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Istanbul – Istanbul
Max. 14 People
Private | Regular | Combination of small group tours
You will be met upon arrival at Izmir port or airport and transferred to your hotel located in the sea side town of Kusadasi approx. 1 hour drive south along the Aegean coast from Izmir.
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 in the 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). Overnight Kusadasi. (L)
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.
This afternoon you are transferred to the bus station and board an afternoon local bus driving south towards the Aegean coast to the resort town of Bodrum, once known as Halicarnassus, the popular resort and yachting port of Bodrum, at the western end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Overnight Bodrum. (B, L)
Bodrum may be just as much of a hyperresort as Kusadasi and Marmaris, but with its sugar-cube houses, draped in bougainvillea, and the palm-lined streets it has been more successful at clinging to its original charm. Despite the influx of charter deals and lager louts in high summer, a short walk along the waterfront will show Bodrum is gaining a reputation as the Monte Carlo of the Aegean, with a smart new marina, sophisticated restaurants and millions of dollars worth of sailing craft laying over for a night or two. Bodrum’s outstanding Museum of Underwater Archaeology is also well worth a stop in itself.
But it’s certainly not a place for those whose idea of a dream holiday revolves around peace and quiet. For years the outdoor Halikarnas disco revelled in its fame as the loudest disco in the Med and these days it has competitors too. Come in spring or autumn, however, and Bodrum reverts to a pleasant, relatively low-key resort. Not surprisingly, tourism is the local economy’s lifeblood, although there’s a plentiful tangerine crop in winter.
Enjoy a day at leisure in Bodrum. Maybe you would prefer to visit Bodrum castle, museum of underwater archaeology and antique theater of Halicarnassus or spend the day relaxing on the beach on your own. Alternatively, you can choose an optional day trip to the Greek Island of Kos or relax on a day cruise around the crystal waters of Bodrum. The choice is yours. Overnight Bodrum. (B)
Optional Kos Island Independent Day Trip from Bodrum – EUR 65
Start your day with a hotel pickup from your Bodrum hotel, and then board your hydrofoil in Bodrum to cruise southwest to the island of Kos, roughly twenty minutes away. The most easterly Greek island, Kos sits adrift in the southeastern Aegean Sea and boasts paradisaical scenery and history in equal measures.
After docking at the port, how you spend your time on the gorgeous island is up to you. All entrance fees, food and drinks are at your own expense. Follow the footsteps of sun worshipers to the island’s best beaches and enjoy a day of soaking up the sun on the sand. Visit Paradise Beach for soft sand and calm waters, relax in tranquil seclusion at Limnionas Beach or maybe stroll along the pebbled shores of Agios Theologos Beach.
If you are keen to discover the island’s urban delights, head into Kos town to explore its palm-fringed streets, thronged with restaurants, bars and shops. The town is home to some of the island’s more interesting historical landmarks and Roman ruins. Perhaps pay a visit to the Castle of the Knights (Kos Nerantzia Castle), to explore the ruined towers, battlements and ramparts that date to the days of the knights’ reign. The group of Christian crusaders occupied the city from the 14th century for some 200 years.
Having enjoyed your day, make your own way back to the island’s port at the prearranged time. Then, simply re-board your hydrofoil, and cruise back over the sea to Bodrum. Your independent day trip then finishes with a drop-off at your Bodrum hotel.
Optional Bodrum Peninsula Full-Day Cruise – EUR 35
Spend a day cruising around Turkey’s glorious Bodrum Peninsula on a full-day cruise from Bodrum! Soak up the scenery from out on deck and admire the region’s sun-drenched shoreline framed by forests and hills. The route taken on the relaxing cruise includes several stops for swimming, snorkeling and walking, plus a visit to Kara Ada, a gorgeous yachting island that’s known for its mineral-dense waters. Lunch is served roughly halfway through the day and beer, wine and soft drinks are available while on board (own expense).
Start your day with a pickup from your centrally located Bodrum hotel, and then travel by minivan to the port. Step aboard your hydrofoil boat and take a seat out on deck as you cruise away from the city and around some of Turkey’s most unspoiled stretches of coastline.
The exact route taken depends on the sea conditions on the day of your cruise, but it will always take in several of the beautiful sheltered bays and pine-fringed beaches that personify the Bodrum Peninsula. Enjoy frequent stops to swim, snorkel and top up your tan. Perhaps take a book with you to read in the sun, or simply sit back and ogle the scenery as you cruise from cove to cove.
Kara Ada — or Black Island — is a site that is always taken in on your cruise, so enjoy a stop to bathe in the grotto and see if its mineral waters enhance your complexion, as legend suggests. The island is a popular stop-off on cruises around Turkey’s so-called Turquoise Coast, so look out for swanky yachts and gulets(traditional Turkish sailing boats) bobbing around the island’s chic shores.
Roughly halfway through the day, enjoy a stop for lunch, cooked on board by your crew. Meals vary, but typically include a fresh salad, grilled chicken and rice or pasta.
After exploring the scenic coastline of the Bodrum Peninsula, start cruising back to Bodrum. On arrival at the city’s port, swap from your hydrofoil to your minivan, and finish your day trip with a drop-off at your Bodrum hotel.
Relaxing morning before an afternoon drive further south the Mediterranean coast to Fethiye, rests on a broad Mediterranean bay boasting some of Turkey’s best beaches and yachting.
Tonight we choose to stay either in the resort town of Oludeniz, famous for paragliding or harbour town of Fethiye. Overnight Fethiye or Oludeniz. (B, D)
Oludeniz (Dead Sea), about 15km southeast of Fethiye, is not devoid of life like its biblical namesake. Rather, it’s a sheltered lagoon hidden from the open sea. The scene as you come down from the pine-clad hills is absolutely beautiful: in the distance open sea, in the foreground a long spit of sandy beach.
Unfortunately the paradise that many past travellers fondly recall has all but been ruined by the tightly packed belt of hotels behind the beach. Oludeniz (the lagoon) and Belcekiz (the adjacent beach resort) used to be one of the highlights of independent travel in Turkey but the development of identical air-conditioned hotels, loud bars and overpriced restaurants has hardly bolstered its appeal. Many travellers may prefer to shoot straight through. Note that the name of the lagoon (Oludeniz) is becoming synonymous with the town and that asking for Belcekiz may draw a blank.
You have the option to relax on a day cruise around the 12 Islands of Fethiye, discover Dalyan river and experience the therapeutic properties of the mud and thermal baths, explore one of Turkey’s highlights Saklikent Gorge, Turkey’s longest and deepest canyon or visit the stunning Greek Island of Rhodes. Overnight Fethiye or Oludeniz. (B, D)
Optional 12 Islands Full-Day Cruise – EUR 35
The word fantastic will fall short in describing this tour. We promise a perfect day on board our fully equipped and comfortable vessels with all the services you or your family might need provided. This tour will make a climax in your holiday. There are a lot of activities on this boat trip for every taste and state of vintage we dont call it age anymore!
After pick-up from your accommodation and a drive to Fethiye harbour, when you embark our comfortable and spacious boats, our hospitable crew will take you for an enchanting ODYSSEY along the 12 Islands. On a myriad of bays and islands where navies and corsaires sought shelter from tempests all through mans nautical history, you will find yourself in the bosom of Mediterranean like no other boat trip can compare. Swim in the aquarium-clear crystalline waters, disembark and take strolls at various islands and bays, sunbathe and fall asleep in tune with mother natures most tranquil lullaby, and have BBQ lunch on board. You will return with unforgettable memories.
With more than enough legroom for our guests on our 65 foot single and double decker boats you will find comfort and peace. Clean toilets and shower facilities, bar, sun beds and shades, fishing tackle and snorkelling apparatus, jackets for non-swimmers and beginners for all ages provided on the boats.
Optional Dalyan River, Sultaniye Mud Baths, Caunos, Turtle Beach Tour – EUR 45
We drive through pine and frankincense forests along a most spectacular scenery of Taurus chain of mountains on one side, the Mediterranean coast on the other.
A vast green area with unique properties Dalyan is a very popular small town not spoiled by buildings. The wonderful 7 kilometres sandy Iztuzu Beach, which is accessible by a 45 minutes boat trip, is one of the last nesting areas for the Caretta caretta, Sea Turtles. Between May and September, the female turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, to keep check on them from time to time and finally to take their babies to the sea.
A 15 minutes boat trip will take you to the sulphur bath which is a different experience for many people visiting the city. The mud containing sulphur and other elements is said to be good for skin conditions and makes you feel refreshed and revitalized. Also there is a small spa where you can just relax.
Caunos, the ancient city near modern Dalyan, was founded around the 9th century BC. Once it was a Mediterranean city port, but over the centuries the silt from the Dalyan River choked the harbour and today the town lies several kilometres from the sea. Caunos is famous for its rock-cut tombs. These were graves for the kings and important people of the city. Since the pagans of the area believed in resurrection, they put lots of food, money, jewellery and other valuable items in holes at the entrance of the tombs, but because of grave robbers nothing is now left today.
Optional Rhodes Island Independent Day Trip from Fethiye – EUR 65
Start your day with a pickup from your centrally located Fethiye hotel or meet your air-conditioned vehicle at a pre-arranged location. Then, travel to the port and board your high-speed catamaran to Rhodes, the largest of the Greek Dodecanese islands. Enjoy the views of the Aegean Sea as you make your 45-minute crossing to Rhodes Town, the island’s charming capital. Conveniently, the ferry port is an easy walk from the walled Rhodes Old Town, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities.
When you arrive, you’re free to do as you wish, with no itineraries tying you down. Do as most visitors do and head straight for the UNESCO-listed Rhodes Old Town, entering through one of the seven gates in its walls. Then, spend the day exploring the cobbled streets and Gothic, Frankish and Ottoman gems of this stunning district founded by the Knights of St John in the 14th century. Admire the Street of the Knights and visit the Palace of the Grand Masters, Archaeological Museum and Museum of Decorative Arts. Delve into the maze-like alleys to see the gorgeous medieval architecture; shop for Rhodean lace and ceramics, and sample Greek dishes at the tavernas and cafes.
Alternatively, hit the capital’s modern shopping district, laze on its beaches or absorb the views from historic Mandraki Harbour, once the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. All entrance fees, meals and drinks are at your own expense. Return to the port in the late afternoon to catch your catamaran back to Turkey. Then, on arrival in Fethiye enjoy a drop-off back at your hotel.
Heading west around the coast towards Kas with a stop at the atmospheric village of Kale Koyu, sitting beneath Simena Crusader castle and looking out over turquoise waters to rocky, uninhabited Kekova Island. Peeping out from a riot of carob, palm, walnut, fig and banana trees, the village is a mere smattering of old Greek houses, three of which are simple pensions.
Kas, once an unspoiled fishing village, is now a relatively unspoiled tourist town on the southern bulge of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast two hours’ drive southeast of Fethiye and three hours’ drive southwest of Antalya. Overnight Kas. (B)
A more workaday destination than Kalkan, Kas – pronounced (roughly) ‘cash’ – may not sport the finest beaches in the region, but it’s a yachties’ haven and the atmosphere of the town is wonderfully mellow. The surrounding areas are ideal for day trips by sea or scooter, and a plethora of adventure sports are on offer, in particular some excellent wreck diving.
Extending to the west of the old town is the 6km-long Cukurbag Peninsula. At the start of it you’ll find a well-preserved ancient theatre, about all that’s left of ancient Antiphellos, the name of the original Lycian town here. Above the town several Lycian rock tombs in the mountain wall can be seen even at night when they are illuminated. Lying just offshore is the geopolitical oddity of the Greek island of Meis (Kastellorizo), which can be visited.
Day at leisure. You can embark on easy walks, difficult treks, white-water rafting trips, diving and snorkelling. You can visit ancient cities, go paragliding and take boat trips – the list is almost endless. The town is very family-friendly and is popular amongst travellers of all ages, abilities and levels of fitness. Overnight Kas. (B)
Optional Lycian Way Trekking – EUR 59
Why not walk partly Turkey’s Lycian Way, widely regarded as one of the world’s great trails. Gain an appreciation of the landscape of this great country in a way that is impossible from inside a bus. Whether a casual walker or a serious trekker, this active journey will appeal to those looking for a better way to appreciate magnificent scenery. You’ll hike through pine forests and olive groves, across flower-filled fields, past shepherd’s huts, and the soul-lifting views of valleys. This is adventure at its purest and most simple.
Optional Greek Island of Meis Kastellorizo Independent Day Trip from Kas – EUR 55
This is very pleasant day trip to a tiny Dodecanese island with the population of around 450 people. The island sits just opposite the harbour of Kas and Meis Kastellorizo is the closest Greek island to Turkey.
Meet at 9.30am at Kas harbor, all you need is your passport with you. The boat will sail over to the island where you can spend whole your day in Meis island and see the Greek’s culture. Relax in the sun on the beach or walk the island. The harbour area in Meis is charming with warren of alleys and houses behind the pretty waterside shops and restaurants.
We drive along the Turquoise coast today, stopping for a lunch in Olympos, home of the world famous tree houses before heading towards Antalya, ‘capital’ of the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, is a sprawling modern city with a small, charming historic center, a good archeology museum, long sunny beaches to east and west, the Turquoise Coast’s busiest airport, good hotels, lots to see and do and dramatic sea and mountain views. Overnight Antalya. (B)
Situated directly on the Gulf of Antalya, this quickly growing epicentre of both ancient history and thoroughly modern Turkish culture has, since the 1960s, become known as a gateway city for the country’s so-called ‘Turkish Riviera’. Over the past decade sun-worshippers heading to nearby Mediterranean resorts have been laying over in Antalya in such great numbers that the guesthouse industry has experienced astounding growth of its own – by more than 200%, according to tourism officials.
It isn’t difficult to discern why: The preserved Roman-Ottoman quarter of Kaleici commands a heart-stopping view of the Beydaglari (Bey Mountains), as well as the Roman harbour at Kaleiçi’s base and the refreshingly clean body of water in between. And although its populace hasn’t yet reached the level of urban sophistication found in Istanbul or Ankara , life here nonetheless pushes forward at a remarkably modern clip. Antalya lays claim to some of Turkey’s finest restaurants, one of its most impressive archaeological museums, and some of its best-preserved Ottoman architecture.
Enjoy a full day at leisure in Antalya. Antalya is an international resort city that has become a prime destination in Turkey. Long popular among yachters, the city also offers the liveliest nightlife on the southern coast, fantastic beaches, and world-class shopping, in addition to historic ruins in the surrounding region. A fascinating optional tour is offered to the Pamphylian city of Perge and to the ancient city of Aspendos. Overnight Antalya. (B)
Optional Perge-Aspendos-Side and Kursunlu Waterfall Tour – EUR 65
Your guide will pick you up from your hotel by luxury minibus and then drive you to Perge. Easily the most important city of ancient Pamphylia, Perge is said to have been in its heyday during the Hellenistic period and under Roman rule. Most of its relics date from the 2nd century AD, and you’ll see some of the finest on a tour with your guide. See Perge’s Roman Gate with its magnificent arches, the colonnaded main street and the city’s meticulously restored public baths.
After lunch in a café, continue by minibus to Aspendos to see one of the best-preserved Roman theaters of the ancient world. Still used today, this incredible theater stages sell-out operas, events and concerts. Nearby, see Aspendos’ 3rd-century basilica ruins and remains of the town’s central meeting point, known as the agora.
Before tour’s end, a pleasant stop at the Duden Waterfalls and its surrounding gardens. A natural cave has formed behind the falls and it is possible to sit here and watch the cascades. There are restaurants, boardwalks and picnic tables in the gardens immediately surrounding the falls to help you make the most of this scenic spot.
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. 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)