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Turkey in Depth
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15 Days / 14 Nights Trip | Ancient Istanbul, Travel to Ankara, Visit Hacibektas Museum, Town of Olympos, Pamukkale and Hierapolis, Troy & Battlefields of Gallipoli

Turkey in Depth

Watching sunrises in otherworldly landscapes, dancing, shopping and plenty of good times make this getaway a real Turkish delight.
Turkey is a country of contrasting landscapes and immense cultural riches. This all-encompassing trip takes-in Istanbul, the impressive ancient sites of Aphrodisias and Ephesus, the unusual terraces of Pamukkale, and visits the World War I battlefields of Gallipoli.
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  • Duration
    15 Days
  • Starting From
    Twin sharing
  • Travel Operator
  • Flights
    Not Included
    Flight booking assistance will be provided.

Trip highlights

Are we in Europe or Asia? 
Highlight #1
Are we in Europe or Asia? 
That’s the thing- you’re in two continents at the same time! Welcome to Istanbul, a whirlwind of colour, landscapes and culture, that showcases the best of both Asia & Europe.
This place is real. It's called Cappadocia.
Highlight #2
This place is real. It's called Cappadocia.
Cappadocia is the next-best thing to living in a fairytale. Waking up to this sunrise view, you’ll definitely agree
Good times and a great cruise: Bosphorus Strait
Highlight #3
Good times and a great cruise: Bosphorus Strait
With the wind in your hair, watch the sunset sipping a cocktail, looking out at Asia on one end and Europe on the other.
Feel cute in Pamukkale
Highlight #4
Feel cute in Pamukkale
While relaxing by these white, gorgeous thermal pools, don’t feel shy to capture your selfie-worthy moment.
Ephesus | Where Greek and Roman worlds marry
Highlight #5
Ephesus | Where Greek and Roman worlds marry
This ancient trade city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) of grand ruins beautifully blends Greek and Roman worlds.

6 things about Turkey that you'll find hard to believe

This country’s whirlwind of colour, innovation, revolution and chaos will surprise you at every turn. Here are 6 things about Turkey that will definitely surprise you.

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Join trip in Istanbul

On arrival in Istanbul, we will check in to our conveniently-located hotel, within walking distance of many of the cultural and historical sites in the Sultanahmet district.

As Constantinople, the city was the capital of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, so today it is steeped in history and fascinating architecture. Modern day Istanbul also has much to offer - not least its mouth-watering cuisine and budding cafe culture. Istanbul bridges the gap between Europe and Asia and was an important stopping point of the old Silk Road, and as such it is a melting point of different cultures and this is demonstrated in its gastronomy. Turkish food is a hearty mix of Middle Eastern, Asian and Balkan style dishes that range from barbecued meat kebabs to vine leaf wrapped vegetable and rice parcels.

Depending on your flight arrival time or if you're extending your stay by a night then we'd recommend visiting Istanbul's Grand Bazaar today, as it is closed on a Sunday, so there won't be the opportunity to go tomorrow. Located within the walls of Istanbul, there are around 60 streets and over 3,000 shops selling everything from jewellery to carpets and textiles and furniture to local arts and crafts. It's one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. The labyrinth of streets also house two mosques, two hamams (Turkish baths) and an array of restaurants and cafes, so there is plenty to experience in this historic landmark of Istanbul.

Please note that the included arrival transfer today is from Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) to the hotel. If flying into Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) then an arrival transfer can be arranged on request for an additional charge - please contact us for further details.

Walking tour of Istanbul including the Blue Mosque

This morning we'll get our first chance to try a traditional Turkish breakfast which usually consists of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, olives and occasionally fruit. Along with a variety of yogurts, cheese and bread. We then explore the 'Old City' on foot, visiting the famous Blue Mosque, the opulent Topkapi Palace and the historic hub of Sultanahmet Square.

This afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. You may choose to visit the impressive 6th century Sunken Palace cisterns or the great Hagia Sophia, which reined as the greatest church in Christendom for 900 years. Alternatively, there is the chance to take a boat trip on the Bosphorus, offering stunning views of the Istanbul skyline. To appreciate the wonderful skyline of domes and minarets further, you may opt to climb the Galata Tower.

This evening, you might choose to enjoy Istanbul's nightlife, with its large selection of restaurants, bars and entertainment. Your Explore Leader will be able to offer you advice based on your preferences.

Travel to Ankara; visit Ataturk's Mausoleum and the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations

Leaving Turkey's largest city behind us, we head for the capital of Ankara. Our journey will take approximately six hours, but we travel through interesting countryside and have plenty of breaks. During the summer months, we are likely to pass through huge expanses of sunflowers - an important oil crop in the country. 
When we get to Ankara, we will visit the impressive Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. This monumental building sits high above the city and honours the highly-respected leader of Turkey's fight for independence, widely regarded as the founder of modern Turkey. We'll also visit the superb Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, which gives a fantastic overview of Turkey's complex history. 
This evening, our centrally-located hotel provides an excellent base from which to explore the capital's restaurants and bars.

Visit Hacibektas Museum en route to Urgup; see Kaymakli underground city

This morning, we set off on our journey to Cappadocia, stopping en route in Hacibektas. The museum here once housed the famous Bektashi Dervish sect and is now recreated as it would have looked during the 13th century.

An hour's further drive takes us to Urgup - our base for the next two nights from which we will explore the lunar landscape of Cappadocia. This area is famed for its unique geological formations and a history that stretches back to before the Hittites (2000 BC).

This afternoon we visit Kaymakli Underground City. Built by Christians escaping Arab oppression and once home to 3,500 people, this troglodyte cave-city is one of the largest of 34 similar excavations in Cappadocia. Built under the Citadel of Kaymakli, it contains nearly 100 tunnels on eight subterranean floors. We will explore the four that are open to the public, containing stables, a church and storage places.

After a busy day exploring you might like to try a popular local yoghurt drink called, ayran, it has an unusual salty and soured milk flavour.

Full day in Cappadocia

Later this morning we have the option of taking a three-hour walk through the remarkable Red and Rose Valleys, helping us to gain a better appreciation of this landscape. Formed by volcanic eruptions which covered the valleys with mud, ash and blocks of hard rock, over the ages this volcanic 'tufa' was sculpted by erosion into strange and improbable shapes. Byzantine hermits settled in this area and carved churches, houses, fortresses and even complete underground cities into these cone formations known as fairy-tale chimneys. 
This afternoon we visit Uchisar Castle, where rooms are carved into this massive rock on the top of the Uchisar citadel. From its peak, magnificent views can be gained of the whole region including the valleys that we walked through yesterday. We also spend time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Goreme Open Air Museum, where we will explore its many rock-carved churches and monastic buildings; some of which feature a stunning collection of wall paintings.

 Konya, home to the Whirling Dervishes en route to Egirdir

Leaving Cappadocia this morning, our first stop is the 13th century Sultanhani Caravansarai - once the largest roadside inn in Turkey, supporting the flow of commerce between the East and the West. We then drive for a further 2 hours to Konya - Turkey's holiest city and the home of the Mevlana sect, better known as the Whirling Dervishes. Here, we will visit the Mevlana Museum to learn more about Sufism and Whirling Dervish tradition.

Later this afternoon, a drive of a couple of hours takes us to our night stop at the beautiful lakeside town of Egirdir. Here, you may have time to take a stroll along the lake shores or purchase some of the rose perfume the region is famous for, before watching the sun set over the lake.

Journey to Kas via the ancient town of Olympos

This morning we head towards the illustrious ancient town of Olympos. Although its early history is shrouded in mystery, we do know that it was an important Lycian city by the 2nd century BC and that the Olympians worshipped Hephaestus (Vulcan), the god of fire. Today, only fragmentary ruins are left in a lush, overgrown site overlooking the tropical coastline.

We will enjoy a short, but steep uphill walk through forest to the 'Chimaera' eternal flame, before having the opportunity to enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea - don't forget your swim wear and a towel. Those who would prefer not to join this walk can choose to relax in the cafe at the bottom of the hill.

Our journey continues to the unspoilt coastal town of Kas - our base for the next two nights.

With its old Greek houses and their picturesque balconies, the tiny seaport of Kas is one of the most beautiful on the Turkish Riviera. Today has been left free for you to relax and soak up the town's charming atmosphere or take part in an optional activity. You could take a boat trip to see the sunken ruins at Kekova or try your hand at sea kayaking. Kas is also a great place to pick up souvenirs, but don't forget to haggle!For a little more culture, it is possible to arrange a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ancient city of Xanthos.

In Kas with the chance to sea kayak or visit Xanthos

Boat ride to Caunos and Iztuzu Beach; arrive in Dalyan

Today's early morning drive to Dalyan allows us to enjoy a gentle riverboat trip through the reeds of the Koycegiz River, looking out for loggerhead turtles in this serene setting. After viewing the rock-cut tombs of ancient Caunos from the water, we step onto dry land to explore the ruins further, which date back to 400 BC.

Once again, we recommend packing your swimming costume today, as we have the opportunity for a dip in the inviting turquoise sea at Iztuzu Beach before heading on to Dalyan and checking in to our hotel for the night.

Today we drive for about four hours to our hotel in Pamukkale. After spending the early afternoon relaxing by the pool, we will head out to explore this area known as the 'cotton castle,' taking its name from the white calcareous concretions deposited by mineral springs.Our first stop is the sacred site of Hierapolis - an ancient spa town with well-preserved Roman baths, tombs and an impressive theatre. People have been making the most of Hierapolis' thermal waters since the 2nd century BC and, as recently as the mid 20th century, hotels were being constructed on top of its priceless ruins. Luckily, UNESCO World Heritage status has saved it from further damage.We move on to view one of Turkey's most impressive natural wonders - the 'Frozen Waterfall'. A boardwalk offers us spectacular views of the unusual white cliff face with crystal blue pools and the huge valley below. Don't miss Cleopatra's Pool - an oasis of beauty with a mirror-like clarity that allows us to see deep down to the ruins below.

Visit the ancient sites of Pamukkale and Hierapolis

Visit Aphrodisias Greco-Roman site; arrive in Selcuk

Today we visit the Greco-Roman site of Aphrodisias - one of the most interesting and earliest sites in the region. The cult of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, had its most important temple here and the city also established itself as an artistic centre, inspiring some of the finest Carian sculptures. Many of these can be seen in the impressive museum on the site. The athletics stadium is one of the largest and best preserved from the classical world.

Later, a three hour drive takes us to Selcuk, our base for two nights.

Explore Ephesus; chance to visit Selcuk Museum

Today we visit Selcuk's historic neighbour, the great Greco-Roman city of Ephesus. Once visited by Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, and also by St. Paul, inspiring the Epistle to the Ephesians, this famous Asia Minor seaport reached its zenith in the 2nd century AD. Ephesus became one of the main cultural and economic centres of the ancient world until it went into decline after the 7th century.

Driving on a short distance, we will visit the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, before returning to Selcuk for a free afternoon. In your own time, you may choose to explore St John's Basilica, the Isa Bey Mosque or Selcuk Museum. Alternatively, you may prefer to enjoy a bit of shopping or relaxation, soaking up the town's laid-back vibe. Selcuk is the ideal place to people-watch as you sip Turkish tea with the backgammon-playing locals in the many open air café's and park.

See Pergamum Acropolis and Troy en route to Canakkale

Continuing our journey north past endless olive groves and pomegranate trees, we come to the Greco-Roman remains of Pergamum, now the typical Turkish town of Bergama. This is the place that gave its name to the word 'parchment', for which it was famous throughout the Middle East. We will visit the ancient Acropolis and later continue to the ancient site of Troy where, according to legend, the artful Ulysses devised the Wooden Horse strategy, thereby ending the 10 year Trojan War. Here, nine ruined cities, one on top of the other, have been uncovered, going back some 5,000 years. Troy VI is the assumed walled city of King Priam (1800-1275 BC), celebrated by the blind Greek poet Homer in the Iliad and all but lost in legend until unearthed by amateur archaeologist Schliemann in 1871. 
Later this afternoon, we drive a short distance to our hotel for the night, in Guzelyal.

Travel to the Gallipoli Battlefields; return to Istanbul

This morning, we board a ferry to cross the Dardanelles Straits to the Gallipoli Peninsula. It was here in 1916 that, after much bloody hand-to-hand fighting and loss of life, the ill-fated Allied campaign was forced to concede victory to the Turks and withdraw. We will visit the cemeteries, memorials and Anzac Cove before following the shoreline of the Sea of Marmara back to Istanbul for our final evening.

Trip ends in Istanbul

Our trip ends in Istanbul this morning after breakfast.

Please note that the included departure transfer today is from the hotel to Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST). If flying into Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW) then an arrival transfer can be arranged on request for an additional charge - please contact us for further details.


 Included meals - 14 breakfast

 Trip staff - Expert tour leader, driver(s)

 Transport - Bus, boat, ferry

 Accommodation - 14 nights standard hotel

Not Included

 Additional 5% GST

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This Trip Is Operated By Explore

At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Our authentic travel experiences explore the sights and culture of a country, with hand-picked accommodation that balances comfort and location. Our average group tour size is just 12; perfect for meeting new people and getting to the heart of our destinations.

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