21 days

Classical Turkey & the Greek Islands

Classical Turkey & the Greek Islands

Hania - ‘the jewel of Crete'

Santorini's wines

Santorini’s legendary caldera

Ephesus - the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar - a labyrinth of 4500 stalls

The First World War history of Gallipoli

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

Underground city of Derinkuyu

UNESCO World Heritage-listed pools and terraces of Pamukkale

Trip rating
  • Combine Turkey’s surreal landscapes and poignant ANZAC battlefields with an island hopping adventure across the Greek Aegean Sea. This is a wonderful Mediterranean mix of antiquity, culture and some of the best cuisine you’ve ever tasted!

     

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

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Istanbul

    If arriving at Istanbul Atakurk airport (IST) you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If arriving at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer). 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. In the evening there will be a Welcome Meeting (please check noticeboard for exact time) held in the hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travel companions.

    Ayasultan Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Istanbul - Cappadocia

    This morning our guide introduces us to the treasure-trove of the historic old town. We visit the iconic 17th century Blue Mosque, built for Sultan Ahmet I and a unique piece of architecture because of its six minarets, rather than the usual four found across the rest of the Muslim world. Another striking feature is its 20,000 beautiful Iznik tiles. The ancient Hippodrome with Obelisk of Theodosius, Snake Pillar and German Fountain of Wilhelm II are also visited. A free afternoon enables us to further explore this fascinating city. In the late afternoon we drive to the airport for our flight to Cappadocia. Upon arrival we drive into the heart of Cappadocia where we are based for the next three nights.

    Royal Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Cappadocia

    This morning 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, 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. In the afternoon we discover the local handicrafts of the region and visit a carpet workshop were we will be fascinated by the beauty of the carpets, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. Later in the afternoon we embark on a short walk through the fascinating 'Love Valley' before heading back to our hotel. There is the option of enjoying a traditional Turkish bath to unwind from the day's activities.

    Royal Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Cappadocia

    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! We walk today for a total of about three hours. 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.

    Royal Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Cappadocia - Konya

    For early birds, there is the possibility of rising before dawn to take an awe-inspiring optional hot-air balloon ride over the 'other-worldly' Cappadocia landscape and witness an amazing sunrise in the process. For those preferring a more leisurely start to the day, one can relax over breakfast before we regroup and leave the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia behind and drive to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms expanding seven levels beneath ground level! We then continue to the village of Belisirma in the Ihlara Valley on the slopes of Mount Hasan, one of the volcanos 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 fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes. 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.

    Bera Mevlana or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Konya - Pamukkale

    After breakfast this morning we drive 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 a myriad of pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties for a person's circulation and digestive systems. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC and by the 2nd Century AD it had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. We spend our night in a hotel in Pamukkale.

    Tripolis or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Pamukkale - Ephesus - Selçuk

    After breakfast we make an early start for a drive of about four hours to Selçuk, which is our base for visiting Ephesus - one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and a great example of Roman architecture. We drive to Ephesus, possibly the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world and definitely a highlight of your trip! Always an important religious centre, Ephesus was founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th Century BC and flourished under Roman rule. The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis and built a fabulous temple in her honour. With the arrival of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. We visit the vast amphitheatre, walk the marble street once trodden by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and wonderfully restored Library of Celsus. An orientation tour familiarises us with Selçuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Those who wish can take an optional visit to the last home of the Virgin Mary, who as legend states came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot. We spend the night in a hotel in Selçuk and have a chance to reflect and fully comprehend the history and splendour of our day's discoveries.

    Hitit Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8 - Selçuk - Çanakkale

    Early this morning, after breakfast we begin the drive to Çanakkale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and touches both Europe (with the Gelibolu Peninsula) and Asia (with the Biga Peninsula). On the way, we visit an important historical site near Çanakkale - Troy. Troy (Truva) was a city that existed over 4,000 years ago and was known as a major ancient civilization. For many years people believed that it was the city mentioned only in the tales and never truly existed, as the area had become known as Ilium, or New Ilium. Archaeological digs subsequently proved that there had been nine separate periods of settlement. (3000 BC-AD 400) on what became accepted as the site of ancient Troy. Each successive period of habitation lies on top of its former incarnation. Here we can see the remnants of the ancient city walls in addition to a replica of the famous wooden horse. Historians are still at odds as to whether or not this fable or indeed the battle itself is stuff of lore or reality. Arriving in Çanakkale where we have the remainder of the day free to wander around this vibrant waterfront town and perhaps view the Trojan horse used and subsequently gifted to the city by the producers of the movie Troy filmed in 2004.

    Boğaz or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 9 - Çanakkale - Gallipoli - Istanbul

    We cross the Dardanelles and return to 'Europe,' and visit the Gallipoli Peninsula - a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealanders. Located at Turkey's most westerly point this area is now serene, but the role it played in April 1915 during the First World War is now firmly etched on the psyche of the New Zealand and Australian nations. We visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill to pay homage at the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. The latter the highest ground secured in the campaign on the 8th of August, 1915 (by New Zealand and British troops) before being beaten back due to lack of reinforcement. From the Ataturk Memorial at this spot we can view the Allied troops goal - the Dardenelles. We can look down upon the rough and barren hills and gulleys that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men from both sides. Around this area we can find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After touring the former battlefields we head back to where our adventure began - Istanbul. We will arrive back in Istanbul in the late afternoon or early evening and the remainder of the evening is free.

    Ayasultan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10 - Istanbul - Athens

    Today we have a leisurely last morning in Istanbul before transferring to the airport for our onward flight to Athens. On arrival in Athens we will be transferred to our centrally located Athens hotel. After settling into the hotel, we can enjoy some free time before a welcome meeting with our Greece tour leader. This meeting will be held at approximately 6pm at the hotel (check the hotel notice board for exact time). This evening we will enjoy a group dinner together at a local restaurant in Athens.

    Hotel Hermes or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 11 - Athens - Crete

    This morning we transfer to the airport and take a short flight to the island of Crete, the largest and most southerly of the Greek islands. Upon arrival we transfer to Hania (Chania), our base for the next three nights. Our 'feature stay' hotel is located on the outskirts of the town in the quieter area of Halepa. Built in the 1800s by a wealthy merchant, it was designed in neoclassical style. During the period of Cretan democracy it was used as the British Embassy and many significant treaties were signed here. After settling into our hotel, we walk into the old town and discover what makes Hania so special and why it has been called 'the jewel of Crete'. One of the first structures we stop at is the agora (or municipal market) which is the centre of town. Today the building shelters a number of specialty shops that sell local handicrafts and produce. We pass a number of historical churches including the Catholic Church of the Isodion and the Agios Fragiskos Church (now home to the archaeological museum). Strolling on we discover the remains of a Venetian monastery and wander through the charming Old Harbour area, with its two Venetian shipyards and Great Arsenal building. The old Venetian lighthouse stands tall over the port and was reconstructed during Turkish rule, to include a minaret. Heading deep into the narrow cobblestone alleys of the Venetian town we discover a range of Venetian and Turkish architecture including impressive facades in old mansions in the once aristocratic area, many of which have been converted to guesthouses. You may wish to visit one of Hania's many great museums, go souvenir shopping at the Agora or perhaps sit back in one of the many portside cafes and absorb the colourful atmosphere of this lovely town. In the afternoon, we will drive to the traditional village of Vamos, renowned for its rich cultural heritage. We'll have a short stroll around the historical centre or the old neighbourhood with its traditional old houses, old ruins, ancient stone roads and secret nooks. Perhaps enjoy a local taverna dinner with fellow group members to complete our colourful day.

    Halepa hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Agia Irini – Sougia - Hania

    We leave the hotel early this morning for the one and half hour drive to the beautiful hill village of Agia Irini (600m) in the east. From the village we start our walk through the Agia Irini Gorge, where we encounter dramatic and varied landscapes from spectacular mountains to dense forests, all the way to the beautiful coastline. We walk on rocky riverbeds, along the steep sides of mountains and through rich vegetation of trachea pine, Mediterranean cypress, beech, carob tree and kermes oak. In the rocks a number herb varieties can be found including the healing Greek herb, Dittany (Dictamo), used for the relief of stomach pain and arthritis. The aromas from the native wildflowers and herbs fill the air. A variety of interesting fauna lives in the gorge including the endangered bearded vulture, partridge, Bonelli's eagle and golden eagle. If we're lucky we may even catch a glimpse of the Kri-kri goat (or Cretan ibex), now found only on Crete and three smaller neighbouring islands. The Kri-kri was thought to have been worshipped on Crete during antiquity - a theory supported by the excavation of several wall paintings depicting the animal. Our rewarding walk concludes with our arrival in the small coastal village of Sougia, on the southern side of Crete. This is a great place to relax after our day's walk and we can enjoy a swim as well as an optional lunch and refreshing drink in one of the traditional seaside tavernas. At end of the day we enjoy a picturesque two-hour drive back to Hania. (Total Walking: 9km / 4 -5 hours)
    Nb. Today's walk is graded as easy-moderate with some challenging sections. We recommend that you bring with you good walking shoes, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and walking poles for this walk. For those with mobility issues or who would rather not partake in this walk, it is possible to opt out.

    Halepa hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Crete (free day)

    Today is a free day in Crete. There are plenty of things to see and do. For those wishing to embark on another great walk on the island, there's the chance to join an optional excursion to hike the famous Samaria Gorge. This walk is 17 kilometres long and, depending on fitness levels. takes between 4.5 to 6 hours to complete (refer to 'optional excursions' section). Alternatively you may wish to relax on one of Hania's city beaches – Nea Hora is a sandy beach west of the Venetian walls and is decked out with sun beds and is close to restaurants. If you walk to the west of this beach you will come across quieter beaches. Another option is to take a local bus to Elafonissi Lagoon on the west coast. Elafonissi is considered Crete's prettiest beach and a daily bus leaves from Hania in the morning and returns in the late afternoon. There is also the possibility of taking an optional guided excursion to the ruins of Knossos, once the capital of Minoan Crete (refer to 'optional excursions'). Alternatively you may wish to spend your day experiencing more of the wonderful township of Hania. Your leader will be able to assist you with all the options available on your free day.

    Halepa hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 14 - Crete - Santorini

    Today we farewell Crete and travel to spectacular Santorini, the southernmost island in the Cyclades group. We leave our hotel in Hania early for the two-hour drive to the port city of Iraklio. From here we board our ferry for the trip across the Sea of Crete to Santorini. This is a great way to travel between the islands and the journey takes approximately two hours. Upon arrival in the capital, Fira, we are met and transferred to our hotel in Oia (pronounced 'Ia'). Oia was built on a steep slope of Santorini's incredible caldera and is a quieter part of the island compared to Fira. We 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 we rejoin as a group and head into the gorgeous town of Oia to view its world-famous sunset, which has been immortalised in many photos and works of art. This evening we have the option of dining together in one of the lovely tavernas in Oia and enjoying sumptuous seafood and other local cuisine against the truly spectacular backdrop.

    Finikia hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 15 - Santorini

    In the morning we embark on a walk along Santorini’s legendary caldera. The island that we see today is what remains from a huge volcanic explosion which destroyed the early settlements and created a geographical caldera. This caldera offers spectacular natural beauty and is what makes Santorini such a special place. Our walk begins from Oia and we walk along the north-western rim of the caldera, passing steep cliff faces and experiencing breathtaking views along the way. Our walk comes to an end in the town of Thira where we visit the fascinating Prehistoric Museum of Thira and learn more about the incredible history of this unique island, as well as see masterpieces from the prehistoric Aegean age including important wall paintings. The rest of the afternoon is free and you may wish to visit one of the island’s wineries. The vines here are cultivated in a very unusual way with the plants being pruned to form a low basket shape that sits on top of the volcanic soil, with the basket shape protecting the grapes from strong winds. The Santos Winery, a co-operative and the largest winery on the island, offers tours as well as wine tasting. This winery is idyllically located with marvellous views over the island and the sea - a lovely place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine! (Walking time: approximately 2.5 - 3 hours)

    Finikia hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 16 - Santorini (free day)

    Today is a free day in Santorini. There is a lot to do on the island and your tour leader will be on hand to offer suggestions. Perhaps you'd like to visit one of the island's wineries or take a boat ride to Volcano Island or perhaps you'd prefer to simply unwind and relax on the beach.

    Finikia hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 17 - Santorini - Mykonos

    This morning we transport to Santorini's port and board our ferry bound for the island of Mykonos. Mykonos, considered the most glamorous and cosmopolitan of the Cycladic islands, still holds on to its old-world charm and many locals maintain their peaceful island existence amongst the many foreigners who grace their shores. Upon arrival in Mykonos, we transfer to the region of Vryssi, on the western side of the island which is the location of our hotel. This afternoon we embark on a walking tour of the Mykonos's charming Old Town, a captivating labyrinth of stone-paved laneways, traditional whitewashed houses and windmills. This evening is free to step out into the lively Mykonos street scene and dine in one of the many taverns and restaurants on offer. Your tour leader will be available to offer suggestions on the best places to try.

    Vienoulas Garden Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 18 - Mykonos - Delos - Mykonos

    Today we embark on an excursion to the island of Delos, a short boat trip from Mykonos. Delos has a vast and interesting history and it is one of the most important sites of archaeology in Greece and new discoveries of ancient finds are still made from time to time. Considered a sacred place, it's acclaimed as the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis and it was inhabited since round 3000 BC. The earliest shrines and temples started to be built around the 8th century BC. By the 5th century BC, the Athenians took control of Delos making it the location of the treasury. During the Hellenistic era, the island was one of Greece's most important religious and commercial hubs, attracting the wealthy from all over who contributed to the island's many temples and shrine. When the Romans set their sights on the island in 167 BC it become a free trading port and home to a flourishing slave trade market, with thousands of slaves being traded daily. We explore the site in-depth and gain an insight into this sacred island's intriguing history. In the afternoon, we take a return ferry back to Mykonos, for another night on this lively island.
    Nb. The archeological site at Delos is closed on Mondays, therefore depending on the day of your departure, activities on this day may interchange with your free day in Mykonos.

    Vienoulas Garden Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 19 - Mykonos (free day)

    Today is a free day in Mykonos to allow you to make your own discoveries. You may wish to take an optional boat trip along the coast to experience beautiful of Mykonos from the sea. Your tour leader will be able to assist you with booking this.

    Vienoulas Garden Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 20 - Mykonos - Athens

    After a leisurely morning we transfer to the Mykonos port for our ferry across the Aegean back to Athens. Upon arrival at Pireaus port, usually approx 8pm, we transfer to our centrally located hotel in Athens. As tonight is our last evening together, we might like come together for a final dinner. Our leader will be able to offer suggestions on the best places in Athens to dine.

    Hotel Hermes or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 21 - End Athens

    Our tour comes to an end after breakfast this morning. Additional nights' accommodation can be booked in Athens, or alternatively if you are flying out today you may wish to book a departure transfer to take you to the airport - enquire at time of booking.

    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leaders in both countries
    • Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia, Istanbul to Athens and Athens to Crete
    • Sightseeing including entrance fees where relevant
    • Visit to the battlefields of the Gallipoli Peninsula
    • Walks in Cappadocia’s ‘Love Valley’ and Ihlara Valley; in Agia Irini Gorge on Crete; and along Santorini’s legendary caldera
    • 3 nights 'Feature Stay' in Hania in an 1800s-built hotel formerly used as a British Embassy
    • Boat excursion to Delos Island’s archeological site
    • Ferry transport between Crete, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens
    • Arrival transfer (from Istanbul's Ataturk airport)
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights into Turkey and out of Greece
    • 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 leaders
  • 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.

    Classical Turkey & the Greek Islands

    Yee and Dee - Australia, 27 Apr, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    Our Turkey tour was excellent. Tour leader is Selen Nur Caliskan. Selen is a lovely lady who looked after us very well. Our driver Fatih is excellent too. There are many highlights on this trip, in Istanbul alone we saw so much! The Aya Sophia, Topkapi, Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Taksim, Rustem Pasha Mosque, Pera Palace, Cagaloglu Hamam...all amazing places!! Then we travelled around Turkey and everywhere we went it was just wonderful!! So much history and culture, and the very friendly people. We saw so much thanks to our leader Selen.

    Our Greek Islands tour is also very good. Our leader here is Theodore and he is very well organised and looked after us very well. We visited Knossos on our own on Crete and it is amazing!! We also loved Santorini and Mykonos. Akrotiri on Santorini is another highlight. We enjoyed the seafood. The Olympic flame was there on the Acropolis the morning we were there. Theodore lokked after us very well, thanks.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PETG
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
End City: Athens, Attica, Greece
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. The flight between Istanbul and Athens is unescorted.

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