It's the city Napoleon said should be the capital of Earth and while it may not quite have reached that stature, Istanbul's history as the capital of two great empires has left an enviable legacy of art, architecture and culture. Where better to begin your journey across Turkey than in its capital, the gateway to the Orient? On arrival, transfer to your hotel and explore the city your way before meeting your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a glimpse into what lies ahead.
Discover how centuries of Ottoman rule shaped the city's heritage as the meeting point between East and West when you join your Local Specialist this morning for a guided sightseeing tour, including a visit to Topkapi Palace Museum, the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque. Later, you'll have some time to explore Istanbul your way or consider an Optional Experience to Hagia Sophia, once the leading church in Christendom, and a cruise on the Bosphorus, separating Europe and Asia.
Ramble past the colourful displays of lanterns, pottery and fabric as you wander through one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar. The scents of Turkish tea will linger long after you leave Istanbul, bound for Ankara. Arriving in the Turkish capital, you'll visit the Mausoleum of Atatürk, the founder and father of the Turkish Republic, before an evening to do as you please.
The hometown of the Hittites is under the spotlight this morning. Visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, then continue to the whimsical landscapes of Cappadocia and visit the underground city of Saratli. This evening you could join an Optional Experience with the Whirling Dervishes, watching them whirl around and around in remembrance of God.
Cappadocia's fairy-tale chimneys take centre stage this morning as you journey to Pasabagi and Red Valley. Visit a regional rug production centre then enjoy an afternoon on your own amidst the fantasy landscapes left by Mother Nature in the ochre rock. An Optional Experience in Göreme reveals how Christians once worshipped in the many rock churches that remain to this day. This evening, dinner is served at your hotel.
First up is the ancient city of Konya, the final resting place of the Sufi philosopher Mevlana whose famous mausoleum you will visit before continuing to the cotton fortress of Pamukkale, home to mineral-rich thermal waters which cascade down snow-white travertine terraces.
See the ruins of the ancient Roman health spa of Hierapolis this morning before you come face to face with the ruins of one of the most important cities in the ancient Mediterranean world, Ephesus. You'll explore this 2,000 year-old ancient settlement, then head to the seaside port of Izmir.
Visit the ancient kingdom of Pergamon this morning, most notably its Asclepion Medical Centre, which still bears the image of the snake-entwined staff that remains a symbol of medicine in modern times. Next on today's agenda is a visit to Troy, an ancient city that inspired Homer's tales about the wrath of Achilles and the siege of the same city, which was only broken through the clever construction of a wooden Trojan horse, a replica of which can still be seen today. Continue to Çanakkale later where dinner is served at your hotel this evening.
A poignant start to the day sees you visit Gallipoli, where significant World War I battles were fought with heavy losses on both sides. You'll visit Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery and Chunuk Bair paying tribute to the brave soldiers who lost their lives in this relentless conflict before returning to Istanbul. As your journey through Turkey draws to a close, there's always time for one last Raki!
Your whirlwind encounter with the wonders of Turkey has come to an end. You've stood at the crossroads of East and West, trod in the footsteps of the ancients and admired ethereal landscapes that belong in a storybook. For now it's time to end this chapter with a heartfelt farewell to your newfound friends. Find out more about your free airport transfer at costsavertour.com/freetransfers.