Grand Sultan Tour of Turkey Full Itinerary

16-DAY GRAND SULTAN TOUR
This tour starts and finishes in Istanbul, Turkey.
(Current as at 07-22 May 2015)

Day 1: Arrival and in Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to our hotel in the heart of the old city. Those arriving early today should note that hotel rooms may not be available until about midday.


View across the Bosphorus from Rumeli Fortress

Our organised activities start with lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, we take a leisurely cruise by private motorboat along the Bosphorus and admire the many historic citadels, Ottoman palaces, imperial mosques and ‘yalis’ (water front mansions of the rich and famous) that adorn its shores. On the way back we visit the 15th Century Rumeli Fortress before returning to our hotel by coach.

In the evening, we will meet our fellow travellers over a complimentary drink before dinner at the hotel restaurant. (L/D)

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in the old city.

NOTE: The tour starts officially at 12 noon on Day 1. So it is important that group members arrive before 12 noon on Day 1 or earlier. The first day’s activities include group lunch, a leisurely cruise on the Bosphorus and dinner in the evening.

Day 2: In Istanbul

This morning we enjoy our first traditional Turkish breakfast consisting of Turkish bread, feta cheese, olives, delicious local honey, eggs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, tea, coffee, as well as some cooked specialties.

After breakfast, your tour leader will hold a briefing to talk about the tour, provide useful tips and answer questions before we go sightseeing. We start our sightseeing at the Hippodrome where chariot races took place in Roman times. These days the site is adorned with historical monuments including the impressive Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpent’s Column and the German Fountain. We then visit the world renowned Blue Mosque which, with its unequalled blue tiles and six minarets, is a potent symbol of Ottoman Istanbul


The Blue Mosque – the potent symbol of Istanbul

After lunch at a local restaurant, we walk the short distance to the amazing 6th Century Underground Cistern that served as the main water reservoir during the Byzantine era. We then visit the architectural marvel of St Sophia Museum, an ancient basilica with its immense dome rising 56.4 metres above the ground. Built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th Century as a potent symbol of the Eastern Roman Empire, St Sophia never ceases to amaze visitors. Even after several visits, it is easy to find bewildering new features. The rest of the day is free. In the evening we will have a welcome dinner in a special local restaurant. (B/L/D).


One of the magnificent mosaics of Hagia Sophia (above) Overnight in a comfortable hotel in the old city.

Day 3: In Istanbul

This morning we visit the splendid Topkapi Palace from where the Ottoman Sultans ruled the empire for over 400 years.


Mehter (Ottoman military band) at the Topkapi Palace

The visit takes around four hours with a half hour break about half way through. At the Topkapi Palace, we will see all the main attractions, including the Harem Quarters (the Sultan’s private apartments), the Treasury, the Council Chambers, various pavilions, the palace kitchens and more.


15th Century Iznik tiles in Topkapi Palace

While in the Topkapi Palace grounds, we will also admire the magnificent views of the Golden Horn Bay that separates the so called ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Istanbul and the Bosphorus Channel that separates the continents of Europe and Asia. The rest of the day and evening are free. (B/L).

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in the old city.

Day 4: Istanbul – Çanakkale

Today we depart early to the battlefields of Gallipoli, travelling along the shores of the Sea of Marmara. Gallipoli (or Gelibolu in Turkish) is a peninsula now declared a National Historical Park to honour the Allied and Turkish soldiers who fought and died here in 1915.


A tour group at ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli

We see all the major battlefields of this beautiful and moving site, including Anzac Cove, Lone Pine, The Nek, Chunuk Bair. We also see the site where ANZAC Day services take place, some WW1 trenches and one or more Turkish memorials. We cross the Dardanelles straits in late afternoon and head to our hotel in Çanakkale. (B/D)

Overnight in a 5 Star hotel in Çanakkale

Day 5: Çanakkale - Kuşadasi

The coastline of the Aegean Sea is a treasure trove of historical and archaeological sites. Today our first stop is at the legendary city of Troy, the site of nine ancient cities where Greek and Trojan heroes fought the “Trojan War” for the honour of the beautiful Helen. We continue to the ancient Hellenistic city of Pergamum where we have a lunch break before visiting Asklepion, the famous centre of learning and medicine in the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans. We then drive to the seaside resort town of Kuşadasi arriving there in late afternoon. (B/D)

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Kusadasi.

Day 6: In Kuşadasi

Today we have an extensive tour of nearby Ephesus, widely regarded as the best-preserved Roman city in the Eastern Mediterranean. We also visit Selçuk Museum where most of the artefacts from Ephesus are housed before lunch at the ‘Greek’ village of Şirince.


Celcius Library at Ephesus, the ancient Roman city

We return to our hotel later in afternoon and the rest of the day is free. Tonight dinner is not included. So you will have the opportunity to check out the culinary delights on offer in this visitor friendly town. Your tour leader will be happy to assist if needed. (B/L)

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Kusadasi.

Day 7: Kusadasi – Buldan - Pamukkale

After breakfast, we head inland to visit the famous 'cotton castles' of Pamukkale. On the way, we call at the thriving weaving centre of Buldan where exquisite items of cloth are made entirely from natural fibres such as silk, wool and mohair.

We arrive in Pamukkale in the early afternoon to see the fascinating “cotton castles” (lime deposits) and the ancient city of Hierapolis nearby. Here we will have the opportunity to walk along the travertines and have a closer look at this marvel of nature. There will be time to visit the ancient theatre nearby or swim in the ‘Antique Pool’ (extra charge applies). We then check into our hotel where you can relax in the hotel pool or enjoy the spectacular sunset. Dinner is at the hotel. (B/D).

Overnight in comfortable 4 or 5 star hotel - Pamukkale.

Day 8: Pamukkale – Fethiye - Kas

This morning we cross the majestic Taurus Mountains to the Mediterranean town of Fethiye, arriving there in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we drive to the abandoned Greek village of Kayaköy that inspired the bestselling novel ‘Birds Without Wings’ by Louis de Berniere. We then visit the breath taking Saklikent Gorge before driving on, via spectacular bays and fishing towns, to the charming seaside town of Kaş. Most visitors fall in love with this town, so we suggest you make the most of our two night visit there. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B/D).

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Kaş


General view of Kas.

Day 9: In Kas

You can spend today as you like and enjoy the many things this delightful town has to offer. You may go on an optional day trip to the nearby Greek Island of Kastellorizo which is only a few kilometres from Turkish mainland. We would leave Kas mid morning and return late afternoon with lunch on the island.

Alternatively, you may relax by the poolside; go for a swim in the sea or just browse around the classy shops in town. In the evening you may enjoy the culinary delights this coastal town has to offer, including fresh seafood, at one of the many exquisite local restaurants. (B)

Overnight in a comfortable hotel in Kaş

Day 10: Kaş - Antalya

This morning, we drive the short distance to the fishing village of Uçagiz where we embark on a spectacular boat cruise to explore the wonderful island studded bay and the sunken city of Kekova, the nearby Simena village and its castle and to swim in some of the secluded bays. We have lunch at a seaside restaurant in Simena before returning to the Uçagiz village.

In the afternoon, we stop in the ancient town of Myra, St Nicholas’s (Santa Clause) home town in ancient times to visit Lycian Tombs and the Ancient Roman Theatre.


View of Simena village and Kekova Bay from the Castle

We then travel along the coastal road to the cliff top city of Antalya, the tourism capital of Turkey. With the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean on one side and the densely forested Taurus Mountains on the other, the drive is a real delight. Dinner is a traditional local restaurant. (B/L).

Overnight in a restored boutique style hotel in the old city in Antalya.

Day 11: In Antalya

Today we have a leisurely morning to explore the historic wall city and the ancient city of Perge. We then visit the spectacular Düden waterfalls where we have lunch before returning to Antalya. The rest of the day is free to do as you please. You may visit the archaeological museum housing exquisite artefacts from Perge and other notable sites, explore the meandering streets and shops of the old city or just relax and enjoy the views and traditional restaurants in this vibrant and scenic city. (B/L)

Overnight in the old city in Antalya.

Day 12: Antalya - Aspendos – Konya.

This morning we leave Antalya and drive to the city of Konya. On the way, we visit the world’s best-preserved Roman amphitheatre at Aspendos. We then leave the Mediterranean coast and travel to the religious city of Konya, the home of the Whirling Dervishes. Our route takes us through the soaring Taurus Mountains where we have lunch. We arrive in Konya in late afternoon and check into our hotel. Dinner is at the hotel. (B/D)

Overnight in a four star hotel - Konya.

Day 13: Konya - Cappadocia

In the morning, we visit Mevlana Museum that is a shrine to the famous Turkish philosopher of the same name and the nearby Karatay Museum before departing for Cappadocia famous with its eerie lunar landscapes equal to none on the planet. We travel along the legendary 'Silk Road' dating from the Middle Ages, to get there. On the way, we visit the famous Sultanhani Caravanserai, one of the many “Luxury Motels of the 13th Century” along the ancient Silk Road. Dinner is at the hotel restaurant or a traditional local restaurant. (B/D).

Overnight in a special “Cave House” hotel

Day 14: In Cappadocia

Two full days to explore this fascinating troglodyte landscape with its amazing rock formations, cave churches and rock carved village homes. On the first day, we visit Uçhisar castle and Goreme Open Air Museum with frescoed churches. In the afternoon, we visit a carpet centre for a demonstration of traditional carpet making and to learn about the centuries old art of hand-made carpets. In the evening we have a special dinner at a traditional local restaurant.


Typical “Cave House” hotel room in Cappadocia

Well, no trip to Cappadocia is complete without a spectacular hot air balloon flight over the deep canyons and lush fertile valleys of this fairyland. So, you will have the opportunity to do just that early this morning. This is an optional extra. We recommend the deluxe flight which is dearer but well worth the extra. (B/L/D)

Overnight in a special “Cave House” hotel

Day 15: In Cappadocia

Today’s program includes visits to Kaymakli underground city dating back to the 6th Century, where Christians took refuge from the advancing Persians and Arabs, the fairy chimneys of Pasabag, Devrent Valley and other notable sites of this fairy landscape.

After lunch, we visit a traditional ceramics workshop for a demonstration of hand-painted Iznik tiles as well as porcelain and clay pottery. Our organised activities finish by mid afternoon and the rest of the day and evening are free.

We will spend most of today in Goreme which is a convenient place to indulge in a ‘Turkish Bath’ if you wish to do so or see Whirling Dervishes ceremony. Your tour leader will provide details for both activities if required (B/L)

Overnight in a special “Cave House” hotel


“Fairy Chimney” formations in Cappadocia

Day 16: Cappadocia –Istanbul

After breakfast, we depart for Kayseri Airport for our mid-day flight to Istanbul. The tour ends on arrival at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul.

Transfer to the city is available for people with late departures today and those with departures after today.

Those staying overnight will need to make arrangements for post-tour accommodation and departure transfers. We can assist with such arrangements if required.

Those participating in any “Add-on Packages” such as our Marvels of the East and Best of the Black Sea tours will be advised of travel arrangements. (B)

Tour Price Includes:
• Accommodation in special category boutique style establishments and four or five-star hotels.
• Meals as indicated in the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner) including a special ‘Welcome’ dinner on Day 2 and a ‘Special’ dinner on Day 15.
• One domestic airfare from Cappadocia to Istanbul on Day 16.
• Arrival transfers on Day 1 and departure transfers on Day 16. (See Note 5)
• Modern air-conditioned coach with plenty spare seats. (See Note 6)
• Two half day cruises by private motor boat (Bosphorus in Istanbul and Kekova Bay in the Mediterranean Sea).
• All entrance fees, all tipping (including the guide and the driver) and other charges
• Services of bilingual Turkish born Australian tour leader who is with the group 24/7.
• Services of professional, English speaking tour guide
• Drinking water on the coach and with meals.

Tour Price Does NOT Include:
• International airfares (See Note 8).
• Departure taxes, levies and other charges.
• Passport and visa charges.
• Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, minibar, phone calls, etc.
• Beverages at meal times, except water.

IMPORTANT NOTES
1) Deposit amount is 10% of the price marked # and is non-refundable.
2) Prices are per person twin share and include one domestic flight in Turkey.
3) Tour details including itinerary, dates and prices may change without notice. Once full payment has been received, the price will not be varied.
4) Group size for this tour is 10 to 24. If the group size is 6 to 9, then the tour may still operate but the tour programme may be varied and/or a surcharge may be payable. The tour will not normally operate with fewer than 6 people.
5) Included transfers are from/to Ataturk International Airport only. Transfers from/to other airports and transfers on dates other than Days 1 and 16 are NOT included.
6) A full size coach is used for groups of 14 or more travellers. A midibus (20-30 seater) or a minibus (11-16 seater) may be used if the group size is 13 or less.
7) Shorter “Add-on” tours and other travel packages are available within Turkey, to Russia, Ukraine, Iran, Silk Road (Central Asia) and to other countries in the region.
8) We can make all your travel arrangements through our travel agent partner in Sydney, including flights at competitive rates, travel insurance, third party tours, etc.
9) This itinerary which is current as at 05 Jan 2015 is subject to change without notice.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
16-DAY GRAND SULTAN TOUR

(This tour starts and finishes in Istanbul, Turkey.)


  2015 2016
Tour Code: GS150507 (May) GS150911 (Sept) GS160510 (May) GS160913 (Sept)
Tour Dates: Thu 07 to Fri 22 May (BOOK NOW)
Fri 11 to Sat 26 Sept (CLOSED)
Tue 10 to Wed 25 May (BOOK NOW)
Tue 13 to Wed 28 Sept (BOOK NOW)
Tour Prices (AUD):
(See Notes 1,2 and 3)
$4,550 for 21 – 24 persons
$4,700 # for 15 – 20 persons
$4,850 for 10 – 14 persons.
Single supplement is $945
$4,750 for 21 – 24 persons
$4,950 # for 15 – 20 persons
$5,150 for 10 – 14 persons.
Single supplement is $995
Tour duration: 16 days / 15 nights
Group Size: Minimum 10 Maximum 24 (See Note 4)  
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