Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul, Turkey Hot Air Ballooning - Cappadocia, Turkey

Essential Turkey

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Traveling to Turkey should be on everyone's bucket list.  There are few places in the world where one can say east truly meets west.  The scope and magnitude of history permeates every corner of the country.  The people are lovely and the food delicious.  Spend a few days wandering the streets of Istanbul and exploring the uniqueness of Cappadocia with your personal Exeter International guide.  

The following is just a suggested daily touring schedule. You will have complete control over your daily schedule and may change your plans at any time by simply telling your guide. Your time in Europe is yours to enjoy as you like!

For custom luxury travel and tours to Central Europe, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download PDF Itinerary here.

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$4,050 per person, based on two guests traveling together.  Please contact our travel managers for specific pricing and availability. 

Day 1
Arrival | Istanbul

Arrival into Istanbul where we will be met by your guide and driver. Your driver will be waiting for you just outside of Customs, after you pick up your luggage. Transfer to your hotel in the center of the city.

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, played for centuries a major part in world politics, first as the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, then as the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the most powerful Islamic empire in the world. Nowadays, Istanbul's Asian side is filled with Western-style sprawling suburbs, while its European side is a wonderland of mosques, magnificent palaces, and crowded bazaars.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfer

Hotel: Pera Palace

Day 2
Istanbul | Istanbul

This morning, after meeting with your guide, you will set out on an overview tour that covers the highlights, including the most historic section of Istanbul, called Sultanahmet. First, you will visit the Hippodrome, which was once the central focus of Constantinople. Built by the Romans,, only fragments are left of what was once a grand stadium that held 100,000 spectators for public meeting and important events, including chariot races. Here in the Hippodrome, you will also see the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column and the Column of Constantine.

Later you will pay a visit to the famous Hagia Sophia Church. Built in the 6th century, this church influenced architecture for centuries. Its original design was created as a mirror of the heavens. Take your time exploring the vast galleries and beautiful mosaics. Given its age, the church is in remarkable condition and the interiors are full of important frescoes and mosaics depicting holy subjects.

Next, you will step into the Blue Mosque, one of the most important temples of worship in the world. It is named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district. It was built by Mehmet Aga, the imperial architect and was very controversial due to its six minarets, which many at that time believed was sacrilegious as it rivaled the architecture of Mecca itself!

Not far away, you will also visit the dramatic and beautiful Byzantine Underground Cistern, built in the 6th century as a secure water reservoir for the city. It is one of Istanbul’s most unusual tourist attractions! It was laid out in 532 under the rule of Justinian.

You could spend the rest of the afternoon at the famous Covered Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, offering an almost endless selection of Turkish carpets, gold, jewelry and artworks offered in some 4,000 shops!

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Pera Palace

Day 3
Istanbul | Istanbul

This morning, your guide will first take you into the extraordinary Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans, Topkapi Palace. You will see the Herem, the library, the treasure, with its royal jewelry and gem collection, and the imperial living quarters, all surrounded by serene gardens and fountains. Also in the Treasury is the 86-carat Spoonmaker’s diamond and a Case- containing bones said to be from the hand of St. John the Baptist.

While visiting Topkapi, you will be able to step back into time as you explore 500 years of Ottoman history. The Topkapi palace complex will be regarded as a multi-ethnic construction with influences from Central Asia, Asia Minor, Persia and Mesopotamia. Within the historically short period of two centuries, the Ottomans rose from a small, feudal principality to become a major -the major- world power, yet at the same time they possessed a court tradition and culture of their own that was over a thousand years old. Undoubtedly Topkapi involved a synthesis of Byzantine elements but yet it can never be completely separated from its Ottoman roots.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Pera Palace

Day 4
Istanbul - Cappadocia | Istanbul - Cappadocia

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cappadocia. (Cost of flight not included in the program).

Arrival into Cappadocia and transfer to the hotel. After some time to freshen up meet your guide to explore the beautiful region of Cappadocia, the land of the fairy chimneys. Cappadocia has an interesting and remarkable topography and a dream-like landscape, complete with beautiful villages and houses carved from soft volcanic ash, underground cities and frescoed churches. The so-called fairy chimneys and troglodyte dwellings will take you to another world and will guarantee an unforgettable impression. The monastic cave churches, some of which date back to the 3rd Century and which are decorated with beautiful frescoes are worth visiting.

You will also see Pigeon Valley, so named after the hundreds of little windows carved into the rocks to attract nesting pigeons. Today you will also visit the Uchisar Castle. The highest peak in the region and the most prominent land formation, the Uchisar Castle is a larger-than-life sculpture. A climb up the 120 steps to the summit of the fortress is a logical introduction to the rocky scapes of Cappadocia. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Byzantine army took advantage of the natural elevation of three of the area's rock formations and used them as natural fortresses.

Uchisar, together with Ortahisar and a rock castle at Urgup (now in ruins), provided the means for an early warning system using mirrors and lights, sending messages among the fortresses and as far afield as Istanbul. Today the outer layers of Uchisar's rock have been washed away by erosion to reveal a honeycombed structure of tunnels and cavities, rising above the man-made facades of the modern semi-troglodyte village. Recently discovered was a secret tunnel leading to the riverbed, which provided an emergency water supply in the event of an attack.

Exeter Services: Transfers, Half-Day Car, Driver & Guide (Cappadocia)

Hotel: Argos

Day 5
Cappadocia | Cappadocia

This morning your guide will meet you to take you on a full day of touring in the Goreme Valley, including the five churches and the Kaymakli Underground City. The Goreme Valley was formed by a huge volcanic eruption, which covered a vast area with soft volcanic rock, known as tufa. Subsequently, a layer of harder rock was laid down, and differential erosion formed a strange, unearthly landscape with steep gullies, and peaks often likened to "fairy chimneys".

Over the centuries, the inhabitants have carved into the soft tufa to create dwellings for themselves, in the sides of cliffs, in "fairy chimneys" and large rock outcrops, and even, such as in Kaymakli, underground cities, up to seven levels deep and stretching for miles under the ground. The isolation and solitude of central Cappadoccia was an ideal environment for those who wished to get closer to God, and under the Byzantine Empire many monasteries and nunneries were carved out of the rock. As well as these a large number of churches were created, and their interior walls covered with murals.

Continue to the village of Avanos- famous for its pottery. Your return drive will include a visit to Zelve and the Red Valley. The architecture of Zelve is in deep red stone, versus the white stone of Goreme. The central ridge that runs through the valley, used to be the natural divide between the Christian and Muslim communities.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Argos

Day 6
Cappadocia - Istanbul | Cappadocia - Istanbul

If you do not mind getting up before sunrise, you will be able to take a hot air balloon ride - are one of the most popular activities in the Goreme valley. Typically these rides last around an hour and a half and literally go wherever the wind may blow in the valley. The balloon carriages hold around ten people with the pilot following the air currents and floating along the valleys, often below the ridge line and close to the famous natural phenomena – the chimney rocks. Cost of ballooning not included.

Later, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Istanbul. Cost of flight not included. This afternoon your guide will take you to visit the 17th century Spice Market also called the Egyptian Bazaar, because in the 17th Century it was built with money paid as duty on Egyptian import goods. From medieval times, spices were an important and expensive part of Oriental cooking and they gradually became the bazaar’s main focus, taking advantage of Istanbul’s strategic position on the main trade route between the East and Europe.

Following the market experience, continue on to the Galata district where the Genoese, Venetians and the Jewish Society of Old Constantinople used to live. Next, your guide will take you to Eminou to board your private boat. The best way to take in some of the most interesting sights in Turkey is to take this private boat cruise up the Bosphorus. You will depart from Eminonu and sail up the Bosphorus toward the Black Sea, allowing you to see all the interesting structures along this historic waterway.

This is one of the most unforgettable excursions between two continents, Europe & Asia. The cruise takes you along the latest palaces of Ottomans, The Dolmabahce Palace and Beylerbeyi, as well as 19th and 20th century, beautiful wooden kiosks, mansions and modern villas, which form the elegant section of the city. Enjoy the scenery.

Exeter Services: Transfers, Vehicle, Driver & Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Pera Palace

Day 7
Departure | Istanbul

Your driver will meet you in your hotel lobby for your transfer to the airport.

Exeter Services: Transfer

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