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.


Start
Istanbul, Turkey
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Destination
Turkey
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
ERSK
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Though this trip is just eight days long, it packs a punch with visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus while still leaving plenty of time to relax. Now that's a holiday.

  • Enjoy a free day on the Aegean in the resort town of Kusadasi. You can check out Pamukkale's thermal pools, take a traditional boat trip along the coast or sit on the beach with a cool drink in hand.

  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. It's picture perfect.

  • Get up close and personal with the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia on a valley walk that'll have you exploring rock-cut dwellings in Love Valley or the rose-coloured hues of Red Valley.

  • Discover the back streets and vibrant local markets of Istanbul, where East meets West.

  • Fall asleep on the Aegean Coast and wake up in Central Anatolia on the Mavi Konya, an overnight train from Izmir to Konya.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Whilst we have tried to pack a lot into 8 days at a steady pace, there is still much to see so you may want to consider a bigger slice of the country on a 15-day trip.

  • You will need to carry your bags on and off local trams and trains during this trip. The distances aren't far, and it's possible to do this with a wheelie bag, but be aware of cobblestone streets.

  • This trip has two included flights and internal luggage restrictions of 15kg apply. If you are travelling for a longer period it is possible to store excess luggage in Istanbul.

Itinerary

Welcome to Turkey. Meet your group at 1 pm at the hotel in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all called home. Your group will head out with your leader to explore the Old City of Instanbul after the meeting. 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 jewel in Sinan the Great Ottoman Architect's crown, Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all that, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab, not the regrettable 2 am kind.
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
Optional Activities
  • Bosphorus Boat Cruise (Public Boat) - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY18
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY20
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - TRY40
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace - TRY65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
How blue is the Aegean? Find out for yourself as you jump on a local train after breakfast and head to the airport. A one-hour flight takes you to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city, and from there you'll transfer 1.5 hours to Kusadasi. This resort town lies on Turkey's western Aegean coast and is the perfect jump-off point 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 with the nightlife. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas. It has a long history and some phenomenal traditional Aegean cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.

Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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, the Artemis Temple and the small village of Sirince to taste the local fruit wine.
Included Activities
  • Ephesus - guided archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Sirince - Wine Tasting
Optional Activities
  • Selcuk - Archaeological Museum - TRY15
  • Ephesus - Terrace Houses Entry - TRY25
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
It's all about you today. Whatever you want to do, do it. Within reason, y'know? 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 Celopatras’s old pool. Alternatively, you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel. Swim in the crystal-clear waters of Soguksu Bay, Claros Island and Baradan Beach and enjoy lunch on deck. If you'd rather have a low-key day, there are plenty of beaches in town that have sunbeds, umbreallas and your name on it. 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 your group through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.




Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Overnight travel this evening on the Mavi Konya. Sleeping couchettes are two berth and have excellent facilities including a washbasin, small fridge and plenty of luggage storage.  Fresh bedding is supplied but you are required to make your own bed. Western-style toilets are located in each carriage, but we recommend bringing additional toilet paper.  There is a dining car for breakfast in the morning and if you get hungry during the evening.  You can even enjoy a local beer over a game of backgammon. 
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 three-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 and stop en route 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. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Goreme - Kaymakli Underground City
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Notes: Without a doubt, one of the most amazing memories of this journey is a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape to see this otherworldly scene at sunrise. Those who are interested in this optional extra will have a truly awe-inspiring experience. The cost of this activity varies depending on what type of flight you choose. This activity can only be booked locally. Please speak to your trip leader on Day 1 to organise this.
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. Your leader will take you for a 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.


Accommodation
  • Cappadocia (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Goreme - Valley Walk in Capadoccia
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia Regular Flight - EUR175
  • Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY30
  • Goreme - Whirling Dervishes - Sema Performance - EUR25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 hte trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's hippest 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 Bosphorous. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip ends after breakfast and there are no activities planned for the day.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private Bus, Public Bus, Train, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Overnight Train (1 night)

Included activities

  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
  • Ephesus - guided archaeological site visit
  • Selcuk - Gozleme making demonstration and lunch
  • Selcuk - Isa Bey Camii
  • Selcuk - Artemis Temple Visit
  • Sirince - Wine Tasting
  • Goreme - Kaymakli Underground City
  • Goreme - Valley Walk in Capadoccia

Dates & availability

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Important notes

Welcome Meeting starts at 1pm on Day 1

A single supplement is available on this trip, including the overnight train.

TURKEY:
We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest information on travelling in Turkey before your departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas of your itinerary. We have links to prominent government travel advisories and regular updates on issues affecting this trip on our Travel Alerts page - www.intrepidtravel.com/au/travel-alerts

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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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