- Enjoy the freedom of a hire car to visit the finest locations in Western Turkey, from Topkapi to the Aegean
- Experience ancient sites and pamper yourself under mulberry trees, with 'hammams' (steam rooms) and natural pools
- Private tour of the neighbourhood of Sultanahmet and its historic sites including Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque as well as a trip to Ephesus... it's all in the itinerary
- Hire care, our smartphone app and our local Concierge service: all reasons to travel with us
Contact one of our Turkey specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
From the Golden Horn to the Aegean
Your tripThe open road awaits. Turkish roads are not difficult for a capable driver. If you need help along the way or have a last-minute request (the regions visited can inspire this kind of reaction), you can contact our local Concierge: they are on hand to find the perfect solution. In Istanbul, your hotel has a stylish western Belle Epoque vibe, which is nevertheless still Turkish, beautifully combined with Ottoman and Greek traditions. Modern comfort and authentic old-time Turkey blend harmoniously in Bursa, Pergamon and Sirince. In Pamukkale and Bodrum, two contemporary and functional establishments offer a spa and coastal feel, but this doesn't mean that they are cold and impersonal. In any case, if you bring the whole family or come as a couple, you'll receive a friendly welcome and be well-looked after by professional and attentive staff. A tour of Istanbul's historical districts of Sultanahmet and a day at Ephesus, one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean, both with a private guide, are already included in your itinerary. This allows you to get the most out of your visits. If you would like a fascinating introduction to the art of paper marbling or a sailing adventure in Bodrum Bay, just let us know.
Flight to Istanbul
Transfer and three-night stay on the European side. Originally, this was the imperial bank and it still has that proud aristocratic feel. The interior design is based on a careful blend of contemporary classicism and Belle Epoque motifs. The spacious and comfortable rooms boast green marble bathrooms. And, the ultimate sign of impeccable service and a good night's sleep: goose feather pillows. The spa has inherited a rich tradition of looking after the body and soul; relax in the 'hammam' (steam room) or opt for the dry heat of the sauna. Alternatively, if you're feeling energetic, get your heart pumping in the gym. In the kitchen, the team can switch effortlessly between elegant Turkish cuisine to delicious international dishes. Contemporary canvas works of art from the hotel's private collection adorn the dining room and communal areas.
Karakoy (the modern name for ancient Galata) has taken on a new lease of life, and hotels like yours are significantly contributing to this transformation, supporting the many galleries that have been here for a number of years, north of the Golden Horn. The modern side of Istanbul, which does not initially spring to mind, shows you just how dynamic and relevant the city still is. The SantralIstanbul cultural complex in the Eyup district is a brilliant example of this diversity. Then, there's still the pleasure of crossing the Bosphorus by boat to reach the Asian side of the city. Many locals make the crossing daily. Sail along the fascinating shores, admiring the magnificent 'yalis', waterfront holiday homes, alongside many traditional wooden houses. Explore the bazaars where the range of weird and wonderful goods is wider than you could ever imagine; the same goes for the city's countless restaurants.
Already included in the itinerary - Sultanahmet, open-air museum. Sultanahmet is an important neighbourhood and home to key historical sites, including Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque) and Topkapi Palace Museum. Alongside these iconic monuments, the Hippodrome of Constantinople, built in the early third century, and the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world and founded in the 15th century, are also worth visiting. Discover the magical Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman heritages with a private guide. It also makes you aware of the context, alongside these famous buildings, and how they are still linked to the everyday life of the people of Istanbul. While the eye is amazed by the aesthetic, sacred and historic dimension of these exceptional monuments, the streets, shops, inns and gardens offer a never-ending stream of awesome smells, sounds and sensations. Over the course of the day, Istanbul will steal your heart.
Istanbul - Bursa
Pick up your hire car and drive to Bursa. Overnight stay in the ramparts of the Old Town in a splendid Ottoman house. The interior design is exquisite, while the impeccable service is provided with great care and attention. The shaded garden overflowing with magnolia trees, Turkish bath and restaurant are all highlights of the stay. Soak up a simplicity that makes everything easy and natural.
Between Istanbul and Bursa, stop off at Iznik, famous for its pottery and tiles. This is also the ancient Greek city of Nicaea, an important place of Christianity and home to two important ecumenical councils: in 325 AD, against Arian teachings and in 787 AD to debate the reverence and veneration of icons. Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman State, played an important role in the silk trade (check out the historical 15th century Koza Han silk bazaar). The Muradiye-Hudavendigar mosque complex (1366) houses noble tombs, while the Green Mosque (1424) is an example of a local style. Bursa is also the birthplace of the iconic doner kebab (meat cooked on a vertical pin).
Bursa - Pergamon
Drive to Pergamon. Overnight stay in a historic, noble mansion, tastefully restored to its Greek origins. The rooms are comfortable and cosy. The terrace of the hotel overlooks the Temple of Demeter (Goddess of the harvest) on one side and the Red Basilica, former temple of Serapis (Egyptian God from the Hellenistic period) on the other side. In the stone cellar, indulge in some Turkish wines.
Pergamon was the head of a powerful kingdom and a great centre of Hellenistic culture (it had a famous library); it reached its peak in the second century BC but held its rank under Roman administration; in the Book of Revelations, Saint John praised the perseverance of the church, but questioned its doctrine. Visit the Acropolis of Pergamon and the Sanctuary of Asclepius, healing temples dedicated to the god of medicine. The famous doctor Galien was born in Pergamon in 216 and received his first philosophical and medical training here.
Pergamon - Sirince/Ephesus
Drive to Sirince. Two-night stay in the historic district. This quaint, traditional hotel is full of character, with white stone walls and carved woodwork. The interior layout, with its benches along the walls, carpets and antique furniture, evokes romantic Turkey exotically combined with Chinese lanterns galore. The bathroom also reflects the taste and refinement of the bedroom. The overall feel is very cosy. On sunny days, delicious breakfasts are served in the little garden; fresh and tasty produce is a brilliant way to start the day. The village of Sirince is home to beautiful 19th-century architecture. The stone and wood houses have large windows to enjoy the surrounding views. Pine trees and pretty gardens provide intimacy. Leave your map behind and just follow your senses to wander around the streets.
Already included in the itinerary - Spend a day exploring Ephesus with a private guide. The archaeological site of Ephesus is located about six miles from Sirince. It was founded in the tenth century BC and was undoubtedly one of the jewels of Greek civilisation in Asia Minor. It's a definite must-see. It belonged to Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia, who erected the temple of Artemis there in 560 BC. The Temple of Artemis was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, before becoming a UNESCO Word Heritage Site. Later, Saint John is said to have brought Mary of Nazareth to Ephesus. The House of the Virgin Mary is a respected place of pilgrimage. It's a city splendid enough to make you yearn to be Greek, just as much as if you were in Athens.
Sirince - Pamukkale
Drive to Pamukkale. Overnight stay in a modern hotel, just two miles from the natural and ancient wonder of Hierapolis. The services here are up to the highest international standards. The luxurious spa is the hub of the establishment, as Turkish tradition dictates. The naturally mineralised waters used here have a somewhat universal beneficial influence and have a rejuvenating effect on body and mind.
The Pamukkale tuff (rock formed from volcanic ash) is one of the most beautiful in the world. Pristine limestone deposits amid a wonderland of mineral water pools and petrified limestone waterfalls make up a singular landscape that the light bathes in ever-changing shades. The ancient thermal spa of Hierapolis, founded in the second century BC, covers the hill. The thermal baths are now home to an archaeological museum; a Roman swimming pool, called Cleopatra, is still open to bathers. The second century theatre is beautifully preserved. The extraordinary octagonal Martyrium (fifth century) is built on the site where it's believed that St Philip the Apostle was martyred and buried. Engineering enthusiasts will notice the oldest known representation of a connecting rod/crank system on the sarcophagus of Marcus Aurelius Ammianos (third century) - used in saw mills.
Pamukkale - Bodrum
Drive to Bodrum. Two-night stay in a location overlooking the town. The rooftop restaurant's terrace overlooks the sea and promises diners a colourful experience. Relax by the swimming pool and in the jacuzzi or enjoy some quiet time in your room, soaking up its blend of tradition and modernity. Enchanting, exotic flowers are everywhere – in the garden, on the terrace and on the balconies – making the hotel a genuine delight for all the senses.
In Bodrum/Halicarnassus, visit St Peter's Castle (15th century), built by the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (tomb for Mausolus, a satrap - governor - of the Achaemenid Empire in the fourth century BC); stone from the latter was used to build the former. The castle's fascinating Museum of Underwater Archaeology is definitely worth a visit, while Bodrum Amphitheatre, built sometime during the Hellenistic age, offers wonderful views of the city. Also explore the hinterland, olive groves, mandarin orchards, picturesque villages dotted with windmills and the coastal towns of Turgutreis and Turkbuku in the stunning Turkish Riviera.
Bodrum - Return flight
Return your hire car to Bodrum airport. Return flight, via Istanbul.
A la carte
Paper marbling workshop - Istanbul
Ebru is the technique of transferring coloured patterns deposited to the surface of a dense liquid onto paper. The result, which is both flexible and precise, is used in binding in particular. UNESCO added the art of paper marbling to their list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Although it takes two years for craftsmen to acquire the basics, visitors can try it out, with expert instruction from a professional. At the very least, this lets artists and their works benefit from warranted admiration.
Option - Half day
Sail on a traditional caique fishing boat on Bodrum Bay
A day-trip on a wooden schooner, traditionally used for fishing and sailing along the coastline. The boat's shallow draught allows it to reach the smallest harbours on the coast, enter discreet coves and sail close to beautiful scenery. When passengers get the urge, they can take a refreshing dip in the crystal clear waters. Lunch is enjoyed on board, refreshments are served...
Optionl - Full day
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