***Safety Update: Due to the recent unrest in Turkey, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend our tours in Turkey for the time being. This certainly was not an easy decision, and our thoughts are with all of our friends in Turkey at this time. We’ll resume tours to Turkey as soon as we can, but in the meantime, please contact us if you have any questions about Turkey, or any of our other tours***
Turkey straddles Europe and Asia and is truly the meeting point between east and west. The Portakal tour begins in vibrant Istanbul where we stay in the old city, visit Ottoman palaces, beautiful mosques, Byzantine churches, and chaotic bazaars. We sail along the stunning Mediterranean coastline, exploring Lycian fishing villages en route, encounter ancient Roman ruins and explore the Gallipoli Peninsula. We tour the great ruins of Ephesus, the picturesque villages of the Mediterranean coast, the extraordinary moon-like landscape and cave dwellings of Cappadocia and restored Ottoman mansions of Safranbolu.
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Arrival and transfer to hotel. Today will be our first glimpse of Byzantium, Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul. Check in to our hotel in Sultanahmet, right in the centre of the historical peninsula. The hotel is 5 minutes walk from the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and Topkapi Palace. A welcome feast where the table will be laden with fresh meze and seafood.
After a short walking tour of Istanbul’s historic peninsula, we’ll visit the glorious Blue Mosque, one of the most famous mosques in the Muslim world. After lunch, we’ll visit Topkapi Palace, the opulent home of the sultans since the 15th century. A visit to the private family quarters, the Harem, is unmissable.
Dinner in Sultanahmet.
This morning we’ll walk to Aya Sofya, once one of the greatest churches in the Roman Empire, then a mosque after the conquest in 1453; Aya Sofya is now a museum where you can see medallions inscribed with Arabic letters, side-by-side with ancient mosaics of the Virgin Mary. Following this, we’ll have lunch at the famous Grand Bazaar, wind our way through narrow alleyways to the wholesale bazaar district and the Egyptian Spice market for Turkish delight, spices and friendly banter. We’ll also visit the tiny and highly decorative Rustem Pasa Mosque.
Departing Istanbul early, we’ll head towards the Gallipoli Peninsula for an afternoon tour of the battlefields. Once the scene of the bloody battles of World War I, the peninsula is now a beautiful, serene site. Our comprehensive tour will include visits to the Kabatepe Museum, Anzac Cove, Brighton Beach, Lone Pine Australian memorial, Chunuk Bair New Zealand memorial, beach cemeteries, trenches and more. Our local guide will tell you personal stories of life in the trenches, and you’ll also have plenty of time to silently contemplate the history of our ancestors. Dinner overlooking the Dardanelles in Canakkale.
Driving time: Approximately 5 hours
We begin our day with a morning tour of the ancient city of Troy. Dating back to 3000BC, this site tells the famous story of Helen and the wooden horse. We continue our journey along the Aegean Sea coastline, stopping along the way for locally grown nuts, olives and dried fruit and a glimpse at Mount Ida, from which Zeus used to watch over the battles of Troy. Our next stop is the acropolis of Pergamum, one of the finest ancient cities in Turkey, whose heyday was around 280BC. Arrival in historic Selcuk in the evening. BBQ dinner in Selcuk.
Driving time: Approximately 6.5 hours
A visit to the awe-inspiring ancient Roman city of Ephesus, a great trading city with a population of 250,000. Highlights including the ancient plumbing systems, the Great Theatre and the massive Library of Celsus. We’ll spend the afternoon in the old Greek village of Sirince, in the hills above Selcuk. Settled by Ottoman Greeks a century ago, this village is now home to the villagers who moved here from Greece during the population exchange in the 1920’s between the Turks and the Greeks. The village is famous for olives, fresh fruit and fruit wine. We’ll taste the local wines and traditional village food for lunch.
This morning we learn about the leather industry, which is famous in the Selcuk area. Following a fabulous leather fashion show, we hit the road and then we make our way to beautiful Faralya, a village in the hills above famous Butterfly Valley, with a population of only 200. Here we’re welcomed into the family home, and are able to experience first-hand Turkish village life. Views of the med are just as superb as the entirely home-grown dinner.
Driving time: Approximately 5.5 hours
The morning is free to walk around the village, make the descent into Butterfly Valley or just read by the pool overlooking the Med. In the afternoon we’ll check out Kayakoy, once a Greek village which became a ghost town after the population exchange in the 1920’s. We’ll take a walk along the stunning Oludeniz beach and grab a cocktail before retreating back to Faralya for dinner.
Another day of R and R under the pomegranate trees in Faralya. An optional visit to a nearby remote beach.
Rest and relaxation await! This morning we board a traditional 25 metre wooden Gulet boat for a four-day cruising adventure. We’ll cruise to the remote and beautiful 12 islands around Fethiye, Gocek and Marmaris.
Another tranquil day at sea. Read, play backgammon or simply snooze on the deck while we sail along the coast, stopping in turquoise coloured bays for snorkelling, swimming and fresh feasts!
Wake up with the sun and jump straight into the water. Your only concept of time aboard the boat will be the crew’s calls of ‘Breakfast!’, ‘Lunch!’. Again, fill your day with books, food and swimming.
We bid farewell to the Captain and his crew mid-morning and drive along the Mediterranean coast road. We’ll pull into Kaş for lunch and wander around this ancient Lycian fishing port town. Famous for its silver jewellery, Kaş’s marble street is filled with boutique jewellery shops, which lead up to a King’s tomb dating from the 4th Century. After lunch, we make the short drive to Antalya, known as the “Turkish Riviera.” An epicentre of ancient history and teamed with a Roman harbour and the Bey Mountains as a backdrop, Antalya is a stunning place to spend a night.
Driving Time: Approximately 5 hours
Morning departure from Antalya to Göreme in Cappadocia. You’ll notice the landscape change dramatically as we leave the Mediterranean region and head inland through forests and mountainous ranges, and in the afternoon, desert and rock formations. We’ll drive along the Silk Road, part of the ancient trading route from China to Western Europe, and visit an ancient Caravanserai, which was a temporary home for traders and their camels while en route to and from Europe. Overnight in a cave in Göreme, Cappadocia. Optional dinner in a restored village house where we sample Traditional clay pot kebabs and local wines.
Driving time: Approximately 7 hours
Start your morning with an optional hot air balloon flightover the unbelievable Cappadocian moonscape. You will go low enough to touch the tops of trees and wish a good morning to the villagers who are laying apricots on their rooftops ready to dry them in the sun, and then soar high above Cappadocia, up to 1500 feet into the air – this is considered the best place to balloon in the world.
A morning visit to Cappadocia’s famous Open Air Museum, where you can visit early Christian rock churches and caves. After lunch there is an optional tour of the Goreme region by quadbikes – a lot of fun and a great way to see some of Cappadocia’s many valleys. Alternatively, explore the valleys by foot in your own time. Tonight we’ll experience an extraordinary whirling dervish ceremony in a beautifully restored caravanserai.
Visit one of Cappadocia’s extensive underground cities. Possibly dating back to Hittite times, these cities were definitely inhabited by the 7th Century BC. In peace time, the people of Cappadocia lived and worked above ground, using the caves underground for storage, however, when invasion threatened, entire communities moved underground. Today, we can see five of the eight levels of the city, each a maze of bedrooms, kitchens, stables and even wineries! It is easy to imagine the inhabitants preparing for invasion, with flintstone-style rolling-stone trap doors and holes in ceilings through which hot oil was poured!
The afternoon is free to shop, play backgammon and drink tea with the locals. Alternatively, we can go for a hike through nearby famous valleys such as Red, Rose, Love and Pigeon valley, all littered with rock-cut churches, exquisite frescoes and strange rock formations.
We’ll leave Cappadocia and drive through the mountain ranges to Safranbolu, Unesco heritage listed for its beautifully preserved Ottoman houses. This town is famous for saffron, which flavours everything here, even Turkish delight. Wander the cobbled streets and shop for handicrafts in this beautiful old town.
Driving time: Approximately 6 hours
We’ll visit a restored Ottoman house and a beautiful, centuries-old Caravansarai – an ancient home for the camels and their keeps. Tonight we have a very special banquet in a unique Ottoman home, feasting on specialties from the Black sea region.
Mid-morning departure for Istanbul. Arrive in Istanbul early evening.
Driving time: Approximately 5 hours
Visit Dolmabahce Palace, the home of the Sultans, and the last home of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The enormous rooms hold many gifts from foreign embassies, including crystal chandeliers, Persian rugs and Egyptian vases. We’ll then take the funicular up the hill to Taksim, the modern heart of Istanbul.
Strolling down the very western Istiklal Boulevard is a fascinating contrast to the historic centre. We’ll have a final dinner celebration and reminisce on our great holiday!
This morning our small group tour concludes. It is time to say farewell to acquaintances, new-found friends and Turkey. Spend the day at leisure before transferring to the airport for your onward or homebound journey.