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Explore Iran & Turkey

Explore Iran & Turkey

From $ 7,475 AUD

Description

Explore two of the most historically and culturally rich countries in the world, places where numerous empires, conquerors and civilisations have left their mark. Go behind the headlines and uncover the true Iran, a welcoming country of open-hearted people redefining the word ‘hospitality’. From breath-taking mosques to stepped hillside villages, Ancient Persepolis and Zoroastrian towers, the beauty of the Iranian landscape is a reflection of its inhabitants. Journey to Turkey, a tantalisingly exotic country that mixes the cosmopolitan delights of Istanbul with ancient cities and natural wonders. Visit a dazzling architectural world, from the Blue Mosque and Ephesus, to the bizarre rock-landscape of Cappadocia. Come on a rewarding adventure that takes in one of the world’s least-visited countries.

Trip Name
Explore Iran & Turkey
Last Updated
2020-08-08
Days
27
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Explore one of the greatest cities of antiquity, Persepolis. The relief carvings and towering columns will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world
  • Once a major stop on the Silk Road, visit Yazd and discover the role religion plays in the city, from the impressive Jameh Mosque to the Zoroastrian towers and temples
  • Spend two nights at our 'feature stay' hotel in Yazd; an old renovated caravanserai that dates back to nearly a century ago
  • Soak up the sights and atmosphere of the jewel in the crown of Persia, the beautiful town of Esfahan.
  • Step back in time at Ephesus, where the Greco-Roman world still feels very much alive. This is one of the best preserved classical cities in all of Europe and yet to be completely excavated
  • Spend some time reflecting on battles fought and lives lost in Gallipoli. This peaceful place has seen many atrocities due to its significant role in WW1
  • Enjoy two nights at 'feature stay' hotel in Selcuk /Ephesus a rustic boutique style series of old Ottoman residences renovated in an authentic and unique style 
  • Be mesmerised by the lunar landscape of Cappadocia and explore an underground city  
  • Visit the iconic 17th century Blue Mosque, with its unusual number of six minarets and striking collection of Iznik tiles

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. MONDAY TRADING IN IRAN: Please note in Iran some sights are closed on Mondays and operating hours can change with little notice. Please speak to your trip leader for up to date information. DEPOSITS: Please note deposits on this trip are non refundable and non-transferable as per our terms and conditions. You are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $600 per person per trip for your booking to be confirmed

Day 1 - Tehran
Welcome to Iran! You will be met at Tehran Airport by a local driver for a transfer to your hotel (approximately 1 hour). You may arrive in Tehran at any time today, with hotel rooms are generally available after 12 pm (midday) and an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Until then, the rest of your day is free to explore your surroundings. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is exciting, noisy and chaotic – it’s the country's beating heart. Highly recommended today is to visit the Treasury of National Jewels – be sure to time your visit, as it is closed on some days. In the evening, you could take a seat at a coffee shop or find a local restaurant for dinner – be sure to ask your group leader for their recommendations.
Day 2 - Tehran
Continue discovering of Tehran with a full-day tour, beginning at the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace – an opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era embodying early Persian design. Continue with a stroll through Tehran's bustling bazaar before visiting the National Museum. While it may not look as inspiring as other city buildings from the outside, inside is a treasure trove of Iran's rich history. Keep your eye out for the Salt Man from Zanjan – preserved in salt for centuries.
Day 3 - Kashan
Drive to Kashan in the morning – a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. Visit the lush Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin (Fin Garden), a classical Persian garden that contains Kashan's Fin Bath. This is where Amir Kabir – the Qajarid chancellor and a nationalist hero – was murdered under the orders of King Nadir al-Din in 1852. Spend time at the fascinating Tabataei House. Built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, exceptional attention was paid to every architectural detail of this building as dictated by the geography and climate of the area. Spend the evening in Kashan and experience Iranian hospitality as your group shares an evening meal with a local family, before spending the night in a traditional Iranian-style house.
Day 4 - Yazd
After breakfast, depart for the ancient desert city of Yazd. Once a major stop on so-called caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period, it's also known as the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. Stop en route in the quiet town of Ardestan, located on the edge of the central deserts. This small village has retained a lot of its charm – it’s full of old clay houses sitting on top of underground aqueducts which draw water from the mountains to the plains. Continue to Aqda to enjoy a Persian lunch in a beautifully restored house. Relax over lunch and maybe take a walk through the village. Arriving in Yazd in the late afternoon, indulging your sweet tooth with a visit to a renowned confectionery maker at Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar. Taste generations of expertise at the oldest and most well-known sweet shop in the city, where treats are made with traditional techniques. Spend the evening in a classic hotel in Yazd.
Day 5 - Yazd
Explore the old part of the city in the morning, heading to the Amir Chakmaq complex, and walking through the narrow kuches (lanes), past courtyards, ornate doors and mud-brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd is the badgirs (wind towers) that capture even the softest of breezes before sending them to the buildings below. It’s an ancient air conditioning! Afterwards, visit two vestiges of Yazd’s Zoroastrian heritage on a trip to the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. Zoroastrianism, dating back over 4000 years, was the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam. In Zoroastrian, fire and water are agents of ritual purity, and the fire in the Atashkadeh Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since AD470. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner experience, travelling to the village of Taft to the house of Nartitee. Here, every corner of this small village home tells a story. Among the house’s pomegranate and tamarind trees, experience remnants of a 2500-year-old culture as you enjoy a simple meal.
Day 6 - Shiraz
This morning, travel from Yazd to Shiraz (approximately 6 hours). On the way, stop at the ice houses of Abarkuh. Ice houses were known in Iran as early as the 17th century BC and used as recently as 50 years ago. The Abarkuh Cyprus is the focal point of this village and is believed to be 4500 years old – a popular symbol of 'life and beauty'. Relax a while and gaze on the beauty of this tree – said to be the oldest living organism in Iran. Continue to Shiraz, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 7 - Shiraz
Today is dedicated to exploring Shiraz. Many of the local ruins date from around AD260 where Valerian, the only Roman emperor to have ever been a prisoner of war, lived out his last days in captivity. Rise early this morning to catch the first rays of the sun as it seeps in through the stained glass of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. Continue to the Vakil Bazaar and the Khan citadel. Bazaar-e Vakil is regarded as one of the best markets in the country, specialising in fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and spices. This afternoon, visit the vast complex of Bagh-e Eram, known as the Garden of Paradise. Wander the grounds where artificial rivers run through the cypress trees before pooling in front of a colourful palace. Afterwards, visit the tombs of literary and folk hero Hafez and Sa'di. Nearby is the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh – one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. The structure serves as a mausoleum to one of Imam Reza’s brothers and the forecourt is often packed with Shiite pilgrims. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries.
Day 8 - Shiraz
Begin the day with a drive to the remains of Persepolis (approximately 1 hour) – once the centre of the Persian Empire and considered as one of the great cities of the ancient world. The Takhte Jamshid complex of palaces was known as the historic marvel of the country, constructed over 150 years as the ceremonial capital of Darius I’s Achaemenid Empire. Continue on to Naqsh-e-Rajab – the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to early Sassanid times. While today only small ruins remain from those once-magnificent structures, the site is still impressive. This evening, you have the option to participate in a highly recommended hands-on cooking class. The class is held in a local home and runs for approximately 3-4 hours, with all directions and recipes provided in English. You may also choose to explore the town and enjoy an Iranian meal in a restaurant.
Day 9 - Esfahan
Depart from Shiraz and head towards Esfahan (approximately a 6-hour drive). Along the way, stop for a guided tour of Pasargadae – an ancient city built by Cyrus the Great that precedes Persepolis. It’s may not be as well preserved as Persepolis, but still reflects the architectural genius of the Achaemenids, its beauty of simplicity and balance. This afternoon, arrive in Esfahan, and in the evening, take a stroll down to the Zayandeh River and witness the historic bridges arching over the water. The stunning Si-o-Seh Pol (bridge of 33 arches) lights up at night, best viewed either on the banks of the river or at a local teahouse. While away some time in this magical location, truly one of the most atmospheric that Iran has to offer.
Day 10 - Esfahan
There’s plenty of time to soak up the sights and atmosphere of Esfahan, often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Esfahan reached its peak during the reign of Shah Abbas I in 1587 when it was declared the capital of Persia, yet much of its past glory still remains despite the country’s capital later being shifted to Shiraz and then Tehran. Begin today’s adventure through Esfahan with a guided walk through the Imam Square. Covering an area of 82,500 square meters, it’s the second-largest in the world. There are many grand buildings in the surrounding area such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque. Otherwise, the rest of the day is free for more independent exploring of the city.
Day 11 - Esfahan
Continue discovering Esfahan with a guided visit to the Vank Cathedral, located in the Armenian quarter of the city. The striking interior of this building boasts gilded ceilings, intricate wall architecture and eye-catching paintings. The artwork of the dome depicts the Biblical story of Genesis, from the creation of man to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The church also plays home to a museum, full of historic manuscripts. Originally, Armenian Christians were brought to the cathedral by Shah Abbas I who placed great value in their skills as artists and merchants. They have been allowed to practice their religion in peace but are confined to this single area of the city. The rest of the afternoon is free. Why not visit the city bazaar – an easy place to get lost among its appealing colours and aromas.
Day 12 - Tehran
After breakfast this morning, begin the journey back to Tehran, stopping in Iran's second holiest city for the opportunity to visit the Shirne of Fatima Masumeh. On arrival back in Tehran, and after checking in to the hotel, head to the Tabiat Nature Bridge for the afternoon. Spend some time relaxing over a light meal at one of the many restaurants by Ports Park, situated on one side of the bridge. On the other, the rolling trees of Taleghani Park offer a great opportunity for a stroll.
Day 13 - Istanbul
This morning transfer to Tehran International Airport for your flight to Istanbul. Due to flight schedules it is likely that this will be a very early flight. Your leader in Iran will provide all flight details for you. Welcome to Istanbul; the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Meet your new leader and group today at a welcome meeting at 1 pm.
Day 14 - Canakkale
Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale. located on the shores of the Dardanelles (the strait that connects Europe and Asia via the Gelibolu Peninsula and the Biga Peninsula). Arrive in time for an included lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit the cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill toward the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. 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 15 - Selcuk
Drive to Selcuk with a stop en route in Troy. Here legend and history fuse together, and you can see both ancient city walls as well as a replica Trojan Horse. Learn how the site has confounded historians and archaeologists, then continue to Selcuk. On arrival, pay a visit to the famously adorable village of Sirince and enjoy a tasting of local fruit wine.
Day 16 - Selcuk
This morning enjoy 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 during this fascinating tour. 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. 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. Make a stop at Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms.
Day 17 - Pamukkale
After breakfast this morning, travel to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming myriad 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. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC. Explore the extensive ruins of Hierapolis, which include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis.
Day 18 - 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 poignant 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.
Day 19 - Kas
Embark on a boat cruise around the local islands with two local guides, Mehmet and Sebahat. Hailing from the small village of Ucagiz, bought a boat and went fishing after they married and never stopped. While the fishing industry has shifted due to modern catchment methods, Mehmet and Sebahat decided to use their 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 and also to the village of Simena, sailing from large bays to protected inlets where you can cool off with a swim in turquoise waters. Enjoy lunch cooked on board in Tersane Bay, where the water is so clear you can see the bottom and the shore is lined with the ruins of an ancient city. Look out for ruins submerged under the clear water. After a day on the water, return to Kas for an evening at your leisure.
Day 20 - Antalya
Take a scenic drive to the jewel in the Mediterranean crown – Antalya. Your accommodation is located in the Kaleici (Old City), so settle in on arrival and then head out on an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and more stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Spend the night in the ancient Kaleci. While dinner this evening is not included, it would be a crime not to try some of the fresh, local seafood served in one of the many restaurants.
Day 21 - Antalya
This morning take 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 relax in the Kaleici, beat the heat with a swim 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 22 - Konya
Make a 2-hour morning drive in Burdur province to the city of Sagalassos. The ruins of the city are dramatically sited in the Taurus Mountains, offering magnificent views as well as impressive ancient monuments. Continue on to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born.
Day 23 - Cappadocia
This morning 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 before continuing Cappadocia. Arrive by late afternoon, with time to see the main village and perhaps take a short valley walk with your leader. Your evening is free. One optional activity that may be of interest after what you learned this morning is a performance of whirling by local Dervishes in a restored han (caravansary).
Day 24 - Cappadocia
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After a relaxing breakfast on a terrace overlooking the valley, visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the many incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face. The Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art, cave chapels and colourful biblical frescoes from the 10th–12th centuries. Later in the afternoon, go on a short walk through '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 25 - Cappadocia
Head on a morning walk to what is arguably the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur. You'll see fascinating rock formations such as cones, peaks and fairy chimneys, as well as man-made cave chapels. After lunch, head toward the red river of Avanos and descend to Ozkonak, an underground city hollowed out of tufa rock that dates back to 400 BC. Explore this unique city, including the crude communication system that allowed signals to be sent between all ten levels. Return to the surface and visit a local potter. Discover the rich clay from the red river and watch how it is moulded into exquisite pieces, then return to your hotel via Devrent Valley.
Day 26 - Istanbul
This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and return to Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is yours to explore some of the charms of Istanbul. This evening consider joining your group and leader for an optional dinner.
Day 27 - Istanbul
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
03-10-202029-10-2020AUD $ 7,850-
20-03-202115-04-2021AUD $ 7,475-
10-04-202106-05-2021AUD $ 7,475-
24-04-202120-05-2021AUD $ 7,475-
15-05-202110-06-2021AUD $ 7,475-
04-09-202130-09-2021AUD $ 7,475-
11-09-202107-10-2021AUD $ 7,475-
25-09-202121-10-2021AUD $ 7,475-

Accommodation

Comfortable Standard Hotel (21 nights) Feature Stay Dad Hotel Yadz (2 nights) Feature Stay Heybe Hotel Cappadocia (3 nights)

Transport

Private aircon bus,Plane

Map