Pre & Post Cruise Packages

Please click on the below regions for details.
Istanbul and Thracian Turkey
Cappadocia and Central Turkey
Lake Van and Eastern Turkey
Biblical Harran and Southeastern Turkey
Trabzon and Eastern Black Sea
Ephesus and Aegean Turkey
Antalya and Mediterranean Coast

Istanbul and Thracian Turkey

Istanbul is one of the most fascinating cities in the world as a living history and a bridge between two continents. Not only it served as the capital of the two longest lasting empires of history; Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires, but also was the capital of the two major religions; Christianity and Islam. It is one of the greatest metropolises of the world packed with remnants of its long and glorious past. The "Historic Areas of Istanbul" were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985 and the city was chosen as joint European Capital of Culture for 2010. Along with the most well known monuments for the first timers such as Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and Grand Bazaar which are located in or near the Old City district of Sultanahmet, there are hundreds of other attractions throughout the city. You can enjoy visiting the Byzantine Underground Cistern, Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeological Museum, Suleymaniye Mosque Complex, Dolmabahce Palace, Beylerbeyi Palace, the stunning mosaics of Chora Church, Spice Bazaar, Bosphorus cruise, many other churches, synagogues, walking in Pera or Balat districts and many more. The European part of Turkey beyond Istanbul connecting Turkey to Greece, and Bulgaria is known as Thrace and unlike the drier regions of Turkey to the East, Thrace is a green land, with small hills, fertile agricultural land, endless sunflower fields and and many beautiful vineyards where you can taste Turkey’s Thracian wine. The most beautiful city before the border is Edirne, which served as the capital city of the Ottomans until the conquest of Constantinople. There are many reasons to visit this old city renowned for its many important mosques, including the Selimiye Mosque built by Sinan the Architect, the Old Mosque and Burmali Mosque. Edirne has many historic bazaars and also famous for its delicious cuisine, which reflects Turkish and Balkan kitchens. Southwest of Istanbul is the famous Gallipoli Peninsula which stretches out into the Aegean Sea and sits right across the city of Canakkale. It witnessed one of the most tragic battles of the entire history where half a million innocents lost their lives. Visiting the battlefields, graveyards and monuments located on the Gallipoli Peninsula is a truly moving experience for everyone. South of the Sea of Marmara, is Bursa, the second capital of the Ottoman Empire which is also known as “green Bursa” due to its parks and gardens. It is also famous for its peaches, chestnuts, and silk industry. The mausoleums of the early Ottoman sultans are located in Bursa and the city's main landmarks include numerous edifices built throughout the Ottoman period. Bursa also has thermal baths and several museums, including a museum of archaeology.

Cappadocia and Central Turkey

The central Anatolia plateau forms the heartland of Turkey and is a well-known orogenic plateau bounded by mountain chains. This volcanic province of Turkey, namely Cappadocia where rivers, strong wind and rain have shaped the area's soft volcanic rock into one of the most impressive structures of the earth’s ignimbritic landscape, is home to some of the oldest human settlements of the world. Since the carving of those volcanic deposits and sediments is relatively easy, this region hosts numerous underground cities for protection, early Christian churches and monasteries, man-made caves and all sort of dwellings for survival since the Late Bronze Age. The small towns of Goreme, Uchisar, Urgup, Soganli and Ortahisar are the most famous towns to explore this fascinating landscape. Southwest of Cappadocia is the Biblical city of Iconium known as Konya today which became the capital of the Seljuk Turkish Empire and is home to the tomb and museum of Rumi who is the founder of the whirling dervishes. This city is packed with the finest Seljuk art and architecture and houses the most exquisite collection of early Anatolian tiles. Located near Konya is Catalhoyuk, the oldest and largest site of the Neolithic era, which is extremely important to the beginning of art. Catalhoyuk is unique as an evidence of the evolution of prehistoric social organization and cultural practices, reflecting one of man’s most important transformations to sedentary life and agriculture. It is also a site where we see art, both painting and sculpture, appear to play a newly role in the lives of settled people and in their religious practices. To the north of Cappadocia is Ankara, the capital city of modern Turkey, which is the second largest city after Istanbul. It has one of the best archaeological museums of the whole country known as the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Not only you can see the oldest and largest collection of the prehistoric finds brought from various sites of Turkey, but also the best collection of Hittite, Lydian, Phyrigian, Urartian art including the largest collection of cuneiform tablets of the Bronze Age. You can also visit the impressive Mausoleum of the founder of Modern Turkey, Ataturk who is one of the greatest leaders of the 20th C.

Lake Van and Eastern Turkey

Vast and unknown to most travellers, the dramatic scenery, wild landscape and stirring history of Eastern Turkey excites and inspires each and every individual who travels into the heart of an extraordinary range of historic and contemporary cultures. Bordered with Georgia, Armenia and Iran and located on a historical gateway between central Anatolia and Trans Caucasus, each urban center in this region tells a different story and is packed with historical and architectural wonders.

Located on the shores of the largest lake in Turkey, the city of Van is home for Urartian Civilization and is the economic hub of eastern Turkey. It is also referred as “the pearl of the East” and known for its stunning natural beauty and rich history. Van is the ancient Urartian city of Tushpa whose impressive fortress rises on a cliff just above the lake in a good state of preservation. Along with the old Urartian castle, Cavustepe is another site where the Urartian king built a temple for himself . Another “must-see” site is the best preserved and the most sophisticated Armenian Church of the Holy Cross located on a small island which can be reached by a 30 minutes boat ride. The site was once the site of a palace with beautiful gardens and a church whose walls are thickly embossed with Biblical stories. Although the palace and the gardens disappeared, the Church of Akdamar stands in perfect condition and surprises its visitors.

You can also extend your stay and drive to Dogubeyazit and Kars in the north, which are worth seeing and offers unforgettable experiences. Dogubeyazit is a small town located at the bottom of a steep hill and is home to 18th C palace known as Ishakpasha Palace with its distinct architecture and breathtaking scenery. It is also here in Dogubeyazit where the Biblical and historical Mt. Ararat is located with its snow-covered peaks.

Further north, located both on the Georgian - Armenian border, the city of Kars which has a turbulent history and looks more Russian with its well organized grid plan, has a mix of influences of the Caucasus cultures. Kars is the setting of Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Prize winning book of “Snow”. Kars is also the main base for visiting the Unesco listed ruins of Ani which served as an important stopping point on the original Silk Road before it was abandoned and known as “The City of 1,001 Churches”. Ani was a cultural hub and a regional power for many centuries and looks like a ghost city on a remote high plateau.

Harran and Southeastern Turkey

Two of the world’s noblest rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, rise in Eastern Anatolia, and flows south into a vast plain known as the ‘Fertile Crescent’. These two legendary rivers shaped the rise and fall of cultures and civilizations and played a vital role throughout the entire history of men in the whole region.

Bordered with Syria and Iraq and unlike most of Eastern Turkey, this region of Turkey is mostly flat, hotter and drier than the rest of the whole country and is the most ‘Middle Eastern” part of Turkey. Today, most of the region is dominated by a series of huge dams and thousands of miles long irrigation canals to turn barren flatlands into a fertile agricultural land.

One of the highlights of the region is the famous sanctuary at the top of Mount Nemrut Built by King Antiochos I of Commagene , which is considered as one of the greatest engineering achievements of all times. It is a Unesco registered unique cult site with a fascinating beauty of monumental sculptures in a breath-taking setting.

The most important of all the urban centers in Southeastern Turkey is the Biblical city of Urfa and Harran which is known as the birthplace of Prophet Abraham and is home to Gobeklitepe, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of all times. The sacred cave, which is believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham, is now surrounded by a mosque complex, sacred pool and canals and attracts many pilgrims. High above the sacred cave is the ancient citadel of Urfa, which overlooks the whole modern city. Urfa is also famous for its authentic historical bazaars, which has a very middle-eastern flavor and is a recommended experience.

The newly discovered site of Gobeklitepe lies just about 10 miles away from city center and is accepted as the oldest temple of the world whose history dates back to 10.000 BC. Gobeklitepe with its giant T shaped stone pillars, circular temples and carvings predates any known shrine or temple in modern history and forces us to re-define the beginnings of civilizations. A must see place that one should not miss.

Another interesting site, not far from Urfa is Harran, which is located in the heart of the ancient trade route between Mesopotamia and the western regions of Canaan. Harran is best known as the city where Prophet Abraham and his family settled for a time when they left the city of Ur. Although not much left from its Biblical glorious past, it is worth seeing the beehive shaped mud houses, which are still used by local people, and the ancient ruins from its Roman past including fairly well preserved inner castle.

To the west of Urfa, there are two more famous cities; Diyarbakir and Gaziantep, each with a distinct character. Diyarbakir is located on the upper Tigris River Basin, which was once part of Mesopotamia and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site with its fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape. Diyarbakir and the landscape around has been an important center since the Hellenistic times and surrounded by a 5.8 km long city walls with numerous towers, gates and inscriptions. The atmosphere in the city is breathtaking which reflects more of a medieval town packed with one of the oldest mosques in Turkey, churches, bazaars, beautiful stone carvings and arches.

Gaziantep is well known for its long gastronomic history and is known as the pistachio and baklava capital of Turkey. Antep baklava is generally considered, as the best in the world and gastronomy is the main driving force of the local economy. The mosaic museum of Gaziantep is one of the largest in the world and houses an incredible amount of floor and wall mosaics including the famous gypsy girl mosaic discovered in the ancient Roman villas of the ancient city of Zeugma.

Mardin is one of the most distinctive cities in Turkey with a mystical flavor located just north of the border with Syria and known for its fascinating architecture consisting of heavily decorated stonework. The city has preserved its architectural and cultural past and is a melting pot of religions and cultures. It is the home of Syriacs who speaks a Semitic language directly related to the native tongue of Jesus Christ, Aramaic. Marding served as the capital of Turkic Artuqid Dynasty for almost three centuries and as always been the center of Syriac Orthodoxy, which resulted with the construction of many mosques, theological schools, churches and monasteries such as the Kasımiye Medrese, the Great Mosque, the Deyrulzafaran Monastery, the Mor Behnam Church and the ancient city of Dara.

Ephesus and Aegean Turkey

Starting from the fabled city of Troy in the north, all the way down to the southwest coast including the coastal town of Fethiye, the Turkish Aegean Coast has the highest concentration of Greco-Roman ancient cities, Classical temples, Biblical Sites, fig and olive orchards, fishing villages, thermal springs and many pleasant coastal resorts in Turkey. Driving down the coast from north to south, travelers first encounter the ancient site of Assos where Aristotle taught and offers stunning views of the Greek Island of Lesbos. Further south, at Pergamon, you can see the impressive ruins of the ancient Acropolis where the Altar of Zeus and the second largest library of the ancient world once stood. Pergamon was one of the greatest cities in the Hellenistic world and a famous center of sculpture, medicine and trade. Izmir is the third largest city in Turkey also known as ancient Smyrna. To the east of Izmir is Sardis where coinage was invented and famous as the capital of the Lydian Kingdom. The main spotlight on the Aegean coast is the famous city of Ephesus, which is unsurpassed as the best-preserved and most prosperous Greco-Roman city in Asia Minor. Further east, Aphrodisias is another fantastic ancient city known as the city of Aphrodite and famous as a center of fine sculpture, which was chosen by Emperor Augustus as a city to be his own. There are countless ancient sites such as Priene, Miletus, Didyma, Hierapolis, and resorts for relaxation in the region which includes, Cesme, Kusadasi, Bodrum, Marmaris. .For those who are interested in Biblical History, this part of Turkey is a heaven where all of the Seven Churches of Revelation is located and often visited by St. Paul.

Antalya and Mediterranean Coast

Turkey’s Mediterranean coast is nearly 1600 km long and is often called as “Turquoise Coast” with fine sandy beaches and countless classical sites scattered along the coast. The Taurus Mountains form a dramatic backdrop along the coast with a few river passes which formed very fertile alluvial plains att the bottom good for growing cotton and all sort of vegetables and fruits. The Mediterranean Coast of Turkey which stretches from the Antalya region to the Marmaris peninsula offers the typical Mediterranean climate with 300 days of sunshine a year and is home to Pamphilian, Cilician and Lycian civilizations. The coast is packed with dozens of deluxe resorts, golf courses, beaches, picturesque villages, national parks and many ancient sites Antalya is the largest city with a glorious past and is generally accepted as the pearl of the whole coast. It is the most convenient base for visiting the most important Greco-Roman sites on the coast, which includes the famous sites of Side, Perge, Aspendos and Termessos with a dramatic setting and located in a National park. Antalya also has the largest and richest archaeological museum packed with finds brought from the nearby ancient ruins. If you travel to the west of Antalya, you can easily reach Myra to eye witness the rock-cut churches of Lycia and the Church of St. Nicholas. You can also take a traditional Turkish boat to visit the submerged ruins of Kekova and Simena.

Trabzon and Eastern Black sea

The legendary voyage of Jason and Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece to the lands of ancient Colchis is a well-known story, which marks the beginnings of a dramatic change in the history of the Black Sea and paved the road to the founding of many coastal cities in the following centuries mostly by Greek colonists from the Aegean.Eastern Black Sea Coast of Turkey is a historic region filled with the legacies of civilisations and tales of Amazon warriors, churches, monasteries, empires, mosques and mountain pastures of Lazis. With a subtropical climate, it is also home to many species of endemic plants and flowers. The most important historical city in the Eastern Black Sea Coast is Trabzon which was the capital of the medieval Empire of Trepizond. Trabzon is also the cultural capital of the Eastern Black Sea region of Turkey where you will feel the medieval air of its heritage and is packed with many ancient monuments and museums. One of the most important attractions is the Sumela Monastery located within a short distance to the city and has a breath-taking setting in one of Turkey’s best preserved National Parks. You can also visit many monuments in the city which includes the Church of St. Sophia, ancient city walls, local museums and bazaars. Those who wish to experience the richness and the beautiful nature of this region at its best should head for the Ayder Plateau and the Kaçkar Mountains to the east. The rushing rivers, the Fırtına and the Çoruh are ideal for canoeing and rafting, and the mountains themselves are popular for trekking.

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