Giant stone heads, a village feast and an Istanbul crash-course

Set out on a five-day Lonely Planet Experience through Turkey, packed full of ancient monuments and local moments, and centred around a visit to the summit of sacred Mt Nemrut. Wander around a 300-year-old bazaar in Darende, stay with a local family in a small rural village, watch the sun set over the giant stone heads scattered around the mountaintop tomb of King Antiochus I, then stroll the lively streets of Istanbul with your local leader and let them show you where to get the best islak burger in town. This trip is designed so that even if you’re short on time, you can explore the backroads of Turkey and uncover all the good stuff.


Start
Goreme, Turkey
Finish
Istanbul, Turkey
Destination
Turkey
Style
Basix
Theme
Lonely Planet Experience
Code
ERRV
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

A powerful partnership

Lonely Planet and Intrepid Travel share the same philosophy: we help curious people explore the world.

Why you'll love this trip

  • Discover a lesser-seen side of Turkey, taking the backroads from Cappadocia to the eastern province of Malatya to experience local life and local flavours.

  • Enjoy a homestay experience in Kahta, helping out in the fields or the kitchen, cooking with the family and enjoying village life.

  • Spend a day exploring the ancient city of Darende, wandering through a 300-year-old bazaar and sampling famous local delicacies like dried apricot.

  • Watch the sun set over the massive stone heads that sit atop Mt Nemrut, which were once part of the elaborate necropolis built by King Antiochus I.

  • Explore the continent-straddling metropolis of Istanbul, strutting your stuff with the locals on a popular street, sipping rich coffee and discovering (and falling in love with) wet burgers.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local leader and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in.

  • The homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday rural life and includes a home-cooked dinner. Facilities are simple and no frills, including beds that are comfortable mattresses on the floor. You may be surprised by how much you enjoy the simple life.

  • Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. People of all genders are required to dress very conservatively during the village homestay. Women are required to wear a ankle-length skirt and men must wear ankle-length trousers. Alcohol will not be available for purchase or consumption here.

  • Don’t let the heat keep you from exploring the world! Summer temperatures can be very high in July and August, though the east will be cooler than the city.

  • You’ll need your walking shoes, a hat, some sunscreen and a day pack to explore Mt Nemrut.

Itinerary

Gunaydin! Your Lonely Planet Experience begins bright and early at 8.30 am with a welcome meeting in Cappadocia. With the formalities out of the way, hop on a private bus to Darende. On the way, stop for a short walk to Gunpinar Waterfall. Arrive in Darende in the afternoon. Best known as the resting place of the contemplative Sufi Seyyid Hamid-i Veli (1331–1412), Darende was once a thriving Silk Road centre and it still a cultural hub. Explore the town centre on an orientation walk and visit the 300-year-old bazaar, where local women sit working on embroidery and other needlework. There’s also the chance to sample the area’s famous dried apricot in a local shop. Afterwards, settle in for a relaxing night in Darende.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Cappadocia - Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY45
  • Cappadocia -Kaymakli Underground City - TRY35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This trip starts in Goreme, Cappadocia, at 8.30 am. Please see the ‘Joining Point Description’ in the Essential Trip Information. It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time and leaving immediately afterwards. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know.

If you require additional accommodation at the beginning of your trip, we'll be happy to book it for you (subject to availability). Please speak to an Intrepid representative or travel agent for details.
Head to the Kahta region for a unique homestay experience in a small village. Spend the afternoon playing a game of football, walking in the fields and experiencing the simple pleasures of village life. It’s possible that you may even get to pick the vegetables for your dinner! Learn about the local culture and enjoy a feast prepared by your host family. You can choose to curl up on a mattress or bunk under the stars.
Accommodation
  • Homestay (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Special Information
Travelling time today: approximately 3 hours.

Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. People of all genders are required to dress very conservatively during the village homestay, including ankle-length skirts or trousers. Alcohol will not be available for purchase or consumption here.
This morning, visit the Karakus Tumulus – a monumental tomb that King Mithradates II of the Commagene civilisation built for his mother. A handful of colossal columns remain to mark the burial place; the Romans dismantled most, with the limestone blocks used to construct the nearby Cendere Bridge. This is one of the world’s oldest bridges still in use, spanning an impressive 122 metres. Arrive in the village of Khata in the afternoon, then make the journey up to the top of Mt Nemrut. See the ruins of Arsameia – a holy burial area built by King Antiochus I in memory of his father almost 2500 years ago. At the top of the mountain, Antiochus I also constructed a tomb-sanctuary for himself and surrounded it with statues of various gods and ancestors. The size and magnitude of the colossal stone heads is stunning, and the views from the summit are sublime, especially as the sun begins to set.
Accommodation
  • Pension (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mt Nemrut - Mt Nemrut guided visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Travel time today: approximately 3 hours.

Travellers with a reasonable level of fitness will be able to summit Mt Nemrut. The final 500-metre ascent (approximately 20 minutes) can be rocky and uneven so we recommend packing footwear suitable for hiking.

It can be very windy and cold here, even in summer, to pack layers of warm clothing. Between April and late October there may be snow and ice.
Depart early this morning for the south-eastern city of Adiyaman, where you’ll board a 2-hour flight to Istanbul. Land and take the local metro and tram to tonight’s hotel in Sultanahmet. This afternoon, your tour leader will introduce you to the lively Taksim district, the beating heart of modern Istanbul. Walk across the Golden Horn in view of the medieval Galata Tower. Board one of the world’s oldest funicular railways, operating since 1875, for the short journey 500 metres to Taksim. Alight at Istiklal Caddesi, arguably the city’s most popular strolling, shopping and snacking street, and take a walk among the local people who call this city home. Try an islak burger (a burger drenched in sauce) and visit a hidden local coffee house. Maybe stay with your travel companions for an optional celebratory dinner and take advantage of the late-night entertainment.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Travel time today: approximately 5 hours (including transfers and flight).
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation any time after breakfast. If you plan to stay on to see all Istanbul has to offer – which is highly recommended – we are happy to book additional accommodation (subject to availability). Please enquire at the time of booking to see if this is an option.
Optional Activities
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace (Excluding Harem) - TRY72
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - TRY100
  • Istanbul - Basilica Cistern - TRY30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This trip is a Lonely Planet Experience
Our Lonely Planet Experiences include plenty of free time so you can do the things that suit your budget and interests. Between your Intrepid Travel leader’s local knowledge and Lonely Planet’s trusted travel tips and recommendations, your trip will be more epic than ever.

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Private Bus, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nights), pension (1 night), Homestay (1 night)

Included activities

  • Mt Nemrut - Mt Nemrut guided visit

Lonely Planet extras

  • Free access to the Lonely Planet mobile app for one year
  • 25% discount on all items in the Lonely Planet Shop

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Turkey Backroads trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2 (Homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. This trip commences in Goreme in Cappadocia and finishes in Istanbul. Overnight buses are readily available for booking from Istanbul to Cappadocia and the region is serviced by two airports, Kayseri and Nevsehir. Additional accommodation is available for pre-booking with your booking agent.
3. Please refer to the joining instructions in this essential trip information document for the exact meeting place to join this trip. If you would like to be picked up at an alternative location in Goreme, please advise your booking agent 15 days prior to departure.
4 Turkey is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our trips are designed so they fit together. This means that while you might just be starting your trip, some of your new travel mates may have been travelling together for a week or more on a previous adventure. They will definitely have some great tips for you.
5. 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.

View Essential Trip Information

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