Travel to Istanbul and enjoy an express tour of Turkey's highlights

Savour the highlights of Turkey on this 10 day adventure. Travel to Istanbul and the sobering Gallipoli Peninsula, south to the Aegean Coast and then on to the ancient site of Ephesus and the therapeutic waters of Pamukkale. Discover a culture brimming with mysticism as we peel back the layers of Byzantine, Ottoman and Roman history. Packed with highlights, the Turkey Express offers a superb slice of Turkey.

Start
Istanbul, Turkey
Finish
Antalya, Turkey
Countries
Turkey
Themes
Explorer
Code
ERSA
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
192kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Stroll the lively backstreets of Istanbul
  • Reflect on WWI in Gallipoli
  • Swim the balmy waters of the Aegean
  • Wander the marble streets of Ephesus
  • Experience the dazzling white terraces of Pamukkale
  • Bliss out in the seaside playground of Antalya

Itinerary

Hosgeldiniz! Welcome to Istanbul. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. Prior to that, the day is yours to explore the frenetic streets of Turkey's crown-jewel metropolis.
Set out on a walking tour of the city with your expert leader. This will span some of Istanbul's notable cultural and historic sites but also some lesser-known gems as you venture into the backstreets. The rest of your afternoon is yours to spend as you please. You might visit the historic Grand Bazaar (closed on Sundays), Aya Sofya for its incredible mosaics, or the iconic Blue Mosque. A boat cruise around the blue waters of the Bosphorus is recommended.
Rise very early this morning as you depart for Eceabat by public bus (approximately 5 hours). This will be your base for visiting Gallipoli. In the afternoon you will head out with your guide to the Gallipoli Peninsula. Contemplate the stark contrast of stunning natural beauty with the grave WWI history here. Visit the sobering Lone Pine memorial and perhaps visit the museum nearby which is well worth your time. Later, consider taking the short ferry ride across the Dardanelles to Canakkale, a charming traditional fishing town that has a great range of dinner and nightlife options, not to mention medieval ruins to explore.
Take a bus south for the journey to Ayvalik (approximately 4 hours). Located on the Aegean coast and taking its name from the Turkish word for quince (ayva), this village is set around a harbour and looks out to small Aegean islands, so it's a wonderful place to escape from it all. The cobbled backstreets, with their old houses and cafes, are perfect for exploring. The hidden secret here is the cuisine. This evening you can feast on some regional specialities like Ayvalik Tost (like a club sandwich but better) and mezes made with local olive oil and stuffed mussels.
Spend this afternoon on a boat cruise on the Agean. Swim, relax and chat with the locals as everyone takes in the scenery (note that this is sometimes cancelled due to unsuitable weather). For these two nights the accommodation is a family guesthouse, a beautifully built traditional Turkish pension. Due to the nature of the building, triple-share accommodation is sometimes necessary here. While no rooms have an ensuite, there are ample bathroom facilities for the group.

Note: on our winter departures from October to April we have an alternative itinerary and we do not visit Ayvalik. Please see our important notes for details.
Depart early this morning on a public bus to Selcuk via Izmir (approximately 4 hours). Selcuk will be your base for exploring Ephesus, the best-preserved ancient city in Turkey.

The culturally rich town of Selcuk is usually undisturbed, which gives the opportunity to experience the 'real' Turkey. Perhaps explore the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill, where an array of historic buildings lie – the Isa Bey Mosque and Grand Fortress among them.

In the afternoon, enjoy an exploration of mighty Ephesus with the aid of a local guide. This is a highlight for many visitors to Turkey. The accompanying museum, located in the middle of Selcuk, is also recommended for a deeper understanding of this mythical city.
A train ride inland through mountainous landscapes (3.5 hrs) brings you to one of Turkey's most photographed sites, the white travertine terraces of Pamukkale. These limestone deposits formed when water from the hot springs lost carbon dioxide, and you'll see why the name 'cotton castles' is fitting. Though you won't be able to bathe in these travertines, you can take a walk through them (after removing your shoes). Enjoy a healing dip instead in the thermal springs at the nearby Roman site of Hierapolis. Bear witness the grandiose Roman theatre there; the vast necropolis and strange tombs are also worth exploring.
Take a bus to Antalya, the largest city on the western Mediterranean coast (approximately 4 hours). After an orientation walk, spend some time of your own exploring the town's mix of urban sophistication and old-world charm. You might want to check out Kaleici, the old city area, now a historical zone and protected from modern development. Perhaps stroll down the marina or head for the white sands of the beach.
Visit the Antalya Museum, one of the largest and best museums in Turkey. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the Mediterranean and Pamphylia regions of Anatolia, with some 5,000 works of art and artifacts on display. Enjoy further free time in the afternoon. Impressive sites further afield include the ancient cities of Aspendos and Side. For those after a nature fix, Duden Waterfalls, about 12 kilometres north-east of town, is a lovely spot to relax.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
9 breakfasts, 1 lunch
Transport
Bus, Dolmus, Gulet
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nights), Pension (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Boat trip
  • Orientation walk Antalya
  • Pamukkale - Hierapolis & Travertines National Park
  • Selcuk - Ephesus archaeological site

Dates

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip.

This trip runs on an alternative winter itinerary in the months from October to April. Please important notes section of the trip notes for more information.

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.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Turkey Express trips score an average of 4.69 out of 5 based on 52 reviews in the last year.

Turkey Express , October 2015

Turkey Express , September 2015