On this exciting—yet rejuvenating—tour of Turkey, you'll get to know many regions of the country in just 12 days. From the bustling streets of Istanbul to the ancient sites at Ephesus, Troy, and Aspendos, you'll explore cities old and new during in-depth tours. When you're not busy sightseeing, you'll relax in a hammam, soak in the thermal baths at Pamukkale, hike in a national park, and stroll through quaint Aegean villages.


  • Tour the sites of Istanbul, from bustling bazaars to magnificent mosques
  • Indulge in spa experiences at a hammam and the Pamukkale thermal springs
  • Explore incredible ancient cities and ruins, like Troy and Aspendos
  • Relax with wine and coffee in Aegean villages like Sirince and Adatepe
  • Admire the breathtaking views from Mount Güllük National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Spa Day at Hürrem Sultan Hammam İstanbul
Day 2 İstanbul Sightseeing: Visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia & Topkapı Palace İstanbul
Day 3 Explore İstanbul's Bazaars, Boat Ride on the Bosphorus Strait İstanbul
Day 4 İstanbul Archaeological Museum Tour, Transfer to Çanakkale Çanakkale
Day 5 Explore the Ancient Cities of Troy & Assos, Transfer to Adatepe Adatepe
Day 6 Transfer to Bergama, Discover Pergamon & Asclepion Bergama
Day 7 Transfer to the Aegean Village of Şirince, Wine Tasting at a Local Vineyard Şirince
Day 8 Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus Şirince
Day 9 Transfer to Pamukkale, Visit Roman Ruins & Hot Springs Pamukkale
Day 10 Transfer to Antalya, Tour of the Old Town of Kaleiçi Antalya
Day 11 Tour the Ancient Cities of Aspendos & Perge Antalya
Day 12 Visit Termessos & Mount Güllük National Park, Fly to İstanbul, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Spa Day at Hürrem Sultan Hammam

Relax in a centuries-old Turkish hammam with a soak or a scrub

Welcome to İstanbul! A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel downtown. Once you arrive, you'll have time to settle in before being taken to a special introduction to Turkey at a hammam (Turkish bath). After all, what's a better way to relax after a long flight than in an ancient spa experience? It all starts at the Hürrem Sultan Hammam.

A hammam is traditionally a public bathhouse and steam chamber with historical significance in the Islamic world. This specific hammam you'll be visiting today dates back to the 16th century and was built on the same site as the ancient public baths of Zeuxippus, which date back to 100-200 CE. At the hammam, you'll have the opportunity to soak in the baths and opt for other spa activities like massages and body scrubs. You'll spend up to two hours here before having the rest of the day to yourself, but you'll likely call it an early night as there's a long day of sightseeing tomorrow.

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

Get to know the famous sites of İstanbul, like the impressive Hagia Sophia

This morning, your guide will take you on a six-hour tour, introducing 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 dazzling 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.

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

Get lost in the maze of vendors at İstanbul's Grand Bazaar

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

Learn about Turkey's archaeological history at the İstanbul Archaeological Museum

Today kicks off with a visit to the oldest museum in Turkey, the İstanbul Archaeological Museum. This immersive complex consists of several buildings/museums, each reflecting the country's diverse history and cultural heritage: the Archaeological 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 directly to your hotel in Çanakkale once you arrive in the city. 

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

Get lost exploring the ruins of the ancient city of Troy, where many of Homer's epics took place

Today, you'll check out of your hotel, and your driver will take you thirty minutes from Çanakkale 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. If it's a clear day, you'll be able to spot the Greek island of Lesbos in the distance. Then, you'll be taken to the nearby village of Adatepe, where you'll settle into your accommodation and have some time to grab dinner, go for a coffee, and stroll around this charming town before calling it a night. 

Day 6: Transfer to Bergama, Discover Pergamon & Asclepion

Wander the Greco-Roman ruins of Pergamon, once a superpower of the region

Transfer two hours south to Bergama today, 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. After a long day exploring the ruins, you'll be taken to your hotel in Bergama for the evening. 

Day 7: Transfer to the Aegean Village of Şirince, Wine Tasting at a Local Vineyard

Sirince Village
Go for a stroll in the quaint village of Şirince

Today, you'll visit the colorful village of Şirince for a leisurely walk 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).

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, and browse 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! 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'll end the day with a visit to 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.

Day 8: Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ephesus

Marvel at the well-preserved Celsus Library in Ephesus

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, learn about significant figures of the Christian faith, and delve 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 have dinner before resting your head. 

Day 9: Transfer to Pamukkale, Visit Roman Ruins & Hot Springs

Soak in the mineral-rich thermal waters of Pamukkale while taking in the surrounding views

Today, your driver will take you 3.5 hours inland to Pamukkale, famous for its baby-blue, mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces. Pamukkale means "Cotton Castle" in Turkish and is a remarkable landscape comprising 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 Phrygian city thought to have been established as early as 190 BCE. Late rebuilt by the Romans as a thriving spa city, today you'll find a well-preserved theater, a necropolis, and the remarkable Antique Pool, whose clear waters are scattered with submerged Roman columns due to a seventh-century earthquake. After exploring, check into your spa hotel, where you can enjoy all the facilities, from the pools and sauna to the Turkish baths, massages, and hot springs. 

Day 10: Transfer to Antalya, Tour of the Old Town of Kaleiçi

Wander through the charming streets and ancient structures of Antalya's Old Town, Kaleiçi

This morning, your driver will take you 3.5 hours to Antalya, a resort city with plenty of history on the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean coast. When you arrive, your guide will lead you on a tour of Kaleiçi, the historic center of Antalya, to learn about the city's archaeological heritage.

Here, you'll get to experience the Roman, Seljuk, and Ottoman heritage of the city by visiting Hadrian's Gate, the heart of Antalya, dating back to 130 CE, and one of the best-preserved structures of its kind. You'll also stop at Yivli Minaret (also known as the Alaaddin Mosque) and Kesik Minaret, originally built as a Roman temple. These ancient buildings are a beautiful contrast to the trendy, charming streets they sit on. 

After a nice stroll around Kaleiçi, you'll have the opportunity to visit the Antalya Archaeological Museum, which will set the timeline of Antalya through the remains and heritage of this beautiful city. Then, you'll head to your hotel in Antalya to check in for the evening, after which you can explore the city yourself.

Day 11: Tour the Ancient Cities of Aspendos & Perge

Look up in awe in one of the most intact Roman theaters of its kind in Aspendos

About 45 minutes from Antalya, you'll begin a 4.5-hour tour of the Greco-Roman city of Aspendos, well-known for its beautiful Roman theater. Like other sites you've seen on this trip, the theater is noted as one of the most well-preserved antique theatres in the world, dating back to around 170 CE, with many original features remaining intact. It can hold up to 10,000 people, the audience size at the International Opera and Ballet Festival that the theater has hosted since 1994. 

After strolling around Aspendos, you'll be driven around 30 minutes to Perge Ancient City, one of Antalya's most important Greco-Roman history highlights. Being an archaeological site and a tourist attraction, Perge has an alluring appearance of the mosaics unearthed so far in excavations. For example, in 2003, archaeologists discovered well-preserved Greek mosaics showcasing Oceanus and Medusa. 

Afterward, you'll visit the city's ancient marketplace, the Nymphaeum, and explore the Roman baths, which played an important role in the city's daily rituals. After spending a good amount of time in the ancient site, you'll return to your hotel in Antalya.

Day 12: Visit Termessos & Mount Güllük National Park, Fly to İstanbul, Depart

Don't miss the rock tombs while you explore the ancient city of Termessos

It's your last day in Turkey, and you'll spend it in the beautiful Taurus mountains. To start, your driver will take 30 minutes to Termessos for a four-hour tour of this ancient Pisidian city (the name of the ancient region). If the city sounds familiar, it was mentioned in Homer's "Iliad." Be sure to wear some hiking gear, as Termessos is steep and rugged, which led to it being one of the few cities that Alexander the Great couldn't conquer in Asia Minor. When you're here, you'll see the extremely well-preserved sites, like the amphitheater and rock tombs, while catching some incredible views of the surrounding landscape below.

After Termesso's ancient city visit, you'll have a guided tour to Mount Güllük-Termessos National Park, where you'll explore the park and additional ruins. Look out for wildlife like wild goats and the imperial eagle. After your visit, you'll return to your accommodation to gather your luggage and be transferred to the airport for your connection back to İstanbul and your flight home. Safe travels

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Map of Tranquil Turkey: Ancient Ruins, Modern Cities & Relaxing Spas - 12 Days
Map of Tranquil Turkey: Ancient Ruins, Modern Cities & Relaxing Spas - 12 Days