This eight-day expedition through Turkey begins in Istanbul, where you'll get acquainted with the city's mosques and bazaars and take a boat ride down the Bosphorus. Next, head south down the Aegean coast to tour some of the most important archaeological sites of the ancient world, from the myth-laden ruins of Troy and Assos to the Greco-Roman wonders of Pergamon and Ephesus. Your trip ends in the village of Sirince, with wine tasting, souvenir-haggling, and plenty of Turkish coffee.


  • Shop for spices and souvenirs at Istanbul's bustling Grand Bazaar 
  • View landmarks like the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia by boat
  • Take a guided road trip down the sun-soaked Aegean coast
  • Discover history and legend at the ancient sites of Troy, Pergamon, and Espheus 
  • Go wine-tasting and stroll through the quaint Aegean village of Sirince

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Whirling Dervishes at Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum İstanbul
Day 2 İstanbul Sightseeing: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Topkapı Palace İstanbul
Day 3 Discover İstanbul's Bazaars, Boat Ride on Bosphorus Strait İstanbul
Day 4 İstanbul Archaeological Museum Tour, Transfer to Çanakkale Çanakkale
Day 5 Transfer to Behramkale, Explore the Ancient Cities of Troy & Assos  Behramkale
Day 6 Transfer to Şirince via Ancient Pergamon, Afternoon Wine Tasting Şirince
Day 7 Discover the Ancient City of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site Şirince
Day 8 Free Morning in Şirince, Fly to İstanbul, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Whirling Dervishes at Galata Mevlevihanesi Museum

The meditative dances at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi in İstanbul will entrance you

Welcome to İstanbul! Steeped in history and culture, this "bridge between Europe and Asia" is the only city in the world that straddles two continents. Upon arrival, your guide will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel to settle in after your journey. Later on, an afternoon of culture and performance awaits at the Galata Mevlevihanesi Müzesi, a former monastery and dervish lodge (or tekke) that's now a museum.

Here you'll witness the immersive spectacle of a whirling dervish ceremony. This physically active meditative performance dates back to the 13th century and the followers of the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jalaluddin Muhammad Balkhi Rumi. In addition to the hypnotic ceremony, you'll get a nice introduction to Turkey's history via the museum's cultural exhibits.

For dinner, you'll have the option of ending your evening at Uskumru, a traditional fish restaurant on the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Turkey's European and Asian sides. Be sure to try the traditional meze (appetizer featuring a range of small dishes such as yogurt, cheese, dips, and salads) and rakı or "lion's milk," Turkey's national drink made from grape pomace. After an exciting first day, you'll be taken back to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow's sightseeing.

Day 2: İstanbul Sightseeing: Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Topkapı Palace

Check off iconic İstanbul landmarks like the beautiful Hagia Sophia

After a relaxing breakfast, your guide will take you on a six-hour tour that introduces you to the highlights of İstanbul. You'll start at Sultanahmet Square, a jumping-off point to many historical and cultural sites in the center. These include the Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern, incredible ruins that date back to the Byzantine era. You'll also stop at the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th century and earning its name from the stunning blue tiles that make up its interior. 

Next, you'll visit the Hagia Sophia. This iconic landmark of İstanbul's skyline dates back to 537 CE and was the largest building in the world at that time. Initially, it was built as a basilica for the Greek Orthodox Christian Church until 1453, when the Ottomans captured Constantinople and turned it into a mosque. Last, your guide will lead you to Topkapı Palace, the royal palace of the Ottomans. The exhibition halls offer a glimpse into the sultans' lives while showcasing the Empire's remarkable architectural heritage.

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Day 3: Discover İstanbul's Bazaars, Boat Ride on Bosphorus Strait

View the European and Asian sides of the city today with a boat trip along the Bosphorus

Today's four-hour tour will start at the colorful Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest—and oldest—markets. Stroll through the mazes of shops selling rugs, lanterns, jewelry, and more. Haggle with merchants or sit for a Turkish tea at one of the many cafés inside. Next, your guide will take you to Eminönü, another bustling market on the harbor where it's believed Byzantium was born. Nowadays, it's known for its Spice Bazaar. Taste some spices for yourself, and treat your senses to the incredible colors and fragrances on show. You can also take some spices or dried fruit and nuts home as a souvenir. 

Finally, you'll rest your legs on a private boat ride along the Bosphorus Strait, admiring the shores of both the Asian and European sides of the city. Get a different perspective on popular landmarks, like the Ortaköy Mosque and Golden Mosque, and take in the city's distinctive skyline—showcasing a juxtaposition of ancient minarets and modern skyscrapers.

Day 4: İstanbul Archaeological Museum Tour, Transfer to Çanakkale

The İstanbul Archeological Museum hosts the incredible history of Turkey

This morning, you'll tour the oldest museum in Turkey, the İstanbul Archaeological Museum. This immersive complex consists of several different buildings/museums, each reflecting the country's diverse history and cultural heritage: the Archeological Museum (the main building), the Museum of the Ancient Orient, and the Tiled Kiosk. With 2.5 hours to explore the museum, take your time browsing the exhibits and getting a primer on Turkey's ancient history and archaeological wonders—it will come in handy later in the trip!

When you're finished at the museum, your Greco-Roman road trip begins. Your guide will drive you about four hours south, from İstanbul to Çanakkale, which kicks off your scenic route along the Aegean Sea. This city is home to many archaeological sites, including the legendary ruins of Troy. But tonight, you'll be taken to your hotel to rest before seeing it all tomorrow. 

Day 5: Transfer to Behramkale, Explore the Ancient Cities of Troy & Assos 

Ruins of the ancient city of Troy, the setting of Homer's epics and countless Greek myths

If you appreciate Greek history and mythology, then today may be the highlight of your trip. Your driver will take you thirty minutes to Troy, where you'll explore the setting of Homer's epics and the legendary stories of the Trojan War. You'll have the opportunity to visit the Troy Museum, which exhibits more than 2,000 artifacts from the site.

Next, you'll transfer to Assos (modern-day Behramkale), founded in the sixth century BCE. Here is where Aristotle lived for some of his life and where he opened his philosophy academy. While here, you'll also be able to climb to the Temple of Athena, the first and only Doric temple ("Doric" is one of the three orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture) built in Anatolia.

You can also visit the ancient theater of the Roman period, the Agora, the Necropolis, and the city walls. After your guided visit, you'll have time to discover the town—make sure to take some time to slow down and drink some Turkish coffee, enjoying views over the Aegean Sea. If it's a clear day, you'll be able to spot the Greek island of Lesbos in the distance. Then, you'll call it a night at your hotel in Behramkale. 

Day 6: Transfer to Şirince via Ancient Pergamon, Afternoon Wine Tasting

Discover Pergamon and the Ancient Healing Center Asclepion
Explore the ruins of Pergamon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where ancient healing customs took place

This morning, your driver will take you three hours south to Bergama, home to the ancient site of Pergamon. Walk among the ruins of this Greco-Roman city, marveling at monuments like the Altar of Zeus or the ruined library that's said to have rivaled the Library of Alexandria. The main attraction is the Acropolis, the most intact structure here, helping you truly appreciate the architectural achievements of this once-great metropolis. The city was also famous for its extensive hospital and sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, and you'll learn about the ancient healing traditions from your guide.

Afterward, get back on the road and continue another two hours south to Şirince, where you'll stay for the night. When you arrive, you'll visit a beautiful vineyard called Yedi Bilgeler and enjoy tasting wines made from ancient Anatolia's local grapes. While here, you'll get a chance to have lunch or dine, taste multiple wines, and have a self-guided tour of the vineyard.

Finally, return to the colorful village of Şirince for a stroll around its numerous artisanal shops, local vendors, and rare Ottoman-Christian architecture. Enjoy the feel of a traditional Aegean village, which dates back to the Hellenistic period (323–331 BCE). A longer walk will take you to the remains of several Roman aqueducts, as the village was an important water source for nearby Ephesus, which you'll visit tomorrow.

Day 7: Discover the Ancient City of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Celsus Library in Ephesus is well preserved, but more excavations are to come

Step back in time today with a deep dive into the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus—located just 20 minutes outside Şirince. The ruins of this city are beautifully preserved and are a testament to the Hellenistic, Roman, and early Christian periods. Watch where you step, though; this ancient site still undergoes annual excavations, uncovering new sections and amazing artifacts yearly.

Once a beacon of philosophy, architecture, and art, Ephesus hosts the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the Celsus Library, which was the epicenter of philosophical and intellectual life at one time. You'll explore other highlights like the House of the Virgin Mary and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum on today's six-hour guided tour, learning about significant figures of the Christian faith and delving into the museum collection that spans more than 8,000 years. When you're finished, you'll head back to your hotel in Şirince to call it a night. 

Day 8: Free Morning in Şirince, Fly to İstanbul, Depart

A view of the village of Şirince, where you can shop at the bazaar and taste Turkish coffee

There's lots to see in the tiny village of Şirince, which makes it the perfect place to spend your last day in Turkey. Start at the Şirince Bazaar, whose busy stalls overflow with colorful local produce. Make sure to sample some fruit from one of the sellers, who'll typically let you try anything before you buy. Then, explore the rest of this bazaar, which sells everything from trinkets to jewelry, soaps, dried fruit, handmade clothing, and more. If you need to grab any last-minute souvenirs, now's your chance!

While here, enjoy some more Turkish coffee if you haven't already. Traditionally brewed in a small pot called a cezve or ibrik, this method involves placing finely ground coffee and water in the pot, then nestling it in sand and heating it over an open flame. The depth of the pot in the sand determines the heat level, allowing for precise control over the brewing process. This slow, even heating produces a strong, thick, and exceptionally flavorful coffee that's a must-try. 

Grab lunch before saying your goodbyes and joining your driver for the one-hour drive to İzmir Airport, where you'll catch a flight back to İstanbul for your onward connection. Safe travels!

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Map of From Istanbul to the Aegean: Discover Turkey's Greco-Roman Sites & Splendors - 8 Days
Map of From Istanbul to the Aegean: Discover Turkey's Greco-Roman Sites & Splendors - 8 Days