Turkey and Greek Islands

Thursday, September 3—Travel Day

Transatlantic flight from US to Istanbul. 


Day 1— Friday, September 4: Arrive Istanbul

Following your transatlantic flight leaving the US on Thursday, September 3 arrive in the late afternoon in Istanbul. The group arrival will be met by an English speaking guide at the airport and transferred to our hotel for overnight. Welcome dinner will be served at the hotel at 7pm

Dinner and overnight Istanbul—Barcelo Istanbul Hotel


Day 2— Sabbath, September 5: Tour of city sites, Istanbul

Following a traditional Turkish breakfast, we will begin our day with the Old City by following the city walls to Chora Museum, 'Church of St. Saviour in Chora'. a masterpiece in the Byzantine art with its well preserved mosaics and frescoes. Somewhere along the way as the city unfolds, we will find a suitable location for a devotional service. Our day will include the Church of St Sophia (Hagia Sophia (6thc. AD), another masterpiece Byzantine Christian Architecture and one of the oldest and largest cathedrals of the world. We will cross the street to visit the Basilica Underground Cistern, a mystic atmosphere carried by 336 columns. 

Following dinner, we will end the Sabbath with worship in the hotel.

Dinner and overnight Istanbul—Barcelo Istanbul Hotel


Day 3— Sunday, September 6: Istanbul

We begin our day with a visit to the Hippodrome area, the remnant of an arena built in the reign of Septimius Severus. From here we will proceed to the 17th century Blue Mosque, so called due to its more than 20,000 blue İznik tiles that adorn the interior walls. We will also tour Topkapı Palace, the residence of the Ottoman Sultans who reigned over the world for four centuries from the 15th to the 19th century. We will be enchanted by the mysterious Harem and the treasury of Topkapi.

Continuing our exploration of Istanbul we will visit the İstanbul Archaeology Museums with its highlights, a Hellenistic Masterpiece of Art: the Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great feasting on the impressive sculptural reliefs; the ‘’Siloam Inscription’’ , ‘’Gezer Calendar’’ and ‘’Treaty of Kadesh’’ – the tablet of first treaty in the history .

Dinner and overnight Istanbul—Barcelo Istanbul Hotel 


Day 4— Monday, September 7: Istanbul—Bursa 

As we prepare to leave Istanbul we will visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest of its kind. After a couple of hours at the Bazaar. we will cross the Bosphorus straight to Asia and drive to Iznikknown as ancient Nicaea from which comes the Nicene Creed. In the 4th century (325 AD) Nicene Council was held on the shore of Nicaea Lake. The second Ecumenical Council was held in 787 AD. We will visit the Roman city walls, as well as the church of St. Sophia. Our journey will continue to Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Turks. In Bursa we will visit the great masterpieces of early Ottoman Turkish architecture; the Green Mosque, the Green Tomb, and Grand Mosque. 


You will have an opportunity to relax with a Turkish Bath in the hot springs (optional)

Dinner and overnight Bursa—Marigold Thermal Hotel 


Day 5—Tuesday, September 8: Bursa—Ayvalik

Following breakfast, our drive today will take us to the site of Alexandria Troas where Paul on his second missionary journey, was in Troas when he had a vision of a man from Macedonia inviting him to come to Macedonia (Europe) and help us. (Acts 16:8-12). On the return from his third missionary journey Paul walked by land from Alexandria Troas to Assos to embark for Mytilene. (Acts 20:13-14).

Dinner and overnight in the seaside town of Ayvalik—Halic Park Hotel 


Day 6— Wednesday, September 9: Ayvalik—Pergamon—Izmir 

This morning as we depart we will take a short drive to Bergama, ancient Pergamon (aka Pergamum) (Rev 2:12-17). Early Christian martyr Antipas was tortured to death here. Pergamon was the site of many temples to pagan Gods. Yet Christianity took a stronghold here as early as 2nd century, attested by the monumental size of Basilica of St. John.


Pergamon was the capital city of Hellenistic Kingdom of Pergamon. Pergamon Library was the second richest library of the ancient world after the library in Alexandria, Egypt. The city of  Pergamon was also where parchment paper was invented.  Here you will visit the Basilica of St John (The Red Church), the temples of Zeus and Emperor Trajan, the Hellenistic theatre and the library site


We will take a short drive to the hospital site of Pergamon, named Asklepion. Asklepion was among the three most famed hospitals of the ancient world. Our drive will continue to Thyatira to visit the remains of the church mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Rev 2:18-29).We will continue our journey to Izmir.

Dinner and overnight Izmir—Movenpick Hotel


Day 7— Thursday, September 10: Izmir—Smyrna—Philadelphia—Laodicea—Pamukkale

Following breakfast, we will drive the countryside of ancient Turkey with many stops along the way. 


Izmir is ancient Smyrna one of the seven churches in Revelation (Rev 2: 8-11).

St. Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna, one of the disciples of St. John. We will visit St. Polycarp Church. We will take a morning drive to Sardis (Rev.3:1-6), the capital city of Lydian Kingdom. Sardis was one of the rich metropolises of Asia Minor with crowded populations of Jews which might have enabled the Good News to be heard at a faster rate than in other areas. The site is presently under the excavation of Harvard and Berkeley Universities. Sardis was where the richest man on earth, King Croesus enjoyed incredible power and wealth. 


Lydians invented and minted the first coins in the world. We will visit one of the oldest synagogues of the world that was later converted into a church. We will also visit the monumental Artemis Temple and the impressively restored Roman Imperial Hall.


As we continue our journey, we will have a short visit at ancient Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13) to see the remaining walls of a monumental church. Philadelphia together with Smyrna were two one of the seven churches of Asia Minor which did not receive any criticism about applications of Christianity.  


The last of the seven churches (Rev 3:14-22) is Laodicea,where John called its Christians Lukewarm. Recent Turkish excavations on the site reveal walls of a what might have been a monumental church. 

Dinner and overnight—Pamukkale—Doga Thermal I Hotel


Day 8—Friday, September 11: Pamukkale

This morning we again enjoy a hearty Turkish breakfast before we begin our visit to in and around Pamukkale a declared World Heritage Site by the UNESCO Cultural Department.


Our first stop will be Hierapoliswhere Apostle Philip came to spread the gospel of Christianity. It is believed that Philip lived and was martyred here. Hierapolis is mentioned in Paul's epistle to the Colossians (Colossian 4:13). We will explore one of the richest cemetery grounds of the ancient world, the main Domitian Gate and the main avenue. We will also see the white travertine cascades of Pamukkale. 

Dinner and overnight—Pamukkale—Doga Thermal I Hotel



Day 9—Saturday the Sabbath, September 12:  Pamukkale—Kusadasi  

This morning following breakfast we will travel to the Roman city of Aphrodisias, which is one of the most prestigious excavation sites in the world, funded by the National Geographic Society. The city of Goddess Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty. The artists from Aphrodisias produced some of the most sophisticated sculptures of the ancient world. We will visit the local archaeological museum where we will see the amazing collection of artwork from Aphrodisias. 


We will then continue our drive to Miletus, a great Greco-Roman metropolis that was the home of early Greek philosophers and the scientists, including Thales and Hippodamos.   


On his way to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey, Paul asked the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus (Acts 20:16-38) where he predicted his own death (Acts 20:20-25). We will visit the ancient theatre site as well as the port area where Paul said a sentimental goodbye to the church Elders from Ephesus. Our drive continues to the beautiful Mediterranean beach resort city of Kusadasi.

Dinner and overnight—Kusadası—Charisma Deluxe Hotel


Day 10—Sunday, September 13:  Kusadasi

This is a day of leisure. Enjoy the beach, relax, reflect on where you are personally on your own spiritual journey. 

Dinner and overnight—Kusadası—Charisma Deluxe Hotel


Day 11—Monday, September 14:  Kusadasi (Ephesus)

Today we will visit the glorious city of Ephesus and have a devotional service in the amphitheater. (Rev 1:11, 2:1-7; Acts 18:19-28, 19:1-41)


Our visit to Ephesus will include the archaeological site, the Museum of Selcuk (Ephesus Museum), the Basilica of St. John and the House of Virgin Mary.


Ephesus was the capital city of Roman Province of Asia Minor; it is also one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; Temple of Artemis, and the site of the third richest library of the ancient world; Celsus library.  


Paul came to Ephesus in 54 AD and stayed for three years. He preached the Gospel, gained followers and established the church of Ephesus.

John (author of Revelations according to the New Testament) also spend his last years in Ephesus. John is believed to have been buried within the Basilica of St John. 


A strong tradition in the Catholic Church claims that St. John brought Virgin Mary to Ephesus and she ascended to heaven from Ephesus.

Dinner and overnight—Kusadası—Charisma Deluxe Hotel



Day 12-14—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—September 15-18: 

Cruising: Overnight cruise ship

While cruising three meals a day are provided on board the ship.


Day 12: Tuesday, September 15: Embark Cruise. 

Today we will board the cruise ship in Kusadasi, Turkey for a 4-day cruise in the Greek Islands and the Aegean Sea 

Shore excursions are included—Patmos—Rhodes—Herklion. These shore excursions are not interchangeable with other optional excursions that may be available on board the ship. 


Following boarding, lunch will be served. You will have time to explore the “life on board”, spa, pool, gym, and live music. If interested, Greek dancing classes are usually given on the sun deck. 


1st port stop is on the Island of Patmos.

It was on the Island of Patmos that the Apostle John was exiled (Revelations 1:9, 19) and he received and wrote the Book of Revelation. Shore excursion—The monastery of St. John in Exile and the Grotto of the Revelation. The monastery is on the uppermost part of the island, which contains priceless icons and ancient artifacts including an original painting of Jesus by the famous artist El Greco (Dominikos Theotokopoulos). 

Overnight: Cruise Ship


Day 13—Wednesday, September 16 (day 2 of cruise) Rhodes, Greece

Following breakfast you can disembark and visit the beautiful island of Rhodes, the Island of the Sun. This island is a Medieval/Modern amalgam that fascinates visitors. Its medieval aspect fortified behind an impressive wall, merges harmoniously with the refined cosmopolitan air of the modern city. Paul stopped here on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1) We will have a full day to sightsee, shop, enjoy this slow-paced paradise. Shore excursion—Rhodes Medieval Tour—Acropolis of Lindos and the citadel of the Knights. You will also see the harbor entrance where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood. (One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World).

Overnight: Cruise Ship



Day 14—Thursday, September 17 (day 3 of cruise) Crete [Heraklion], Greece, and Santorini, Greece

This morning the cruise ship docks in Crete, the largest in size of all the Greek Islands and famous in legend as the birthplace of Zeus, Father of the Greek Gods. Heraklion is the largest city and capital of the island—a bustling city full of life with a traditional central market and wonderful beaches. Shore excursion—Minoan Palace of Knossos—1stEuropean Civilization. This is the mythical palace of King Minos and the Minotaur. Crete’s archaeological museum holds the remains of the 3000-year-old Minoan civilization. The city was a stronghold for the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire from 961 AD until 1204 AD. In 1204 the city was purchased by the Republic of Venice and became an outpost for the Italian Renaissance. In 1669 Heraklion was captured by the Ottoman Turks and made part of their empire. Finally, in 1913, Heraklion and all of Crete was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece. 


The city has a charming mixture of architectures as well as wonderful outdoor markets, restaurants, and shopping. You will have the morning to explore and enjoy the quaint city. Return to the ship, have lunch and we will set sail for the beautiful island of Santorini known for having some of the most breathtaking views in all the Aegean. It was first settled by the Phoenicians in 1200 BC and became part of Greece in 1821. With the expansion of tourism in the 20th century the island’s economy has grown becoming a popular destination known for its cafes, shops, and restaurants. 

Overnight: Cruise Ship


Day 15—Friday, September 18 (day 4 of cruise) Disembark in the morning—Athens [Piraeus], Greece

Following disembarkation from the ship, we will proceed to the airport.

Main Tour Ends at Airport.