Special ValueThis tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.Overview
Strategically located between two continents, Turkey has been a crossroad of civilizations, known for its significant Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and later Ottoman eras. Beginning with a four-night stay in Istanbul, see famous landmarks such as the Roman Hippodrome, the Hagia Sophia (once the largest cathedral in the world), and Topkapi Palace, former palace of Ottoman rulers. Other highlights include a private cruise on the Bosphorus.
Stop at the World War I battlefield of Gallipoli and cross the Dardanelles to explore the site of Homer’s Troy. Continue your discovery of the strong Greco-Roman sites along the coast at Pergamum and Ephesus, where you’ll go behind the scenes to see the recently excavated Terrace Houses. Then board a privately chartered wooden gulet for a leisurely four-day voyage along Turkey’s scenic Turquoise Coast. Conclude your journey with a two-night stay in Antalya, with visits to ancient Perge and Aspendos.Check out our slide show for a photo journey of this tour!
View photos by clicking "Next Photo" at top of page!Itinerary
Days 1-2 — Depart the U.S. for Istanbul
Upon arrival, settle into your hotel located near Taksim Square. As guests' arrival times may vary greatly, no group activities or meals are planned.Day 3 — Istanbul
Taste Istanbul’s allure on a tour that begins at the Chora Church, considered one of the most beautiful surviving examples of a Byzantine church, then take a panoramic drive along the old city walls. Explore the Spice Market, with exotic spices, nuts, and dried fruits, and after lunch on your own, take a private cruise on the Bosphorus. This evening take a short walk to a local restaurant for a welcome dinner of traditional Turkish fare. (B,D)Days 4-5 — Istanbul
Today encounter Old Istanbul
, beginning with the ancient Roman Hippodrome and its 3,500-year-old obelisk. Next browse the collections at the renowned Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art and the Archaeology Museum. Following lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Blue Mosque, with its signature six minarets, and Hagia Sofia, the 6th-century church that became a mosque in the 15th century. The next day explore the vast collections of Topkapi Palace, a rich repository of Ottoman treasures and the vast Grand Bazaar, housing 4,000 shops selling goods of all kinds. The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration. (2B,1L)Day 6 — Gallipoli, Troy, and Assos
Embark on a Homeric journey to the ruins of ancient Troy, rediscovered in the 1870s. Along the way, stop at Gallipoli, the haunting site of World War I battlefield. Ferry across the Dardanelles to Troy’s archaeological excavation
, a World Heritage site
. Continue south to Behramkale (ancient Assos) for the evening. (B,L,D)Day 7 — Pergamum and Izmir
During the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D., Pergamum was one of the richest small kingdoms in Asia Minor. Enjoy the day exploring its wealth of Greco-Roman ruins, including the Acropolis, Temple of Dionysus, and Altar of Zeus. Arrive in Izmir this afternoon. (B,L,D)Day 8 — Izmir and Ephesus
Set off today to explore ancient Ephesus, Turkey’s premier classical city dating back to at least 1300 B.C. Tour the immense amphitheater, the Temple of Hadrian, and the Library of Celsus, which once held 12,000 scrolls. Continue with a visit to the acclaimed Terrace Houses, the "houses of the wealthy" located on the slopes of Bulbul Mountain, including a special talk by an archaeologist there. Stop for a late lunch in the beautiful, rustic village of Sirince then visit St. John’s Basilica. (B,L)Day 9 — Göcek
Journey south to coastal Göcek, stopping along the way at a local factory for a demonstration of the ancient art of carpet weaving. This evening board your gulet
, a replica of a traditional Turkish wooden sailing boat, and enjoy the first of many meals freshly prepared on board. (B,L,D)Day 10 — Aga Limani and Cleopatra Baths
Begin your four-day “Blue Voyage,” cruising along the stunning coastline that Antony is said to have given Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Cruise to the hidden cove of Aga Limani and walk along herb-scented trails to Lydea, a little-known Greco-Roman site. Later, relax at the breathtaking inlet sheltering the Sunken Baths of Cleopatra. (B,L,D)Day 11 — Dalyan River
This morning disembark and drive to Dalyan, an environmentally protected area, and board a small skiff for a trip through an intriguing maze of channels to see the Lycian rock tombs at the Lake of Koycegiz. After lunch in a local restaurant, meet your gulet
and cruise to a secluded cove for the remainder of the evening. (B,L,D)Day 12 — Gemiler and Kayakoy
Explore Gemiler Island’s 6th-century Byzantine monastery, then drive to the abandoned Greek stone village of Kayakoy to see churches that still retain their painted decorations and mosaic floors. After exploring this “ghost town,” return to your gulet
for a final night on board. (B,L,D)Day 13 — Fethiye and Antalya
Set off for Fethiye, where you’ll disembark and bid farewell to your crew. Begin the journey to Antalya, stopping en route for lunch. Continue along the beautiful Turquoise Coast by coach, arriving in Antalya mid-afternoon and visit the city’s Archaeological Museum. (B,L)Day 14 — Perge and Antalya
See the ruins at ancient Perge, which reached its apex during the reign of Alexander the Great, then enjoy a walking tour of Antalya, including the charming Old Town, the carved Hadrian’s Gate, and the lovely fluted minaret. The afternoon is at leisure followed by a farewell dinner at a local restaurant in Antalya. (B,D)Day 15 — Depart for the U.S.
Transfer early this morning to the airport for your connecting flight for the U.S. (B)