Wonders of Turkey: A Smithsonian Family Adventure

NUMBER OF DAYS 15

OTHER Turkey ADVENTURES:

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Parents and children alike will feel the ancient magic of Turkey as you travel deep into the heart and soul of this exotic land. Your journey takes you through Istanbul’s scented bazaars, on hikes to ancient Crusader castles and crumbling ruins, through the passageways of an underground city, and along the stunning Turquoise Coast of the Mediterranean.  This is a trip that has it all, from fun family activities like sailing, swimming, and hiking, to historical explorations into Turkey’s past and warm cultural encounters with its delightful people. 

A definite highlight of the trip is the time spent sailing on a gulet, Turkey’s traditional wooden sailboat. You’ll spend three full days meandering along the Mediterranean Coast, with frequent stops to swim, hike, snorkel, and explore hidden ruins.

There's no end to the adventure as your family explores magnificent landscapes and coastal regions, with lots of time for fun in the sun and soaking up the beauty of this magical place!

Included in this exceptional itinerary are several special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours and activities, such as:

Hands-on learning about traditional Turkish paper marbling. The earliest known marbled papers are Turkish ones from the 1400s. They were used for decorative purposes as well as to prevent erasure and forgery.  Your lesson will be in a beautifully restored Ottoman building, where you will have a special demonstration of this Turkish art form, and then get to try your hand at it to create a souvenir from your trip!  

Visit a rug workshop to learn about rug weaving, silk extraction, and dying wool. Rug weaving is an ancient tradition in Turkey, and families can opt to visit a weaving cooperative, where local girls weave woolen and silk carpets, spinning and dyeing the materials themselves.  

Behind-the-scenes tour with an archaeologist at the ruins of Kibyra. Excavations of this Roman-era judicial seat started in 2006 and are still going on.  In 2009, the interior of the city hall was unearthed, and the world’s largest portrait of Medusa was discovered, made out of inlaid marble pieces. Enjoy an exclusive tour of this very active excavation and a talk by the chief archaeologist!

Walk in the travertine pools at Pamukkale. The ancient Romans believed in the healing powers of these natural pools, and the nearby ancient town of Hierapolis sprang up as a spa retreat.  They are called Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle,” and your family can enjoy a barefoot walk in these ancient baths before exploring the ruins of the town.  

Visit the ruins of Hierapolis. Hierapolis was a city that was founded by the Seleucids as a thermal spa in the 3rd century B.C.E.  It has long been believed that the mineral-rich thermal waters of Hierapolis have healing properties, and the area has always attracted people from all over who were seeking a cure for their ailments.  The town or Hierapolis and the nearby springs are a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring remarkable white travertine pools and impressive ruins.  

Final payment can be made by credit card. Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final payment by credit card.  

 

2015 Dates
Dates Adult Price Child Price Internal Air
06/27 - 07/11 $7,390 $7,190 $400
07/25 - 08/08 $7,690 $7,490 $400

Single Supplement: $4,000

Triple discount (child under 12 sharing with two adults): $100

Child discount on internal airfare: $50

 *Minimum of five participants required to run this adventure in 2014; minimum of six people in 2015.  

Days 1-2 — Depart Home / Arrive Istanbul

Arriving in Istanbul after your flight, you are met by your guide and taken to your hotel.  Enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation at your hotel’s rooftop restaurant, with stunning views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus as your backdrop.  

Days 3-4 — Istanbul

Dive into Istanbul, the remarkable city that spans two continents and has been a crossroads of history for three millennia.  This city was once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and today soaring minarets, bustling marketplaces and non-stop water traffic are part of the city’s daily scene.

 

  • Marvel at the Blue Mosque 
  • Tour Topkapi Palace
  • Visit the Spice Market
  • Explore Basilica Cistern
  • Golden Gate of the Byzantines
  • Cross the Bosphorus
  • Paper marbling lesson
Days 5-6 — Cappadocia

Travel to Cappadocia, a region in Turkey's central highlands noted for its remarkable underground dwellings, conical "fairy-chimneys," frescoed cave churches, and even whole villages carved from soft volcanic stone.  Your route takes you through villages of modern-day cave dwellers where locals ride donkeys and dry apricots on their rooftops.  Enjoy a whirling dervish show one evening.

 

  • Kaymakli Underground City
  • Hike through a valley with unique rock formations
  • Witness traditional dances at the Turkish Night Show
  • Göreme Outdoor Museum
  • Rose Valley optional hike
  • Friends Across Borders Meeting (pen pals)
  • Pottery Workshop
Days 7-8 — Ephesus

Exploring the wonders of Ephesus is a memory-making family travel experience. Kids will love the chance to imagine what the city looked like in its heyday, from its opulent baths and gymnasium to the Great Theater, which held 24,000 people, and its Library of Celsus, which once contained nearly 15,000 scrolls. 

 

  • Discover the Wishing Wall
  • Visit the Temple of Artemis
  • Basilica of St. John
  • Rug weaving cooperative
Day 9 — Pamukkale

It will feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet when you first lay eyes on the bright white travertine thermal pools at Pamukkale.  This area has been renowned for its healing baths for more than two millennia, and there is plenty of time for your family to walk barefoot through the brilliantly blue, mineral-rich waters before strolling through the nearby ruins of Hierapolis.  These impressive ruins and the nearby springs are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

  • Walk in the travertine pools at Pamukkale
  • Ancient city of Hierapolis
Day 10 —Pamukkale to the Mediterranean Coast

An exclusive talk by an archaeologist at the active dig site of Kibyra is the highlight today.  A number of remarkable discoveries have been made here over the last few years, including intricate mosaics and excavations of a stadium that could have seated as many as 15,000 people.  Continue on to the sparkling blue waters of Mediterranean Turkey's aptly-named Turquoise Coast, where you board your gulet to begin your seaside adventure.

 

  • Behind-the-scenes tour at Kibyra
  • Embark on gulet cruise
Days 11-13 — Mediterranean Coast

Enjoy three days aboard a Turkish gulet, a traditional wooden sailboat, sailing along the fabled Turquoise Coast and dropping anchor in quiet coves, discovering sheltered beaches and calling at small harbor towns. Originally the land of the ancient Lydians (685-547 B.C.E.), the region was later colonized by the Greeks and the Romans. Along the way kids will love snorkeling and swimming in the warm waters.

 

  • Explore Gemiler Island
  • The ghost town of Kayaköy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Anchor at Cleopatra's Sunken Baths
  • Optional hike to Lydae
  • Dalyan Delta  — beaches, sea turtles and other wildlife
  • Port of Caunus and rock tombs
Day 14 — Mediterranean Coast to Istanbul

Disembark from your gulet this morning and drive to Dalman airport for the flight back to Istanbul.  There will be some free time this afternoon for last-minute exploring

 

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Farewell dinner 
Day 15 — Depart Istanbul / Arrive Home
Istanbul Hotel in Sultanahmet District

One of several small boutique hotels in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul.  These are all restored townhouses which have been converted into hotels.  The number of rooms vary from 10-20 and are spread out over several floors. Enjoy a rooftop restaurant and an easy walk to Hippodrome, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.  

Lykia Lodge

The Lykia Lodge has a warm atmosphere and fantastically beautiful architecture that keeps it in harmony with the region. It is centrally located and only three miles from Nevşehir and Göreme. The 146 rooms are nicely furnished and include an array of in-room amenities: private facilities, satellite TV, wireless Internet access, phone, hair dryer, and a private safe. The Lykia also has both indoor and outdoor restaurants, a chimney-bar, a swimming pool and fruit gardens.

Hotel Kalehan

Kalehan is a basic but charming hotel that was built and landscaped in the style of a 100 year old farmhouse using traditional materials.  The recently renovated hotel is located a very short distance from the major sites of Ephesus, and each room offers a TV, mini bar, hair dyer, and air-conditioning.  All the rooms and the restaurant are surrounded by lush gardens, and the pool is the perfect place to cool off after a day exploring the nearby ruins.

Colossea Thermal Spa Hotel

Located a short distance from the travertine pools at Pamukkale, the Colossea Thermal Spa Hotel is the perfect place to unwind after a day spent touring the local sites.  The hotel features 231 rooms, each with air-conditioning, telephone, wireless internet, satellite TV, mini bar, and hair dryer.  The hotel has a spa with thermal pool, fitness center, and game room.

Private Gulet (traditional wooden sailboat)

This traditional motorized Turkish schooner has two-person cabins that range from 53-61 square feet, a private bathroom, a hot water shower and either two twin beds or one double bed. Our group will stay on one of three gulets during the four-night cruise. These teak boats are among the best Turkey has to offer. Thomson typically uses a sixteen-person gulet beautifully decorated with mahogany paneling. Amenities include a dining area, complete with a long table and chairs, cushioned foredeck for comfortable lounging, TV, CD player and refrigerator. With a friendly crew (usually four) to pamper you throughout, and a chef who prepares delicious meals, your family will feel well taken care of as you cruise along the stunning Turquoise Coast. 

Why Turkey?

Gateway to the East and West
Sitting astride the continents of Asia and Europe, Turkey is home to one of the world’s most unique and intriguing cultures. A blend of various elements of Ottoman, Anatolian, Oguz Turkic and western peoples, the unique culture was born from being located at the gateway for migrations from the east and west for centuries.
History… Empires, Crusades, whirling dervishes
Wow, what a history! Turkey is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas of the world and home to some of the earliest settlement in the world. From empires that date back to well before the 10th century BC, to settlements and invasions by Greeks, Romans and Mongols to the great Ottoman Empire, you’ll experience the great history of Turkey. You’ll also learn about Turkey’s Whirling Dervishes and other religious history such as the clashes with the Holy Roman Empire during the crusades.
Istanbul
Istanbul is one of Europe’s most populated cities and is Turkey’s financial and cultural capital. Discover firsthand why Istanbul is the coolest city in the world. At the crossroads of history for three millennia, Istanbul’s narrow streets are home to the Spice Market, the historical Sultanahmet District, and such architectural treasures as the Basilica Cisterns, Topkapi Palace and the Hippodrome. Istanbul was the last stop on the ancient Silk Road, and this Spice Market was the final destination for Asian goods. That means this market has been in business for almost 4,000 years!
Remarkable, beautiful cave dwellings
You’ll experience the unbelievable beauty of Cappadocia, a region in Turkey's central highlands noted for its frescoed cave churches, remarkable underground dwellings and conical "fairy-chimneys." Here entire villages are carved from soft volcanic stone! From hiking though fantastic canyon landscapes to visiting villages where locals ride donkeys and dry apricots on their rooftops, you’ll witness a wonderful and timeless culture.
The ruins of Ephesus
Any history buff on our trip will be BLOWN AWAY by Ephesus, and anyone not particularly interested in world history will be converted by the ancient Greek city’s awe-inspiring sites. Founded long before the time of Christ, Ephesus was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek Era, and later an important Roman city – the second-largest after Rome in the Roman Empire. The city contains several ancient marvels, like the ornate façade of the Celsus Library and the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Why Turkey with Thomson and Smithsonian?

Hands-on learning about traditional Turkish paper marbling 
 The earliest known marbled papers are Turkish ones from the 1400s. They were used for decorative purposes as well as to prevent erasure and forgery.  To achieve this affect, the colors are floated and patterns are made on the surface of a viscous mucilage, known as size or sizing in English, and then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric. Your lesson will be in a beautifully restored Ottoman building, where you will have a special demonstration of this Turkish art form, and then get to try your hand at it to create a souvenir from your trip!
 Visit a rug workshop to learn about rug weaving, silk extraction, and dying wool 
 Rug weaving is an ancient tradition in Turkey, and families can opt to visit a weaving cooperative, where local girls weave woolen and silk carpets, spinning and dyeing the materials themselves.
Behind-the-scenes tour with an archaeologist at the ruins of Kibyra 
 During the Roman era Kibyra was a judicial seat of the province of Asia, and it attracted settlers from the neighboring countries and became a cosmopolitan city where four languages—Lydian, Pisidian, Solymian and Greek—were spoken. Excavations started in 2006 and are still going on. In 2009, the interior of the city hall was unearthed, and the world’s largest portrait of Medusa was discovered, made out of inlaid marble pieces. Enjoy an exclusive tour of this very active excavation and a talk by the chief archaeologist!
Walk in the travertine pools at Pamukkale 
 These travertine formations have been around for centuries—even the ancient Romans believed in their healing powers, and the nearby ancient town of Hierapolis sprang up as a spa retreat.  They are called Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle,” and your family can enjoy a walk in these ancient baths before exploring the ruins of the town.
Visit the ruins of Hierapolis 
 Hierapolis was a city that was founded by the Seleucids as a thermal spa in the 3rd century B.C.E.  It has long been believed that the mineral-rich thermal waters of Hierapolis have healing properties, and the area has always attracted people from all over who were seeking a cure for their ailments.  The town or Hierapolis and the nearby springs are a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring remarkable white travertine pools and impressive ruins.
Diversity of Istanbul, Cappadocia, Taurus Mountains and the Turquoise coast
With Thomson, you’ll experience the wide variety of places that Turkey has to offer! From enjoying the intricate beauty of the mosques of Istanbul to exploring the caves of Cappadocia, hiking the Taurus Mountains to sailing along the Turquoise Coast, your family will create memories to last a lifetime. The mystery and magic of this extraordinary place are all yours to experience, for an unforgettable family vacation.
Explore the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia of Istanbul
The Blue Mosque is the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets reaching skyward and even more domes cascading down the exterior. It was built in the 17th century, across from the Hagia Sophia so that visitors to Istanbul could compare the two and determine which is more impressive. A great question to ask the kids! The Topkapi Palace is more than just a palace. In its heyday this complex, located on the Golden Horn, was home to more than 8,000 people. It’s filled with courtyards, pavilions, halls and kiosks. The architectural mastery of the Hagia Sophia was so far ahead of its time that it went unmatched for 1,000 years. Built in the 6th century, for 916 years it remained a church, then was converted into a Mosque for a few hundred years and in 1935 was transformed into a museum.
Explore the caves of Cappadocia, where the kids will be enchanted 
 Located in a once active volcanic region, Cappadocia is known for its exceptional rock formations and valleys. As unusually beautiful as these are above ground, the limestone rock formations are even more impressive below the surface, as you and the kids will discover when you climb down four stories into one of the largest underground cities ever built – Kaymakli.
Mediterranean boating
 You’ve been trekking all over the lands of Turkey, now it’s time to hit the seas! You’ll board your very own private boat – a Turkish gulet – the perfect vessel for exploring Turkey's Mediterranean Coast. Gulets are traditional double-masted wooden sailboats. For the next four nights, you and your family meander slowly along the coast. Dropping anchor at quiet coves, sheltered beaches and small harbor towns, you have many opportunities to swim, snorkel, hike and explore. Enjoy an evening hike to a hilltop Crusader castle, visit Lycian Cliff Tombs and a Roman theater, snorkel over sunken ruins, hike through olive groves and fragrant herb gardens, and sail to the island of Gemiler for a hike around a monastery with breathtaking views.
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