Turkey: Istanbul & the Landscapes of Cappadocia9 days
About This Experience
Get to know the culture that developed at the intersection of East and West in Istanbul, a city that effortlessly blends the ancient and the modern. Uncover the spice of life at the center of this colorful capital as you experience the rush of the Grand Bazaar, survey a skyline speared by minarets and watch the whirl of Sufi mystics. For a retreat from the bustle, escape to Cappadocia’s lunar landscapes, where you’ll explore the ins and outs of this region’s rock-hewn villages and steep-peaked terrain.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
7 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 5 Dinners (three-course or buffet), including beer or wine on select days
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
The chance to visit two continents in one
Mouthwatering mezze bites & Turkish teas
Cappadocia’s ancient, cavernous hideaways
Walking among rock-carved churches & “fairy chimneys”
Ancient Greco-Roman ruins & frescoes
Haggling & mingling with locals at the Grand Bazaar
Overnight Flight1 night
Descend into the city of mystics and minarets
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Istanbul, the crossroads of East and West as well as the world’s only city that spans two continents. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport and escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or begin getting to know Istanbul. In the evening, greet your fellow travelers at your welcome dinner.
Travel back to the days of sultans and swords
Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Underground Cistern
Follow a local guide through Istanbul’s vibrant streets and historic UNESCO World Heritage sites. You’ll visit the city’s Hippodrome, once considered the social center of ancient Constantinople, the breathtaking Blue Mosque, named for the blue tiles adorning its interior, and an elaborate underground cistern. After free time for lunch, continue to the Topkapi Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans. Following your tour, you’ll be free to spend the evening as you like, perhaps stopping to sample Turkish delights, sip apple tea or stroll along the Bosphorus.
Cappadocia3 nights - hotel info
Make your way through the moonscapes of Pigeon Valley
Optional Excursion - Whirling Dervishes
This morning, fly to the captivating region of Cappadocia, where you’ll tour Pigeon Valley’s dramatic canyon and rock formations, take in sweeping city views from atop Uchisar Village and walk through the moonscapes of Avcilar Valley. This afternoon, consider joining our optional Whirling Dervishes excursion. Watch as gown-clad mystics swirl through the air, symbolizing their turning toward truth. Later, cap off your first day in Cappadocia at dinner with your fellow travelers.
Whirling Dervishes $39* pp
The Sufi Muslim sect known as the Whirling Dervishes was founded in the 13th century by Mevlana Rumi. They were named after their elaborate dance-like ritual, which honors the movement of the Earth. Learn more about this fascinating ancient faith and its modern-day practitioners during this cultural performance.
Roam among rock-carved churches and ancient frescoes
Set out to discover Cappadocia’s intriguing ancient villages with a local guide. Begin your adventure with a look back in time as you explore the 1,000-year-old rock-carved churches found in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Göreme Open Air Museum. Then, venture to the villages of Avanos and Çavuşin to meet local pottery artisans before traveling into the Pasabag Valley, also known as the Monks Valley, to explore the region’s famed “fairy chimneys.” Afterward, learn the history and artistry behind one of Turkey’s most colorful and popular exports—its brightly woven rugs. In the evening, share your favorite moments from the day with fellow travelers over an included dinner at a local restaurant.
Get a glimpse into Cappadocia’s underground culture
Optional Excursion - Underground City and Keslik Monastery
You’re free to explore Cappadocia’s otherworldly landscapes on your own, perhaps taking an early-morning balloon ride over the area’s intriguing rock-formed columns and lunar-like topography. Later on, consider joining our optional excursion to Keslik Monastery and Kaymakli, one of Cappadocia’s 36 hidden cities. Once a secret hideaway, the underground city is comprised of hundreds of cavernous tunnels, complete with ancient wine cellars, kitchens and stables. In the evening, wind down over dinner with your group.
Underground City and Keslik Monastery $25* pp
Get a feel for what life was like when Turks and Greeks lived side by side in the former Ottoman village of Sinasos, known today as Mustafapaşa. After walking among the town’s Grecian-style homes and past its two soaring minarets, set out to explore the village of Cemil, known for its ancient churches built into the surrounding mountains. Afterward, make your to Cappadocia’s famed rock-carved Keslik Monastery, before concluding the day delving into the cavernous tunnels of the Kaymakli underground city. The widest of Cappadocia’s 36 underground cities, Kaymakli was originally used as a secret hideaway from invaders and later expanded to contain nearly 100 tunnels, complete with wine cellars, kitchens and stables, some of which are still in use today.
Finesse your bartering skills in this lively and legendary souk
Pack your belongings and fly back to Istanbul this morning. Get reacquainted with the city as you explore one of Turkey’s most iconic sites, the Hagia Sophia, which held the title of the world’s largest cathedral for nearly 1,000 years. Afterward, get ready to haggle with the locals as you make your way through the Grand Bazaar, a lively and legendary souk that boasts over 5,000 vendors offering traditional rich-colored rugs, aromatic spices and other luxurious goods. In the evening, head out to explore on your own, perhaps stopping in an off-the-beaten-path restaurant to sample authentic Turkish meze and boldly flavored kebabs. After filling up on Turkish delicacies, consider taking an evening walk to soak in the cityscape lit up at night.
Soak in scenes of every day life on the banks of the Bosphorus
Optional Excursion - Bosphorus Straits Cruise
Set off on your own today or opt for our Bosphorus Straits cruise. If you go-it-alone, consider paying a visit to Princes’ Island to see the Turkish elite’s summer palaces, or take in the Byzantine-era mosaics and frescoes found in Church of St. Saviour in Chora. If you choose to take our optional excursion, you’ll begin your day with a visit to the spice market and a leather-crafting demonstration en route to your Bosphorus Straits cruise. Once aboard, relax and look out on the contrasting Asian and European architecture along Istanbul’s waterfront. In the evening, gather for one last meal with your group at your farewell dinner.
Bosphorus Straits Cruise $55* pp
Cruise through the Bosphorus Straits, looking out on decadent Ottoman palaces and imposing medieval castles as you journey through the narrow waterway that separates Europe from Asia. On your way, you'll stop to visit the famous Egyptian bazaar, known as the Spice Market. After returning from your cruise, sit down to a lunch of Turkish specialties. Please note: This excursion is weather dependent. In some cases, dinner will be offered instead of lunch.
Leave your heart in the City of the World’s Desire
Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)
Güle güle! If you’re not staying for our two-night tour extension, it’s time to say farewell to Istanbul. A Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport early this morning for your return flight home.
Extend Your Stay
Add Istanbul City Stay $249*
Perfectly positioned between East and West, Istanbul has remained Turkey’s cultural and historical heart for centuries upon centuries, from the rise and fall of one empire to the next. Spend two more nights in the City of the World’s Desire getting a taste for the local spice of life. Order up a glass of raki, walk the walls of ancient Constantinople, drift along the Bosphorus and leave feeling like a true İstanbullu.
Walk the walls of that once contained Constantinople
Today is open to spend as you wish. You may want to venture over to Galata Bridge, whose lower deck offers waterfront dining and tea houses, perfect for boat watching. Go back in time on a walk along the four-mile stretch of walls surrounding the old Byzantine city of Constantinople. In the evening, experience Istanbul’s lively nightlife by attending a traditional belly dancing show or dining street-side on Nevizade Sokak, a narrow street overflowing with outdoor eateries and authentic watering holes.
Experience the city from a whole new angle
Continue discovering Istanbul today. You may wish to ascend the Galata Tower, which was originally built in 1348 to house prisoners of war and now serves as a conservatory boasting 360-degree views of the city. Or, you could visit the Dolmabahce Palace and admire the decor, designed by the same interior designer responsible for the Paris Opera House. At the end of your day, you may choose to treat yourself to a taste of honey-drizzled baklava.
Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter Turkey, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry. Effective in 2014, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain an electronic visa prior to arrival in Turkey. You can get an e-visa by visiting the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. The cost of a visa for entry into Turkey is $20 USD for U.S. citizens and $60 USD for Canadian citizens (payment is subject to change without notice). If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.
Clothing & Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Turkey. Especially during the summer months, take proper care for sun exposure. While no vaccinations are required for entry, be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and overseas travel recommendations. Avoid drinking the tap water in Turkey.
Turkish food is invariably fresh and very carefully prepared. Sourdough bread with sheep’s cheese and olives, as well as jam or honey, is typically eaten for breakfast. A midday meal or dinner often starts with a meze, a plate of varied appetizers, such as cheese pastry rolls, pickled vegetables and potato fritters. You’ll also see salads served with dips made of eggplant, beans or red caviar. On the coast, fish is an excellent choice, especially tuna, turbot and sardines. Meat eaters should try lamb kebabs, available in a wide variety of types, each with a different sauce or dressing. The national drink is tea, which comes in various flavors. Turkish coffee is extremely strong and thick.
Round-trip flights arrive in and depart from Istanbul. There’s also an included flight from Cappadocia to Istanbul. All other included transportation is by private motor coach. In your free time, you may wish to explore the main cities by public transportation. Istanbul has an extensive—and remarkably inexpensive—transport system of bus, tram, train and metro lines. Purchase all-inclusive passes for the best deal and try to avoid peak periods of travel, when walking is probably your best bet.
Turkey operates on the European standard 220 volts.
Turkey is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST). When it’s noon in New York, it’s 7pm in Istanbul.
The Turkish lira is the currency you’ll be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available in Turkey, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We advise that you take credit cards and dollar bills in small denominations. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges. Exchange small amounts of Turkish lira at one time in order to compensate for inflation.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalency of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalency of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Shopping on Tour
Please note that some excursions may include a stop at a market or specialty store. Go Ahead Tours has no relationship with these vendors and encourages you to research specialty items you’re interested in purchasing abroad before you leave to ensure you receive the best quality.