Discover Turkey’s diverse food traditions in Istanbul, Goreme, Gaziantep and Ayvalik

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 the history and beauty of Bursa while discovering the out-of-this-world Iskender kebabs and drink in the tranquillity and traditions of the seaside village of Ayvalik, where fresh seafood and olive oil are the order of the day. 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. Famous for its emerald-green pistachios, Gaziantep is the perfect place to see Turkey’s renowned south-eastern food traditions come alive. 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

  • Taste mouth-watering meze at an Istanbul meyhane
  • Become entranced by the beauty Istanbul’s The Blue Mosque, Aya Sofia and Topkapi Palace
  • Discover exotic spices or a magic carpet in Istanbul's incredible Spice Bazaar
  • Go on a kebab crawl through Istanbul’s storied streets
  • Learn the art of Turkish tea preparation at a traditional teahouse
  • Be mesmerised by a Whirling Dervish performance
  • Sail to Cunda Island to watch the sun set while eating baked fish freshly caught from the Aegean Sea
  • Step back in time at the glorious ruins of Ephesus
  • Delve deep into Cappadocia in an incredible underground city
  • Encounter the draw-dropping beauty of Goreme’s Open-Air Museum on an optional tour
  • Munch on super fresh balik ekmek (fish sandwich) straight off the wharf
  • Sample freshly made cheese and forage for wild greens in Ayvalik
  • Savour the sweetness of Gaziantep’s famed emerald-green pistachio baklava
  • Experience central Anatolian flavours and tandir cooking in Goreme

Itinerary

Cross into Istanbul’s Asia side for dinner at a traditional lokanta, which is a wonderful introduction to the delicious foods of Turkey. Then wile away the evening drinking tea and puffing on a nargile (traditional water pipe). The next day, visit the famed Egyptian Spice Bazaar to learn of the myriad sought-after blends available here, be reinvigorated by a strong Turkish coffee and sticky dessert, and discover the neighbourhoods of Sultanahmet and Eminonu. Get the opportunity to shop at the Grand Bazaar then finish off the day tasting the flavours of the city on a street food feast.
Grabbing a simit (braided bread) from an aromatic street stall, catch the fast ferry and then the bus to Bursa, an historical city that exudes beauty and tradition. Spend the afternoon wandering the labyrinthine streets filled with old Ottoman hans (warehouses) and quaint shops before learning the art of Turkish tea preparation at a traditional teahouse. Perhaps top off the afternoon by soaking in a thermal spring once used by Byzantine royal families. Dine on Bursa’s most famous dish – the mouth-watering Iskender Kebab – before being mesmerised by an impressive Whirling Dervish performance.
Leave Bursa behind and stop by a picturesque farming village for a brunch made from freshly picked ingredients. Arrive in Ayvalik in the early evening and indulge in the local specialty of stuffed mussels and Ayvalik tost (think BLT Turkish style). The next morning, be amazed by the quality and abundance of seasonal local produce at the Ayvalik Market before buying a selection for a cooking class. Then visit an olive oil producer to see the long-standing tradition of olive oil pressing. If you have the chance, visit dreamy Cunda Island.
Enjoy a meal in one of Ayvalik’s traditional corbasis (soup kitchens) before departing for Selcuk. Take an orientation tour around the town then visit Sirince, a Greek Ottoman village that is lauded for its fruit wines. Learn the art of rolling manti (similar to ravioli) at a local restaurant then discover the ruins of Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Refuel with a delicious meal of gozleme (stuffed pastry) before an overnight bus to Goreme.
Visit one of the most fascinating sites in Turkey – a Cappadocian underground city. People used these carved rock dwellings to live and hide in for thousands of years. Be awed by the region’s fairy chimneys and savour dinner with a local family in their home, enjoying typical dishes of the region and discovering what life is like for the people who live here. The sunsets in Goreme are spectacular and what better way to enjoy one than on a sunset wine-tasting tour. Taste some of the area's best drops and learn how wine has been produced in this area for thousands of years.
Weave through the arresting Turkish countryside on the drive to Gaziantep, which is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Awash with history, Gaziantep’s cuisine has been heavily influenced by surrounding nations and is considered to be one of the Turkey’s finest regional cuisines, being especially famous for its delectable pistachios. Put this to the test tonight at dinner, where we dine at a restaurant that has been cooking since the late 1800s and is famed for its kebabs and pistachio baklava. Yum! For those keen for an early breakfast, seek out the city’s best cigerli kagit kebab (liver kebab) at the lively local market - it’s truly delicious but they sell out quickly! Then take a wander through the market’s passageways, taking in the intoxicating aroma of spices, nuts and fresh fruit. Visit coffee shops, spice merchants, pistachio sellers and baklava makers to test out their scrumptious wares; check out the fascinating mosaic and kitchen museums; or be dazzled by the copperware markets – Gaziantep is famous for its copper craftsmanship and it is easy to see why. There are lots of tasty local dishes to try before leaving – eighteen types of soup, et parcasi (meat with garlic, tomato and pepper), pilafs and the mouth-watering lahmacun (Turkey’s take on a pizza) – so choose a cosy local restaurant and dig in.
Try Istanbul’s famous balik ekmek (fish sandwich) under the Galata Bridge. Then enjoy a final feast at a meyhane, a traditional Turkish restaurant serving delectable meze (small dishes). Walk off the meal with a stroll along Istiklal Caddesi and perhaps partake in a few glasses of raki to say "serefe" to an amazing food tour through Turkey.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
12 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 7 dinners
Transport
Bus, Dolmus, Ferry, Plane, Private minibus, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (8 nights), Overnight sleeper train (1 night), Pension (3 nights)
Included activites
  • Ayvalik - Cooking Class
  • Ayvalik - Olive Oil Museum
  • Goreme - Derinkuyu Underground City tour
  • Goreme - Valley walk
  • Goreme - Wine tasting
  • Istanbul - City Tour
  • Istanbul - Spice Market Tour
  • Selcuk - Ephesus Archaeological site

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Notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please see trip notes for details.

Important notes

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Reviews

Our Real Food Adventure - Turkey trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Real Food Adventure - Turkey , May 2015