Istanbul & the Turquoise Coast

Istanbul & the Turquoise Coast

Vibrant, beautiful Turkey beckons you on this exhilarating, nine-night journey! In Istanbul, take in extraordinary Byzantine and Ottoman masterpieces, including the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque and the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, and dive into colorful bazaars. Head next to Cappadocia, famous for its astonishing rock formations. Step inside rock-cut, frescoed churches and explore a fascinating subterranean city while staying at a cave hotel for two nights. Then, sail along the sensational Turquoise Coast for three nights aboard an exclusively chartered gulet yacht! Relish this relaxed small-ship experience as you dock in picturesque port towns and secluded coves. You’ll also tour the magnificent ruins of Ephesus and see the cliffside tombs of Kaunos. Plus, enjoy cultural experiences during lunch in a private home and a visit to a mountain village!

Trip Itinerary:

May 18 In Transit

In Transit

May 19 Istanbul, Turkey

Arrive at the international airport in Istanbul, where your AHI Travel representative will be waiting to take you to the Barceló Istanbul Hotel. This evening, meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and Dinner.

May 20 Istanbul

Begin your day with interesting insights from a local expert about Istanbul’s history at the crossroads of East and West. Then, meander through the aromatic aisles of the lively Spice Bazaar, filled with piles of colorful spices, teas, nuts and treats. Head next to the majestic Süleymaniye Mosque, commissioned by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning ruler of the Ottoman Empire. On a guided tour, admire the splendid interior and the mausoleums of Suleiman and his wife, Hürrem Sultan, adorned with exquisite Iznik tiles. Later, get great perspectives of the city during a scenic cruise along the Bosphorus Strait and the Golden Horn.

May 21 Istanbul

Today, marvel at stunning Topkapi Palace, the opulent residence of the Ottoman sultans for almost four centuries. Stroll through the lush courtyards and ornately tiled chambers, and view jewel-encrusted artifacts in the Imperial Treasury. Then, see the Hippodrome of Constantinople, a former Roman arena where chariots raced, before descending into the atmospheric Basilica Cistern, an underground reservoir. You’ll also tour two extraordinary gems, the mammoth, Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, and the Sultan Ahmed (Blue) Mosque, renowned for its dazzling, floral-themed tiles. Finish your day in the buzzing Grand Bazaar, brimming with gold and silver jewelry, carpets, textiles and more!

May 22 Istanbul | Kayseri | Göreme National Park | Cavusin | Ürgüp (Cappadocia)

Check out this morning and fly to Kayseri. After arriving, travel to the Cappadocia region, celebrated for its astounding, sculptural rock formations. Step inside marvelous churches carved out of the rocks and decorated with Byzantine frescoes at Göreme Historical National Park, a captivating open-air museum. Soak up more of the surreal scenery in Love Valley, dotted with whimsical fairy chimneys, and check out the charming village of Cavusin with houses cut into the surrounding rocks. Get settled in later at the Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel and gather for drinks and sunset views tonight.

May 23 Devrent Valley | Ozkonak | Avanos

If you’d like a panoramic view over Cappadocia’s landscape, you can choose to book a hot air balloon ride early this morning at an additional cost. With your group today, behold more amazing scenery in Devrent Valley and other areas. Afterward, enjoy a warm welcome and a wonderful lunch of authentic dishes in a private home during an intimate lunch experience. Then, it’s time to go down into Ozkonak, an underground city, for a fascinating tour! During the sixth and seventh centuries, this multilevel complex could shelter thousands from enemy raids. Next, visit Avanos, acclaimed for its lovely pottery, and watch a potter shaping pieces from red clay.

May 24 Ürgüp | Kayseri | Izmir | Ephesus | Bodrum | Embark gulet

This morning, fly from the Kayseri airport to Izmir. Then, journey to the archaeological site of Ephesus, one of the most important ancient cities in the Mediterranean. Delight in its impressively preserved ruins, including Library of Celsus, the Great Theater, the Temple of Hadrian and the Terrace Houses, on a guided tour. Later, on your way to Bodrum, visit the House of the Virgin Mary. In Bodrum, embark the Gulet Boreas for your cruise along the fabulous Turquoise Coast!

May 25 Cruising | Yaliciftlik | Etrim | Çati Bay

Relax and savor the gorgeous coastal views and blue-green waters while sailing today! The ship docks in Yaliciftlik for an excursion to the mountain village of Etrim. Stroll through this peaceful community with a long, rich heritage of carpet and kilim weaving and learn about the process behind this traditional craft. Then return to the ship for a laid-back afternoon of cruising to Çati Bay, where the ship overnights.

May 26 Cruising | Cleopatra Island | English Harbor

The ship sails today to picture-perfect Cleopatra Island along the Gulf of Gokova. Legend has it that Cleopatra so loved this beautiful, secluded island that Mark Antony had shiploads of sand transported from Egypt as a present to her. Relish the crystal-clear waters and golden sand. The ship will also drop anchor in one of the tranquil bays near pristine English Harbor. It’s an idyllic setting for swimming, paddle boarding and other water activities! Tonight, celebrate your journey together at a Farewell Reception before your final dinner on board.

May 27 Karacasöğüt | Disembark gulet | Dalyan | Dalaman | Istanbul

Disembark the ship this morning in Karacasöğüt and travel to Dalyan. Board a small boat there for a trip along the Dalyan Strait to Kaunos, an ancient settlement. Take in its striking, Grecian-inspired temple tombs, cut high into the limestone of the mountainside, and walk through the architectural ruins with your guide. Continue to the Dalaman airport and fly to Istanbul, where you’ll check in to the Barceló Istanbul Hotel. Spend your last evening in Istanbul at leisure.

May 28 In Transit

After breakfast, bid farewell to your fellow travelers and depart for the Istanbul airport to head home.


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