Discover the best of Turkey on our 5* FAM: visit grand mosques and spice-scented bazaars in Istanbul, glide over valleys of Cappadocia on a hot air balloon adventure, visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the spa of Hierapolis in Pamukkale, explore the ancient city of Ephesus and Shrine of Virgin Mary, and dive into the blue waters of the Aegean sea in Kusadasi.
Return international (YYZ-IST) and local airfare, all airport transfers in Turkey;
Single 5* Accommodation in Istanbul (3 nights), Antalya (2 nights), Pamukkale (1 night), Kusadasi (3 nights);
All meals, alcoholic beverages as per program, water on bus, a cooking class;
Excursions as per program, including a Bosphorus cruise, transportation and an English speaking guide;
All taxes, tips at restaurants, tips to drivers and guides.
Day 1/ May 9/ Monday
Flight TK 18 from Toronto (YYZ) to Istanbul (IST) at 22:20. Entrance 9.
Day 2/ May 10/ Tuesday
Arrive in Istanbul at 15:10. Transfer to Marmara Pera www.themarmarahotels.com/the-marmara-pera-hotel.aspx. Welcome dinner. [D]
Day 3/ May 11/ Wednesday
After breakfast at 10am, explore the highlights of Istanbul, former Constantinople. Start with the visit of the main residence of the Ottoman dynasty, the magnificent Topkapi Palace which is the standing witness of glorious, but secret and intriguing lives of the Ottoman sultans. It is now a museum notable not only for its architecture and collections, but also for the history and the culture of the Ottoman Empire.
After lunch at 1 at a local restaurant, visit the famous Grand Bazaar, the oldest shopping mall of the world, wander through its peculiar oriental ambiance and colorful mazy lanes.
Diner in the city (7pm at Hamdi) and overnight at the hotel. [B,L,D]
Day 4/ May 12/ Thursday
After breakfast at 10am, take a stroll through the once glorious Roman Hippodrome which accommodates the ancient Egyptian Obelisk and the Serpentine Column. Besides being an arena of chariot races, it was employed for public events such as parades, meetings and festivals as well. Next, admire a masterpiece of the Byzantine architecture, the 6th – century Hagia Sophia which has been revered as the largest and the most important Christian place of worship in the world for many centuries. It was designed to be the major basilica of the Byzantine Empire and held the record for the largest dome in the world until the Duomo was built in Florence in the 15th century. Walk through the gardens and proceed to the imperial Blue Mosque which dominates Istanbul’s majestic skyline with its elegant composition of ascending domes and six slender soaring minarets. The careful choreography of more than 20,000 Iznik tiles rise from the mid-sections of the mosque and dazzle the visitors with their brilliant blue and turquoise hues which lend the mosque its popular sobriquet.
After lunch at 1, enjoy an exclusive cruise along the Bosphorus with your private chartered boat to admire the inspiring scenery of the strait embellished with historical edifices and old wooden houses. Free time.
After dinner at Kumkapi fish at 7, return to your hotel for an overnight. [B,L,D]
Day 5/ May 13/ Friday
After breakfast at 8, transfer to the airport for your TK2412 flight to Antalya (AYT) at 10:20.
Arrive in Antalya at 11:30. After lunch, get acquainted with local hotels and resorts.
Dinner and overnight at Marmara Pera Antalya https://www.themarmarahotels.com/the-marmara-antalya-hotel.aspx. [B,L,D]
Day 6/ May 14/ Saturday
After breakfast at 9, discover the touristic capital of Turkey: Antalya! Enjoy Duden Waterfall, the only waterfall that pours down into the sea in Turkey. Duden Creek creates this marvelous waterfall flowing from almost 40 meters into the sea, displaying amazing water clouds. After lunch, explore the old city district of Kaleici, rising around a splendid Roman era harbor, it offers overwhelming clifftop views and soothing ambiance through its mazy narrow streets embellished with stylish Ottoman houses extending to the 2nd – century Hadrian’s Gate.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel. [B,L,D]
Day 7/ May 15/ Sunday
After breakfast at 9:30, transfer to Pamukkale via Taurus Mountains. Visit a unique open air museum of Pamukkale, also known as Cotton Castle. This spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits of thermal waters that cascaded down the mountain side over thousands of years, forming myriad pools and terraces. Get entertained by wandering around the fantasy land of cotton-white calcium carbonate travertines. The ruins of the neighboring Greek city of Hierapolis, founded by the second king of Pergamon in 190 BC, is well worth discovering, particularly the theatre with a breathtaking view and the necropolis that is in a great state of preservation.
Arrive at Colossae Thermal http://www.colossaehotel.com. Check in and free time to enjoy thermal pools. [B,L,D]
Day 8/ May 16/ Monday
After breakfast at 9, transfer to Izmir – lunch. Then transfer to Kusadasi. Check into Grand Belish http://grandbelish.com/en. Free time. [B,L,D]
Day 9/ May 17/ Tuesday
After breakfast at 9am, visit the sacred city of Artemis, Ephesus, one of the leading Roman sites of the world. Being a prominent cultural and commercial center, it was the most influential capital city of Asia Minor. The Temple of Artemis which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Celsus Library that was the third largest of its time and the grandest theater of this part of the world are tangible evidences of its significant glory. Explore the House of the Virgin Mary where she is believed to have spent her final days.
Drive back to Kusadasi for dinner and overnight. [B,L,D]
Day 10/ May 18/ Wednesday
After breakfast at 10, depart for half-a-day visit of a small hidden village of Sirince. Walk among olive trees, fruit trees (cherries, peaches) and vines. It is the perfect synthesis of traditional Turkish and Greek villages. In fact, the town, whose name actually means “cute” in Turkish, used to be called “Çirkince,” meaning “ugly.” This was an ironic take on the beauty of the village and also used to ward off others. As people wised up to how spectacular the village’s location and architecture really was, they changed the name to Şirince in 1926.
The Şirince bazaar is one of the great markets of the Aegean coast: it has nearly everything. Naturally the foodstuffs present here are unbeatable. Feel free to try a piece of fruit from one of the sellers, they’ll typically let you try anything before you buy! The bazaar has amazing trinkets, souvenirs, soaps, dried fruit, handmade clothing produced by the village and its surroundings.
After lunch, return back to the hotel in Kusadasi. Free time. [B,L,D]
Day 11/ May 19/ Thursday
After breakfast, transfer to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport for your TK 2313 flight to Istanbul at 10:35. Arrive in Istanbul at 11:50 and visit TK Business lounge. Flight TK 17 to Toronto at 15:00. Arrive in Toronto at 18:35. [B]