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Western Turkey

  • Destination: Turkey

Turkey is a perfect vacation destination. There is something for everyone – ancient Greek ruins (better than in Greece!), awesome landscapes, beautiful coastlines, bustling cities, great shopping and fabulous food. We can design your trip to incorporate all of these facets of Turkey. You might begin with the ancient history of Istanbul and continue to the fairy-tale landscaped region of Cappadocia. From there you travel south to the Turquoise Coast where the great Roman cities of Ephesus and Aphrodisias once dominated the Aegean. Back in Istanbul, you can explore Islamic riches before returning home. Let us make your trip to Turkey a as monumental as the destination itself.

Itineraries In Brief

Trip Idea # 1


Trip Idea # 2


Day 1 – Fly to Izmir (via Istanbul). 3 nights in Izmir. Day 2 – Pergamon, once the most powerful city-state. Day 3 – Drive inland to Sardis. Day 4 – Drive south to Ephesus. Visit the ancient city. 3 nights in Kusadasi. Day 5 – From Kusadasi, visit Priene, Didyma, Miletus. Day 6 – In Selçuk see the restored Basilica of St John and the Isla Bey mosque. A second visit to the vast site of Ephesus, or a free afternoon in the coastal town of Kusadasi. Day 7 – Leave the coast and drive into the interior of Anatolia. One of the most beautiful classical sites in Turkey, Aphrodisias was the center of a Roman cult of Aphrodite. Overnight Pamukkale. Day 8 – Hierapolis prospered under the Romans and Byzantines as a center of thermal healing. Day 9 – Perge, Aspendos, Termessos, Antalya. Colonized by the Greeks after the Trojan War, Perge has substantial Hellenistic and Roman gates and colonnaded streets. While the Roman aqueduct at Aspendos is the best-preserved in Asia Minor, the marvelously complete theatre is the best-preserved in the whole of the Roman world. Afternoon visit to the one of the country’s finest archaeological museums with exhibits from prehistory to Ottoman. Overnight Antalya. Day 10 – Fly from Antalya (via Istanbul) to the USA. (Usually requiring an overnight in Istanbul.)
Trip Idea # 3

EXPLORING ANATOLIA: Izmir/Kusadasi/Pamukkale/Anatalya

Day 1-Arrive Izmir for 3 nights. Day 2-Whole-day excursion to Pergamum (acropolis, Hellenistic theatre). Day 3– Sardis (Severan gymnasium, synagogue). Izmir Museum. Day 4-Transfer to Kusadasi for three nights. Ephesus: vast theatre, Library of Celsus, recently-excavated houses. Day 5-Whole-day excursion to Priene, Miletus & Didyma Temple (one of ancient world’s greatest oracular temples). Day 6-Ephesus Museum (including bronze statue of Eros with Dolphin), Temple of Artemis and Byzantine St John’s Basilica. Day 7-Transfer east to Pamukkale for 1 night. Pamukkale (cascading streams of hot mineral water), ancient site of Hierapolis (Temple of Apollo, fine theatre), Aphrodisias (leading school of monumental sculpture). Day 8– Transfer to Antalya for two nights. Termessos (spectacular views, theatre, tombs). Day 9– Perge (theatre and stadium), Aspendos (theatre with vast cavea). Antalya Museum (statues from Perge theatre, sarcophagi, mosaics). Day 10– Depart Antalya to Istanbul. Day 11– Fly home or begin tour of Istanbul
Trip Idea # 4

OTTOMAN TURKEY: Istanbul/Bursa/Çanakkale/Edirne

Day 1– Arrive Istanbul. Spend five nights in Istanbul. Day 2– Ottoman Architecture followed by the Hippodrome (modeled on Rome’s Circus Maximus), 17th century Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque, Yerebatan Cistern. Topkapi Palace including Harem. Day 3– 14th century Kariye Camii (glorious Byzantine mosaics and frescoes), Sehzade Mosque (built by Sinan), great land walls of Theodosius (including fortress of Yedikule). Justinian’s great church of Hagia Sophia (Aya Sofya), free time. Day 4– Cruise from Golden Horn along Bosphorus to 19th century Beylerbeyi Palace. Sinan’s Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Mosque, 6th century Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (converted into mosque in 16th century), Mosaic Museum (including examples from Justinian’s Great Palace). Day 5– Suleymaniye Mosque (Sinan’s masterpiece built for Suleiman the Magnificent), Rustem Pasha Mosque (superlative Iznik tiles), spice bazaar. Optional visits to Ibrahim Pasha Museum of Islamic Arts (fine example of 16th century domestic architecture) or Archaeology Museum. Day 6– By road and ferry to Iznik (ancient Nicaea) continuing to Bursa for two nights. Day 7– Bursa (first Ottoman capital): Yesil Camii (Green Mosque), Green Mausoleum (tomb of Mehmet I), 14th century Ulu Camii (Great Mosque), Silk Han (caravanserai). Day 8– Muradiye (garden complex containing tombs of Ottoman sultans) then continue to Çanakkale on Dardanelles for two nights. Day 9– Troy (city of Priam). Optional tour of Gallipoli peninsula. Day 10– Edirne (second Ottoman capital): 15th century Beyazid II complex, Uc Serefeli Camii (minaret with three balconies), Selimiye (Sinan’s crowning achievement). Overnight at Rustem Pasha Caravanserai Hotel (former 16th century caravanserai built by Sinan). Day 11– Depart Istanbul to the USA.
Trip Idea # 5
Day 1– Arrive Istanbul transfer to flight to Dalaman. Transfer to a chartered “Turkish Gulet” for up to 14 nights. Overnight at Göcek. Day 2– Morning cruise to island of Gemiler (former Byzantine monastic community). Day 3— Cruise westwards to pretty village of Kas (ancient Antipheloos) (quiet inlet for swimming). Day 4– Sail via Uluburun (site of famous Bronze Age wreck) along coast and into bay of Kekova (underwater remains) to small Turkish village of Kaleköy (ancient Simena): dramatic citadel, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman remains, haunting Lycian necropolis. Day 5– Sail to Myra (superb ancient theatre, rock tombs, fascinating Church of St Nicholas) then ancient town of Teimussa. Overnight off Kekova. Day 6– Cruise along mountainous shores of Lycian coast to tiny harbor of Kalkan then by minibus to Letoön (temples to Leto, Apollo and Artemis), Xanthos (Roman theatre and Byzantine citadel, Nereid monument, large Byzantine church). Overnight at Kalkan (quiet inlet for swimming and snorkeling). Day 7– By minibus to ancient Pinara in Esençay Valley (acropolis, Hellenistic theatre, rock-cut tombs) and Tlos (imposing bath complex and citadel). Two nights in bay of Fethiye. Day 8 Ancient site of Telmessos: recently-excavated theatre, magnificent tomb of Amyntas. Day 9– Morning sail to Agalimani: walk through pine forest to remains of ancient Lydae (ruined mausolea). Day 10– Morning cruise followed by transfer to small boat for ancient Caunos. Overnight in bay near Caunos. Day 11– Cruise along peninsula to Loryma: Hellenistic fort (one of finest in ancient world). Overnight in Loryma. Day 12– Cruise to Knidos: temple of Apollo Karnaios, Tholos temple of Aphrodite Euploia (once housed famous statue by Praxiteles), Doric portico, early Byzantine churches, harbor theatre. Day 13– Cruise to Bay of Bodrum (explore bays and inlets). Overnight in Bay of Bodrum. Day 14– Sail to Bodrum: Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Bodrum Museum (underwater collections excavated from wrecks around the coast of Asia Minor), 14th century Crusader castle of St Peter. Overnight at Bodrum. Day 15– Depart Bodrum to Istanbul. Overnight. Day 16– Fly to the USA.


The Grand Hyatt Istanbul

One of the finest 5 star hotels in Turkey, this luxury hotel reflects the spirit and culture of the city. Located in the new centre of modern Istanbul. Unwind in 360 luxury rooms and suites with spectacular views of either the city, the pool or the Bosphorous Strait.Just minutes away from the historic landmarks of the Old City, including Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace.

Hilton Izmir Hotel

Admire Izmir Bay views from the Hilton Izmir hotel. Located in the heart of the city, the hotel is close to the Old Town, within walking distance of shopping, cultural and entertainment attractions and just 18 kilometers from Adnan Menderes Airport.

DoubleTree by Hilton Kusadasi

Expected to open in late 2013, the hotel will be in a prime position in the centre of the historic resort town of Kusadasi, and will consist of both new build and historic buildings. The hotel will feature 88 bedrooms and suites, all with balconies. The hotel will provide several café, restaurant and bar options including a specialty rooftop restaurant, a spa and health club with indoor and outdoor swimming pools. If the hotel is completed by the time we are in Kusadasi, we will stay here.

Kismet Hotel, Izmir

Our Hotel is located on a peninsula that protrudes into the Aegean Sea like a pleasure cruiser. Guests are at the center of it all… delightful year-round sun, gentle breezes, proud pines and swaying palms, colorful spring and summer flowers and the unmistakable perfume of white jasmine. Add to this picture, the magnificent turquoise of the Aegean sea – perfect for swimming, waterskiing, cruising and diving – and you have all of the ingredients for a relaxing holiday.

Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel, Cappadocia

In Cappadocia’s magical landscape of fairy chimneys is a unique hotel carved into a mountain cliff, the Yunak Evleri. This hotel includes six cave houses, 35 rooms dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries and a 19th century Greek Mansion. Yunak Evleri is an inspiring hotel – an ideal base for exploring Cappadocia’s elaborate underground cities, hidden cavernous churches and enchanting rock terrain.

A Gulet Cruise

What is a Turkish Gulet?

The word ‘gulet’ (Turkish gulet – aka goulette or gullet) probably derives from the French goulette, or schooner. These two-masted wooden vessels, traditionally made from local pine, were long used for transport and fishing along the southern coasts of Turkey. A gulet cruise features the best constructed and equipped yachts you can find in Turkey. Handmade, using mahogany, pine and teak, the gulets follow a design developed for these waters in Byzantine times, with a sharp bow, broad beam and rounded aft. It is stylish, graceful, fitted with comfort and bursting with character.

Cruising the Turquoise Coast

On a Turkish gulet cruise, you’re practically guaranteed to enjoy glorious swimming in the clear blue seas, the wonderful panoramas of the Turkey coastline, and delicious meals prepared by a chef (usually the Captain and gulet owner) in the well-stocked galley. For those long, hot, lazy days on vacation, local wines are stocked onboard, along with a range of spirits, beers, soft drinks and fruit juices. Drinks are usually at additional charge.
Beyond the pleasures onboard, there are a range of options for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, as well as expeditions onshore for those eager to explore the ancient sites of Turkey. Gulet cruises typically involve a leisurely journey along the coast for about three hours a day, generally by motor to keep to the cruise schedule, but under glorious sail when time and the weather permits!
Every double bed cabin has air conditioning operating after lunch and part of the evenings when the weather is hot, an en-suite shower/WC, a wardrobe, as well as hot and cold water. The yacht is also fitted with electric 220-volt power points (bathroom towels and hairdryers are provided.) The spacious salon is fitted throughout in mahogany and equipped with telephone TV, and a stereo hi-fi system as well as a fully stocked bar. At 20-36 metres in length there is plenty of space on deck for you to sunbathe, relax under awnings with a nice cool drink or enjoy the comfort and style of eating outside around the dining table on the aft deck. Often guests opt to sleep out under the stars in the cool fresh air.
Chatering a gulet with friends is one of the best vacation experiences in the Mediterranean. Charters are usually based on 7 days, and the cost varies according to the level of luxury of the gulet.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: You need a passport and visa to travel to Turkey. Passports should be valid for at least 90 days from the date of entry into Turkey and must have enough blank space to allow for Turkish entry and exit stamps. If there is not enough space for entry and exit stamps in your passport, you will be denied entry into Turkey. If you are traveling as a tourist, you can purchase a tourist visa at a Turkish Embassy or Consulate outside of Turkey, or you can purchase a sticker visa at the Turkish airport or other port of entry for $20 (U.S.) cash. There is one exception: foreigners who are traveling to Turkey by cruise ship are allowed to enter Turkey without a visa for a maximum period of 72 hours, with permission given by the local security authorities at the port of entry.

CLIMATE: The climate in Turkey has a vast diversity depending on the diverse topography and latitude. Aegean and Mediterranean coastal areas enjoy the typical Mediterranean climate. There is hardly a drop of rain during the sunny and hot summer (May to October). Winters are mild and rainy in these regions, and it very rarely snows at coastal areas, with the exception of mountainous areas higher than 2000 metres of these regions, which are very snowy and are frequently not passable. The water temperature in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas is warm during the long summer season (May to October) which constitutes the swimming season and fluctuates between 23° and 28°C from north to south.

LGBT RIGHTS: While Turkey does not explicitly discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, references in the law relating to “offenses against public morality,” “protection of the family,” and “unnatural sexual behavior,” are sometimes used as a basis for abuse by law enforcement officials. LGBT individuals are not protected by anti-discrimination laws. In addition, the law states that “no association may be founded for purposes against law and morality,” a clause which has been used by authorities in attempts to shut down or limit the activities of NGOs working on LGBT matters. LGBT travelers will enjoy traveling in Turkey. There are a few gay bars/clubs in Istanbul, but the scene is largely undeveloped on western standards.