Welcome to Iran. A Tehran airport arrival transfer is included, so please provide your flight details at the time of booking or no later than 14 days prior to travel. Once you have provided your details, a transfer representative will be booked to meet you and transfer you to your hotel (approximately 1 hour). This is simply an arrival day so you may arrive in Tehran at any time, though please note that hotel rooms are generally only available after midday. There will be a trip briefing at 6 pm; please refer to your hotel noticeboard or talk to reception for more details. Until then the rest of your day is free to explore your new surroundings. Iran's capital is exciting, noisy and chaotic. Home to 15 million people, Tehran is the country's beating heart and where its true national identity is found. Expect to see women wearing full-length chadors competing for space with young and hip girls in figure-hugging manteau and headscarves. Also expect to be stopped by friendly locals who love nothing more than to chat with you about anything and everything. In the evening, perhaps take a seat at a city coffee shop for some people watching.
Begin your discovery of Tehran with a full day tour, start at the World Heritage-listed Golestan Palace. This opulent masterpiece of the Qajar era embodies early Persian design with the influence of western architecture, take a stroll through Tehran's bustling Bazzaar before continuing to the National Museum whilst it may not look inspiring from the outside inside is a treasure chest 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 Fin Garden (Bagh-e Tarikhi-ye Fin), a historic and 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 details of this building as dictated by the geographical and climatic conditions of the area. It’s a fascinating place to visit. Spend the evening in Kashan, and experience Iranian hospitality as we share our evening meal with a local family.
After breakfast we depart for the ancient desert city of Yazd once a major stop on the caravan routes to Central Asia and India during the Silk Road period – Marco Polo visited the city on his way to China – and it retains a rustic feel. It's also known as the heart of the Zoroastrian religion. We stop en route in the quite town of Ardestan located on the edge of the Central Desert this small village has retained a lot of its traditional charm – the town is full of old clay houses sitting on top of underground aqueducts which draw water from the mountains to the plains. Continue to Aqda where we enjoy a Persian lunch in beautifully restored traditional house. Relax over lunch and maybe take a walk through the village. Arriving in Yazd in the late afternoon time to indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to a famous confectionery maker at Haj Khalifeh Ali Rahbar. Taste generations of expertise at the oldest and most famous sweet shop in the city, where treats are made through traditional techniques. Spend the evening in a traditional hotel in Yazd.
Explore the old part of the city in the morning, considered by UNESCO to be steeped in antiquity. Visit the Amir Chakmaq complex, then walk through the narrow kuches (lanes) past simple courtyards and the ornate doors of local mud brick buildings. One of the most distinctive features of Yazd are the badgirs (wind towers) that capture even the softest of breezes before sending them to the buildings below, cooling them off as a forerunner of modern air-con. 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 the Zoroastrian religion, 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. The intriguing Towers of Silence are part of the Zoroastrian tradition of raised circular structures where the dead are laid out to be picked clean by scavenger birds. Dinner tonight is a very special experience, as we travel to the village of Taft to the house of Nartitee. Here every corner of this small village home tells a story, at Nartitee you can experience a 2500 year culture as you enjoy a simple meal amongst the scent of pomegranate and tamarind trees.
Today we travel from Yazd to Shiraz (approximately 6 hours), and on the way we stop at the ice-houses of Abarkuh. Ice houses were known in Iran as early as the 17th century BC and these were used as recently as 50 years ago. The Abarkuh Cyprus is the the focal point of this village and is believed to be 4500 years a popular symbol of 'life and beauty'. Relax a while and gaze on the beauty of this tree the oldest living organism in Iran. Arrive in Shiraz in the late afternoon.
Welcome to Shiraz. Valerian, the only Roman emperor to have ever been a prisoner of war, lived out his last days in captivity here circa AD260. Many of the local ruins date from this period. There’s plenty of chances to explore this Pearl of Persia over the next few days – the name itself evokes thoughts of tranquil gardens, lavish palaces, philosophers and artists. Up early this morning to catch the first rays of sun as it seeps in through the stained glass of the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, this mosque may seem like a fairly traditional place of worship from the outside, but inside it is guarding a very gorgeously colourful secret. Continue to the Vakil Bazaar and the Khan citadel. Bazaar-e Vakil is regarded as one of the most evocative bazaars in the country and specialises in fine carpets, handicrafts, textiles and spices. This afternoon, visit the vast complex of Eram Garden, also known as the ‘Garden of Paradise’ (Bagh-e Eram). Wander the grounds, filled with young Shirazis, where artificial rivers run through an impressive collection of cypress trees before pooling in front of a colourful palace. Following this, visit the tombs of Hafez and Sa'di. The Persian poet Hafez was born in Shiraz around 1310 and travelled the world before returning to pass away in Shiraz, where he is regarded as a literary giant and folk hero. Nearby is the Aramgah-e Shah-e Cheragh, known as one of the holiest sites in Shiraz. The beautiful structure serves as a mausoleum to one of Imam Reza’s brothers and the forecourt is often packed with Shiite pilgrims. After witnessing these stunning sites, the rest of the day is free for exploration.
Begin the day with a trip to the remains of Persepolis (approximately 1 hours' drive) – 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 the course of 150 years as the ceremonial capital of Darius I’s Achaemenid Empire. The imposing gateways, intricate relief carvings, mountainside tombs, grand staircases and towering columns leaves little doubt that this was once the heart of the known world. Continue on to Naqsh-e-Rajab, the site of four limestone rock face inscriptions and bas-reliefs that date to early Sassanid times. In 330 BC, invading armies led by Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great set fire to the city, destroying it and in turn symbolising the destruction of the Persian Empire. While today only small ruins remain from those once-magnificent structures, the site is still impressive.
Depart from Shiraz en route to Esfahan (approximately a 6 hour drive). Along the way we stop for a guided tour of Pasargadae, an ancient city built by Cyrus the Great that precedes Persepolis. It’s not as well preserved as the latter, but still reflects the architectural genius of the Achaemenids, the beauty of simplicity and balance. Arrive in Esfahan; 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, creating a fairytale spectacle best witnessed 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 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’s many grand buildings in the surrounding area such as the Ali Qapu Palace, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Qeysarieh Portal and the majestic Imam Mosque – all of which are truly remarkable sights. In the Safavid era, this place was renowned for its parades, military reviews, polo games and festivals. These days it’s better regarded as a place for families to idly wander or enjoy a picnic come the early evening. After exploring the area, the rest of the day is free for soaking up the visual appeal of the city and discovering the many beautiful secrets it holds.
Continue exploring Isfahan 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 stunning, delicate 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, we recommend the Bazaar an easy place to while away the hours getting lost among the colours and tantalizing aromas.
After breakfast this morning we start the journey back to Tehran, stopping in Iran's second most holiest city for the opportunity to visit the Shirne of Fatima Masumeh. Fatima Masumeh was the sister of the eighth Imam Reza and the daughter of the seventh Imam Musa al-Kadhim (Tabari 60). On arrival back in Tehran, and after checking in to the hotel, we head to the Tabiat Nature Bridge for some afternoon exploration. 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 wistful 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.
Rise and shine for an early breakfast, then begin the drive to Çanakkale. located on the shores of the Dardanelles (the strait that connects Europe and Asia via the Gelibolu Peninsula and the Biga Peninsula). Arrive in time for an included lunch, then head to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Visit the cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill toward the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. Look down upon the rough hills and gullies that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men on both sides. Tour the former battlefields and find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After a day that will no doubt be full of sombre reflection, the evening is free for you to do as you wish in Canakkale.
Drive to Selcuk with a stop en route in Troy. Here legend and history fuse together, and you can see both ancient city walls as well as a replica Trojan Horse. Learn how the site has confounded historians and archaeologists, then continue to Selcuk. On arrival, pay a visit to the famously adorable village of Sirince and enjoy a tasting of local fruit wine.
This morning enjoy an orientation walk around Selcuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient Aysoluk Hill fortress. Visit the last remaining column of the Temple of Artemis, the ancient aqueducts and the 14th-century Isabey Mosque during this fascinating tour. In the afternoon, visit one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world – Ephesus. Tour the amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once walked by Cleopatra and Mark Antony and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and restored Library of Celsus. Make a stop at Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms.
After breakfast this morning, travel to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming myriad pools and terraces. As the water overflows, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that – from afar – resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with waters that many believe have healing properties for circulation and the digestive system. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, an important Roman bath centre founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC. Explore the extensive ruins of Hierapolis, which include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis.
Make the journey to the coast, with a stop en route at the ghost village of Kayakoy. Abandoned after WWI and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, this once-thriving village now lies as a poignant reminder of the human cost of war and politics. Spend some time on the eerie streets, then continue to Kas (which means eyebrow in Turkish) and begin exploring on a walking tour. Now primarily a holiday town, Kas is strewn with the remains of Lycian tombs, iconic white-washed walls covered with climbing bougainvillea and an ancient theatre where you can watch a spectacular sunset.
Embark on a boat cruise around the local islands with two local guides, Mehmet and Sebahat. Hailing from the small village of Ucagiz, bought a boat and went fishing after they married and never stopped. While the fishing industry has shifted due to modern catchment methods, Mehmet and Sebahat decided to use their knowledge and love of the local waters to share a distinctly traditional way of cruising and eating with travellers. Cruise to their home village of Ucagiz and also to the village of Simena, sailing from large bays to protected inlets where you can cool off with a swim in turquoise waters. Enjoy lunch cooked on board in Tersane Bay, where the water is so clear you can see the bottom and the shore is lined with the ruins of an ancient city. Look out for ruins submerged under the clear water. After a day on the water, return to Kas for an evening at your leisure.
Take a scenic drive to the jewel in the Mediterranean crown – Antalya. Your accommodation is located in the Kaleici (Old City), so settle in on arrival and then head out on an afternoon walk to see Hadrians Gate, the Old Roman Harbour and more stunning views of the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. Spend the night in the ancient Kaleci. While dinner this evening is not included, it would be a crime not to try some of the fresh, local seafood served in one of the many restaurants.
This morning take a guided visit though the Antalya Museum. The province of Antalya includes dozens of important ancient Hellenistic and Roman cities, and some of the best artefacts are on display in the museum’s 13 exhibition halls and open-air gallery. Your afternoon is free to spend as you wish. Maybe relax in the Kaleici, beat the heat with a swim or take an optional visit to the ancient cities of Side, Perge or Apsendos. Be sure to speak to your leader for details on these optional activities.
Make a 2-hour morning drive in Burdur province to the city of Sagalassos. The ruins of the city are dramatically sited in the Taurus Mountains, offering magnificent views as well as impressive ancient monuments. Continue on to Konya, an ancient city important in the Roman era where the Sufi practice of 'whirling' was born.
This morning discover the mystic resting place of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, the 13th-century mystic, poet and theologian whose teachings continue to inspire and influence Muslims around the world. Visit the small museum dedicated to his life and work before continuing Cappadocia. Arrive by late afternoon, with time to see the main village and perhaps take a short valley walk with your leader. Your evening is free. One optional activity that may be of interest after what you learned this morning is a performance of whirling by local Dervishes in a restored han (caravansary).
Early birds have the option of taking a hot air balloon over the otherworldly Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away. After a relaxing breakfast on a terrace overlooking the valley, visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. See the many incredible houses, churches and monasteries carved out of the soft cliff face. The Christian sanctuaries contain many examples of Byzantine art, cave chapels and colourful biblical frescoes from the 10th–12th centuries. Later in the afternoon, go on a short walk through 'Love Valley' which is famous for its phallic rock formations. Then head back to your hotel in Goreme. Perhaps take an optional Turkish bath to unwind at the end of the day.
Head on a morning walk to what is arguably the most beautiful valley in Cappadocia, Kizilcukur. You'll see fascinating rock formations such as cones, peaks and fairy chimneys, as well as man-made cave chapels. After lunch, head toward the red river of Avanos and descend to Ozkonak, an underground city hollowed out of tufa rock that dates back to 400 BC. Explore this unique city, including the crude communication system that allowed signals to be sent between all ten levels. Return to the surface and visit a local potter. Discover the rich clay from the red river and watch how it is moulded into exquisite pieces, then return to your hotel via Devrent Valley.
This morning say goodbye to Cappadocia and return to Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul, transfer to your hotel. The afternoon is yours to explore some of the charms of Istanbul. This evening consider joining your group and leader for an optional dinner.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning.
|Start date - End date||Trip Status||Price|
|03/OCT/2020 - 29/OCT/2020||FS DG||AU$7345 |
(single supplement $1455)
|06/MAR/2021 - 01/APR/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|20/MAR/2021 - 15/APR/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|03/APR/2021 - 29/APR/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|10/APR/2021 - 06/MAY/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|17/APR/2021 - 13/MAY/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|24/APR/2021 - 20/MAY/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|15/MAY/2021 - 10/JUN/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|22/MAY/2021 - 17/JUN/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|29/MAY/2021 - 24/JUN/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|04/SEP/2021 - 30/SEP/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|11/SEP/2021 - 07/OCT/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|25/SEP/2021 - 21/OCT/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|02/OCT/2021 - 28/OCT/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|09/OCT/2021 - 04/NOV/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|
|16/OCT/2021 - 11/NOV/2021||FS DG||AU$7695|