This 10-day tour by Argeus Travel & Events begins in biblical Cappadocia and visits Istanbul and the ancient cities of Ephesus, Didyma, Miletus, Priene, Hierapolis, Aphrodisias as well as the spa of Pamukkale—all in only 10 days, counting your day of arrival Turkey, and your day of departure for home.
Not only do you visit all of Turkey’s top sights in this time, you can choose any dates you want for it to happen. The tour fee is determined by the number of participants (as few as two, as many as 16), so if you gather a group of friends to do the tour with you, the price goes down for all of you.
The hotels you’ll stay in are among my favorites: small, charming, historic, perfectly located. You benefit from Argeus‘s ability to reserve rooms in these choice places even at preferred travel times.
Day 1: Arrive in Istanbul, Flight to Cappadocia (D)
An Argeus representative greets you at Istanbul‘s Atatürk Airportand assists with your transfer to an evening flight to Cappadociaand transfer to your hotel, where you settle into a comfortable cave room, then enjoy a late supper.
Day 2: Cappadocia (BLD)
Recover from travel during a leisurely morning. After lunch in an old village house we drive to the Soğanlı Valley to visit one of Cappadocia’s oldest cave-monastery sites.
We continue to the fabled Underground Cities, and enter a subterranean labyrinth that protected local people from marauding armies over the centuries. Imagine being in a huge “Swiss cheese” made of volcanic stone! Wandering through the labyrinth is an unforgettable experience.
Day 3: Cappadocia (BLD)
After breakfast, we plunge into the lunar landscape of Cappadociaat the Dervent Valley, then we head to Zelve Open Air Museum, which is one of the earliest inhabited and latest abandoned monastic settlements of Cappadocia. Seeing the best examples of the fairy chimneys at Paşabağı Fairy Chimneys Valley, we drive to Avanos, famous for its pottery. After lunch at a local restaurant, we tour Göreme Open Air Museum, with its dozens of beautifully painted cave churches, monasteries, refectories and other troglodyte dwellings. We end the day with the climb to the top of Uçhisar, a natural rock fortress that is the highest point in the region, offering us a breathtaking panorama of the Cappadocian moonscape. Then it’s off to dinner and our comfortable cave quarters.
Day 4: Silk Road, Konya & Pamukkale(BLD)
Driving along the ancient Silk Road, we stop at the Sultan Han, a 13th-century Seljuk Turkish caravansaray—the largest in Anatolia. Continuing on our drive, we stop in the medieval Seljuk capital of Konya for lunch, a stroll, and a visit to the Mevlana Museum, burial-place of Jelaleddin Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes.
We then continue our drive to Pamukkale, arriving for dinner and overnight.
Day 5: Hierapolis, Aphrodisias & Kuşadası (BLD)
Pamukkale was the Roman spa city of Hierapolis. We visit the extensive ruins of the Roman city and the gleaming white travertine pools of Pamukkale, then drive to Aphrodisias, the city of the Goddess of Love. After lunch and a tour of the ruins, we drive along the Meander River valley to the seaside resort city of Kuşadası, our hotel, and dinner.
Day 6: Ephesus (BLD)
We start today’s explorations at the pine-shaded hilltop site proclaimed by the pope to be the House of the Virgin Mary. Then we descend to the marble streets of ancient Ephesus, the most impressive ancient city in the Mediterranean, with its marble temples, mosaic-rich houses, its noble library, 25,000-seat Great Theater, public baths and latrines, and even a brothel.
Later in the afternoon we visit St John Basilica, believed to be built atop the tomb of the Apostle. From the basilica, we look down on the remains of the huge Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We end the day with a visit to the grand İsa Bey Mosque, just down the hill from the basilica. Then it’s back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Istanbul (BLD)
We drive to İzmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport for our flight to Istanbul, and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore the fascinating Byzantine/Ottoman capital. The major sights of Istanbul are right here: the Blue Mosque, the Byzantine Hippodrome, the Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace and many more. Feel free to wander and browse until dinnertime. (Here’s Tom’s list of top Istanbul sights.)
Day 8: Istanbul (BLD)
We stroll to the Byzantine Hippodrome and its most famous architectural monument, the fabled Blue Mosque, built on the site of the Byzantine imperial palace. Then we walk next door to Hagia Sophia, the grandest church in Christendom for 1000 years. Finally, we descend into the dank, eerie depths of the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıçı) for a look at this strategic Byzantinewater-storage facility featured in the James Bond movie, From Russia With Love.
After lunch, we enter the splendid realm of Topkapı Palace, one of the world’s premier historical treasures, with its sumptuous pleasure kiosks, verdant gardens, mysterious Harem, and a Treasury filled with the incredible wealth of the sultans.
After lunch, we dive into Istanbul’s world-famous Grand Bazaar: 4000 shops selling everything from priceless antiques to everyday necessities. Laden with purchases—or just dazed by the glitter of window-shopping (one bazaar street is lined with nothing but jewellers’ shops) —we make our way back to our hotel for a relaxing dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Istanbul (BLD)
After a buffet breakfast, we walk to Eminönü to visit the Rüstem Pasha Mosque, an Ottoman gem famed for its beautiful faïence(colored tiles). We then visit sumptuous Dolmabahçe Palace on the Bosphorus before boarding a boat for a leisurely Bosphorus Cruise to the village of Sariyer.
Returning to the center of Istanbul and the Golden Horn, we penetrate the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar where Genoese and Venetian goods were sold at a time when there was no Suez Canal, and all the spices from the East were also brought here by way of Egypt.
Day 10: Istanbul (B)
We escort you to the airport for your homeward flight.
Additional Days & Nights
If you wish, Argeus will be happy to arrange additional nights in Istanbul (optional, at extra cost) so you can do last-minute shopping or see even more of the imperial city, perhaps the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, or the Archeological Museums, or the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts.
For more information and availability, please contact Argeus.When you do, please mention TTP. Here’s why.
—by Tom Brosnahan
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