Discover the culture and cuisine of three distinct Turkish regions with this 11-day food-focused tour. It starts in Istanbul, hopping between the city's European and Asian sides as you sample street food and dine at world-renowned restaurants. Fly deep into Central Anatolia to learn to cook local dishes amid the windswept valleys and fantastical rock formations of Cappadocia, then it's off to the Aegean coast for ancient ruins, bustling fish markets, natural hot springs, and mountain villages.


  • Dine at world-renowned restaurants in Istanbul, like Tugra and Sofyali 9
  • Embark on a street food tour of the Eminonu and Kadikoy districts
  • Learn how to make local dishes in a Cappadocian village
  • Visit the ruins of Ephesus and Kaymakli Underground City
  • Soak in the terraced hot springs of Pamukkale

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra Restaurant İstanbul
Day 2 Cruise Along the Bosphorus, Evening Cultural Performance  İstanbul
Day 3 Guided Tour of Sultanahmet & Grand Bazaar, Feast on Kebabs İstanbul
Day 4 Street Food Tour of Eminönü & Kadıköy İstanbul
Day 5 Fly to Cappadocia, Lunch & Cooking Class, Whirling Dervish Show Cappadocia
Day 6 Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Tour the Region, Dinner at Seki Restaurant Cappadocia
Day 7 Kaymaklı Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Dinner at Lil'a Restaurant Cappadocia
Day 8 Fly to İzmir, Lunch at Can Carpet, Ephesus City Tour Şirince
Day 9 Visit Pamukkale, Choose Your Dinner at Kuşadası Fish Market Şirince
Day 10 Fly to İstanbul, Hammam Experience, Dinner at Sofyalı 9 İstanbul
Day 11 Depart İstanbul  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra Restaurant

Admire the Bosphorus Strait at night from Tuğra

Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul! Steeped in history and culture, İstanbul is known as "the bridge between Europe and Asia" and is the only city in the world that straddles two continents. Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel, where you can settle in and relax before getting ready for dinner at Çırağan Palace Kempinski. This historic Ottoman palace houses one of İstanbul's most famous restaurants, Tuğra Restaurant and Lounge (Tuğra meaning "Signature of the Sultan").

Enjoy incredible views over the Bosphorus Strait from the opulent dining room adorned with intricate Ottoman-era decor. Choose from an array of dishes crafted from centuries-old recipes with a modern twist, from delectable appetizers or mezes to succulent kebabs. No meal is complete without dessert; try a homemade baklava or a warm halva paired with Turkish coffee. Continue the night with drinks along the glittering strait, or head back to the hotel to rest for tomorrow's tour of the city.

Day 2: Cruise Along the Bosphorus, Evening Cultural Performance

Cruise along the Bosphorus Strait to view the European and Asian sides of the city

Today you'll get a closer look at the city by water as you hop on a boat cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. Sit back, relax, and admire popular landmarks on both the European and Asian sides of the city, like the Golden Horn and Ortaköy Mosque. Don't miss the Galata Tower, built by the Genovese as an observation tower; it's now a museum that makes up the iconic silhouette of the city. Enjoy afternoon drinks and nibbles aboard the private, luxury yacht as you sail.

Back on dry land, you'll sit down for a quick lunch at an esnaf lokantası, a type of local restaurant with a variety of premade meals to choose from, such as hünkarbeğendi, roasted meat served on mashed eggplant. Save your appetite because, in the evening, you get to enjoy more authentic Turkish cuisine, including an array of mezes, at an exclusive nightclub. Following your meal, immerse yourself in Turkish culture by listening to a folk performance and watching belly dancers perform.

Day 3: Guided Tour of Sultanahmet & Grand Bazaar, Feast on Kebabs

Eat delicious kebabs at Samatya Develi

Dive deeper into the city's landmarks today with a guided walking tour through the historic district of Sultanahmet, home to many important buildings and sites from the Byzantine era. A highlight will be a visit to one of the city's most famous sites, the Blue Mosque. Enter this historic landmark from the 17th century to see the interior lined with the intricate blue tiles that lent the mosque its name. Head outside to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, now known as Sultanahmet Square, and admire the square's fountain with the mosque as a backdrop and check out the towering Egyptian Obelisk of Theodosius.

Take a break for lunch at Suleymaniye Kurufasulyecisi to try fasulye, a classic Turkish dish of white beans cooked in tomato sauce with rice. You'll then spend some time exploring other UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area, such as the Hagia Sophia Mosque or Topkapı Palace, before heading to the Grand Bazaar in the afternoon. Stay close to your guide as you stroll through 61 winding streets and alleys covered by over 4,000 stalls. End the day with a Turkish staple, kebabs, at Samatya Develi, which has been serving this beloved local dish since 1966.

Day 4: Street Food Tour of Eminönü & Kadıköy

Surround yourself with fragrant spices at the Spice Bazaar

Save your appetite because today you're heading out on a street food tour across the city. Start with the European side at the commercial waterfront area of Eminönü. As you weave through the colorful back streets, learn about and try different traditional dishes and ingredients, like local cheeses, pickles, puddings, and Turkish delight. Surround yourself with mouthwatering aromas at the Spice Bazaar, with over 85 shops selling local snacks, spices, and sweets for you to try. Grab a dürüm, a delectable wrap filled with tender meat, to keep you going.

In the afternoon, take a short ferry ride across the strait to the Asian side of the city, Kadıköy. Walk along the narrow, pedestrian-only streets, entering local shops and restaurants. Explore one of the many markets in the area; from fresh fruit to seafood to spices, they sell it all. This is the best neighborhood to try the favorite local dish of midye dolma, stuffed mussels with rice, and kokoreç, lamb intestines seasoned with traditional spices wrapped in bread. End the street food tour with a restorative glass of Turkish tea called çay in one of the traditional tea gardens overlooking the Sea of Marmara.

Day 5: Fly to Cappadocia, Lunch & Cooking Class, Whirling Dervish Show

You'll be welcomed to Cappadocia with a spiritual whirling dervish performance
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Say goodbye to İstanbul for now as you catch an hour's flight into the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia in central Turkey. Upon arrival, your driver will be waiting outside Kayseri Erkilet Airport to transfer to your hotel. Take some time to refresh after your flight, then head to a village house to learn about the secrets of baking bread and cooking local dishes in a stone oven from the owner of the house. Sit down with your hosts afterward to enjoy the food you made in the garden.

In the evening, your driver will take you to the nearby town of Avanos to watch a whirling dervish ritual dance, called a sema, performed by members of the Sufi Muslim sect. You'll watch this meditative and entrancing performance amid the atmospheric and beautifully preserved halls of the historic Sarihan Caravansarai—a grand roadside inn dating from the 13th century. 

Day 6: Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Tour the Region, Dinner at Seki Restaurant

Conquer your fear of heights with a hot air balloon ride
Experience the valleys of Cappadocia from the basket of a hot-air balloon

Head out before dawn for a memorable experience—a sunrise hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia. Watch as the crew inflates the massive balloons, then hop into the basket. Hold on tight as you ascend into the air, looking out over the valleys as the sun paints the sky with hues of pink and orange. When you land, continue to explore the area by visiting the Göreme Open-Air Museum, with its dozens of painted cave churches. After admiring these rock-cut structures, head to the Devrent and Paşabağı valleys to see the famous "fairy chimneys," towering erosion-shaped structures only found in this region.

The adventure continues after an authentic Cappadocian lunch as you visit Uçhisar Castle, built in the fourth century. Climb to the top for a panoramic view of the entire valley. Head back to Avanos to watch a pottery demonstration, as the nearby Kızılırmak River gives residents plenty of red clay to work with. End this action-packed day with dinner at Seki, a restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients paired with contemporary cooking techniques to produce unique flavors. Try dishes like firik, a rich pilaf dish with fresh garden herbs, and a traditional candied quince for dessert, all paired with delicious Turkish wines.

Day 7: Kaymaklı Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Dinner at Lil'a Restaurant

Dine on farm-to-table Turkish fare tonight that highlights Cappadocia's local produce

Today you explore the underground world of Cappadocia as you visit the Kaymaklı Underground City, one of 36 in the region. Once used to house over 3,500 people fleeing religious persecution in the seventh and eighth centuries, today the ancient city descends eight floors. You'll be able to view the first four on today's excursion, stopping at old living quarters along the way so you can imagine how residents used to live. Once you're back above ground, continue to the Ihlara Valley, one of the largest valleys in the world, for a picnic lunch with regional delicacies and local wine.

After refueling, trek through the valley, surrounded by sheer canyon walls that create a shaded oasis, and admire the rock-cut churches and dwellings from the Byzantine era dotting the landscape. End the day in the Museum Hotel at Lil'a Restaurant, which pairs traditional recipes with the almost-forgotten tastes of Anatolia and Cappadocia. Chef Saygın Sesli's philosophy is "from farm to table," so you'll enjoy the freshest ingredients in dishes like tandoor ribs or partridge manti, large ravioli-like dumplings filled with slow-cooked partridge meat.

Day 8: Fly to İzmir, Lunch at Can Carpet, Ephesus City Tour

Walk down the column-lined streets of Ephesus

Leave Cappadocia's lunar landscapes behind today as you fly 1.5 hours west to the Aegean coast and İzmir, the third most populated city in Turkey. Upon arrival, you'll meet your driver and head to the nearby village of Çamlık for a stop at Can Carpets, a small atelier that still uses a traditional dye extraction method from plants to create their textiles. After sharing a traditional lunch with the employees, learn about the dying process, and observe the women making traditional one-of-a-kind carpets (you can purchase your own as a one-of-a-kind memento of your trip).

Then it's on to one of Turkey's greatest ancient treasures as you continue south to the ruins of Ephesus. This incredibly well-preserved city was established by the Greeks in the 11th century BCE before it fell under Roman rule in 129 BCE, and you'll see the influences of both empires as you explore the remnants of buildings like the Celsius Library, the Great Theater, and the Trajan Fountain. Visit the House of the Virgin Mary next, believed to be the final residence of the Virgin Mary and Saint John.

Finally, continue to the quaint village of Şirince, where you'll get settled in at your accommodation and then sit down to a memorable dinner at Nisanyan House, one of the finest hotels in Turkey. Dine on Aegean dishes like ciğ balık (fish carpaccio with fresh ginger) and karides güveç (garlic shrimp roasted in a clay pot).

Day 9: Visit Pamukkale, Choose Your Dinner at Kuşadası Fish Market

Pamukkale Water Terraces
Soak in the soothing hot springs of Pamukkale, southwestern Turkey's "Cotton Castle"

Meet your driver this morning for a day trip three hours east to the town of Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey. This Turkish gem, often referred to as the "Cotton Castle," is renowned for natural hot springs, where terraced travertine pools cascade down a mountainside. Formed over millenia, these mineral-rich pools aren't just visually stunning, they're also renowned for the therapeutic properties of their warm, soothing waters—so make sure you pack your swimsuits.

After spending some time relaxing in the hot springs, you'll visit the nearby ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis. Wander through the well-preserved archaeological site and discover the Roman baths, the theater, and the Temple of Apollo. On the road back to Şirince, you'll stop for dinner in the beach resort of Kuşadası—where you'll choose your own fresh seafood from the Kuşadası Fish Market and then have your picks cooked and served at a local restaurant with an array of salads and mezes.

Day 10: Fly to İstanbul, Hammam Experience, Dinner at Sofyalı 9

Spend your last full day in Turkey at a hammam

Bid farewell to Şirince this morning as you fly back to İstanbul. After transferring to your hotel and dropping your bags, you'll have some free time to explore the city on your own. Visit some of the landmarks you didn't get to see earlier in your trip, such as the Chora Church, a Greek-Orthodox church built in the fourth century and famous for its mosaics and frescoes. When you've had your fill of sightseeing, head to Hurrem Sultan Bath, a traditional Turkish spa known as a hammam, to relax and rest your tired feet.

Start your relaxing afternoon with a steam bath to open your pores and cleanse your skin in preparation for an exfoliating body scrub. After rinsing off, lay down for a full-body massage with essential oils to ease any tension you may be feeling. End the night with dinner at Sofyalı 9, a traditional meyhane (Turkish tavern), where you can sample Anatolian classics like lamb stew with tomato sauce and fried liver paired rakı, Turkey's most famous alcoholic drink.

Day 11: Depart İstanbul

Revisit the Grand Bazaar for last-minute souvenirs and sweet treats
Your 11-day adventure through Turkey draws to a close today. If you have a later flight, you can continue to explore İstanbul on your own or revisit the Grand Bazaar to pick up some last-minute souvenirs. Keep an eye on the clock, though, as a driver will be picking you up at your hotel to transfer you to the airport. Have a safe flight home! 

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Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour - 11 Days
Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour - 11 Days