Western Turkey Tour
Tour Western Turkey: Ankara, Cappadocia, Sagalassos, Assos, Istanbul and nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites
with Professor Jennifer Tobin
May 27 – June 12, 2023
Why Take the Far Horizons Tour to Turkey?
- Private tour of Ephesus by a member of the archaeological project
- Private tour of Troy by a member of the archaeological project
- Private tour of Perge by the Director of Excavations
- Private tour of Arykanda by the Director of Excavations
- Private tour of Çatalhöyük by a member of the archaeological project
- Private tour and dinner with the excavators at Hattusa
- Private cruise up the Bosphorus
- Visit 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Visit the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
- Limited to a maximum of 14 participants
(click to enlarge)
Turkey Tour Daily Itinerary
Day 1: Depart the USA.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul. Istanbul Historic District.
Day 3: Istanbul, Bosphorus cruise.
Day 4: Fly to Ankara. The Anatolian Museum. Alaca Hüyük.
Day 5: Hattusas.
Day 6: Cappadoccia tour.
Day 7: Sultan Han. Çatalhöyük. Mevlana’s Tomb in Konya.
Day 8: Sagalassos. Burdur Museum.
Day 9: Perge. Aspendos. Antalya Archaeological Museum.
Day 10: Myra. Demre. Patara.
Day 11: Xanthos. Boat to Kaunos.
Day 12: Aphrodisias.
Day 13: Ephesus.
Day 14: Pergamum.
Day 15: Assos. Troy.
Day 16: Ferry across the Dardanelles Straits. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Day 17: Depart for USA.
Far Horizons offers 14 participants only an extraordinary 17-day archaeological sojourn that includes nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Experience a multitude of highlights: revel in a barbeque and beer dinner onsite with the archaeological crew of Hattusa; enjoy an evening cruise up the Bosphorus by private vessel; view outstanding museum collections in Ankara, Burdur, Antalya, and Ephesus; and enjoy specially arranged private tours with archaeologists at several archaeological sites including four of the most important excavations in the eastern Mediterranean – Hattusa, Çatalhöyük, Ephesus, and Troy.
Our limited group size allows for overnights in unique boutique hotels, dinners in upscale restaurants serving traditional Ottoman cuisine, and intimate discussions onsite with our study leader.
From Ankara to Cappadocia, Çatalhöyük to Sagalassos, Ephesus to Pergamum, Assos to Istanbul, this exciting expedition reveals the texture and hue of Turkey’s history. This truly unique journey is sure to resonate with the discerning traveler for years to come.
“The itinerary, tour guides and leaders, together with the fabulous Turkish cuisine and extraordinary fellow travelers made this an unforgettable trip – one which will be held dear for a lifetime.” – Beth and Dave Dudley
“Another great trip! Bravo!!! Thanks for contributing to my traveling pleasures.” – Ann Meschery
“One of the greatest travel adventures we have had. Maybe it was that rainy, mysterious visit to Sagalassos, or the glorious, quiet (!) day in Ephesus, or having tea with the caretaker in the twilight at the excavation building in Patara, or our first, wonderful vision of the glories of Istanbul, or descending the hill from Pergamum, or bumping the other balloon over Cappodocia, or gazing at the astoundingly ancient inscribed stones at Yazilikaya, or just learning how to pronounce Egirdir, but this was a highlight of our travel lives.”– Joseph Lambert
Jennifer Tobin received her BA in Classical Studies from Stanford University and her PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. From 1992-97, she was Assistant Professor at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. She is now Professor Emerita of History and Classics, University of Illinois, Chicago. Professor Tobin has worked on archaeological projects in Israel, Turkey, Jordan, and Greece. She speaks Modern Greek, German, French, Italian and Turkish, and has published widely on everything from Roman architecture in Syria to Alexander the Great. Her books include Black Cilicia: A Study of the Plain of Issus during the Roman and Late Roman Periods and Herodes Attikos and the City of Athens. She has been a featured teacher for The Modern Scholar series – Learn Out Loud, recorded not-for-credit lecture courses taught by university professors, including the Glory that was Greece and The Grandeur that was Rome. Twice a recipient of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Silver Circle Teaching Award, Professor Tobin’s enthusiasm, marvelous teaching skills, and appreciation of the people and archaeology of the Mediterranean World is infectious.
“Her explanations and hand-outs were excellent and she was always ready to discuss various topics and answer questions. In spite of being a ‘Roman’ expert, she knew a lot about every other culture and site we visited. Always patient, never seemed stressed. We would travel with her as a study leader any time.” – Suzy & Bill Fletcher
“Jennifer tabulated 23 different civilizations we saw evidence for on the trip. In just two weeks! Jennifer is the best—knowledgeable, sharing, open to questions, well prepared, and just a very nice person.” – Don Swanson
“Professor Tobin was excellent. Well prepared, great handouts for later reference, expansive and gracious with all our questions. Her experience in the region was useful on many fronts and I would like to travel with her again.” – Daniel Massey
(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner
Day 1: Depart the USA on the flight to Istanbul.
Day 2: Arrive Istanbul and transfer to the historic area of the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a light lunch, visit Aya Sofya, the first church of Christianity, begun in the 2nd century AD by Constantine the Great. One of the great buildings of the world, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople. In short, it was the center of the Byzantine Empire for almost a thousand years. Walk to the Hippodrome, scene of Byzantine chariot races, athletic events, victory celebrations and executions. Nearby, enter the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Housed within a 16th-century palace built by the brother-in-law of Sultan Suleyman, the museum contains the world’s richest collection of 13th to 20th century hand-knotted Turkish carpets and an ethnographic section depicting objects used in everyday Turkish life. Then it’s on to the Yeni Mosque. The mother of Sultan Mehmed III ordered its construction in the 16th century. Hence it was named Valide Sultan Mosque. The interior walls are adorned with stunning hand-crafted Iznik tiles in green, blue and white. Dinner is on our own tonight. Overnight for the next two nights in the Levni Hotel. Ideally located, it is within walking distance of the important sites within the Old City. Dinner is on our own. (L)
Day 3: Walk through Topkapi Sarai, built in 1468 as a summer palace for Mehmet the Conqueror. Within the estate are exquisite gardens, the council chambers of government, and the harem, the home of the sultan’s family. Nearby, Yerebatan Cistern is the largest and most magnificent covered cistern in Istanbul. Built in the 6th century in the reign of Justinian, it supplied water to the Byzantine Great Palace nearby. Visit The Church of St. Saviour in Chora Monastery, or Kariye Museum. When restored, a striking series of mosaics and vibrant frescoes which belong to the last great renaissance of Byzantine art were found within the interior of the building. The Istanbul 1453 Panorama Museum houses a panorama painting of the conquest of Constantinople. In the 17th and 18th centuries it became fashionable for high-ranking people of Istanbul to own a summer home on the shores of the Bosphorus, the sinuous straits separating Europe from Asia. These elegant wooden yalıs, as they are called, are extremely beautiful. This afternoon, we will travel by chartered boat up the Bosphorus to view these lovely villas and elegant marble palaces along the shore. We will leave the vessel to dine in one of the excellent seafood restaurants along the strait. (B/L/D)
Day 4: An early flight takes us to Ankara, the capital of the country. Here, we examine the extraordinary collection of artifacts in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The exhibits are housed within a splendidly restored 15th century covered bazaar. Displayed are frescoes from Çatalhüyük, grave offerings from Early Bronze Age burials at Alaca Hüyük, a unique and priceless collection of Hittite art, and discoveries from Gordion’s Midas Tomb. Located within the 7th century citadel above the city is one of the best surviving Byzantine forts. Our lunch restaurant is within its walls with dazzling views over the city. Later, move on to Yazilikaya, an open air rock shrine located where a spring of fresh water once flowed. The site has characteristics similar to other Anatolian spring-sanctuaries and may well have been a place of worship for hundreds or even thousands of years before the rise of Hittite power. The former importance of the shrine is shown by the incised Hittite gods marching across the cliff face. Continue to Boğazkale where members of the Hattusas archaeological project will host us at their dig house for a barbeque and beer dinner party. Overnight at the simple Asikoğlu Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 5: Four thousand years ago, the Hittite Empire stretched from the Black Sea to Syria. This morning, we join the project director for an insider’s view of the capital of the Hittites from 1600 to 1180 BC. Hattusa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a fortified city. And inside the walls was the residence of the great kings, the administrative seat as well as the principal cult center. One of the most important discoveries found here has been the royal archives of cuneiform clay tablets. When translated, they consisted of official correspondence and contracts, as well as legal codes, procedures for cult ceremony, oracular prophecies and literature of the ancient Near East. One particularly important tablet details the terms of a peace settlement between the Hittites and the Egyptians under Ramesses II, circa 1283 BC. A copy is on display in the United Nations in New York as an example of one of the earliest known international peace treaties. Move on to the Cappadocia region, noted for its Byzantine churches and monasteries carved out of the volcanic tuff. Spend the next two nights in the Upper Greek House, a beautifully restored 300 year old villa in the village of Mustafapasa. (B/L/D)
Day 6: Millions of years ago, a volcano near Cappadocia spewed out molten lava and dust. Since then, wind and weather have reshaped the soft rock, leaving an eye-catching landscape of cones and “fairy chimneys.” Early Christians carved churches and monasteries out of the volcanic tuft, many with colorful wall paintings still visible. They also dug huge underground cities where they could hide from their persecutors. Early this morning, float above this dramatic landscape on an optional balloon ride. Afterwards, our explorations take us to the rock-cut churches of Göreme Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, cliff faces are riddled with openings to houses and churches. In the underground city of Kaymaklı, walk through a maze of tunnels and rooms at least eight stories deep. In Mustafapaşa, walk down steps carved hundreds of years ago to see a church, Ayios Vasilios, still containing painted murals of St. Basil. Dinner this evening will be outside under the stars in one of one of Cappadocia’s gorgeous valleys. (B/L/D)
Day 7: Travel along ageless caravan trails with stops to examine an intricately carved 13th century caravansary built by Seljuk Turks as a rest stop for camel trains. Stop at Catalhöyük, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we meet with the excavation director. Undoubtedly this is the most important Neolithic site in Turkey. First discovered in 1958, this planned city is filled with mud-brick dwellings constructed along carefully laid-out plans. The inner walls of the houses were plastered and elaborately decorated with scenes of hunting and religious ceremonies. Continue to Konya, the center of the whirling dervish orders. Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi, later given the honorary title of Mevlâna (“our master”), was a beloved, 13th-century Sufi mystic. This Persian-language poet is renowned for his lyrics. As such, he deeply influenced early Muslim mystical thought and literature. The former monastery of the original whirling dervishes now houses Rumi’s tomb. Afterwards, we climb into the towering Taurus Mountains. Here, we gaze upon stunning terrain ranging from pastoral valleys to breathtaking snow-crested peaks. Overnight at the Fulya Hotel in Egidir for one night. (B/L/D)
Day 8: Once a humming Roman metropolis, monumental structures, colossal baths and a 9,000-seat theatre still proclaim the importance of Sagalassos. Markedly, this was the highest city in the Roman Empire. The Sagalassos Archaeological Project has made many remarkable discoveries recently. In particular, the finds include a colossal, 15-foot tall statue of the emperor Hadrian, a huge statue of Marcus Aurelius the longest surviving successor of Antoninus Pius, and an imperial statue of the empress Faustina. We will inspect many of these breathtaking treasures in the Burdur Museum that we visit this afternoon. Afterwards we will drive to Antalya, majestically situated atop 150-foot cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean coast. The award-winning renovations of the Old Port Section have recaptured the charm of the age-old Roman and Ottoman styles. Our hotel for the next two nights is in the Ruin Adalya Hotel. A series of beautifully restored 19th-century Ottoman mansions, the complex is located within the Roman walls encircling the ancient section of town. Dinner is on our own to discover one of Antalya’s fine dining establishments. (B/L)
Day 9: Our drive takes us to nearby Perge, one of the southern coast’s most remarkable ancient cities. Greek settlers journeyed to Perge following the Trojan War, and the ruins of a great theater, stadium, enormous Hellenistic and Roman gates, and a colonnaded street can be seen. Here, we meet with the director of excavations to learn about the latest archaeological finds. Continue to Aspendos, where almost ten miles of Roman aqueduct still stand. Also, we will walk through what is probably the finest Roman theater in the country, restored by Ataturk in 1932. This afternoon we return to Antalya and visit the Antalya Archaeological Museum to view its stunning collection of marble sculptures, many from Perge. Enjoy some free time this afternoon to explore the historic quarter of Antalya with dinner on our own. (B/L)
Day 10: We leave Antalya this morning and begin our journey along the coast. Heavily indented and full of isolated caves and islets, the terrain displays some of Lycia’s most rugged scenery. Hundreds of tombs dot the hills and valleys, and castles guard the sea channels. Our first stop is the rarely visited Arykanda, perched high in the Taurus Mountains to control ancient trade routes. Located on a series of terraces cascading down a pine-forested slope, it is one of the oldest Lycian cities. In short, it is truly impressive. Built of huge basaltic stone blocks, many of the monumental buildings still stand. The wealth of the city is particularly noted by its remnants of still visible intricate mosaic floors. Here, we meet with a member of the Arykanda archaeological staff who will give us a private tour of the site and its odeon, theater, stadium and immense Roman bath. We lunch on tasty fresh fish and salad at a mountainside trout farm. Continue along the coast road to the village of Kaş and the Villa Tamara Hotel, overlooking the sea and our home for one night. (B/L/D)
Day 11: Patara was the capital and port of the Lycian Federation after the 4th century BC. Turkish archaeologists have been excavating here for the past two decades, and they are restoring the city to its former grandeur. We continue on to Xanthos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, another capital city of the Lycian Federation and its greatest metropolis. Excavations show that the city dates back to the 8th century BC, but it is possible that the site may have existed during the Bronze Age. The history of the city is quite violent – the Xanthos people twice demonstrated their fierce independence. Markedly, they chose to commit mass suicide rather than submit to invading forces. After lunch, we enjoy a boat trip on the Dalyan River. Along the way, we stop to explore the ancient city of Kaunos. Continue to Geyre with dinner and overnight at Anatolia Boutique Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 12: Our destination is the ancient city of Aphrodisias. Dedicated to the goddess of love, it is a UNESO World Heritage Site. In recent years, breathtaking revelations made by an international team of archaeologists have excited worldwide interest. Ongoing research has brought to light the substantial remains of a theater, an odeum, temples, baths, streets and public squares, a building that may have been a bishop’s palace, and several Byzantine churches. Notably, monuments and statues of great beauty, many of Aphrodite herself, have been uncovered. Many of these sculptures are on exhibit in the site’s museum. After lunch, move on to Şirince and overnight for two nights in the boutique Gullu Konaklari Hotel, a charmingly restored Greek house. (B/L/D)
Day 13: We spend today in monumental Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. Dedicated to the virgin goddess of the chase, the Temple of Diana (Artemis), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, dominates the city. We will walk through the Church of Saint John, where St. John spoke. Likewise, stroll the streets in the classic Ephesus with its stunning 2nd century Library of Celsus. Along the way, we meet with a member of the archaeological staff for a private tour of the project’s excavations and restorations. Then it’s on to the nearby Selçuk Museum containing outstanding artifacts found in the nearby excavations. (B/L/D)
Day 14: Created by the heirs of Alexander, Pergamum was a Hellenistic city that rivaled Ephesus. This UNESCO World Heritage Site stands majestically on an acropolis rising precipitously to a height of nearly a thousand feet above the modern city of Bergama. Continue to Antandros where remains, including a huge bath complex, Roman cisterns, and an extensive necropolis, date back 2,500 years. The biggest attraction here is a wonderfully preserved Roman villa, festooned with stunning mosaic floors and colorful wall frescoes. Continue over a 14th century Ottoman bridge to Assos, a picturesque village clinging to the side of the ancient acropolis. Down the cliff-face from the ruins is the port with charming buildings dating from the last century when the town was Greek. Overnight here for one night. (B/L/D)
Day 15: This morning we will explore the splendid ruins of Assos dominating the top of a mountain overlooking the Aegean Sea. The oldest part of the city was Hellenistic, and the formidable, still standing basalt walls encircling the site date from this period. On our way to lunch we stop at an olive oil production center and museum. Drive on to Troy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Late 19th century excavations revealed nine principal levels of occupation covering a period of over 3000 years. Possibly founded by the Hittite King Tudhaliyas IV, it was encircled by more than two miles of imposing 4th century BC walls. We meet privately with one of the archaeologists to learn how recent excavations have given us much more information on the city. Overnight in the Hotel Tusan in Çanakkale. (B/L/D)
Day 16: A trip by ferry across the Dardanelles Straits and a scenic journey through European Thrace returns us to Istanbul. Our farewell dinner will be at one of Istanbul’s fine local restaurants. Overnight at the Levni Hotel. (B/L/D)
Day 17: Return to the USA. (B)
$9,995.00 (per person, double occupancy) includes round trip international flights from New York to Istanbul and one Turkish domestic flight on Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ankara) in economy class; all hotels, most meals (as noted in brochure); all entry fees; gratuities to guides and drivers; and ground transportation.
Cost Does Not Include: The tax-deductible check for $150.00 written to Charles Schwab (In the subject line – “Friends of Ephesus/Austria”); passport or visa fees; airport or departure taxes; beverages or food not included on regular menus; laundry; excess baggage charges; personal tips; email, telephone and fax charges; necessary vaccines or tests; or other items of a personal nature.
Single Supplement: $795.00. Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.
Donation Checks: The cost of the trip does not include the separate donation check for $150.00 (per person) to Ephesus Foundation USA. As a tour company that benefits from the historical, cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to scholars, archaeological and cultural projects, and museums in each of our destinations. This has created a bond with the academic community that allows you to gain an ‘insider’s view’ of work being done in each country.
Fuel Surcharges: Far Horizons must pass on price increases when additional fuel charges are levied.
A deposit of $750 per person to Far Horizons and a separate check for $150.00 to Charles Schwab is required upon making your reservation along with a completed and signed registration form. Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure. Upon receipt of your deposit and completed registration form, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information. Prior to the trip, we will send links to various websites of pertinent interest to the trip. Click here to download our Registration Form.
Cancellations and Refunds
Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $450 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Insurance recommended by Far Horizons can be reviewed by clicking HERE.
If you do not fly on the group flight, you are responsible for all flight arrangements and transportation (including airport transfers) to join the group. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased.
All tourists traveling to Turkey must acquire an e-visa online –www.evisa.gov.tr– as visas can no longer be obtained upon arrival into Turkey.
Note About Itinerary Changes
Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. A good book to read as well as a flexible attitude and a sense of humor are essential.
In keeping with the theme of our trips, hotels are chosen to depict the charm characterizing the Turkish culture. Where available, they are restored historical buildings – elegant Ottoman mansions furnished with period antiques; bed-and-breakfast style inns filled with lovely weavings, carpets and kilims, and handmade crafts; beautiful cut-stone Selcuk caravanserai originally built for camel caravans, and other unique accommodations too small for “tour groups”. Of course, all rooms have private bathrooms.
Private Tours of Archaeological Sites
The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be onsite when our groups arrive due to other commitments.
Travel in Turkey
Western Turkey’s scenery is beautiful, the archaeological sites magnificent and the people warm and hospitable. Other than a few long days, this trip is not difficult. Hotels are the best available. Some will be modest due to their location, and may not have bellhops available, but all will have private baths. At times we will be walking over uneven terrain for a mile or more. All participants are expected to be physically active and able to walk independently throughout our very full touring days. Keeping up with the group is each participant’s responsibility; please do not expect assistance from the other participants or staff. Several days will include long drives in the bus. A good book to read, a flexible attitude, team spirit and a good sense of humor will reward you with a wonderful and memorable experience! If you have questions or concerns about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.
This Archaeological Tour to Turkey is Limited to 12 Participants