Welcome to Istanbul! A city born from a blend of European and Asian influences, Istanbul is full of intriguing sights and ancient wonders, from its spellbinding architecture to its exceptional cuisine.
Upon arrival at Istanbul Airport (IST), you’ll be greeted and transferred to your hotel in time for a welcome meeting with your fellow travellers and an enticing dinner at a local restaurant.
Start your morning with a visit to the elaborate Topkapi Palace, former residence of the sultans of the Ottoman Empire. Wander its sprawling grounds and intricately decorated halls, then sit down to a filling lunch at a local restaurant.
Later, journey to the streets of Istanbul's fascinating Sultanahmet neighbourhood. Discover the area's charm on a guided walk through the Hippodrome – once an ancient Roman circus and the lively heart of Constantinople – witness the grandeur of the Blue Mosque and its six soaring minarets, and admire the silhouette of the magnificent Hagia Sophia – a mind-bending 6th-century Byzantine mosque.
This evening, follow the comforting aromas to the Spice Bazaar and lose yourself amongst the fragrant stalls.
Spend the morning touring Istanbul’s most important neighbourhoods and uncover its historic and modern architectural treasures, walking alongside the streetcar down bustling Istiklal Avenue. Reach the Grand Bazaar – one of the largest covered markets in the world – for time at leisure, where you can peruse the colourful wares of over 4,000 shopfronts.
Later, embark on a cruise along the Bosphorus Strait, gliding through the waters that separate Europe and Asia. Admire the verdant shorelines and palatial ‘yali’ – wooden mansions built right on the waterfront.
Back ashore, take your private transfer to the airport for your domestic flight to Cappadocia, where you’ll be transferred to your hotel for check-in and a satisfying dinner.
Adorned with stunning caves and 'fairy chimneys' — unique formations of eroded volcanic rocks – Cappadocia is a truly otherworldly landscape.
Choose to rise early for the sunrise of a lifetime on an optional hot air balloon flight over the magical fairy chimneys (additional costs apply). A bucket-list item for keen travellers, this is an experience not to be missed.
Later this morning, explore the wondrous formations up close and learn how the region's soft tufa rock has allowed for the creation of incredible underground cities, chapels, cave houses and more. Take in incredible natural formations in the Avcilar and Guvercinlik Valleys, then trace the signs of successive civilisations carved in the town of Uchisar.
Later on, delve into one of the oldest and finest Turkish crafts on a visit to a carpet-weaving workshop. This evening, relax at your hotel over dinner and optionally join the unique ritual of the Sufi whirling dervishes at a live show.
- Cappadocia sunrise hot air balloon ride (additional costs apply).
- Whirling dervishes ceremony (additional costs apply).
Fill up with a buffet breakfast at your hotel, then pay a visit to a traditional pottery workshop to learn about the skilled process of working with clay. See a wonderfully preserved 13th-century caravanserai, a roadside inn for weary travellers of centuries past.
Descend into the underground city of Serhatli – an ancient Christian refuge – then continue to Konya, home of Turkiye’s famous Sufi whirling dervishes. Take a tour of the Mevlana Museum for a window into the history of the dervishes, then check in at the opulent Dedeman Konya Hotel. Head out to explore the town or relax at the hotel before dinner.
Today, depart for Pamukkale – a UNESCO World Heritage-listed wonder of mineral-rich hot springs. From petrified calcareous waterfalls to striking stalactites, there’s no shortage of natural beauty here.
Later, set out to explore the ancient city of Hierapolis, known for its 15,000-seat amphitheatre. Dating from the 2nd Century BCE, this impressive structure even now offers spectacular acoustics.
Check in at the Hotel Doga Thermal Health & Spa to rest up and relax. Perhaps savour the spa and massage services of this lavish resort, then indulge in a delightful evening meal with your travel companions.
Today, drive along the coast to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed ruins of Ephesus, originally the most important Greek settlement in the region. Stroll through this beautifully preserved ancient city, admiring the delicate detail of the Temple of Hadrian and the resolute facade of the Library of Celsus.
Visit a fur production centre for an insight into Turkish craftsmanship, then continue to Izmir for your onward flight to Istanbul. This evening, join your fellow travellers for a flavourful dinner at a local restaurant.
Gather your energy over breakfast, then take your private transfer to Istanbul Airport (IST) for your onward flight to Athens. Widely regarded as the cradle of Western civilisation, Athens is a bustling city that brings history to life. A plethora of archaeological sites shape its topography, and museums housing precious ancient artefacts pepper the landscape. Make no mistake, though – Athens is ever-evolving, drawing on arts, culture and cuisine to breathe new life into the ruins.
Your tour begins upon arrival at Athens International Airport (ATH), where you’ll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel. The rest of the day is to be spent at your leisure. Choose to climb the sunny trails of Lycabettus Hill for one of the best views over Athens, then reward yourself with mouthwatering moussaka at a local restaurant. Soak up the atmosphere on the cobbled streets of the Plaka – Athens’ welcoming old town – or step inside and browse the myriad of traditional shops.
In the evening, meet with your tour leader for a sumptuous welcome dinner and the chance to get to know your fellow adventurers.
Wake to a filling buffet breakfast at your hotel. Transfer to the port and trade cobblestones for the cruise deck as you embark on a cruise aboard the Celestyal Discovery. Elegant design and comfortable cabins await as you’re welcomed aboard for your unforgettable four-night cruise through the spectacular Greek islands. From rugged cliffs to romantic ruins, your odyssey carries you through crystalline waters in the premium comfort of your exterior cabin. Arrive at vibrant Mykonos in the early evening and watch as the whitewashed houses and alleys light up in the glow of the island’s famous nightlife.
This evening, mark your departure with a welcome dinner of the freshest ingredients, prepared by local chefs.
Wake to the soothing sound of the Aegean Sea lapping at your doorstep and enjoy a hearty buffet breakfast aboard.
Gaze out over Kusadasi, one of Türkiye’s most popular resort towns and a launchpad to the ruins of Ephesus. One of the most important trading centres of classical Greece, Ephesus is a remarkably preserved monument to the region’s extensive history. Among the tumbled blocks and skeletal facades lie the remains of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Continue to Patmos, famed for its biblical connections. Once the refuge of Saint John the Theologian as he wrote the Book of Revelations, this idyllic island has consequently earned the hefty title of ‘Island of the Apocalypse’.
Choose to take excursions ashore or relax in sun-drenched style on the deck – floating on Aegean waters, the ancient world is your oyster.
Tonight, savour the centuries-old flavours of traditional Greek cuisine as you watch the glittering lights along the shore.
- Kusadasi shore excursion (surcharges apply).
- Patmos shore excursion (surcharges apply).
Breathe in the salty air of another day on the Aegean. After breakfast, choose to relax aboard your Celestyal cruise, or opt to go ashore to magnificent Rhodes.
Renowned for its historic winemaking and picturesque medieval Old Town, here once stood the legendary Colossus of Rhodes – a gargantuan statue of the sun god Helios, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, since lost to the passage of time. Opt to step ashore and visit the Doric Temple of Athena in the hilltop Acropolis of Lindos. Wander into the Old Town of Rhodes and pass through the imposing Gate d’Amboise into the Knights’ Quarter, then rest your eyes upon the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes – one of very few examples of Gothic architecture in Greece.
Later, board your vessel once more and relax with another spectacular Greek dinner aboard.
- Rhodes shore excursion (surcharges may apply).
After a restful sleep and an energising breakfast, you’re free to take the day at your leisure, unwinding in serenity or hopping ashore to explore Greece’s largest island, Crete.
Home to one of the earliest known civilisations of the Aegean, Crete’s ancient Minoan towns leave traces of the distant past scattered along its world-famous beaches. At the cusp of the Mediterranean Sea, Crete is also regarded as the birthplace of Mediterranean cuisine, full of fresh and fragrant ingredients to match the bright days and slow pace. Just outside the city of Heraklion is the Palace of Knossos, beneath which it’s believed lies the fabled labyrinth of the Minotaur.
In the afternoon, glide over the sparkling seas to Santorini. The breathtaking beauty of its white-terraced town and blue-domed houses is amplified by the fiery glow of the setting sun against the hillside. Volcanic sand beaches and panoramic views over the cliffs make Santorini a bucket list destination for travellers the world over. Opt to make landfall and wander the bright streets of this fantastical island community, making way for hard-working donkeys and stopping in for a glass of vinsanto – a refreshing local dessert wine.
Back aboard your vessel, tuck into another tantalising traditional dinner.
- Crete shore excursion (surcharges apply).
- Santorini shore excursion (surcharges apply).
Savour one last buffet breakfast aboard as you cruise into Lavrion, the Port of Athens.
Seize the day with a morning tour of Athens, led by your expert local guide. Stop at the Panathenaic Stadium, the birthplace of the modern Olympics in 1896, then gaze up at the surviving columns of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Visit the Hellenic Parliament and study the astounding artefacts of the Numismatic Museum of Athens – a collection of over half a million coins, medals, gems and stamps dating back more than 3,000 years.
Stand in awe at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Dionysius the Areopagite, marvel at the neoclassical Academy of Athens and survey the millennia-old structure of Hadrian’s Arch.
Complete your Athens adventure with a trip to the legendary Acropolis. This ancient citadel lords over the city with the weight of history as its foundation. Circle your way up the mountain, stopping to discover numerous cultural sites and hidden remnants on your way to the jaw-dropping Temple of Athena Nike. Instantly recognisable and utterly unparalleled, this ancient temple has stood in dedication of deities Athena and Nike – goddesses of wisdom and victory, respectively – since approximately 420 BCE.
Later this afternoon, check into your hotel and spend the rest of your day freely wandering the streets of this historic metropolis. If you prefer, spend your time relaxing in your hotel with stunning views of the nearby Acropolis.
Today’s itinerary is yours to write. While away the hours at the stunning Acropolis Museum and dig deeper into the countless relics of this historic site. Sit down at a local cafe and sample anise-flavoured ouzo over freshly rolled dolmades.
For the history enthusiasts, opt to join a full-day tour of nearby Delphi, famed for its mythic oracle at the dramatic Temple of Apollo.
- Delphi full-day excursion with lunch (surcharges apply).
Savour one last breakfast at your hotel before you transfer back to Athens International Airport (ATH). As your journey comes to a close, you may be headed home but may this adventure linger in your memory long after you’ve left these glittering shores.