Turkey has for centuries been at the crossroads of religions and cultures. It is the place where the East meets the West, and its layers of Neolithic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman history have endowed it with a wealth of unique historical, religious and archaeological sites, often found in places of breathtaking natural beauty. This 18-day journey follows a comprehensive path through Turkey’s rich past, from Istanbul, one of the great cities of the world, to the Aegean coastal towns of Kuşadası and Assos, the unique landscape of Cappadocia and moving ANZAC sites at Gallipoli, before returning to Istanbul.
Istanbul’s major Byzantine and Ottoman sites and museums: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace and the Archaeological Museum
Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, housing artefacts from every significant archaeological site in Anatolia
Cappadocia’s ‘moonscape’ of caves and rock-cut churches covered with frescoes
The excavations at Catalhuyuk, a significant Neolithic site dating back 9000 years
The well-preserved classical city of Ephesus and the Hellenistic and Roman sites at Aphrodisias, Priene, Miletus and Didyma
The Gallipoli Peninsula, including Anzac Cove and Lone Pine
The archaeological sites of Assos and Troy
Days 1–4: Explore Istanbul, visiting Hagia Sophia, the city walls, Topkapı Palace and the Archaeological Museum.
Days 5–7: Fly to Ankara, visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations and marvel at cave churches and unique landscapes in Cappadocia.
Days 8–9: Examine the Neolithic site of Catalhuyuk and Pamukkale’s travertine terraces.
Days 10–12: On the Aegean coast, visit ancient Ephesus and Roman and Hellenistic sites at Aphrodisias, Priene, Miletus and Didyma.
Days 13–14: Two nights in Assos, visiting Pergamum and Troy.
The tour begins and ends at our hotel in Istanbul. Emirates, Qatar and Etihad offer the best connections into and out of Istanbul from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D, and PL for Picnic Lunch.
Tuesday October 13: Arrive Istanbul
The tour commences at the hotel in Istanbul at 6pm. Meet your tour leader and fellow travellers in the lobby of the hotel for an introductory talk and drinks followed by dinner in the hotel. Overnight Istanbul (D)
Wednesday October 14: The Ottoman City
Today we visit the vast and intriguing Topkapi Palace, once home to the Ottoman sultans and now to important collections of precious objects and works of art. Our visit includes a tour of the Harem and the Treasury. We enjoy lunch in a restaurant in the outer gardens of the Topkapi Palace. This afternoon we visit the Istanbul Archaeological Museum with its rich collection of antiquities, including the sarcophagi recovered from the Necropolis of Sidon. There is an optional visit to the Grand Bazaar late in the afternoon. Overnight Istanbul (B, L)
Thursday October 15: The Byzantine City
Today begins with a walking tour of Istanbul’s Byzantine past, exploring the cathedral-sized Basilica Cistern and the Hippodrome. We then visit the Mosaic Museum displaying mosaics from the Great Palace complex. After lunch at an excellent local restaurant, we spend time at the Church of St Saviour in Chora viewing its famous 14th-century mosaics and frescoes, evidence of a late flowering of Byzantine art. We then tour the 5th-century walls built by Emperor Theodosius II. These walls defended Constantinople for over a thousand years until the city fell to the Ottomans. We visit the Postern Gate where the walls were breached, and the Golden Gate through which the Byzantine army once marched. Later this afternoon we have an optional visit to a hamam. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Istanbul (B, L)
Friday October 16: The Hagia Sophia
This morning we visit the beautiful Hagia Sophia, considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture. Constructed as a church on the orders of Emperor Justinian, the Hagia Sophia was the religious focal point of the Eastern Church for nearly 1000 years before being converted into a mosque following the fall of Constantinople in 1453. It is now a museum. We also visit the Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th century and famed for the Iznik tiles which decorate its interior. We then stroll through and sample the delights of the Spice Bazaar before heading to the Bosphorus for an afternoon ferry cruise. After our cruise we visit the Sadberk Hanim Museum, a private museum with an excellent collection of antiquities and works of art. We share dinner tonight in a restaurant located on the Bosphorus, in fashionable Ortaköy. Overnight Istanbul (B, D)
Saturday October 17: Istanbul – Ankara – Cappadocia
We transfer this morning to the airport for our flight to Ankara. On arrival we visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations and the Ataturk Memorial. This afternoon we drive to our cave hotel in Ürgüp, our base for the next three nights to explore Cappadocia. Dinner is in the hotel. Overnight Cappadocia (B, L, D)
Sunday October 18: Exploring Cappadocia
Early this morning there is the option of a balloon ride over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, Cappadocia’s unique landscape has been shaped by volcanic activity, erosion and the hand of man. Today we visit the Göreme Open Air Museum. This extensive complex of rock-cut cave-churches was carved out by Orthodox monks between AD 900 and 1200. Decorated with beautiful frescoes, they represent a uniquely Cappadocian artistic style. We have lunch in nearby Avanos, where the local ceramic trade is characterised by the use of red clay from the nearby river and dates back to the time of the Hittites. Our visit to the town includes a stop at a terracotta factory. The evening is at leisure. Overnight Cappadocia (B, L)
Monday October 19: Underground City & Caravanserai
Today’s varied itinerary begins at the cave city at Kaymakli, a cave-city which was largely excavated by Christian communities in the 6th and 7th centuries. We then follow the scenic back-roads via Taşkinpaşa to lunch at the village of Mustafapaşa. This afternoon we visit Kara Mustafa Paşa Kervansarayi, a remarkable complex built in 1667 for the Ottoman Vizier and comprising of a large barracks, a bath house, a mosque and a road with a row of shops still in use. We later attend a performance of the famous Whirling Dervishes, a mystical dance performed by members of the Sufi sect of Islam. Dinner tonight is at a local restaurant. Overnight Cappadocia (B, L, D)
Tuesday October 20: Çatalhöyük
This morning we make our way to Çatalhöyük, an important Neolithic settlement, first discovered in the late 1950s and under renewed excavation since 1993. Here, our guided tour includes the museum and the archaeological site. Continue to Konya, centre of 12th- and 13th-century Şelçuk architecture and famous for the Tomb of Mevlana which we visit before checking into our hotel. Overnight Konya (B, PL, D)
Wednesday October 21: Pamukkale
We leave Konya and make our way to Pamukkale. This geological wonder has formed amazing white travertine terraces down the mountainside, with pools and gushing therapeutic water that was used in the Roman spa city of Hierapolis, the ruins of which we visit. Overnight Pamukkale (B, L, D)
Thursday October 22: Aphrodisias
Depart for Aphrodisias, a Roman city famous for its fine remains and patron saint Aphrodite, the goddess of love. In the afternoon we continue on to Kuşadasi, our base for the next three nights. Dinner tonight is in our hotel. Overnight Kuşadasi (B, L, D)
Friday October 23: Ephesus
This morning we explore one of the largest and best-preserved classical cities of the ancient world. A Greek, then Roman and Byzantine city, Ephesus boasts some exceptional ruins in a beautiful setting. A short drive from Ephesus is Meryemana, a chapel on a site considered by some to be the last home of the Virgin Mary. After lunch near the village of Sirince, we visit the excellent Ephesus Museum displaying artefacts from the archaeological site. On the way back to Kuşadasi we stop briefly at the Artemesion, the site of the famed Temple of Artemis. Overnight Kuşadasi (B, L)
Saturday October 24: Didyma – Miletus – Priene
Continuing our exploration of Turkey’s classical, Hellenistic and Roman past, today’s excursion takes us south to the sites of Priene, Miletus and Didyma. Though less well known than Ephesus, these ruined cities and the Sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma, provide clear evidence of the region’s prosperous past and occupy delightful settings. We lunch in Didyma and return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Overnight Kuşadasi (B, L)
Sunday October 25: Kusadasi – Pergamum – Assos
We leave Kuşadasi for Assos today. Much of the day is spent at Bergama, site of the ancient city of Pergamum. The spectacular acropolis was home to the famed Altar of Zeus before its removal to Berlin. Remains of temples, palaces, a library and a theatre make it a wonderful place to visit. We then visit the ruins of the famous medical centre, or Aesclepion, that operated like a cure centre, treating people in a variety of ways. From Bergama, we make the trip north to the small waterfront village of Assos, arriving in the late afternoon. Dinner is in the hotel. Overnight Assos (B, L, D)
Monday October 26: Exploring Assos and Troy
Assos is a finely-sited ancient city, with views across the Aegean to the Greek island of Lesbos. This morning we explore the 5th-century BC Temple of Athena and the surrounding acropolis. Unlike the large resort towns of the Aegean, planning laws have meant that the old village of Assos has remained unchanged for almost a century. After lunch we visit Troy, one of civilization’s most celebrated archaeological sites. Immortalised by Homer, the site was first excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in the late 19th century, and work continues to this day. We return to Assos in the afternoon. Overnight Assos (B, L)
Tuesday October 27: Gallipoli
A 90-minute trip north from Assos takes us to the Dardanelles, the legendary and strategically important strait connecting the Mediterranean with the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Across the strait is the Gallipoli Peninsula, which we spend most of the day exploring in the company of local guide Kenan Celik, a world expert on the Gallipoli Campaign and World War I. Our itinerary includes the moving sites of Anzac Cove, the remnants of trenches and the Lone Pine Memorial and Cemetery. A picnic lunch is included. This afternoon we return to Istanbul, arriving in the early evening. Overnight Istanbul (B, PL)
Wednesday October 28: Asian Istanbul
This morning we cross the Bosphorus to the Asian side of Istanbul and explore the lively area of Kadiköy. After lunch at a restaurant famed for its use of traditional ingredients and dishes from a broad geographical area, we take the ferry back to the European side. Overnight Istanbul (B, L)
Thursday October 29: European Istanbul
This morning we explore the eclectic area around Taksim Square and Beyoğlu and visit the Pera Museum, a private art museum and gallery. The afternoon is at leisure but we meet again this evening for our farewell dinner at an excellent restaurant featuring contemporary Turkish food. Overnight Istanbul (B, D)
Friday October 30: Depart
The tour concludes after breakfast.
Dr Jennifer Lawless
Former Inspector of History for the NSW Board of Studies, with expertise spanning Modern and Ancient History.
Jennifer has led tours to Turkey, Greece, Crete and Iran. Her main interest in travel is history, both ancient and more recent history such as the experiences of Australians at Gallipoli. Other cultures – and in particular their food and wine – also rate!
Jennifer has co-authored over ten books on ancient History that are widely used in senior History classes and has been awarded a number of scholarships and awards for writing and research, including a Churchill Fellowship, an Endeavor Research Fellowship for Turkey, and a NSW Premiers Award for History. Jennifer has lectured in History teaching method at Sydney, Macquarie and Western Sydney universities and was the Board of Studies History Inspector for 13 years. Her PhD concerned the experiences of the Australians captured as POWs during the Gallipoli campaign. This involved almost ten years of research and travelling over 8,000 kilometres through Turkey, locating the main POW camp sites. Ottoman documents that had never been translated into English before formed a solid basis for the research.
What is included in the tour price?
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.