If you are arriving in Antalya on Day 1 you will be met and transferred to the group hotel for overnight accommodation. Please check at hotel reception for details of when to meet your guide. Remainder of day at leisure.
This morning we will drive to the ancient City of Xanthos. The site has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. Xanthos is mentioned by numerous ancient Greek and Roman writers in reference to it being the largest city in Lycia and also the conquest on behalf of the Persian Empire around 540 BC. The prosperity of the region during the Persian occupation is reflected in the impressive architecture of ancient city, particularly its many tombs. From Xanthos we will drive to the Saklikent Canyon, the second largest canyon in Europe at 300 m deep and 18 km long. Sections of the canyon are walkable only during summer as the water level rises, often unpredictably, during winter and spring due to snow melt from the Taurus Mountains. Continuing to Fethiye there is time to absorb some of the atmosphere of this town. Modern Fethiye is located on the site of the ancient city of Telmessos (5th century BC) and was the most important city of Lycia. We spend the night in this beautiful section of the Mediterranean coastline.
Today we will combine some activity with relaxation. We will take a walk commencing from Kayakoy, originally named "Karmilassos". This is an old Greek village given abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century. Two fascinating churches still stand among the ruined stone houses. After exploring Kayakoy we continue walking on a forest path which offers a splendid panorama of the turquoise coastal waters. The walk trail takes us to the Oludeniz lagoon. Oludeniz is possibly one of the most photographed beaches on the Mediterranean and for good reason, with its secluded white sandy bay contrasting with the blue of the lagoon. The lagoon is a national nature reserve and building is strictly prohibited. Famous for its shades of turquoise and aquamarine, Oludeniz is frequently rated among the top 5 beaches in the world. We will spend time relaxing at the beach after our morning walk. In the late afternoon we transfer back to Fethiye for overnight.
Optional Activity: if you prefer not to walk today, there is opportunity to enjoy a return public cruise from Fethiye to Twelve Islands and Gocek town (approx 35 per person, not included in tour price and paid locally). Cruise times are subject to change but generally start at 10:00hrs and return at 18:00hrs
After breakfast, we will transfer to Pamukkale (210km; about 4 hours). Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle", is a truly remarkable natural phenomenon. Pale blue waters spill out of the shallow pools and gently cascade between the white plateaus, down drape-like stalagmites onto the lower levels more than 100m below. The city contains numerous hot springs and travertines - terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. We spend a fascinating afternoon and overnight in Pamukkale.
Today we will drive to the ancient city of Ephesus (195km; about 3-4 hours). Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present day Selcuk. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era. In the Roman period, it was for many years the second largest city of the Roman Empire, ranking behind the capital Rome. Ephesus had a population of more than 250,000 in the 1st century BC, which also made it the second largest city in the world at that time. The site contains the largest collection of Roman ruins in the eastern Mediterranean and only an estimated 15% have been excavated. The ruins that are visible give some idea of the city's original splendour, and the names associated with the ruins are evocative of its former life. We will explore this incredible slice of history before continuing to our hotel in Selcuk.
The ancient ruins of Troy are best known for their focus in the Trojan War described in one of the two epic pms attributed to Homer. First uncovered in 1865, English archaeologist Frank Calvert excavated trial trenches in a field he had bought from a local farmer at Hisarlik. In 1868 Heinrich Schliemann, wealthy German businessman and archaeologist, also began excavating in the area after a chance meeting with Calvert in Canakkale. Since then, more excavation has occurred and Troy was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1998. We will take time to marvel at these ruins, yet another example of the incredible civilisations that existed long before our time. Tonight we will stay in Canakkale, further north along the coast. (total driving distance today - 395km; about 6 hours).
Taking the ferry across to Kilitbahir this morning we will visit Gallipoli. A walk through the national park housing many relics of the naval and land battles that took place in 1915 during World War I is very humbling. Amongst other places, we will visit Anzac Cove, the site of the first bungled ANZAC landing and Lone Pine, the largest graveyard-cum-memorial to those buried unmarked or at sea. Afterwards we will continue to Istanbul, and spend the night in the old part of the city, known as Sultanahmet. (Total driving distance - 345km; 5-6 hours).
Today our guide will take us around some of Istanbul's famous sites; all are close to the old part of town. Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul was the hub of the Ottoman Empire and many of the grand buildings of this period are still present. The markets too, would be little changed from early times, a chaotic mix of goods and wares brought by people near and far to trade.Today we will explore the old Sultanahmet Area. It would be easy to spend a week in this city and still not have seen all the sites. We will visit the Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome square (obelisks), the Basilica Cistern, the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque among others. There will also be time to visit the Grand Bazaar at your leisure; your guide will be able to suggest the best time of day to do this.
Trip concludes after breakfast at the hotel. Departure transfers to airport are at own expense.