Day 1 | Meet at airport at 08:00 for flight TK1370 to Istanbul departing at 10:25 and landing at 13:50. On arrival meet the local guide and enjoy a 1h30min Bosphorus cruise on a private boat. Check in at hotel. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Istanbul.
Day 2 | After breakfast, visit Topkapi Palace where you can learn how Ottoman sultans lived for over six centuries, followed by a visit to the Blue Mosque. Also known by its official name, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, this gem has hand-painted blue tiles adorn the interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes. Following, is the Hippodrome, also known as Sultanahmet Square. Previously, it was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. We shall then visit Hagia Sophia, a mosque and major cultural and historical site in Istanbul. We proceed to the airport for a flight to Izmir and transfer to Kusadasi. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 3 | Following breakfast, we drive to and visit the ancient city of Ephesus. Its excavated remains reflect centuries of history, from classical Greece to the Roman Empire to the spread of Christianity. Paved streets wind past squares, baths and monumental ruins. We then go to visit Seven Sleepers, where according to legend seven Christian youths from Ephesus were walled up in a cave by the Emperor Decius in 250 ad and slept for 187 years. We shall visit what is said to be the House of the Virgin Mary and is now a Catholic shrine located on Mt. Koressos. Catholic pilgrims visit the house based on the belief that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was taken to this stone house by St. John and lived there for the remainder of her earthly life. After a visit to an olive store, we return back to the hotel for dinner and overnight in Kusadasi.
Day 4 | After breakfast, we start the day with a visit to a leather factory followed by a small fashion show. Driving to Pamukkale, we visit the remarkable ancient city of Hierapolis, where we can see the ruins of baths, temples and other Greek monuments established in the 2nd century B.C – a fascinating thermal spa city of the ancients. We then get to visit the jaw dropping travertine terraces, also known as Cotton Castle (Pamukkale in Turkish) – Cameras ready!! The terraces are filled with calcium-rich thermal waters deemed magical by many for rheumatism to cardiovascular diseases, as well as skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis. We then make our way back to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 5 | Following breakfast, we start the day off with a visit to a textile showroom, followed with a lovely drive to Konya, where we shall visit the Mevlana Museum. This will give us a friendly and authentic taste of life in off-the-beaten-path Turkey. The museum started life as the dervish lodge of the Mevlevi order, better known as the whirling dervishes and today houses the mausoleum of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian Sufi mystic. We then drive to Cappadocia and visit Sultan Han Caravanserai, a large 13th-century Seljuk caravanserai located in the town of Sultanhanı, Turkey. A caravanserai was a roadside inn where travellers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. Caravanserais supported the flow of commerce, information, and people across the network of trade routes covering Asia, North Africa and Southeast Europe, most notably the Silk Road. We then proceed to our hotel for check in, dinner and overnight.
Day 6 | OPTIONAL: EARLY MORNING HOT AIR BALLOON EXPERIENCE
After breakfast we shall drive to Avanos Village. We shall visit an underground cave and enjoy a photo stop at Pasabag to marvel at the most popular fairy chimneys areas of Cappadocia and see Pigeon Valley, a long, gently sloping canyon running between the main tourist towns of Goreme and Uchisar. It is named after the many pigeon houses which are carved into the soft rock of the adjacent hills, followed by a visit to a handmade carpet factory. We will have the opportunity to also see the Camel Stone as well as the Three Sisters. Lastly, we shall visit a pottery house in Avanos topped off with a turquoise stone store. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 7 | After breakfast we shall drive to Ankara, and on the way we shall see Salt Lake, one of the saltiest lakes in the world containing over 32% of salt content. In Ankara we shall visit the Ataturk Mausoleum, built for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and the first President of the Republic of Turkey. We then proceed with our drive to Istanbul for dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 | Following breakfast we shall visit Taksim Square, situated in Beyoğlu in the European part of Istanbul. It is a major tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is considered the heart of modern Istanbul, with the central station of the Istanbul Metro network. A visit to Istkilal Street, is an opportunity to experience the unique energy and spirit of Istanbul at its most organic. The street is the busiest in the city, comparable to Fifth Avenue in NYC or Oxford Street in London. Transfer to airport for flight to Malta on TK 1371, departing Istanbul at 17.00 and landing in Malta at 18.25.