Highlights of Iran and Turkey

Highlights of Iran and Turkey

From $ 6,345 AUD

Description

Let the historic wonder of Iran and Turkey capture your imagination on a 21-day small-group adventure. Culturally, historically and religiously, these two countries have so much to offer – from the merchant town of Kashan and the Zoroastrian heritage in Yazd to the continent-straddling city of Istanbul and the eerie and unusual landscapes in Cappadocia – your journey through these Middle Eastern neighbours will sure not disappoint. Combine this with time spent cruising the sparkling Aegean Sea, eating with local families in the Iranian countryside and making Turkish favourites like manti (traditional dumplings), and your glimpse into Iran and Turkey will illuminate a whole other world, full of architectural marvels, historical significance and charming hospitality.

Trip Name
Highlights of Iran and Turkey
Last Updated
2020-01-25
Days
21
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.
  • 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 is yet to be completely excavated.
  • Laze around on the Aegean Coast in Bodrum. Imagine bougainvillea, white-washed walls, boat cruises on a traditional gulet and fresh seafood – this is living.
  • Be mesmerised by the lunar landscape of Cappadocia and explore an underground city, and discover why Istanbul is renowned as one of the most multicultural and engaging cities in the world.

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. 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. A Tehran airport arrival transfer is included, so please provide your flight details at the time of booking or no later than 14 days prior to travel. Once you have provided your details, a transfer representative will be booked to meet you and transfer you to your hotel (approximately 1 hour). This is simply an arrival day so you may arrive in Tehran at any time, though please note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday. There will be a trip briefing at 6 pm; please refer to your hotel noticeboard or talk to reception for more details. Until then the rest of your day is free to explore your new surroundings. Iran's capital is exciting, noisy and chaotic. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is the country's beating heart and where its true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chadors competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. Also expect to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat with you about anything and everything. In the evening, perhaps take a seat at a city coffee shop for some people watching.
Day 2 - Tehran
Begin your discovery of Tehran with a full day tour, start at the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace. This opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era embodies early Persian design with the influence of western architecture, continue to the National Museum whilst it may not look inspiring from the outside inside is a treasure chest 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 Fin Garden (Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin), a historic and 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 Borujerdi House (Khan-e Borujerdi), built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, exceptional attention was paid to every architectural details of this building as dictated by the geographical and climatic conditions of the area. It’s a fascinating place to visit. Spend the evening in Kashan, and experience Iranian hospitality as we share our evening meal with a local family.
Day 4 - Yazd
After breakfast we depart for the ancient desert city of Yazd once a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period – Marco Polo visited the city on his way to China – and it retains a rustic feel. It's also known as the heart of the Zoroastrian religion.    We stop en route in the quite town of Na'in located on the edge of the Central Desrt this small village has retained a lot of  it's traditional charm  – the town is full of old clay houses sitting on top of underground aqueducts which draws water from the mountains to the plains.  Continue to Aqda where we enjoy a Persian lunch in beautifully restored traditional house. Relax over lunch and maybe take a walk through the village. Arriving in Yazd in the late afternoon time to indulge the sweet tooth with a visit to a famous confectionery maker at Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar. Taste generations of expertise at the oldest and most famous sweet shop in the city, where treats are made through traditional techniques.  Spend this evening in your feature stay hotel.
Day 5 - Yazd
Explore the old part of the city in the morning, considered by UNESCO to be steeped in antiquity. Visit the Dolat Abad Garden and Amir Chakmaq complex, then walk through the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and the ornate doors of local mud brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd are the badgirs (wind towers) that capture even the softest of breezes before sending them to the buildings below, cooling them off as a forerunner of modern air-con.  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 the Zoroastrian religion, 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. The intriguing Towers of Silence are part of the Zoroastrian tradition of raised circular structures where the dead are laid out to be picked clean by scavenger birds. Dinner tonight is a very special experience, as we travel to the village of Taft to the house of Nartitee. Here every corner of this small village home tells a story, at Nartitee you can experience a 2500 year culture as you enjoy a simple meal amongst the scent of pomegranate and tamarind trees.
Day 6 - Shiraz
Today we travel from Yazd to Shiraz (approximately 6 hours), and on the way we stop at the ice-houses of Abarkuh. Ice houses were known in Iran as early as the 17th century BC and these were used as recently as 50 years ago.   The Abarkuh Cyprus is the the focal point of this village and is believed to be 4500 years a popular symbol of 'life and beauty'. Relax a while and gaze on the beauty of this tree the oldest living organism in Iran.  Arrive in Shiraz in the late afternoon.
Day 7 - Shiraz
Welcome to Shiraz. Valerian, the only Roman emperor to have ever been a prisoner of war, lived out his last days in captivity here circa AD260. Many of the local ruins date from this period. There’s plenty of chances to explore this Pearl of Persia over the next few days – the name itself evokes thoughts of tranquil gardens, lavish palaces, philosophers and artists. Up early this morning to catch the first rays of sun as it seeps in through the stained glass of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, this mosque may seem like a fairly traditional place of worship from the outside, but inside it is guarding a very gorgeously colourful secret. Continue to the Vakil Bazaar and the Khan citadel. Bazaar-e Vakil is regarded as one of the most evocative bazaars in the country and specialises in fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and spices.  This afternoon, visit the vast complex of Eram Garden, also known as the ‘Garden of Paradise’ (Bagh-e Eram). Wander the grounds, filled with young Shirazis, where artificial rivers run through an impressive collection of cypress trees before pooling in front of a colourful palace.  Following this, visit the tombs of Hafez and Sa'di. The Persian poet Hafez was born in Shiraz around 1310 and travelled the world before returning to pass away in Shiraz, where he is regarded as a literary giant and folk hero.  Nearby is the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, known as one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. The beautiful structure serves as a mausoleum to one of Imam Reza’s brothers and the forecourt is often packed with Shiite pilgrims.  After witnessing these stunning sites, the rest of the day is free for exploration.
Day 8 - Shiraz
Begin the day with a trip to the remains of Persepolis (approximately 1 hours' drive) – 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 the course of 150 years as the ceremonial capital of Darius I’s Achaemenid Empire. The imposing gateways, intricate relief carvings, mountainside tombs, grand staircases and towering columns leaves little doubt that this was once the heart of the known world. Continue on to Naqsh-e-Rajab, the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to early Sassanid times. In 330 BC, invading armies led by Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great set fire to the city, destroying it and in turn symbolising the destruction of the Persian Empire. While today only small ruins remain from those once-magnificent structures, the site is still impressive. 
Day 9 - Esfahan
Depart from Shiraz en route to Esfahan (approximately a 6 hour drive). Along the way we stop for a guided tour of Pasargadae, an ancient city built by Cyrus the Great that precedes Persepolis. It’s not as well preserved as the latter, but still reflects the architectural genius of the Achaemenids, the beauty of simplicity and balance. Arrive in Esfahan; 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, creating a fairytale spectacle best witnessed 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 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’s many grand buildings in the surrounding area such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque – all of which are truly remarkable sights. In the Safavid era, this place was renowned for its parades, military reviews, polo games and festivals. These days it’s better regarded as a place for families to idly wander or enjoy a picnic come the early evening. After exploring the area, the rest of the day is free for soaking up the visual appeal of the city and discovering the many beautiful secrets it holds.
Day 11 - Esfahan
Continue exploring Isfahan 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 stunning, delicate 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, we recommend the Bazaar an easy place to while away the hours getting lost among the colours and tantalizing aromas.
Day 12 - Tehran
After breakfast this morning we start the journey back to Tehran, stopping in Iran's second most holiest city for the opportunity to visit the Shirne of Fatima Masumeh. Fatima Masumeh was the sister of the eighth Imam Reza and the daughter of the seventh Imam Musa al-Kadhim (Tabari 60). On arrival back in Tehran, and after checking in to the hotel, we head to the Tabiat Nature Bridge for some afternoon exploration. 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 wistful stroll.
Day 13 - Istanbul
This morning, transfer from your accommodation to Tehran International Airport for an unaccompanied flight to Istanbul. Due to flight schedules, it is likely that this will be a very early flight. Your group leader in Iran will provide all flight details for you for your onward journey. Arrive in Istanbul – the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all called home. Meet your Turkey group leader and fellow travellers today at another meeting at 1 pm. After this, head out to explore the old city of Istanbul, visiting the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore and there are plenty of sights left to see, including the Archaeology Museum and Hagia Sophia.
Day 14 - Bodrum
Transfer to the airport after breakfast for a 1-hour flight to Bodrum, a modern resort town that was once the ancient city of Halicarnassus. Here, along the southern end of Turkey's Aegean coast, lies the original Mauosoluem, which the group will visit during an afternoon walking tour of Saint Peter's Castle, the Underwater Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Theatre and Mindos Gate. Potentially finish up at Cevat Sakir Caddesi, a main thoroughfare surrounded by alleys and streets hosting the local fish markets and a number of mayhanes (taverns), where you can select your own catch of the day and have it prepared for dinner.
Day 15 - Bodrum
There's a reason Bodrum is considered a boating paradise. Spend a day sailing off the beautiful peninsula on a gulet, a traditional wooden sailing vessel originating in this area. Sit back on the deck and soak up some sun as the boat sails down the coast with stops to swim, snorkel and explore the shore, as well as a break at the small island of Kara Ada. Enjoy lunch on board and a relaxing afternoon before returning to the hotel in the evening.
Day 16 - Selcuk
Drive to Selcuk this morning after breakfast (approximately 3 hours). Check into the hotel then take a walk through this sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque, then journey to gorgeous little village of Sirince, nestled in the hills outside Selcuk. This was a predominantly Greek village before WWI and the narrow streets host beautifully decorated houses, silversmiths, leather shops, jewellers and market stands. Enjoy a special Peregrine Moment and meet Pervin, from whom you'll learn the art of Manti (Turkish ravioli) whilst relaxing over a glass of the local fruit wine.
Day 17 - Selcuk / Overnight Train
Wake up early this morning to beat the crowds and head to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Med and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Tour around the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and beautifully restored Library of Celsus. Return to the hotel to relax before checking out and heading to the Ephesus Museum, then transfer to Izmir for an overnight train to Konya, in Central Anatolia. The train will arrive in Konya at 7.30 am, so enjoy the first-class sleeping compartments and included dinner in the restaurant car (with backgammon lessons courtesy of your Peregrine leader).
Day 18 - Konya / Cappadocia
Arrive early in Konya, an important ancient-Roman city, and tuck into a full Turkish kahvalti (breakfast). Konya is the home of the mystic Sufi practice of whirling and after breakfast you'll visit the mausoleum of Mevlana, a famous mystic, as well as the museum housing manuscripts of his work and various mystic artefacts before driving three hours to the captivating region of Cappadocia. Check in to the hotel then head out with your leader to stretch your legs on a valley walk. It could be Red Valley, it could be Love Valley, but each leader has their own special place to introduce you to. Without a doubt, one of the most amazing memories of this journey is a hot-air balloon ride over this otherworldly landscape at sunrise. It's an optional experience, but is truly once-in-a-lifetime, pardon the cliche. Please speak to your leader earlier in your trip to organise a flight.
Day 19 - Cappadocia
As previously mentioned, there's an option of taking a hot-air balloon over the Cappadocian landscape this morning. Even if you don't choose to take a flight, it's worth getting up just to see the balloons rising with the sun. Have a relaxing breakfast from your terrace overlooking the valley then visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, featuring houses, churches and monasteries carved into the soft cliff faces. The Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art, cave chapels and colourful biblical frescoes from the 10-12th centuries. Later in the afternoon, go underground and make the short journey to Kaymakli to discover what life was like lived underground. Cappadocia is perhaps one of the most famous areas in Turkey for rug making, we spend some time this afternoon discovering the art of rug making from early nomadic styles to plush palace rugs clearly pieces of art. Head back to the hotel in Goreme, and maybe take a relaxing Turkish bath to unwind after a long day experiencing some truly incredible history.
Day 20 - Istanbul
Drive to the airport after breakfast for a 1.5 hour flight back to Istanbul, where you'll be transferred to your hotel on arrival. Enjoy a free afternoon then jump on a ferry early in the evening and head to Kadikoy, on Istanbul's Asian shore. Take a walk around this lively area, perhaps finding a harbourside spot for dinner with your travelling companions.
Day 21 - Istanbul
Your trip ends today and there are no activities planned.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
24-08-202013-09-2020AUD $ 6,345-
12-10-202001-11-2020AUD $ 6,345-
02-11-202022-11-2020AUD $ 6,345-
29-03-202118-04-2021AUD $ 6,660-
12-04-202102-05-2021AUD $ 6,660-
03-05-202123-05-2021AUD $ 6,345-
16-08-202105-09-2021AUD $ 6,345-
13-09-202103-10-2021AUD $ 6,345-
27-09-202117-10-2021AUD $ 6,345-
04-10-202124-10-2021AUD $ 6,345-

Accommodation

Comfortable Standard Hotel (17 nights) Feature Stay Dad Hotel Yadz (2 nights) Feature Stay Legacy Ottoman Istanbul (2 nights) Overnight Train (1 night)

Transport

Private Vehicle,Plane,Overnight train

Map