Best of Turkey
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|Featuring||Witness East meeting West in Istanbul, the fairytale landscape of Cappadocia, Mediterranean Antalya, Pamukkale & the classical ruins at Ephesus|
|Style||Small Group TourTravel with a small, intimate group of 15-24 likeminded travelers escorted by an English speaking guide and/or tour manager for some or all of your journey. More of these packages
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Highlights||Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia, Antalya, Pamukkale, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Troy, Canakkale & the Dardanelles. Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia & Gallipoli.|
|Departs||New York Kennedy (JFK); other gateways on request (flight schedule)|
|Themes||History & Culture, Premium|
|What to Expect||This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
|As Seen in|
|Already Booked?||Find everything you need to know before you go, including how to pay your balance due, passport & visa requirements, flight information, weather, and more.|
Turkey, the crossroads of Europe and Asia, is an exotic land steeped in history and touched by many civilizations. But you'll find much more than just history here, including jaw-dropping landscapes, sun-splashed Mediterranean beaches, quaint seaside towns, glistening cities, colorful bazaars, whirling dervishes, and more. This Turkey tour package will show you the best that this mysterious land has to offer, all for an irresistibly low price.
Dates, Prices & Options
Departure Dates & Prices
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Options, Excursions & Fees
Flights & Departure Cities
Transfers: Transfers for this package are provided on a group basis only. For passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation.
Day 1: Depart USA/Overnight Flight
- Depart the USA on your overnight flight for Istanbul
Day 2: Istanbul
Accommodations: 2 nights Wyndham Istanbul Old City, CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel, or similar, Istanbul. Included meals: Dinner.
- Meet our representative and transfer to your hotel
- This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner and briefing with your guide
Day 3: Istanbul
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Visit the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque)
- Marvel at the Hagia Sophia, famous for its massive dome and Byzantine architecture
- Balance of the day at leisure or join an optional excursion
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, visit some of the unique and iconic sites in the city. Start your tour at the Sultanahmet Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for the tiles and paint adorning its interior. Built between 1609 and 1616 on the site of several previous palaces, it is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period, and even today it is a truly epic sight. More than 200 stained glass windows admit natural light, the floors are covered with thick carpets, and the walls are decorated with incredibly intricate tile work and verses from the Qur'an, many by Seyyid Kasim Gubari, the greatest calligrapher of his time.
Later visit nearby Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofya, built by the emperor Justinian I between 537 and 543 AD. The Hagia Sophia is famous for its massive dome and Byzantine architecture, which inspired much of the Blue Mosque. Built as an Orthodox basilica, and later became a mosque and finally a museum in 1935. The balance of the day is at leisure to explore this fascinating city, or take one of our optional tours.
Optional Excursion: Topkapi Palace, $40. This afternoon, enjoy an optional tour of Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans for more than 400 years. The palace became a museum of the imperial era in 1924. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, the most important being accessible to the public today. The palace houses a large collection of porcelain, robes and armor, as well as Ottoman miniatures and jewelry.
Optional Excursion: Istanbul Dinner Show, $85 (purchased locally). In the evening, you may also choose an optional Istanbul by night with dinner and show, experiencing local cuisine and folklore.
Day 4: Istanbul & Ankara
Accommodations: 1 night Crowne Plaza Ankara, Ankara. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder and first president of the modern Republic of Turkey
- Explore the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations
Full Day Itinerary: Depart for Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, called Angora by the Romans. This afternoon, visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the founder and first president of the modern Republic of Turkey. Later visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. The museum includes Anatolian artifacts from many excavations including Assyrian trading colonies, Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman Byzantine and Ottoman periods. There are exhibits of gold, silver, glass, marble and bronze works as far back as the first century, as well as an extensive coin collection.
Day 5: Ankara & Cappadocia
Accommodations: 2 nights Lykia Lodge or similar, Cappadocia. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- View Lake Tuz, a huge saline lake
- Explore one of the famed underground cities of Cappadocia
- Pay a visit to the pottery makers in the city of Avanos
Full Day Itinerary: Travel into the interior of Turkey to Cappadocia. En route, see Tuz Gölü, a huge saline lake fed by streams and rain, but with no outlet. In the summer, the lake dries and exposes a thick salt layer, which is mined to produce most of the salt used in Turkey. The area is also protected as a breeding area for flamingoes and other birds.
Continue to one of the famed underground cities of Cappadocia, carved out of the soft tuff. Early Christians built these structures as a refuge from the persecution of the Roman Empire. With several floors, tunnels and rooms spanning for miles, they could shelter thousands of people together with their livestock and food stores, and had living quarters, churches, storage rooms, stables, wells, ventilation systems, and even wine and oil presses.
Next, visit the pottery makers in the city of Avanos on the banks of the Kizilirmak River, where the red clay from the riverbanks is excellent for traditional household pottery, bricks and roof tiles. Continue to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Cappadocia
Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Visit the Open Air Museum or Goreme and Zelve
- View the fairy landscapes and rock castles of Avcilar, Dervent Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Uçhisar Foldings
Full Day Itinerary: Cappadocia is the land of the fairy chimneys, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. The area is famous for its rock formations and underground cities. In the early morning, weather permitting, you may choose an optional balloon ride. Visit the Open Air Museum in the Goreme and Zelve, where you will see early Christian churches decorated with frescoes. Enjoy the magnificent fairy landscapes and rock castles of Avcilar, Dervent Valley, Pidgeon Valley and Uçhisar Foldings. Return to your hotel for dinner.
Optional Excursion: Balloon Ride over Cappadocia, $220 (purchased locally). Float silently over unique rock formations and rich fertile valleys of Cappadocia, all set against the dramatic volcanic landscape that formed the region over two million years ago.
Optional Excursion: Whirling Dervishes, $40. After dinner, you can join the optional outing to see the Whirling Dervishes dance performance. "Dervish" is a common term for an initiate of the Sufi path, and the whirling is part of the formal "Sema" ceremony by participants known as semazens. The unique and fascinating whirling dances were inspired by Mawlana Jalaleddin Rumi, one of the great mystics of Islam.
Day 7: Cappadocia & Antalya
Accommodations: 2 nights Crowne Plaza Hotel Antalya or similar, Antalya. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Visit Sultanhan, a “caravanserai” (caravan palace)
- Explore the Mevlana Museum in Konya
- Travel through the Taurus Mountains to reach Antalya
Full Day Itinerary: Continue your journey, driving south towards the Mediterranean resort of Antalya. En route, visit Sultanhan, a "caravanserai" (caravan palace) built as a resting place for the camel caravans, which has a stone-paved hallway and other impressive fortifications. Upon reaching Konya, the capital town of Konya province, you'll visit the Mevlana Museum, where Rumi, a Sufi mystic, poet, and the founder of the Mevlana "Dervish" order, is buried. Drive through the Taurus Mountains to reach Antalya.
Day 8: Antalya
Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Full day at leisure in Antalya or join one or both optional excursions
Full Day Itinerary: Enjoy a day at leisure to explore the town of Antalya, situated on coastal cliffs and surrounded by mountains. Today it is a bustling city and resort area. Take one of the optional excursions to Aspendos and Perge in the morning and the Duden Waterfalls in the afternoon.
Optional Excursion: Aspendos, $40. Aspendos, located beside the Eurymedon River, is renowned through the world for its magnificent ancient Roman theater, famous for its perfect acoustics. Perge, one of Pamphylia's foremost cities, was founded after the Trojan War by colonists from Argos. The city is very well preserved with a theater, stadium, and Agora. Return to Antalya.
Optional Excursion: Duden Waterfalls, $30. In the afternoon, visit the Duden Waterfalls. The Duden River flows through the Taurus Mountains, creating a drop of thundering water. There are even stalagmites and stalactites due to the high content of minerals in the water.
Day 9: Antalya & Pamukkale
Accommodations: 1 night Colossae Thermal, Pamukkale. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Explore the city of Hierapolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Visit Laodicea, one of the early Christian communities mentioned in the New Testament
Full Day Itinerary: Leave the coast for Pamukkale, meaning "cotton castle" in Turkish. The city contains hot springs and stunning white terraces that look like ice, created by carbonate minerals left by flowing water. Visit the city of Hierapolis, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the hot springs have been used as a spa since the second century. See the great baths constructed without the use of cement. The town was also settled by Jews from Babylon and Mesopotamia, exiled by Antiochus the Great. Continue to Laodicea, one of the early Christian communities mentioned in the New Testament.
Day 10: Pamukkale, Aphrodisias, & Kusadasi (or Izmir)
- Visit the Roman city of Aphrodisias
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, visit the Roman city of Aphrodisias, whose large excavation was funded by the National Geographic Society. Ancient artists produced sophisticated statues inspired by Aphrodite, goddess of love and marriage, for whom the town was named. Visit the Temple of Aphrodite and the local archaeological museum which houses a wonderful collection of the art of Aphrodisias.
Continue to Kusadasi (or Izmir) on Turkey's Aegean coast for dinner and overnight. The area has been a crossroads of art and culture since it was founded 5000 years ago, and was the final destination of medieval caravan routes from the Orient. Today, Kusadasi is a popular resort town for Turks and Europeans and a port of call for many cruise ships.
Day 11: Ephesus
Included meals: Breakfast.
- Explore Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Balance of the day at leisure
Full Day Itinerary: Today, visit the glorious city of Ephesus, founded more than 4000 years ago, the capital city of the Roman Province of Asia Minor. The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is represented by one column and fragments of a frieze. Walk through the ancient streets to view the magnificent structures such as the Library of Celsus, Temple of Hadrian, and the Great Theater. Ephesus is also the town where St. Paul and St. John lived during the first century. Continue to the House of the Virgin Mary, where Mary spent her last years living near a grove of olive trees. A visit is considered a pilgrimage by the Vatican. Enjoy the evening at leisure, perhaps dine at one of the many local restaurants.
Day 12: Pergamon, Troy, & Canakkale
Accommodations: Kolin Hotel Canakkale or similar. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Discover Pergamon, the capital of a once powerful kingdom
- Continue to Asklepion, a famed ancient medical center
- Visit the ancient city of Troy
Full Day Itinerary: This morning, visit the ruins of Pergamon, the capital of a powerful kingdom during the Hellenistic period in the first century. Visit the Acropolis structure which houses the Temple of Trajan, the Sanctuary of Athena and the Altar of Zeus. When papyrus became scarce, the Pergamenes invented a new writing material made of fine calfskin which they called pergamena (parchment), a predecessor of vellum. The Library of Pergamon, built by King Eumenes II and containing as many as 200,000 volumes, was second only to the library of Alexandria, Egypt.
Continue to the nearby Asklepion, a famed ancient medical center built in honor of Asklepios, the god of healing. It was also the site of the world's first known psychiatric hospital. In the ancient world, this was the place famous people wanted to attend for bathing treatments, the interpretation of dreams and drinking the water from the sacred fountain.
Finally, visit the ancient city of Troy, best known as the focus of the Trojan War as described in the epic poem by Homer. The ancient city today is an expansive archaeological site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dinner and overnight at your hotel.
Day 13: Canakkale, Dardanelles, & Istanbul
Accommodations: 1 night Wyndham Istanbul Old City, CVK Park Bosphorus Hotel, or similar, Istanbul. Included meals: Breakfast & dinner.
- Enjoy a ferry ride across the Dardanelles
- Visit the battle site of Gallipoli
- Balance of the day at leisure in Istanbul
Full Day Itinerary: Continue north by ferry across the Dardanelles, a narrow straight connecting the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara. This strait, like the Bosphurus in Istanbul, separates Europe from Asia.
Visit the site of Gallipoli, where one of the fiercest battles of World War I took place. The Gallipoli campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). The struggle laid the grounds for the Turkish War of Independence and the foundation of the Republic of Turkey, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Continue to Istanbul for an afternoon at leisure. Alternatively, you may choose an optional cruise on the Bosphorus. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner.
Optional Excursion: Bosphorus Cruise, $45 (purchased locally). Cruise the straits that separate Europe and Asia, passing by the villas and palaces of the Ottoman empire, as well as little fishing villages. The route zigzags across the straits for picture-perfect views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Suspension bridges.
Day 14: Istanbul/USA
Included meals: Breakfast
- Transfer to the airport and board your return flight to the USA.
Optional Excursions Package: $210
Save by pre-booking a discounted package of our most popular optional excursions:
- Tour of Topkapi Palace
- Istanbul by night with dinner & show
- Whirling Dervishes dance performance
- Tour to Aspendos, Perge
- Tour to Duden Waterfall
You can book these excursions individually in Turkey. But you can save time and money if you purchase this special package ahead of time—with or before your final payment.
Our first tour with Friendly Planet was wonderful. Every day was better than we were expecting. Our tour guide, Isa Levent Gurcavdi is very knowledgeable. She must be teaching history in a university. Overall the tour is really well managed. In the future we'd like to take another tour with Friendly Planet.
Norma & John Higgins, Stamford, CT
Before You Book
- Do I need a visa or any other documents? Travel visas are required for this package. Please review the requirements.
- Should I purchase travel protection? Protect your travel investment with our recommended travel protection plan.
- What's the fine print? Read the terms & conditions for this package.
- I'm traveling solo. Can you help me find a roommate? Yes, you can connect with other travelers to share a room and avoid single occupancy rates.
- Can I bring my kids? Are there any age restrictions? To book this package, you must be 18 or older. Your traveling companions must be 8 or older at the time of travel.
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