Eastern Turkey & Black Sea: 18 Days

Traveling around the Eastern and Black Sea Regions of Turkey is more challenging, with distances between towns, limits of climate and fewer facilities, but this is amply compensated by the remote beauty, unspoiled scenery and, of course, renowned hospitality of the people in these regions.

With its high mountain ranges, remote plateaus, lakes and river beds splashed with color, plus the traces of Turkish, Arabic, Armenian, and Georgian cultures, these regions of Anatolia bring history to life, past to present. In the polarizing world, these regions are where exactly east and west meet in cultures, religions, and cuisines.

// » Trip Cost  //    » Route Map   //    » Climate


Day 1 Flight Day
We depart en route to Istanbul with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

Day 2 Istanbul
Upon our arrival we are met by our Eon Tours representative who will accompany us throughout our tour. We are escorted to our private motor coach, which will transfer us to our hotel for the overnight.

Day 3 Istanbul
We will have a leisurely breakfast after our long flight. We visit the Underground Cistern and take a cruise on the Bosphorus in the morning. After lunch we will meander in the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market in the afternoon.

Day 4 Antakya
After breakfast we transfer to the airport for our early morning flight to Adana. We will drive to the city of Tarsus, the birth place of Paul. After lunch in Tarsus we drive to Antakya via the Issus Plain where Alexander the Great defeated Persian King Darius. The third largest city of the Roman Empire, Antioch ad Orontes grew as the most important commercial, cultural, and political center of the Syrian province. We will visit Antakya Mosaic Museum, where outstanding examples of Roman mosaics are displayed, and the Grotto of Peter. The city became the center of the early Christianity and Paul’s headquarter in his journeys.

Day 5 Antakya
We will visit the Titus Tunnel, a rock-cut channel dating back to the first century, and rock-cut tombs at Seleucaea ad Pieraea. We drive to the Monastery of Simeon, the Stylite on Samandag. We wander in the old city center and have free time in the afternoon.

Day 6 Gaziantep / Urfa
We will visit Yesemek, the site of a sculpture workshop of the Hittites from 13 C to the late 8 century BC. We continue to the Gaziantep Museum where many unique frescoes and mosaics are displayed from the Roman frontier city of Zeugma on the Euphrates River. We will take delight in the famous Antep cuisine, the amalgam of Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, and Syriac cuisines. Gaziantep is the most famous city for pistachio and baklava in Turkey.

Day 7 Nemrut / Urfa
We will spend the whole day in Nemrut Mountain and environs. The magnificent funerary monument was constructed by Antiochus I Theos on the summit of the highest mountain. Giant-sized head statues of Apollo, Fortuna, Zeus, Heracles, and Antiochus I make an impressive sight of the fusion of two religious belief and cultural traditions, Hellene and Persian, in Commagene Kingdom. We will visit Arsemeia, the capital city of Commagene Kingdom, Yenicekale village and Cendere Bridge built by the Romans in the second century AD and still being used by the local people. We will drive to Urfa along the River Euphrates and visit the biggest dam project in Turkey on the way.

Day 8 Harran/Urfa
We will visit the cave and pool of Abraham, the patriarch who is venerated by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. We will spent the morning among people who came from all the villages to worship in this place dedicated the father of all monotheist religions and then walk through the Urfa Bazaar, which still bear the mystical flavor of the Eastern world. We visit Harran, the city of Abraham and his family on the way to the Promised Land. The ruins of the ancient city stand among the houses of locals resembling beehives. These houses have uninterruptedly been the main life style of the Upper Mesopotamia for 4000 years.

Day 9 Mardin/Batman
We drive to Mardin and visit the medieval town center which declared as the World Heritage by UNESCO. We visit the Monastery of Dayrul-Zeferan next to Mardin. We drive to Midyat, the heart of Tur Abdin which means “the Mountain of the Servant of God.” At one time thousands of monks lived, worked and prayed in more than 80 monasteries in the Tur Abdin. Mor Gabriel Monastery still serves as the Archbishop Center of Syrian Orthodox Church. We visit the Anitli Village and their church where they still use Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, in their Syrian Orthodox liturgy. We continue to Mor Gabriel Monastery. This is the biggest and most important church of the Syrian Orthodox Christians in the Tur Abdin. The small village of Anitli boasts of having the oldest active church since the fourth century where they still preach in Aramaic.

Day 10 Van
We will visit the town of Hasankeyf on the River Tigris in the morning. We will drive to the city of Van on Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey. Van is known for its unique cats with their long, white fur and different colored eyes. We will have a boat ride to Akdamar Island to visit the church of Holy Cross, which was built by Armenian King in the 10th century as a magnificent example of Armenian ecclesiastical architecture.

Day 11 Van
Van was the capital city of the Urartians. The Urartians developed a high civilization from 12 C to 8 C BC with their distinct culture and alphabet. In the morning we will visit Van Castle, which was the capital city of Urartians in the name of Tushpa, and then drive to Cavustepe, another Urartian citadel dating back to the 8th century B.C. We will have free afternoon either to swim in the lake or to shop in Van. The city of Van is one of best places to purchase the Kurdish and Iranian hand-woven items in the Eastern Turkey.

custom_tours_turkeyDay 12 Dogubeyazit / Kars
We will drive to the small town of Dogubeyazit by having a break at the Muradiye Waterfalls on the way. We will explore the 18th century palace of Ishak Pasha, which displays a unique architectural style combining various influences of the cultures existed in the Silk Road. While we are driving to Kars, we will enjoy the spectacular view of the Mt. Ararat where Noah’s Ark is said to have landed.

Day 13 Erzurum
We will stroll through the medieval metropolis of Ani on the Armenian border. Beyond the city walls is a deep gorge separating Turkey from Armenia. Once being the biggest city of the region and competing with Constantinople, Ani displays its dignity and splendor in its solitude. We drive to Erzurum, the largest city in eastern Turkey. We will visit Cifte Minare and Yakutiye Medrese, the theological schools of the Ottoman period. We will have free time in Rustem Pasha Bedesten, devoted to the manufacture and sale of Oltutas, a local black stone.

Day 14 Ayder
We will drive to Camliyamac village to visit OskVank Georgian Monastery. We will learn how to make tandir bread from villagers and prepare our own bread for our lunch. We’ll attend to the Kafkasor Festivals in Artvin in the afternoon. People from all around Turkey come here for annual bull wrestling and folk dance shows for three days. We’ll drive to Rize, where most of Turkey’s tea crop is harvested.

Day 15 Ayder
Entering the Black Sea region, we will enjoy the lush and evergreen flora of the region including plantations of tea, hazelnuts, tobacco, and corn, through the mountains and the cool waters of the coast the Black Sea. The culture, cuisine, climate and even dialect are different from the rest of Turkey because of the fusion of Turkish, Greek, Georgian, and Armenian cultures in this region. We will drive to the picturesque traditional villages of Ayder Plateau. We will have either an optional walk among the villages or relaxation in the Ayder Thermal Springs in the afternoon.

Day 16 Trabzon/Istanbul
We’ll check out of our hotel and drive to Trabzon. Enjoy a leisurely tour of the city for the rest of the day to visit the house of Ataturk and the church of 13th century Haghia Sophia housing the best example of Byzantine art. We will drive to Macka and visit the monastery of the Black Virgin of Sumela built on a ledge of sheer rock in the 4th century. The view overlooking the deep lush gorge is inspiring and spectacular.

Day 17 Istanbul
After breakfast, we will cruise the Princes’ Islands where the motorized traffic is forbidden. By phaeton, we will tour the unspoiled beauty of Istanbul, to where the Byzantine Princes were exiled in the medieval times. After lunch, we will visit the active Greek Monastery in the island.

Day 18 Departure
We transfer to the Istanbul Airport and fly back to home.



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Click on the map to enlarge


Click on the map to enlarge

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Average air temperatures in Fahrenheit (and Celsius) and number of rainy days by month along the route (Istanbul and Antalya)

IstanbulMaximum70 (21)
77 (25)
84 (29)
84 (29)
77 (25)
68 (20)
Minimum52 (11)
59 (15)
64 (18)
64 (18)
54 (15)
53 (12)
Wet Days

Marmaris68 (20)
72 (22)
75 (24)
79 (26)
77 (25)
73 (23)
Antalya70 (21)
75 (24)
81 (27)
82 (28)
81 (27)
77 (25)
Wet days8

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