Road to Cappadocia

More than a quintessential journey. Follow on the trails of the 7 Churches of Revelation to the ancient ruins of the Turkish Riviera on the road to Cappadocia, a sojourn of epic proportions with the perfect blend of natural scenery, ancient sites and fascinating culture. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Uncover quintessential Turkey with a twist!

Stay in boutique and charming hotels 

Be fascinated by the ancient fervor of Turkey

ITINERARY

DAY 1: ARRIVE ISTANBUL

Arrive Istanbul Ataturk Intl Airport where you will be met and transfer into the heart of Istanbul, historically-known as Byzantium and Constantinople. On a guided tour, we visit the iconic Sultanahmet Blue Mosque with its cascading domes and six slender minarets dominating the skyline of old Istanbul. Thereafter, a short walk allows us to visit the Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th Century with a huge dome. It was the biggest
cathedral for decades where you can see the best “Deisis” from the 12th century. Next to it is the Basilica
Cistern
, a true marvel of Byzantine engineering under the streets of Istanbul, built in 532AD by Emperor
Justinian I. Be thrilled by the amazing pillars and at the far end of the cistern, an intriguing motif of Medusa at
the base of the pillars. Later, we enjoy a 2 hour private yacht cruise on the Bosphorus River with lunch on board as you sail through the strait separating Europe and Asia. Thereafter, we disembark where we visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest covered markets in the world with over 3,000 shops. Enjoy a stroll through the atmospheric vibe of the market and enjoy some time for shopping and leisure.

Overnight: Vault Karakoy The House Hotel, Istanbul

Meals: Lunch 

DAY 2: ISTANBUL / IZMIR (PERGAMUM & SMYRNA)

This morning, we transfer to Istanbul Ataturk or Sabiha Gokcen Airport for a short domestic flight to Izmir, where on arrival, we drive north to the mountaintop ancient Acropolis of Pergamum, once a busy trading center and famous as a "seller of purple," the most favored of the Seven Churches, the church of Pergamum was praised for its forbearance. It was here that the first Christians were executed by Rome. We'll visit the fabled Acropolis, pass through the Royal Gates, view the foundations of the Temple of Zeus and visit the ruins of the library, which once held 200,000 volumes. Thereafter, we head back to Izmir, known in ancient times as Smyrna. Embark on a guided tour where we take a walk through the ancient Agora ruins, gaining insights into its past as a thriving Roman outpost with what used to be a bustling Roman market. We then make a brief stop at the historic Clock Tower in Konak Square, a symbol of the city built at the end of the Ottoman Empire to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the accession to the throne of Abdulhamid II. We round up our tour of Izmir with an unmistakable visit to the atmospheric and bustling Kemeralti Market, dating back to the 17th Century and adorned with charming alleys, colourful streets, hidden courtyards, shops and coffeehouses where you may take a stroll before we arrive at the stunning boutique Key Hotel for check in. 

Overnight: Key Hotel, Izmir

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3: IZMIR (EXCURSION TO SELCUK)

Today, we travel south for an excursion to the UNESCO-listed ancient archaeological site of Ephesus, established in the 10th Century BC and at the height of its powers, had a population of more than 50,000 people in the Roman Period. Ephesus is also home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World in the form of the Temple of Artemis which was completed around 550BC. Later we will visit the Basilica of St John, built by Byzantine Emperor, Justinian during the 6th Century and also the burial site of St John, the Evangelist. Thereafter, we visit the UNESCO-listed House of Virgin Mary, discovered in the 19th Century where according to Christian belief, the Virgin Mary was brought to Ephesus by the Apostle John after the Resurrection of Christ and lived out her days here. We then return to Izmir. 

Overnight: Key Hotel, Izmir

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4: IZMIR / SARDIS / PHILADELPHIA / PAMUKKALE 

Leave Izmir today heading east where our first stop for the day is Sardis - ancient capital of the Kingdom of Lydia where we discover the most important architectural works - the Synagogue and Gymnasium. From history we have learned that when Babylon Temple was destroyed, 125,000 Jewish people moved to the western part of Turkey where the synagogue was built in honor of the Jews by the Romans in the 2nd Century AD. Next, continue to nearby Philadelphia from where we are challenged to “hold fast” and look forward to the coming of the "New Jerusalem" in the Book of Revelation. Not much is left of the city except for the ancient wall and the remains of a Byzantine basilica in the modern city of Alasehir. Our journey then continues to Pamukkale - famed for its thermal waters and calcium terraces. On arrival though today, we make a brief visit of it where today, we will visit the ancient Hierapolis instead, meaning "Sacred City," was an ancient center for pagan cults until it was transformed into a Christian center in the first century. According to tradition, the Apostle Philip lived and was martyred in Hierapolis. 

Overnight: Melrose Viewpoint Hotel, Pamukkale

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5: PAMUKKALE / LAODICEA / FARALYA

Early this morning, we enjoy a visit of the UNESCO-listed travertine terraces of Pamukkale without the crowds with glistening hues of the early morning sun against the shimmering pools. Renowned for its hot springs and enormous calcium terraces, Pamukkale is one of the most photographed and visited destinations in Turkey. Later, we continue our journey to the ancient city of Laodicea - containing a huge collection of ruins including a stadium and remnants of a sophisticated water system.  We spend the remainder of the day traveling through the Turkish countryside to arrive at the Turkish riviera. En route, we stop to visit the stunning Amyntas Rock Tombs, part of a group of ancient Lycian tombs that dates back to 350BC. Carved into the cliffside, learn about the Lycians' beliefs that the dead were carried by angels and thus they placed their honored dead in geographically high places such as the cliffside. Not far away, we make an interesting stop in the abandoned ruins of Kayakoy, once a bustling Greek settlement nestled against the Taurus mountains deserted in the 1920s for political reasons. Enjoy a surreal walk through, now a popular photographic spot before making our way to Faralya, at the beginning of the famed Lycian Way, with its spectacular location at the top of the Butterfly Valley. We will arrive and check in to the stunning Perdue Hotel, nestled in a privileged seafront location in a romantic and dramatic setting. 

Overnight: Perdue Hotel, Faralya

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6: FARALYA (THE BUTTERFLY VALLEY)

A relaxing day full of splendors and seaside fervor as we enjoy a cruise excursion to the immensely-beautiful Butterfly Valley, adorned with jaw-dropping seascapes, turquoise waters as well as home to some of the most fascinating species of butterflies. On the excursion, we take a boat from Oludeniz approaching the Butterfly Valley as well as St Nicholas Island where you have time to go onshore to explore the ancient Lycian ruins including old churches and a large tunnel almost running the length of the island. The day also includes visits to Blue Cave, Camel Beach and Cold Spring Bay, where they say if you dip yourself into the freezing waters you will take 10 years off your life. 

Overnight: Perdue Hotel, Faralya

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7: FARALYA / THE LYCIAN WAY / ANTALYA

A spectacular day beckons as we travel on parts of the famed "Lycian Way" - a stretch of ancient civilizations of the Lycians that ruled the area from Fethiye to Antalya. Our first stop of the day will be the ancient UNESCO-listed Lycian capital of Xanthos and Letoon where we witness the remains and ruins of the city dating back to the Bronze Age. Next, we continue to the pretty resort town of Kas, paved with cobblestone streets lined with cafes, restaurants where we enjoy some time for lunch and wandering around before continuing to our next visit to the UNESCO-listed ruins of Myra. Now called Demre,  the town is best known as the place where Santa Claus brought joy to the world under his other name of St. Nicholas. The saint lived and worked in Myra and an 11th-Century church once held his earthly remains. He was born in nearby Patara, before becoming a priest, rising to the rank of bishop and conducting much of his good work in the Roman town of Myra, a name derived from myrrh. Today the Church of St. Nicholas is Demre's most visited site but there are other things to see in this lovely coastal Mediterranean town. About 2 kilometres inland are the ruins of Roman Myra, with a well-preserved theatre and impressive rock-hewn tombs. Thereafter, we will continue our drive to Antalya where we arrive and check in at the boutique and charming Tuvana Hotel

Overnight: Tuvana Hotel, Antalya

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 8: ANTALYA (LEGACIES OF TERMESSOS, PERGE & ASPENDOS)

A remarkable day as we begin our visit today to the ancient city of Termessos where even Alexander the Great could not conquer it. Set at an altitude of 1,000m above sea level, in the Taurus Mountain range, a former Pisidian city and one of the best-preserved ancient cities of Turkey, offering some of the most stunning vistas in Turkey. Thereafter, we continue to the ancient Parnphylian city of Perge, where the majority of statues now in Antalya Museum were discovered. Learn about St. Paul’s missionary journey to this Hittite settlement that dates back to 1500 BC. Then, see ornate marble reliefs in the theater and observe intricate designs at the stadium, the imposing columns, public baths and winding road, once decorated with mosaics. Next, we head to Aspendos, witnessing one of Anatolia's most well maintained Roman theaters as well as its astonishing Roman aqueduct. 

Overnight: Tuvana Hotel, Antalya

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 9: ANTALYA / CAPPADOCIA

This morning, we transfer to Antalya Airport for a short flight to Kayseri where on arrival, be met as we then begin a visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to view some of the fascinating frescoed and rock carved churches. We then stop in the historic old Greek village of Cavusin, where we will visit the 5th Century Church of Saint John the Baptist. From here, we will admire the views of the old town and further in the distance, the Rose & Red Valleys. Thereafter, we continue to Pasabag “Valley of the Monks” where we admire and take a stroll amongst the majestic “fairy chimneys”, mushroom-shaped rocks that stirs the imagination. Worth a stop as well will be the village of Avanos, renowned for its pottery-making and ceramics where you have a chance to see a workshop and understand its legacies. Finally, we will arrive at the stunningly-beautiful Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge. 

Overnight: Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge, Cappadocia

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 10: CAPPADOCIA

Early this morning before sunrise, consider an “OPTIONAL” hot air balloon experience (weather dependent) over the surreal and jaw-dropping fairy chimneys and bizarrely-shaped limestone pillars of the Love Valley where you will float above and around these beautiful rock formations. After returning to ground, a champagne awaits to celebrate your new-found achievement and thereafter, return to hotel for a deserved breakfast. Later in the day, a short drive takes us to the fascinating and lesser-visited Derinkuyu Underground City, the deepest amongst the 36 underground cities in Cappadocia, excavated as early as the times of the Hittites, and expanded over the centuries as various marauding armies traversed Central Anatolia in search of captives and plunder. At approximately 85m deep, discover a labyrinth world of tunnels, passages and corridors in a complicated network but highly efficient and equipped.

Overnight: Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge, Cappadocia

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 11: DEPART CAPPADOCIA

We leave Cappadocia today with a transfer to either Nevsehir or Kayseri Airport for your onward journey to Istanbul for homeward bound or continue your adventures in Turkey. 

Meals: Breakfast

HOTELS

The House Hotel Karaköy is located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Karaköy on Bankalar Caddesi, a convenient launching pad to explore bohemian Pera, historic Sultanahmet and the Galata Port. Restored by the Agha Khan award-winning Turkish architect Han Tümertekin, the building structure retains original features, while the luxurious modern interiors were designed by Sinan Kafadar who was inspired by its imposing bank vaults, which also gave rise to the hotel’s name.

Vault Karakoy The House Hotel, Istanbul

The Key Hotel Izmir offers 31 elegantly appointed rooms with state of the art  technology, overlooking Kordon, the promenade by the bay of Izmir offering lovely views of the sea as well as a gastronomic restaurant for indulgence in Aegean flair in a contemporary setting. 

Key Hotel, Izmir

The Melrose Viewpoint Hotel offers modern and contemporary accommodation in a delightful family-ambience atmosphere as the perfect base to uncover the travertine terraces of Pamukkale. 

Melrose Viewpoint Hotel, Pamukkale

Set at the beginning of the famed Lycian Way, the Perdue Hotel enjoys a privileged seafront location with its own private beach, offering accommodation in chic bamboo houses/tents with private balcony and hot tub not far away from the seaside splendors of the Turquoise Coast and the stunning Butterfly Valley. 

Perdue Hotel, Faralya

Tuvana Hotel, Antalya

The Tuvana Hotel is a revitalized 18th Century mansion set in the old town district of Antalya converted into a charming boutique hotel, the perfect oasis from the hustle and bustle of the beaches hugging the beautiful coast off Antalya. 

The Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge is a golden-hued, contemporary hotel immersed in an ancient landscape. Beautiful gardens, which tumble down the hillside, invite you to immerse yourself in Cappadocia’s natural beauty.

Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge, Cappadocia

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