Spend the holidays in exotic Turkey! Take advantage of the Mediterranean climate to visit the Roman health spa of Pamukkale; the famous ruins in Ephesus; and the restored shipwrecks in Bodrum. Your holiday spirits will be revived with a visit to the Church of St. Nicholas, where the legend of Santa Claus began. Three days in exciting Istanbul end this delightful holiday tour.
Day 1 ~ ISTANBUL Overnight flight to Istanbul .
Day 2 ~ KUSADASI
Arrive into Istanbul and transfer to your domestic flight to Izmir ; continue on to Kusadasi.
Day 3 ~ KUSADASI
The treasures today will include visiting the great Hellenistic and Roman city of Ephesus , with its beautiful Celsus library, ancient theater, and splendid archaeological remains. In the nearby charming town of Selcuk you will be able to visit the Museum of Ephesus with its famous statue of Artemis, taken from the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Day 4 ~ PAMUKKALE
On the way to Pamukkale we will make a slight detour to visit three ancient cities which were once a part of the Ionian League: Priene (the political center); Miletus (the business and cultural center); and Didyma (the religious center). Then we will continue on to Pamukkale (ancient Hierapolis). The cliffs here are covered with brilliant white calcium deposits, creating a beautiful and unusual natural wonder.
Day 5 ~ PAMUKKALE
Today will be spent exploring ancient Hierapolis. This city was founded around 190 BC and flourished for centuries as a health spa because of its therapeutic thermal springs, and it is still in use today. The baths are pools of clear warm water with beautiful marble columns lying at the bottom. The museum, theater, Temple of Apollo, colonnaded street, bath, and necropolis are also intriguing.
Day 6 ~ BODRUM
Today our destination is Bodrum, but we will stop en route to visit Aphrodisias , named for the love goddess Aphrodite. This site has a well-preserved stadium, odeum, and theater which was converted in Roman times to an arena for gladiators. The stadium is one of the finest Greco-Roman structures in the world. After our visit we will continue to the lively harbor city of Bodrum.
Day 7 ~ BODRUM
Today we will visit the famous Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (named for King Mausolus), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Bodrum is also home to the fascinating Museum of Underwater Archaeology with its exhibits of ancient shipwrecks and artifacts. The Museum is housed in the Castle of St. Peter .
Day 8 ~ MARMARIS
Today we will make a detour to the Datca Peninsula to visit the Cnidus, one of the most picturesque and ancient cities in Turkey. There are two magnificent harbors here, one in the Aegean and the other in the Mediterranean , as well as two theaters and a statue of Aphrodite build by Praxiteles, which is believed to be the first free-standing monument of a woman. The Aphrodite of Cnidus became the standard against which all subsequent representations of feminine beauty were measured.
Day 9 ~ FETHIYE
On the way to Fethiye we will stop to view the Lycian temple tombs carved out of the cliffs high above the Dalyan river, and the ancient city of Caunos . The afternoon will be spent in the seaside town of Fethiye and include a stroll through its quaint streets.
Day 10 ~ KAS
Today we will drive along the coast through the Lycian Peninsula, passing remains of many ancient cities. One of these, Letoon , named after the Greek goddess Leto, has several interesting temples and a large, well-preserved Hellenistic theater. We will also visit Xanthos , once the capital and grandest city of Lycia; and Patara, the birthplace of St. Nicholas.
Day 11 ~ ANTALYA
En route to Antalya we will visit the city of Myra with its marvelous historical and classical ruins. Among these are beautiful Lycian tombs carved into the hillside, and ruins of a wonderful theater, agora, and acropolis. At Demre we will visit the Church of St. Nicholas with its intriguing history of our beloved Santa Claus.
Day 12 ~ ANTALYA
Today we will visit the Antalya Archaeology Museum , containing exhibits ranging from the Stone Age to a 6 th Century relief of the Angel Gabriel. The afternoon will be spent in the old town, a virtual open air museum of Ottoman architecture, near the magnificent ancient harbor.
Day 13 ~ ANTALYA
Today we will explore the Hellenistic-Roman cities of Perge and Aspendos to see how the Romans once lived. The theater is Aspendos is particularly impressive, one of the best-preserved in the world.
Day 14 ~ ISTANBUL
Today we will take a late morning flight to Istanbul . On arrival there will be a city orientation tour, after which you will be transferred to your hotel in the old city quarter, conveniently located within walking distance of many famous sites.
Day 15 ~ ISTANBUL
This morning we will walk to the Hippodrome , arena for political, cultural, and sports activities during Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman times. We will also visit the Blue Mosque, famous for its Iznik blue tiles; and St. Sophia , the largest Christian church in the world for more than 1,000 years. Nearby is the Underground Palace or Basilica Cistern, with its mystical atmosphere and ancient columns surrounded by water. Finally we will visit the legendary Topkapi Palace , home to the Ottoman Sultans for more than 400 years.
Day 16 ~ ISTANBUL
Our motor coach follows the ancient city walls of Istanbul to the Chora Museum , which has the most beautiful mosaics in Turkiye. Afterward we will have a Bosphorus cruise between continents, seeing the fabulous palaces and villas that hug the shoreline, followed by a tour of the old and new city .
Day 17 ~ Depart for home.