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
Upon arrival at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport you will be met by a Mountain Travel Sobek representative who will escort you to your hotel in the Old City. 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
We’ll begin our day with a ferry ride on the Bosphorus, the narrow strait that separates Europe from Asia. During the cruise of an hour and fifteen minutes, we’ll pass by half a dozen ornate Ottoman palaces. We will get off the boat in European side and drive back to the Old Town. We will have a visit to a 15thcentury Ottoman fortress known as Rumelian Fortress which was built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror to stop aid coming from the Black Sea, right before he conquered the city. After lunch we will stop at the world famous Spice Market, where the air is redolent with tea, exotic spices, dried fruits, and of course, Turkish Delight. We will also visit one of the best examples of 16thcentury Ottoman Mosque of Rustem Pasha Complex dedicated to his Grand Vezir who was also married to Suleiman the Magnificent’s daughter. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Day 3 : Highlights of Old Town
Today we’ll immerse ourselves more deeply in Istanbuland discover the ancient monuments. You’ll start with a tour of the Topkapi Palace, residence of the Ottoman Sultans for about 400 yearsand still home to adazzling collections of jewels and other amazing artifacts. You will also visit the Harem sectionof Topkapi, which is found in a palace within the palace, where you will hear about the history of eunuchs and the high education of the concubines.
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.” Originally built by Justinian the Great, the Hagia Sophia with its domes and pillars was in use as a mosque during the Ottoman era until 1935, and today is used as a museum focusing on both Christianity and Islam. We’ll also visit the Blue Mosque, regarded as one of the greatest pieces of Islamic architecture. With intricate carpets, 20,000 blue handmade tiles, 200 stained glass windows, and a centerpiece of sculptured marble, the Blue Mosque is truly a sight to behold. Built in the 17th century, both it and Hagia Sophia are considered masterpieces of their period. Next on the itinerary is the Basilica Cistern, a massive tank constructed with 336 marble columns and capable of holding over 20 million gallons of water, and the best known and the largest of the closed cisterns built under the Justinian basilica in the 6th century. 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: harem bracelets, colorful carpets, hand-painted ceramics, and more(it’s said there are 3,000 shops!). Afternoon walk through the old streets and trade areas to the mosque complex of Suleiman the Magnificent, the most famous piece of Islamic art of the Ottoman Renaissance and built by the great architect Sinan. 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 thedomestic terminal of Istanbul’sairport and flight to Kayserior 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 one of the local restaurants. After checking into the hotel, you’ll visit one of the local underground citiescarved from the volcanictufa to a depth of eight to ten stories (some of these cities were once populated by as many as 2,500 people), 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 GöremeValleyand its Open Air Museum, including reconstructed Dark Church with its preserved frescos. (This whole valley is the place where early Christianity flourished.) 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. Return to the hotel. (Note—By request and if space is available, we can arrange a hot-air balloon ride for you in the early morning at an additional cost of $360. Price is subject to change.)
Day 7 : Istanbul
After breakfast, transfer to the Kayserior Nevsehir airport and fly to Istanbul (a 45-minute flight). If you should decide to return home from Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport at this time, please be sure to schedule your departure flight for after 12 noon. If you would like to stay in Istanbul to explore on your own, a Mountain Travel Sobek representative will meet you upon arrival and transfer you to the hotel of your choice (cost of hotel is additional and not included in the Land Cost of your trip).
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.