15 days

Central Turkey & the Black Sea

Central Turkey & the Black Sea

Underground city of Derinkuyu

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

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

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar - a labyrinth of 4500 stalls

Amasya's ancient tombs and Ottoman architecture

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.

     

    Please note this trip has been amended since the brochure was produced, please check the itinerary and important notes for the changes.

     

     

    Why we love it

    • Marvel at the incredible mosaics inside the Aya Sofya, including the enormous Virgin Mary with Jesus. Located on the apse of the church, it soars almost 30 metres above the church floor.
    • Escape the hustle and bustle of Istanbul in Amasra, a gorgeous little coastal town on the Black Sea. Grab a sundowner at one of the bars or a tea garden at the base of the castle walls.
    • Meet locals and see daily life unfold in the town of Safranbolu. Many traditional trades and crafts are being kept alive and well here, and the Ottoman heritage is embraced.
    • Visit the mountain town of Sivas, home to many highlights including the Çifte Minare Medressa, the Ulu Cami or Great Mosque, the Gok Medressa (theological school) and the Buruciye Medressa.
    • Spend some quality time on Mount Nemrut capturing the 10-metre high stone heads in their best light.
    • Have a giggle when you see how Love Valley got its name. This valley in Cappadocia is home to several surreal, enormous rock formations. You'll get three days to explore incredible Cappadocia.

    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.
    Osmanli Saraya 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)
    Apple Palace Hotel 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

    • Today, we 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.
    Hotel Köşk or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - 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 9 - 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 10 - Kahta - Cappadocia

    • A long travel day but it is worth the journey as we get our first glimpse of fairy chimneys. Cappadocia fascinates all travellers. Shaped by wind and water, its otherworldly rock formations have to be seen to be believed. Rock hewn churches, cave homes and incredible underground cities wait to be explored. In times of peace the people in this region lived on the land but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground.
    • This evening take an orientation walk with your leader through this enchanting little town.
    • Travel Time 7.5 hours
    • 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.
    Ciner Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - 12 - Cappadocia

    • Day 11
    • We visit the Göreme Open Air museum: 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, and 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 Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes. In the afternoon we discover the local handcraft of the region and visit a carpet workshop, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. Later in the afternoon we embark on a short walk through the unusual 'Love Valley' before heading back to our hotel in Goreme. There is the option of enjoying a traditional Turkish bath to unwind from the day's activities.
    • Day 12
    • After a relaxing breakfast we take a walk toward Kizilcukur (Red Valley), where its magnificently sculptured, red rock formations have created arguably the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating cave chapels that date back to the early Christian period. In the afternoon we 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!. In the afternoon we will take the opportunity to discover the local handcraft of pottery. Returning to Goreme, we have a night at leisure. We may have an opportunity to attend a folk dance show or witness an original Whirling Dervish 'Sema' performance.
    Ciner Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Cappadocia - Konya

    • 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 on en-route to Konya we explore the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms expanding seven levels beneath ground level.
    • Continuing on to the village of Belisirma in the Valley of Ihlara on the slopes of Mount Hasan, one of the volcano's responsible for the forming of Cappadocia. From here we embark on a wonderful walk along the Melendiz River and experience traditional village life, as we walk through the beautiful Ihlara Valley to Ihlara village. There are dozens of Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes (1.5 hour walk). We then leave the area of Cappadocia behind and drive to Konya, our stop for the night. Please note that Konya is a very religious town, so it is best that we dress conservatively during our time here.
    Selçuk Mevlana Hotel
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Konya - Antalya

    • Konya, known as 'Iconium' in Roman times, was also the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th Centuries and home of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded a mystic Sufi order popularly known as the 'Whirling Dervishes'. We visit Mevlana's Mausoleum and the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect that he founded.
    • We then take a five hour drive to the coastal city of Antalya one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey. Before arriving in Antalya late in the afternoon we visit the ancient Hellenistic city of Aspendos, a highlight here is the beautifully preserved theatre - one of the finest in the ancient world.
    Argos Hotel
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Antalya

    • This morning we visit the Antalya Museum. Ranked third in Turkey it includes 13 exhibition halls and an open air gallery, exhibiting examples of works, which illuminate the history of the Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions in Anatolia. This afternoon is free for you to explore the ancient Kaleici perhaps head down to the Harbour and take an afternoon boat tour or you can venture further afield to the famous Konyalti beach and hire a deck chair and soak up some sun.
    • To make the most of this wonderful coastal city, we recommend you book additional accommodation in Antalya. This tour will come to an end at approximately 6pm
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader
    • Sightseeing including entrance fees where relevant
    • Visit to Mount Nemrut National Park
    • Walks in Cappadocia's ‘Love Valley’ and Pasabaglari Valley
    • Arrival transfer (from Istanbul's Ataturk Airport (IST))
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Departure transfer
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Travel insurance (compulsory on all trips)
    • Meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary)
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Gratuities for tour leader
  • 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

    Beverley - Australia, 19 May, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    This trip was the road a bit less travelled. This was my 3rd trip to Turkey and the experience of visiting the beginnings of civilisation at Gobeekli Tepe was unbelieveable. Climing to the top of Mt Nemrut and watching the sunset is an experience not to be missed. The Turkish people are friendly and have a great sense of humour. Tourist are not common in this part of the country and the locals wanted to ensure that we saw their city/town and all it had to offer. The children wanted to practice their English, and the afternoon in Derende with the English students was incredible.

    Central Turkey & the Black Sea

    linda - Australia, 5 May, 2013
    4
    Overall Rating

    I I would improve the accommodation - quite a number of hotels were smoking hotels.

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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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