This short but sweet trip packs a punch with visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus while still leaving plenty of time to relax.. Enjoy a free day on the Aegean in the resort town of Kusadasi. You can check out Pamukkale’s thermal pools, take a gulet cruise along the coast or relax on the beach.. Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. It’s picture perfect and produces quite the delicious tipple!. Get a birds-eye view of Cappadocia’s caves, fairy chimneys and honeycomb terrain with an optional balloon ride over this other-worldly landscape.
This journey packs a mighty punch in just eight days. Start in Istanbul and marvel at the Blue Mosque before navigating the warrens of the Grand Bazaar, then travel to the Aegean Sea to soak up sun, salt and history in Kusadasi with a visit to the ancient city of Ephesus. Travel on the overnight train to Central Anatolia and the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia, where hot air balloons dot the skyline and dwellings are cut into the cliffs, then finish back in Istanbul, the long-lived metropolis where East meets West.
Breakfast Included: 6 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm, followed by a guided tour of the Old City with your expert leader. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the architectural masterpiece that is Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all the exploring, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab. While you might be familiar with the shaved meats and pita bread sensation that you may have come across at 2 am, nothing beats the kind they wrap up in Istanbul.
How blue is the Aegean? Find out for yourself today. After breakfast, board a local train and head to the airport before taking a 1-hour flight to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city. From here, transfer 1.5 hours to the coastal gem of Kusadasi. This resort town lies on Turkey's western Aegean coast and is the perfect base for visiting the classical ruins at Ephesus. It's also a great spot to soak up the vibes along the seafront promenade, check out the local beaches or have a bit of a fun enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas – it has a long history and some phenomenal cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.
Kusadasi - Ephesus
Lace up your sensible shoes and charge your camera. Today starts with a visit to Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history that really comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. The ruins are in incredible shape considering their age, and it’s not difficult to image them in their full glory 2000 years ago. This ancient city was extremely sophisticated with running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away. From Ephesus, drive to Selcuk to feast on the popular gozleme (Turkish pancake) as it's made in front of you, then visit the Isa Bey Mosque, and the remains of the Artemis Temple
This afternoon there is an opportunity to visit Sultankoy. This small village is dedicated to carpet weaving, and here you can discover all about this traditional art form, from dying the wool to traditional weaving on wooden looms. Regardless if you are in the market for a new rug or not this is an opportunity to support local weavers enjoy some Turkish hospitality, over a cup of tea of course, and discover the beauty of Turkish Rug Making.
Late afternoon head to the small village of Sirince to taste the local fruit wine and enjoy sunset.
Enjoy a full day at leisure to do as much (or as little) as you like! You might like to take a day tour to the famous Pamukkale World Heritage Site, Turkey's 'Cotton Castle' thermal pools that have been used as a spa since the 2nd century BC. Though you won't be able to bathe in these pools, you can take a walk through them, visit the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be Cleopatra’s old pool. Alternatively, you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel, and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Soguksu Bay, Claros Island and Baradan Beach while enjoying lunch on deck. If you'd rather have a low-key day, there are plenty of beaches in town to relax on. Whatever you do, make sure you're ready to head back to Izmir by 6 pm as the Mavi Konya, an overnight train, will be waiting to transport you through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.
Konya / Cappadocia
Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Take an opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road for a 3-hour journey to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains. Stop enroute at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in Goreme in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening.
This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for this truly incredible sight. Later this morning, enjoy a guided walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes, and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. You could also hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River or relax in a Turkish bath. This evening, your leader will give you the option of sharing a meal with a local family in their own home, or alternatively you could grab a local testi kebab, an evening hookah in one of the cafes or a glass of the local wine while overlooking the valley. A perfect last night in Cappadocia, whatever you choose.
Cappadocia to Istanbul
Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul (expect to arrive between 1 and 4 pm), then grab your bags and jump on the metro as the group heads to the Sultanahmet District for the final evening of the trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries – this is the place to be seen. Try a local favourite, balik ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorus.
Your Turkey adventure ends after breakfast and there are no activities planned.