Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Turkey & Greece

Embark on a journey around the ancient world as you discover its most renowned monuments and archaeological sites. Unpeel layers of history and witness the influences cast by successive civilisations and the cultural achievements made.

Journey Overview

Embark on a journey around the ancient world as you discover its most renowned monuments and archaeological sites. Unpeel layers of history and witness the influences cast by successive civilisations and the cultural achievements made. Wander through timeless landscapes drenched in sunshine and dine out on the fresh and simple flavours made famous throughout the Mediterranean

Journey Highlights

  • Trace the history of Istanbul through its Imperial, Byzantine and Ottoman periods
  • Marvel at the open-air museums and fairy chimneys of Cappadocia
  • Soak up the sun-kissed Turquoise Coast and its ancient monuments
  • Combine scenery, flora, fauna and ancient history in the Koycegiz River Delta
  • Discover the charms of Nafplio, Greece’s little-known seaside gem

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Istanbul, Turkey

Arrive into the city straddling two continents and transfer to your hotel in the fashionable Nisantasi district.

Park Hyatt Istanbul

Day 2: Istanbul

Today’s adventure focuses on Istanbul’s imperial heritage which spans 1700 years. Start off at the timeless Hagia Sophia, one of the greatest surviving examples of Byzantine architecture originally built as a church in 360, converted to a mosque in 1453 and a museum in 1935. Next, stop is the 6th century Basilica Cistern, perhaps the most unusual structure in Istanbul, originally built by Constantine in the early 4th century as a water reservoir for the imperial palace. It covers more than two acres and holds 18 million gallons of water. Onwards to the Hippodrome, a colossal stadium for chariot races and equine competition built by Emperor Severus in 200.

Follow the ancient walls which enclose the city’s seven hills and visit the Chora Church, one of the world’s richest repositories of Byzantine mosaic work and frescoes. Later wander through the present-day heart of the city, Pera and Galata, admiring Neo-Classical, Neo-Renaissance and First Republic buildings. Stop in a traditional coffee house to refuel before a ferry trip across the Bosphorus. Watch the sun set behind the magical domes and minarets before exploring the market, providores and eateries of Kadikoy.

Park Hyatt Istanbul | Meals: B

Day 3: Istanbul

This morning you explore the incredible Topkapi Palace which was the centre of the Ottoman government and court. There is plenty of time to explore the breathtaking grounds, terraces and palace halls and marvel at the well-presented exhibits of costumes, chinaware, jewels and manuscripts. Gaze at marble and tile covered walls, the royal chambers and splendid gardens while soaking up magnificent views of Istanbul. Next, you explore the 19th century Dolmabahce Palace, the largest and finest example of the Ottoman New Baroque in the city before visiting the Maritime Museum to see the old royal barges and naval artefacts. Time later to explore the bars and boutiques of Nisantasi.

Park Hyatt Istanbul | Meals: B

Day 4: Istanbul

Admire the work of Ottoman master builder Sinan starting at the magnificent Blue Mosque and Suleymaniye Mosque which dominates the skyline and is undoubtedly the most dignified building in the city. Wander through the 3,500 shops of the Grand Bazaar, built in 1461, seeking out jewellery, carpets, antiques, tiles and leather goods. This afternoon take to the water again with a private ferry on the Bosphorus admiring the traditional yali (waterfront mansions) over sundowners.

Park Hyatt Istanbul | Meals: B

Day 5: Istanbul – Cappadocia

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Kayseri in the heart of Cappadocia. Immerse yourself in the extraordinary volcanic landscapes and marvel at the ‘fairy chimneys’ which spread across the terrain. Explore the rock-carved churches of Goreme which contain some of the finest Byzantine frescoes. What survives here are some of the greatest museums of medieval art in the world. Visit the Dark Church that has been beautifully restored to its former stunning glory and explore the hermit cells of Monks Valley. Afterwards transfer to your hotel which has been meticulously converted into a boutique hotel from four rock-carved dwellings.

Argos in Cappadocia | Meals: B

Day 6: Cappadocia

Get a proper perspective on the terrain this morning in a hot air balloon floating gently over the surreal landscape and concluding with a celebratory Champagne breakfast (additional cost). Another marvel of the region awaits today – the enigmatic ‘underground city’ at Kaymakli whose extensive network of rock-carved subterranean tunnels and hallways, storage rooms and sleeping quarters, shafts and chapels is over 42 metres deep. Continue on to a weaving village to discover more about this important art and see where rugs are produced in time-honoured tradition. Learn the intricacies of pattern, composition, symbolism and colour and admire the finished works of art. Tour local vineyards to learn about Turkish winemaking and sample regional varietals. Visit a potter’s workshop in Avanos on the Red River and learn about another traditional craft which has been practiced since the time of the Hittites or take a hike in the famous Red Valley.

Argos in Cappadocia | Meals: B

Day 7: Cappadocia - Izmir - Ephesus - Bodrum

Transfer to Kayseri airport for your flight to Izmir where you head directly to Ephesus. Step back thousands of years into Classical times when you wander the streets of this ancient site, one of the world’s most impressive archaeological wonders. As far back as 6000 BC, the city was an important seaport during the Hittite Empire. It became the largest urban settlement in the eastern Mediterranean and a powerhouse of the ancient world. Later, roots of early Christianity were found here: a tomb, attributed to John of the Book of Revelations, St Paul preaching at Ephesus and a small hut said to be the place where the Virgin Mary spent the last years of her life.

Visit the site of the gigantic Temple of Diana, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and gain privileged access to the Terrace Houses where the wealthy lived which have been excavated to expose beautiful mosaic floors and frescoed walls, not usually open to the public. Time also to take a seat at the ancient Theatre, admire the Library of Celsus as well as the public baths, the Arcadian Way, Marble Street and more.

Head south towards Bodrum stopping on the way to explore the jaw-dropping remains of the Temple of Apollo at Didyma amongst the most impressive from the Hellenistic period. Pause also at the Temple of Zeus at Euromos, one of the best-preserved temples from antiquity, before arriving at your hilltop boutique retreat.

The Marmara Bodrum | Meals: B

Day 8: Bodrum

Bodrum is a charming Aegean city with whitewashed buildings in the Greek island style and palm-lined streets. At its heart lies the marina and the waterfront which overflows with shops and restaurants. At one end of the harbour is an islet topped by the 15th century castle built by the Knights of St John. A large ancient theatre dominates the landscape and hundreds of ‘gulets’ (Turkish sailing boats) crowd the harbour. Your exploration here starts with a visit to the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum, housed in the Castle of St Peter, where you will find an extensive collection of ancient amphorae, an astonishing assortment of ancient glassware and some fascinating shipwrecks, all found along the coast of southwest Turkey. Afterwards, enjoy a specially arranged visit to the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA). Normally closed to visitors, you will meet the scholars and scientists who work here and tour their labs and research areas. Later, tempt your tastebuds with a market visit and cooking class in the nearby village of Bitez.

The Marmara Bodrum | Meals: BL

Day 9: Bodrum – Göcek

Travel east along the Turquoise Coast today to Göcek visiting Stratonicea along the way. This is one of the most beautiful ancient cities in southwestern Turkey, still inhabited until the 1960’s. Meander along the Ottoman era stone pavements to the Hellenistic gymnasium, the city walls, gates and Town Hall, theatre, temples and more. Pause for a breather in the nearby village of Bozuyuk and continue to the Koycegiz River Delta.

In Dalyan, take an African Queen-style boat ride through the river reed-beds to once-mighty Caunos, one of the most memorable sites in southwestern Turkey. The city was founded as early as the 9th or 8th century BC and from the 5th century BC onwards it took on the characteristics of a Greek city, before becoming Romanised. Admire the unique rock-cut temple tombs high on the cliff-side, explore the ruins of what used to be a well-known seaport and a centre for the trade of salt, slaves, and dried figs and wander past fields of cotton, pomegranate, peach, apricot and olives. Stop at beautiful Iztuzu Beach where loggerhead turtles nest every summer and continue to the lovely port village of Göcek for the evening.

D Resort Göcek | Meals: B

Day 10: Göcek – Rhodes, Greece

Transfer to Fethiye port for your ferry ride to Rhodes, ‘Island of the Knights’. On arrival you are introduced by your local guide to the island’s fascinating history on a walking tour of the old town. Dominated by the imposing castle, it is one of the best-preserved medieval settlements in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Kokkini Porta Rossa | Meals: B

Day 11: Rhodes - Lindos - Rhodes

This morning venture to the lovely village of Lindos known for its cliff-top acropolis, which features monumental 4th century gates and reliefs from around 280 B.C. Admire the Doric Temple of Athena Lindia and the 14th century Castle of the Knights of St. John. Among the town’s whitewashed buildings, seek out the Virgin Mary of Lindos Church for its 15th century frescoes. Another afternoon at leisure.

Kokkini Porta Rossa | Meals: B

Day 12: Rhodes - Athens - Nafplio

Transfer to Rhodes Airport for your flight to Athens where you are met and transferred to the enchanting seaside town of Nafplio via the Corinth Canal Bridge. The road from Athens to the Peloponnese traverses the coastline then climbs high above the sea with rewarding views of the sparkling blue Saronic Gulf. Pause to admire the Corinth Canal, an engineering wonder steeped in history and legend. Rulers from antiquity dreamed of digging through the isthmus to create a shortcut for their fleets. The first attempt was made in the 7th century BC but the project was abandoned. During Roman times, Julius Caesar, Caligula and Nero all had plans for a canal but none survived long enough to see the project to fruition. After many failed attempts in subsequent centuries, the canal eventually opened in July 1893.

Nafplia Palace | Meals: B

Day 13: Nafplio

Explore ancient Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which became famous during ancient times for its unique healing practices. Wander through the site and take in the well-preserved Greek theatre, considered to be the most beautiful in the world. Continue to Mycenae, the Homeric city of Atreides, where you will see the Lion Gate, the Cyclopean Walls, the Royal Tombs and the Archaeological Museum. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure.

Nafplia Palace | Meals: B

Day 14: Nafplio – Athens

Return to the Greek capital this morning and immerse yourself in its ancient wonders. Begin your exploration at the Acropolis which towers above the modern city. Explore the small and elegant temple of Athena Nike, the Propylaia, the monumental entrance gate and the extraordinary Parthenon, the Doric temple dedicated to Athena. From the western part of the Acropolis, breathe in the spectacular views of the city below before exploring the Acropolis Museum which houses statues and monuments recovered from the Acropolis, including what remains in Greece of the Parthenon Marbles. In the afternoon visit the ancient Agora, the commercial, political and religious centre of ancient Athens where the Temple of Hephaistos and the Altar of The Twelve Gods can be admired.

Hotel Grande Bretagne | Meals: B

Day 15: Athens

A fascinating culinary adventure in store today. Join a local foodie as you visit stores selling olive oil, fresh herbs, wines and traditionally made produce which you’ll have a chance to taste along the way. Stroll through the fish and meat markets and stop for local pite, spanakopita, cheeses and baklava. The afternoon is at leisure to explore on your own.

Hotel Grande Bretagne | Meals: B

Day 16: Depart Athens

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals: B

Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Argos in Cappadocia

Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Turkey & Greece

The Argos Hotel is set in the centre of Cappadocia, famous for its distinctive “fairy house” rock formations and ancient archaeological s... Read more

Park Hyatt Istanbul

Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Turkey & Greece

Set is one of the city’s most sophisticated districts, Park Hyatt Istanbul occupies a glorious Art Deco building with a distinctively orn... Read more

Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens

Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Turkey & Greece

This 18th Century landmark is unquestionably Athens most luxurious hotel. Immaculately restored to the height of its old world grandeur, ... Read more

Nafplia Palace

Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Turkey & Greece

Nafplia Palace boasts breathtaking views across the Bay of Argolis and Nafplion. This luxurious hotel offers beautiful rooms overlooking ... Read more

Journey Dates & Prices

As this suggested itinerary can be personalised to your specific requirements, it is not available for online booking.

Depending on your preferred dates and arrangements, final pricing will vary from low season to peak season travel.

Please call A&K on 1300 851 800 or send us a booking enquiry to book this journey.


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