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Greece & Turkey: Athens, Greek Islands Cruise & Istanbul

15 days |  18 days with Cappadocia & Istanbul extension
15 days |  18 days with Cappadocia & Istanbul extension
Group size1538 travelers
Reviews

3 out of 5 stars

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Get a taste of East and West by way of two cultural powerhouses.

The Athenians and the Ottomans. The Spartans and the Seljuks. Over the centuries, Greece and Turkey have indelibly influenced world history and culture. This 15-day tour introduces you to their biggest hits and hidden highlights—from Athens to Istanbul over the Aegean’s blue waves. Cruise from the Greek capital to the Turkish coast via the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Rhodes. Spend some time in beautifully preserved Ephesus before finishing with the bookends of the Ottoman Empire: its first and final capitals of Bursa and Istanbul. Want to add more landscapes to all that art and architecture? Cover Cappadocia on this trip’s extension.

Your tour package includes

  • 10 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 3 nights aboard a Greek island cruise ship
  • 13 breakfasts
  • 3 lunches
  • 7 dinners with beer or wine
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Included highlights

  • Acropolis
  • Windmills in Mykonos Town
  • Santorini’s Oia village
  • Rhodes’ walled Old Town
  • Urla Peninsula wine tasting
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Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
Overnight Flight1 night
Day 1: Travel day

Board your overnight flight to Athens today.

Athens3 nights
Day 2: Arrival in Athens
Included meal: Welcome dinner

Welcome to Greece! Land in Athens, Europe’s oldest capital city and “the cradle of Western civilization.” Transfer to your hotel and relax for a while before meeting your Tour Director and fellow travelers at a welcome dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Athens
Included meal: Breakfast

Meet up with a local guide for an introduction to Greece’s bustling capital, home to the world’s first democracy and over 3,400 years of recorded history.

  • Pass by three points of interest: the Panathenaic Stadium, Syntagma Square, and the Arch of Hadrian. Now home to various local soccer teams, the Panathenaic Stadium, built entirely out of marble—the only such stadium in the world. Syntagma Square memorializes the signing of the first Greek constitution in 1844, following an armed rebellion against the rule of King Otto. Carved from marble and standing since the second century, the Arch of Hadrian is an iconic landmark of modern-day Athens.
  • View the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus. Built less than a kilometer from the Acropolis, this structure dates back to the sixth century B.C. and, when intact, was the largest temple in Ancient Greece.
  • See the classically inspired Old Royal Palace, home of the Hellenic Parliament, and drive through Plaka—the historic “neighborhood of the gods” built in the shadow of the Acropolis.
  • Set off on a walking tour around the Acropolis of Athens, a millennia-old, UNESCO-listed citadel and the enduring image of Greece. First properly developed by the renowned politician Pericles, it now contains the ruins of the Parthenon, Temple of Athena Nike, Erechtheion, and dozens of other archaeological sites.

Enjoy a free afternoon in Athens or add an excursion.

Greek Tavern Evening

From $75 per person

Day 4: Free day in Athens
Included meal: Breakfast

Enjoy a free day in Athens or add an excursion. (Love Greek mythology? You’ll love this excursion to Delphi: the place the ancients considered to be the center of the world.)

Delphi

From $119 per person

Greek Islands Cruise3 nights
Day 5: Cruise embarkation & Mykonos
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Make your way to Piraeus—Athens’ port and the largest passenger terminal in Europe— to board your Greek cruise ship. Get settled in your stateroom and enjoy an included lunch and dinner (with plenty of relaxation in between) as you sail to iconic Mykonos. Rising out of the Aegean Sea, this rocky Cycladic Island ranks as one of the most popular in all of Greece.

  • Disembark and join your Tour Director for an evening walk through the island’s charming Old Town. Dubbed Chora (simply “town”), Mykonos’ main settlement is a beautiful network of brilliant white homes, cerulean doors, and pops of bougainvillea.
  • See the island’s windmills—some of which are visible from any point in the old town—the seaside Little Venice neighborhood, and the 17th-century Church of Panagia Paraportiani.
  • Enjoy free time to explore Chora’s vibrant, labyrinthine alleys, made even more dazzling by the Mykonian moonlight.
Day 6: Sightseeing tour of Santorini
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Continue sailing along the Aegean Sea and disembark for a tour of Santorini, a popular vacation destination known for its black-sand beaches, cliff-lined shores, and archetypal Cycladic architecture. (Blue domes, white walls—you know what we mean!)

  • Upon arrival, meet your local guide and take a tender boat to port, where you’ll transfer to the picturesque village of Oia.
  • Take in views of Santorini’s famous caldera, the legacy of an eruption that decimated the area in 1600 B.C.
  • Head to Fira, the island’s clifftop capital and cultural center, for some time to yourself.
  • Return to your ship for an included lunch or stay in town for a while longer, enjoying panoramic vistas and famous landmarks like the aptly named Three Bells of Fira.

Set sail for Rhodes and sit down for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine, aboard the ship this evening.

Day 7: Rhodes
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, disembark in Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands and the former site of an ancient wonder of the world: the Colossus of Rhodes. Forged from bronze and iron in the third century B.C., this statue of the Greek sun-god Helios once stood as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

  • Experience the island’s one-of-a-kind cultural heritage at your leisure or sign up for a shore excursion.
  • Return to the ship for an included lunch or continue exploring Rhodes in your free time. If you’re looking for a recommendation, we’d suggest visiting its walled Old Town. Fortified by the Knights of Saint John over the course of three centuries, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is surrounded by a 2.5-mile-long wall and contains a collection of Christian and Muslim monuments.

Return to your ship this evening for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine, and chart a course for the Turkish coast.

Please note: Travelers will be able to add shore excursions directly through the cruise line once on board.

Ephesus Region2 nights
Day 8: Cruise disembarkation, sightseeing of Alaçatı & Urla wine tasting
Included meals: Breakfast, Wine tasting, Tasting, Dinner

Disembark your cruise in Çeşme, Turkey, and meet your new Tour Director. Then, transfer to Alaçatı, a charming seaside town with an interesting place in history. First settled by Greek Orthodox Christians in the 17th century, it underwent a significant shift in 1923 when, in the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish War, a treaty dictating a population exchange between the two countries was signed.

Join your Tour Director for a short walking tour of Alaçatı’s twisting streets, stone houses, and boutique shops before enjoying free time to explore on your own. Later, stop at a local winery to sample some of the Urla Wine Route’s fine vintages. Enjoy a tasting, paired with local snacks, before continuing on to your hotel in the Ephesus region, a historic area on Turkey’s west coast. Tonight, sit down for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Please note: On tours departing in March, April, May, September, and October, the cruise will disembark in Kuşadası. In this case, day 8’s activities will shift to day 9.

Day 9: Sightseeing tour of Ephesus
Included meal: Breakfast

Join your Tour Director on a guided tour of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved ancient Greek cities in the Mediterranean region.

  • Discover its UNESCO-listed sites including the Library of Celsus (one of the last extant examples of the ancient world’s great libraries) and the ruins of the Basilica of St. John (said to have been built over the final resting place of John the Apostle).
  • View the 2,300-year-old Great Theatre, a hulking 25,000-seat arena that’s used as a performance venue to this day.
  • Step inside the House of the Virgin Mary, a Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her final days.

Spend a free evening in the Ephesus region or add an excursion to a meyhane—a traditional Turkish wine house.

Please note: On tours that depart in March, April, May, September, or October, today’s activities will shift to Day 8.

Traditional Turkish Meyhane Dinner

From $65 per person

Bursa2 nights
Day 10: Bursa via Pergamon
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Head north along the Aegean coast to Bursa, stopping by the ruins of Pergamon en route. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this settlement was once a powerful Ancient Greek city.

  • Take a cable car to the top of the Acropolis, where you’ll find the ruins of ancient Greek temples; a 10,000-capacity Hellenistic age theater; a gymnasium; and the once-great Library of Pergamon—the second largest in the Ancient Greek world after the Library of Alexandria.
  • See where the Pergamon Altar, widely considered the eighth wonder of the ancient world, once stood.
  • Hear how the altar’s famous marbles, depicting various scenes from Greek mythology, removed by German archaeologists and transported to Berlin in the early 20th century, remain there to this day.

Continue on to Bursa, a bustling city located on the famed Silk Road. After settling into your hotel, gather for an included dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Bursa
Included meal: Breakfast

Spend a free morning in Bursa or add an excursion to the old Ottoman village of Cumalıkızık.

Later, get to know the Ottoman Empire’s first capital on a guided tour with your Tour Director.

  • Enter the Green Mosque, widely considered to be the finest example of early Ottoman architecture in the world.
  • Move on to the Green Tomb, and admire the opulence of the final resting place of Mehmed I, fifth sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Explore Ulu Camii—the Grand Mosque of Bursa, which was commissioned by Sultan Bayezid I, built in the Seljuk style, and has an imposing structure featuring a roof made up of 20 domes.
  • Enjoy free time to wander the Koza Han, once the center of the city’s silk trade and a key caravanserai along the Silk Road.
  • Enter its charming shops and tea houses and relax a little before going about the rest of your day.

Please note: Travelers are required to remove or cover their shoes when entering the Green Mosque and Ulu Camii. Additionally, women are required to wear a head scarf.

Cumalıkızık & Village Breakfast

From $45 per person

Istanbul3 nights
Day 12: Transfer to Istanbul & sightseeing tour
Included meal: Breakfast

Travel to Istanbul—one of the only cities in the world that spans two continents—and set off on a tour of its vibrant streets and historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites with your Tour Director as your guide.

  • Step inside the Hagia Sophia: a beautifully ornamented mosque (and former church) that held the title of world’s largest building for nearly 1,000 years.
  • Walk to and climb down into the sixth-century Basilica Cistern.
  • Explore its vast water-collecting area, held up by 336 marble columns, and see if you can track down the famous Medusas carved into a pair of their bases.
  • Visit the Hippodrome, once considered the athletic and social center of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople.

Please note: On some departures, the visit to the Basilica Cistern may take place on Day 13. Also, when entering the Hagia Sophia, travelers are required to remove or cover their shoes. Women are required to wear a head scarf.

Day 13: Sightseeing tour of Ottoman Istanbul
Included meal: Breakfast

Spend the morning diving into the history of the Ottoman Empire, as well as Istanbul’s religious traditions, alongside your Tour Director.

  • Explore the Blue Mosque, named for the colorful tiles adorning its interior, and sit down to learn about Ottoman Islamic traditions.
  • Enter Topkapı Palace, the former residence of Ottoman sultans, during a tour of its grounds.

Enjoy a free afternoon in the city, or opt to set out on a cruise of one of the world’s most important waterways, on today’s excursion.

Please note: Travelers are required to remove or cover their shoes when entering the Blue Mosque.

Bosphorus Straits Cruise

From $85 per person

Day 14: Free day in Istanbul
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Spend your last day in Istanbul exploring the city on your own time, or add an excursion to the bustling stalls of Kadiköy Market.

Tonight, rejoin your group and celebrate your trip during a farewell dinner, served with your choice of beer or wine.

Kadikoy Market Tour & Lunch

From $85 per person

Flight Home
Day 15: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your stay to explore Cappadocia’s mystifying landscapes.

Extension to Cappadocia & Istanbul
What do the Cyclades and Cappadocia have in common? Views of volcanic landscapes so stunning that the photos you take will surely fill up your camera roll. On this extension, you’ll head to the heart of one of Anatolia’s most historic regions. Walk between otherworldly rock formations and into churches hewn into the earth, absorbing thousands of years of history all the while. Sprinkle some UNESCO-recognized landmarks into the mix, then head back to Istanbul for a final night in this cultural hub.
Cappadocia2 nights
Day 15: Flight to Cappadocia
Included meal: Breakfast

Fly from Istanbul to one of the airports outside of the Cappadocia region. Then, transfer to Cappadocia where you’ll spend a free evening, or get a glimpse of its spiritual traditions on tonight’s excursion.

Whirling Dervishes

From $59 per person

Day 16: Sightseeing tour of Cappadocia
Included meal: Breakfast

Today, pay a visit to the Göreme Open-Air Museum—a UNESCO-listed collection of fresco-adorned churches, carved into volcanic rock, which date back to the fourth century.

  • See the fairy chimneys, spectacular rock formations that stretch as high as 130 feet into the sky.
  • Visit a cave village and a rock-carved church.
  • Stop in Avanos—a town of just under 15,000 people—to discover a craftwork that has typified the area since 1650 B.C.: red clay pottery.

Enjoy a free afternoon or add a particularly tasty excursion.

Cappadocia Valley Walk & Wine Tasting

From $59 per person

Istanbul1 night
Day 17: Flight to Istanbul
Included meal: Breakfast

Enjoy one last free morning in Cappadocia, or add an excursion for a more structured experience.

This afternoon, fly back to Istanbul, where you’ll raise a glass and toast to your trip with a farewell drink.

Underground City

From $55 per person

Flight Home
Day 18: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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Reviews

3 out of 5 stars

Overall rating 3.0 out of 5

Based on 4 authentic traveler reviews
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    3 out of 5 stars

    Tours and Guides: Great; EF Go Ahead: Poor
    5/16/24 by 1st-time traveler Anonymous

    We had a very enjoyable time with our guide, Rob, in Greece. He shared his knowledge which was extensive but I didn’t feel like we had an opportunity to be immersed in the Greek culture. The dinner experiences after our first might were mediocre and I didn’t feel like we learned anything about the ...

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    EF Go Ahead Tours replied on 6/28/24

    Thank you for sharing your detailed feedback about...

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    2 out of 5 stars

    Greece / Turkey Go Ahead Tours 5/15 to 6/2/24
    5/16/24 by 1st-time traveler Thomas

    I have tried to complete my review but was unable to correct some of what I had written so I submit the following. The ship we were we assigned to, MIRAY MV GEMINI was 32 years old, in poor condition for passengers and gave me the feeling that E F had made cost cutting decisions that shortchanged...

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    EF Go Ahead Tours replied on 6/28/24

    Thomas, thank you for your review. We are happy to...

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    5 out of 5 stars

    Wow
    5/16/24 by 4th-time traveler David

    Absolutely spectacular adventure, in so many ways. The physical venues, ancient ruins, gorgeous mountains and valleys. Beautiful architecture, centuries old. All with stories of rising and falling empires. How can you describe such an epic journey in promotional materials? An itinerary comes close. ...

    Read more +
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    Traveler photos

    Hotels, flights & FAQ

    Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

    Hotels

    We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
    Wyndham Grand Athens
    Wyndham Grand Athens

    This elegant hotel is located in the Metaxourgeio neighborhood of Athens. Guests enjoy panoramic views of the Acropolis, a fitness center, and a rooft...

    Read more +
    MV Gemini
    MV Gemini

    This modern cruise ship sails the Aegean Sea and features spacious cabins, gourmet meals, an outdoor pool, a beauty salon, daily activities, nightly s...

    Read more +
    Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Kusadasi
    Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Kusadasi

    This comfortable hotel is located just outside of the Kusadasi City Center. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, a private beach area, and a fitness center....

    Read more +
    Çelik Palas Hotel Convention Center & Thermal Spa
    Çelik Palas Hotel Convention Center & Thermal Spa

    This world-class hotel is located in Bursa. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and sauna. Nearby you’ll find the Ataturk Museum, the Resat...

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    Grand Hotel Gülsoy
    Grand Hotel Gülsoy

    This lavish hotel is located in the center of old Istanbul. Guests enjoy the indoor pool, a Turkish bath, and bicycle rentals. Nearby, you’ll find the...

    Read more +
    Dinler Hotels - Ürgüp
    Dinler Hotels - Ürgüp

    This contemporary hotel is located in Cappadocia. Guests enjoy indoor and outdoor pools, a Turkish bath, and laundry services. Nearby, you’ll find the...

    Read more +

    Flights

    Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
    Add our airfare package and you'll get:
    • Round-trip flight for your tour
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    • A great price locked in today
    • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
    • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
    • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
    • Find out more about flights

    FAQ

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