Highlights of Turkey & the Greek Islands

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Highlights of Turkey & the Greek Islands

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Description

If you’re looking for world-famous ruins, postcard-perfect beaches, epic history and a healthy dose of mouth-watering cuisine, a Greek holiday is probably high on your list, but did you know all of these treasures can be found in Turkey too? You’d be missing out if you visited one and not the other, so we created the perfect two-week adventure for you. Glimpse Turkey and Greece’s glorious past on visits to Ephesus and the island of Delos. Compare Turkey’s version of beach life with that found on the Greek Islands. And debate which country serves up the tastiest cuisine. Balancing traditional towns with tourist hotspots, unique cultural experiences with bucket-list items, and free time with planned excursion, this trip to Turkey and Greece has all the makings of an unforgettable adventure.

Trip Name
Highlights of Turkey & the Greek Islands
Last Updated
2019-09-18
Days
15
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. The small village of Sirince is picture perfect.
  • Get up close and personal with the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia on a valley walk that'll have you exploring rock-cut dwellings in Love Valley or the rose-coloured hues of Red Valley.
  • Discover the back streets and vibrant local markets of Istanbul, where East meets West.
  • Fall asleep on the Aegean Coast and wake up in Central Anatolia on the Mavi Konya, an overnight train from Izmir to Konya.
  • Uncover thousands of years of civilisation in Athens with a visit to the world-famous Acropolis and the ancient Agora.
  • Wander through the charming villages of Syros. When night falls, indulge in delicious seafood dinners in traditional tavernas as Rembetika music floats around you.
  • With its boutique culture, gorgeous beaches and thumping nightlife, the chic isle of Mykonos invites you to embrace your hedonistic side.
  • The sight of a Santorini sunset can turn even the most hardened of souls into a romantic. Walk along the volcanic rim of the island from Thira to Oia, passing through picturesque white villages that cling to plunging cliffs.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Istanbul
Welcome to Turkey. Meet your group at 1 pm at the hotel in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all called home. Your group will head out with your leader to explore the Old City of Instanbul after the meeting. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the jewel in Sinan the Great Ottoman Architect's crown, Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all that, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab, not the regrettable 2 am kind.
Day 2 - Kusadasi
How blue is the Aegean? Find out for yourself as you jump on a local train after breakfast and head to the airport. A one-hour flight takes you to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and from there you'll transfer 1.5 hours to Kusadasi. This resort town lies on Turkey's western Aegean coast and is the perfect jump-off point for visiting the classical ruins at Ephesus. It's also a great spot to soak up the vibes along the seafront promenade, check out the local beaches or have a bit of a fun with the nightlife. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas. It has a long history and some phenomenal traditional Aegean cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.
Day 3 - Kusadasi - Ephesus
Lace up your sensible shoes and charge your camera. Today starts with a visit to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history that really comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. The ruins are in incredible shape, considering their age, and it’s not difficult to image them in their full glory 2000 years ago. This ancient city was extremely sophisticated with running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away. From Ephesus, drive to Selcuk to feast on the popular gozleme (Turkish pancake) as it's made in front of you, then visit the Isa Bey Mosque, the Artemis Temple and the small village of Sirince to taste the local fruit wine.
Day 4 - Kusadasi
It's all about you today. Whatever you want to do, do it. Within reason, y'know? Take a day tour to the famous Pamukkale World Heritage Site, Turkey's 'Cotton Castle' thermal pools that have  been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC. Though you won't be able to bathe in these pools, you can take a walk through them, visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Celopatras’s old pool. Alternatively, you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Soguksu Bay, Claros Island and Baradan Beach and enjoy lunch on deck. If you'd rather have a low-key day, there are plenty of beaches in town that have sunbeds, umbreallas and your name on it. Whatever you do, make sure you're ready to head back to Izmir by 6 pm as the Mavi Konya, an overnight train, will be waiting to transport your group through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.
Day 5 - Konya / Cappadocia
Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Take an opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road for a three-hour journey to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains and stop en route at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in Goreme in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening. 
Day 6 - Cappadocia
This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for this truly incredible sight. Your leader will take you for a walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. You could also hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River, or relax in a Turkish bath. This evening, your leader will give you the option of sharing a meal with a local family in their own home, or alternatively you could grab a local testi kebab, an evening hookah in one of the cafes or a glass of the local wine while overlooking the valley. A perfect last night in Cappadocia, whatever you choose.
Day 7 - Cappadocia to Istanbul
Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul. Expect to arrive between 1 and 4 pm, then grab your bags and jump on the metro as the group heads to the Sultanahmet District for the final evening of hte trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's hippest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries. This is the place to be seen. Try a local favourite, Balik Ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorous. 
Day 8 - Athens
This morning, transfer to Istanbul airport, bid farewell to your tour leader, and board a flight bound for Athens. The flight will be unaccompanied, but your leader will provide flight details and contact information before you board, and you will be met at the airport on arrival. After transferring to the hotel, the day is free until a group meeting at 6 pm. Settle in, freshen up and maybe take a walk around Athens’s ancient streets to get a feel for the city. After your evening meeting, head out for dinner with the group at a restaurant in the vibrant Psiri neighbourhood.
Day 9 - Syros
Today travel by metro to the port of Piraeus, then catch a relaxing scenic ferry to Syros (approximately 4 hours). In the heart of the Cyclades, Syros offers a rare opportunity to see the islands as the Greeks do. One of the Aegean's most underrated islands, the island features typical whitewashed houses, farms, terraced fields and gorgeous sandy beaches. Your leader will take you on a wander through the main town of Ermoupolis, home to well preserved neoclassical mansions and 19th-century tenement blocks. Syros is also home to delicious sweets. Stop at a family run traditional loukoumi workshop where you will be shown the procedure of how these multi-coloured fruit-flavoured jellies (also called Greek Delight) and chalvadopita (hazelnut, almond or honey-filled wafers) are made - make sure you try some of them. You'll have plenty of time to explore tomorrow, so perhaps kick up your feet at a waterfront cafe and watch the setting sun turn the houses pink.
Day 10 - Syros
Take a walk through the fortress-like town of Ano Syros, which offers great views of the Aegean Sea. Wander the narrow alleyways, pass handmade-souvenir shops and keep an ear open for traditional Rembetiko music floating out of the family-run tavernas. Enjoy free time to further explore Syros at your own pace. Discover abandoned windmills, ancient ruins and charming villages on a network of stone-paved tracks that crisscross the island. Perhaps head to the various archaeological sites on the island, or you might prefer to simply hole up on a beach for the afternoon. Outside of Ermoupolis are many small tranquil coves, while the most popular beaches are on the southern side of the island. While some are sandy and others pebbly, all boast crystal clear waters for swimming in. In the evening, take taxis to a taverna to a remotely located village in the rugged northern part of the island to sample delicious local specialities during an included meal, all while watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea.
Day 11 - Mykonos
Today board a two-hour ferry to Mykonos, a beautiful island named in honour of Apollo's grandson. Mykonos is legendary both in ancient and modern times. Known in ancient Greek mythology as the battlefield where Zeus fought the Gigantes, today the island is best known for its decadence, style, and nightlife. Join your leader for a walk through the maze-like old town and be captivated by the quintessential Greek Isles vista of squat white houses brightly juxtaposed against the cerulean sea. Browse the chic galleries and boutiques, follow flower-lined paths past age-old churches and tiny restaurants to secluded, sandy beaches, and spend the afternoon soaking up the rays and splashing in the water. As the sun sets, join the group for a picnic dinner of local specialties. Your leader will know the ideal spot to sit back and enjoy an Aegean sunset.
Day 12 - Delos / Mykonos
This morning you will take a half-day trip out to the nearby island of Delos. One of the most important archaeological and mythological sites in the Greek Islands, a sacred area that was once the political and religious centre of the Aegean, Delos is considered to be the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. A living museum, the wealthy built mansions in the town that developed around Apollo’s sanctuary, decorating them with luxurious frescoes, mosaics and statues. The island is overflowing with archaeological finds like the Terrace of the Lions and the Sacred Precinct, with many more still being uncovered. Later on today you might like to head to one of Mykonos' many beaches, which are some of the nicest in Europe. Take a short bus ride to the pumping Paradise or Super Paradise beach bars, or perhaps find a quieter spot to relax along the beautiful coastline. You could also check out the 19th-century House of Lena or the Aegean Maritime Museum in town. This evening you could make your way to the village of Ano Mera and seek out a tavern for a seafood dinner or perhaps wander down to Little Venice, where colourful balconies hang precariously over the sea.
Day 13 - Santorini
Take a ferry and wind up this Greek adventure on the southern island of Santorini (approximately 3 hours). Renowned for its spectacular natural beauty, Santorini is one of Europe's tourist hotspots, the home of the iconic image of the Greek islands – whitewashed, blue-domed buildings clinging to the cliff face with sparkling water in the background. Discover the hilltop ruins of Ancient Thira and its fascinating Prehistoric Museum, as well as the archaeological site of Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement that gives an insight into how the people here lived before the eruption. Check out the range of restaurants and shops in the island's capital, interchangeably called Thira or Fira. If you have time while you're here, perhaps head to one of Santorini's volcanic beaches, such as Red Beach or the black beaches of Perissa, Vlhada, Perivolos or Agios Georgios. Be sure to try some of the island’s delicious food – the nutrient-filled volcanic soil makes the ingredients grown here full of flavour.
Day 14 - Santorini
In 1500 BC a volcanic eruption sank the centre of Santorini, forming one of the most significant geological formations on the planet – the awe-inspiring caldera. The spectacular natural beauty of this caldera is what makes Santorini such a special place. Today make an excursion along the crater rim, starting in Thira town and walking through little villages all the way to Oia, passing steep cliff faces and experiencing breathtaking views along the way. If you have time, you might also like to take a half-day trip to the island's volcano and hot springs in the centre of the lagoon. Or perhaps visit one of the island’s wineries – the vines here are cultivated in a very unusual way, with the plants being pruned to form a low basket shape that sits on top of the volcanic soil to protect the grapes from strong winds. On the last evening of your adventure, rub shoulders with friendly locals in packed pubs and cafes, sipping a cocktail as you witness a magnificent Santorini sunset.
Day 15 - Santorini
Today your Greek Islands adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. You might want to extend your stay to see all Santorini has to offer. We are happy to book additional accommodation, subject to availability. Please enquire at the time of booking.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
25-04-202009-05-2020AUD $ 3,668-
09-05-202023-05-2020AUD $ 3,704-
13-05-202027-05-2020AUD $ 3,460-
23-05-202006-06-2020AUD $ 3,460-
30-05-202013-06-2020AUD $ 3,460-
06-06-202020-06-2020AUD $ 3,460-
10-06-202024-06-2020AUD $ 3,460-
04-07-202018-07-2020AUD $ 3,528-
01-08-202015-08-2020AUD $ 3,460-
22-08-202005-09-2020AUD $ 3,460-
29-08-202012-09-2020AUD $ 3,460-
07-09-202021-09-2020AUD $ 3,460-
12-09-202026-09-2020AUD $ 3,460-
21-09-202005-10-2020AUD $ 3,460-

Accommodation

Hotel (13 nights),Overnight Train (1 night)

Transport

Private Bus,Public Bus,Overnight Train,Plane,Ferry

Map