15 days

Central Turkey & the Black Sea

Central Turkey & the Black Sea

The surreal rock formations and valleys of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cappadocia

Amasya's ancient tombs and Ottoman architecture

Mount Nemrut's colossal statues of the temple and tomb of King Antiochus

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar - a labyrinth of 4500 stalls

Underground city of Derinkuyu

Trip rating
  • This is the Turkey less travelled, and in the hands of your local leader it will captivate you. From the Black Sea and the unspoilt Ottoman old town of Safranbolu to the out-of-this-world landscapes of Cappadocia, the hidden heart of this fascinating destination is revealed.

     

     

    In 2015 this trip will change from a group size of maximum 15 to maximum 16.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Istanbul

    • If you arrive at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport (IST), you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If you arrive at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer).
    • After checking into your hotel, please look out for the Peregrine notice board in the hotel lobby, which has a list of suggestions for things to see and do in your free time. As today is an arrival day, there is no formal sightseeing planned.
    • Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. It has been through several incarnations, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally Istanbul. The city today is bustling and its streets are crowded with locals busily going about their daily lives.
    • If you arrive early enough, you can wander and absorb the vibrancy of this exciting city that links Europe and Asia.
    • We highly recommend that during this free time today, you visit the Aya Sofya, one of Istanbul's most impressive sites.
    • In the evening there will be a welcome meeting (please check notice board for exact time) held in the hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travel companions.
    Hotel Golden Horn or similar

    Day 2 - Istanbul

    • This morning you will see some of Istanbul's most important sites, starting with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, which was the home of Ottoman sultans for four centuries. The palace is built in Islamic style and consists of a series of chambers, pavilions and kiosks which surround garden courtyards. We then visit the Blue Mosque, built by the Sultan Ahmet I in the 17th century to outshine the Aya Sofya.
    • You will also visit the Basilica Cistern, built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. This floodlit cistern is the largest and most impressive of the ancient cisterns that lay beneath the city of Istanbul.
    • You will then have the remainder of the day at leisure, enabling you to explore the famous covered Grand Bazaar or Spice Market, armed with advice from your tour leader as to how to get the best bargains and become more savvy in the art of haggling! There is everything from clothing to jewellery, sweets to spices on offer in the bustling marketplaces.
    Hotel Golden Horn or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Istanbul - Amasra

    • After breakfast you will drive to Amasra, arguably one of the prettiest of the coastal towns on the Black Sea with a fortified promontory that sits high overlooking the old harbours and a sandy beach.
    • You will explore the highlights of Kale (citadel) including the old bedesten (covered bazaar) and Byzantine church, which became a mosque known as Kilise Camii during the Ottoman period.
    • After the sightseeing tour of the town, you will adjourn to sit in one of the tea gardens or bars at the base of the castle walls and watch the sunset - a relaxing way to finish the day. (Driving time: 6 hours)
    Sinan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Amasra - Safranbolu - Kastamonu

    • Today you will visit Safranbolu, a world heritage site known for its traditional buildings.
    • The town is like a living museum with a strong Ottoman heritage; alive with well preserved timber Ottoman houses and traditional artisans. This visit is a great opportunity to really get a sense of local Turkish life. You will walk through the town's quaint cobblestone streets and laneways and discover a culture reminiscent of yesteryear, and see traditional trades and crafts still being practised. This afternoon you will continue to the town of Kastamonu, your base for the evening.
    Ergun Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Kastamonu - Amasya

    • Today you will journey to Amasya, one of Turkey's most charming towns. It is set back in the mountains behind the Black Sea Coast, in a narrow valley on the banks of the Yeþilýrmak River.
    • The half-timber Ottoman period houses that line the north bank of the river are some of Amasya's most endearing features. These side-by-side terraced houses were built in the 19th century and have all the features of traditional Ottoman houses.
    • Amasya was the provincial capital of a once-great Pontic kingdom, with the tombs of Pontus kings carved into the cliffs. This place is also famous for producing many types of fruit including apples, cherries and peaches.
    • You will venture out and explore the city including the 13th century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, the fountain, Seljuk tombs (mausoleum) and the bedesten.
    • Tonight you will stay in Amasya. (Driving time: 4 hours)
    Aydınlı or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Amasya - Sivas

    • Your destination, Sivas, is the most mountainous city of the central Anatolian region and sits at an altitude of 1275 metres. Once an important commercial centre due to its location at the crossroads of the Persia and Baghdad caravan routes, the city later became an important centre for learning and culture during the rule of the Seljuks.
    • In the afternoon, you will visit some of the most famous monuments and sites of Sivas. The Çifte Minare Medressa with its twin minarets and grand gateway was built in 1271 and was formerly a law faculty.
    • The Ulu Cami or Great Mosque, built in 1197 by the Seldjoukids Sultan Kýlýçaslan II, is the oldest building in the city.
    • The Gok Medressa (theological school) and the Buruciye Medressa, both built in 1271, display the best examples of Seljuk art work.
    • The city of Sivas is also famous for its nomadic Kangal dogs, a unique sheep dog which has become the national dog of Turkey and a designated 'national treasure'.
    • This afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit a breeding centre to learn more about these renowned dogs. (Driving time: 3 hours)
    Köşk or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Sivas - Darende

    • Today you will travel to Darende; en route you will take a walk to the waterfalls of Gunpinar, a picturesque and tranquil place. A pleasant riverside eatery is a good spot to sample some local fish.
    • After lunch you will enjoy a leisurely walk in the surrounds before heading into the town centre of Darende. Here you will enjoy an orientation walk of the town and can see its 300-year old covered bazaar; there's also the possibility to sample the Turkish dried apricot (famous in the area) in one of the local shops.
    • Tonight you will settle in for a relaxing night in Darende. (Driving time: 3.5 hours)
    Tiryandafil or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Darende - Mt Nemrut - Kahta

    • After breakfast you will drive to Kahta, the base for your visit to Mount Nemrut National Park - one of the most impressive in Turkey. The peak of Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Daði) reaches 2150 metres and is the site of a collection of colossal statues adorning the temple and tomb of King Antiochus.
    • The 10-metre high stone heads were first discovered in 1881 during engineering work and in 1953 archaeological work began to uncover the history of the site, which also includes relics from the Commagene civilisation.
    • You will sit and watch the sunset over the site - the perfect time to capture great photos of the stones in their best possible light. After this, you will drive back to the town of Kahta for the night. (Driving time: 4.5 hours)
    Zeus Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Kahta - Sanliurfa

    • Today you will visit the neolithic site Göbekli Tepe, set high on a mountain ridge and considered the oldest man-made religious structure in the world.
    • You will then drive to Urfa, the City of Prophets, where you'll visit the ancient bazaar built in the mid 16th-century. The most interesting part of the bazaar is the old bedesten (covered market), where silk products have been sold for hundreds of years.
    • Tonight you will stay in Urfa. (Driving time: 3 hours)
    Zeus Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Sanliurfa - Gaziantep

    • Today you will drive to the town of Gaziantep, known as Aintab during Ottoman rule. The city, Turkey's sixth largest, has a vast and interesting history spanning as far back as the Hittites.
    • During Turkey's War of Independence, the bravery and heroism of the local people gained the city an honorific. Today Gaziantep is a modern sprawling city and one of the most important agricultural centres of Turkey.
    • It is the hub of pistachio cultivation in the country and is renowned for its baklava production which many claim to be the best in the world.
    • Expansive olive groves and vineyards can also be found in the city's surrounds. You will pay a visit Gaziantep's impressive mosaics museum, which houses stunning mosaics from the nearby Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma. Many of these mosaics have been restored to their original state.
    • This evening will be free to explore the city. (Driving time: 2 hours)
    Zeus Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Gaziantep – Niğde - Cappadocia

    • Today you will journey into Central Anatolia to your next destination - Cappadocia. On the way you will stop for a lunch break in Niğde, a small rural province in the southern part of Central Anatolia.
    • The province is surrounded on three sides by ranges of the Taurus Mountains, including Mount Hasan and the Melendiz mountains. The plain is covered with nutritious volcanic soil and Nigde is a successful agricultural region, particularly apples and potatoes. The area has been settled since the Neolithic period of 8000-5500 BC, and later settled by the Hittites, who lived here for a thousand years up until 800BC.
    • Then came Assyrians and Phrygians, Greeks, Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, who built the city of Tyana with its palaces and waterworks. Roman rule persisted from the Eastern capital of Byzantium until the area was occupied by the Seljuk Turks from 1166 onwards.
    • By the early 13th century Niğde was one of the largest cities in Anatolia and a number of impressive mosques and tombs date from this period. The area was brought within the Ottoman Empire in 1471 and thus passed into the territory of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s. You will drive to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu next. Some of the dwellings here contain rooms expanding seven levels beneath ground level!
    • Late in the afternoon you will arrive at Cappadocia. You will be based here for the next three nights to explore the wonders of Turkey's most surreal region. Don't forget to pack sturdy, well worn in, walking shoes or boots and a comfy day pack for exploring the valleys of Cappadocia. (6 hours driving).
    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Cappadocia

    • After a relaxing breakfast you will take a walk through Love Valley, where magnificently sculptured, phallic rock formations have created one of the most surreal valleys of Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating caves.
    • In the afternoon you will drive to the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys hewn from the earth and shaped by centuries of erosion lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit's shelter are built into one of the fairy chimneys, which appears to have three heads!
    • You will walk for a total of about three hours today. In the afternoon you will take the opportunity to discover the local handcraft of the region and visit a carpet workshop were you will be fascinated by the beauty of the carpets, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people.
    • Returning to Goreme, you will have a night at leisure. You may have an opportunity to attend a folk dance show or witness an original Whirling Dervish 'Sema' performance.
    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Cappadocia

    • For early birds, you will have the chance to rise before dawn to take an awe-inspiring optional hot-air balloon ride over the 'otherworldly” Cappadocia landscape and witness an amazing sunrise in the process.
    • This morning you will visit the Göreme Open Air museum, a fascinating complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out of rock. The people of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia region, realised that the soft rocks of the area could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries.
    • This Christian sanctuary contains many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from the 10th - 12th centuries. There are several fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes.
    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Cappadocia - Konya

    • You will enjoy a short walk through the Ihlara Valley this morning.
    • After your walk, you will visit Belisirma, a tiny and picturesque village in the region of Cappadocia.
    • You will drive on to the religious hub of Konya in the afternoon.
    Sems Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Konya - Antalya (end)

    • This morning you will visit Mevlana's Mausoleum, home of the ‘whirling dervishes’. The Mausoleum was built for Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Sufi mystic also referred to as Mevlâna or Rumi.
    • You will continue on to the city of Antalya from here, where your tour will come to an end at approximately 6pm. Please keep this ending time in mind if booking onward travel arrangements.
    • To make the most of this wonderful coastal city, we recommend you book additional accommodation in Antalya.
    Khan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Peregrine tour leader, arrival transfer, private transport, sightseeing and entrance fees.

    Not Included

    • International flights, departure transfer, departure taxes, visas, insurance, other meals, drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Central Turkey & the Black Sea

    Graeme - Australia, 3 Jun, 2012
    4
    Overall Rating

    Central Turkey & the Black Sea

    Marg & Peter - Australia, 13 May, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating
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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PECE
Start City: Istanbul
End City: Antalya
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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