Experience gems along the old Silk Road on this exciting 12-day tour of Turkey. Starting in Istanbul, you'll step inside iconic mosques and take a boat ride on the Bosphorus Strait. Next is Cappadocia, where you can join a sunrise hot-air balloon ride above the jaw-dropping landscapes and see a whirling dervish performance. The journey continues to the mineral-rich hot springs of Pamukkale and the ruins of Ephesus before heading to a scenic winery to celebrate the end of your Turkish adventure.


  • Let a local guide show you Istanbul's famous mosques and exotic bazaars
  • See how residents lived during a tour of one of Cappadocia's 36 underground cities
  • Soak in the mineral-rich thermal waters of Pamukkale and stay in a spa hotel
  • Wander through the ancient ruins of Ephesus and go wine-tasting in Sirince

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Hiking Tour of the Walled City İstanbul
Day 2 Tour of İstanbul with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Topkapı Palace İstanbul
Day 3 Visit the Grand Bazaar & Spice Bazaar, Boat Ride on the Bosphorus Strait İstanbul
Day 4 Free Time in İstanbul, Fly to Kayseri, Transfer to Cappadocia Cappadocia
Day 5 Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum, Ceramics Tour & Nature Walk Cappadocia
Day 6 Visit Kaymaklı Underground City & Uçhisar, Whirling Dervish Ceremony  Cappadocia
Day 7 Transfer to Konya via Aksaray, Visit the Melvana Museum Konya
Day 8 Transfer to Pamukkale via Beyşehir Pamukkale
Day 9 Visit Pamukkale's Hot Springs & the Ruins of Hierapolis Pamukkale
Day 10 Transfer to Şirince, Explore the Quaint Aegean Village Şirince
Day 11 Day Trip to the Ancient City of Ephesus Şirince
Day 12 Wine Tasting at Yedi Bedgiler Vineyards, Depart Şirince  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Hiking Tour of the Walled City

Work off your jet lag with an urban hike that starts in Edirnekapi

Welcome to İstanbul, situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia! Upon arrival, you'll be picked up at the airport and taken to your hotel to settle in before exploring the Old City via an urban hike. This six-hour tour begins in Edirnekapi, the name of a quarter within the Walled City. This special quarter is within the remnants of Constantinian Walls, built by Constantinople to defend the city in one of the most impressive fortifications in modern history. 

While navigating the area, your guide will take you to a few worthy stops, like the Kariye Mosque, Fethiye Mosque, Kanlı Church, Bulgarian Church, the Greek High School, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. You'll also visit the neighborhoods of Fener—home to the cast iron Saint Stefan Bulgarian Orthodox Church and trendy bistros and art galleries—and Balat, centers of Greek, Jewish, and Armenian life. Here, you'll find a melting pot of old synagogues and Byzantine churches next to cool cafés and chic restaurants where you can stop for a meal or drink.

Day 2: Tour of İstanbul with the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Topkapı Palace

Take in the impressive views of the Blue Mosque with your local guide

After a relaxing breakfast, your guide will take you on a six-hour tour, exploring the streets 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, more than a millennium ago. You'll also stop at the Blue Mosque, an incredible structure built in the 17th century, earning its name from the dazzling blue tiles that furnish its interior. 

Next, you'll visit the Hagia Sophia. This icon 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. You'll take a tour of the site, and while you listen to its history, be sure to appreciate the mosaics lining the walls and the grandeur of the building.

Last, your guide will lead you to Topkapı Palace, the royal palace of the Ottomans. The exhibition halls offer a proper glimpse into the Sultans' lives while showcasing the Empire's remarkable architectural heritage.

Day 3: Visit the Grand Bazaar & Spice Bazaar, Boat Ride on the Bosphorus Strait

Pick up some tasty snacks and souvenirs on today's tour

Today's five-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 Turkish 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, or admire the aromas and colors that are such a treat for the senses. You can also pick up some spices or dried fruit and nuts for snacks or souvenirs. Afterward, you'll take a short walk to the Rüstem Paşa Mosque. Though it's a smaller mosque compared to what you saw yesterday, the tiling here shouldn't be missed. 

Finally, you'll rest your legs on an amazing private boat ride around the Bosphorus Strait, providing you with the best views of İstanbul. Due to the nature of the geography, you may be surprised to know that you'll sail from Europe to Asia and back on this particular journey. This means you'll be on two continents in one day!

Day 4: Free Time in İstanbul, Fly to Kayseri, Transfer to Cappadocia

Sip strong Turkish coffee on a rooftop with a view of the Hagia Sophia

Today, you'll get some free time to explore İstanbul. Whether enjoying a cup of Turkish coffee outside a café like a true İstanbul local or admiring the contemporary artworks through the windows of the many art galleries and museums, you'll have some time to stroll wherever your feet take you. You can also visit one of the bazaars for souvenir shopping or have lunch in a restaurant to try some Turkish flavors. 

At the appointed time, you'll transfer to the airport for a one-hour flight to Kayseri. From there, another guide will meet you and take you another hour to your hotel in Cappadocia, the ancient heart of Turkey that lies in the Central Anatolia region, offering incredible landscapes and an intro to the country's ancient history.

Day 5: Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum, Ceramics Tour & Nature Walk 

Take a hot-air balloon ride or just enjoy the pinch-me-now views from terra firma

One of the most sought-after experiences in Turkey is a hot-air balloon ride over the valleys in Cappadocia. If you'd like to do this experience this morning, your driver will pick you up before sunrise to take you to the valleys in Göreme, where you'll have a small breakfast before heading to the balloon-inflating site. When your balloon is ready, you'll hop in and rise just as the sun is coming up, seeing the colors change on the volcanic valleys. Your pilot will point out the valley names around you; otherwise, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Next is a 2.5-hour exploration of the Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This site was believed to be a Byzantine monastic settlement home to monks and includes some of the world's most ornate rock-cut churches and frescoes, which your guide will teach you about. There are various churches and chapels to see here, but the most prominent is the Dark Church, which dates back to the mid-11th century and is known for its beautiful frescoes and high-vaulted ceilings.

Afterward, you'll head to Avanos for a three-hour tour. This city is famous for its ceramic production, relying on the red clay from the Kızılırmak River to support this art. While here, you'll have the opportunity to see a pottery demonstration. When that's over, you'll take a 2.5-mile (4 km) nature walk in the Love Valley within Göreme Historical National Park, a perfect way to get closer to the incredible rock formations that you saw earlier in the day. 

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Day 6: Visit Kaymaklı Underground City & Uçhisar, Whirling Dervish Ceremony 

Experience a dervish whirling ceremony at the Saruhan Caravanserai

Today, you'll experience more of Cappadocia's history, starting at the Kaymaklı Underground City. Built by the early Christians in 3000 BCE to protect themselves from the religious persecution of Roman soldiers, this site is an elaborate maze of tunnels and caves deliberately carved out of volcanic tuff rocks. While underground, you'll notice rooms and halls connected by narrow corridors, along with wine and water cellars, kitchen and food stores, ventilation shafts, and water wells.

Next, you'll visit the beautiful town of Uçhisar, known for its natural fortress used for housing and defense. From here, you'll be able to discover the panoramic views from Avcılar Valley, Çavuşin, and Paşabağ Valley (the Valley of Monks), where you can see the fairy chimney rock formations and cave dwellings.

Finally, you'll end the day at the Saruhan Caravanserai. A caravanserai was a roadside inn for travelers on the Silk Road, and this particular one dates back to 1249. Built with traces of Seljuk architecture that was common at that time, admire the impressive facades and high ceilings before the main attraction, a dervish whirling ceremony. The dervish are Sufis Muslims whose ritual consists in part of a highly stylized whirling dance. This physically active meditative performance dates back to the 13th century and is truly a captivating experience. 

Day 7: Transfer to Konya via Aksaray, Visit the Melvana Museum

Gaze at the remarkable burial site of Rumi at the Mevlâna Museum in Konya

Today, your guide will pick you up and drive you three hours from Cappadocia to Konya, a city south of Ankara and a pilgrimage site for the Sufis. On the way, you'll stop at Aksaray to visit the Sultanhan Caravanserai, one of the largest and best-preserved Seljuk caravanserai in Turkey, built in 1229, as Aksaray was an important stopover crossing Anatolia. After suffering partial destruction in a fire, the building was restored and extended in 1278 under the reign of Sultan Kaykhusraw III. 

Next, you'll continue on the Konya. Here, you'll visit the Mevlâna Museum, home to the Celaleddin Rumi tomb, an important mystic and founder of the Mevlevi order (whirling dervishes, whom you saw dance the previous day). His "Masnavi" (anecdotes and poetic stories inspired by the Quran) was composed in Konya and is considered one of the greatest poems of the Persian language. After a day of touring, you'll check in to your hotel in Konya for the night.

Day 8: Transfer to Pamukkale via Beyşehir

Admire the Eflatun Pinar Monument, a monument in Lake Beyşehir National Park

Today, your driver will take you five hours from Konya to Pamukkale. An hour into your drive, you'll make an exciting stop in Beyşehir to visit the Eflatun Pınar Monument and the Eşrefoğlu Mosque. Located within Lake Beyşehir National Park, the former is a curious stone-built Hittite monument built around a spring. This true hidden gem dates back to the 13th century BCE and still has a bit of mystery surrounding its origins.

Next, you'll visit Eşrefoğlu, a unique wooden mosque from the 13th century with magnificent examples of Anatolian Islamic motifs. When you're finished exploring, your driver will take you the rest of the way to Pamukkale, where you'll check into your hotel for a night's evening and a few days of relaxation. 

Day 9: Visit Pamukkale's Hot Springs & the Ruins of Hierapolis

Soak in the mineral-rich waters at Pamukkale while enjoying the views

You'll wake up this morning in Pamukkale, famous for its baby-blue, mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces. Pamukkale means "cotton castle" in Turkish, and its unreal landscape comprises mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and a series of terraced basins. You'll get to soak in the hot springs while you're here and take in the incredible views. 

Nearby is ancient Hierapolis, a Roman spa city founded around 190 BCE. Its name means "sacred city," and the ancient people who inhabited it believed it was founded by Apollo and named for Pluto. You'll also explore the ruins in Pamukkale, which include an incredibly well-preserved theater and a necropolis. It also hosts a remarkable site—the Antique Pool—full of submerged Roman columns due to an earthquake.

After exploring, you'll return to your spa hotel, where you can enjoy all the facilities, from the pools and sauna to the Turkish baths, massages, and hot spring baths. 

Day 10: Transfer to Şirince, Explore the Quaint Aegean Village

Spend the day strolling around the seaside village of Şirince

Today, your driver will take you 3.5 hours farther west toward the Aegean coast, where you'll visit the village of Şirince. Known for olive oil and wine, and there's plenty to do on your visit here. Begin your visit with 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.

You can also head to 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 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 while you're staying here. 

Day 11: Day Trip to the Ancient City of Ephesus

Explore the ancient ruins of Ephesus, including the Celsus Library

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 12: Wine Tasting at Yedi Bedgiler Vineyards, Depart Şirince

Wine Tasting at Yedi Bilgeler Vineyard
Toast to your adventure in Turkey at the Yedi Bilgeler Vineyard
On your last day in Turkey, you'll experience one of Şirince's claims to fame, the Yedi Bilgeler Vineyards. Here, you'll enjoy tasting wines from ancient Anatolia's local grapes. You'll also get a chance to have lunch or dine, taste multiple wines, and have a self-guided tour of the vineyard. After the visit, it's time to transfer to the airport for your departure flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Journey Through Turkey's Old Silk Road - 12 Days
Map of Journey Through Turkey's Old Silk Road - 12 Days