Ankara: Ankara is the capital and second largest city after Istanbul. The oldest settlements in and around the heart of the city date from the Bronze Age. It grew significantly under the Phrygians starting around 1000 BC. The city center sits on a rocky hill, 150 meters/492 feet above the plain. The hill is crowned with the ruins of the old castle. A few historic structures survived around the citadel. Finely preserved ruins of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine architecture dot the area. The most notable is the Temple of Augustus and Rome, dating from 25 BC-20 BC.
Antalya: Antalya is the largest city on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, and one of the hubs of the Turkish Riviera. Established in 150 BC as Attalia, it has attracted travelers for centuries, including Paul the Apostle. It became a multicultural community of Muslims, Christians and Jews. Nearby are the ruins of Phaselis.
Bodrum: Bodrum has witnessed 3,000 years of history and shows traces of its past everywhere. It is also known for its climate, beautiful sea views, natural beauty and active nightlife. In antiquity, it was known as Halircarnasus, and has been under the influence of many past empires such as Persian, Dorian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Today it is a sailing and vacation destination for those who enjoy the combination of history and amenities offered by resorts. Its cultural events include Ballet Festival in August, and concerts at the Castle or the 2,000-year-old amphitheater.
Cappadocia: This is an intriguing region of eccentric rock formations, subterranean churches and underground cities. Over millennia, flood waters and wind eroded the land creating fanciful geological creations called fairy chimneys. During the Roman era, Christians sought refuge here. The Open Air Museum of Goreme is a monastic underground complex composed of scores of monasteries placed side-by-side, each with its own church. Most of the churches here belong to the tenth, 11th and 12th centuries. The underground city of Kaymaklı encompasses prehistoric troglodyte cave-cities that were excavated as early as the Hittite era in the 14th century BC. They were expanded over the centuries and encompass 36 underground cities.
Eastern Turkey: The region encompasses Gaziantep, Kahta, Nemrut, Urfa, Mardin, Van, Kars, Erzurum and Trabzon. Less developed than other areas of the country, it is sprinkled with small villages and farms that still use centuries-old farming techniques. Mount Ararat is the legendary final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Kaçkar Range north of Erzurum is excellent for trekking, river rafting and for exploring 1,000-year-old churches from the medieval Kingdom of Georgia. Lake Van’s is highly alkaline and surrounded by historic towns. The archaeological site of Çavustepe, dating back almost 3,000 years ago, is nearby. Mt. Nimrod is an artificial mountain framed by two great temples with colossal statues of gods.
Ephesus: From the first century BC, this was one of the great cities of the Greeks in Asia Minor. It was site of the fabled Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world as well as the Celsus Library, Temple of Hadrian and one of the largest ancient theaters in the world. This was a city of intellectual achievements, wealth and splendor. The Ephesus Museum is worth exploring as is Ayios Ionnades Prodomos Church. It is a sacred site for Christians because of its association with several biblical figures, including St. Paul, St. John the Evangelist and the Virgin Mary. The Vatican has recognized a small house in the Solmissos Mountains as the final resting place of the Virgin Mary. The 25,000-seat theater is where St. Paul is said to have preached to the Ephesians.
Gulet Cruise: Made in Turkey, these graceful, two-mast wooden schooners were long used for transport and fishing along the southern coasts of Turkey. Options include swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking, as well as expeditions onshore. Gulet cruises typically involve a leisurely journey along the coast for about three hours a day on most itineraries, generally by motor, but under glorious sail when time and weather permits!
Istanbul: Originally called Byzantium, the city was renamed Constantinople in the fourth century, and made the capital of the Byzantine Empire. This city is a mesmerizing mix of ethereal minarets, massive mosque domes and modern life from high-rise buildings to cell phones. The old part of Sultanahmen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and takes in the 2nd-century Roman Hippodrome. Hagia Sophia was an Orthodox basilica, later a mosque, and is now a museum. Famous for its massive dome, this is the epitome of Byzantine architecture and was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly 1,000 years. The captivating Basilica Cistern is thought to have been built in the mid-sixth century. The 17th-century Blue Mosque is one of Istanbul’s most prominent landmarks. Topkapi Palace on the acropolis commands an impressive view of the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The Grand Bazaar, a 540-year-old market, spreads along 64 streets.
Izmir & Sirince: On the Aegean Coast in western Turkey, Izmir is an important port and trade center set around a bay and surrounded by mountains. It features thermal spas and sandy beaches. The ancient city of Smyrna is a modern, commercial center with broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers that blend with traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th-century market, and old mosques and churches. Sirince is a small village famous for its wine and houses.
Konya: In central Anatolia, Konya is known as the city of the famous whirling dervishes and for its outstanding Seljuk architecture. Despite rapid growth in recent years, the city retains the air of an Anatolian provincial town.
Best Times to Travel to Turkey
Suggested Botswana Tour Itinerary
Day 1: Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul is the chief commercial and cultural city of Turkey.
Day 2: Istanbul
The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Hippodrome, Egyptian Obelisk and iconic Hagia Sophia.
Day 3: Istanbul
The Bosphorus connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, dividing Istanbul into two continents.
Day 4: Istanbul / Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s alien landscapes conceal entire underground cities, cave churches
and houses carved in rock.
Day 5: Cappadocia
Few experiences match a day that begins with a sunrise hot air balloon sail above the land of fairy chimneys.
Day 6: Cappadocia / Izmir / Sirince
Izmir is a modern city with outstanding archaeological treasures. Sirince is famous for wines and houses.
Day 7: Sirince / Ephesus
Ephesus was the site of the mythic Temple of Artemis and the Temple of Hadrian.
Day 8: Sirince / Izmir / Istanbul / Depart
Ankara (2 days)
This ancient city that has seen the passing of Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
Antalya (2 days)
It is at the center of a region with beautiful beaches, verdant mountains and a staggering number of ruins.
Bodrum (2 days)
This is for those who enjoy both history and the amenities of resorts, fine shops and restaurants.
Eastern Turkey (6-7 days)
Eastern Turkey offers trekking and river rafting as well as 1,000-year-old churches to explore.
Gulet Cruise (7-14 days)
Discover the spectacular coastline of Turkey from the deck of a private, luxury wooden sailing vessel.
Konya (2 days)
Konya is known as the city of the famous whirling dervishes and for its outstanding Seljuk architecture.
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Approx. $400 - $1,500 per day.