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Tours

Turkey & Greece

Tour departs: 27 May 2021
Tour length: 33 Days

It is time to return to this very special region of Europe after a series of successful tours just a few years ago.

Overview

Tour Departs: 27 May 2021

Tour Length: 33 Days

Turkey has for centuries been seen as the bridge between East and West as it straddles both the European and Asian continents. Its history mirrors its geographical importance, from the Hittites to the Romans to the Ottomans, the evidence of the many different periods of history are to be seen everywhere. The diversity of its history is more than matched by the range of scenery and sights offered.

During our comprehensive tour of Turkey, we explore this diverse land. Savour the excitement of Istanbul, contemplate the carnage endured by our forebearers at Gallipoli, imagine the once thriving city of Ephesus as you walk down Curetes Way and ponder the other-worldly vistas of Cappadocia.

After the coach tour, embark on a 7-night cruise from Athens through the Greek Islands, unpack and relax aboard the “Celestyal Crystal”, a relatively small ship big on service. A wonderful way to end the tour.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Istanbul – one of the most exciting cities in the world. Visit the Blue Mosque, the magnificent Topkapi Palace, once residence of the Sultans, wonder at the feats of Roman engineering at the underground Basilica Cisterns; get lost in the Grand Bazaar
  • Gallipoli – a sombre yet now peaceful place so defining in our ANZAC history and just as important to the Turks
  • Ephesus – once the second largest city outside of Rome during the Roman occupation. Seeing the preserved buildings, walkways and amphitheatre and following in the footsteps of St Paul and St John will be a tour highlight
  • Pamukkale with its thermal pools and travertine terraces, Antalya, the coast resort where there is time to relax by the sea; Konya, home to the Whirling Dervishes
  • Cappadocia, a land of moonscapes, underground villages and churches built into the cliffs

 

CRUISE HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Enjoy the intimacy of small ship cruising in a club-like atmosphere
  • Special extras not normally found on the big ships include complimentary bottled water, soft drinks, specialty teas and coffees as well as a range of spirits, wines & beers
  • Ports of call include Mykonos, Santorini, Heraklion and Rhodes
  • Three shore excursions at Ephesus, Rhodes and Heraklion are included

 

Itinerary

Thursday 28 May
Home – Dubai
Late this afternoon, we report to the airport and join the overnight flight to Dubai.

Friday 29 May
Dubai
We arrive in Dubai early this morning and after clearing Customs and Immigration formalities, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two-night stay. There is time to rest up after the flight until mid-afternoon when we take a sightseeing tour of the city – a fascinating historical excursion which takes you to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque, past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakiya, see the old wind-towered houses built by wealthy merchants and the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. We continue our journey by abra (local water taxi) and as you cross the Creek, you see the modern metropolis with its splendid architecture, dwarfing the bustling alleys of our next destination – the gold and spice souks. Time to walk through the bustling alleys with the aromas of the numerous spices and dazzling jewellery before returning to the hotel early evening.

Saturday 30 May
Dubai (B,D)
This morning, we visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 160 stories high. We travel to the observation deck which will provide you with a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. Late in the afternoon we enjoy a desert safari as we join a four-wheel drive excursion over rolling dunes deep into the heart of the desert. Watch the sun cast its orange glow over the shimmering sand and enjoy dinner and entertainment under the stars in Bedu tents. Later in the evening, we return to our hotel.

Sunday 31 May
Dubai – Istanbul (D)
A morning transfer to the airport where we join the 5-hour flight to Istanbul. Welcome to Turkey! On arrival, we will be met by our local representative and transferred to our hotel for 2-nights. This evening we enjoy a welcome tour briefing, with a drink before we have our first dinner together.

Monday 01 June
Istanbul (B,D)
After breakfast in our hotel, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Istanbul which includes St. Sophia, the cathedral built by Emperor Justinian in 537 which was the largest church in Christendom for a thousand years, the Byzantine Hippodrome with its various monuments including a 3500- year-old red granite obelisk brought from Egypt and erected here in 390 AD. The Ottoman Empire produced marvellous architecture and you’ll see two of its finest works; Topkapi Palace, home of the sultans, and the famed Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I. After these visits, we’ll venture into the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar. To conclude this special day, we relax aboard a one-hour Bosphorus Cruise, before we make our way back to the hotel. Dinner is included tonight with a view of Istanbul by night.

Tuesday 02 June
Istanbul – Gallipoli – Canakkale (B,D)
Depart for Gallipoli, the site of many battles during WWI. Visit the WWI Open Museum, Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery, Johnston’s Jolly (Turkish and Allied Trenches and tunnels), The Nek and Chunuk Bair, before we cross the Dardanelles and continue on to Canakkale for a 2-night stay.

Wednesday 03 June
Canakkale (B,D)
We have a full day tour today, visiting the Helles Region, S-Beach, the Turkish Monument, V-Beach, Helles Monument, W-Beach, The Lancashire Landing Monument and Alçitepe Village. We return to the hotel for relaxation before we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Thursday 04 June
Canakkale – Kusadasi (B,D)
This morning we visit legendary Troy, a 5,000-year-old archaeological city where we see the reconstruction of the fabled Wooden Horse, modelled from the ancient Trojan War. Continuing south we visit the ancient city of Pergamum, one of Turkey’s oldest civilized settlements which has been inhabited from pre-historic times through the Ionic, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. It has yielded archaeological treasures whose importance is recognized worldwide. Continue to Kusadasi and arrive late in the afternoon. Dinner is included this evening at the hotel.

Friday 05 June
Kusadasi – Bodrum (B)
This morning is at leisure to relax or take the opportunity to explore Kusadasi in your own time. Later we will journey south to Bodrum where we will stay for 2-nights. Tonight, we will be taken to Palmarina Bodrum where there are many restaurant options, including outdoor dining. This newly developed marina caters for larger yachts and is a popular base for racing.

Saturday 06 June
Bodrum (B)
Today we explore Bodrum. Our first visit is to the Theatre (built during Greek and Roman times) here we see the amazing renovation of the Antique Theatre. Continue to the Mausoleum one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Then, we visit the Castle of Saint Peter which is now the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum and Laboratory. Here you can see fascinating underwater findings some of which are thousands of years old. We stop at Bodrum Castle, where there is an opportunity to sample locally produced wine. From here there is a stunning panoramic view from the top of the Castle of Saint Peter over the traditional whitewashed Bodrum houses. We return to the hotel at the conclusion of the tour.

Sunday 07 June
Bodrum – Pamukkale (B,D)
After breakfast, we depart Bodrum and drive to Pamukkale which is home to natural thermal spring waters with healing properties. Due to the chemical properties in the water, pure white coloured travertines and stepped water terraces have been created on the mountain slope. Its resemblance to cotton piles inspired the name, ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish. Later we visit the travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis which has the biggest Nekropol with 1200 gravestones in Anatolia. The sacred pool also is one of the highlights of the site. Its shallow thermal waters ripple over a wonderful scattering of ancient roman ruins that lie beneath. After the tour we check in to our hotel for a 2-night stay. Dinner is at the hotel this evening.

Monday 08 June
Pamukkale (B)
Today we visit the ancient city of Aphrodisias which is one of the most picturesque places in Turkey. Located in the upper valley of the Morsynus River, the site consists of two components; the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built one century later. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. The city streets are arranged around several large civic structures, which include temples, a theatre, an agora and two bath complexes. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Tuesday 09 June
Pamukkale – Fethiye (B,D)
Today we drive to Fethiye and visit Karakoy, named as Ghost Village because of its history. There are 3,500 old, damaged buildings in the village that is settled on a hill. It’s one of the most beautiful and the biggest open-air museum in the world. Walk through the mysterious streets of the town and continue to rock–cut tombs of the ancient kings. Here you have a chance to discover a different world. And not just this; you’ll journey for an hour and half amidst the forest and experience local village life. We overnight in Fethiye.

Wednesday 10 June
Fethiye – Myra – Antalya (B,D)
Today we will drive to Antalya, with a visit en route visit to Demre, which has the best examples of Lycian tombs at Myra and the Church of St. Nicholas, the saint referred to as Santa Claus. After lunch we sail to Kekova Island from which the sunken city Simena and a special Lycian Necropolis at Teimiussa will be viewed. We continue on to Antalya where we arrive late evening.

Thursday 11 June
Antalya (B)
We depart our hotel this morning and visit Perge, originally settled by the Hittites around 1500B.C. It is impressive with its colonnaded streets and is where most of the statues that are displayed in Antalya Museum, were unearthed. Later we drive to Aspendos which bears one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world. Finally, we visit Duden Waterfalls, the highest in the region. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Friday 12 June
Antalya – Konya – Cappadocia (B,D)
We have an early morning departure today as we drive through to Konya where we visit the mausoleum of the sufi philosopher Mevlana. Continue to Cappadocia where we will stay for 3-nights, visiting a 13th Century Caravanserai and the underground city of Saratli en route.

Saturday 13 June
Cappadocia (B,D)
Early Morning Optional: Hot Air Balloon tour – Experience floating through volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys and caves at sunrise.Today we visit Devrent Valley where various types of fairy chimneys are abundant. Walk through part of this amazing valley. Later we visit Pasabagi (Monk’s Valley) with multiple stems and caps, peculiar to this area. After visiting Pasabagi, we drive to Avanos which is known for the pottery, a craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay which is worked by local craftsmen comes from the residue in the Kizilirmak River, the longest river in Turkey. Continue to Goreme Open Air Museum to visit the churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the fairy chimneys from the 10th to the 13th centuries with frescos painted on the walls. Take some time to photograph the spectacular neighbouring valleys.

Sunday 14 June
Cappadocia (B,D)
This morning we depart the hotel and visit the Rose Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in Cappadocia, and explore the famous rock-cut churches. There is time to relax in Cavusin, an old Greek village, known for its Christian houses and churches. After lunch we visit Ortahısar Castle, similar to Uchisar Castle in style, where storage caves can also be observed. In the afternoon visit Kaymakli (or Ozkonak) Underground City where early Christians lived in fear and faith. On our return journey we visit Pigeon Valley where pigeons contributed to the lives of locals with their manure to fertilize the vineyards. This evening dinner is at a local restaurant.

Monday 15 June
Cappadocia – Istanbul – Athens (B,D)
After breakfast we travel to the airport for our flight from Kayseri to Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul, we connect to Athens. On arrival, we will be met and transferred to our centrally located hotel where we will stay for 2-nights. This evening a welcome drink and dinner is included at the hotel.

Tuesday 16 June
Athens (B)
This morning we explore Athens. Visits include the Acropolis and New Acropolis Museum. This afternoon is free to wander through Athens at your own pace. Our hotel is centrally located in the vibrant Plaka area – perfect for independent exploration.

Wednesday 17 June
Athens – Delphi (B,D)
This morning travel via Boeotia, Thebes, and Levadia, en route to Arachova. We arrive in Delphi nestled in the mountains of Parnassus with unforgettable views across acres of olive trees as far as the Gulf of Corinth. Delphi was the site of the famous Oracle whose advice was sought by states and individuals. Visit the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios, including the Treasury of the Athenians, Temple of Apollo, and the Museum. Dinner is included this evening at our hotel.

Thursday 18 June
Delphi – Kalambaka – Meteora (B,D)
A leisurely morning to appreciate more of Delphi’s breath-taking mountain views. Depart for Meteora for an interesting trip through the Central Greek towns of Amphissa, Lamia, and Trikala. Continue to Kalambaka, a small town situated at the foot of the astonishing complex of the gigantic stone pillars of Meteora. On arrival, we visit an ageless monastery which house exquisite specimens of Byzantine Art. Also visit the Byzantine inspired church of the Virgin Mary. We stay for 2-nights in this fascinating region.

Friday 19 June
Meteora (B)
Today we join a private food & wine tour and discover the wealth of mouth-watering local dishes. Take a morning stroll around the town of Kalambaka before we embark on a scenic drive through the villages around Meteora which are usually dotted by open-air fruit stands. Highlights of our tour will include a local mushroom tasting, wine and cheese tastings at a local estate, along with a sample of authentic Greek yoghurt served with local honey and walnuts.

Saturday 20 June
Meteora – Athens (Join Celestyal Cruise)(B,D)
Today we drive from Meteora to Athens. Later this afternoon, we board our floating home for the next 7-nights – the Celestyal Crystal, for our “Idyllic Aegean” cruise, showcasing some of the most enchanting Greek Island destinations. Our ship departs at 7.00pm.

Sunday 21 June
Kusadasi (B,L,D)
Included Excursion: Our Ancient Ephesus bus tour is a journey through the golden ages which shaped a pivotal center of commerce and spirituality. Built 3,000 years ago, Ephesus shaped the history of Greek, Turkish and Christian civilizations from its privileged location, chosen (according to legend) by the oracle of Delphi. A site of pilgrimage, due to its proximity to the Temple of Artemis (one of the 7 Wonders of the World) and the presence of major Christian figures (the apostles Paul and John and the Virgin Mary) within the city walls, Ephesus is currently one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. The splendour of its golden age is visible throughout its streets and exceptionally well-preserved ruins. As we explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site you will have the opportunity to breathe in the centuries of cultural effervescence, visible in the Ephesus Agora, Odeon, the Houses of the Patricians, the beautiful Temple of Hadrian and the astonishing Library of Celsus. You will also have the opportunity to bargain and shop local merchandise such as carpets, leather goods, souvenirs etc. Arrive 8.00am, Depart 7.00pm

Monday 22 June
Rhodes (B,L,D)
Included Excursion: Centuries of culture and layer upon layer of extraordinary civilizations await to be discovered during our coach tour through impressive Lindos and within the awe-inspiring structure of the Acropolis of Lindos. We will follow the footsteps of heroes as we walk along the Knight’s Street in the heart of historical Rhodes. The seven lodges of the Order, still bearing their original coats of arms, are displayed along the cobblestone street where Rhodes’ history was written for over two centuries. Sitting at the top of Knights Street, the Grand Master’s Palace is well worth its name. You will be awed by the fort’s imposing Gothic architecture and strength displayed throughout its court structures, as you get a glimpse into the fascinating era of the Knights. We will end our tour of historical Rhodes with free time so that you may fortify your memories of Rhodes at your own pace. Arrive 8.00am, Depart 6.00pm

Tuesday 23 June
Santorini (B,L,D)
Arrive Santorini at 7.00am. Sprinkled like sugar over sheer, black volcanic cliffs, Santorini’s whitewashed capital, Fira, is a sight to behold. Wander the narrow streets or venture along the clifftop to pretty Oia for that iconic shot of the blue domed church. Our ship will spend the evening in port, so take a ringside seat in a clifftop bar to watch the fiery sunset.

Wednesday 24 June
Santorini – Heraklion (B,L,D)
We depart Santorini at 2.30am sailing through to Heraklion and arriving at 8.00am.
Included Excursion: As we venture into the incredible open-air museum of the Palace of Knossos, our bus tour will take you along the proud Venetian heritage of Heraklion – the Koules Fortress (the stronghold overlooking the Heraklion harbour), the Venetian Loggia (the 17th century administrative and social center), the harmonious Morozini fountain and the 10th century Church of St. Titus. As you explore the Palace of Knossos, considered Europe’s oldest city, you are entering and experiencing the incredible world of the legendary Minoan civilization. The long and winding roads of Crete’s ancient city gradually expose the remarkable art, architecture and daily life of the Minoan people. Breathe in the millennia of history and imagine the legends of Daedalus, Theseus and the Minotaur come to life in the remarkable Hall of the Royal Guard and the Double Axes, the King’s Chamber or the Queen’s Apartment. Enjoy free time to savour the beauty and uniqueness of Crete’s largest city (and the fourth largest in Greece). The city is brimming with an assortment of museums that satisfy every taste- entre, full of busy cafes and elegant shops or retrace the steps of its Venetian rulers at the impressive fortified port, the vast arches and the arsenals. Depart 11.59pm.

Thursday 25 June
Milos – Mykonos (B,L,D)
We arrive in Milos at 8.30am this morning. Volcanic Milos shows off classic Cycladic beauty; the pretty whitewashed capital, Plaka, spilling over a hilltop, the coastline fringed with wind and sea sculpted rock formations, soft sandy beaches and aquamarine coves. Bask on the flat rocks of stunning Sarakiniko Beach or explore 2,000-year-old catacombs. We depart at 1.30pm and continue on to Mykonos, arriving at 7.00pm.

Friday 26 June
Mykonos (B,L,D)
A cosmopolitan paradise that attracts many tourists each year, Mykonos Town is the archetypal image of the Cyclades, with immaculate whitewashed houses, windmills and winding alleys. Explore the sandy beaches or wander through the ancient temples on neighbouring Delos. Depart 6.00pm

Saturday 27 June
Disembark Athens – Dubai (B,L)
We dock at 9.00am this morning and following disembarkation, we will be met by our coach and transferred into the city where we will take part in a cooking class. Starting with a trip to the local food market where you’ll learn all about the fantastic produce in Greece you’ll pick up tips on where to buy gifts and eat as well as how to shop like a local (so you won’t end up with 20 kilos of olives…) before returning to The Greek Kitchen for your class. At the end of the lesson you and your fellow cooks will gather at the table to enjoy your meal. We will be transferred to Athens Airport later this afternoon, in time to join the early evening flight to Dubai. Arrival time in Dubai is late evening and overnight accommodation is reserved at the airport.

Sunday 28 June
Dubai – Home (B)
Time for the last leg of our journey on our flight home.

Monday 29 June
Arrive Auckland early afternoon.

Map

“We have travelled with Maher Tours many times and always enjoyed the variation and contract each tour brings. Accommodation is excellent and in well appointed areas. The luxury coaches are very comfortable.

Every tour we meet new travelling friends who are great company and lots of fun. The experienced tour leader gives you the reassurance of safe travelling and take the worry out of ‘touring timetables’ we enjoy travelling with Maher Tours and look forward to our next adventure.”
– Mark and Joan Wilson

“There were more than a few highlights. A lovely evening on our 50th wedding anniversary, thanks for the drinks. Especially enjoyed Bosnia-Herzegovina, Slovenia, Split and Hvar, and Lake Ohrid.”
– C&R B

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