- Hop between charming fishing villages and resort towns along the Turquoise Coast
- Sample local varietals at a family-run vineyard near Izmir
- Visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus, Dolchiste, Perge, and Aspendos
- Kayak around the idyllic bays and Lycian tombs of Kekova Island
- Opt for adventurous paragliding and scuba diving tours off the coast
|Arrive in İstanbul, Explore the City
|Fly to İzmir, Transfer to Alaçatı via Urlice Vineyards
|Transfer to Kuşadası via Selçuk & Ephesus
|Transfer to Bodrum via Lake Bafa Nature Park
|Historical Tour of Bodrum, Free Time to Explore
|Transfer to Fethiye, Explore the City
|Turquoise Coast Boat Cruise or Paraglide Over the Blue Lagoon
|Transfer to Kaş & Explore, Scuba Dive Excursion
|Sea Kayaking at Kekova Island
|Transfer to Antalya, Visit Perge & Aspendos
Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Explore the City
Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul! Sitting at the entrance to the Black Sea and straddling both Europe and Asia, this city is a sprawling melting pot of history, culture, and beauty that traces its origins back to the founding of Byzantium in the seventh century BCE. Meet your driver outside İstanbul International Airport and transfer to your hotel, then spend the rest of the afternoon getting your bearings with a self-guided walk. The historic district of Sultanahmet is a great place to start, as it's full of UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
When you get hungry, visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. With over 4,000 stalls across 61 streets, there are plenty of dishes to taste and souvenirs to purchase. Try tantuni (minced meat in vegetables) or a classic döner kebab. If you still have time, you can take a sunset boat cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. Admire the shores of both the European and Asian sides of the city, illuminating the spires and minarets of its skyline, then sit down to dinner in a local restaurant with a waterfront view.
Day 2: Fly to İzmir, Transfer to Alaçatı via Urlice Vineyards
It's time to leave İstanbul already as you catch an hour's flight south to İzmir, a city on Turkey's Aegean coast. Upon arrival, a guide will be waiting outside İzmir Adnan Menderes Airport to transfer you west toward the Çeşme Peninsula, stopping along the way at Urlice Vineyards, a family-owned and operated boutique winery. Tour the winery and learn about the ancient, chemical-free viticultural techniques they use, then taste some of the delicious wines they produce, such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and shiraz.
End your visit with a lunch of homemade pizza paired with a delicious glass of wine. Afterward, you'll continue west toward the sea, ending your day in the charming Alaçatı. This once-sleepy fishing village is now a beloved vacation spot for in-the-know travelers, and you'll have the rest of the day to explore its flower-strewn cobblestone streets, lined with cafés and shops, before finding a local restaurant for a seafood dinner overlooking the Aegean.
Day 3: Transfer to Kuşadası via Selçuk & Ephesus
Venture down the Aegean coast today, starting with a 1.5-hour transfer south to Selçuk, where you'll start your tour of this historically rich area of the İzmir province with a visit to Isabey Mosque, a simple but beautiful landmark built by Selcuk Turks overlooking the Basilica of St John. Learn about Islam and how it compares to Christianity at this very special point where artifacts from both religions remain. It's on to the Temple of Artemis next, built in 550 BCE to honor the Greek goddess. Once one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, today all that remains are the remnants of its soaring columns.
Head to the village of Çamlık next for a stop at Can Carpet, a small atelier where they still use the traditional dye extraction method from plants to create their carpets. Share a traditional lunch with the workers, then learn about the dyeing process with a demonstration. You can also observe women making traditional one-of-a-kind carpets, available for purchase.
This afternoon is devoted to the great ruins of Ephesus. This ancient city was established by the Greeks in the 11th century BCE before it fell under Roman rule in 129 BCE. You can see the influences of these civilizations in the architecture that's left as you explore landmarks like the Trajan Fountain, Celsius Library, and the Great Theater, which could previously hold 24,000 spectators. Visit the Ephesus Archaeological Museum to learn more and view some of the excavated items. At the end of the day, your driver will take you to the nearby beach town of Kuşadası, where you'll settle in for the night.
Day 4: Transfer to Bodrum via Lake Bafa Nature Park
Pack your bags for your transfer to Bodrum, another seaside town located about 2.5 hours south along the Aegean coast. On the way, stop at Bafa Lake Natural Park. This pristine natural reserve offers a mesmerizing combination of ancient ruins, diverse wildlife, and clear lake waters that used to be connected to the Aegean Sea. The tranquil lake, surrounded by the Latmos Mountains, is the perfect spot to stop and stretch your legs with a short walk. You may see birds like the fish eagle, Dalmatian pelican, or pygmy cormorant, so keep your eyes peeled.
After your escape to nature, stop in Kapıkırı to visit the ruins of Herakleia scattered across the village. Once a thriving Greek center of culture and commerce, today this archaeological site is full of well-preserved columns, temples, and rock-cut tombs that stand as a testament to the city's former glory. Now that you've worked up an appetite, stop at Agora Pension, a local restaurant that serves up local homemade favorites—primarily olive oil dishes with regional herbs. After lunch, continue on to your hotel in Bodrum. Stay in and relax for the night or head out and enjoy the town's vibrant nightlife.
Day 5: Historical Tour of Bodrum, Free Time to Explore
A visit to Bodrum combines history, vibrant culture, and coastal landscapes. Today, you get to explore the area with a historical tour along the peninsula. Listen as your guide tells you stories of mythological heroes, wars, and monarchs that used to reside here, and stop at one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Built between 3353 and 351 BCE, it's now the tomb of Mausolous, ruler of the ancient district of Caria. Visit Bodrum Castle next, built by the Knights Hospitaller in the 15th century in a mix of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
End the historic tour at the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, the largest museum of its kind in the world. View a remarkable collection of artifacts retrieved from shipwrecks in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Later on, you can enjoy some leisurely free time exploring the town. Check out the covered Bodrum Bazaar to do a little shopping. It's much smaller than the Grand Bazaar in İstanbul, but you can find great clothing and souvenirs, such as Turkish carpets or jewelry. If you're tired of walking, just relax on Yahsi Beach and order a cocktail from one of the many bars along the shore.
Day 6: Transfer to Fethiye, Explore the City
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Settle in for a 3.5-hour transfer south to Fethiye, a port city along the scenic Turquoise Coast known for its archaeological wonders, pristine beaches, and towering mountains. Once you're settled in, head out to explore the city's historic center of Paspatur on your own. Walk down the narrow, winding streets, enter charming shops, or dine at one of the many cafés and restaurants. If you haven't tried Turkish coffee yet, this is a great place to do so. Keep an eye out for the Eski Cami (Old Mosque), which showcases the Ottoman-style architecture that's popular in this region.
Once you've explored Paspatur, take a short hike up to the Tomb of Amyntas, one of the numerous rock tombs carved into the steep southern hills of Fethiye by the Lycians in the fourth century BCE. When you're ready for dinner, head back down the hill to the Fethiye Fish Market. Sample seafood fresh from the Mediterranean at one of the many restaurants in the market. You can even choose from the day's fresh catch yourself. Once you've had your fill of seafood, head to ECE Marina to watch the fishing boats coming in or catch a cruise of Fethiye Bay to end the night.
Day 7: Turquoise Coast Boat Cruise or Paraglide Over the Blue Lagoon
Start your day at the beautiful Belcekız Beach, where you can board a boat cruise to the Blue Cave and jump into the turquoise waters to see this natural wonder up close. Sail to Butterfly Valley next, home to over 136 different butterflies and moths, and on to Camel Beach, where you can ride a camel or just lay on the sand and enjoy the warm, shallow waters. Two hours and a delicious lunch later, you'll venture toward Soguksu Bay, known for its refreshing, cold waters that seep through nearby rocks, then set sail back to Fethiye for the night.
Adventure seekers may want to skip the sailing and beach day to paraglide off Babadag Mountain instead. It's not for the faint of heart, as you have to run off the mountain from one of the highest commercial launch sites in the world at 6,561 feet (2,000 m), but it's a memorable experience. Strap on to your guide and run off a gentle slope to start your flight over Ölüdeniz Beach. Get a bird's-eye view of the turquoise water, feel the rush of wind against your face, and embrace a sense of awe for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Day 8: Transfer to Kaş & Explore, Scuba Dive Excursion
Another 1.5 hours down the coast today takes you to Kaş, a small fishing village with some of the best shopping in the area. Drop your bags off at your hotel, then browse some of the many local shops known for selling handmade silver jewelry, Turkish carpets, local clothing, and glass artwork to pick up a gift for yourself or your loved ones back home. When lunchtime looms, head to the harbor dotted with colorful boats to visit one of the many waterfront restaurants serving the freshest seafood.
This area is the gateway to some of the most pristine diving spots in the Mediterranean, so if you're feeling like an adventure you can opt to join a diving excursion this afternoon and discover what the Mediterranean Sea looks like from below. Your experienced guide will take you either a cave or the wreck of a World War II military aircraft. If you're not afraid of tight spaces, you can even swim through the Dakota aircraft—the cockpit is intact, so you can see where the pilot sat over 70 years ago. On your way, look out for colorful coral reefs and marine life, like turtles, fish, and octopuses.
Day 9: Sea Kayaking at Kekova Island
Today's excursion starts with a 45-minute bus ride to charming Uçağiz, a former Greek fishing village. Upon arrival, you'll gear up and prepare for a day of kayaking along the stunning Turquoise Coast toward Kekova Island. When you arrive at the nearby Tersane Bay, jump in the water for a refreshing swimming break. From there, paddle over the ancient Lycian sunken city of Dolchiste. Swimming is prohibited here since it's a protected area, but the water is so clear you can see the ruins perfectly from your kayak.
Continue on to the village of Kaleköy and disembark to visit Simena Castle. Hike up the hill to get to the fourth-century BCE structure, and you'll be rewarded with magnificent, panoramic views of the Kekova region. If you're not up for a hike, you can visit the small, picturesque village instead or take a dip in the beautiful blue waters surrounding the island. As you get back in your kayak, paddle to another ancient underwater city, Theimussa. View the ruins from above, then return to Uçağiz, where you can have a well-deserved lunch before jumping back on the bus and returning to Kaş for the night.
Day 10: Transfer to Antalya, Visit Perge & Aspendos
The penultimate day of your trip takes you on a final drive, hugging the coastline for three hours to reach Antalya, the largest Turkish city on the Mediterranean coast. After settling into your hotel, your driver will take you 30 minutes outside of the city to Perge, an ancient city that was once the capital of Pamphylia. Originally founded by the Hittites around 1500 BCE, it was later controlled by the Greeks and then the Romans. Walk along the cobblestone roads lined with colonnades, admire the stadium where gladiators used to fight, and explore the remnants of Roman baths.
Visit the nearby Greco-Roman city of Aspendos next to see one of the best-preserved Roman theaters in the world. Although it was built in the second century CE, the amphitheater has stood the test of time, so you can still enter and surround yourself with stone tiers that once accommodated thousands of spectators viewing gladiatorial contests and dramatic performances. End the day at Manavgat Falls to enjoy the idyllic scenery of the region and dine on the riverbank as the water cascades to the white rapids below.
Day 11: Depart AntalyaDepending on your flight time, you may be able to explore more of Antalya on your own. Head to Lara Beach, just south of the city center, if you want to soak up some last-minute sun. Walk along the soft white sand, swim in the pristine water, or rent a Jet Ski if you're feeling adventurous. Visiting the Antalya Aquarium is also a good option. It has the world's largest tunnel aquarium and 40 spaces covering different aquatic themes, so you won't be bored here. Keep an eye on the clock, as a driver will be picking you up outside your hotel to take you to Antalya International Airport. Safe travels!
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