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Islands, Troy and Pergamon

(self drive)

Day 1 : Arrival in Istanbul

Arrival in Istanbul and transfer to your hotel. Overnight stay with breakfast.

 

Day 2 : Classics, Bazaars, and the Bosphorus

Private guided tour with your guide for some of the most beautiful sights in Istanbul (walking, ferry, and tram itinerary).

 

A dive into the history of a mythical city. You will see, among others:

  • Hagia Sophia: A symbol of Christianity, with fabulous frescoes and mosaics surviving nearly 1500 years thanks to the tolerance of the Ottomans. Church for 900 years, then a mosque for nearly 500 years, and today again a mosque where Islamic and Christian symbols harmoniously blend.

  • Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque): Known as the Blue Mosque. Also, the Hippodrome with its obelisks and the German Fountain

  • Experience the colors and scents of the Spice Bazaar.

  • Embark on a traditional ferry for a cruise on the Bosphorus. From the ferry, you will see Topkapi Palace, Leander's Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Çırağan Palace, Yıldız Park, the charming baroque Ortakoy Mosque, and the suspension bridge between the two continents.

 

Day 3 : Free Day

Visit the Grand Bazaar and its caravanserais, exploring not only its commercial side but also its backstreets, workshops, and inner courtyards—a real city within a city, with 4000 shops and several thousand employees.

 

Take a leisurely stroll through lively or quieter streets. Explore uncharted neighborhoods, stumble upon scenes of life that add to the charm of the city, like artisans selling their services in the streets or the diversity of neighborhood markets.

 

Take the time to sit in a çay salonu (tea salon), taste some Istanbul specialties in a meyhane (tavern), an excellent way to experience the "Turkish" way of life. Stop by a pastry shop and try delicious cakes and desserts. In many shops offering them, do not hesitate to taste Turkish delight.

 

Take a boat ride, one of those old "vapo" boats, to feel the pulse from one bank to the other, discover places where Istanbul life is so different, and enjoy the happiness of returning to Sultanahmet for the sunset over Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, or the Blue Mosque—an experience full of emotions.

 

Here are some non-exhaustive examples to feel the pulse of this world city.

 

Day 4 : Istanbul >>> Gokceada Island via the Dardanelles, Historical Site of World War I

Pick up your rental car at the hotel at 9:00 am, for example. Depart towards Canakkale, bypassing the Sea of Marmara. Approximately 4.5 hours drive.

 

The Dardanelles is a narrow strait connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara, located in north-western Turkey. It is situated on the maritime route between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, making it a strategic transport route since ancient times. A brand-new bridge spans the Dardanelles to connect the two shores (expensive but practical), or you can take a ferry to cross the strait.

 

The Dardanelles Strait was the scene of many historical battles, especially during World War I, where it was the site of a significant military campaign. Allied forces, mainly composed of British, French, Australian, and New Zealand troops, attempted to seize the Gallipoli Peninsula, located on the north shore of the strait. However, despite months of fierce fighting, the Allied forces ultimately failed and were forced to withdraw.

 

Here are some of the most interesting places to visit on the Gallipoli Peninsula:

  • Gallipoli Peninsula is famous for its spectacular beaches, including Anzac Cove, Brighton Beach, Beach Cemetery, Hell Spit Beach, V Beach, and W Beach.

  • Kilitbahir Castle: Located on the Asian side of the Dardanelles Strait, this castle was built by the Ottomans in the 15th century to protect the north shore of the strait.

 

After the visit, head to Gokceada Island. In the evening, take the ferry with your car.

 

Check-in at the hotel.

 

Day 5 : Gokceada - Relaxation and Beach

The largest island in Turkey is a relaxed fishing village once mainly inhabited by Greeks. One of the best places to truly enjoy this particularly relaxed island atmosphere, Gökçeada is full of beautiful beaches, stone houses, and historic churches.

 

Visit the castle atop a hill that offers a panoramic view of the island and the sea, the Greek Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas, the villages of Zeytinlikoy, Ugurlu, and Tepekoy with cobbled streets, traditional houses, and windmills.

 

Don't forget to taste the local cuisine, often based on fresh and local products. Gokceada is also renowned for its olive oil, cheeses, and seafood. Take advantage of your stay on this beautiful island!

 

Here is the opportunity to try diving! With its pristine and untouched nature, Gökçeada benefits from an underwater national park. This area has entrances to underwater caves and serves as a habitat for many marine creatures, including the Mediterranean monk seal. There are rich fish grounds around the island as it is on the passage of marine creatures between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

 

2nd night on Gokceada.

 

Day 6 : Troy Site and Cunda Island

Return by ferry and about 1 hour drive to reach the ancient site of Troy.

 

The Troy site is now an archaeological park containing the ruins of the ancient city, including the walls of the citadel, the theater, public baths, and temples. Visitors can also see a reconstruction of the famous Trojan Horse, which was used by the Greeks to enter the city and conquer it.

 

The Troy site is a fascinating place for history and archaeology enthusiasts, offering a glimpse into daily life in ancient Troy as well as the legendary events of the Iliad epic. Don't miss the beautiful new museum.

 

Continue your journey for 2.5 hours to reach Cunda Island.

 

Cunda is a natural and historical site. Many churches and monasteries of the Greek Orthodox community remain from before the population exchange.

 

Visit the Panaya Church and the Taksiyarhis Church or the Monastery of Çamlı/Taksiyarhis Ta Çamya, accessible in half an hour on foot from the center of the island and following the road to the left of Ekşi Çeşme on the road to Patriça.

 

Check-in at the hotel. Overnight stay with breakfast.

 

 

Day 7 : Pergamon, City of Knowledge, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Depart for Pergamon - 1.5 hours drive.

 

The city of knowledge, primarily in medicine and the arts, whose library rivaled that of Alexandria. One of the most beautiful achievements is the Amphitheater, with incredible acoustics. Entering Pergamon, you will also enter one of the 7 churches mentioned in the book of Revelation.

At the end of the visit, drive to Selçuk, near the Ephesus site, about 2 hours drive.

 

Day 8 : EPHESUS, Jewel of the Greco-Roman World

Visit the stunning ancient city of Ephesus, located 3 km from Selçuk—the commercial, religious, and social center of the ancient world. You will see the Library of Celsus, the Gate of Augustus, and the impressive ancient amphitheater that could hold up to 25,000 people. You will love the Terrace Houses, a fabulous extra (additional entrance fee, but worth it).

Finally, visit Sirince, a former Greek village known for its fruit wines and olive oil.

If you have time, Selçuk also has a beautiful museum displaying objects and statues found during the excavations of the Ephesus site. Also, visit the ruins of St. John's Cathedral. Overnight with breakfast.

Day 9 : Departure

Return the car to Izmir airport, a 45-minute drive, for your return flight.

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