I am an avid traveler. While I am on vacation somewhere, I start thinking about what else to see and where else to go next. One thing I like to do is to plan a trip myself. Maybe, for me, it is the best thing to do. In the past, I traveled to many countries and I arranged most of our own trips and trips with my friends – contacted hotels, purchased in-country flights, train tickets, signed up for tours, etc. I watched my friends enjoy the benefits of being taking care of. And I enjoyed their happy smiles. I watched groups of travelers’ smiles while visiting the Efendi Travel’s office, where I was learning the ropes of being a travel agent. When the travelers are happy, the agents are happy.
So, I decided to combine what I like the most: planning trips for people who would like to visit wonderful, unique, incredible Turkey. During my three months in Istanbul, I also had a chance to travel around Turkey taking many sightseeing tours, visiting hotels, and restaurants. These excursions helped me define some great itineraries for people who are interested in traveling to Turkey.
In this post, I am providing a 16-day itinerary that combines land and sea excursions encompassing a great many sites including Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, and a Blue Voyage from Fethiye to Olympos.
Of course, you can add Bodrum (splendid town with crystal clear blue waters and a great marina), Black Sea (with its dark-green foliage, mountains and Sumela Monastery), and magnificent South-East Turkey (with its Gobekli Tepe, Harran beehive houses, Zeugma mosaics in Gaziantep, and Nemrut Mountain with its giant stone statues) to this package or replace it with one on the package.
Contact me if you are interested in taking this tour by yourself or with a group of friends.
Between June 15 and August 15, I can join your group tour to make your tour even better.
16 DAYS IN TURKEY: TOP LAND AND SEA SITES COMBINED IN ONE SPECTACULAR TRIP
DAY 1: Arrival at Istanbul: At your arrival, you will be greeted by a courteous member of our staff who will load your luggage into our van and take you directly to your hotel. Accommodation in Istanbul.
DAY 2: Istanbul Old City Tour (all day): Pick up time is about 08.30 from the hotel. You will visit Topkapi Palace, the palace of the Ottoman Sultans for hundreds of years (Harem section is extra), Basilica Cistern, which is a breathtaking underground water cistern from Byzantine times, and Roman Hippodrome where the chariot races are held. You will see the Serpent Column and the Obelisk from Egypt brought in by Theodosius the Great in 390 AD. After lunch you will see: Hagia Sophia with its massive dome (first as a church from 537 to 1453, then a mosque until 1931, now a museum) Blue Mosque (so beautiful with its tiles), Million stone (marked the mile zero in Byzantine empire to measure distances from), and Cemberlitas ((Burnt Column) erected in 330 AD to celebrate the designation of Constantinople as the new capital of the Roman Empire). The tour ends at Grand Bazaar about16:30 to give you time to explore Grand Bazaar on your own. It is one of the oldest covered markets in the world with more than 3000 shops. You can come back and visit the Grand Bazaar on the other days you are free. Accommodation in Istanbul.
DAY 3: (morning) Eminonu and Bosphorus Tour: We will pick you up from your hotel. You will first visit Rustem Pasa Mosque, unique with its Ottoman tiles and then we walk through the Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Market) built in 1664 and filled with the fragrance of the exotic East such as spices, dried fruits, and Turkish delights. The Bosphorus cruise by a TurYol boat takes about 1.5 hour and you will see the most impressive sights along the shores of the Bosphorus including Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Maiden´s Tower, Bosphorus bridges, Rumeli and Anadolu fortresses and Ottoman Residences. Drop off at your hotel after the tour.
DAY 4: (morning): Suleymaniye Mosque, Golden Horn, and Chora Church
We will pick you up at about 08:30 am for the tour. The first stop is Suleymaniye Mosque, constructed by Architect Sinan by the order of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. This is the largest mosque complex of the city used as the Imperial Mosque and offers a gorgeous view over the Golden Horn. After the mosque, we will stop by Pierre Loti Hill named after the French Poet who gave the spot his name. There you will find beautiful scenery of the city and can rest at a peaceful location with a cup of Turkish tea. The next visit is to one of the oldest and most important churches in the city – The Chora Church – representing fascinating wall paintings which tell the life of Christ in an historical order. It is celebrated for its well-preserved mosaics. Driving along the city walls, the tour will end about 12.00 noon with drop off to the hotels.
Transfer to the airport for an evening flight to Kayseri. You will be met at the airport and transfer to your hotel. Accommodation in Cappadocia.
DAY 5: Northern Cappadocia Tour: The tour starts about 09.30 from your hotel in the morning, you´ll drive to Devrent Valley where the geographical formations remind a place of another planet. The rock formations are incredible. Then in Pasabagi, you´ll take a stroll between the amazing fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. From there, we drive to Avanos to have lunch. After lunch, we visit Goreme Open Air Museum with its carved churches, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Then we will drive to Uchisar Castle, the highest point of the region, where you will have a fabulous panoramic view over Cappadocia. Then return to the hotel about 17.30. (lunch is included). Accommodation in Cappadocia.
DAY 6: Choose one of the following tours:
Southern Cappadocia Tour: Depart from your hotel at 09.30 am for a tour on a 4km hike through the Rose Valley visiting the churches. Afterwards visit the old Christian village of Cavusin. Stop for lunch in Pigeons Valley and then continue on to see the marvel of construction that is the Kaymakli Underground City. You will also visit the Ortahisar Natural Rock Castle. (lunch is included).
Ihlara Valley Tour with more comfortable walking: Start the tour with a spectacular view over Göreme from Esentepe. You will see the complete view of Göreme valley and Göreme village: fairy chimneys, rock formations and cave houses. Continue driving to Derinkuyu Underground City, one of the best preserved and deepest Underground Cities in Cappadocia. Derinkuyu is excavated to a depth of approximately 85 m. It contains all the usual rooms found in an underground city (stables, cellars, storage rooms, refectories, churches, wineries etc.), a large room on the second floor was a missionary school with study rooms. Proceed to Ihlara Valley. This gorge is 16 km long and both sides are lined with rock-carved churches. There are more than a hundred little churches and houses. You will walk about 4 km along the river in the valley exploring the hidden churches. There is a beautiful café by the river where you can rest and have some food and drinks. At the end of your walk, we will have lunch at Belisirma Village by the river. On the way back, visit Selime Monastery, carved out of the rock by Christian monks in the 13th century. The size of the church makes a visit here astonishing. Stop briefly at Yaprakhisar Panorama point for another view of this great Monastery (this is also the spot where famous movie “Star wars” was shot). (lunch is included).
Accommodation in Cappadocia.
EPHESUS AND PAMUKKALE
DAY 7: Flight to Izmir and transfer to Kusadasi and Free Afternoon: You will be picked up from your hotel in the morning and transfer to airport to take 09:10 flight to Izmir. You will be met at the airport and transfer to your hotel in Kusadasi. Free afternoon in this nice resort town. Accommodation in Kusadasi.
DAY 8: Ephesus Tour: Pick up from the hotel about 09.00 am for the daily tour of the ancient city of Ephesus. You will be picked up from your Hotel then driven to Selçuk Town for a full day tour of Ephesus & The House of theVirgin Mary. First you will visit the Temple of Artemis, which once was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Then you will visit the world famous ancient Greco-Roman City of Ephesus, the most well preserved example in the world. After visiting this impressive site, you will have a lunch break. After lunch, you will visit The House of the Virgin Mary, where it is believed she spent her last days. This is a holy place for both Christians and Muslims. Lunch is included. Accommodation in Kusadasi.
DAY 9: Pamukkale Travertine and Hieropolis Ancient City: Pick up at 08:00 from hotel then drive to Pamukkale town, In Pamukkale, you will see the Cotton Cliffs, one of the natural wonders of the world, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site, formed by deposits of calcium laden waters. Optional swimming at the Cleopatra Thermal pool(extra). Also visit the ancient ruins of the City of Hierapolis with its basilica, giant amphitheater and Roman Baths. (lunch is included). Accommodation in Pamukkale.
DAY 10: Bus ride to Fethiye: Transfer to Pamukkale/Denizli Bus Station to take 4-5 hours bus to Fethiye. Free afternoon to explore this ancient city of Telmessos, 5th century BC. You can visit the Fethiye Museum with artifacts starting with Lycians and/or the Lycian Tomb of Amyntas, 350 BC, a massive tomb with beautiful carvings. Accommodation in Fethiye.
BLUE VOYAGE 3 NIGHTS/4 DAYS
This is on a crewed cabin-charter sailboat (single, double or triple accommodation), with captain and crew, for a specific period of time (usually a few days to one week). There are 7-8 cabins on each gulet. The route of the cruise is fixed, as are the ports of embarkation and disembarkation. The charter fee does include the cost of food, its preparation and service. On board you will enjoy the delicious meals prepared with care by our cook, who will serve you typical local Turkish dishes which are as much a feast to look upon as they are to taste. Cabin cruises are designed for people who wish to make their holiday a totally new experience alongside new friends. Such cruises are often multi-national affairs, which make them especially interesting.
Cruising between Fethiye and Olympos is a great route for travelers who want to sail the Turkish Mediterranean Coast, but not want to spend as much as one week on the boat.
DAY 11: Departure from Fethiye Harbor at noon to Samanlik Bay for swimming and lunch or Butterfly Valley (sea conditions permitting) where we will have time to swim and visit this natural reserve, hosting 136 kinds of different butterflies and moths. Oludeniz (The Blue Lagoon) is our next stop, again sea conditions permitting! There is paragliding optionally available. Lunch is served and the last stop of the day is St.Nicholas Island where you can visit Byzantine ruins and swim. You will spend our third night at this beautiful spot. You also can visit Kayakoy (or Levissi as it used to be known) a deserted village of beautiful stone houses, featured in the Louis de Bernier book, Birds Without Wings. This village was abandoned just after the Turkish Independence War after World War I, when Greece and Turkey exchanged populations.
DAY 12 : Around sunrise, we depart to Aquarium or Firnaz Bay near Kalkan for breakfast & swimming. We cruise to Kas (ancient Antiphellos) where we stop in the harbour for lunch and visit this charming fishing village. There are Lycian rock tombs, sarcophagi and a Roman theatre. Later, we will sail to a bay near Kekova we stop for swimming, dinner & the 2nd night.
DAY 13: After breakfast, we will sail over turquoise waters to the picturesque Kekova Island and visit Pirates Cave (sea conditions permitting), and the Sunken City of Kekova (this Lycian-Roman archaeological site is protected, so only looking!). We will stop over Simena, a traditional Turkish fishing village with no car access and visit a Byzantine/Ottoman castle. In Gokkaya Bay optional water sports are available. Have dinner, relax in this pirates haven or party the night away at the Smugglers Inn.
DAY 14: After breakfast we have time to look at the Pirates Cave (sea conditions permitting) before cruising to Andriace harbour (lunch). After lunch, you will be transferred by bus to the archaeological site of Myra where you visit the best examples of Lycian tombs, and the Church of St.Nicholas. St. Nicholas (yes, Santa Claus!) was the bishop of Myra. The defender of children, guardian of sailors and protector of travelers, he was said to have lived here. Seeping with lemon and orange aromas, Demre, was chosen by St. Nicholas as his home and his final resting place.
After arrival at Olympos around 4 pm, bus transfer to Antalya to your hotel from Olympos. Accommodation in Antalya.
DAY 15: Antalya Tour: You will be picked up from your hotel at 08:30 am for the full day Perge, Aspendos, Side Tour. We will visit Perge and its Ancient City, stadium, Roman Gate, Nymphaeum, Roman Bath, Hellenistic Gate, Colonnaded Main Street and the Agora. According to the geographer Strabon, Perge has been founded by Akhas who came down here after the Trojan wars. Perge was first mentioned in 334 BC when Alexander the Great passed through here. In the following years, Perge went under the control of Pergamon when the Kingdom of Pergamon became a part of the Roman city. Especially in the first and the second centuries BC, Perge became one of the richest towns in Pamphylia. Therefore it is not surprising that St. Paul started his campaign in Anatolia from Perge in 46 AD. After the tour, departure for Aspendos. Lunch break on the Kporupazari stream near the Aspendos Theater. We will visit Aspendos Theater and Historical Aqueducts. The eastern land of Antalya was called Pamphylia in ancient times. Aspendos (Belkis) lies 47 km east of Antalya in the Pamphylian plain. In 486 BC, Greeks and Persians had a great battle. During the reign of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-80 AD) Aspendos got its theatre, which is the best preserved of all. It was built by Romans and maintained by Byzantines and Seljuks. After the tour your guide will give an introduction of the ancient city of Side and you will have one hour to explore the magnificent ruins. (lunch is included). Accommodation in Antalya.
DAY 16: Flight to Istanbul: Take an early flight to Istanbul. Your tour ends here. At the airport, you can connect to your flight home. Or, add more days to your itinerary in Istanbul.
Please contact if you would like to take this tour or any other tour tailored to your preferences and your travel length limitations.
3 Nights in Cappadocia in MDC Cave Hotel
2 nights in Kusadasi at Ilayda Avant-Garde Hotel
1 night in Pamukkale at Ayapam Hotel
1 night in Fethiye at Villa Daffodil
3 nights/4 days Blue Voyage – all breakfast, lunch, dinner included
Guided tours in small groups (maximum 14 people in groups)
1 full-day tour in Istanbul
2 half-day tours in Istanbul
2 full-day tours in Cappadocia
1 full-day tour in Ephesus
1 full-day tour in Pamukkale
1 full-day tour in Antalya
Breakfasts in all hotels
Lunches in full day tours (mentioned in the itinerary)
Land transportation by A/C vehicle or buses as mentioned in the itinerary
All airport transfers mentioned in the itinerary
All Domestic flight tickets
Professional licensed guiding services
Entrance fees to the museums during guided tours
Lunches not mentioned in the tours
Dinners (except during Blue Voyage)
Beverages and alcoholic drinks
Bon Voyage! Iyi Yolculuklar!
Don’t forget to buy your authentic Sultanite when you are in Istanbul.