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About your trip
Ever dreamt of gliding over Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon? Or getting lost in the Grand Bazaar? On this 12-day journey through Turkey, you’ll do precisely that, and then some. Your adventure begins where two continents collide in a glorious explosion of colour: Istanbul. After discovering the beauty of this cosmopolitan city, you’ll venture out to the traditional capital Ankara and the curious troglodyte dwellings of Cappadocia, plus the wild Taurus Mountains and coastal serenity of Antalya. There’s also time for a food tour of Kadıköy, and the chance to marvel at centuries-old ruins in Hattusas. All of our trips are flightless in destination, with 100% of all carbon emissions offset. It's just part of how we see the world while being good to it.
- Experience the chaotic wonder of the bazaar and markets of Istanbul
- Journey overland across Turkey, stopping at key historical sites
- Seize the opportunity for a Cappadocia hot-air balloon ride
- Explore secret subterranean hideaways, deep in Cappadocia's volcanic rock
- Hike through the Red and Rose valleys
- Go river rafting in the Koprulu Canyon National Park
- Swim in the turquoise waters off the sunny Antalya coast
Upon arrival in Istanbul, you’ll be whisked from either airport (IST or SAW) off to a five-star hotel in the harbourside district of Karaköy. Here, our Local Insider will greet you at 6pm and accompany the group throughout the trip. Drop your bags and get your first taste of Istanbul at the in-house hammam, or take a short walk to see the Galata Tower. Regroup in the evening for a welcome dinner at Hamdi in the Old City; tuck into Urfa-style kebaps and lahmacun (thin, meat-topped pizza) while getting to know your fellow travellers. Today serves as a gentle preamble to the packed itinerary over the next two days.
Starting at the elegant Blue Mosque, our tour will lead you through the vibrant streets of Istanbul. This unique city is a melting pot of Byzantine, Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Turkish civilisations, where tradition and modernity live harmoniously side-by-side. Enjoy the vast beauty of the Hagia Sophia and the exquisite details within the Topkapi Palace complex, once the imperial residence of 25 Ottoman sultans. Take your time to sip a glass of çay (Turkish tea) while you haggle for souvenirs in the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 4,000 shops.
Today, allow yourself to be drawn into the aromatic pleasure of the Spice Market. Next, a hop aboard a ferry across the Bosphorus, the historic waterway between the shores of Europe and Asia, where you’ll glimpse the architectural highlights of Istanbul, such as the Rumeli Fortress. Disembark in the fairytale-like neighbourhood of Kuzguncuk, where you’ll take part in a food-tasting tour through Kadıköy, sampling Turkish specialities such as lahmacun, kaymak and baklava. After taking a ferry back to the European side, you’ll walk through the ancient Beyoglu tunnel and end your day with a stroll down the popular, shop-lined Istiklal Street.
On arrival in Ankara, you’ll instantly sense the calmer, less touristy way of life – in contrast to the chaotic clamour of Istanbul. By now, you’ll probably be familiar with the figure of Kemal Atatürk, founder and first leader of the Turkish Republic, as his image is found across the country. In Ankara, you’ll visit Anıtkabir, his monumental tomb, then onto the Ankara Citadel and the fascinating Museum of Anatolian Civilizations to pour over the most extensive collection of Hittite artefacts in the world, some more than 7,500 years old. Bed down in a luxurious city-centre hotel.
The capital of the ancient Hittite Empire was the mighty Kingdom of Hattusas. Discover this extraordinary relic from the late Bronze Age as you meander through huge stone walls set with reliefs and statues from more than 5,000 years ago. A short walk uphill from the Unesco World Heritage site will bring you to Yazilikaya, a sacred memorial place for Hittites. This impressive site is a natural open-air temple hewn in the rocks, and hidden in the high cliffs. Tonight, you’ll stay in cave-like rooms built from local stone.
Although optional, we highly recommend you take the early morning hot-air balloon ride. Floating silently over the surreal rock formations of Cappadocia is undoubtedly the best way to experience this natural phenomena. Enjoy breakfast back at the hotel before heading to Goreme National Park, which has more than 30 rock-carved chapels and the unique cliff dwellings of Zelve. Come afternoon, you’ll join a terracotta workshop in Avanos, creating traditional colourful pottery using time-honoured techniques. Finish your day with a wine tasting at the finest winery in Cappadocia and an optional visit to see local craftspeople weave rugs.
Tug on your hiking boots today. You’ll be exploring the Kaymakli Underground City, cut seven storeys down into volcanic rock. These labyrinthine tunnels were dug by locals to hide from marauding armies centuries ago, and could house thousands of people and livestock. Leaving the subterranean city behind, you’ll embark on an 8km (5mi) hike through the Rose and Red valleys; the pink colour of the other-worldly rocks changes as the sun moves across the sky. Spend the rest of your afternoon exploring Cappadocia at leisure. Evening brings optional traditional entertainment of live music and, of course, belly dancing.
Bid farewell to the Cappadocia caves as we drive on to the sacred city of Konya. Walk in the footsteps of the most famous Persian poet and great Sufi mystic, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi, as we explore the streets of his hometown. Immerse yourself in Rumi’s teachings, learn about his life, and perhaps catch a glimpse of the mesmerising Whirling Dervishes as they spin, hands held aloft, in a form of meditation. Next, you’ll visit the Mosque of Aladdin, one of the oldest mosques in Turkey, where you can take time to investigate interesting architectural features and beautiful historical tiles.
Widely renowned as one of the best preserved Roman theatres of the ancient world, the Aspendos amphitheatre was built during the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180CE) and was used as a caravanserai by the Seljuks in the 13th century. This ancient masterpiece is used for performances to this day. You’ll hear the story of how the statues of Perge were unearthed as we explore this ancient town, before the final leg of your day trip: a journey through the wild landscapes of the Taurus Mountains to Antalya.
Today you have two options. You could hike to the ancient mountaintop site of Termessos, 1,000m (3,281ft) above sea level. The national park includes an impressive amphitheatre, Roman baths, aqueducts and even a gymnasium, bounded by a dense pine forest and home to rare wild plants. Alternatively, kick back by the hotel pool. Regroup in the afternoon for a walking tour of the Old Harbour. This includes the colourful marina, cobblestone streets and the fascinating Antalya Archaeological Museum, considered to be one of the best in Turkey. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish.
As our tour comes to a close, it’s time to relax and take stock of everything you’ve discovered on your trip through the diverse Turkish landscape. Take a dip in the sea and find your spot to unwind on the miles of soft sand in Turkey’s favourite seaside destination. Alternatively, join an optional adventure to Koprulu Canyon National Park – a vast playground for hiking, rock climbing, swimming and river rafting. Climb aboard and paddle downstream to work up an appetite for your farewell dinner, in a beautiful location under the night sky.
After one final night at your hotel, your trip concludes. Say goodbye to your new-found friends at midday before either making your way back to Istanbul to catch your onward flight or continuing your exploration of this fascinating country.
- Three nights cave hotel accommodation
- Three nights period mansion hotel accommodation
- Five nights premium hotel accommodation
- Private and local transport
- Eleven breakfasts, one lunch, two dinners
- Local Insider
- Arrival airport transfer from either IST or SAW
- Istanbul Old City tour
- Grand Bazaar and Spice Market tour
- Bosphorus ferry cruise
- Istanbul food tour
- Guided Anıtkabir visit
- Museum of Anatolian Civilizations visit
- Hattusas and Yazilikaya tour
- Goreme Open-Air Museum tour
- Zelve Valley visit
- Pottery workshop
- Wine tasting
- Kaymakli Underground City tour
- Rose and Red valleys hike
- Mausoleum of Rumi visit
- Mosque of Aladdin visit
- Aspendos amphitheatre and Perge visit
- Antalya Old Harbour walking tour
What's Not Included
- Travel insurance
- Flights to and from the destination
Radisson Blu Hotel Istanbul Pera
With views of the Golden Horn and rooms inspired by old Istanbul, this Radisson Blu is the perfect spot to kick back post exploration. There’s also a modern spa, plus a restaurant with panoramic views over the water – just grab a Turkish coffee if you’re not hungry. End the evening with liquor in the Luna Lounge.
The Wings Hotels Neva Palas
Ankara city centre lies on the doorstep of this plush hotel on Küçükesat Avenue. Plush rooms feature fluffy bathrobes, slippers and flat-screen TVs. Breakfast is served in the dining room – or in your room on request.
Utopia Cave Cappadocia
Staying in a cave has never been so opulent. Hewn from rock, yet with all the trappings of a modern luxury hotel, Utopia Cave Cappadocia offers a truly unique stay, with traditional hammams, a swimming pool and several terraces from which to savour its one-of-a-kind location.
Hilton Garden Inn Konya
Just across the street from the Mevlana Cultural Center, you’ll find the Hilton Garden Inn Konya. Classically styled rooms await, but not before you’ve sampled the local raki (a local spirit made from grapes and aniseed) in the bar.
Perched right on the seafront, the 5 star Akra Hotel is the perfect place to finish up your adventure through Turkey. With views of both the Mediterranean and Taurus Mountains, the Akra is located walking distance to the lively marina and city centre of Antalya. Rooms are luxurious and service is top-notch, plus there are multiple bars, bistros and fitness centres for use as well as a superb pool and buffet breakfast.
Your safety and wellbeing are our top priority, so we’ve put the following measures in place on all our TRIPS:
- Our average group size is 10 people (max 18), which gives you all the security of being in a group whilst avoiding a crowd.
- Where possible, we use small/ boutique accommodation – this means fewer guests and reduced exposure to other travellers.
- We require all accommodation providers to share protocols around the extra health and hygiene measures they are taking.
- Included activities are exclusive to our group wherever possible, to minimise contact with others.
- Covid-19 negative test results or vaccine certificates may be required. Please check the entry requirements for the destination you are travelling to. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- We recommend you confirm all guidance on official government sites and check that you are able to travel with your travel insurance issuer. Your travel insurance may be invalidated if you travel against government advice. Our travel experts can assist you in finding this information.
- You must be aged 25 years or over to join this trip.
- Please be sure to check whether or not you need a visa to enter the country you're travelling to. Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions for further information.
- If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or accessibility requirements, please notify our Customer Support team as soon as possible.
- We won't charge you extra if you travel alone – you'll be allocated a twin room with another traveller of the same gender.
- To upgrade to a private room, share a room with a friend, or book pre- and post-trip accommodation and/or airport transfers, please contact our Customer Support team.
- Please be aware that travel insurance is compulsory for all travellers.
- Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. While unlikely, these changes can happen due to circumstances beyond our control. We will always do our best to ensure minimal impact on your experience.
- Please be aware images on this page are for illustrative purposes and may not reflect your itinerary exactly.
- If you intend to join the Hot Air Balloon experience in Cappadocia, please let us know as soon as possible. If you delay your decision until during the trip, availability and pricing cannot be guaranteed.
- PLEASE NOTE - IN 2024 THE ARGOS HOTEL WILL BE USED IN ANTALYA
The world of travel is changing – and that's why we’re offering flexible booking conditions, to take the stress out of booking in times of uncertainty.
You can get a full refund should you need to postpone or cancel your trip up to 56 days prior to departure.
Read our Booking Guarantee to find out more about how our Support Team can help you.
For the full details and cancellation charges, see our Booking Terms & Conditions.
Terms & Conditions
Please refer to our Booking Terms & Conditions.