Experience the history, traditions, flavours and beaches of Turkey and Greece on this well-balance tour

If you’re looking for world-famous ruins, postcard-perfect beaches, epic history and a healthy dose of mouth-watering cuisine, a Greek holiday is probably high on your list, but did you know all of these treasures can be found in Turkey too? You’d be missing out if you visited one and not the other, so we created the perfect two-week adventure for you. Glimpse Turkey and Greece’s glorious past on visits to Ephesus and the island of Delos. Compare Turkey’s version of beach life with that found on the Greek Islands. And debate which country serves up the tastiest cuisine. Balancing traditional towns with tourist hotspots, unique cultural experiences with bucket-list items, and free time with planned excursion, this trip to Turkey and Greece has all the makings of an unforgettable adventure.


Start
Istanbul, Turkey
Finish
Santorini, Greece
Destinations
Greece, Turkey
Style
Original
Code
ERSZC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. The small village of Sirince is 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.

  • Uncover thousands of years of civilisation in Athens with a visit to the world-famous Acropolis and the ancient Agora.

  • Wander through the charming villages of Syros. When night falls, indulge in delicious seafood dinners in traditional tavernas as Rembetika music floats around you.

  • With its boutique culture, gorgeous beaches and thumping nightlife, the chic isle of Mykonos invites you to embrace your hedonistic side.

  • The sight of a Santorini sunset can turn even the most hardened of souls into a romantic. Walk along the volcanic rim of the island from Thira to Oia, passing through picturesque white villages that cling to plunging cliffs.

Is this trip right for you?

  • You will need to carry your bags on and off local trams and trains and ferries during this trip. Some of the Greek Islands are very hilly and mountainous, which means lots and lots of steps are an inherent feature of the landscape. You will have to be able to easily lift your luggage and carry it up and down stairs and inclines. Also, stone streets become very slippery when wet. 

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

  • The flight connection from Istanbul to Athens has a 23 kg checked in allowance and 8 kg hand baggage.

  • There is an overnight train on this trip, the train is twin share with comfortable beds and all linen is supplied.

  • We have had reports of travellers being pick pocketed on public transport in Athens. Please be careful with your valuables while travelling on the metro or the bus.

  • Transport in Greece is by way of  large ferries that transport hundreds of people, along with cars and trucks. There are no reserved seats and passengers are free to walk around the ferry freely. Luggage is stored in a designated area on the car deck and is not accessible while the ferry is moving.

  • Summer temperatures in Turkey and Greece can reach up to 40°C, which can be uncomfortable for those not used to the heat. On the other hand, early in the season (April) many businesses may still be closed and the weather is unpredictable, however you may have some of the major sights almost to yourself. Please consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season.

  • As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same gender. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details. 

Itinerary

Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans have all called home. Kick off your adventure with a 1 pm welcome meeting where you’ll meet your tour leader and travel group, then head out to explore Istanbul’s old city centre on a leader-led walking tour. Visit the Hippodrome – the centre of Byzantine life for thousands of years and scene of many a chariot races. Admire the striking minarets and domes of the Blue Mosque, browse a range of wares of the Grand Bazaar and stop by the city’s largest mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque. After a full first day, perhaps head out for dinner with your new friends – a proper Turkish kebab is a choice you won’t regret. Ask your tour leader where to grab the best one.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.
How blue is the Aegean? Today, you’ll find out for yourself. After breakfast, take a local train to the airport, hop a one-hour flight to Izmir, then drive 1.5 hours to Kusadasi, a sun-filled resort town on Turkey's western coast. It’s 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. It’s also the perfect jumping-off point for visiting the classical ruins at nearby Ephesus. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas - it has a long and rich history and some phenomenal traditional Aegean cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 (savoury 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
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 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 Cleopatra’s old pool. Alternatively, you could head 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 lounge chairs, umbrellas 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 over Cappadocia’s fairy chimney-dotted, fairytale-like landscape. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for the incredible sight of a skyline dotted with balloons in the early morning light. Afterwards, 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 – or one of the other scenic routes that will immerse you in this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the World Heritage-listed Goreme Open-Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. Hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River or find bliss in a Turkish bath. This evening, you have the option of sharing a meal with a local family in their own home. Alternatively, choose to go it alone and grab a local testi kebab, enjoy an evening hookah in one of the cafes or savour a glass of the local wine while overlooking the valley.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (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. The evening is free to spend how you please, but you can’t go wrong with an evening stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's hippest neighbourhoods. Maybe try a local favourite, Balik Ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. The area also has some fantastic bars and trendy spots serving up cay (Turkish tea) with views of the Bosphorus Strait.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning, transfer to Istanbul airport, bid farewell to your tour leader, and board a flight bound for Athens. The flight will be unaccompanied, but your leader will provide flight details and contact information before you board, and you will be met at the airport on arrival. After transferring to the hotel, the day is free until a group meeting at 6 pm. Settle in, freshen up and maybe take a walk around Athens’s ancient streets to get a feel for the city. After your evening meeting, head out for dinner with the group at a restaurant in the vibrant Psiri neighbourhood.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Acropolis Pass for 5 Sites - EUR20
  • National Archaeological Museum - EUR7
  • Day Trip to the Saronic Islands - EUR20
  • Day Trip to Delphi - EUR33
  • Dora Stratou - EUR15
  • Lycabettus Hill - Free
  • Numismatic Museum - EUR3
  • Urban Adventures - Walking Athens - EUR55
  • Urban Adventures - Taste of Athens - EUR68
  • Urban Adventures - Markets, Ruins & Ancient Athens - EUR58
  • Urban Adventures - Bohemian Tales of the City - EUR70
  • Urban Adventures - Twilight Athens - EUR91
  • Urban Adventures - Locals on Tap - EUR25
  • Urban Adventures - Total Athens - EUR169
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
It’s a four-hour journey to Syros – first by metro to the port of Piraeus, then by ferry. Located in the heart of the Cyclades, this less-travelled island that also goes by Syra offers a rare opportunity to experience the islands as the Greeks do. You’ll have two days here to discover its charming villages with whitewashed houses, terraced fields and gorgeous sandy beaches, as well as a smattering of windmills (abandoned, though still wonderfully photogenic) and ancient ruins. The island is also known for its delicious sweets like wafers filled with hazelnut, almonds or honey, and fruit-flavoured jelly. Since you’ll have plenty of time to explore tomorrow, perhaps kick back at a waterfront cafe and watch the sunset while indulging in a local treat – you deserve it.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The narrow, cobbled streets of Ano Syros are too narrow for cars and can only be explored on foot – so that is exactly what you’ll do this morning. Set out on a guided walk with your leader, past steep steps, mini squares, handmade-souvenir shops and family-run tavernas playing traditional Rembetiko music. After getting a taste of what Greek island life is all about with your tour leader, enjoy free time to delve deeper on your own. Maybe visit some of the islands archaeological sites, or simply head to the beach and spend the afternoon splashing about in the Aegean’s crystal-clear waters. Outside of Ermoupolis are many small tranquil coves, while the most popular beaches are on the southern side of the island. However you choose to spend the day, leave yourself time to freshen up before dinner with the group. This evening, you’ll head to a taverna in a remote village in the island’s rugged north and enjoy delicious local specialties while watching the sun set over the Aegean Sea. What could be better.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ano Syros Walk
Optional Activities
  • Archaeological Sites/Ruins - EUR5
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Though Syros better reflects how locals really live, Mykonos is the place that tends to invoke wanderlust. It’s glamour, style and nightlife are legendary. Even in ancient times, it was revered as the battleground where Zeus fought the Gigantes; a beautiful island named in honour of Apollo’s grandson. Take a two-hour ferry to the island, then set out on a walk through its maze-like Old Town with your leader. Follow flower-lined paths past age-old churches, tiny restaurants, chic galleries and boutiques. There’s free time in the afternoon to seek out a patch of sand at one of the many beaches or browse the lux boutiques. Later, meet back with the group for a picnic dinner. Your leader will take you to the best spot to enjoy an Aegean sunset and pack a range of local specialties for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Picnic in Mykonos
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning you will take a half-day trip out to the nearby island of Delos. The mythological birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos is one of the most important archaeological and mythological sites in the Greek Isles. With a guide to fill you in on the history, check out some of the island’s ancient treasures including the Terrace of the Lions and the Sacred Precinct. Return to Mykonos and perhaps indulge in some more beach time. Paradise and Super Paradise Beach Bars have earned a reputation for their pumping energy and are just a short bus ride away. Or continue with your history lesson and head to the 19th-century House of Lena or the Aegean Maritime Museum. In the evening, perhaps wander down to Little Venice, where colourful balconies hang precariously over the sea - the ideal spot to sit back with a cocktail and enjoy another Aegean sunset. Afterwards, join in the fun of Mykonos’ notorious nightlife.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Day Trip to the Island of Delos
  • Delos Archaeological Site
Optional Activities
  • Archaeological Sites/Ruins - EUR12
  • Aegean Maritime Museum - EUR4
  • House of Lena - EUR2
  • Day Trip to Village of Ano Mera - EUR4
  • Day Trip to Paradise Beach - EUR4
  • Day Trip to Super Paradise Beach - EUR10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Set off for the last destination of your Turkey and Greece adventure – the southern island of Santorini. It’ll take about three hours to arrive here by ferry. Renowned for its spectacular natural beauty, if the views of this iconic travel destination look familiar, it’s because its whitewashed villages, blue-domed buildings and sparking blue waters are featured in every postcard, travel brochure and Instagram page featuring the Greek Islands. More than just looks, Santorini also boasts some fascinating hilltop ruins (Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement that was both destroyed – and perfectly preserved – after a volcanic eruption, similar to Pompeii), multi-coloured volcanic beaches and a slew of great restaurants and shops in the island’s capital, interchangeably called Thira or Fira. Be sure to try some of the island’s delicious food – the nutrient-filled volcanic soil produces some particularly flavourful crops.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Museum of Prehistoric Thira - EUR3
  • Volcano and Hot Springs (Half-Day Trip) - EUR25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In 1500 BC a volcanic eruption sank the centre of Santorini, forming one of the most significant geological formations on the planet – the awe-inspiring caldera. It’s part of what makes Santorini such a special place. Today, you’ll get a closer look at this beauty on a walk along the crater rim. Starting in Thira town, walk through tiny villages as you make your way to Oia, passing steep cliff faces and breathtaking vistas along the way. Don’t forget the camera for this included excursion! Afterwards, it’s up to you how you want to spend your last day here. Perhaps book a half-day trip to the island’s volcano and hot springs. Sample some local drops at some of the island’s wineries. The vines here are cultivated in a very unusual way, with the plants being pruned to form a low basket shape that sits on top of the volcanic soil to protect the grapes from strong winds. In the evening, make sure to enjoy one last dinner with the group. There’s no better way to end your adventure than enjoying cocktails with new friends while witnessing a magnificent Santorini sunset.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santorini Caldera Rim Hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note that the hike along the caldera usually takes approximately 3-4 hours / 12 km, and the surface varies between gravel and loose volcanic scree. There are multiple uphill and downhill sections, and there is little shade. Please speak to your leader for more details if you have any concerns. As an alternative to the hike you can take the bus to Oia instead, and meet up with the rest of the group there.
There are no activities planned for the day; your trip ends today after breakfast. If you wish to extend your stay to see more of Santorini, we would be happy to book additional accommodation (subject to availability). Please enquire at the time of booking.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Private Bus, Public Bus, Train, Plane, Ferry

Accommodation

Hotel (13 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
  • Ano Syros Walk
  • Picnic in Mykonos
  • Day Trip to the Island of Delos
  • Delos Archaeological Site
  • Santorini Caldera Rim Hike

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is available on this trip please refer to your booking agent.

ITINERARY
Internal flights have a 15 kg luggage restriction.  Excess Luggage can be stored in the Istanbul starting point hotel.

The international connection between Istanbul and Athens has a 23 kg checked in luggage allowance and 8 kg hand luggage.

This trip has an overnight train included, the train is comfortable and reserved on a twin share basis, with comfortable beds, pillows and linen supplied, most people get a goods nights sleep on the train.

Essential trip information

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