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Premium Turkey & the Cyclades Islands

Premium Turkey & the Cyclades Islands

From $ 9,325 AUD

Description

Dive into the magic of the Mediterranean on a 23-day Premium adventure through Turkey and Greece. Discover stunning islands and a sunken city, enjoy guided tours of Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Antalya and more, and marvel at diverse landscapes, from the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia to the glittering Mediterranean Coast. Hop across to the storied city of Athens, explore the charming villages of Paros, uncover ancient riches in Naxos and soak up million-dollar views in Santorini. With knowledgeable local leaders and a group of keen travellers by your side, you’re never far away from an unforgettable moment.

Trip Name
Premium Turkey & the Cyclades Islands
Last Updated
2021-09-23
Days
23
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Feast your eyes on the best of Turkey and Greece's otherworldly sights, from the Cotton Castle of Pamukkale to the psychedelic rockscapes of Cappadocia and the legendary caldera of Santorini.
  • Indulge in iconic feature stays in a cave hotel in Cappadocia and a whitewashed hotel with spectacular views in Santorini.
  • Experience the dazzling variety of Turkish and Greek cuisine during welcome dinners in Istanbul and Athens, cooking classes using home-grown produce in Selcuk and Naxos, freshly prepared lunch on board a boat cruise in Kas and wine tastings in both countries.
  • Join experienced local leaders as you stroll the ancient streets of Ephesus, uncover the secrets of Sagalassos, explore the legendary ruins of Troy and discover the history and charming villages of Paros.
  • Learn the secrets of Greek cuisine in Naxos during an in-depth cooking class with a local, using organic ingredients from her garden to create regional specialties which you will then enjoy for lunch.

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 review this information 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 such 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 maybe 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 in the Group Meeting 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. HOT AIR BALLOON CAPPADOCIA: Please note that the optional activity of the Hot Air Balloon is weather dependent. In the case of bad weather we will be unable to fly. Your trip leader will co-ordinate this with our local supplier and the Civil Aviation Authority in Cappadocia.

Day 1 - Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all once called home. Enjoy a complimentary transfer to your hotel from the airport. You’re never far from a great meal in Istanbul, so if you arrive early be sure to grab some lunch at one of the city’s many eateries. Your Intrepid Premium adventure then begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm. After the meeting, head out with your Intrepid local leader and small group to explore the Old City of Istanbul. Your knowledgeable leader will introduce you to some of the historical treasures of the city, including the dazzling Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome, and the Million - a stone road marker in use since the fourth century. This evening get to know your fellow travellers over dinner at a stylish restaurant where local delicacies are paired with panoramic views of the Bosphorus.
Day 2 - Canakkale
Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale, a port city located on the shores of the Dardanelles. Arrive in time to buy yourself some lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Thousands from across the world make the journey here each year to pay respect to those who lost their lives in the battles of 1915. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. Head up to the memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair while your leader explains the significance of the events that took place across the landscape. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. After a day that will no doubt be full of sombre reflection, the evening is free for you to do as you wish in Canakkale.
Day 3 - Selcuk
Drive to Selcuk with a stop en route in Troy, where history and mythology sit side by side. Your leader will take you around the ancient city walls, and there will be time for a photo op with a replica Trojan horse. Learn how the site has confounded historians and archaeologists, then continue to Selcuk. This afternoon you’re in for an extraordinary treat - meet a local chef (who has appeared on the BBC!) for a Turkish cooking class, using olive oil grown and made on site as well as herbs and vegetables picked fresh from the garden. If you’re just eating Turkish food in restaurants, you’re only getting half the story. Learn how to make a range of small meze dishes using seasonal ingredients. Enjoy the fruits of your labour as this evening’s dinner will be the mouth-watering meze plates you’ve made together.
Day 4 - Selcuk
This morning join your leader for an orientation walk around Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque. In the afternoon, visit one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world – Ephesus. Learn from your leader what life here was like as you tour the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and restored Library of Celsus. Later, drive past apple and peach orchards to the quaint village of Sirence, where charming red-roofed houses clamber up the hillside. Drop by a local wine house where you’ll enjoy a tasting of the locally produced fruit wines. Try a sip of kiwi, pear, peach, quince or all of the above!
Day 5 - Pamukkale
After breakfast this morning, travel to the town of Pamukkale. Named after its incredible travertine terraces, Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a collection of pools and terraces. As the water overflows, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with waters that many believe have healing properties for circulation and the digestive system. But that’s not all this site has to offer - head up to the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC, where your leader will bring history to life and guide you through an ancient temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica, necropolis and an impressive theatre. Enjoy a free evening in Pamukkale.
Day 6 - Kas
Make the journey to the coast, with a stop en route at the ghost village of Kayakoy. Abandoned after WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, this once-thriving village now lies as a sombre reminder of the human cost of war and politics. Spend some time on the eerie streets, then continue to Kas (which means eyebrow in Turkish) and begin exploring on a walking tour. Now primarily a holiday town, Kas is strewn with the remains of Lycian tombs, iconic white-washed walls covered with climbing bougainvillea and an ancient theatre where you can watch a spectacular sunset. The walk is sure to inspire your appetite and your leader will be on hand to show you where to grab a great gozleme (stuffed Turkish flatbread). The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy this easy-going town, perhaps sit back with a pomegranate cocktail or check out the local markets.
Day 7 - Kas
Set off for an experience like no other - a magical boat cruise around the islands with two local guides, Mehmet and Sebahat. The married couple use their special knowledge and love of the local waters to share a distinctly traditional way of cruising and eating with travellers. Cruise to their home village of Ucagiz, then on to the village of Simena, where its friendly inhabitants sell ice cream in front of bougainvillea covered houses. On board you’ll enjoy a range of freshly prepared local greens, zucchini fritters and maybe even some Turkish raki. Sail from large bays to protected inlets where you can cool off with a swim in turquoise waters. Kick back with a cold beer or learn how to play backgammon, Turkey’s most beloved game. Look out for the ruins of an ancient city submerged under the clear water. Return to Kas for an evening at your leisure.
Day 8 - Antalya
Travel from Kas to a lesser-known treasure - the archaeological site of Sagalassos. Set on the slopes of the Taurus mountains, the views from the site certainly deserve attention, but the ancient ruins are even more memorable. Enjoy a guided visit through agoras, a Roman bath complex, an intricately decorated fountain and a theatre, and learn what life looked like set against this remarkable backdrop. If time permits, you may have the chance to visit a workshop where local women have revived traditional tile-making techniques. Continue on a scenic drive to Antalya. Your accommodation is tucked away in Kaleici (the Old City) so settle in on arrival and then head out on an early evening walk to see Hadrians Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and plenty of photo-worthy views. Soak up the city’s Mediterranean atmosphere and attitude over a fresh seafood dinner – your leader can recommend some superb spots for eating.
Day 9 - Antalya
Wake up in beautiful Antalya and start your day with a guided visit though the Antalya Museum. The province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenistic and Roman cities, and some of the best artefacts are on display in the museum’s 13 exhibition halls and open-air gallery. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Maybe wander the narrow cobblestoned streets of Kaleici with an ice cream in hand, beat the heat with a dip in the sea, chill out poolside or take an optional visit to the ancient cities of Side, Perge or Apsendos. Be sure to speak to your leader for details on these optional activities.
Day 10 - Konya
Say goodbye to Antalya and take a morning drive to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born. On arrival, discover the mystic resting place of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the 13th-century mystic, poet and theologian whose teachings continue to inspire and influence Muslims around the world. Visit the small museum dedicated to his life and work. The rest of the day is free for you to get to know the city. Konya offers up a wealth of museums, mosques and monuments worth visiting so be sure to ask your leader for recommendations. For a leisurely afternoon, head to Alaeddin Hill, where locals sip coffee, eat pastries and let the hours slip calmly by.
Day 11 - Cappadocia
Depart from Konya and travel to Cappadocia, where on arrival your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get to know your new otherworldly surroundings. Check in to your feature stay accommodation and discover something truly special. Feel miles away from the modern world in a cave hotel that looks like a page straight out of a fairy tale. Uniquely beautiful rooms are carved into stone and feature elegant décor with modern conveniences. The rooftop terrace boasts one in a million views of Cappadocia’s incredible landscape and basalt chimneys – keep an eye out for hot air balloons passing overhead. Head out for a drink with a view and watch the sun set over one of the world’s most enchanting places. The rest of the evening is free for you to take it all in, or perhaps watch a performance of whirling by local Dervishes in a restored han (caravansary).
Day 12 - Cappadocia
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the ethereal Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After a relaxing breakfast overlooking the valley, step back in time with a visit to the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face as your leader shares stories of the civilisations who lived here. Next up visit a carpet weaving co-operative that empowers women by giving them the tools to produce one-of-a-kind traditional rugs. Hear local insight on the history of traditional carpet weaving and see how the intricate pieces are made. Later in the afternoon, go on a short walk through the cheekily named 'Love Valley' which is famous for its phallic rock formations. Then head back to your hotel in Goreme. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day.
Day 13 - Cappadocia
Take a morning walk to see the fascinating rock formations of the Kizilcukur valley. After lunch, head toward the red river of Avanos and descend to Ozkonak, where you’ll explore an underground city hollowed out of tufa rock that dates back to 400 BC. Return to the surface and visit the studio of a local ceramic master whose family have been in the pottery business for six generations. Speak with a local artist who will explain the history and techniques of traditional Turkish ceramics. Discover the rich clay from the red river and watch how it is moulded into exquisite pieces. This evening you’ll be warmly welcomed into the cave home of Nuray, a local woman who will prepare a special home-cooked dinner for your group. Sit down to a feast made with passion, enjoy a friendly chat with your affable host and perhaps top off the night with some Turkish delight.
Day 14 - Istanbul
This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and return to where it all began - Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul you may wish to join your leader for a trip across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of the city. Here you’ll find lively, close-knit communities and jumbles of cute cafes, markets and restaurants. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore some more of the charms of this enthralling city. This evening consider rounding off the Turkish part of your adventure by joining your group and leader for an optional farewell dinner at one of Istanbul’s excellent waterfront restaurants.
Day 15 - Athens
Depart Istanbul and catch a short flight to Athens, Greece’s storied capital with a lively cosmopolitan side. You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel, where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. After your meeting, get a taste of Greece’s celebrated cuisine during dinner with the group at a local restaurant in the vibrant Psiri neighbourhood.
Day 16 - Paros
This morning you will be transported to Athens' port at Piraeus and board a ferry bound for Paros – a beautiful and relaxed island with a layered history. Ferries are a great way to travel between the islands and are the lifeblood of many remote islands in Greece's multitude of archipelagos. In the afternoon, get to know Paros during an island tour with a local guide. Start off in Parikia, the island’s main town, where you will visit the Ekatontapiliani church, also known as the Church of a Hundred Doors. Explore charming narrow streets and learn about the architecture of the town. Continue with a drive through the island’s mainland, passing by ancient marble quarries, then stop off at the village of Lefkes. Take some time to explore the peaceful village, surrounded by verdant hills dotted with olive and pine trees, then carry on to Naoussa – a delightful village known for its whitewashed alleys, Venetian castle and stunning port. After your tour, enjoy an evening at leisure.
Day 17 - Paros
The day is yours to uncover more of Paros’ charms. There’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do on the island. You may like to begin the day with a guided morning hike along the coast – starting off at a lovely fishing village and weaving through some of the island’s most pristine beaches. In the afternoon you will have the option to visit the nearby island of Antiparos – a favourite secret holiday spot for royals and celebrities, this lesser-known island offers a tranquil escape. Or perhaps you’d like to spend the day relaxing on one of Paros’ many beautiful beaches, cooling off with dips in Aegean Sea. Speak to your leader for more information about the activities on offer today and for tips on how to make the most of this spectacular island.
Day 18 - Naxos
This morning you will say goodbye to Paros and catch a short ferry to Naxos. The largest of the Cyclades islands, Naxos has something for everyone – from glittering beaches to an endearing Old Town and hundreds of years of Venetian history. Take some time to settle in on arrival, then regroup in the late afternoon to discover the wonders of the town with the guidance of your leader. Pay a visit to the Portara, a giant marble doorway and the only remaining part of an unfinished temple of Apollo from 530 BC. Naxos is unique in the fact it is the Cyclades’ only self-sufficient island, meaning all produce is grown and available on the island without imports. Because of this, the cuisine is hyperlocal and differs to the rest of the country. This evening you will enjoy an included dinner and learn about the wonderful regional specialties of the island.
Day 19 - Naxos
This morning you will drive to Eggares, a small farming village set in the region that produces most of the island’s produce. Here you will tour an olive oil press museum to learn about the importance of olive oil to Greek culture and traditional extraction methods. After your visit, you’ll put your new knowledge to good use as you travel to the nearby village of Galini for a hands-on cooking class. Meet with a local who will share her in-depth culinary knowledge with the group, leaving you with wonderful recipes you can cook up at home to bring you back to the island. First you will collect fresh ingredients from your host’s organic garden and learn about cultivation and farming on Naxos, then you’ll be shown how to put the ingredients together to create a marvellous Naxian dish from scratch, enjoying the fruits of your labour for lunch. Continue to the village of Halki for a look at its magnificent ancient buildings, then pay a visit to the iconic Vallindras distillery for a kitron tasting. With a history stretching back to the 19th century and only produced on Naxos, a taste of this citron liqueur will take you straight to the heart of the island’s culture.
Day 20 - Naxos
Today is free to explore more of wonderful Naxos. You may like to head to one of the island’s beaches for a day at leisure, or perhaps discover more of the Naxos’ history at a local museum. The Archaeological Μuseum of Naxos in Chora Naxos dates back to the 17th century and houses artefacts from the Neolithic to the early-Christian periods, and the Geological Museum of Apeiranthos digs up the natural history of the island. If you’re after a sweet treat, walnut cake flavoured with local kitron is an excellent regional specialty. Your leader will be on hand to help tailor a day that suits your interests.
Day 21 - Santorini
Depart Naxos in the morning and catch a ferry to the magnificent island of Santorini. Upon arrival in Santorini's capital, Fira, you will be met and transferred to your feature stay hotel. A whitewashed building in the traditional Cycladic style, the hotel boasts a magnificent backdrop of the Santorini caldera and volcano. The island’s breezy, laidback atmosphere is translated into this superb hotel, offering tranquillity away from the main town, and where nothing is too much trouble. Here you’ll enjoy spacious rooms, modern amenities, an expansive swimming pool and a prime location for exploring the treasures of Santorini. Enjoy a free afternoon to absorb this veritable paradise. Your leader will be able to offer suggestions on what to see and do. In the late afternoon make sure you view Santorini's world-famous sunset, which has been immortalised in many photos and works of art.
Day 22 - Santorini
In the morning, embark on a hike along Santorini’s legendary caldera. The island you see today is what remains from a huge volcanic explosion that destroyed the early settlements and created a geographical caldera. The spectacular natural beauty of this caldera is what makes Santorini such a special place. Your walk begins at your hotel and you will continue along the north-western rim of the caldera, passing steep cliff faces and experiencing breath-taking views along the way. The walk ends in the town of Oia, built on a steep slope inside Santorini’s incredible volcanic caldera. Famous not only for its stunning scenery, Santorini’s microclimate and volcanic soil make it a top spot for wine production. This afternoon you will sip your way around the island during visits to three wonderful family-run wineries, where you will learn about history of wine production, its importance to the local economy, and taste the different varieties yourself.
Day 23 - Santorini
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would to spend some more time on Santorini, additional accommodation can be arranged ahead of time (subject to availability).

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
01-05-202223-05-2022AUD $ 9,325-
08-05-202230-05-2022AUD $ 9,700-
15-05-202206-06-2022AUD $ 10,070-
05-06-202227-06-2022AUD $ 10,525-
12-06-202204-07-2022AUD $ 9,845-
19-06-202211-07-2022AUD $ 9,845-
14-08-202205-09-2022AUD $ 10,525-
21-08-202212-09-2022AUD $ 10,525-
28-08-202219-09-2022AUD $ 11,365-
04-09-202226-09-2022AUD $ 10,525-
30-04-202322-05-2023AUD $ 10,335-
07-05-202329-05-2023AUD $ 10,750-
14-05-202305-06-2023AUD $ 11,160-
04-06-202326-06-2023AUD $ 10,750-
11-06-202303-07-2023AUD $ 10,335-
18-06-202310-07-2023AUD $ 10,335-
13-08-202304-09-2023AUD $ 10,335-
20-08-202311-09-2023AUD $ 10,750-
27-08-202318-09-2023AUD $ 11,160-
03-09-202325-09-2023AUD $ 11,160-

Accommodation

Comfortable hotel (17 nights),Feature Stay (5 nights)

Transport

Private vehicle,Boat,Plane,Ferry,Taxi

Map