Day 1 - Arrival in Athens
We will meet you at Athens International Airport, and transfer you to your hotel. After a short briefing, you will have the afternoon free to relax or explore Athens on your own. (Your hotel will be centrally-located, and within walking distance to the main attraction areas.) Overnight in Athens
Day 2 - Athens - (B)
After breakfast around 8:30 AM, we will meet you at your hotel for your guided tour of Athens.
You will explore Temple of Olympian Zeus, Panathinaiko Stadium (where the first Olympic Games took place in 1896). After that, we will drive by the Prime's Minister's residence, the Royal Palace, (guarded by colorful Evzones), Zappion (Conference and Exhibition Hall), National Garden, Hadrian's Arc, St. Paul's Church, Parliament, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Schlieman's House (Numismatic Museum), Catholic Cathedral, Academy, University, National Library, Old Parliament, Constitution Square, and the impressive Russian Orthodox Church.
At the ACROPOLIS, you will visit Propylaea, Temple of Athena Nike, Parthenon, Erechtheion and the Museum of the Acropolis. In the early afternoon, we will provide a transfer to your hotel, or we can also drop you off at the Plaka so you can wander and explore. Overnight in Athens
Day 3 - Athens - (B)
Breakfast provided in the hotel. After lunchtime, around 2:00 PM, you will be picked up from your hotel for a relaxing drive along the scenic coastal road. You'll have a splendid view of Saronic Gulf, and pass through some of Athens' most beautiful suburbs (Glyfada,Vouliagmeni, Varkiza); then, onto Cape Sounion, where you will visit the 5th century B.C. Temple of Poseidon. With one of the most breathtaking panoramic views in the world, (on a clear day you can see at least seven islands),the precipice here is a sheer 197-foot drop to the sea. Overnight in Athens
Day 4 - Athens to Samos - (via Mykonos ) - (B)
After breakfast early in the morning, we will transfer you to the Rafina ferry port for your departure to Athens to Mykonos (about 2 hours). After arrival, you will have a full free day to explore Mykonos; we then depart from Mykonos at 11:00 PM for Samos.
Day 5 - Samos to Kusadasi - (B)
Morning arrival on Samos Island to change ferries for Kusadasi. Arrival in Kusadasi, check into the hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore Kusadasi. Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 6 - Kusadasi - (B/L/D)
Sites you'll see today:
After breakfast, we will depart from Kusadasi to Pamukkale; upon arrival we will continue on the guided tour of Pamukkale and Hierapolis. Our drive will take us through a rich agricultural area that's teeming with cotton fields and fruit orchards.
* Pamukkale ("cotton castle" in Turkish) is the result of limestone formations created over thousands of years. Warm, calcium-rich mineral water from nearby thermal hot springs flowed over these cliffs and, as these waters cooled, they deposited the calcium that we see today.
* Hierapolis is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded as an ancient healing care center in 190 BC, taking advantage of the mineral waters. It was one of the most important intellectual, artistic, religious and commercial centers of the Roman Empire. Over time, the city hosted large numbers of both Jewish and Christian residents.
After the tour, we will provide a transfer to Kusadasi, where you will check into the hotel.
Overnight in Kusadasi
Day 7 - Kusadasi to Istanbul - (B/L)
Sites you will see today:
*Ephesus is the best-preserved classical cities from ancient times, and was inhabited by Greeks, Macedonians, Romans and Turks. St. Paul lived here circa 60 AD, when it was at its most populated at 250,000. During your visit, you’ll walk its stony boulevards, stand in the grand theatre, marvel at the beauty of the Celsus Library, the agora, as well as the baths, giving you the unique chance to get up-close-and-personal with history by literally being able to walk into it.
*The House of The Virgin Mary, (Turkish: Meryemana Evi), high on a hill overlooking the town of Selcuk, is where it is believed that St. Mary came to live with St. John the Baptist in the later years of her life. Masses are held here on Sundays.
After the tour has ended, we will transfer you to the Izmir airport for a 1-hour flight back to Istanbul. After arrival in Istanbul, we will transfer you to your hotel.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 8 - Istanbul - (B/L)
This will be a full day of exploring the historical sites of Istanbul.
Sites you’ll see today:
* Hippodrome: the backdrop of chariot races and the center of Byzantine civic life. Of the ornaments which once decorated it, only three remain: The Obelisk of Theodosius, the bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.
The Obelisk is in the Egyptian style and was erected in 1547 BC and stood 60m tall. The German Fountain is also within the hippodrome area, constructed in Germany to mark German Emperor Wilhelm II's second visit to Istanbul; it was imported and officially opened on January 1 1901. The fountain's three domes are decorated with gold mosaics.
* Topkapi Palace (Topkapi Sarayi), the residence and administrative center of the Sultans during the Ottoman Empire, was constructed in 1459-1465 shortly after the establishment of Constantinople. You'll see the Treasury that houses the Topkapi Dagger, the 86-carat Spoon Maker's Diamond, and the jewel-encrusted bones of St. John the Baptist.You may also opt to see the Harem (extra fee) where all the women of the Sultan resided, and the "Pavilion of the Holy Mantle" that is home to some of Islam's holiest relics...including the mantle worn by the Prophet Mohammed (and hairs from his beard!).
* Blue Mosque/Sultanahmet Mosque (Camii) built during the reign of Sultan Ahmet I during 1609-1616. It is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets. Due to its magnificent hand-dyed blue, green and white Iznik tiles it has been named the "Blue Mosque" by Europeans. The central dome is 43 m in height and is 33.4 m in diameter; it also boasts 260 windows.
* Hagia Sophia/Aya Sofya is a truly awe-inspiring, 1,400-year-old Byzantine cathedral which houses mosaics, relics and iron work. Hagia Sophia was, for nearly a thousand years, the largest enclosed space in the world, and still seen as one of the world's most important architectural monuments. It is one of Turkey's most popular attractions, drawn by the sheer spectacle of its size, architecture, mosaics and art. Built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD.
Overnight in Istanbul
Day 9 - Istanbul to Athens - (B)
After breakfast, we will pick you up from your hotel for another full-day tour of Istanbul.
* The Spice Bazaar/Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi) transports you back to the Silk Road days with its mystical aromas of various spices. Here, you'll also find other shops selling fruits, vegetables, teas, flowers, fish, and Turkish Delight (lokum).
* Bosphorus Cruise takes you though the waterway separating the two continents, Europe and Asia; along its shores, you can take photographs of marble palaces and antique wooden Ottoman-era villas that sit beside luxurious modern residences.You will also see Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, and Ortakoy Mosque.
* Rumeli Hisari (castle) is a monument built along the narrowest and flowing section of Bosphorus, covering 30.000 m2 area. In preparation of the conquest of Istanbul, the castle was built in about four months, which is a considerably short period. In some historical documents it has been stated that 1,000 masters and 2,000 workers were employed for construction.
* Dolmabahce Palace, the last residence of the Ottoman Sultans, as well as Ataturk (he died here). It has 365 rooms and 22 salons, along with a magnificent collection of European antiques and furniture as well as 4.5 ton chandelier.
* Bosphorus Bridge, the impressive suspension bridge that links the two continents in two minutes.
* Camlica Hill affords a panoramic view of both Istanbul and the Bosphorus. After this, you will return to your hotel, and have the evening free. After the tour, we will put you on a 1.5-hour flight to Athens.
Prices are starting from $_______ per person in a double, contact us to get a price quote for your dates
* All hotels (each individually chosen)
* All land transfers with comfortable vehicles
* All of the meals mentioned in the itinerary (B-breakfast, L-lunch & D-dinner)
* Professional, English-speaking tour guides
* Domestic flight tickets from Izmir to Istanbul
* Istanbul to Athens
* All ferry tickets
* All taxes and service charges
* International flight tickets
* Drinks with meals
(NOTE: This is a fully-customizable program and is available all year round. If you are interested in obtaining more information about early booking, cash-paying discounts, hotel names (and web sites), or daily departure times, simply send us your e-mail inquiry, letting us know the dates you wish to travel, and we'll get back with you soon.
You may also choose to extend your stay by adding-on such destinations Fethye, Bodrum, etc., in order to fit your time and travel interests.)