Day 1: Istanbul - Ephesus - Şirince - Kusadasi (L, D)
After an early morning pickup from your central Istanbul hotel, travel by air-conditioned coach to Istanbul airport for your roughly 45-minute flight to Izmir. On arrival, drive to Ephesus, one of the Mediterranean’s best preserved ancient cities.
After about an hour on the road, arrive at Ephesus and enjoy an approximate 2-hour tour of the spectacular ruins. As you stroll the marble-paved streets, listen spellbound as your guide tells the history of the city, once the Roman capital of Asia Minor and home to up to 50,000 people.
See highlights such as the Temple of Hadrian Library of Celsus and Grand Theatre, and step along the Arcadian Way where Cleopatra and Mark Anthony rode in procession in 31 BC. Stroll past age-old shops, houses and see the Roman baths where Ephesians came to relax and socialize.
View the nearby Temple of Artemis, once one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and after a buffet or 3-course Turkish lunch at a local restaurant, visit the House of the Virgin Mary, a stone house built where Mary may have spent her last years.
Lastly, enjoy free time to stroll around the formerly Greek vllage of Şirince, known for its fruit wines. Delve into the cobbled streets lined with craft shops and stalls, and perhaps sample some of the delicious wines. Afterward, travel to your accommodation in Kusadasi and enjoy dinner at your hotel and the evening at leisure.
Overnight: 4-star Ilayda Avantgarde hotel or similar in Kusadasi
Day 2: Kusadasi - Pamukkale – Istanbul (B) or Kusadasi (B)
Leave your hotel after breakfast and after a brief stop at a leather crafts center, continue by coach to Pamukkale, whose name translates as "Cotton Castle" in Turkish. This UNESCO-listed natural wonder consists of a snow-white cliffside of frozen waterfalls and basins, formed when hot springs cascading down the slopes deposited calcium carbonate and hardened into white travertine rock. After admiring the terraces, head to the plateau above Pamukkale to witness the ruins of the city of Hierapolis.
As you explore the site, hear from a guide how it was once a thriving Greco-Roman spa city, where people came to enjoy the hot springs. See the main street, theater and necropolis, and then, if you wish, bathe in Cleopatra’s Pool (own expense) — a hot springs pool strewn with Roman columns.
Your 2-day tour concludes upon arrival back to the hotel. Alternatively, if you’ve selected the 3-day tour, return to your Kusadasi hotel to enjoy evening at your leisure.
Overnight if option selected: 4-star Ilayda Avantgarde hotel or similar in Kusadasi
Optional Day 3: Kusadasi (B)
Check out of your hotel after breakfast. Your tour ends in Kusadasi airport.