Let the historic wonder of Iran and Turkey capture your imagination on a 21-day small-group adventure. Culturally, historically and religiously, these two countries have so much to offer – from the merchant town of Kashan and the Zoroastrian heritage in Yazd to the continent-straddling city of Istanbul and the eerie and unusual landscapes in Cappadocia – your journey through these Middle Eastern neighbours will sure not disappoint. Combine this with time spent cruising the sparkling Aegean Sea, eating with local families in the Iranian countryside and making Turkish favourites like manti (traditional dumplings), and your glimpse into Iran and Turkey will illuminate a whole other world, full of architectural marvels, historical significance and charming hospitality.
Welcome to Iran! You will be met at Tehran Airport by a local driver for a transfer to your hotel (approximately 1 hour). You may arrive in Tehran at any time today, with hotel rooms are generally available after 12 pm (midday) and an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Until then, the rest of your day is free to explore your surroundings. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is exciting, noisy and chaotic – it’s the country's beating heart. Highly recommended today is to visit the Treasury of National Jewels – be sure to time your visit, as it is closed on some days. In the evening, you could take a seat at a coffee shop or find a local restaurant for dinner – be sure to ask your group leader for their recommendations.
Continue discovering of Tehran with a full-day tour, beginning at the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace – an opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era embodying early Persian design. Continue with a stroll through Tehran's bustling bazaar before visiting the National Museum. While it may not look as inspiring as other city buildings from the outside, inside is a treasure trove of Iran's rich history. Keep your eye out for the Salt Man from Zanjan – preserved in salt for centuries.
Drive to Kashan in the morning – a merchant town known for its high-quality ceramics, silks, carpets and fine houses. Visit the lush Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin (Fin Garden), a classical Persian garden that contains Kashan's Fin Bath. This is where Amir Kabir – the Qajarid chancellor and a nationalist hero – was murdered under the orders of King Nadir al-Din in 1852. Spend time at the fascinating Tabataei House. Built in the 1840s for the affluent Tabatabaei family, exceptional attention was paid to every architectural detail of this building as dictated by the geography and climate of the area. Spend the evening in Kashan and experience Iranian hospitality as your group shares an evening meal with a local family, before spending the night in a traditional Iranian-style house.
After breakfast, depart for the ancient desert city of Yazd. Once a major stop on so-called caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period, it's also known as the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. Stop en route in the quiet town of Ardestan, located on the edge of the central deserts. This small village has retained a lot of its charm – it’s full of old clay houses sitting on top of underground aqueducts which draw water from the mountains to the plains. Continue to Aqda to enjoy a Persian lunch in a beautifully restored house. Relax over lunch and maybe take a walk through the village. Arriving in Yazd in the late afternoon, indulging your sweet tooth with a visit to a renowned confectionery maker at Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar. Taste generations of expertise at the oldest and most well-known sweet shop in the city, where treats are made with traditional techniques. Spend the evening in a classic hotel in Yazd.
Explore the old part of the city in the morning, heading to the Amir Chakmaq complex, and walking through the narrow kuches (lanes), past courtyards, ornate doors and mud-brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd is the badgirs (wind towers) that capture even the softest of breezes before sending them to the buildings below. It’s an ancient air conditioning! Afterwards, visit two vestiges of Yazd’s Zoroastrian heritage on a trip to the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. Zoroastrianism, dating back over 4000 years, was the state religion of Iran before the arrival of Islam. In Zoroastrian, fire and water are agents of ritual purity, and the fire in the Atashkadeh Fire Temple is said to have been continuously burning since AD470. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner experience, travelling to the village of Taft to the house of Nartitee. Here, every corner of this small village home tells a story. Among the house’s pomegranate and tamarind trees, experience remnants of a 2500-year-old culture as you enjoy a simple meal.
This morning, travel from Yazd to Shiraz (approximately 6 hours). On the way, stop at the ice houses of Abarkuh. Ice houses were known in Iran as early as the 17th century BC and used as recently as 50 years ago. The Abarkuh Cyprus is the focal point of this village and is believed to be 4500 years old – a popular symbol of 'life and beauty'. Relax a while and gaze on the beauty of this tree – said to be the oldest living organism in Iran. Continue to Shiraz, arriving in the late afternoon.
Today is dedicated to exploring Shiraz. Many of the local ruins date from around AD260 where Valerian, the only Roman emperor to have ever been a prisoner of war, lived out his last days in captivity. Rise early this morning to catch the first rays of the sun as it seeps in through the stained glass of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. Continue to the Vakil Bazaar and the Khan citadel. Bazaar-e Vakil is regarded as one of the best markets in the country, specialising in fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and spices. This afternoon, visit the vast complex of Bagh-e Eram, known as the Garden of Paradise. Wander the grounds where artificial rivers run through the cypress trees before pooling in front of a colourful palace. Afterwards, visit the tombs of literary and folk hero Hafez and Sa'di. Nearby is the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh – one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. The structure serves as a mausoleum to one of Imam Reza’s brothers and the forecourt is often packed with Shiite pilgrims. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries.
Begin the day with a drive to the remains of Persepolis (approximately 1 hour) – once the centre of the Persian Empire and considered as one of the great cities of the ancient world. The Takhte Jamshid complex of palaces was known as the historic marvel of the country, constructed over 150 years as the ceremonial capital of Darius I’s Achaemenid Empire. Continue on to Naqsh-e-Rajab – the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to early Sassanid times. While today only small ruins remain from those once-magnificent structures, the site is still impressive. This evening, you have the option to participate in a highly recommended hands-on cooking class. The class is held in a local home and runs for approximately 3-4 hours, with all directions and recipes provided in English. You may also choose to explore the town and enjoy an Iranian meal in a restaurant.
Depart from Shiraz and head towards Esfahan (approximately a 6-hour drive). Along the way, stop for a guided tour of Pasargadae – an ancient city built by Cyrus the Great that precedes Persepolis. It’s may not be as well preserved as Persepolis, but still reflects the architectural genius of the Achaemenids, its beauty of simplicity and balance. This afternoon, arrive in Esfahan, and in the evening, take a stroll down to the Zayandeh River and witness the historic bridges arching over the water. The stunning Si-o-Seh Pol (bridge of 33 arches) lights up at night, best viewed either on the banks of the river or at a local teahouse. While away some time in this magical location, truly one of the most atmospheric that Iran has to offer.
There’s plenty of time to soak up the sights and atmosphere of Esfahan, often considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Esfahan reached its peak during the reign of Shah Abbas I in 1587 when it was declared the capital of Persia, yet much of its past glory still remains despite the country’s capital later being shifted to Shiraz and then Tehran. Begin today’s adventure through Esfahan with a guided walk through the Imam Square. Covering an area of 82,500 square meters, it’s the second-largest in the world. There are many grand buildings in the surrounding area such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque. Otherwise, the rest of the day is free for more independent exploring of the city.
Continue discovering Esfahan with a guided visit to the Vank Cathedral, located in the Armenian quarter of the city. The striking interior of this building boasts gilded ceilings, intricate wall architecture and eye-catching paintings. The artwork of the dome depicts the Biblical story of Genesis, from the creation of man to the expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The church also plays home to a museum, full of historic manuscripts. Originally, Armenian Christians were brought to the cathedral by Shah Abbas I who placed great value in their skills as artists and merchants. They have been allowed to practice their religion in peace but are confined to this single area of the city. The rest of the afternoon is free. Why not visit the city bazaar – an easy place to get lost among its appealing colours and aromas.
After breakfast this morning, begin the journey back to Tehran, stopping in Iran's second holiest city for the opportunity to visit the Shirne of Fatima Masumeh. On arrival back in Tehran, and after checking in to the hotel, head to the Tabiat Nature Bridge for the afternoon. Spend some time relaxing over a light meal at one of the many restaurants by Ports Park, situated on one side of the bridge. On the other, the rolling trees of Taleghani Park offer a great opportunity for a stroll.
This morning transfer to Tehran International Airport for your flight to Istanbul. Due to flight schedules it is likely that this will be a very early flight. Your leader in Iran will provide all flight details for you. Welcome to Istanbul; the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Meet your new leader and group today at a welcome meeting at 1 pm.
Transfer to the airport after breakfast for a 1-hour flight to Bodrum, a modern resort town that was once the ancient city of Halicarnassus. Here, along the southern end of Turkey's Aegean coast, lies the original Mauosoluem, which the group will visit during an afternoon walking tour of Saint Peter's Castle, the Underwater Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Theatre and Mindos Gate. Potentially finish up at Cevat Sakir Caddesi, a main thoroughfare surrounded by alleys and streets hosting the local fish markets and a number of mayhanes (taverns), where you can select your own catch of the day and have it prepared for dinner.
There's a reason Bodrum is considered a boating paradise. Spend a day sailing off the beautiful peninsula on a gulet, a traditional wooden sailing vessel originating in this area. Sit back on the deck and soak up some sun as the boat sails down the coast with stops to swim, snorkel and explore the shore, as well as a break at the small island of Kara Ada. Enjoy lunch on board and a relaxing afternoon before returning to the hotel in the evening.
Drive to Selcuk this morning after breakfast (approximately 3 hours). Check into the hotel then take a walk through this sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque, then journey to gorgeous little village of Sirince, nestled in the hills outside Selcuk. This was a predominantly Greek village before WWI and the narrow streets host beautifully decorated houses, silversmiths, leather shops, jewellers and market stands. Enjoy a special Peregrine Moment and meet Pervin, from whom you'll learn the art of manti (Turkish ravioli) whilst relaxing over a glass of the local fruit wine.
Wake up early this morning to beat the crowds and head to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Med and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Tour around the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and beautifully restored Library of Celsus. Return to the hotel to relax before checking out and heading to the Ephesus Museum, then transfer to Izmir for an overnight train to Konya, in Central Anatolia. The train will arrive in Konya at 7.30 am, so enjoy the first-class sleeping compartments and included dinner in the restaurant car (with backgammon lessons courtesy of your Peregrine leader).
Arrive early in Konya, an important Roman city, and tuck into a full Turkish kahvalti (breakfast). Konya is the home of the mystic Sufi practice of whirling and after breakfast you'll visit the mausoleum of Mevlana, a famous mystic, as well as the museum housing manuscripts of his work and various mystic artefacts before driving three hours to the captivating region of Cappadocia. Check in to the hotel then head out with your leader to stretch your legs on a valley walk. Your leader has their own special place to introduce you to.
This mornig you can choose whether to take an optional hot air balloon rise over Cappadocia. Even if you don't choose to take a flight, it's worth getting up just to see the balloons rising with the sun. Have a relaxing breakfast from your terrace overlooking the valley then visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, which features houses, churches and monasteries carved into the soft cliff faces. Later in the afternoon, take a guided tour of Kaymakli, a troglodyte cave-city. Next, meet a local rug master and learn about the strong tradition of rug making from early nomadic styles to now. Head back to the hotel in Goreme. The rest of your day is free. Maybe take a relaxing Turkish bath to unwind after a long day experiencing some truly incredible history.
Drive to the airport after breakfast for a 1.5-hour flight back to Istanbul. Transfer to your hotel on arrival and enjoy a free afternoon. In the evening take the ferry to Kadikoy on Istanbul's Asian shore. Take a walk around this lively area and find a harbourside spot for dinner with your travelling companions.
Your trip ends today after breakfast and there are no activities planned.
Minimum: 1 Maximum: 12
19 Breakfasts, 4 Dinners
Explore one of the greatest cities of antiquity: Persepolis. The relief carvings and towering columns will leave you in no doubt that this was once the centre of the known world.
Once a major stop on the Silk Road, visit Yazd and discover the role religion plays in the city, from the impressive Jameh Mosque to the Zoroastrian towers and temples.
Step back in time at Ephesus, where the Greco-Roman world still feels very much alive. This is one of the best-preserved classical cities in all of Europe and is yet to be completely excavated.
Laze around on the Aegean Coast in Bodrum. Imagine bougainvillea, white-washed walls, boat cruises on a traditional gulet and fresh seafood – this is living.
Be mesmerised by the lunar landscape of Cappadocia and explore an underground city, and discover why Istanbul is renowned as one of the most multicultural and engaging cities in the world.
Ved skriftlig aksept av vårt tilbud bekrefter du/dere at våre betingelser er både lest og forstått og at evt kansellerings gebyrer kan tilkomme ved en evt. avbestilling av reisen.