Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 10:18

Highlights of Turkey

Highlights of Turkey Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Turkey
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    1 out of 7 - Leisurely

  • 15 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 15 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: ATH
  • Carbon Footprint: 29kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Discover a diverse nation, rich in history and culture

Turkey played a vital role in the development of the Western world; over the centuries, it has provided a geographical and cultural bridge between Asia and Europe, with ruins and monuments attesting to the rise and fall of many great empires. Starting in Istanbul, we travel through the country, visiting ancient cities and Unesco World Heritage sites including Ephesus, Hierapolis and Aspendos, exploring the natural wonders at Pamukkale and Cappadocia and taking time to relax on the Aegean coast. Add to that the memorials of Gallipoli and you can be sure of a fascinating journey that showcases the best of this country.

Highlights of Turkey

At a Glance

  • 14 nights in comfortable hotels
  • Travel by air-conditioned vehicle and one internal flight
  • Option to travel by train to your adventure

Highlights

  • Discover ancient history and monuments of the Ottoman empire
  • Visit the Roman city of Ephesus
  • See the limestone cascades and thermal springs at Pamukkale
  • Discover one of the best-preserved theatres of the ancient world, Aspendos
  • Enjoy an optional hot-air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 1 (Leisurely). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

This trip is the most wide-ranging, varied and exploratory of all our Turkey programmes, combining the coastal region, history and landscapes of the interior, with lots of sightseeing every day. A fair amount of travelling is involved and there are some long days, but these are generally broken with sightseeing en route or on arrival.

Although the tour is not physically demanding, there is a lot of road travel; the total distance covered during the trip is about 2,020mi (3,250km) but, of course, there are plenty of sites en route. Some of the main roads are good and fast, but others are not and there are bumpy stretches leading to some of the archaeological sites away from the main road.

Some of the archaeological sites involve walking on rocky and/or steep hillsides, but if you don’t feel up to it on a hot day you can either not take part or wander around at your own pace.

In July and August, it will be hot during the day on the Anatolian plateau but this is normally a dry heat and easier to cope with than humidity. Istanbul and coastal areas can be more humid.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 6

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

Highlights of Turkey

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Istanbul
Istanbul

Make your own way to the start hotel and check in. There is no sightseeing planned today (an orientation walk is included on your return to Istanbul on Day 14). Istanbul is one of the great cities with a history spanning thousands of years. It has been through several incarnations, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally Istanbul. If there is time, you can wander through the busy streets and absorb the vibrancy of this exciting city linking Europe and Asia.

Accommodation: Samir Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
Transfer to Çanakkale via Gallipoli peninsula

There’s a welcome meeting at 9am. Then we depart for the Gallipoli peninsula, the site of many significant battles during the First World War. We visit the battlefields, learn about the events that took place here, and their particular importance to the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps). We then cross the Dardanelles Strait, arriving in the city of Çanakkale in the late afternoon.

Approximate driving time from Istanbul to Çanakkale is 5hr 30min (not including stop in Gallipoli).

Accommodation: Cura Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Visit the ancient city of Troy; head to the Aegean coastal town of Ayvalik
Highlights of Turkey

This morning after breakfast we visit the city of Troy, immortalised in Homer’s Iliad and once thought to be a place of legend. We see the remnants of the ancient city walls and a reconstruction of the famed wooden horse, while learning more about the ground-breaking archaeological digs that took place here.

We continue this afternoon to the seaside town of Ayvalik on the Aegean coast in the northwest. Surrounded by an archipelago of picturesque islands, the town is full of historic stone houses, narrow cobblestoned streets and small shops/cafes selling local produce. We have free time to explore the town, perhaps sampling some of the renowned local olive oil or Ayvalik tost (similar to a club sandwich).

Approximate driving time from Çanakkale to Ayvalik is 3hr 30min.

Accommodation: Bacacan Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 4
Visit the ancient city of Pergamon; afternoon transfer to Selcuk

After breakfast, we depart for the ancient Greek city and Unesco World Heritage site of Pergamon, the capital of the Attalid dynasty during the Hellenistic period (approximately 323 BCE to 31 BCE). We take a scenic cable car ride up to the Acropolis, which contains the most important remains of Pergamon. See the temples, palaces, library and theatre and learn about the significance of this special archaeological site.

We continue to the charming town of Selcuk, where the evening will be free for you to rest or explore at leisure.

Approximate driving time from Ayvalik to Selcuk is 2hr 30min.

Accommodation: Hitit Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 5
Visit the historic site of Ephesus and the town of Selçuk
Highlights of Turkey

This morning, we visit the ancient site of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and a great example of Greco-Roman architecture. Always an important religious centre, Ephesus was founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th century BCE and flourished under Roman rule. The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis and built a fabulous temple in her honour. With the arrival of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We visit the vast amphitheatre, stroll the marble streets once graced by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and wonderfully restored Library of Celsus.

After the Ephesus visit, we head to Selçuk and visit Isa Bey Mosque (a fine example of early Seljukian architecture) and St John’s Basilica. There will also be free time, during which we recommend a visit to the fascinating Ephesus Archaeological Museum. We return to Selçuk for the evening.

Accommodation: Hitit Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 6
Explore the limestone cascades of Pamukkale and the Roman ruins of Hierapolis
Highlights of Turkey

We drive to Pamukkale today, also known as Cotton Castle. This spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming myriad pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties and are great place for a relaxing dip. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BCE and by the second century CE had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. We spend the afternoon discovering the travertines and ancient city.

Approximate driving time from Selcuk to Pamukkale is 3hr-3hr 30min.

Accommodation: Melrose House Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7
Visit Xanthos; transfer to coastal town of Kaş

We depart Pamukkale this morning and travel to the seaside town of Kaş. On the way, we stop at Xanthos, the capital city of the Lycian Federation and arguably the most important city throughout Lycian history. After a guided visit, we continue on the road to Kaş.

Situated on the Teke Peninsula, the small port town of Kaş was known as Habesos or Habesa in ancient Lycia, and as Antiphellos to the ancient Greeks. Today, there are several Lycian rock-cut sarcophagi in the town, plus a well-preserved Hellenistic theatre on the outskirts of town. The afternoon is free to explore the cobbled streets, handicraft shops and lively cafes.

Approximate driving time from Pamukkale to Kaş is four hours.

Accommodation: Kayahan Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
Free day to rest or choose from the many activities available

Today is a free day to relax or take advantage of the many activities available on the Turquoise Coast in and around Kaş. Options include a boat trip to the sunken city of Kekova (minimum of eight passengers required), relaxing at Kaputas Beach or a visit to the ancient theatre in Kaş.

Accommodation: Kayahan Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 9
Transfer to the lively city of Antalya; afternoon sightseeing
Highlights of Turkey

This morning, we depart for Antalya, one of the most popular beach resorts in Turkey. Arriving in the early afternoon, we visit the Kaleiçi (the historic city centre). With narrow, cobbled streets and Ottoman-era houses, the Kaleiçi has retained much historical character while hosting a plethora of bars, restaurants and shops. During our walk, we see Hadrian’s Gate (also known as the Triple Gate due to its three archways), the old Roman harbour and the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. You may also want to visit the Antalya Museum this afternoon, which as a wonderful collection of sculptures from the Roman period or the ancient city ruins of Phaselis.

Approximate driving time from Kaş to Antalya is 3hr 30min.

Accommodation: Argos Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 10
Visit the ancient city of Perge & theatre of Aspendos; afternoon transfer to Konya

This morning, we visit the ancient city of Perge, birthplace of the Greek mathematician Appollonius of Perga. Then we travel to Aspendos, home to the best-preserved theatre of the ancient world. Once named Belkis, the city was founded by the Hittites, but it was Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (161CE-180CE) who ordered the 15,000-seater theatre to be built. After exploring the ancient site, which is still used for performances today, we continue to Konya, known as Iconium in Roman times. Konya was an important city of the Seljuk empire and is the birthplace of the mystic Sufi order popularly known as the Whirling Dervishes.

Approximate driving time from Antalya to Konya is 4hr 30min.

Accommodation: Bera Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 11
Visit the Mevlana Museum then to the Cappadocia region

This morning we visit the Mevlana Museum, the former home of the Whirling Dervishes and the location of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi’s tomb. Mevlana, also known simply as Rumi, was a 13th-century Anatolian mystic and Muslim saint whose poetry is known across the world. The museum is now a pilgrimage site and the building’s fluted dome of turquoise tiles is one of the most recognisable sights in Turkey.

We continue to the fascinating Cappadocia region. Shaped by wind and water, the rock formations, rock-hewn churches, cave dwellings and underground cities are a true marvel. This afternoon, we visit the 13th-century Sultanhani Caravanserai, one of the largest in the world and once used by Silk Road travellers.

Our last stop of the day is the breath-taking Ihlara Valley on the slopes of Mount Hasan (one of the volcanoes responsible for the formation of Cappadocia). We embark on a walk beside the Melendiz River, seeing beautiful natural scenery and dozens of rock-hewn churches and monasteries, many of which are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes. We end the day at our accommodation in Göreme.

Approximate driving time from Konya to Cappadocia is four hours.

Accommodation: Akuzun Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 12
Discover Göreme Open-Air Museum and one of the fascinating underground cities in Cappadocia
Highlights of Turkey

Early in the morning, you have the option to experience a memorable hot-air balloon ride over the otherworldly fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

After breakfast, we visit the Unesco World Heritage-listed Göreme Open-Air Museum, a vast monastic complex comprising churches, monasteries and dwellings, plus an underground city. Thought to have started life as a Byzantine monastic settlement, Göreme Open-Air Museum became a pilgrimage site during the 17th century and is a must-see location for all visitors to Cappadocia. The rock-hewn churches contain wonderful frescoes, whose colours are still vivid after hundreds of years.

We also visit one of the fascinating underground cities in Cappadocia (Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, depending on availability and other local considerations). It is believed these cities were formed as early as the eighth century BCE by the Phrygians to protect their inhabitants from wars and conflicts. The dwellings continued to be used until the early 20th century when they were abandoned.

Accommodation: Akuzun Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 13
Flight to Istanbul. Afternoon optional city tour

This morning, we say goodbye to Cappadocia and take a flight to where it all began: Istanbul. On arrival, you may wish to join your leader for a trip across the Bosphorus to the Asian side of the city. Here you’ll find lively, close-knit communities and jumbles of cute cafes, markets and restaurants. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore more of this enthralling city. Or you may opt for a Turkish bath treatment.

Accommodation: Samir Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 14
Free time; afternoon sightseeing including the Blue Mosque and Grand Bazaar

The morning is free. In the afternoon, you may have free time or you can take an orientation walk around this culture- and history-rich city. We head to Sultanahmet (the Old City, formerly Constantinople), where ancient empires were found and historical sites intertwine with the living, breathing Istanbul of today. We visit sites including the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome, where Byzantine emperors observed chariot races along with thousands of baying fans. We also meander through the Grand Bazaar, packed with more than 3,000 stalls of handcrafted jewellery, textiles and books, along with the renowned Spice Market.

Accommodation: Samir Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 15
End Istanbul

Our adventure ends after breakfast. If you’d like a little more time to explore this enchanting city, speak to your sales representative about extending your stay.

Meals included: Breakfast

Accommodation

Selection of comfortable hotels

Highlights of Turkey

We spend 14 nights in hotels on this highlight-packed adventure in Turkey. We have carefully selected the accommodation to ensure we contribute to the local economy and provide clean, welcoming places to stay. The normal accommodations used on this trip are found on the day-to-day itinerary; however, below are a few of the standout places we stay.

Canakkale: Cura Hotel (night 2)

Highlights of Turkey

There’s a modern elegance to the Cura, where a focus on design and a warm welcome provide an excellent spot to relax in Canakkale. It’s well located, too, around a 10-minute walk from the seafront restaurants.

Ayvalik: Bacacan Hotel (night 3)

Highlights of Turkey

Right by the Aegean Sea, this 56-room hotel has a restaurant serving both international and Turkish cuisines, including Ayvalik vegetable dishes. Further relaxation is found in the garden or roof bar, plus there’s an indoor swimming pool and free-to-use gym, sauna and steam room.

Pamukkale: Melrose House Hotel (night 6)

Highlights of Turkey

There’s a rustic style to the Melrose House Hotel, with stone walls, wooden beams and hanging foliage all part of the décor. Bring your swimwear for a pool splash and relax with the group over a nightcap at the bar.

Single supplement from £ 550

Food & Drink

All hotels are included on a bed-and-breakfast basis. All other main meals are not included, and we suggest you allow about 7,000 Turkish liras (US$370) to cover them, add more if you include alcoholic or expensive fruit juice drinks with each meal. Your group leader will normally assist in organising group meals so you may benefit from better choice and prices.

Lunches are normally taken in local restaurants, known as lokantas, or organised as a picnic, and evening meals in lokantas in each town or village; such eating places are widespread throughout Turkey, and the variety, price range and choice is usually quite extensive, but obviously less so in some of the smaller towns in Central Anatolia.

Transport

A comfortable air-conditioned bus is used throughout the trip and we take an internal flight from Cappadocia to Istanbul on Day 13.

Please note, baggage allowance is 20kg for checked in bag and 8kg for cabin bag on domestic flights.

Weather & Seasonality

Temperatures in July and August can reach 40C (104F) during the day; on the Anatolian plateau this is normally a dry heat, while Istanbul and the coastal areas tend to be higher in humidity. During increased temperatures, activities are scheduled to be more comfortable in the earlier or later part of the day.

Night-times are cooler. In April and October, it may get a little chilly at night. Rain is rare although the occasional storm can happen. There is the occasional cloudy day, but protracted spells of bad weather are unlikely at this time of year.

December will be a lot cooler. In Istanbul, the temperatures reach a high of 11C (52F), but on the south coast, temperatures often reach 16C (61F). There could even be snow in Cappadocia.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There will be a welcome briefing in the evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Istanbul Airport (IST)

Getting to the start hotel

Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Once at the airport, head to gate 14 where you should see our representative holding an ‘Exodus’ sign.

Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times, to arrange a private transfer, or for further information on joining this trip.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to the airport that’s scheduled to align with a flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Sunhat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Water bottle
  • Daypack
  • Waterproofs
  • Sturdy trainers (sneakers) or lightweight walking boots as the terrain can be quite tricky in some areas
  • Swimming costume
  • Towel
  • Sandals

November to May departures:

  • Warm clothes for evenings: gloves, hats and waterproof jacket

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. On this trip, most of the hotels used have water-refill stations where you can refill your own water bottle for a small fee (1 lira for a small bottle and 1.50 lira for a larger bottle). Please add a water bottle to your packing list.

Practical Information

Visa

Turkey

Travellers from the UK, US, Canada and most EU states normally do not need a visa to enter Turkey. Visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846 or visit their website: http://www.travcour.com/page/tour-packs/exodus.php

Vaccinations and Health

Turkey

There are no required vaccinations. However, recommended vaccinations include tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Local Time

Turkey's time zone: Europe/Istanbul (UTC +03:00)

Electricity

Turkey's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Highlights of Turkey

Money

Turkey's currency: Turkish lira (TRY)

ATM Availability

Turkey has a good network of cash machines, which can be used to withdraw lira. It is best to use a mixture of cash and ATMs. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in shops for larger purchases. We recommend you do not bring travellers cheques. It should be noted that Scottish pound notes are not accepted here.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We suggest you allow from about 12,500 Turkish liras (US$450) to cover meals. The approximate drink prices in restaurants and lokantas:

  • Beer: from 150 liras (US$5.50)
  • Bottle of wine: from 400 liras (US$14.60)
  • Water: from 15 liras (US$0.52)
  • Fresh orange juice: from 75 liras (US$2.75)

Optional excursions:

Selçuk

  • Ephesus Archaeological Museum: €40

Kaş

  • Boat trip to Kekova: €60 per person (minimum of eight passengers required)
  • Sea kayaking: €40 per person

Antalya

  • Phaselis Ancient City: €10

Cappadocia

  • Hot-air balloon ride. A fantastic adventure to float among the fairy chimneys and soar over the intriguing landscape up to heights of 1,500ft (460m).
    • Duration: Just over an hour
    • Requirements: Warm clothes and good footwear
    • Price: Approximately €270 cash / €290 by credit card dependent on flight time. We recommend paying for this in Turkish liras as local operators charge a credit card fee of five to eight percent.
  • Whirling Dervishes performance: €40

Istanbul

  • Kadıkoy walking tour via local ferry: €40

Tipping

If you would like to leave a tip, we suggest you budget around 6,124 Turkish liras to be broken down as follows: Approximately 3,340 liras for your tour leader. Approximately 1,164 liras for your driver and approximately 1,120 lira for the hotel. This, of course, is in no way compulsory and depends on the service received.

People, Places & Planet

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here

Important Information

Optional activities and excursions

If you would like to join an optional activity or excursion outside those listed in the itinerary, your leader may be able to assist with selecting a provider. However, Exodus has not assessed the safety standards of activities or excursions that are not listed in the Trip Notes. All optional activities or excursions are undertaken at your own risk.

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

This trip goes near an area deemed unsafe to visit by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whose advice we follow when operating our trips. While our itinerary doesn’t go to these areas, you should familiarise yourself with your local government’s advice if you are planning any pre- or post-trip travel. Any independent travel to areas currently against your local government advice is entirely at your own risk and unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.