax as your coach drives along Panespistimiou, home to Athens’ National Library and the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens, known locally as Mitropoli. After seeing the highlights of modern Athens, you’ll step back in time with a tour of Athens’ past. Visit the Roman Temple of Olympian Zeus, and then stop at Athens’ crowning glory – the incredible Acropolis of Athens. Built on a rocky hill towering above the city, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Acropolis is a cluster of ancient buildings that acted as a fortress – all reflecting the splendor and wealth of Athens during the 5th century BC.
Highlights of the Acropolis include the Pantheon, the Propylaea gateway and the Temple of Athena Nike – built to represent Athens’ ambition to be the leading Greek city. After spending time at leisure here, you’ll make your way back to your starting point by coach. Overnight Athens. (B)
Day 10 Athens
You are free to depart at any time today. After breakfast your tour draws to a close and we say goodbye to our new friends before being transferred to the airport. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally noon, but luggage storage facilities are available.
We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation and day tours/activities if you wish to extend your stay. Happy travels! (B)
(B – Breakfast, L –Lunch, D –Dinner)
>>Tour Package Includes:
0 4-day/3-night cruise to the Greek Islands with all meals and entertainment. Inside cabins with two lower beds (Cabin upgrades available!). Port Taxes and ship gratuities.
0 Inbound and outbound airport transfers
0 Transfers between domestic airports and hotels
0 Transportation in a fully air-conditioned, non-smoking minivan
0 Domestic flights as per itinerary: Istanbul to Cappadocia and Cappadocia to Izmir
0 Professional English-speaking local tour guides
0 Guided sightseeing at Istanbul, Cappadociax2, Ephesus or Pamukkale (option to choose) and Athens
0 Entrance fees for all included sightseeing
0 Tips except driver and guide
0 Local taxes and service charges
0 24-hour emergency hotline
0 19 meals: 9 breakfast, 7 lunch, 3 dinner
(This tour provides a variety of dining experiences, including buffets, à-la-carte dining and set menus. Whenever possible, we will try to honor special dietary requests)
0 9 nights – 4 star, boutique and cruise cabin accommodation in total.
– 1 night in Athens http://www.titania.gr
– 1 night in Cappadocia http://www.mdchotel.com
– 2 nights in Istanbul http://www.rosegardenistanbul.com
– 2 nights in Kusadasi https://www.charismahotel.com
– 3 nights Aegean Cruise http://www.celestyalcruises.com
>Tour Package Excludes:
0 Entry visas where applicable
0 Meals unless otherwise stated
0 Personal expenses
0 Transport to Turkey and from Greece
Low Season (01.01.2018-20.04.2018 ⊥ 22.09. 2018-31.12.2018)
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Mid Season (21.04.2018-15.06.2018 ⊥ 01.09. 2018-21.09.2018)
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??? Euro triple share
??? Euro single supplement
High Season (16.06.2018-31.08.2018)
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If you are travelling with children you may be eligible for a discount, please advise childrens ages.
2018 Departures 2019 Departures
Mar: 8-15-22-29 Mar: 7-14-21-28
Apr: 5-12-19-26 Apr: 4-11-18-25
May: 3-10-17-24-31 May: 2-9-16-23-30
Jun: 7-14-21-28 Jun: 6-13-20-27
Jul: 5-12-19-26 Jul: 4-11-18-25
Aug: 2-9-16-23-30 Aug: 1-8-15-22-29
Sep: 6-13-20-27 Sep: 5-12-19-26
Oct: 4-11-18 Oct: 3-10-17
>>Please make note of the following:
0 We’ll be happy to work with you in creating and fine tuning an itinerary for your holiday. Our itineraries are flexible and you can certainly make changes to hotels and other aspects of the tour program. You can travel by air, land or sea with public transport or private arrangements. Whatever you want to include in your personal itinerary we can arrange it and maybe suggest a few things you hadn’t thought of. True Blue Tour means trouble free, pleasant and positive experience throughout Turkey/Greece…
0 We can arrange any type of accommodation you prefer, whether it be budget or five star luxury or anything in between. Our suggested hotels are based on True Blue Tour’s experience in accommodating our guests and also based on feedback from our guests. Each suggested hotel is located superbly and provides excellent service and accommodation quality. Those hotels can be upgraded or downgraded as per your preference.
0 If you prefer private transfers and/or privately serviced excursions, please inform us and we will make the appropriate revisions.
0 We’ll be happy to make alternate suggestions if you’ll let us know your general preferences.