Experience Turkey from east to west on this adventurous 10-day itinerary. Starting among the lunar landscapes of Cappadocia, you'll hike through rugged valleys and see the famous "fairy chimneys" by hot air balloon. Then it's on to the glittering Mediterranean coast to explore sandy beaches, ancient ruins, and coastal waterfalls. Your trip ends where Europe meets Asia in the vibrant capital of Istanbul, touring highlights like Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar.

Highlights

  • Hike & hot air balloon through the valleys of Cappadocia
  • Sail past the Düden Waterfall in Antalya
  • Relax on the Mediterranean beaches of Kaş
  • Wander the colorful stalls of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Kayseri, Transfer to Cappadocia Cappadocia
Day 2 Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour, Pottery Making & Love Valley Hike Cappadocia
Day 3 Discover the Ihlara Valley & Hike Along the Melendiz River Cappadocia
Day 4 Fly to Antalya, Boat Trip to Düden Waterfall Antalya
Day 5 Self-Drive to Kaş via Chimera & Myra Kaş
Days 6-7 Free Days in Kaş Kaş
Day 8 Fly to Istanbul Istanbul
Day 9 Explore Istanbul's Old Town Istanbul
Day 10 Istanbul Walking Tour or Bosphorous Cruise, Transfer to Airport & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kayseri, Transfer to Cappadocia

Cappadocia
Cappadocia's famous "fairy chimneys"

Welcome to Turkey! Upon arrival, you'll be met by your guide at Kayseri Airport and transferred to your hotel in Cappadocia. Here you can get settled in and rest up for a busy day of exploring tomorrow.

Day 2: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Tour, Pottery Making & Love Valley Hike

Hot air balloons over the valley at sunrise
Early risers can opt for an unforgettable sunrise hot air balloon ride this morning, soaring over Cappadocia's spectacular "fairy chimneys" or hoodoos, the fantastical geological formations that pepper the area's natural landscapes.
 
After breakfast, you'll continue to a local pottery atelier, where you'll watch a live demonstration and try your hand at this ancient art. Supplied by the red clay of the Kızılırmak River, pottery making has been a tradition in the region since the Hittite civilization of 2000 to 1500 BCE. 
 

In the afternoon, a short and easy hike takes you into the Love Valley, where you can enjoy walking amongst one of the most beautiful areas in all of Cappadocia.

Day 3: Discover the Ihlara Valley & Hike Along the Melendiz River

Ihlara Valley
Hike through the lush canyons of the Ihlara Valley
After a free morning to enjoy the sights of Cappadocia at your own pace, join your guide for a journey west into the spectacular canyons of the Ihlara Valley. An easy afternoon hike takes you through mostly flat terrain along the Melendiz River, passing several historic churches cut into the rocky cliffs. If you're feeling adventurous, the two-hour hike can be extended to reach Selime Monastery, Cappadocia's largest religious structure.

Day 4: Fly to Antalya, Boat Trip to Düden Waterfall

Antalya's colorful harbor

Today you'll bid Cappadocia farewell and fly southwest to the coastal resort of Antalya. Located in southern Turkey, the town lures people in with its Mediterranean beaches, a cliffside waterfall that falls straight into the sea, and its ancient hilltop castle. Upon arrival at Antalya Airport, pick up your rental car and proceed to your hotel to settle in. If you feel like stretching your legs, take a stroll along the harborfront, then wander the winding streets of Kaleiçi, Antalya's historic old quarter, where you can stop at charming cafes and browse for souvenirs among its many shops. 

In the afternoon, you'll be picked up for a scenic boat trip along the coast, setting sail from the Old Harbor in Kaleiçi for breathtaking views of the Düden Waterfall.

Day 5: Self-Drive to Kaş via Chimera & Myra

The eternal flames of Chimera

Rise early this morning to set out on an unforgettable drive along the ancient Lycian Way. Following the coastal road west from Antalya, you'll pass through a spectacular landscape of sea, forest, and mountains. En route, you can stop to see the eternal flames of Chimera, or Yanartas, widely believed to be the origin of the myth of the Chimera monster. Fueled by methane and other gases released from the earth below, these incredible flaming rocks have burned for millennia.

Next, you'll pass Myra, one of the most important cities of the historic “Lycian League.” Here, you'll encounter typical Lycian rock tombs for the first time.  As their name suggests, these tombs are carved right into the towering mountains. Many are intricate and ornate, others are simple openings in the rock, but collectively they form a marvelous archaeological site. 

In the late afternoon, you'll reach Kaş. This scenic village has been spared thus far from mass tourism, keeping intact its spirit of laid-back charm. After checking into your hotel, take an evening promenade through the streets. Visit the 4th-century Lion Tomb, catch a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean, or stop by the ancient Hellenic theater.

Days 6-7: Free Days in Kaş

Street in Kas
Stroll through the characterful streets of Kaş
The next two days are yours to enjoy the charm of Kaş at your leisure. Spend time on the beautiful local beaches, stroll the quaint streets, join a sea kayaking excursion to the calm waters of Kekova, or take an unforgettable hike to the necropolis of Phellos for sweeping views across the Mediterranean and the Greek island of Meis.

Day 8: Fly to Istanbul

Fly to the vibrant capital of Istanbul

This morning you'll make your way to Antalya Airport to drop off your rental car and catch a quick flight to IstanbulUpon arrival at the Istanbul International Airport, you'll be met by your driver and transferred to your hotel. 

The rest of the day is free for you to get settled in and do some exploring at your own pace. A perfect way to recover from your flight is to head to one of the city's famous hammams, or Turkish baths. Here you can detox, get a scrub, and sip tea amongst beautiful surroundings. The 16th-century Çemberlitaş is one of the most famous hammams, known for its design by Sinan the Architect, the man responsible for some of Istanbul's most recognizable buildings.

For dinner, expand your palate with local Turkish delicacies such as pide (flatbread), kofte (meatballs), and raki, an anise-flavored apéritif that is the national drink of Turkey.

Day 9: Explore Istanbul's Old Town

See the Byzantine grandeur of Hagia Sophia
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then meet your host for an adventurous day exploring the streets of Istanbul. Today's focus will be the Old Town district, which is home to nearly all of the most important buildings and sites, including the Byzantine-era Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern.

One of the city's most famous sites is the Blue Mosque, which was built in the 17th century and gets its name from the stunning azure tiles that line its interior. You can easily combine your visit with the Hippodrome, which sits on the west side of the mosque. Another landmark is, of course, the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the largest structure in the world during the time of its building in 537 CE. It's difficult to fully understand the massiveness of the building until you step inside and marvel at its interior.

In the afternoon, you'll proceed to the Grand Bazaar, which is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. You'll have your pick of 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops, as you wander the colorful and chaotic stalls.

Day 10: Istanbul Walking Tour or Bosphorous Cruise, Transfer to Airport & Departure

The Old Trams of Istanbul
The colorful old trams of Istanbul

Depending on your departure time, you can explore more of the city this morning with a choice of two excursions. Meet your guide for a walking tour into the beating heart of Istanbul, starting in the Pera/Beyoglu district and ending in the harborside neighborhood of Eminönü. Or, see the city from a different perspective with a private boat trip along the Bosphorous Strait. As you cruise along the shores of both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, you can truly appreciate the sheer size of the city and understand why it has played such an important geographic role for centuries.

When the time comes, your driver will be waiting to transfer you to the airport, where you'll say your goodbyes to Turkey and catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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