Turkish cuisine is a delicious melting pot of flavors, spices, and influences from Asia, Europe, and beyond. Enjoy the very best dishes and desserts the nation has to offer with this eight-day culinary tour that focuses on Istanbul and Cappadocia. You'll visit leading restaurants and street food areas (tasting everything from traditional meze and baklava to spicy stews, seafood, and steaks) while witnessing some of Turkey's most famous landmarks and natural wonders along the way.


  • Immerse yourself in the rich depths of Turkish cuisine and culture
  • Sample Istanbul's best street food and treats like baklava, lokum, and meze
  • Soar above the whimsical rock formations of Cappadocia by hot-air balloon
  • Learn to cook traditional Anatolian dishes in a local home

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra İstanbul
Day 2 Explore İstanbul's Old Town, Visit the Grand Bazaar, Dinner at Mikla İstanbul
Day 3 Street Food Walk Across İstanbul İstanbul
Day 4 Fly to Cappadocia, Cooking Class & Whirling Dervish Show Cappadocia
Day 5 Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Ceramic Class in Avanos, Dinner at Seki Cappadocia
Day 6 Explore Kaymaklı Underground City & the Ihlara Valley Cappadocia
Day 7 Fly to İstanbul, Free Time to Explore, Dinner at Sofyalı 9 İstanbul
Day 8 Depart İstanbul  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra

Welcome to Istanbul
Welcome to İstanbul, where your culinary tour begins

Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul! Meet your driver outside İstanbul International Airport and head to your centrally-located hotel. 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. Once you settle in and relax a little, get 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: Explore İstanbul's Old Town, Visit the Grand Bazaar, Dinner at Mikla

Treat your senses to a stroll through the Grand Bazaar and its fragrant snacks and spices

Spend the first full day of your Turkish adventure roaming İstanbul's scenic Old Town district, where all of the most beautiful and oldest buildings can be found, like the famed Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern. Make sure to pay a visit to the 17th-century Blue Mosque, too, along with the legendary Hagia Sophia, one of the grandest and largest religious buildings on earth. Having done a lot of walking by that point, you can then take a load off at a popular local esnaf lokantası (tradesman restaurant) to enjoy traditional Turkish dishes at affordable prices.

In the afternoon, take a guided tour of İstanbul's legendary Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets. You can easily spend several hours here, with more than 4,000 stores and stalls spread out around the more than 60 streets that make up the market. Listen to the hum of the crowd and smell the spices in the air to work up your appetite before continuing onward to your dinner destination: Mikla. Boasting a single Michelin star, this restaurant uses both old and new cooking techniques to create world-class dishes like grilled sea bass and braised lamb.

Day 3: Street Food Walk Across İstanbul

Let the smell of spices and roasted treats fill the air as you roam the markets

More İstanbul flavors await on day three of your tour. Today, you'll be exploring both the European and Asian sides of the city, sampling some of the delicious and diverse street foods that each half has to offer. Begin in Eminönü, enjoying cheeses, olives, sweet baklava, lokum (Turkish delight), and other authentic Turkish bites, learning all about the origins of each treat from your expert guide.

Later on, you'll enjoy a scenic ferry ride across the Bosphorus—the stretch of water separating İstanbul's Asian and European sides. Upon arrival in the Asian half of the city, delve into the Kadıköy district with your guide once more leading the way, taking you to various stores, cafés, restaurants, and bakeries for a series of mouthwatering samples, like the bagel-style simit, balık-ekmek (fish sandwiches), and lahmacun (Turkish pizza). You'll finish up with a glass of çay (Turkish tea) in a beautiful tea garden, gazing out across the Sea of Marmara.

Plan your trip to Turkey
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 4: Fly to Cappadocia, Cooking Class & Whirling Dervish Show

Aromatic spices play a large part in Turkish cooking

Say goodbye to İstanbul for now as you transfer back to the airport and catch an 80-minute flight to Kayseri, located in the Central Anatolia region. Upon arrival, a quick private transfer will take you into the heart of the famed valley of Cappadocia. This semi-arid region of central Turkey is famed for its distinctive, otherworldly landscapes, with cone-shaped rocks affectionately known as "fairy chimneys" dotted across the landscape. Hot-air balloons often fill the sky here, giving tourists a bird's-eye view of the breathtaking lands below.

Your culinary education continues this afternoon in a local village home, where you can learn Turkish bread-baking secrets and traditional recipes from the homeowner before sitting down for a nourishing lunch. Then, in the evening, take in the majesty and wonder of a whirling dervish ritual dance, an integral part of Sufi Islamic culture which began in the 13th century and involves a mixture of prayers, music, and dancing. The dance will be held in nearby Avanos at the Sarihan Caravansarai, a traditional roadside inn dating back to the 13th century.

Day 5: Hot-Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Ceramic Class in Avanos, Dinner at Seki

Conquer your fear of heights with a hot air balloon ride
Enjoy a one-of-a-kind hot-air balloon ride above Cappadocia

Day five is your chance to truly experience Cappadocia in all its splendor, starting off with an early-morning hot-air balloon ride. From the sky, you'll enjoy sweeping views over the valleys and all of their distinctive natural formations. Then, with your feet back on solid ground, you can head to the Göreme Open-Air Museum. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is made up of a complex of ancient rock-cut churches and intricate frescoes.

In the afternoon, explore the other iconic sights of the area, like Devrent Valley, with its curious rock formations; Paşabağ Valley, where some of Cappadocia's largest fairy chimneys are found; and Uçhisar Castle, a natural rock formation that was used in ancient times as a fortified citadel. With so many scenic stops today, make sure to bring your camera to capture a few of your favorite panoramic views along the way.

Continue on to Avanos this afternoon and dive into the town's ceramic-making traditions with live demonstrations and hands-on activities. Finish up with another top-class meal at Seki, a restaurant that only uses the freshest local ingredients to craft simple but delectable meals, like duck confit with spicy apricot sauce or lamb cutlets with grape molasses.

Day 6: Explore Kaymaklı Underground City & the Ihlara Valley

Marvel at the human-made caves and rock-cut churches of the Ilhara Valley

Today, you can enjoy more thrilling explorations of Cappadocia's most famous landmarks, beginning with a subterranean trip to Kaymaklı, where early Christians once hid from Roman soldiers. It's essentially an entire underground city, with tunnels, houses, and even a church spread out across multiple floors.

Back above ground, delve into the picturesque Ihlara Valley, a huge canyon filled with dozens of rock-cut churches and buildings—yet another example of how, in ancient times, humans lived so harmoniously with nature in this part of the world. Explore the valley and find a peaceful spot to sit and enjoy a tasty picnic of regional snacks and fine wines before continuing your hike.

Day 7: Fly to İstanbul, Free Time to Explore, Dinner at Sofyalı 9

Enjoy some typical Turkish meze to finish off your culinary tour

It's time to head back to İstanbul. After your short flight, you'll get settled into your hotel and have the remainder of the day free to spend however you like. Revisit your favorite landmarks, delve deeper into the city's historic center, explore some of the more modern neighborhoods, or snap up some souvenirs from the markets and stores.

To slip into a state of total relaxation, visit the Hurrem Sultan Bath for an authentic Turkish hammam experience, including a steam bath, full-body scrub, and massage. Then, end the day with yet another memorable meal in a beautiful 19th-century building at Sofyalı 9. Enjoy Greek and Turkish-style meze washed down with Turkey's favorite liquor: rakı.

Day 8: Depart İstanbul

Grab a final cup of çay and a simit for the road before heading to the airport

Your culinary exploration of Turkey comes to an end this morning as you catch a private transfer to the airport for your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour: İstanbul & Cappadocia - 8 Days
Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour: İstanbul & Cappadocia - 8 Days