DAY 01 Thursday
Depart Cape Town or other centres to fly to Istanbul.
DAY 02 Friday ISTANBUL
Meet and greet on arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Then transfer to hotel with English-speaking guides assistance. Dinner and overnight in Istanbul. Dinner.
DAY 03 Saturday ISTANBUL
Full day city sightseeing tour including lunch.
Visits to: the Topkapi Palace which, from the 15th to 19th century, was the principal residence of the Ottoman Sultans. See the fabulous Imperial Treasure and the Baghdad Kiosk. Topkapi Palace is now a museum and has unrivalled collections of jewellery including the Spoonmaker's Diamond - the third largest in the world. We also visit the Imperial Armoury, displaying centuries of Ottoman weaponry. But perhaps the loveliest features of Topkapi Palace are its courtyards with their ancient trees; it is easy to imagine the sultan strolling here far from the cares of state and empire.
Built by the Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century, the Basilica of St. Sophia is one of the marvels of world architecture.
The Blue Mosque takes its name from the exquisite tiles adorning its interior. Built by Sultan Ahmet I in the early 17th century, it is the only imperial mosque with six minarets. Its courtyard is especially grand. The Hippodrome, the stadium of ancient Byzantium, held 100,000 spectators and featured objects from all corners of the empire. Of these, an Egyptian obelisk and a bronze sculpture of three entwined serpents from Delphi survive.
The Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of the old city and its 4,000 shops are full of treasures including carpets and kilims, silks, jewellery, ceramics, icons, and leather goods.
Last but by no means least, visit the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, completed in 1563. A masterpiece designed by Sinan the Magnificent, it has the most exquisite and extensive Iznik tile decoration of any mosque in Istanbul.
Return to hotel for overnight. Breakfast, lunch.
DAY 04 Sunday Istanbul - CAPPADOCIA
Transfer to Istanbul Airport to catch the Turkish Airlines flight to Cappadocia. Collection from the airport and transfer to your hotel in Cappadocia. Remainder of the day at leisure. Breakfast, dinner.
DAY 05 Monday CAPPADOCIA
Early morning optional balloon tour. Return to the hotel after the flight for breakfast. Meet at the hotel lobby after breakfast and visit the Devrent Valley to see the unique fairy-chimneys. Drive to Pasabagi (Monk's Valley) to see the most interesting mushroom-shaped pinnacles. Drive to Avanos which is known for the pottery, a craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay which is worked by local craftsmen comes from the residue in the Kizilirmak River, the longest river of Turkey. In the afternoon, visit Goreme Open Air Museum (Dark Church is excluded; entrance requires additional admission fee) to visit the churches where the remains of rock-cut churches and Christian settlements date back hundreds of years. Various panoramic viewpoints of castles and fairy chimneys such as Esentepe, Uchisar and its castle, and Pigeon Valley. Continue to Kaymakli (or Ozkonak) Underground City, the place where early Christians hid from persecutors. Return to the hotel. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 06 Tuesday Cappadocia - PAMUKKALE
Early departure is required today for a long day’s drive via Konya, where you will visit the Mausoleum of Mevlana, founder of the mystical Whirling Dervishes Order, then continue to Pamukkale for late afternoon check-in and dinner and overnight. Today's drive is fairly long and tiring due to the long distance between Cappadocia and Pamukkale and the lack of suitable accommodation on the way. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 07 Wednesday Pamukkale - KUSADASI
Tour the ruins of Hierapolis including the magnificently preserved cemetery "Necropolis", the Main Street and Gates, the Thermal Baths, the Roman Theatre and the Museum. In the afternoon visit Aphrodisias, the city of Aphrodite; visit the Museum, the Temple of Aphrodite, the Theatre, the Stadium, the Agora, the Hadrian Baths, the Odeon, and the Bishop's Palace. Proceed to the hotel in Kusadasi for overnight.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 08 Thursday KUSADASI
Drive to the magnificent ruined Roman city of Ephesus, a leading commercial and cultural city of ancient times. See the Odeon, Bouleterion, Fountains, Temples, Library, Theatre, Gymnasium, Double Church and Stadium. Hillside Houses are not included.) After lunch visit the Basilica of St. John* and the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent the last years of her life together with St. John. Time for shopping. Return to hotel in Kusadasi for dinner and overnight. Breakfast, lunch, dinner
*At the time this programme was compiled, the Ephesus Museum was closed for renovation. At the time the museum opens (date not yet announced), the Basilica of St. John will be replaced by a visit to the museum.
DAY 09 Friday Kusadasi - CANAKKALE
Early departure to Ancient Pergamum. Visit its Acropolis and Asklepeion with its well-preserved remains. Lunch in the town, then continue to Troy. Explore the ancient city with nine habitation levels covering a period of 3000 years, where the legendary Trojan War took place as described in the historical work of Homer of Smyrna. Overnight in Canakkal. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 10 Saturday Canakkale - ISTANBUL
Cross the Dardanelles by ferry and visit the Memorials of Gallipoli from the fiercest battle of World War 1 on the way to Istanbul. Late afternoon arrival and drop off at your hotel. Overnight in Istanbul. Breakfast, lunch.
DAY 11 Sunday ISTANBUL - DEPARTURE (Private transfer)
Transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport for departure flight. End of our services. Breakfast.
DAY 12 Monday
Arrive home destination.