Hit Turkey’s hotspots, from cosmopolitan Istanbul to ancient Ephesus

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

  • This short but sweet trip packs a punch with visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus while still leaving plenty of time to relax.

  • Enjoy a free day on the Aegean in the resort town of Kusadasi. You can check out Pamukkale's thermal pools, take a gulet cruise along the coast or relax on the beach.

  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. It's picture perfect and produces quite the delicious tipple!

  • Get a birds-eye view of Cappadocia’s caves, fairy chimneys and honeycomb terrain with an optional balloon ride over this other-worldly landscape.

  • Discover the back streets and vibrant local markets of Istanbul with your expert guide, find hidden hotspots and local hangouts that you won’t find in the guidebooks.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Whilst we have tried to pack a lot into eight 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 15 kg apply. If you are travelling for a longer period, it is possible to store excess luggage in Istanbul.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have called home. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm, followed by a guided tour of the Old City with your expert leader. 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 architectural masterpiece that is Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all the exploring, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab. While you might be familiar with the shaved meats and pita bread sensation that you may have come across at 2 am, nothing beats the kind they wrap up in Istanbul.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Istanbul - Old City Walking Tour (Half Day)
Optional Activities
  • Bosphorus Boat Cruise (Public Boat) - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Galata Tower - TRY25
  • Istanbul - Archaeology Museum - TRY30
  • Istanbul - Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts - TRY35
  • Istanbul - Hagia Sophia - TRY60
  • Istanbul - Topkapi Palace - TRY65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special 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. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
How blue is the Aegean? Find out for yourself today. After breakfast, board a local train and head to the airport before taking a 1-hour flight to Izmir, Turkey's third-largest city. From here, transfer 1.5 hours to the coastal gem of Kusadasi. This resort town lies on Turkey's western Aegean coast and is the perfect base 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 enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Despite being a resort town, Kusadasi isn't all new hotels and marinas – it has a long history and some phenomenal cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local olive oil.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
There are two airports in Istanbul, internal flights may be from either of these airports depending on carrier schedules. The internal flight today will be operated by Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Jet, Pegasus Airlines or Sun Express. Luggage restrictions of 15kg checked and 8kg hand luggage apply on most internal flights.
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ephesus - archaeological site
  • 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 - TRY30
  • Selcuk - Basilica of St John - TRY15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a full day at leisure to do as much (or as little) as you like! You might like to 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 Cleopatra’s old pool. Alternatively, you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel, and swim in the crystal-clear waters of Soguksu Bay, Claros Island and Baradan Beach while enjoying lunch on deck. If you'd rather have a low-key day, there are plenty of beaches in town to relax on. 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 you through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.
Accommodation
  • Mavi Konya (1 night)
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 3-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. Stop enroute 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
  • Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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. Later this morning, enjoy a guided 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
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Cappadocia - Valley Walk
Optional Activities
  • Goreme - Hot Air Balloon, Cappadocia Regular Flight - EUR195
  • Goreme - Open Air Museum - TRY45
  • Goreme - Whirling Dervishes - Sema Performance - EUR25
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
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.
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 the trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's trendiest 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 Bosphorus.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your Turkey adventure ends after breakfast and there are no activities planned.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private Bus, Public bus, Overnight Train, Plane

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

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

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT 
A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 5 (Overnight train) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

WELCOME MEETING
Welcome Meeting starts at 1pm on Day 1

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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