Antakya, the cradle of christianity
Gaziantep, the culinary capital
Halfeti, the sunken city of the Euphrates
The beehive houses of Harran
Şanlıurfa, the city of prophets
Göbekli tepe, the world’s first temple
The statues of the Commagene Kingdom at Mount Nemrut (UNESCO)
Arslantepe Mound, Unesco world heritage site
Day 1: Flight from Antalya to Adana ( 07.25-08.30).
Adana- Samandağı-Antakya ( 270 km- 4,5hrs)
After a morning flight to Adana we are met at the airport and after a breakfast stop head towards Samandağı for a visit to the Titus tunnel and Beşikli caves and rocktombs. The tunnel was dug inside a natural gully by Roman generals Vespasianus and Titus to divert a Mountain stream which threatened to silt the harbour. A fascinating cave necropolis, Beşikli mağarası, stands near the Roman bridge halfway the path. This is surrounded be laurel groves where the villagers make the excellent laurel-oil. After lunch continue to tomb of Muslim Saint Hızır and Simeon monastery, where the 6 th century ascetic Simeon spent his life sitting on a pillar. A large monastery was built around his seat during his lifetime. Its massive ruins stand in splendid solitude on a wild mountain top south of Antakya. The day ends in Antakya, which is well-known for its delicious mezzes ( appetizers) kebab and künefe, a Turkish interpretation of a sweet Levantine cheese pastry.
Overnight in Antakya: Luwi Antakya Boutique hotel or Cankaya konakları or Sami Akar Saray Otel (BB)
Day 2: Antakya-Gaziantep ( 199 km – 3 hrs)
After a morning walk around Antakya’s winding cobblestone streets with a visit to the Orthodox church which contains some striking icons, and Habib Neccar mosque which dates back to the 7 th century, visit to the Hatay Archeology Museum in the city center and church of ST Peter, a cave cut into the mountainside that is said to be the first place where the newly converted Christians met in secret. After lunch we continue towards the city of Gaziantep. Gaziantep is the food capital of Turkey and at the Kitchen Museum we learn how the mouth – pleasing Antep kitchen came to be. We learn more about baklava, made from pistachio at a local baklava producer, try the coffee at 400 years old Tahmis coffee house and end the day with a visit to Zincirli Bedesten and coppersmiths’ bazaar. Dinner is a la carte in a well-known restaurant.
Overnight in Gaziantep: Ali bey konağı or Anadolu evleri (BB)
Day 3: Gaziantep- Halfeti- Harran – Şanlıurfa (309 km – 4,5 hrs)
Following breakfast visit to the Zeugma Mosaic museum , home to the famous ‘gypsy girl’- and other important mosaics from the ancient site Zeugma (Belkis). We then drive towards the Euphrates river to take a traditional boat to Rumkale, an ancient castle which is now surrounded by water. After boat ride and lunch continue to Harran and see the beehive shaped sun dried mud brick houses where Abraham spent the last years of his life. The day ends at Şanlıurfa, the city of the prophets. Home to the world’s earliest civilizations, Şanlıurfa is known for its spice and in particular Urfa biber which is used in a diverse range of kebabs, lahmacun and sac kavurma, a dish that consists of ground lamb and vegetables fried on a thin iron skillet. Dinner at a popular restaurant .
Overnight in Şanlıurfa: Elci Konağı Butik hotel or Alahan otel, or Narlı ev. (BB)
Day 4: Şanlıurfa-Göbekli tepe-Şanlıurfa ( 37 km – 60 mins)
After breakfast we drive to Göbeklitepe. It is currently the oldest known archaeological site with evidence of significant and prolonged construction activity by humans. Evidence suggests that it was some sort of religious place for people. The site was built about 12.000 ago . Göbeklitepe is a series of mainly circular and oval shaped structures set on the top of a hill and has been inerpreted as the oldest human –made place of worship yet discovered. After visiting Göbeklitepe we drive to the city centre of Şanlıurfa where we visit the new Şanlıurfa Archaeological Museum also housing the oldest temple of the world, Gobeklitepe excavation findings. Then continue to Abraham’s Cave and the Pools of Holy Carp surrounding it. We finish the day with a walk around the oriental covered bazaar and Gümrükhan Caravanserai at the heart of the old bazaar of Urfa. Dinner and overnight in Şanlıurfa.
Optional: a traditional Sıra night with music and dinner.
Overnight: Elçi konağı Butik otel or Alahan otel or Narlı ev (BB)
Day 5: Şanlıurfa -Mount Nemrut ( 185 km – 3 hrs)
From Şanlı Urfa we drive towards Adiyaman and stop for lunch at Atatürk dam on the Euphrates river and one of the largest dams in the world. After lunch continue to Mount Nemrut. The summit of Mount Nemrut is home to one of Turkey’s most iconic sights. The fascinating and eerie funerary mound of King Antiochus I of the Kingdom of Commagene sits a top this 2,150-meter peak. Under the 50-meter-high, man-made burial mound, Antiochus’ tomb is said to be concealed (though despite extensive archaeological work here, his tomb has never been found), but on top of the mound is one of eastern Turkey’s prime tourist attractions. The spectacular terraces here are littered with the toppled remnants of giant stone statues that were once majestically lined up to celebrate Antiochus’ own glory and the glory of the gods. After visiting Arsemeia ruins, Karakuş burial mound, Cendere Roman bridge and Mount Nemrut at sunset, night at a small hotel in Karadut Village on the foothills of Nemrut Mountain.
Dinner and overnight in Nemrut Euphrat hotel (HB)
Day 6: Mount Nemrut – Arslantepe – Malatya ( 2,5 hrs 116 km)
After breakfast we continue to Malatya for a visit to Arslantepe.The hill where Arslantepe is located has been excavated by the University of Roma La sapienza (Italy) since 1961 and has been on the Unesco world heritage list since 2021. Excavations have shown that the hill was inhabited from 5 BC to 11 th century AD . A temple from 3,600-3,500 BC and a palace from the same period have been found. The walls of the palace are two to two and a half meters high and still have the original plasterwork and murals. Two lions and a king statue from the Hittite era are on display at the museum in Ankara. We then continue to Battalgazi, the old quarter of Malatya where we visit the Ulu mosque and Silahtar Mustafa paşa caravanserai before dinner at a restaurant which serves traditional Malatya food. Roasted apricots, Malatya fried eggplant and Cherry leaf Wrap are among them.
After dinner , transfer to airport for flight back to Antalya.
Evening flight : Sunexpress Dept. 22.55.
. Flights: Antalya-Adana and Malatya-Antalya.
. Nights in Boutique hotels ( 4 x) and 3*** hotel (1x)
. 6 x breakfast and 1 x dinner.
. Comfortable Bus
. Boat trip in Halfeti
. English speaking, licensed Turkish guide
• Dinners ( 5 x)
• Sıra Night in Şanlıurfa ( dinner, music, dance)
• Personal expenses
• Tips for driver and guide
• Admission fees to museums ca. € 20 or museum pass.
This tour goes ahead with minimum 8 participants
Maximum 16 participants.
*** We are happy to help you with car hire, accommodation and itinerary for your Self Drive holiday in this region***