From the Aegean to the Central Plains, you'll be agreeing that this region is anything but plain.

Discover Turkey in all its ancient glory during this eight-day journey beginning in Istanbul. Travel to the Aegean resort town of Kusadasi before exploring the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, then hop over to northern Cyprus where time stands still. Tread the paths of history, soak up some incredible landscapes and immerse yourself in this cultural melting pot.


Start
Istanbul, Turkey
Finish
Famagusta, Cyprus
Destinations
Cyprus, Turkey
Style
Original
Code
ERSTC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • Spend eight days ticking off the highlights of Turkey before taking a short flight to Northern Cyprus to enjoy the rustic charm of this idyllic island paradise 

  • 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.

  • Visit fairytale-like St Hilarion Castle, famously rumoured to be used by Walt Disney as inspiration for the castle in Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.

  • Discover Europe's last divided capital, known as Lefkosia to the Turkish and Nicosia to the Cypriot communities, it is full of surprises with an eclectic mix of cultures and architecture.

  • Stay in a traditional Cypriot village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Join your village hosts for some traditional bread and cheese making

Is this trip right for you?

  • We recommend packing light, as you’ll need to carry your own luggage on and off transport and to and from hotels.

  • The weather can be hot in Turkey and even hotter in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, it is a dry heat and not uncomfortable however please check the weather for your desired travel dates and be prepared for the temperatures 

  • You’ll need your walking shoes, a hat, some sunscreen, and a daypack to explore some of historical sites. All site tours are guided, but you can wander at your own pace if you prefer.

  • This is a classic Intrepid Original Tour, featuring the highlights of Turkey and the Republic of Northern Cyprus  along with off the beaten track local experiences. Accommodation is comfortable and locally owned, supporting local economy.

  • This trip uses a combination of public and private transport, and all vehicles are modern and have air-conditioning and most are fitted with seat belts. Some journeys can be long in order to maximise the areas visited, but this gives you a chance to interact with the local community and see more of the country. You'll also be pleasantly surprised to find most Turkish buses have Wi-Fi and serve coffee and cake!

  • This trip crosses from Northern Cyprus into Cyprus. Walking the imaginary green line between to the two republics and crossing over for a quick cup of coffee is actually a highlight for many visitors. However, it's important you read the visa information carefully before booking this trip.

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
This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Ercan International Airport in the TRNC, on arrival exit he terminal buidling and look for your transfer to Kyrenia.  Welcome to Kyrenia (Girne-Turkish), a beautiful town that boasts an average of 320 sunny days per year. Come 6pm, begin your travels with a welcome meeting at the Nostalgia Hote. Check with reception to confirm the specifics just to be safe. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Your trip leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the meeting, so please have these on hand.

In ages past, Kyrenia's horseshoe harbour played home to carob warehouses, one of the region’s former major exports. These days, it’s lined with lively bars and shops underneath the nearby Venetian Castle that creates an interesting contrast between old and new. Considered to be the cultural and economic centre of Northern Cyprus, there’s no better place to begin your adventures through the island.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This is a combination trip and your flight from Istanbul to Ercan International Airport will be unaccompanied. Your Group Leader and the composition of your group will change in Northern Cyprus.

You may want to consider electing not have your passport stamped when you enter the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus if you intend to visit Greece in the future.
Embark on a walking tour of Kyrenia -Girne’s Old town in the morning. The winding alleyways reveal a quaint mix of old stone buildings with colourfully restored architecture, along with the spectacular remains of the abandoned 16th-century Chrysopolitissa Church. Take a visit to the Venetian Castle that guards the city, taking in the magnificent sea vistas from the top of the fortifications.

In the afternoon, travel the picturesque St Hilarion Castle. With walls and towers that sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it’s rumoured that Walt Disney used the castle as inspiration for The Queen’s Castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The highest point stands at a towering 730 metres (2395 feet) above sea level, offering a marvellous view of the lands below. From this point on, continue to Bellapais to explore its monastery, one of the few and fantastic Gothic architectural masterpieces of Cyprus. The village and the monastery became famous after Lawrence Durrell’s book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus, where he mentioned passing time by drinking coffee under the Tree of Idleness – yet two trees claim this title, and it remains uncertain which is the true location.
Included Activities
  • Kyrenia - Venetian Castle
  • Kyrenia- St. Hilarion Castle
  • Kyrenia - Bellapais Monastery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a day on the water floating around the shores of Kyrenia,  considered as one of the best ways to experience Northern Cyprus. Watch as the rolling hillsides and towns on the coast slowly roll by while you take in the sunshine on the deck. A few quick stops at one of the crystal clear coves in the area offers the perfect chance for a dip in the ocean – however you’re more than welcome to lay back on the deck with a drink if you’d prefer. Take some time out along the way for a delicious Mediterranean lunch with the group, helping to recharge your batteries before heading back to the port at 4pm.
Included Activities
  • Kyrenia - Day Boat Cruise
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Known as Lefkosa to the Turks and Nicosia to the Greeks, the city is full of surprises thanks to a mix of cultures and architecture. The Selimiye Mosque is one of the Turkish side’s highlights, previously known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia before the Ottomans added minarets in 1571. Marvel upon the interior’s whitewashed walls and examine traces of Gothic architecture lying in the architecture despite the Islamic refurbishment of the building.

Afterwards, take a walking tour passing through both sides of the country’s green line. Your passport will be required for the checkpoints at the border and the intriguing contrasts between the divided city will become apparent as you enter the Greek side of the island. Later in the afternoon, loop back into the Turkish side with a trip to the Rizokarpaso - The Karpaz Peninsula before spending the evening at a log cabin in the national forests near Byukkonuk, a traditional Cypriot village.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
You will need your passport with you today at the checkpoints as we cross into the Greek side of the island
Begin today at Buyukkonuk, a traditional Cyprus village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Meet with your hosts Lois and Ismail before engaging in some traditional bread and cheese making and with a sneaky tasting afterwards. Before lunch, perhaps take a wander through the local fields to the remains of the Auxendios church. The Karpass Peninsula is literally covered with abandoned churches, many have been left for years and have since been re-purposed as shelters for farm animals or simply left to fall in favour for new mosques. Enjoy a traditional village vegetarian meal for lunch, using local produce such as carob pekmez and zivania – a local firewater made from grape skins.

Later in the afternoon, journey further along the Karpaz to explore some of the area’s remote beaches and villages, keeping an eye out for donkeys in the countryside. Spend tonight at this seaside escape, a mere stone’s throw away from the Golden Sands.
Included Activities
  • Buyukkonuk - Bread & Cheese making
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Emanating a certain rustic charm, this undeveloped slice of paradise on the remote Mediterranean coast is yours to explore today. Take a drive to the tip of the peninsula and visit the Apostolos Andreas Monastery. It’s thought that the monastery has stood here since Byzantine times, founded here during a journey to the Holy Land by Saint Andrew. Andrew went off course, becoming shipwrecked after striking the rocks here. A water spring gushed out of the location where the boat struck, miraculously healing the sight of the ship’s captain who had been blind in one eye. In modern times, the monastery has been under an extensive restoration program which leaves much of the location inaccessible to the public – however the church is still open for entry and the views from this location are stunning. The afternoon is free for you to spend as you wish, so perhaps spend some time relaxing at the beach or watching the local donkeys frolic around the landscape – please refrain from feeding them if you do.
Included Activities
  • Karpas - Apostolos Andreas Monastery
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Wake up early and begin travelling towards Famagusta, stopping off at the ancient city of Salamis on the way. Once a thriving port city, Salamis served many dominant groups over the course of history including the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians and Romans. Continue on to St Barnabus’ Monastery, dedicated to St Paul’s good Cypriot friend Varnavas (Barnabas) who carried out missionary work on the island.

After arriving in Famagusta (Gazimagusa-Turkish)  in the early afternoon, check in to your hotel situated behind the massive iconic walls of the old city. Famagusta or Gazi to the locals  is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in the eastern Mediterranean and a walk over the walls is much like wandering through an open-air museum. The beautiful cathedral of St Nicholas, refurbished and renamed to the Lala Mustafa Pasa Mosque, is considered to be the centre-point of the city and marks the starting location of a guided walking tour. Explore the antiquates of this colourful city, leaning about the modern history of the region after the 1974 coup that split the island in half. As the night sets in, enjoy a farewell dinner this evening before sharing a cocktail in the Hamam bar with your new friends.
Included Activities
  • Famagusta - Church of Apostles
  • Famagusta- Salamis Ancient Site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today and no further activities are planned.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 3 lunches

Transport

Private Bus, Public Bus, Train, Dolmus, Gulet, Plane

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
  • Kyrenia - Venetian Castle
  • Kyrenia- St. Hilarion Castle
  • Kyrenia - Bellapais Monastery
  • Kyrenia - Day Boat Cruise
  • Buyukkonuk - Bread & Cheese making
  • Karpas - Apostolos Andreas Monastery
  • Famagusta - Church of Apostles
  • Famagusta- Salamis Ancient Site

Dates & availability

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Important notes

Welcome Meeting
Welcome Meeting starts at 1pm on Day 1

Single Supplement
A single supplement is available on this trip.

Itinerary 
This is a combination tour and the composition of your group and your group Leader will change

This trip will have an unaccompanied flight from Istanbul to Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. 
This trip has two internal flight with a checked luggage restriction of 15kg, you can store excess luggage in the starting point hotel for your return to Istanbul.

Please note that there will be a luggage limit of 23kg checked luggage and 8kg hand luggage on included flight to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on this trip.

Visas
This trip will finish in Famagusta TRNC.  Please check the visa information before booking flights. You may want to consider entering and exiting from the same airport.
 
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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