Sailing the Aegean with Paul & John

| Led by Dr. Mark Wilson


Sailing the Aegean with Paul and John-The sea adventure aboard a wooden-hulled boat called a gulet has become a favorite of BAS travelers. I look forward to exploring with you many archaeological sites connected to Paul and John in the Aegean region. We start with a visit to Ephesus, Paul’s base for three years (Acts 19) and the first of the Seven Churches. Traveling by bus, we then visit the other Seven Churches beginning with Pergamum and ending in Laodicea (Rev. 2-3). On our return along the Meander River valley we stop to visit the stunning Greco-Roman city of Aphrodisias. Back on the Aegean coast we visit Miletus, where Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:15–17) and then the remains of the impressive temple of Apollo at Didyma. We then travel south to Bodrum where we board the gulet and begin to experience the pleasures of life onboard. A personal chef cooks our meals, and at the end of each day the gulet anchors in a picturesque harbor where there is leisure time for swimming, kayaking, or just relaxing on deck. From Bodrum we sail to the Greek island of Lipsi before anchoring at Patmos overnight. The following day we tour various sites related to John’s exile during which he received his visions found in Revelation. Next we sail to Leros and Kalimnos to visit the archaeological sites on these Greek islands. We then return to Bodrum, ancient Halicarnassus and home to the tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. There we will also receive a private tour of the famous Institute of Nautical Archaeology to see finds from ancient shipwrecks. Needless to say, the sites will be remarkable, the companionship enjoyable, and the conversation stimulating. So I hope to see you all aboard in 2018!


May 26 Sat

May 27 Sun

Welcome to Turkey! Take a connecting flight to Izmir. Your tour guide will meet you after the customs and baggage claim with a “BAS” sign. Meet and transfer to the hotel in Izmir. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (D)

May 28 Mon

Today we visit one of the most impressive biblical site of our trip: Ephesus. The former glory of this city can still today be easily appreciated from its well–preserved streets, temples, fountains, public baths, terraced houses and theatres. Ephesus was also the site of the Artemis Temple—one of seven wonders of the ancient world. The apostle visited this city only briefly during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:18–21) but returned during his third missionary journey for a much longer period of two years and three months (Acts 19:1–20:1). Timothy later served as pastor in this city during which time Paul wrote him two letters (1 & 2 Timothy). Some years later Ephesus served as the home base for the apostle John’s ministry from where he wrote a number of letters (1, 2, 3 John) and to which he sent one of the letters in the Book of Revelation. In addition to the ancient city, we will also visit the “slope houses” (the wealthiest homes in Ephesus that have been marvelously reconstructed), the Ephesus Museum, which houses several impressive items from this site, and the Basilica of St. John. Dinner and overnight at the hotel. (B, D)

May 29 Tue

We travel north to Pergamum which is one of the most impressive archaeological sites in all of Turkey. Its attractions are hard to surpass: a 10,000–seat theatre on the side of the Acropolis which is the steepest in the ancient world; the magnificently restored temple of Trajan; the remains of a library of 200,000 volumes second in size only to that in Alexandria; the base of the Altar of Zeus; the temple of Dionysus; and the medical center of Asclepion with its own theater, library, underground tunnel and other buildings. John warned the church here that they were living in a place of “Satan’s throne” (Rev. 2:12–17). Dinner and overnight in Izmir. (B, D)


May 30 Wed

We’ll travel first to Sardis, one of the most picturesque of the Seven Churches. You’ll see the remains of the Temple of Artemis as well as the restored Gymnasium-Bath complex and large Jewish synagogue. In Philadelphia we’ll stop briefly to see the remains of the Church of St. John. Continue to Hierapolis where you will visit the largest necropolis in Turkey, the Plutonium, and well-preserved theater as well as the Martyrium and Tomb of Philip. Dinner and overnight will be in Pamukkale. (B, D)

May 31 Thu

Our first stop is Laodicea, a major city in Roman times. Ongoing archaeological excavation has revealed its two theaters, stadium, Temple A, and Byzantine church. Laodicea is not only the last of the seven churches addressed in Revelation (Rev. 3:14–22), but it also had a close relationship with the nearby churches of Colossae and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13–15) and was the recipient of one of Paul’s now lost letters. Dinner and overnight in Pamukkale. (B, D)

Jun 1 Fri

Drive to Aphrodisias, the city of the Goddess of Love, and see its well-preserved stadium, odeon, theater and agora. Continue the journey to the ancient city of Nysa with its beautiful library, theater and odeon. Dinner and overnight in Didim. (B, D)


June 2 Sat

A short drive brings us to Miletus, a great commercial center with four harbors. Of the surviving buildings, the finest is the 15,000-seat theatre originally built in the Hellenistic period and expanded in Roman times. Other buildings include the council chamber built by Antiochus IV, the Delphinion where the Sacred Road leading to Didyma begins, and the gate to theSouthAgora, the largest in the ancient world. Paul stopped in Miletus on the return of his third missionary journey where he summoned the elders from Ephesus to meet with him and hear his poignant farewell speech (Acts 20:17-35). We will also visit the small but informative Miletus Archaeological Museum. We will follow the Sacred Road 10 miles south to Didyma, an oracle site devoted to Apollo. The temple here built in his honor was most impressive, consisting of 122 columns six feet in diameter and reaching six stories high. Although only three full columns have survived, the remaining stunted columns demonstrate why this shrine was a notable rival to the temple of Apollo at Delphi. At nearby Didim we board our wooden yacht called a GULET for a welcome dinner and briefing about the tour. Overnight on board. (B,D)


June 3 Sun

Morning departure after passport formalities to the Greek island of Lipsi. It is a quite small island where people still live a traditional lifestyle, and farmers still ride on their donkeys, mules or horses to the fields. Much of the land on Lipsi was once owned by the Monastery of St John the Baptist, on Patmos. We’ll see small, white, blue-domed churches dotted all over the island’s rolling hills, which gently slope down to meet the sparkling sea. Overnight stay in Patmos Harbor. (B, L, D)

June 4 Mon

Leaving Skala harbor, you take a drive to the hilltop village of Chora, where the Monastery of St. John the Theologican is situated amongst its gleaming white houses. The abbot Christodoulos built the Monastery in 1088. The tour then visits Cave of the Apocalypse, the grotto where St. John traditionally lived and received his vision of Jesus Christ recorded in the book of Revelation. After our visit, we will ride the bus back to the harbor area for souvenir shopping. Overnight stay in Patmos Harbor. (B, L, D)


June 5 Tue

We depart for Leros Island, which has been inhabited continuously since the Neolithic era and knew particular prosperity up to the Roman conquest. Agia Maria is a traditional settlement displaying local architecture and a number of neoclassical mansions. It is dominated by the castle of the Knights, which occupies the site of the ancient acropolis and was inhabited until the 18th century. Here may be seen the church of the Panayia of the Kastro, backed by picturesque windmills. Overnight stay in Leros Harbor. (B, L, D)


June 6 Wed

After breakfast we sail to Kalimnos Island, which is famous for its caves - the Cave of the Seven Virgins (Epta Parthena), Skalies and Kefalos, as well as for the church of Christ of Jerusalem. Besides its ancient and medieval monuments, we will enjoy the natural beauty of its fertile valleys and lovely beaches. Overnight stay in Kalimnos Harbor. (B, L, D)

June 7 Thu

In the early morning, the boat will sail to Gumusluk in Turkey. After breakfast, we will visit the ancient city of Myndos. Mentioned in 1 Maccabees 15:23, the city had a Jewish community in antiquity. Defense towers from the city walls climb toward the acropolis. Because of earthquakes, the city has sunken and we can walk along a Roman street, now submerged, to Rabbit Island. There the recent excavations of homes, temples, and tombs can be seen. After lunch, we sail to Akyarlar for customs procedures and then stay overnight in Akyarlar port. (B, L, D)

June 8 Fri

After lunch, we will visit the Institute of Nautical Archaeology (INA) and make a brief stop to see the site of the Tomb of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The boat stay in the Bodrum Harbor for dinner and the final overnight stay. (B, L, D)

June 9 Sat

After breakfast, we leave the gulet and walk to the Bodrum Castle. Known as the Castle of St. Peter, it sits high on a rocky peninsula on the site of the original Carian settlement. castle, set in the harbor. With its five imposing towers and seven gates, the castle is home to the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. You will visit its many fascinating displays including the dungeon, secret museum in the Snake Tower, German, English, French towers and a hall with ancient coins and jewelery. Then drive to the airport for TK2507 15:35 /17:00 flight to Istanbul. Dinner and overnight. (B, D)


June 10 Sun
(Choose one of the two Options)
OPTION 1 (Suggested for First timers): Our tour in Istanbul begins at the Hagia Sophia (the church of “Holy Wisdom”)—the crowning achievement of the sacred building program of Emperor Justinian, the 6th–century head of the Christian Byzantine Empire. Nearby is located the Hippodrome which once stood in the heart of the Byzantine city of Constantinople and originally held up to 100,000 people. Although little is left of this gigantic horse racing arena, there are a number of impressive columns and other structures situated at the site. We then head underground to the Basilica Cistern, a vast water cistern located underneath the city. Afterwards, we will make our way to Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum—one of the most celebrated collections in the world. Among its treasures are the Siloam inscription, the Gezer calendar, and the stunning “Jerusalem mosaic” depicting Orpheus. Final visit is to the Hagia Irene Church, the location of the 2nd Ecumenical Council. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

OPTION 2 (For those who have visited the sites in Option 1 before): First visit Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople located in Fener, Church of the Saints Sergius and Bacchus, also known as Little Hagia Sophia, the Monastery of Stoudios (from outside – internal visit is not possible), more fully Monastery of Saint John the Forerunner “at Stoudios”, often shortened to Stoudios, Studion, or Stoudion, was historically the most important monastery of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Continue to Chora Church to see its golden mosaics. Final visit to Pammakaristos Church, also known as the Church of Theotokos Pammakaristos, in 1591 converted into a mosque and known as Fethiye Mosque and today partly a museum, is one of the most famous Greek Orthodox Byzantine churches in Istanbul. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. (B, D)

June 11 Mon

Drive to the airport for your flight to US. End of services. (B)

Tour Features


• Roundtrip Air Tickets between USA – Izmir (via Istanbul)
• 1 Domestic flight (Bodrum-Istanbul)
• 3 Nights at 5 Star Movenpick Hotel in Izmir or similar
• 2 Nights at 5 star Doga Thermal Hotel in Pamukkale or similar
• 1 Night at 5 Star Aquasis De Luxe Resort & SPA Hotel in Didim or similar
• 2 Nights at Special Class Arcadia Blue Hotel in Istanbul or similar
• Daily breakfast and 8 dinners at the hotels
• 5 Lunches and 7 dinners on Gulet
• Sightseeing as per the itinerary
• All transfers and transportation by private, air-conditioned coach
• All entry fees to the sites & museums
• English-speaking,goverment licenced tour guide
• All tips at restaurants and hotels
• Luggage porterage at hotels
• Tips for the tour guide and driver ($5 per person per day for the guide - $2 for the driver)
• Service charges & local taxes


• Travel and Health Insurance (Insurance may be given as a separate package at an extra cost. Travel Insurance agreement is contract between the traveler and the Insurance Company (American Express, Travel Guard, 360, Travelex, or other. We strongly suggest that you purchase Trip Insurance).
• Drinks and lunches
• All personal expenses, such as alcohol and souvenirs, and any other items or
• Turkish visa fee to be obtained online prior to arrival


Full payment due at time of registration

Cancellation Penalty:

  • 89-60 days prior to departure: 10%
  • 59-45 days prior to departure: 25%
  • 44-30 days prior to departure: 50%
  • 29-15 days prior to departure: 75%
  • 14 days & After: No refund

Tour Price

Double Occupancy, Land + Air, per person based on double occupancy (due at time of registration): $5,990
Single Room Supplement (due at time of registration): $1,590


If you are unable to fill out the electronic registration form, please contact the Travel/Study department at 1-800-221-4644 ext. 216.

To pay off your balance, click here.

Please click here for the brochure.


For more information contact:

Alicia Bregon
202-364-3300 ext 216
Biblical Archaeology Society
4710 41st Street, NW
Washington, DC 20016
Fax: 202-364-2636