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Cruising on the Aegean Sea
Caption: Cruising on the Aegean Sea
Caption: St Peter's Castle overlooking Bodrum
Caption: Gulets in Harbour
Caption: One of the famous Bazaar markets, where you can buy almost anything and practice your haggling skills
Caption: Street to Bodrum Harbour
Caption: Temple Ruins at Kaunos
Caption: Turkish Flag
Caption: Temple of Artemis, Ephesus
Caption: Gulets at Anchor
Caption: The Blue Mosque, Istanbul

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Journey Snapshot

Activity level: Level 2 Requires moderate physical activity. You need to be able to participate in physical activities such as longer walking tours, walking over uneven terrain, climbing steps and be comfortable with some periods of standing. Not suitable if you have limited mobility or require a wheelchair/mobility scooter.
Destination: Turkish Delights
Sailing from Istanbul to Bodrum
Duration: 12 days / 11 nights
Flight information: Arrive at Istanbul Airport [IST] on Day 1 and depart on Day 12
Pickup location: Istanbul Airport [IST]


Choose your own departure date for your group

Cruise the Aegean Sea in the wake of ancient civilisations, walk in the footsteps of Sultans exploring the Turkish Delights of Istanbul and Bodrum

Cruising on the Mediterranean Sea is a holiday like no other- here you will find some of the most beautiful locations in the world. Turkey is the ideal lauch point for an exploration of city, coast and countryside; from the bustling city of Istanbul, across the glittering blue Aegean sea to Cosmopolitan, ancient Bodrum.

Standing as the bridge between European culture to the West and Asian culture to the East, Turkey is a unique destination.  Discovering Istanbul is like walking through a time tunnel, where history and tradition live alongside the modern world in perfect harmony. Cruise the Mediterranean sea, among the islands of the Aegean on this Big Journey Company escorted tour. There will be time to swim and relax, to walk and discover more of the history and beauty of these ancient trading islands before our final disembarkation in the cosmopolitan, modern city of Bodrum. With Bodrum's amazing weather and seafront location, there is time to explore the contrast with the ancient city of Ephesus before flying back to Istanbul.

Visit the Imperial Residences of the Sultans, cruise across glittering blue seas to explore archaeological wonders of the classical age on a traditional Turkish gulet. Enjoy the local cuisine and hospitality in the company of your own local guide. There is no better way to explore the cultural melting pot of vast history, different religions and the mix of cuisines that is very uniquely Turkey.


Itinerary summary: DAY 1 - Welcome to Istanbul - Gateway to the East
DAY 2 - Exploring Istanbul
DAY 3 - Imperial Istanbul - Galata & The Imperial Residences
DAY 4 - Flight to Dalaman & Embark Gulet Cruise
DAY 5 - Cruising to the ancient ruins of Lydae
DAY 6 - Exploring Ekincik Cove, Dalyan and the ancient city of Kaunos
DAY 7 - Modern Marmaris
DAY 8 - Cruising to Bozburun & Loryma
DAY 9 - Historic Knidos & Time to Relax
DAY 10 - Bodrum & Wonders of the Ancient World
DAY 11 - Ephesus & Flight to Istanbul
DAY 12 - Farewell to Turkey
View Full Itinerary
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Full Itinerary

DAY 1 - Welcome to Istanbul - Gateway to the East

Upon arrival in Istanbul Airport, your Big Journey Company representative willl be waiting for you outside the Arrivals Terminal, holding a sign with your name on it. They will help you with the transfer to our hotel and check in.

We will enjoy a welcome dinner together this evening, to spend some time discussing the rest of your holiday with you Big Journey Comany Tour Director and to spend a little time in meeting the rest of your tour group. 

Included meals: Dinner 
Accommodation: Istanbul 

DAY 2 - Exploring Istanbul

Today we enjoy a city tour of Istanbul, taking in some of the most spectacular sites the ancient city has to offer.

We will see the Hippodrome, once the social center of Constantinople, as it was once known. Built by the Romans in the 3rd Century AD, only fragments are left of this once grand stadium. It held 100,000 spectators for public meetings, chariot races and executions. We also visit the Blue Mosque - one of the most important temples in the world. Named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior, the Blue Mosque can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district.

Lunch today is an opportunity to experience the best examples of the Ottoman cuisine, before continuing to explore Istanbul. We visit the dramatic and beautiful Basilica Cistern, built in the 6th Century as a secure water reservoir for the city and then explore the famous Grand Bazaar where you will be able to practice your haggling skills!

This evening we dine together to experience traditional Turkish mezze, a selection of dishes according to the season.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Istanbul 

DAY 3 - Imperial Istanbul - Galata & The Imperial Residences

Today we walk in the footsteps of Sultans, exploring the Topkapi Palace and it's exhibits from the Ottoman Empire, one of world history's mightiest and longest-lasting dynasties! This Islamic-run empire ruled large areas of the Middle East, Eastern Europe and North Africa for more than 600 years. 

We also visit Istanbul's famous Old Spice Market where you can find a vast diversity of spices, sacks of henna and, of course, the world’s very best Turkish delight.

After lunch, we head to the Galata district for a walking tour of Istiklal Street, the most famous avenue in Istanbul and to Taksim Square with its more modern monument to the Turkish Republic. 

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: Istanbul 

DAY 4 - Flight to Dalaman & Embark Gulet Cruise

This morning we transfer to the Istanbul Airport to fly to the coastal city of Dalaman, in the Asian part of Turkey [approx. 1hr15 flight].

A gulet is a traditional sailing vessel from the southwestern coast of Turkey, particularly built in the coastal towns of Bodrum and Marmaris. Upon arrival in Dalaman, we will be transferred to Fethiye where we will board a private gulet and begin our cruise. Lunch will be served on board to enable us to begin our cruise, to anchor in a secluded bay where you can look forward to enjoying swimming in the crystal waters of the Aegean Sea.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 5 - Cruising to the ancient ruins of Lydae

This morning, we enjoy breakfast on board our private gulet as we weigh anchor and head for Aga Limani Bay. Disembarkation will involve a dry landing on the rocky, gravel beach. Those who wish to explore further on foot can take a very rocky path leading steadily uphill for about 1 mile to a hilltop with the Roman and Byzantine ruins of ancient Lydae. Here, hikers will be rewarded for their efforts with a truly lovely view of the local coast before returning to the beach. [Approx. 45 mins’ hike each way].

We return to the boat for lunch aboard and for the opportunity for an afternoon swim at one of the nearby coves of Bedri Rahmi or Boynuz Buku.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 6 - Exploring Ekincik Cove, Dalyan and the ancient city of Kaunos

This morning's anchorage is in Ekincik Cove, a popular and protected stopping place for yachts and gulets alike. We head ashore to explore the tiny town of Ekincik. Surronded by forested hills and family-run farms, this rustic piece of paradise is the ideal place to step ashore.

We return to the gulet for lunch onboard before cruising to Dalyan. The Dalyan Delta is too shallow for our boat to enter, so local river boats will collect us to enjoy a boat cruise up the mouth of the Dalyan River to Kaunos. The ancient city of Kaunos was an important sea port and dates back to the 10 century BC! Access is on foot from the jetty, via a rocky but fairly level path going steadily upward. Our visit will take in the remains of the large theater, Roman baths and temples to various Greek and Roman deities.

Once back aboard, we cruise to a nearby viewpoint to see the impressive Lycian tombs, carved into the cliff face above before we reach our overnight anchorage within sight of Dalyan.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 7 - Modern Marmaris

Today we enjoy a shore excursion in Marmaris. Our gulets will dock directly in the marina, where we can get on and off by gangway. Marmaris a fairly large port town with a covered bazaar and lots of dockside cafes and restaurants. Spend your time at leisure in this Mediterranean idyll, strolling along the seafront promenade and through the vibrant town center.

Return to the boat for the evening and dinner on board.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 8 - Cruising to Bozburun & Loryma

Today we have the opportunity to enjoy two shore excursions. The first, in the small, secluded fishing village of Bozburun, involves a short stroll through the town. In ancient times, Bozburun was famous for it's marble quarries, but in modern times there are only about 2,000 residents and the area is now famous for it's thyme honey. 

Afterwards, we motor to the ancient once-fortified ancient port of Loryma. Here we disembark to a small dock with a dry landing. Walk up very rocky, bouldery “path” to the top of a hill, about 15 mins walk, for panoramic views of the old ruined Rhodian fortress, where travellers from the Greek island of Rhodes once built a trading town. 

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 9 - Historic Knidos & Time to Relax

This morning we arrive at the Ancient Greek city of Knidos. Once upon a time Praxiteles’ statue The Aphrodite of Knidos famously welcomed visitors here. The area is still occupied by many ancient remains. With it's rich history and multitude of stories to tell, the ancient city is a highlight of our day today.

Lunch back on board is followed by an afternoon at leisure for swimming, kayaking, sun bathing.

This evening, we join together for cocktail a party at our overnight anchorage of picturesque Palamutbuku Cove.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 
Accommodation: Gulet cruise 

DAY 10 - Bodrum & Wonders of the Ancient World

We bid a fond farewell to our Aegean cruise this morning and disembark for the bustling city of Bodrum.

Here we enjoy a guided tour exploring the Castle of St. Peter, which dates from the time of the Crusades and now houses the Museum of Nautical Archaeology and Museum of Underwater Archaeology.

We will also visit the ancient site of the Mausoleum, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The mausoleum was built by Artemisia, the sister and the wife of King Mausolos, B.C. 355. It was completely destroyed by an earthquake and the ruins were then used in building of the Halicarnassus Castle.

At the end of the tour, we transfer to our hotel in Bodrum for the evening. 

Included meals: Breakfast & Lunch 
Accommodation: Bodrum 

DAY 11 - Ephesus & Flight to Istanbul

After breakfast at the hotel, we travel to Selcuk for an exploration of the excavated city of Ephesus.

Settled nearly 3,000 years ago, Ephesus was one of the most beautiful cities of the ancient world. Much has been done to restore the white marble streets, theaters, baths, gymnasium, market, beautifully carved library and the spectacular Terrace Houses (Villas) located on top of the hill within the City of Ephesus. Here we enjoy a guided walking tour together with our informative local guide.

After a barbeque lunch, we continue on to Izmir for our flights to Istanbul.

Upon arrival to Istanbul, we transfer to our hotel for the night, with time to freshen up before we enjoy a farewell dinner together on our last night in Turkey.

Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Farewell Dinner 
Accommodation: Istanbul 

DAY 12 - Farewell to Turkey

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before transferring to Istanbul Airport to meet departure flights and commence your onward journey home.

Included meals: Breakfast 


More information

What's includedWhat's not includedImportant information

What's included

  • ATOL Protection
  • For UK guests, return economy flights to/from LHR are included in the cost of the journey. For US/International guests, international flights are not included - please arrange your own international flights.
  • Meet & Greet at Istanbul Airport [IST] on arrival 
  • Two one-way domestic economy flights: Istanbul [IST] - Dalaman [DLM]; Izmir ADB] - Istanbul [IST]
  • Transport as detailed in the itinerary
  • Accommodation as detailed in the itinerary (or similar standard)
  • Meals as detailed in the itinerary
  • English speaking tour guide throughout
  • All activities, visits and excursions as detailed in the itinerary.

What's not included

  • Drinks
  • All entrance fees to non-stipulated attractions.
  • Visas, travel insurance.
  • Any personal items and anything not mentioned under included in price above.
  • Any meals not mentioned in itinerary.
  • Any optional activities offered.
  • Gratuities
  • Any COVID tests or related entry & exit requirements

Important information

  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant journey.
  • Check in is after 2-3pm and check out is before 10am unless otherwise specified in the itinerary.
  • Cancellation 90 - 0 days prior to departure cancellation fee is 100%. It is your responsibility to ensure the correct travel insurance in place to protect you against the need to cancel your holiday. Deposits are non-refundable.
  • A non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking. Full balance will be due 14 weeks prior to departure.
  • Further terms and conditions apply and will be provided upon request or at the time of booking. The Big Journey Company reserves the right to withdraw any offer prior to accepting a reservation request. This does not affect your statutory rights. This offer is subject to availability and space is limited.
  • Please consult your doctor letting them know your travel plans so that they can advise you about any vaccinations/medications you may need to take.
  • Please let The Big Journey Company know prior to travelling if you have any medical needs or take any medication that we need to be made aware of to ensure that you have a safe and pleasant tourPrices are based on two people sharing and do not include increases in government taxes, fuel surcharges.
  • The boat may moor side-to-side with others in port and it may be necessary to cross other boats to get to the shore. Some daily excursions land directly on the beach or on small jetties. Walking on some of the daily excursions will include moderate activity and on uneven terrrain. Therefore, this cruise is not recommended for passengers in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
  • In some events, for example due to adverse weather conditions, the captain can choose to alter the itinerary for the comfort and safety of the passengers.

The big journey promise

The big journey company was set up with one goal in mind, to share our passion for inspirational cultures, destinations and experiences. Over the last 10 years we have had the privilege to escort thousands of travellers on awe inspiring and sometimes life changing journeys. Our promise to every guest who joins us is that we will do everything possible to make sure your journey not only exceeds expectations but delivers at least one moment of true amazement.

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Holiday tours are operated by The Big Journey Company Limited. Registered in England. Registered office: Marron Bank, Branthwaite, Cumbria, CA14 4SZ. Registered number: 6532140. The Big Journey Company Limited is a member of The Travel Trust Association member number U5675 and holds an Air Travel Organiser’s License number T7282.

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