Explore Istanbul & Cappadocia
You'll begin with an in-depth exploration of Istanbul, the "gateway to the Orient," a fascinating city that is vividly alive. Beneath its splendid skyline of bulbous domes and slender minarets lie the resplendent relics and monuments of three empires--Byzantine, Ottoman and Turk--as well as lively markets and exotic bazaars. With three full days to explore here, you'll have ample opportunity to discover Istanbul's colorful culture, architecture, and history, spice markets, and bazaars.
Moving on to Central Anatolia, you'll explore Cappadocia, one of the most beautiful and unusual spots in the world, set in a moon-like landscape and boasting a history of early Christian civilization. You'll walk in a surreal landscape of pillared rock formations (picture a giant sand castle contest gone awry!), and the sensuous fertile valleys of Cappadocia, and visit rock-hewn churches, troglodyte dwellings, and remarkable underground cities originally built as shelters against invaders from the east. We can even arrange an early morning balloon flight over this incredible landscape if you wish!
In between taking in these incredible sights and hands-on history lessons, you'll enjoy Turkey's delightful cuisine, intriguing fusion of cultures, and incredibly friendly people.
Easy cultural touring, easy day hikes
- Three full days to tour all the famous cultural monuments of Istanbul, gateway to the Orient
- Enjoy a scenic cruise on the Bosphorus, straddling the Asian and European continents
- Explore Cappadocia's volcanic tufa, fairy chimneys, and underground cities and churches
- Dine on fantastic Turkish cuisine, shop at lively markets and village bazaars, and visit fantastic museums
Duration: 7 days Start Location: Istanbul End Location: IstanbulDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Istanbul
Arrive in Istanbul. You'll be staying near the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, within walking distance of the Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar, and enjoy fantastic views overlooking the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax, or explore the city on your own.
Day 2 : The Bosphoros
Morning scenic cruise on the Bosphorus, the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia, connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara. Later, we visit the Rumeli Fortress. Today it is a museum. Return to old city to visit the world famous Spice Market where the air is redolent with tea, exotic spices, dried fruits, and of course, Turkish Delight. In the late afternoon, you'll return to your hotel on foot through old streets and markets.
Day 3 : Highlights of Old Town
Today we'll discover the ancient monuments. You'll start with a tour of the Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 years. You will also visit the Harem section of Tokapi. After lunch we will make a visit to the Hagia Sophia, an astounding 6th-century church that is considered by many to be the "Eighth Wonder of the World." We'll also visit the Blue Mosque, regarded as one of the greatest pieces of Islamic architecture. And we'll visit the Basilica Cistern, a massive tank constructed with 336 marble columns and capable of holding over 20 million gallons of water. In the late afternoon we will discover the highlights of the ancient hippodrome, Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, and others.
Day 4 : Art and Architecture of the Ottomans
Your day starts with a visit to the Islamic Art Museum, where we will see major pieces of Islamic art and ethnographic textiles gathered from all over the country. Later we will walk to the Covered Bazaar, a labyrinth of streets filled with all sorts of tempting items to purchase. We'll have an afternoon walk through the old streets and trade areas to the mosque complex of Suleiman the Magnificent. After lunch, you'll visit the Jewish settlement of Ottoman Turkey from the 16th century on. The 14th-century Galata Tower will provide a perfect view of the Golden Horn and Sea of Marmara with part of the Bosphoros. We may also visit a couple of artisan workshops in the area.
Day 5 : Cappadocia
Morning transfer to the airport and flight to Kayseri or Nevsehir. Your guide will meet you upon arrival and begin your tour with a 45-minute drive to Cappadocia, through a landscape of scenic valleys. This is surely one of the most beautiful and unusual spots in the world, with a moon-like landscape boasting a variety of unique and interesting natural formations, including pyramid-shaped rocks and sensuously carved fertile valleys that are volcanic in origin. We'll pass through the village of Taskin Pasa, and have lunch in an old Greek house in Sinasos. You'll visit one of the local underground cities carved from the volcanic tufa to a depth of eight to ten stories, then drive to a couple of valleys for panoramic views and a wine tasting at a local cellar.
Day 6 : Highlights of Cappadocia
The day starts with a visit to the Göreme Valley and its Open Air Museum, including reconstructed Dark Church with its preserved frescos. We'll also visit one of the underground clay pottery workshops to see how the pottery is produced just as was done in ancient times. After lunch in a local restaurant, we will walk up to Uchisar Castle with its panoramic views of the Cappadocia region, and walk in an area of pointed rock formations known as the Fairy Chimneys.
Day 7 : Istanbul
After breakfast, transfer to the Kayseri or Nevsehir airport and fly to Istanbul (a 45-minute flight). Depart for home.
DATES: Best time to go: May - June, September - October Departures: Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Ozlem "Ozzy" Ozgoren
Ozzy studied for two years in the United States (the first time in Missouri as a high school foreign exchange student and more recently at the University of Miami’s department of Art History). She enjoys contact with Americans and likes to share her knowledge and interest in the history and culture of her native Turkey. She has guided tour groups in all areas of her country. In her spare time, Ozlem pursues her interest in wildlife and sings in a chorus.
Serra is a native of Turkey, and is a graduate of Ege (Aegean) University, Department of Classical Archaeology, and a Certified Graduate of the Turkish government Ministry of Tourism guide program, licensed for all regions of Turkey. Her post-graduate studies have included six months of study in her profession at the Lecce University in Italy, and courses at the Middle Eastern Technical University to becoming a qualified diver. During her studies, she worked at the excavation site of the ancient city of Antandros, located in the ancient Troas region in each summer of these years.
Mesut, who has lived his whole life in his native Turkey, is a graduate of Balikesir University's Department of Tourism for Tourist Guides, and speaks fluent English. He has worked for Mountain Travel Sobek for many years, and are among our favorites in Europe. Mesut also guides MTS' Coruh River trips, and is a licensed guide for all regions in Turkey.
Filiz was born and raised in Turkey, attended the Aegean University of Classic Archeology, and is a Certified Graduate of the Turkish Government Ministry of Tourism Guide Certification, licensed for all regions of Turkey. In her personal time, she participates in excavations of archeological sites, studies the history of the Middle East and Asia Minor, as well as foreign languages and ethic cultures, and is especially fond of film and music. Filiz has been a professional guide since 2007.