Enjoy a gourmet adventure of Turkey from Istanbul to Bodrum, Selcuk and Goreme

Take a culinary journey through Turkey, a country steeped in history and tradition, where east meets west and the ancient bleeds into the modern day. Begin in astonishing Istanbul, eating meze in a traditional meyhane, being awed by the Aya Sofia and Blue Mosque and exploring the well-trod passageways of the Grand Bazaar. Soak in seaside flavours in the slow food town of Akyaka, visit the impressive ruins of Ephesus near Selcuk and marvel at the astonishing underground cities of Cappadocia. Spend time with a local Goreme family and learn the secrets behind central Anatolian cuisine in a cooking class. Arrive back in Istanbul, where this adventure into Turkey’s sights, sounds and incredible cuisine comes to an end.

Start
Istanbul, Turkey
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Countries
Turkey
Themes
Food
Code
ERZZ
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
567kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Istanbul is brimming with delectable dishes, and the options can be dizzying. But your expert local guide will have you headed straight for the best spots
  • On no other Intrepid trip can you taste the tantalising flavours of Akyaka's Wednesday farmers' market, a true local gem in this tiny town dedicated to slow food
  • With hands-on cooking classes, you'll get up close and personal with Turkey's age-old culinary traditions, preparing specialties like manti and tatli
  • Experience the warmth of Turkish hospitality as a local family takes you into their beautiful home nestled in the hills of Ortahisar
  • Taste the renowned home cooking of Nuray and try your hand at Central Anatolian cuisine under her tutelage

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Hosgeldinz! Welcome to Turkey. There will be an important welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so when you explore the streets you'll see a great clash of east and west. A 'kebab crawl' kicks off your food adventure today. Learn to tell your shish from your iskender as you sample this signature Turkish dish in its many varieties. The perfect way to cap it off is with a baklava tasting.
Head to the celebrated Egyptian Spice Bazaar today. Meet a spice merchant, sit down for a Turkish coffee and savour a typical Turkish sweet. Continue your walking tour around Sultanahmet and Eminonu, taking in some of the most celebrated sites of the city, such as Suleymaniye Mosque and the Hippodrome. The area around Eminonu boasts some delicious street food. Local favourites include barbecued corn, roasted kestane (chestnuts), and of course Turkish delight. Your walking tour concludes at the Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar). At this point you'll be able to take some time exploring the narrow alleyways and myriad shops as you please. As night falls, there are further options: share a home-cooked meal with a local family, take a street food crawl on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, or make a booking at one of the city's world-class restaurants. Your leader will have plenty of suggestions.
Fly from Istanbul to Dalaman (approximately 1 hour), then take a public shuttle to Akyaka via Gokava. The beautiful and tiny southern-Agean coastal town of Akyaka is part of the international citta-slow movement. Citta-slow towns follow the tenets of the slow food movement at a community and governmental level. They celebrate eco-gastronomy – reliance on locally-grown produce and a commitment to the preservation of regional culinary traditions. Akyaka is also the perfect place to unwind, as it's surrounded by lush forests and overlooked by Sakartepe Mountain, with the Azmak River running through the town. There are some great beaches nearby too. The best place to try the town's excellent seafood and vegetables is at one of the riverside restaurants, where you can sit at a wooden terrace overlooking the water.
Take a tasting tour through Akyaka's Wednesday market. You'll meet the villagers who come into town each week to sell their wares. Sample local olive oil, spices and regionally grown fruit and vegetables. Sit down alongside local shoppers for a lunch of gozleme accompanied by ayran (a refreshing yoghurt drink). The afternoon is free for you to enjoy. Perhaps go kayaking along the river, hike up the nearby mountain, relax on a beach or check out the small township. There are a number of great cafes serving ev yemekleri (home-cooked cuisine).
Take a public bus to Selcuk (approximately 3.5 hours). When you arrive, take the time to wander around this fascinating town. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings, including the Isa Bey Mosque and the Grand Fortress. Selcuk is also home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis (though sadly only a single pylon remains). This evening you will visit the Sirince, a local village steeped in Greek Ottoman tradition. It's a photographer's dream. Postwar settlers revived the town's wine industry, which makes use of local fruit. Enjoy a tasting and consider buying a bottle to take on a walk up a gentle slope through cobbled streets and alleys to an atmospheric garden cafe. Up here you'll see how manti (Turkish stuffed dumplings) are made. After trying your hand preparing them, enjoy a taste.
Today you'll visit Ephesus, one of Turkey's most important ancient sites. Explore this beautifully preserved classical city with your local guide who will bring its colourful 1,500-year history to life. Watch in awe as the sophistication of this former metropolis reveals itself. It had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but the marvellous library might just be the highlight. Continue then to Izmir (approximately 1.5 hours). There will be time for dinner at a nice local restaurant before you board your overnight train to Konya. This will see you enter the Central Anatolian region of Turkey. The train has first-class cabins with twin beds, a fridge and a wash basin. All bedding is provided. The dining car is the perfect place for an evening raki (Turkey's anise-flavoured alcoholic drink) before you retire for the night.
Arrive in Konya by early morning, then take a private transfer to Goreme (approximately 3 hours). This is your gateway to the fabled fairy-chimneys of Capadoccia. Perhaps stop for a mid-morning snack of Etliekmek, a larger local variation of the traditional Turkish lahmacun: flat bread baked with ground meat, tomato, peppers and onion. Stop in at Derinkuyu, the astounding old subterranean city that goes as deep as 60 metres underground. It used to have wine and oil presses, cellars, refectories, stables and chapels, not to mention some 20,000 residents. For lunch, hit a local pide saloon for Turkey's answer to the Italian pizza. Enjoy toppings like grilled lamb, black pepper, tender spinach, fresh egg and Turkey’s famed peynir cheese made from sheep’s milk. You may notice in Central Anatolian cuisine the tendency towards claypot cooking and the use of wheat. For the next two nights you'll stay in the village of Ortahisar. Here your host Nazim and his family will welcome you into their home, which is nestled in a beautiful valley and has been lovingly converted into a guesthouse.
For early birds, a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape is a highly recommended experience. Please advise your leader if you wish to make a reservation. After breakfast, be welcomed into the home of a celebrated local cook. Nuray has won many awards for her regional cooking. Under her tutelage, learn to prepare some classic Central Anatolian dishes (the menu will depend on the season). Sit down and enjoy the results over lunch. Celebrate your final evening by visiting one of Capadoccia’s most famous wineries to learn about the region's 4,000-year-old wine industry. Afterwards, walk through the stunning Red Valley to watch the sun set, enjoying a glass of the local wine. For dinner, perhaps try the local specialty, testi kebab. Your leader will be able to recommend a restaurant dedicated to the perfection of this delicious claypot dish.

Notes: Intrepid only recommends balloon rides by our experienced operators. The cost of the activity can vary depending on the type of flight chosen.
Enjoy some free time this morning for final explorations. Perhaps visit the excellent Goreme Open Air Museum or indulge in a Turkish hammam (bath). In the afternoon you will be introduced to one of the region’s most interesting desserts in a cooking demonstration. 'Aside' is a deliciously odd dough-like dish comprising grape syrup, flour and butter, typically topped with walnuts. Enjoy this final taste of Central Anatolia with a cup of rich Turkish coffee. Afterwards you'll board the overnight bus to Istanbul (approximately 12–13 hours). The coach is air conditioned, modern and comfortable, has a food and beverage trolley service, and will stop every 2–3 hours for toilet breaks. Most coaches have TVs in the back of each seat and free WiFi.

Notes: Those who would prefer to fly to Istanbul (at additional cost) can speak to their agent prior to departure, or to the leader on Day 1 of the trip. Any additional hotel accommodation and transfers required will need to be paid locally and are subject to availability.
Your adventure ends on arrival in Istanbul. You should arrive at the bus station at around 7 am. It's best not to make any onward travel plans for before 10 am, to allow for delays. If you're flying out of Ataturk Airport today, it's best to travel direct from the bus station to the Airport via the Metro, which is only a few stops.
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Inclusions

Meals
7 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
Transport
Dolmus, Overnight bus, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (4 nights), Pension (3 nights), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night), Overnight bus (1 night)
Included activities
  • Istanbul - Kebab Crawl
  • Istanbul - Spice Market and Street Food Tour
  • Akyaka - Lokanta Dinner
  • Akyaka - Wednesday Market Tasting Tour
  • Selcuk - Manti Cooking Demonstration
  • Ephesus Archaeological Site
  • Derinkuyu Underground City
  • Goreme - Cooking Class & Lunch
  • Goreme - Sunset Wine Tasting in Cappadoccia Valley
  • Goreme - Tatli (Dessert) demonstration & tasting

Dates

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Important notes

ISTANBUL AIRPORTS:
If booking an airport arrival transfer please inform us at the time of booking which of Istanbul's two airports you will be arriving at. Sabiha Gokcen is on the Asian shore while Ataturk Airport is on the European side and much closer to our hotels.

Ramadan & the Eid Ul-Fitr Festival (Bayram) 2016:
In 2016 the important month of Ramadan will be in progress from the 7th June through till the 6th July, and the Eid ul-Fitr festival will be held directly at its conclusion for 3-4 days. Ramadan is a festival of sacrifice where the devout refrain from eating or drinking during daylight hours. During Ramadan business hours are shortened, including opening hours at some tourist attractions. Alcohol is not permitted during daylight hours and many restaurants will be closed. While you should expect some delays and inconveniences during this period, the month is a fantastic opportunity to travel in a Muslim country and witness this unique period, particularly the nightly celebrations when the sun sets and the fast is broken. Please note that although the Eid ul-Fitr festival can also be a fascinating time to travel it is a period of National holiday. Most government offices and businesses will be closed and some tourist site opening hours may be impacted.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Real Food Adventure - Turkey trips score an average of 4.55 out of 5 based on 11 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - Turkey , May 2016

Real Food Adventure - Turkey , May 2016