If we had our way, our vacations would last for months, but, alas, with busy work schedules, even 10 days is quite precious. But it’s a great length of time for an introduction to Turkey. Here are some recommendations that include culinary highlights, historic ruins and plenty of beach time.
Want to explore Turkey’s vibrant bazaars and rocky valleys? Book Culture Trip’s 12-day group tour and stop at key historical sights and glide across the landscape in a hot-air balloon.
Days 1-2: Istanbul
Two days in Istanbul are great for an introduction to a city that has witnessed the rise and fall of empires and continues to be a confluence of past and present. After a tour of the major touristic sights in Sultanahmet, such as the Hagia Sophia or the Topkapı Palace, check out our 24-hour guide for some alternate ideas for seeing the city. Of course, during these two days, make sure to check out some of the best Turkish restaurants in the city, from classic taverns to the more upscale venues that are experimenting with traditional Turkish recipes and ingredients.
Days 3-4: Mardin
Often overlooked, Mardin is one of the most beautiful cities in Turkey, rich in history and architectural spectacle. Located on a hill overlooking a flat expanse, Mardin’s old city is full of Artuqid architecture that stands out with ornately decorative stone façades. We recommend grabbing your camera and getting lost among the many winding cobble-stoned streets that always lead you somewhere entirely new. Before you book, check out our Mardin guide for tips on the best restaurants, sights and hotels in this mysterious old city.
Days 5-6: Cappadocia
Everyone knows about the spectacular fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, and you won’t want to miss out on visiting them during your trip to Turkey. Before you make your plans, make sure to read up about the history of Cappadocia’s magical landscape including the rock formations (called fairy chimneys due to their shape) and the many ancient underground cities. One of the most unmissable experiences here is a hot-air balloon tour that takes off before sunset, allowing you to watch the many colours of dawn illuminating the stunning landscape.
Days 7-8: Bozcaada
Formerly inhabited mostly by Greeks, before the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923, Bozcaada is one of those classic Aegean islands with burgeoning bougainvillea, stone houses with colourful window shutters, and a sparkling turquoise sea. You can get all the essential tips with our Bozcaada guide, but do make sure to make your hotel and restaurant reservations before you go to the beautiful summer island. Bozcaada is also known for its wine, and Corvus, one of the best boutique vineyards in Turkey, is a great place to visit for wine lovers who want to become acquainted with the local grape varieties.
Days 9-10: Izmir
Izmir is a great place to visit, not only because it’s one of the most liberal cities in Turkey but also because of its proximity to the sea and all the great small towns around it. Check out our 48-hour guide to make the best of the city centre – for example, by taking a stroll by the sea or wandering through the famous and historic Kemeraltı Market. Of course, the food in Izmir (especially the fresh seafood) is amazing, so make sure to sample a few of the best local dishes. While you’re here, a day trip to Alaçatı or the off-the-beaten-track village of Şirince are very much recommended.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.