You will be met by your guide at Istanbul International Airport and transfer to your hotel by private vehicle. Check into your hotel with some time to relax. At approximately 2:30 pm, you will start your half-day tour of the wonderful highlights of Istanbul. You will visit the magnificent Topkapi Palace-residence of the sultans for almost three centuries. It is located on the promontory between the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn. This setting provides a magnificent view. As the imperial residence of the Sultan and his court, the palace was also the seat of government for the Ottoman Empire. 4,000 people lived here. Visit the general exhibitions and the Treasury Section displaying the priceless pieces of jewelry that once belonged to the Ottoman Sultans. Next, you will enjoy an orientation drive around the old city with its many ancient monuments and city walls, and the new city with its modern buildings and squares. At the end of the day, you will return to your hotel.
After breakfast, meet your guide at the lobby for a full-day tour and continue exploring Istanbul. Todays first stop will be at the 16th-century palace of the sultans Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasa, which today houses the Turkish and Islamic Art Museum, containing what many consider to be the finest collection of Islamic artifacts in the world. The museum is well laid out and contains more than 40,000 examples including ceramics, Koran cases, calligraphy, textiles, metalwork and illuminated manuscripts. Its antique carpet exhibit is renowned-the carpets, kilims and prayer rugs form one of the richest and oldest collections in the world. Then you will visit the ByzantineHippodrome, along with its famous Egyptian Obelisk, the Obelisk of Constantine, the Serpentine Column and the German Fountain. Proceed to the Blue Mosque, completed in 1616-a triumph of harmony, proportion and elegance. The mosque was a part of a complex that consisted of a mosque, tombs, fountains, kitchens and a bath. Its colorful 260 windows enable the sunlight to reach inside. The blue Iznik tiles covering the walls lend the mosque its name. You will stop for lunch and next, you will visit one of the greatest buildings in the world: St. Sophia, the Church of the Divine Wisdom. It was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian (AD 537) and remained the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Sultan Mehmet II ordered the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a Mosque. The great dome, the semi-domes, the north and south tympana and the vaults of the narthex, aisles and gallery were all covered with gold mosaics, many of which are still intact today. Continue to the famous Grand Bazaar, where you will explore some of its 92 streets. The Grand Bazaar is the largest and oldest covered bazaar in Turkey, with more than 4,000 shops. A variety of Turkish handicrafts, oriental carpets, rare jewels and inexpensive souvenirs are all sold here. The streets are named according to the trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, booksellers, etc. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.
After an early breakfast, you will meet your guide at the lobby and transfer to the airport for your flight to Cappadocia. Arrive in Cappadocia and begin exploring this interesting region. Cappadocia is the jewel of Central Anatolia, and home to a bewitching landscape of spectacularly eroded tuff (hardened volcanic ash). The most famous and characteristic features of the landscape are the remarkable conical rock outcroppings know as fairy chimneys. The softness of the tuff made it easy to excavate and create dwellings, so whole cities were constructed underground as well as hundreds of rock-cut chapels, beautifully frescoed churches and monasteries. Lunch will be served at the lovely restaurant serving traditional Turkish cuisine. After lunch you will visit the Goreme Open-Air Museum. The 11th century represents the Golden Age of religious art in Goreme. The Goreme Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which has been occupied since the dawn of history, is the Valley of Churches. Wonderful and primitive 11th- and 12th-century frescoes cover the walls of these churches. The oldest churches in the area date back to the 6th century. You will view the village of Uchisar, a small town situated right in the middle of Cappadocia, full of towering rock houses typical of this area. It is named after the enormous piece of rock in the center of the town, which was once used as a castle. At the end of your day, you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Get an early start for your optional (extra cost) one-hour hot air balloon flight. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and there is no better way to see the distinctive landscapes of Cappadocia than by gently floating overhead in a hot air balloon. Your skilled pilot will skim the basket across fruit trees and rise up over the fairy chimneys, before ascending to great heights for breathtaking views. After breakfast, you will meet your guide at the hotel lobby for your full day tour. You will drive down to Kaymakli Underground City to visit this interesting settlement. It has eight stories and was built during the period of the spreading of Christianity, as a city of defense and hiding. Next, you will view the lovely village of Cavusinand continue to the restaurant for a lunch of traditional food. After lunch, continue toAvanos, famous for its pottery craft dating back to the Hittite period. You will have a chance to see how pottery is made in this region, then you will drive to Pasabag Valleywhere the formation of "fairy chimneys" can be best observed. Pasabag, the Pashas Vineyard, is surrounded by incredible natural rock formations-a spectacular scene. Continue to visit Zelve, where three canyons meet in the Valley of Monks. The rock face at Zelve is honeycombed with caves and churches, and much of the decoration inside the churches is symbolic. At the end of the day, you will return to your hotel.
After your breakfast, meet your guide in the lobby for your airport transfer and flight to Istanbul. After arriving in Istanbul, you will visit the Underground Cistern. This amazing underground cavern measures roughly 210 feet wide and 420 feet long, with a capacity of 80,000 cubic meters of water. The 336 beautiful columns that support the cistern were salvaged from pagan temples destroyed during the Roman Empires conversion to Christianity. Then, you will visit the Rustem Pasa Mosque, built in 1561 by the imperial Architect, Sinan. The mosque was built for Rustem Pasa, son-in-law of and Grand Vizier to Suleyman I. The interior of the mosque is adorned by a magnificent blanket of Iznik tiles. Lunch will be served at the nearby Hamdi Restaurant, located on the Golden Horn. You will taste delicious Turkish kebab while overlooking the Bosphorus. After lunch you will be transferred to your hotel for check-in and the afternoon at leisure.
After breakfast you will check out of the hotel. Meet your guide at the lobby for a half-day tour. A short drive will bring you to the pier where you will board a boat for a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. The Bosphorus bisects Istanbul, separating Europe and Asia, and connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Its shores showcase Istanbuls beauty. Your boat will pass by magnificent palaces, old seaside mansions, and impressive fortresses. You will be surprised to see that the old Ottoman buildings harmonize perfectly with the more modern architecture. Watch for the Imperial Pavilions of Yildiz Palace, the famous Ciragan Palace, the Bosphorus Bridge, Ortakoy, Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace and the Rumeli Fortress, built to control the Bosphorus and protect Istanbul from its enemies. Disembark from the yacht and visit the Egyptian Bazaar to explore the second-largest covered market in Istanbul. It was named for the herbs, and spices imported from or through Egypt, and although the Egyptian market dates back to the 1660s, ironically it is part of the "New Mosque" complex! This is still the best place in the city to buy Turkish Delight, dried fruit, exotic spices and herbs. At 2:00 pm, you will transfer to your ship.
A deluxe air-conditioned VIP vehicle with a professional driver
All arrival and departure transfers
Licensed professional tour guide in preferred language
Entrance fees of all the sites and museums as marked on the itinerary
Accommodation 4 stars hotel in Istanbul, Cave hotel in Cappadocia
Gratuities to guide and driver
Domestic flight tickets
Items of a personal nature
Any items not specifically mentioned as included
Meals that are not indicated on the itinerary