Tour type: Small Group
Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 20
Accommodation: 4-star & boutique style hotels
Transport: AC minibus/coach & domestic flight
Highlights: Spice bazaars, Blue Mosque & Hippodrome in Istanbul, Greek & Roman ruins at Ephesus, coastal Kusadasi, calcium travertines at Pamukkale, Hieropolis ruins, Cappadocia fairy chimneys, Goreme Valley, underground cities, Ankara
This 8-day Turkey tour takes you from bustling Istanbul to the Mediterranean at Kusadasi and then inland to the beautiful scenery of Cappadocia. The itinerary is designed to combine some of Turkey's classic highlights in a week's visit, balancing bustling cities, beautiful scenery, ancient ruins and modern Turkey. You'll stay in a mix of 4-star and boutique style properties along the way.
Starting in Istanbul, the beating heart of Turkey and historically a vitally important connecting point between the continents of Europe and Asia, we visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, Spice Bazaar, Hippodrome and take a cruise on the Bosphorus before flying south to the Mediterranean coast at Kusadasi. We have two nights here, and a tour to the nearby ruins at Ephesus. One of the best preserved ancient Greek & Roman sites in the whole of the Mediterranean region, this is a spectacular site with a fascinating history. We'll also visit a village famous for producing local fruit wines, and learn about the importance of carpet making in Turkey. Our next stop is at the stepped calcium travertines and hot pools at Pamukkale, before we continue into the centre of Turkey along the ancient Spice Route, passing old caravanserais and visiting the Mervlana museum at Konya on the way. This brings us to picturesque landscape of Cappadocia where we visit the strange rock formations, cave chuches and 'fairy chimneys' in the Goreme valley and venture down into one of the labarynthine underground cities built by Christians centuries ago to hide from persecution. The tour then finishes with a drive (or optional flight) via Ankara back to Istanbul where extra nights are available to spend more time exploring the city.
Upon arrival our staff will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the centre of Istanbul for the start of your trip. An afternoon tour is then available (starting at 1pm) to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, followed by a boat tour covering both the European and Asian banks of the Bosphorous. Additional nights in the hotel in Istanbul are available before the tour starts if you your preferred flights arrive in the afternoon or evening.
Istanbul boutique hotel
Extra day in Istanbul - pre-tour
Single room supplement (TUSGDT)
Our trip begins this morning with a fully guided tour of Istanbul. Lying across two continents this historically important city played an integral role in the development of both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. We visit the 17th century Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofya museum, Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum and the Hippodrome. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for a flight to Izmir, from where we transfer to the coastal Mediterranean town of Kusadasi, our base for the next two nights.
After breakfast we drive to the Roman site of Ephesus. The city at one time housed 250,000 people and is regarded as one of the best preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean. We visit the Temple of Artemis, and explore the ancient marble streets of this ruined Greek & Roman city. This afternoon we visit the fruit wine growing village of Sirince and learn about the history of carpet weaving in Turkey.
We travel east this morning to Pamukkale, site of the well known white calcium terraces known as Travertines. Pamukkale translates as ‘cotton castles’ and the naturally occuring geology here has created cloud like formations unlike anywhere else. We then head to the ancient city of Hierapolis to enjoy a dip in the hot thermal pools lodged amongst ancient columns left by the Romans who used the pools for their therapeutic powers.
Travel back in time today as we follow the ancient Silk Road towards Konya. We learn more about the history of this important trade route with a stop at the Sultanhani Caravanserai before arrivingin Konya where we include a visit to the Mevlana museum - the former home of the original Mevlevi Whirling Dervishes. A fun and entertaining Turkish Folklore evening is available tonight (paid locally).
Today we set out to explore the beautiful and surreal landscape of Cappadocia. Unlike anywhere else on earth, this bizarre setting creates a fairytale view full of improbable rock formations and underground villages. Often described as the jewel of Turkey we have a full tour here to explore the Goreme Valley Open Air Museum, the fairy chimneys, and we'll also explore an underground city full of subterranean churches, living areas, schools and shops used by Christians to avoid persecution over a thousand years ago. Options are available locally to enjoy a hot air balloon flight or a Turkish bath.
We leave early this morning for the drive to Ankara, Turkey's modern day capital city. We visit Anitkabir - mausoleum of the famed Mustafa Kemal Ataturk before returning to Istanbul by road. This is a long day's drive, and we can arrange an upgrade to an internal flight from Kayseri in Cappadocia if you prefer (please ask for current times & prices).
Istanbul boutique hotel
Your time is free today for some last minute sightseeing and shopping in Istanbul before we transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Optional tours are available locally to see more of Istanbul, and we can also add extra nights in the Istanbul hotel if you'd like to spend more time exploring the city.
Extra day in Istanbul - post-tour
This tour is also available for booking privately for travel anytime through the year, and we can also customise the itinerary to fit your personal requirements. Please contact us for details and prices.
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
Lalahan Hotel is found in Istanbul, near several well-known attractions, including the Hagia Sophia. It has 18 air-conditioned rooms. It offers free WiFi, babysitting services, and breakfast each morning.
Lalahan Hotel is a boutique hotel in Istanbul, located in a building dating back to the 1880s. It has been recently refurbished and offers 18 rooms, each air-conditioned and with LCD TVs, minibars, and complimentary toiletries. It is near to several major attractions, including the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. Facilities include a restaurant and bar, while services include babysitting, laundry, and room service (extra charges may apply).
Sirkeci Mansion Hotel
This is a small, intimate boutique hotel in the Sirkeci district of Istanbul, close to the famous Blue Mosque. Its facilities include a restaurant, rooftop terrace, and bar, as well as a full range of wellness facilities, including Turkish baths.
Located within walking distance of the famous Blue Mosque, this is a small and charming hotel in Istanbul. Accommodation consists of several types of well-appointed rooms. It features a restaurant, bar, and rooftop terrace, as well as several wellness facilities, including a spa, gym, and Turkish baths.
Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel
This 4-star hotel is found in the centre of Kusadasi, directly across from the main beach promenade. It offers views of the Aegean Sea from its roof terrace and some of the rooms. It also features a rooftop pool and bar, conference rooms.
Ilayda Avantgarde is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of Kusadasi. It is right across from the main beach promenade and provides ocean views from the rooftop terrace and several rooms. Facilities include a Starbucks coffee shop, conference rooms, and a rooftop bar and pool. The rooms feature all amenities needed for a comfortable stay.
Colossae Thermal Hotel
Featuring thermal pools, an outdoor swimming pool and spa centre, this large hotel offers comfortable accommodation just a couple of miles from the ancient city of Hierapolis. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the hotel.
This 5-star hotel is situated close to the ancient city of Hierapolis and the travertines of Pamukkale. It features a full range of facilities, including a spa, business centre, restaurants, bar, fitness centre, and Turkish baths. There are 310 rooms of various types, each well-appointed and with WiFi access.
Elevres Stone House Hotel
This family run hotel has rooms in separate stone-built villa style buildings with large comfortable rooms. Food is home cooked and traditional and the staff are friendly and helpful. The quiet, remote location has good views of the surrounding hills
Port Bosphorus Hotel
This large hotel is found in the Istanbul city centre, near Karakoy and the Galata Tower. It has 111 rooms of different types, some with river views and some family-friendly.
This large hotel is found in the Istanbul city centre, near Karakoy and the Galata Tower. It has 111 rooms of different types, some with river views and some family-friendly. All feature air-conditioning, satellite TVs, a kettle and free toiletries. Hotel facilities include a rooftop terrace, restaurant and bar, free WiFi and free parking.
Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination youre visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.
All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.
Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.
The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.
Our tours in Turkey use a range of hotels at the local 4 and 5-star level with some boutique style properties also used on some tours. Please check the Accommodation section for more information on the normal hotels used on this tour. This list is given as a guide though and hotels may change from time to time to others of a similar standard.
Accommodation levels and hotels are slightly different in Turkey to general Western standards. We regularly inspect all the hotels we use to ensure that the service you receive is as close as possible to your expectations. Please check your hotel room when you first arrive (hot water, cleanliness etc.), as our rep or your guide will be available to assist in case of any problems.
We will contact you with your arrival hotel details normally a couple of weeks before departure.
Rooming Arrangements: Single, Twin, Triple and Double bedded rooms are available in all of the hotels used on these tours. If you are a single traveller who is happy to share then please let us know and we will aim to pair you up with another traveller of the same sex. If this is not available then the single supplement will be added to your booking, but will be refunded if we are later available to arrange a share. Room shares are arranged in order of booking.
Check In Times: Official hotel check- in times in Turkey are between 14.00 and 15.00. However, we do always try to ensure that if you arrive early, you can check into your room as soon as possible. We can nearly always get you into your hotel rooms well before midday, but please understand that it is out of our control if the hotel is full and it takes a little longer. You will have full use of the hotel facilities while you wait if there is a short delay.
Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you’re really experiencing the country you’re travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. The distances involved in Turkey mean that we use private vehicles and tourist coaches throughout this tour.
All our tours include an airport meet and greet and transfer service on the first day of your tour. This is available from/to both of Istanbul's airports; Istanbul Ataturk (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen (SAW). Our representative will be holding an Encounters Travel signboard with your name displayed for easy identification. If you can't find our representative, our emergency contact numbers are given in your tour confirmation voucher.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to incorrect flight details being provided or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
If your flights arrive/depart before/after the tour starts/ends then we will be very happy to arrange additional accommodation and airport transfers for you. We will aim to book these in the same hotel as the main tour, though this will be subject to availability (upgraded hotels are also available on request). If you do not book your additional accommodation through us, then our arrival/departure service is not included and you will need to make your own airport transfer arrangements.
Welcome meeting: Our group tours will commence with a welcome meeting at 7pm in the reception of your hotel, where you will have the chance to meet your guide and the rest of your tour group. For those arriving after 7pm, details regarding Day 2 activities will be left at reception.
We are committed to being a small group operator, as we feel this gives everyone in the group the best chance to get to know their fellow travellers and to hear and make the most of their guide. There’s no point in us providing great guides if you’ve got to peer over 30-40 shoulders to see them! So, we won’t ever put you in a 50-seater coach with 49 other people and just one guide. Instead, we set our Turkey small-group departures to have a maximum of 20 travellers (dedicated Anzac Day tour groups may be larger).
In Turkey we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking guide for all of the sightseeing tours. Our local reps in some of the towns and cities en-route are also at your service. At Encounters Travel we try to use local Turkish guides and reps as much as possible. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.
ANZAC Day means many different things to different people. To some it is a true memorial service to pay respects to and remember family members or countrymen who lost their lives defending their homeland in World War I, while to others it symbolises a sense of community or belonging to the New Zealand and Australian way of life. For non Anzac nationals it remains a moving and important ceremonial day that brings thoughts of the sacrifices that previous generations have made for us, wherever we may come from.
Whichever may apply to you, this is a very special event that brings together many thousands of people every year on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsular on the western coast of Turkey.
We run special ANZAC day departures on all of our Turkey tours. The standard itineraries for each tour are adjusted slightly on these departures to coincide with the memorial services and to make the most of your time at Gallipoli. These special departures are indicated on the dates & prices table for each tour. Due to demand, group sizes on these dates may increase to a maximum of 45.
All of our ANZAC departures arrive at Gallipoli Cove early in the afternoon on the 24th giving us enough time to visit the museum and secure space for our groups. We then spend the night outdoors at the Cove waiting for the evocative dawn service to start. Afterwards, depending on the makeup of our group, the Australians will head to Lone Pine and the New Zealanders to Chunuk Bair for their country’s individual memorial service. Rest assured though that these special departures are not just about the ANZAC service. They all have their standard itineraries built around the service so you will still get to experience the history, culture and amazing sites that Turkey has to offer.
The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.
Camera Fees: Photography is restricted in various ways at different sites. Often flash photography is often forbidden to protect the exhibits and ancient pigments, and sometimes cameras are not allowed in at all. Please respect these rules as they are there partly for your benefit. Tickets are not required for normal cameras, but if you have a video camera, if its use is permitted there will normally be a charge.
Tipping or Bahsis (bahk-sheesh) is common practice in Turkey, as a sign of appreciation for services provided for everything from table service in a restaurant to a massage in a Turkish bath. Wages for service staff in Turkey are very low and tips are a necessary supplement to meagre incomes.. Your tour price includes a contribution to various tips that your tour guide and driver will make along the way to ensure the smooth running of your tour.
This tipping kitty does not cover your tour guide or driver though. You may therefore wish to tip them at the end of the time they spend with you. You should not feel obliged to tip any particular amount, and should consider your personal budget and your satisfaction with the service provided. We are often asked to provide a guide however:
Restaurants and taxis: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. For more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour guide or tour leader. We suggest around GBP 1.50 / EUR 2.0 / USD 2 per person per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however GBP 1.50 / EUR 2 / USD 2 per person per day is generally appropriate.
Gulet Boat Trips: If you are travelling through Southern Turkey on a Gulet boat trip we suggest GBP 1.50 / EUR 2 / USD 2 per person per day for the boat staff.
Tour guide: As a guideline we suggest around GBP 20-35 / USD 35-50 / EUR 25-45 per person for the whole tour, but this is ultimately up to you.
You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.
Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination.
You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for Turkey are Hepatitis A and Tetanus.
Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.
Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Turkey, and need to obtain it in advance online through http://www.evisa.gov.tr. Applicants just need to log on to the following link, provide the requested information, (after the application is approved) make online payment and download their e-Visa. More information is available here http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa
Turkey Time is GMT plus 2 hours. Daylight saving adjustments of 1 hour are applied, starting at the end of March and finishing at the end of October.
Sockets are two round pronged and 220 volts (Type C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.