Grand Tour of Turkey15 days
95.5% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
About This Experience
Travel to the country where the cultures and customs of two continents collide. Here, Ottoman domes float against modern skylines. Classic scenes from Greek epics come to life. Whirling Dervishes bring mysticism to the mainstream. And bustling bazaars and vibrant street vendors prove variety is the spice of life. From cosmopolitan Istanbul to otherworldly Cappadocia and the Roman ruins of Ephesus, take in the history and living traditions where east meets west.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
13 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily; 9 three-course or buffet dinners with beer or wine on Day 2 and 14
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Experiencing the exotic in an accessible locale
Spending time in Asia & Europe while in Istanbul
Pamukkale’s natural hot springs & Turkish baths
The bazaars, spice markets & hookah bars
Diverse culinary delights, from kebabs to mezze
Stepping into scenes from ancient Greek history
Overnight Flight1 night
Let desire be your compass in the city where East meets West
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Istanbul, the crossroads of East and West and the world’s only city spanning two continents. A Go Ahead representative escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or begin exploring Istanbul. Meet your fellow travelers at an included dinner this evening.
History pulses in the Hagia Sophia and social center of Constantinople
Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia
Get acquainted with Istanbul this morning as your Tour Director takes you around on a sightseeing tour. Visit the city’s Hippodrome, the breathtaking Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Hagia Sophia. About 1,000 years older than St. Peter’s in Rome, this building was the pride of Christendom until the city fell to the Turks in 1453. This evening is free to spend as you’d like.
Canakkale1 night - hotel info
Step foot in the ancient stronghold made famous by Homer and the horse
Say goodbye to Istanbul this morning and set out for Troy, taking a quick ferry ride across the Dardanelles Strait along the way. Upon arrival, take a guided sightseeing tour of Troy, the legendary city at the heart of Homer’s “Iliad.” Later, make your way along the Aegean coast to Canakkale, a town once coveted for its strategic location at the entrance to the Dardanelles. Dinner is included tonight.
Ephesus Region2 nights - hotel info
Behold what was once the most graceful city on earth
Travel south along the Aegean coast to Pergamon. Here, visit the Acropolis before continuing on to the Ephesus region, a historic area on Turkey’s west coast, which was once a great city of both the Greeks and the Romans. Tonight, enjoy an included dinner.
Want to know what Roman life was like? Just stroll through Ephesus
Ephesus ruins, House of the Virgin Mary
Today’s excursion introduces you to one of the Mediterranean region’s best-preserved classical cities, Ephesus, which was once a sacred center for the cult of Artemis. Discover the city’s major landmarks: the elaborate Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian and the Great Theatre, which is still in use today. Leaving Ephesus, you’ll then travel to the house where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her final days.
Pamukkale2 nights - hotel info
Walk along cascading white stone and take a soak in the hot springs
Optional Excursion - Aphrodisias
On this morning’s guided tour, discover why Pamukkale was a popular spa town during Roman times on a visit to the city’s famous travertines—petrified waterfalls of white stone pocked by natural basins filled with warm mineral water. Afterward, travel to the nearby ruins of Hierapolis. Hierapolis was established as a thermal spa at the end of the 2nd century B.C., and the well-preserved ruins of baths, temples and other Greek monuments can be seen at the site. Enjoy a free afternoon to soak in the Pamukkale hot springs or join our optional excursion to Aphrodisias. Dinner is included tonight.
Aphrodisias $25* pp
Visit Aphrodisias and marvel at the excavated ruins that bear testimony to an age-old artists' colony. In the late first century B.C., the Roman Empire granted autonomy to the city that honored Aphrodite, goddess of love. Aphrodisias' ancient sculptors created works of stunning beauty out of the glowing marble they found in the nearby mountains, and many of these treasures can still be seen today.
Antalya2 nights - hotel info
Follow the Queen of Sheba’s lead and pass beneath the arch
Antalya Museum, Hadrian's Gate
Travel to Antalya this morning. After arriving, a local guide leads you on a tour of the city. Explore the Antalya Museum, an enormous complex housing nearly 30,000 antiquities. Then, continue on to the ruins of Hadrian’s Gate, a remarkably well-preserved triumphal arch built to honor the Roman emperor’s visit in 130. According to legend, the Queen of Sheba passed through this arch during her journey to visit King Solomon.
Pick your pleasure: seaside relaxation or time travel to Trojan times
Optional Excursion - Aspendos & Perge
Spend a free day in Antalya. While Antalya is notable for its ruins, it’s also Turkey’s premier seaside resort town. Spend a day discovering the city’s modern and ancient charms, or join our optional excursion to the ancient sites of Aspendos and Perge this afternoon.
Aspendos & Perge $25* pp
After the Trojan Wars, some of the victorious Greek forces stayed in Asia Minor and established new towns for Greek colonists. This excursion will take you to Perge, one of the most successful of these new colonies, which prospered under the patronage of Alexander the Great. The ancient remains of this proud city are extensive, and you’ll have a chance to explore the Great Theatre, the ruined Hellenistic Gates, Roman baths and the impressive stadium. Later, visit the Roman theater at Aspendos, a center of classical drama in the first century A.D. Please note: During the summer months, this region can be quite hot. Please bring sunscreen and sturdy footwear.
Cappadocia2 nights - hotel info
Beyond the otherworldly landscapes dwell Turkey’s living mystics
Optional Excursion - Whirling Dervishes
Cross the Taurus Mountains to visit the mystical center of Konya, where you’ll find the spiritual home of Sufism and the Whirling Dervishes. Learn more about the Dervishes on your tour of the Mevlana Museum, which was once their monastery. Later, traverse the windswept Anatolian steppe before reaching Cappadocia and its unearthly rock formations. This evening, after an included dinner, consider joining our optional excursion to see the Whirling Dervishes.
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.
Meander through sacred places carved into rock faces
Göreme Open-Air Museum
Tour the famous Göreme Open-Air Museum, comprised of beautifully frescoed rock churches dating back to the fourth century. Continue on to the charming towns of Pasabag, a bustling trading center, and Avanos, where the local economy thrives on the production of pottery created from the distinctive red clay of the Kizilirmak River. Dinner is included tonight.
Delve into an ancient underground city with high-level amenities
Optional Excursion - Underground City
This morning is free for your own explorations of Cappadocia. Alternatively, join our optional excursion to the Kaymakli Underground City, where you’ll learn about the mysterious story behind this ancient subterranean complex. Later today, catch your afternoon flight back to Istanbul.
Underground City $25* pp
Discover the mysterious underground city of Kaymaklı. This guided tour will expose the secrets of this ancient city brimming below the surface. The underground city consists of 8 floors, 4 of which are open to visitors. Built to house hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people, the city's tunnels and underground rooms boast innovations including a church, a stable, wineries, kitchens and a ventilation system, along with living areas.
Brush up on your Turkish while haggling at the Grand Bazaar
Optional Excursion - Bosphorus Straits Cruise
Enjoy a free day to explore Istanbul. You might try your hand at haggling in the Grand Bazaar. Or, join our optional excursion to the Bosphorus, also known as the Istanbul Strait. This boundary between European Turkey and Asian Turkey connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara. This evening, reflect on your journey at an included 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.
Extend Your Stay
Add Istanbul City Stay $249*
The cultural and economic capital of Turkey, Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia—both figuratively and geographically. Once known as Constantinople, this former capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires has long been a bustling and cosmopolitan crossroads. Experience the intersection of East and West at the Byzantine-built Hagia Sofya, the Ottoman-era Blue Mosque and the exotic Topkapi Palace.
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.
95.5% of reviewers recommend this tourRead Reviews 
Grand Tour of Turkey
Turkey was a complete surprise to me. I had no knowledge of what a wonderful and interesting country it is. I learned a lot from ancient history to modern times. I have no favorite site. They were all great. The balloon ride is a must. The people were warm and friendly. Our guide, Basak, was very knowledgeable, interesting, humorous and kind. Her love of her country was evident. The bus was great and the driver was a courteous and safe driver. Our group ranged from age 47 years to 73 years and everyone enjoyed the tour. I would recommend this tour to everyone.
Excellent introduction to Turkey's ancient and modern cultural riches
This tour is an excellent way to visit multiple sites significant to ancient and early medieval history, and to get an overview of contemporary Turkey and its current and historical place in world culture. The pace is quick but not unreasonable, and the logistics of travel were smoothly handled. Mehmet, our tour guide, did an excellent job of planning so that we never met with huge crowds of other tourists and so were able to enjoy the sites much more fully. His lectures, both on the bus as we were driving from one destination to another and at the sites, were engaging and informative; his depth of knowledge, particularly about various ancient ruins, is excellent. In a couple of places I was disappointed that we weren't given more free time to explore on our own--perhaps sometimes because he lectured a bit too long when we could have been viewing more of the site--but I also understand that he was bound to a time schedule so as to provide the excellent logistical maneuvering I refer to above, and I did learn immensely from his comments. The accommodations generally were fine, although the Hotel Akol in Cannukale was rather grim. (I understand that this hotel has been removed from the itinerary based on our group's experience there.) The Lycos River resort in Pammukale has a lovely hot mineral bath, swimming pool, and other spa amenities that we enjoyed.Food was usually served buffet-style but was often very good, and there was plenty of it. Many of the hotels provide complimentary bottled water since they recommend that tourists not drink the tap water, but we did end up purchasing quite a bit on our own as well. A small inconvenience given the amazing sites we visited! There are several long bus rides in the course of the tour, but our driver, Sinan, did an excellent job of conveying us safely and efficiently to our destinations. I'm amazed by his skill in maneuvering the gigantic tour bus through shockingly narrow spaces. We made plenty of rest stops and ate at several excellent restaurants on the road that Mehmet arranged for us to visit. He frequently provided opportunities to sample local cuisine--he even stopped at a local candy shop in one town to get some particularly good halva for us to try. I most enjoyed the visits to the small villages in the areas surrounding some of the sites--Sirence especially is not to be missed--and the Aphrodisias excursion, along with the amazing sights in the Cappadocia region. (Bring some sturdy shoes for these--there is some light-to-moderate hiking required to get the most out of these sites.) Overall, this tour makes it possible to visit numerous sites in a single trip in a way that would not be easily possible on one's own. Now that we've gotten the overview, we'd like to return to specific places for more in-depth exploration. I would definitely recommend it as an introduction to a fascinating area of the world. The Turkish people are very welcoming and helpful and proved to be excellent hosts to us as we visited their country (showing remarkable patience and good will even during the seemingly inevitable "ugly American" moments that occasionally arose).
Tour to last a lifetime!
This tour was an exceptional way to experience one of the world’s most beautiful, significant, and fascinating countries. The description does not begin to capture the richness of this experience. It is a carefully planned, multi-layered. and locally authentic itinerary that encourages a lasting appreciation of Turkey’s immensely long history, rich culture, unique geology, Mediterranean climate and coastline, agriculture, and marvelous skilled heritage in an array of handicrafts. One gains a new understanding of the significance of its location and why, for much of human history, this was the optimal situation for the development of advanced civilization and culture. Selcuk, the Tour Director, was well-prepared, well-organized, and efficient, along with being knowledgeable, entertaining, engaging and accommodating--a key reason why this tour was so successful. The tour’s driver, Sinan, was first-rate. My first morning back, I was describing the tour to our neighborhood sidewalk vendor, who happens to be a Turkish ex-pat. As we filled my bag with Persian cucumbers, pomegranates, figs and apricots, and persimmons--foods that were fresh and abundant in Turkey and that I was already missing--he listened intently, commenting that few tours stop at Konya, which he regarded as one of the most important sites in the country. I responded that, while it was indeed thrilling to visit Konya, to me it was only one of a continuum of new learnings and marvelous new exposures. In fact, on that very day, I stopped at our local Turkish restaurant for doner, visited the Turkish galleries at the Met, and then picked up ingredients for a meze dish (or two). For me, this will be a trip that keeps on giving.
An Awesome Journey!
With a fantastic, personable,and knowledgeable Tour Director, our journey through Turkey was unlike any country I had visited in Europe or in Asia. We were introduced to a wealth of history, the wealth of mother earth, diversity not only in their culture, but in the resources of the land, and growing and developing into contemporary society despite their huge population. I learned so much! Thank you for this opportunity.
My Grand tour of Turkey was a blast. Selcuk, the tour director, did a spectacular job of getting us to places when the crowds were gone and entertaining our group on the bus trips. He explained everything we needed to know without drowning us in too much information. I have already recommended him and the tour to several fellow travelers in Greece. My only complaint would be that the number of tour days listed in the catalog includes the travel days. In this case that would be three out of sixteen days. This would seem inaccurate to me. Otherwise, this was a total success from beginning to end.
Best Tour Director
Had a very informative and interesting trip. Our director, Selcuk, spoke excellent English, very knowledgeable, great sense of humor & was very courteous and always available if we needed any assistance or information. I was amazed at all the ruins that have been excavated throughout the years. I highly recommend The Grand Tour of Turkey to everyone.
Great tour and beautiful country.
Thorough tour of Turkey
Our guide was Mehmet, a veteran of 18 years with Go Ahead in Turkey. He did a masterful job of herding and teaching us for 16 days, helping at all transition points and was a fabulous story teller, bringing to life 7,000 years of history in the region. The pacing and multiple night stays was timed very well, allowing much free time or very interesting optional excursions. We stayed 3 extra days in Istanbul, which added greatly to our enjoyment and understanding. I believe that Go Ahead should add at least two days in Istanbul, and travelers should consider more. After one gets used to being among 16 million locals and thousands of visitors, it is a fantastic experience. Not, however for the faint at heart or claustrophobic. The hotels were well chosen, especially in Antalya and a splendid hotel in Cappadocia. We took the balloon ride over Cappadocia, which should be an optional as it is so magnificent an experience.
Grand Tour of Turkey is Wonderful
Turkey is a very interesting country, offering great diversity, welcoming people, and spectacular scenery. The challenging pace of the tour was expertly handled by our Tour Director, Mehmet, who provided great insights into the history and customs of his native Turkey. Highlights included everything in Istanbul (the extension is well-worth), Aphrodisias, and Cappadocia.
Land of Surprises!
What a beautiful country!. Turkey surprised me with its people, landscapes, history & food. Each day our guide, Suleyman shared his country with us with such enthusiasm & pride leaving us hungry to learn more about this amazing part of the world. This tour allowed us to experience bustling Istanbul & then showed us the quiet natural beauty of Pamukkale. We saw the seaside Kusadasi & the magnificent rock formations of Cappadocia. Suleyman, our tour director was AMAZING, a walking encyclopedia of information with a terrific sense of humor. The value of this Grand Tour of Turkey cannot be overstated. We came away with a new appreciation for a different culture. We more than got our money's worth from Go Ahead & if you are hesitating to take this tour, DON'T. It's the experience of a lifetime.