From Istanbul to the Turquoise Coast
An exclusive Bryn Mawr departure

Exotic sights, scents and sounds reign in this fascinating land where Europe and Asia meet. From Istanbul, magnificent "Empress of the World," to ancient ruins, stunning landscapes, and the dramatic Turquoise Coast where we board privately chartered "gullet" yachts for a unique four-day voyage, Turkey engages and beguiles, offering us an unparalleled adventure.

Date Information

Thursday, May 28, 2015 - Thursday, June 11, 2015
Sold Out?: 


Day 1 - Depart the US for Istanbul

Depart the United States early this evening on your flight bound for Istanbul.

Day 2 - Arrive Istanbul

After arriving in Istanbul, you'll meet your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and transfer to your hotel, located near Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul. Please note that as guests' arrival times may vary greatly (from morning to late afternoon), no group activities or meals have been planned for this day. We are free to explore the bustling area around Taksim Square or simply relax after our overseas flights. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus

Day 3 - Istanbul

It's our first full day in Istanbul, and there's much on the agenda, beginning with an informative briefing about our journey ahead. This legendary city, divided by the Bosphorus, separates Europe from Asia, and makes this a place where East and West meet in a fascinating melding of cultures. On this morning's tour we encounter the vast Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest covered markets with some 4,000 shops and stalls selling goods of all kinds, including jewelry, pottery, leather, and Turkish delicacies. After leaving the Grand Bazaar, we walk along Istanbul's side streets through local Turkish markets, ending at the Spice Market, with its exotic spices, nuts, and dried fruits from around the world.

Next we cruise on the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway that separates Europe from Asia. We stop in the village of Ortakoy, known for its trendy art scene, cafés, and boutiques as well as its historic mosque and synagogue. There's time to explore and have lunch on your own here before we return to our hotel mid-afternoon. This evening we take a short walk to a local restaurant where we dine on traditional Turkish cuisine during our welcome dinner.

Accommodations: Central Palace Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4 - Istanbul

This morning we cross over Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn, and tour Old Istanbul, home of splendid mosques and magnificent palaces. Our first stop here: the ancient Hippodrome, where chariot races once took place. Then we visit the renowned Museum of Turkish & Islamic Art housing artifacts from the Ottoman (14th to 20th centuries), Seljuk (11th to 13th centuries), and earlier periods beginning in the 8th century. In the restored Palace of Ibrahim Pasha, the museum displays both everyday items and ancient pieces of art including carvings of wood, glass, and stone. We continue on to the marvelous Blue Mosque, topped by six slender minarets. Inside is one of the world's great collections of blue Isnik tiles (20,000 of them), along with 260 stained glass windows. Next we visit famed Hagia Sophia, which was the world's grandest Cathedral when it was built in 537 CE; it was converted into a mosque in the 15th century and is now a museum.

We enjoy lunch together at a local restaurant in the old town and dine on traditional Turkish fare. Then we tour splendid Topkapi Palace, dramatically set on a promontory with remarkable views over the Bosphorus. This vast palace, the home of Ottoman sultans, once housed as many as 4,000 royals, couturiers, and hangers-on. Among other magnificent artifacts on display here we see priceless paintings, jewel-encrusted swords, and delicate porcelains. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure; tonight you have your choice of many excellent restaurants for dinner on your own.

Accommodations: Central Palace Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5 - Istanbul

This morning we tour splendid Topkapi, for 400 years the palace of Ottoman sultans that today ranks among the world’s richest museums. We continue on to the Basilica Cistern, the marble-columned underground chamber that provided water to Istanbul in antiquity, and the Grand Bazaar, housing some 5,000 shops along 60 “streets.” The remainder of the day is free for independent exploration

Day 6 - Istanbul/Gallipoli/Troy/Assos

We rise early to begin our full day of travel to the northern Aegean Coast for a brief visit of Gallipoli, where in 1915 Allied troops faced the Turkish army led by Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal, also known as Ataturk, the man who later became the leader of modern Turkey. Large numbers of casualties were suffered here, and we pay our respects to those who gave their lives as we visit ANZAC Beach Cemetery. Then we travel across the Straits of the Dardanelles to Troy, once believed to have existed only in Homer's epic poem. But Heinrich Schliemann discovered the real Troy in the 1870s; indeed excavations have revealed the remnants of at least nine civilizations here dating back 5,000 years. After an exploration of the ruins and relics here, we continue on to Behramkale, ancient Assos, where we spend the night.

Please note: Because of the Nazlihan Hotel's small rooms and limited space, and in addition to your one piece of checked luggage, you will need to bring a smaller, soft-sided "carry" bag for your overnight stay in Assos. This additional bag should be small and flexible enough to fit inside your checked luggage.

Accommodations: Nazlihan Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 - Assos/Pergamum/Izmir

This morning we depart for Pergamum, once one of the richest small kingdoms in Asia Minor, which housed one of the world's largest collections of books. Here we visit the magnificent Acropolis, which contains the ruins of Pergamum's acclaimed 200,000-volume library, so large it challenged the world's greatest library in Alexandria, Egypt. In fact, the Egyptians were so afraid that Pergamum would attract scholars away from Alexandria that they cut off the area's supply of papyrus, forcing the invention of pergamen (Latin for parchment), made from animal hides rather than papyrus reed. Along with the library, the Acropolis also boasts a great theater seating 10,000 and the marble-columned Temple of Trajan. Below the theater lie the ruins of the Temple of Dionysus along with the Altar of Zeus, in a marvelous setting shaded by evergreen trees. Much of Pergamum has been lovingly restored; it is now considered one of the premier ancient sites in Turkey. After enjoying our lunch in a typical Turkish kebab restaurant, we continue on to Asclepieum, a sanctuary and healing center built in the 4th century BCE in the name of Ascelepius, god of healing. Later this afternoon we travel to Izmir and our hotel, where we dine together tonight.

Accommodations: Swissôtel Grand Efes
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 - Izmir/Ephesus

Today we visit Ephesus, perhaps the world's best-preserved ancient city. In Roman times, Ephesus was the provincial capital of Asia, with a population of 250,000 at the height of its glory. An important Christian community arose here, and Ephesus was visited by St. Paul, who later wrote one of his epistles to the Ephesians. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is the fact that Ephesus once housed the Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today the magnificently preserved ruins attract visitors from across the globe. A full day of touring here includes the immense theater that holds 24,000 people and is still used today. We'll walk along the Sacred Way, where the rich once lived and where an ingenious water and sewer system was constructed beneath paving stones of marble; see the Temple of Hadrian, a Corinthian-style building with the head of Medusa on the porch to keep away evil spirits; and admire the Library of Celsus, which once held 12,000 ancient scrolls. Before enjoying lunch in the beautiful rustic village of Sirince, we'll visit the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, filled with statuary, ancient relics, mosaics, and artifacts excavated from the site. We return to Izmir late this afternoon and enjoy an evening at leisure. From our well-located hotel, we have our choice of several local restaurants all within a short walking distance.

Accommodations: Swissôtel Grand Efes
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9 - Izmir/Gocek

Today we continue our journey south, stopping along the way to see a demonstration of the ancient art of carpet weaving at a local factory. Then we'll stop in a local village for lunch before we continue on to Göcek, arriving late this afternoon in the serene port town set at the most inland point of the Gulf of Fethiye. Here we board our 14-guest gulet, a replica of a traditional Turkish fishing boat. Today's gulets are built with modern comforts in mind, containing small but cozy cabins with private bath and shower, public areas, and broad decks in an area approximately 85 feet long and 21 feet wide. Beautiful craftsmanship combined with ancient artistry makes the gulet the perfect vessel in which to cruise the waters of the Turquoise Coast. After settling in to your cabin, you'll enjoy your first dinner on board, prepared by the ship's crew with fresh local ingredients. Tonight you may wish to join others sleeping on deck under the stars.

Accommodations: Gulet yacht
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 - Cruising- Aga, Limani/Cleopatra Baths

Our route for the next few days is along the coastline that Mark Antony is said to have given Cleopatra as a wedding gift. Named for the brilliant color of its waters, the Turquoise Coast is nature's gift to all those who travel here. The swimming is glorious, in crystal clear waters that afford views into the depths. With the scent of eucalyptus perfuming the air, and forested mountains as our backdrop, we begin our "Blue Voyage" by traveling this morning to the hidden cove of Aga Limani where an optional hike of approximately three hours along an herb-scented trail brings us to Lydea, a little-known Greco-Roman site. The hike concludes at the Sunken Baths of Cleopatra, built in a breathtaking inlet by Mark Antony for the last Egyptian pharaoh. Please note that parts of this hike can be strenuous, and the trail has a fair amount of gravel and rock. Please consult with your tour director if you have concerns about your ability to participate safely on this hike. If you prefer a less strenuous day, you can choose to stay on board the gulet as it sails to the Sunken Baths to meet up with the hikers. There's plenty on board with which to keep occupied, including games, cards, or simply chatting with your fellow guests.

Accommodations: Gulet yacht
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 - Cruising - Ekincik Cove/Dalyan

This morning we disembark and drive to Dalyan, an environmentally protected area where we board a small skiff for a trip through an intriguing maze of channels. At the Lake of Koycegiz, we see our first Lycian rock tombs. These relics, which stretched along the Mediterranean coast from Koycegiz in the West to Antalya in the East, are the few remaining artifacts of this great culture. After lunch in a local restaurant, we drive to our gulet in Fethiye Bay where we anchor for the night.

Accommodations: Gulet yacht
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 - Cruising - Gemiler Island/Kayakoy

Today we sail to our next anchorage, Gemiler Island, where we disembark for a tour of the 6th-century Byzantine monastery here. After lunch on board, we disembark and drive to the Greek "ghost town" of Kayakoy, deserted after World War I and the Turkish War of Independence. Residents abandoned approximately 2,000 stone houses that are now restored and preserved as a historical monument. We'll explore the town and its two churches, which still retain some of their painted decoration and mosaic floors. Later we return to our gulet and remain anchored in Gemiler tonight, our last night on board.

Accommodations: Gulet yacht
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 - Fethiye/Antalya

This morning we sail to Fethiye, where we disembark, bid farewell to our gulet crew, and board a motorcoach for the long drive to Antalya. Along the way we stop in Demre to tour the ancient site of Myra, with an extremely well preserved Roman theater and striking Lycian tombs (including one topped with a dramatic deathbed scene). As a point of interest, Demre is where the legend of Father Christmas ("Noel Baba" in Turkish) is said to have originated with a Christian bishop who gave dowries to penniless girls. The bishop became known as St. Nicholas. We also visit Demre's 12th-century Church of St. Nicholas, whose last major renovations in 1862 were sponsored by Czar Nicholas I of Russia. After lunch here we continue our drive to Antalya along the beautiful Turquoise Coast. Late this afternoon we reach our hotel, splendidly situated overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We enjoy dinner together at the hotel.

Accommodations: Akra Barut Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 - Antalya/Perge

This morning we set off for a tour of the once-thriving Roman city of Perge, which reached its pinnacle during the era of Alexander the Great. Among the outstanding ruins here are the ancient shopping arcade, the awe-inspiring 12,000-seat stadium, and a 15,000-seat theater. Then we move on to Aspendos, whose huge theater is considered one of the best preserved in all of antiquity. We return to Antalya in time for lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure before we gather for a farewell dinner at a local Turkish restaurant.

Accommodations: Rixos Antalya Downtown
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 15 - Depart for the US

If you are returning today to the United States, you will transfer early this morning to the airport for your connecting flight to the U.S.
Meals: Breakfast

Cost and Inclusions: 

Cost and Program Inclusions

Main tour

New York, Boston, Houston

Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angles Land Only
  $4,392  $4,692   $3,395
Single Supplement: $895.00
Business Class Upgrade:  $3,695

Included Features:

  • Exclusive departure for the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Association;
  • Small group size limited to 28 guests;
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities;
  • 13 nights' accommodations (including 4 nights aboard a privately chartered gulet);
  • 33 meals: 13 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 11 dinners;
  • Extensive sightseeing as described in day-by-day itinerary, including all entrance fees
  • Services of a dedicated Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director;
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout the trip;
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person;
  • Gratuities for local guides (if applicable), dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers;

Not included:

  • Airline taxes and departure fees (listed as separate item on invoice)
  • Gratuities for Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and all shipboard personnel (left to individual discretion)

Nazlihan Hotel - Assos/Troy

Iskele Mevkii Behramkale -- Ayvalik
Canakkale, Turkey
Phone: 011-90-286-721-7385/7386
Fax: 011-90-212-291-2342

This rustic harborfront hotel is in a remote and dramatic Aegean setting. The hotel has two restaurants and a bar. Air-conditioned guest rooms are decorated in authentic Turkish décor and include private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone. Please note that guest rooms are quite small (please see Day 5 in the itinerary regarding the use of an overnight bag), and there is no elevator. Lodging alternatives are limited in this region of Turkey; while your one-night stay in this unique location should be quite enjoyable, the amenities (and overall quality) at the hotel will be lower than elsewhere on your tour.

Swissôtel Grand Efes - Izmir

Gaziosmanpasa Bulvari No: 1 35210
Alsancak, Izmir
Phone: 011-90-232-414-0000
Fax: 011-90-232-414-1010

Centrally located in downtown Izmir and surrounded by landscaped gardens, the Swissôtel Grand Efes overlooks Kordon seafront promenade and the Aegean coast. This contemporary hotel offers two restaurants, bar, and café; fitness center; spa with steam bath, Turkish bath, salt pool, and Jacuzzi; wellness center; shopping arcade; Internet access; laundry services; tennis courts; and indoor and outdoor pools. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

Rixos Antalya Downtown

Akra Barut

This 5-star hotel is within close proximity of BLM Beach and Laura Shopping Center. Make yourself at home in one of the 471 air-conditioned rooms featuring minibars and LED televisions. Rooms have private balconies. Complimentary wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and satellite programming is available for your entertainment. Private bathrooms with showers feature complimentary toiletries and hair dryers.

Gulet Yacht

A beautifully crafted motorized sailing vessel built of teak wood with a pointed fore and round aft, a private gulet yacht is the most authentic and relaxing way to cruise the Turquoise Coast. A large foredeck gives everyone ample space to sit and watch the Mediterranean coastline; in the evening, you may choose to stay up here and sleep under the stars. Dinner each evening is outside on deck under cover, as the ship's cook prepares meals praised for their quality and freshness. All guests stay in small private cabins, each equipped with a shower and toilet. On board, you'll also find swimming and snorkeling equipment, perfect for late afternoon dips after you've anchored for the day.

Since space is limited about our gulet yachts, suitcases must be placed under beds or in irregular spaces. It would be very helpful if your luggage is flexible (duffel bag variety) rather than hard-sided. Additionally, based on environmental regulations, toilet paper cannot be flushed (it is placed in waste receptacles which are emptied by the crew). Electricity on board is provided by a generator and thus the amount of hot water may be limited during busy periods (especially in the morning).

Average Length: 88 feet
Average Width: 21 feet
Sails: Mainsail, Genoa
Motor: MAN 350HP

Please note that, while the gulets are built to reflect the design of traditional Turkish fishermen's sailing vessels, their primary means of movement is by motor. The actual amount of time spent under sail may be very limited and is often based on local weather conditions and the captain's discretion.