Ancient culture and spectacular scenery are the highlights of this 8-day journey through southeastern and central Turkey. Marvel at the mosaics of Gaziantep, explore the sunken city of Halfeti by boat, and see the archaeological wonders of Sanlıurfa. After a visit to the UNESCO-listed Mount Nemrut, you'll set out across the rugged landscapes of Anatolia to reach the famous, fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia—where you'll tour underground cities and take to the skies in a hot air balloon.

Highlights

  • See the ancient mosaics of Gaziantep
  • Take a boat tour through the sunken city of Halfeti
  • Discover archaeological wonders in Sanlıurfa
  • Take to the skies over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon
  • Wander the tunnels & caves of the Kaymaklı Underground City

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Gaziantep Gaziantep
Day 2 Halfeti Boat Tour, Transfer to Sanlıurfa Sanlıurfa
Day 3 Tour Harran & Göbeklitepe  Sanlıurfa
Day 4 Transfer to Adıyaman & Mount Nemrut Adıyaman
Day 5 Transfer to Cappadocia via Kahramanmaraş  Urgup
Day 6 Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride, Visit Uçhisar & Avanos Urgup
Day 7 Göreme Open Air Museum & Kaymaklı Underground City Urgup
Day 8 Transfer to Konya & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Gaziantep

Mosaic at Zeugma Museum
Ancient mosaics at the Zeugma Museum

Welcome to Turkey! After catching an early flight from Istanbul, arrive in Gaziantep, where you'll be welcomed by your tour guide.

Your first excursion starts with the Zeugma Museum, home to the largest collection of mosaics in the world. Its focus is the intricate mosaics discovered at the ancient city of Zeugma, founded by one of the generals of Alexander the Great known as Seleucus I Nicator.

After visiting the museum, spend some time exploring the city center of Gaziantep, where you'll encounter beautiful shops, a small ancient castle, and historic houses. 

Day 2: Halfeti Boat Tour, Transfer to Sanlıurfa

Rumkale at Halfeti
Rumkale Castle at Halfeti

This morning starts with a drive to the picturesque town of Halfeti, where you'll set sail on a scenic boat tour down the Euphrates River. Known as the "Sunken City," a great part of Halfeti's structures are underwater due to the construction of a dam in 1999.  The highlight of today's tour is the imposing Rumkale Castle, an ancient fortress built on a steep cliff at the river's edge. At the end of the excursion, you'll transfer back to dry land and drive east to Sanlıurfa, your base for the next two nights. 

Day 3: Tour Harran & Göbeklitepe

Tour the ancient city of Harran

Sanlıurfa is one of the oldest cities in the region, often called the "Prophets' City" for its importance as a spiritual and pilgrimage site. You'll start today's excursion at Harran, also known as Carrhae. One of the most prominent ancient cities of Upper Mesopotamia, archeological remains indicate that it was a center for politics, religion, and science.

Continue to the important neolithic site of Göbeklitepe to witness ruins that have changed the shape of history. Discovered in 1994 by a group of German and Turkish archeologists, Göbeklitepe dates back to 12,000 BC, and evidence found here has contradicted common conceptions of early nomadic hunter-gatherers—suggesting that early settlers of the area were drawn to the city's religious temples rather than the area's agriculture. 

In the afternoon, you'll spend some time exploring the center of modern Sanlıurfa. Stroll around the old bazaar, visit the lake at Balıklı Göl (the Pool of Abraham), and marvel at the grand Halil-ul Rahman Mosque complex.

Day 4: Transfer to Adıyaman & Mount Nemrut

Mt. Nemrut
Ancient statues surrounding Mount Nemrut

After breakfast and check-out this morning, you'll set out with your driver towards Adıyaman and Mount Nemrut.

Reaching 7,000 feet ( 2,134 m) at its peak, Mount Nemrut is famous for the large statues erected around its summit. It served as a tumulus or a royal tomb when it was built around the 1st century BC, and today it's cherished as one of Turkey's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. After a visit to the breathtaking mountain, your destination for the night is the ancient city of Adıyaman, where you'll get settled into your accommodation and spend the evening at your leisure.

Day 5: Transfer to Cappadocia via Kahramanmaraş

Cappadocia view
Enjoy scenic views as you drive towards Cappadocia

Today you'll set out on a long day of driving, journeying seven hours west across scenic and varied terrain to the lunar landscapes of Cappadocia

Along the way, you'll make a memorable stop for lunch in Kahramanmaraş, a city famous for its mouthwatering ice cream.

Day 6: Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride, Visit Uçhisar & Avanos

Hot-air balloons over Cappadocia
Hot-air balloons over Cappadocia

As you awake to gorgeous views of the surrounding valleys, you can opt for an unforgettable sunrise hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia's "fairy chimneys" or hoodoos, the fantastical geological formations that pepper the area's natural landscapes. 

Afterward, start today's explorations with a stop at the beautiful town of Uçhisar, known for its ancient defensive fortress carved into the natural rock. You'll then move on to Avanos, famous for its local pottery made with clay from the Kızılırmak River.

In the afternoon, visit a 13th-century caravanserai, a historic roadside inn that served an important role for travelers traveling along the Old Silk Road. Here you can enjoy a performance of the "whirling dervishes"—a mystic ritual performed by the followers of the Mevlevi religious order.

In the early evening, return to your accommodation for a little relaxation before dinner.

Day 7: Göreme Open Air Museum & Kaymaklı Underground City

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia

Today you'll tour more of the wonders of Cappadocia, starting with a visit to the Göreme Open Air Museum. Here you can marvel at some of the most beautiful rock-cut churches and frescoes in the world, see unique examples of rock-hewn architecture, and learn about historic fresco techniques dating back to the 10th-12th centuries.

After lunch, discover spectacular panoramic views from the Avcilar and Pasabag Valleys, then proceed to the Kaymaklı Underground City. Built by early Christians to protect themselves from the religious persecution of Roman soldiers, this ancient wonder is a maze of elaborate underground tunnels and chambers.

Day 8: Transfer to Konya & Depart

Konya
Your trip ends in the southern city of Konya

Say your goodbyes to Cappadocia this morning as you get back on the road with your driver, heading west towards the city of Konya. Famous as a pilgrimage center, Konya was home to Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, scholar, and Sufi mystic.

Visit the Mevlana Museum, where you can see the Tomb of Rumi and learn about the history of one of the world's greatest poets, then sit down to a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon, your trip draws to a close with a transfer to the Konya Airport, where you'll catch your flight back to Istanbul and continue your onward journey. Safe travels!

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