Wonders of Turkey: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus -9 Days

On this nine-day tour you'll experience some of Turkey's greatest natural and cultural attractions. Starting in the atmospheric capital, Istanbul, you'll have plenty of time to explore the mosques, palaces, bazaars, and ancient ruins of this cultural crossroads. Continue to the Cappadocia region, which has to be seen to be believed. Take an optional hot air balloon tour, if you wish. End in the Ephesus area, where you can see some of Turkey's finest ancient ruins.

Day 1

Arrive in Istanbul

Bosphorus & Galata Tower

Welcome to Turkey! Upon arrival at Istanbul Airport you will be met by a local representative and transferred to your hotel.

Have the evening free to relax or explore. Napoleon Bonaparte declared: “If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital.” Discover why his words were justified as you immerse yourself in the historic sights of this great metropolis.

Day 2-3

Tour Istanbul's Old City

Topkapi Palace

Spend your first couple of days in Turkey on private guided walking tours of the old city, otherwise known as Sultanahmet. Learn all about Istanbul's centuries of history as you explore some of its finest architectural examples. Stop at the Hippodrome—where you can see the Serpentine Column, Obelisk of Theodosius, Walled Obelisk and German Fountain—as well as the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia Church Museum, and Topkapı Palace. Visit the famous Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market. Sail through the Bosphorous Strait, which separates European and Asian Turkey.

Day 4

Fly to Cappadocia - Cappadocia Sightseeing Tour

Town of Uchisar

In the morning, transfer to the airport to fly to Cappadocia.

Cappadocia is a spectacular region of natural and cultural treasures, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The surreal lunar landscape is comprised of so-called fairy chimneys: conical, mushroom, and pinnacle-shaped formations of red sandstone, salt, and volcanic tufa deposits from the Miocene period, which have been naturally shaped by wind and rain over millions of years.

Today, visit Uçhisar Rock Castle and the Dervent Valley, with its animal-shaped rocks. You also have the option to attend a Whirling Dervish ceremony at a well-preserved 13th century caravanserai.

Plan your trip to Turkey

Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 5

Cappadocia Tour with Optional Hot Air Balloon Ride

Early hot air balloon flight

Early this morning you may choose to take a hot-air balloon ride over the fabulous landscape, to get a different view.

After breakfast, take a hike through the Pigeon Valley, followed by a visit to Göreme Open-Air Museum, which contains the ruins of monasteries, churches, and houses carved into soft volcanic rock, dating from the 4th century.

Enjoy a home-cooked lunch in the village of Ayvali. The tour will continue to the underground city of Kaymaklı, Paşabağ (Monk's Valley), and Avanos town, where you can visit a pottery workshop.

Day 6

Travel to Isparta, via Konya

City of Isparta

Today, transfer to Isparta via the Central Anatolian city of Konya. Here you can check out the Mevlana Museum—founded by the Sufi order known in the west as the Whirling Dervishes—as well as the 12th century Alaeddin Mosque, and take a talk through the city center.

Continue to Isparta, known as the City of Roses and Lavender, where you'll stay overnight.

Day 7

Travel to Sirince, via Pamukkale & Hierapolis

Sirince village

Today, travel to Sirince, stopping to check out Pamukkale and Hierapolis en route. The bright white travertine terraces at Pamukkale, and the nearby ancient city of Hierapolis, are must-visit attractions in this part of Turkey. After, visit the ancient Roman site of Aphrodisias, and break for lunch at a nearby restaurant.

End at Sirince, a charming hillside village with a rare Ottoman Christian heritage, and surrounded by agricultural land. Stay here overnight.

Day 8

Tour the Ancient City of Ephesus

Ancient library at Ephesus

Today you can enjoy some of the finest ancient ruins in Turkey, on a private guided tour of Ephesus and its surrounds. The site takes back to the 10th century BCE, and covers a huge area. Your tour will include the recently-opened and restored Terrace Houses, as well as the famous Celsus Library.

Later, take a break at nearby Sultankoy for a fresh, organic al fresco lunch using ingredients from local farms and orchards. Sultankoy is famous for its rugs, and after lunch you can learn about the local rug-making processes that include silk extraction, dyeing, and weaving.

Today's tour concludes with a visit to the Ephesus Archaeology Museum and the Basilica of St. John, both in Selçuk.

Day 9

End of Trip

Istanbul Airport

Your tour comes to an end today. Transfer to Kayseri Airport for a flight to Istanbul, where you will connect with an international flight home or to your next destination.

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