Your 8-day cruise and land tour kicks off in Istanbul with a visit to Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in the Sultanahmet district before meeting your cruise ship in Kusadasi. Next, you will spend four days cruising the Aegean sea to the Greek Islands of Santorini, Crete, Patmos and Mykonos including a stop on Greece’s mainland, Athens. Return to Kusadasi where your cruise ends and continue overland to Turkey’s top attractions such as Pamukkale, Ephesus and Cappadocia before concluding in Istanbul.
Included in this trip is your domestic flights, an air-conditioned coach and professional guide in Turkey, and 4- or 5- star hotels in Pamukkale, Cappadocia, and Istanbul. Also included are 10 breakfasts, eight lunches, and all meals on your cruise ship, the cozy Celestyal Olympia. Plus an on board drinks package is included. Island adventures and tours are at your own expense.
Day 1: Istanbul (D) Start your experience with an included transfer from either Istanbul’s Atatürk or Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, Istanbul cruise port or your centrally located Istanbul hotel.
Then, after checking in at your Istanbul tour hotel, enjoy an optional half-day sightseeing tour (own expense) of this historical city. Standing at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Istanbul was known as Constantinople between the 4th and 20th centuries and is packed with treasures. If you opt to take the tour, you’ll explore the UNESCO-listed ‘Historic Areas of Istanbul,’ and admire the dazzling Blue Mosque; the Hagia Sophia, the ancient Christian basilica that became a mosque; and the Topkapi Palace, the opulent residence of Ottoman emperors.
After dinner at your hotel, enjoy the evening at leisure.
Overnight: 4-star Vicenza hotel or similar in Istanbul
Day 2: Istanbul – Izmir - Kusadasi – Patmos (B, L, D)
After breakfast we will drive to Ataturk Airport to catch our morning flight to Izmir. Upon our arrival in Izmir we will be transferred to Kusadasi to embark on 3 nights Cruise of the Aegean Islands. Our first stop in the cruise will be Patmos, this island is known as the site of the apocalyptic revelations of St. John the Divine, written here during his exile from the Roman Empire. The cave where he lived is near the site of the Monastery of the Apocalypse. The Monastery of St. John, built on one of the island’s highest points, houses priceless icons and manuscripts in its Treasury. Half-day shore excursion included in Patmos as 'Religious visit to St. John's Monastery & Grotto of the Apocalypse.'
Overnight: at sea between Patmos and Crete
Day 3: Crete - Santorini (B, L, D)
This morning we arrive to Heraklion, is just three miles away from the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos. Discovered in 1899 and partially reconstructed, the elaborate Palace is believed to be the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. The next island that will visit will be Santorini perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands, with its white-washed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques. Dinner and overnight on board. Return to your ship and sail for Athens overnight. Shore excursions at own expense. Overnight: at sea between Santorini and Athens
Day 4: Santorini - Athens - Mykonos (B, L, D)
We arrive to Piraeus, the port city of Athens, cradle of democracy, birthplace of Western Civilization, Athens is a vibrant city where old and new co-exist. The majestic Parthenon rises above the city, its ancient glory still visible in the time-worn Stone. The last island of the cruise will be Mykonos, hundreds of tiny chapels dot this blue and white-washed island with its beautiful windmills. Find a table on the waterfront and bask in the serenity of sunset over its picturesque harbor. After dinner on board, cruise overnight to Kusadasi. Half-day shore excursion included in Santorini as 'Spectecular Oia Village perched on the Caldera rim.'
Overnight: at sea between Mykonos and Kusadasi.
Day 5: Mykonos - Kusadasi – Pamukkale (B, L, D)
Arrival to Kusadasi at 07:00. We will proceed to the vast ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. Once in the ancient city itself we will explore this ancient Roman city and visit the Library of Celcius, Temple of Hadrian, the Theatre and Odeon. After lunch continue to Pamukkale “the Cotton Castle” with its snow-white terraces formed by thermal waters cascading down the hillside. Visit the ruins of Hierapolis with its famous Necropolis, the Basilica, Theatre and Plutonium. We will have dinner and overnight at our hotel in Pamukkale. This evening, check in at your hotel.
Overnight: 5-star Spa Hotel Colossae Thermal or similar in Pamukkale
Day 6: Pamukkale – Konya – Cappadocia (B, L, D)
After an early breakfast we set off for Cappadocia, with a visit to the Sultanhan Caravansarai on the way. Following Lunch in Konya we will visit the Mausoleum, Museum and Monastery Complex dedicated to Mevlana Celalettin Rumi, the founder of the mystical order often referred to as the “Whirling Dervishes”. Setting out once again we will enjoy our panoramic view of Cappadocia as we reach that strange and mystifying landscape. We will check into our hotel in Cappadocia where we will dine and spend the night
Overnight: 4-star Lykia Lodge Hotel or similar in Cappadocia
Day 7: Cappadocia - Istanbul (B, L, D)
After breakfast we set off on a full day excursion that includes lunch. We begin our explorations of the famous and intriguing valley of Cappadocia, a unique region in which Nature has created an incredibly strange and colorful world of cones, columns and needles that were shaped by the wind and water erosion of the area’s volcanic tuff. Some of these strange shapes are as tall as 100 ft. But it is not only the Natural landscape that is unique here. Our forefathers used the soft features of the stone to carve out this fantasy-like environment into homes, stables, shops, churches, hospitals, etc. etc. Many early Christians painted the walls of their chapels with their own renditions of Bible stories. Some of these frescoes are incredibly beautiful, attesting to the skills and religious fervor of the faithful. Among the places we will visit are Goreme Open Air Museum, Castle of Uchisar, Underground City, and Pasabag. After the tour we will continue to Kayseri Airport to catch our flight to Istanbul. We will have dinner and overnight at our hotel in Istanbul.
Overnight: 4-star Vicenza hotel or similar in Istanbul
Day 8: Istanbul (B)
After breakfast we set off on half day of sightseeing in Istanbul. The tour will start with the visit to the Grand Bazaar, the vast and legendary covered market that is the biggest souk in the world with nearly 4000 shops of antiques, jewelry and carpets. From here we continue to Egyptian Spice Market, an arched complex of shops that have long and traditionally specialized in spices, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. After lunch we will continue to Ataturk Airport for our return flight.