In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great: The Conquest of Asia Minor - Part One
Rated one of the World’s ‘Top Ten Learning Retreats’, and one of
‘The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life’ by
For more than 2,000 years Alexander the Great has excited the imagination of people around the globe. This archaeological tour in Turkey is a unique opportunity to retrace his footsteps across Asia Minor, the first leg of his extraordinary 22,000 mile journey. Along the way you’ll explore many of the country’s most fascinating and best preserved ancient and cultural sites, see some of its most striking and beautiful landscapes, savour many of the highlights of Turkish cuisine and stay in some delightful, characterful and charming small hotels.
Join this remarkable historical tour escorted by Peter Sommer, who in 1994 walked 2,000 miles across Anatolia, from Troy to the battlefield of Issus, retracing Alexander the Great’s march in Turkey. Who better to lead you on Alexander’s route than someone who has walked the entire distance!
“Peter was the ideal person to help produce our In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great TV series for the BBC/PBS. Our particular style of documentary making leans heavily on understanding history by following in its footprints. Peter had worn out 4 pairs of boots doing just that on Alexander’s trail. Who better to show you how the conqueror’s story unfolded and how the locations helped mould the legend.” David Wallace, Director, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great
Travelling back through time we’ll delve into Alexander’s personality and the lives of the people that inhabited his tumultuous world. This is a true archaeological and cultural voyage. Following in Alexander’s footsteps on the first leg of his journey across Turkey we travel from Istanbul to ancient Halicarnassus, modern day Bodrum and site of one of seven wonders of the ancient world. On this epic tour we’ll discover the history and architecture of the cities on Alexander’s route and much else besides, including the key sites of the Gallipoli peninsula witness to the fateful campaign during the First World War.
Turkey is rich with Alexander’s legacy; Troy, where Alexander ran naked around Achilles’ tomb; Sardis, kingdom of Croesus once famed as the richest man in the world; Ephesus, one of the best preserved classical cities in the world; and Apollo’s great oracular temple at Didyma, where we’ll stand below monumental marble columns and stroll along the sacred way. You’ll traverse magnificent landscapes, enjoy fabulous Turkish food and stay in beautiful accommodation
This inspirational historical tour is a tale of romance, war and power, an amazing expedition full of unforgettable vistas and historical highlights. Won’t you join us for this once in a lifetime archaeological adventure?
You can see a selection of testimonials (for the original 20-day version of this trip) on the right and below. We think they encapsulate the nature of the tour perhaps better than we can.
”I have been raving about the trip to everyone I meet. The food was outstanding in every respect and Cem’s (our tour manager/local guide) choice of places, most of which we would never have found on our own, was terrific, and the choice of each menu, highlighting particular specialities of wherever we were couldn’t have been more perfect. The places we stayed - mostly small, and each with unique local features - were exactly the kinds of places I choose to stay when I’m on my own… our little band of travelers couldn’t have been more interesting.
The overall organization of everything, from the separate luggage van so that we never had to carry our suitcases even an inch, to the well timed rest stops, and Cem’s absolutely unflappable approach to the unexpected made it bliss - no cares or worries, just time to enjoy and soak it all up. And last but not least, your enthusiasm and knowledge were inspiring and contagious. Thanks for a unique experience… It was truly magical’”
Joan Lancourt, Brookline, MA, USA
Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul. Meet at the airport and transfer to hotel. Welcome drink and dinner.
Day 2: A day in the great metropolis of Istanbul, Turkey’s most dynamic city, gateway between east and west. An introduction to the tour in the archaeological museum beside the Alexander Sarcophagus, followed by some of the greatest sites of the city.
Day 3: We follow the Marmara Sea to the mighty Hellespont, the modern Dardanelles and a hugely strategic and significant waterway throughout history. When Alexander the Great crossed he sacrificed to Poseidon and poured libations of wine to the spirits of the sea. In the afternoon we explore the Gallipoli peninsula scene of the campaign, which began on April 25th, 1915 in which Britain and her allies, especially the ANZAC forces from Australia and New Zealand, attempted to seize the peninsula as a first step towards the eventual conquest of Istanbul (then Constantinople).
Day 4: We cross the straits to visit the epic city of Troy. We’ll be met and personally escorted by the Director of Excavations at Troy, Prof. Rüstem Aslan and have the opportunity to visit the new Troy archaeological museum which is due to open at the start of 2016. At the legendary city itself, we explore the ruins swathed in myth. At the great temple of Athena, the fabled shield of Achilles was presented to Alexander - it would save his life during a siege in India. We head out across the Trojan plain to climb the tomb of Achilles, where Alexander paid homage to the hero, running naked anointed with oil.
Day 5: A visit to Çanakkale’s splendid little archaeological museum then east into the hills. On the banks of the river Granicus Alexander nearly died in his first victory over the Persians. We examine the most likely location of the battle.
Day 6: A beautiful morning drive through rolling countryside to gaze out across Bin Tepe (thousand mounds), the burial ground of the Lydian kings and aristocracy. After lunch we visit their royal capital, Sardis, where the imposing city constructed by King Croesus, fabled for his great wealth, is being excavated.
Day 7: We explore the magnificent column-lined agora of ancient Smyrna, modern Izmir, and the spring nearby which Alexander is alleged to have slept and dreamed of re-founding and rebuilding the city. Ongoing excavations are revealing the heart of old Smyrna in all its glory. We also visit the newer archaeological museum which houses some splendid objects and historical treasures.
Day 8: We visit Ephesus’s marvellous archaeology museum, the nearby Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, which was reportedly burned down the night Alexander was born. We reach monumental Ephesus as the tourist buses depart and explore its spectacular remains.
Day 9: A morning to relax in Kuşadasi, then we walk the stepped streets of Priene, virtually unchanged since Alexander the Great was here. To the south lay Miletus, which refused him entry. It became his first major siege and his first chance to try out a new weapon, the torsion catapult. The city was battered into submission.
Day 10: The temple of Apollo at Didyma remains one of the most spectacular of all ancient monuments. It was here that Alexander’s ultimate victory over the Persians was prophesised. Beside the sea, we explore Iasos, one of the prettiest sites in Turkey, where Alexander made a local boy, who swam with dolphins, priest of Poseidon.
Day 11: In Bodrum, birthplace of Herodotus, we visit the site of the celebrated Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and the remains of the fortifications against which Alexander laid a desperate siege. We finish with a tour of the Castle of St. Peter.
Day 12: Transfer to Bodrum airport, about 40 minutes away.
Example Arrival and Departure Information
Arrival Airport - Istanbul
Departure Airport - Bodrum
Check in time at your hotel in Istanbul is after 13:00 so we recommend choosing a flight that arrives in the afternoon/early evening on Mon April 25 in time for a welcome dinner. Check out time on Fri May 6 is 12:00. We will arrange local transfers from Istanbul airport on Mon April 25 and to Bodrum airport on Fri May 6.
If you are staying in or connecting via Istanbul then the easiest way to get to and from the gulet is to fly. There are a number of airlines that offer domestic flights in Turkey such as Turkish Airlines. Turkish Airlines has a wide selection of flights on these days and there are alternative flights to and from Istanbul with some of Turkey’s low cost airlines such as Atlas Jet, and Onur Air. The cheapest way to book flights is directly with the airline online.
Please note: Flights are subject to change. Please contact the airline for exact details.
If you prefer to book with a travel agent, we are happy to recommend specialists in a number of countries around the world, please contact our office for more details.
Travel insurance is a requirement of our booking conditions and we recommend you investigate the options thoroughly to make sure that your trip is properly covered. Please be advised some insurers may require you to take out a policy within 15-20 days of booking your holiday to receive all of their insurance benefits. If you would prefer not to take out travel insurance please let us know. We would require you to complete and return to us a travel insurance waiver form.
Visas are easily obtained online at eVisa and must be purchased before you travel.
If you are planning to extend your stay in Istanbul before or after your tour we have included below links to more information and things to see and do.
Our “flagship” tour, personally led by Peter Sommer, is a unique historical holiday right across Turkey from Istanbul to Antioch. In 1994, Peter walked 2,000 miles across Turkey retracing the route of Alexander, and fell in love with the country, its people, and its ancient civilisation. Following the walk he worked for 18 months on the acclaimed BBC/PBS documentary TV series, In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, and set up all the filming in Turkey, as well as in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Peter will escort you all the way, bringing to life the history of Alexander, and showing you around some of the most fascinating ancient sites in Turkey.
This truly is a once in a lifetime cultural tour, but you do need to be aware that it is the most intensive and physically demanding of all our trips. In contrast to our gulet cruises which tend to visit one ancient city per day, and are designed with rest and relaxation, as well as history in mind, our Alexander tour visits at least 2 ancient sites per day, sometimes more. It is essentially a major road trip with a number of hotel changes. You will have the chance to explore a great many ancient sites, and travel through some stunning countryside, but we do need to cover large distances, so there are long drives involved on some of the days.
Because we sometimes visit locations which are often well off the beaten track, often down narrow tracks and sometimes across open country, we have to use a medium sized minibus which seats 17 people, rather than a large luxurious coach. In terms of comfort we would prefer to use a large coach to give guests more space, but it is not practicable considering our itinerary. Where possible we try to use smaller, family run, boutique hotels with character rather than large chain establishments. Almost all of the hotels are of a very high standard. When we are staying in less well visited areas we will use the best hotel available in the area.
The sites themselves often have rough and uneven terrain with loose stones underfoot and there are some considerable hills to walk up, so guests must be fit and well to take part in this tour. Suffice it to say that it is a real archaeological adventure. You will have the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful and best preserved ancient sites in the world, as part of a small group, in the company of a specialist guide.
This is a previous tour itinerary. However, we can offer it as a private tour. Please see our Gulet Charters page for more information.