- Tour Istanbul's Blue Mosque & the iconic Hagia Sophia
- Experience the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia
- See the pastel rock pools of Pamukkale
- Wander the ancient theater & necropolis of Hierapolis
- Explore the breathtaking Greek & Roman ruins of Ephesus
|Day 1||Welcome to Istanbul!||Istanbul|
|Day 2||Istanbul Full-Day City Tour||Istanbul|
|Day 3||Fly to Cappadocia, Afternoon Cappadocia Valley Tour||Cappadocia|
|Day 4||Fly to Izmir, Transfer to Kusadasi, Pamukkale & Hierapolis Tour||Kusadasi|
|Day 5||Tour the Ancient City of Ephesus, Fly to Istanbul & Departure|
Day 1: Welcome to Istanbul!
Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of Istanbul! Upon 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 2: Istanbul Full-Day City Tour
Today you'll discover some of Istanbul's most iconic sights with a full-day city tour. Start at the architectural wonder of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century CE under the rule of Emperor Justinian. Continue to the vast Topkapi Palace, once home to the Ottoman sultans and now Turkey's largest museum. Then it's on to the Grand Bazaar to delight your senses with the colorful sights, smells, and tastes of the city's bustling marketplace.
After lunch, you'll pay a visit to the magnificent 17th-century Blue Mosque, famous for its stunning interior lined with intricate azure tiles. End the day with a leisurely boat ride down the Bosphorus, which takes you down the scenic strait separating European and Asian Turkey. See Istanbul from all sides as you discover why this city, which occupies both worlds of the east and west, has held such a prominent place in history.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 3: Fly to Cappadocia, Afternoon Cappadocia Valley Tour
Today you'll trade the bustling capital of Istanbul for one of Turkey's most beautiful destinations: Cappadocia. After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport to catch an early flight, arriving at Kayseri Erkilet Airport and transferring to your hotel to settle in.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cappadocia's surreal, lunar terrain is comprised of hoodoos, also known as "fairy chimneys." These conical, mushroom, and pinnacle-shaped formations pepper the surrounding valleys, standing tall and strange against the bright Turkish sky. In the afternoon, you'll be picked up for an afternoon tour of some of the region's most breathtaking sights, starting with the Devrent and Paşabağ Valleys, where you can see the famous fairy chimneys, cave dwellings, and rare and wondrous rock formations.
Explore the cobblestoned streets of the town of Avanos, which is known for its production of earthenware pottery, then continue to the Göreme Open-Air Museum to discover the ruins of monasteries, churches, and houses carved into the rock. After a stop at the beautiful town of Uçhisar and its ancient, carved defensive fortress, you'll return to your hotel and spend the rest of the evening at your leisure—making sure to catch one of the region's spectacular sunsets.
Day 4: Fly to Izmir, Transfer to Kusadasi, Pamukkale & Hierapolis Tour
Head to the airport this morning to catch a quick flight west to the ancient city of Izmir on Turkey's Aegean coast. Here your driver will be waiting to transfer you south to your hotel in the resort town of Kusadasi.
After some time to get settled in, you'll start the drive to the incredible town of Pamukkale, famous for its baby-blue, mineral-rich thermal waters that flow down white travertine terraces. Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish, inspired by its unreal landscape of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and a series of terraced basins.
Nearby you'll find ancient Hierapolis, a Roman spa city founded around 190 BCE. Its name means "sacred city" and the ancients believed it was founded by Apollo and named for the god of the underworld, Pluto. You'll also explore the ruins in Pamukkale, which include an incredibly well-preserved theater and a necropolis. Don't miss the incredible Antique Pool which remains filled with submerged Roman columns after an earthquake.
Day 5: Tour the Ancient City of Ephesus, Fly to Istanbul & Departure
Today you'll discover some of the finest ancient ruins in Turkey with a fascinating tour of Ephesus. 3,000 years ago, this thriving city was home to over 200,000 people and served as the capital of Roman Asia. Today, you'll find incredibly-preserved marble ruins and an exceptional example of the cultural traditions of the Hellenistic, Roman, and early Christian periods. Take your time as you wander the site and explore breathtaking highlights like the Great Theater, the impressive Celsus Library, and the ruins of the Temple of Artemis.
Then it's time to meet your driver for the transfer back to the airport in Izmir where you'll say your goodbyes and catch a flight back to Istanbul and your onward connection. Safe travels!
More Turkey Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Turkey? Check out these other Turkey itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.
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