22 days

The Best of Turkey

The Best of Turkey

Ephesus - the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar - a labyrinth of 4500 stalls

Mount Nemrut's colossal statues of the temple and tomb of King Antiochus

Amasya's ancient tombs and Ottoman architecture

The First World War history of Gallipoli

The mystic Sufi order known as the 'Whirling Dervishes'

Underground city of Derinkuyu

UNESCO World Heritage-listed archaeological site of Troy

UNESCO World Heritage-listed pools and terraces of Pamukkale

The surreal rock formations and valleys of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cappadocia

Trip rating
  • Turkish Delight was invented over 230 years ago by confectioner, Bekir Effendi, at his shop in the Bahcekapi district of Istanbul. Its popularity quickly spread and Bekir was appointed chief confectioner for the Ottoman Court and awarded a medal of honor by the Sultan. You can still visit the original shop, run by Bekir’s descendants which is the oldest company in Turkey to operate from its original location.


    Please note this trip will run on alternative itinerary until 31 May 2015. Please see Important Notes for full details.





    Day 1 - Arrive Istanbul

    If arriving at Istanbul Atakurk airport (IST) you will be met and transferred to your starting hotel. If arriving at Sabiha Gokcen Airport (SAW) airport please make your own way to the hotel (unless you have booked a transfer). After checking in at the hotel, please look out for the Peregrine notice board in the hotel lobby, which has a list of suggestions for things to see and do in your free time. As today is an arrival day, there is no formal sightseeing planned. Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world, with a history spanning thousands of years. It has been through several incarnations, firstly as Byzantium, then Constantinople and finally Istanbul. The city today is bustling and its streets are crowded with locals busily going about their daily lives. If you arrive early enough, you can wander and absorb the vibrancy of this exciting city that links Europe and Asia. We highly recommend that during this free time today, you visit the Aya Sofya, one of Istanbul's most impressive sites. In the evening there will be a Welcome Meeting (please check notice board for exact time) held in the hotel, where you will meet your tour leader and fellow travel companions.

    Hotel Golden Horn or similar

    Day 2 - Istanbul

    This morning we see some of Istanbul's most important sites. We start with a visit to the Topkapi Palace, which was the home of Ottoman sultans for four centuries. The palace is built in Islamic style and consists of a series of chambers, pavilions and kiosks surround garden courtyards. We then visit the Blue Mosque, built by the Sultan Ahmet I in the 17th century to outshine the Aya Sofya. We also visit the Basilica Cistern, built in the 6th century by Emperor Justinian. This floodlit cistern is the largest and most impressive of the ancient cisterns that lay beneath the city of Istanbul. We then have the remainder of the day at leisure that enables us to explore the famous covered Grand Bazaar or Spice Market, armed with advice from our tour leader as to how to get the best bargains and become more savvy in the art of haggling! There is everything from clothing to jewellery, sweets to spices on offer in the bustling marketplaces.

    Hotel Golden Horn or similar

    Day 3 - Istanbul - Amasra

    After breakfast we drive to Amasra, arguably one of the prettiest of the coastal towns on the Black Sea with a fortified promontory that sits high overlooking the old harbours and a sandy beach. We explore the highlights of Kale (citadel) including the old bedesten (covered bazaar - still in operation) and Byzantine church, which became a mosque known as Kilise Camii during the Ottoman period. After our sightseeing tour of the town, we adjourn to sit in one of the tea gardens or bars at the base of the castle walls and watch the sunset - a relaxing way to finish the day. (Driving time: 7 hours)

    B.LIMAN Hotel or similar

    Day 4 - Amasra - Safranbolu - Kastamonu

    Today we visit Safranbolu, a world heritage site known for its traditional buildings. The town is like a living museum with a strong Ottoman heritage; alive with well preserved timber Ottoman houses and traditional artisans. This visit is a great opportunity to really get a sense of local Turkish life. We walk through the town's quaint cobblestone streets and laneways and discover a culture reminiscent of yesteryear to see traditional trades and crafts still being practised. This afternoon we continue to the town of Kastamonu, our base for the evening.

    Ergun Hotel or similar

    Day 5 - Kastamonu - Amasya

    Today we journey to the town of Amasya, one of Turkey's most charming towns. It is set back in the mountains behind the Black Sea Coast, in a narrow valley on the banks of the Yeþilýrmak River, The half-timber Ottoman period houses that line the north bank of the river are some of Amasya's most endearing features. These side-by-side terraced houses were built in the 19th century and have all the features of traditional Ottoman houses. Amasya was the provincial capital of a once-great Pontic kingdom with the tombs of Pontus kings carved into the cliffs. This place is also famous for producing many types of fruit including apples, cherries and peaches. We venture out and explore the city including the 13th-century Seljuk Burmali Mosque, the fountain, Seljuk tombs (mausoleum) and the bedesten. Tonight we stay in Amasya. (Driving time: 4 hours)

    Aydınlı or similar

    Day 6 - Amasya - Sivas

    Our destination Sivas is the most mountainous city of the central Anatolian region and sits at an altitude of 1275 metres. Once an important commercial centre due to its location at the crossroads of the Persia and Baghdad caravan routes, the city later became an important centre for learning and culture during the rule of the Seljuks. In the afternoon, we visit some of the most famous monuments and sites of Sivas. The Çifte Minare Medressa with its twin minarets and grand gateway was built in 1271 and was formerly a law faculty. The Ulu Cami or Great Mosque, built in 1197 by the Seldjoukids Sultan Kýlýçaslan II, is the oldest building in the city. The Gok Medressa (theological school) and the Buruciye Medressa, both built in 1271, display the best examples of Seljuk art work. The city of Sivas is also famous for its nomadic Kangal dogs, a unique sheep dog which has become the national dog of Turkey and a designated 'national treasure'. (Driving time: 4 hours)

    Köşk or similar

    Day 7 - Sivas - Darende

    Today we travel to Darende, en route we take a walk to the waterfalls of Gunpinar, a picturesque and tranquil place. A pleasant riverside eatery is a good spot to sample some local fish. After lunch we enjoy a leisurely walk in the surrounds before we head into the town centre of Darende. Here we enjoy an orientation walk of the town and can see its 300 year old covered bazaar; there's also the possibility to sample the Turkish dried apricot (famous in the area) in one of the local shops. Tonight we can settle in for a relaxing night in Darende. (Driving time: 3.5 hours)

    Tiryandafil or similar

    Day 8 - Darende - Kahta

    After breakfast we drive to Kahta, the base for our visit to Mount Nemrut National Park - one of the most impressive in Turkey. The peak of Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Daði) reaches 2150 metres and is the site of a collection of colossal statues adorning the temple and tomb of King Antiochus. The 10-metre high stone heads were first discovered in 1881 during engineering work and in 1953 archaeological work began to uncover the history of the site, which also includes relics from the Commagene civilisation. We sit and watch the sunset over the site - the perfect time to capture great photos of the stones in their best possible light. After our visit, we drive back to the town of Kahta for the night. (Driving time: 4 hours)

    Zeus Hotel or similar

    Day 9 - Kahta - Sanliurfa (Urfa)

    Today we visit the neolithic site Göbekli Tepe, set high on a mountain ridge and considered the oldest man made religious structure in the world. We then drive to Urfa, the City of Prophets, where we visit the ancient bazaar built in the mid 16th-century. The most interesting part of the bazaar is the old bedesten, where silk products have been sold for hundreds of years. We explore the ruined Crusader castle of Urfa (known as Urfa Kalesi), which sits high above the city and from where we enjoy magnificent views. Tonight we stay in Urfa. (Driving time: 3 hours)

    Hotel Harran or similar

    Day 10 - Sanliurfa - Gaziantep

    Today we travel to the town of Gaziantep, known as Aintab during Ottoman rule. The city, Turkey's sixth largest, has a vast and interesting history spanning as far back as the Hittites. During Turkey's War of Independence, the bravery and heroism of the local people gained the city an honorific. Today Gaziantep is a modern sprawling city and one of the most important agricultural centres of Turkey. It is the hub of pistachio cultivation in the country and is renowned for its baklava production which many claim is the best in the world. Expansive olive groves and vineyards can also be found in the city's surrounds. We pay a visit Gaziantep's impressive mosaics museum which houses stunning mosaics from the nearby Roman site of Belkis-Zeugma. Many of these mosaics have been restored to their original state. This evening is free to explore the city. (Driving time: 2.5 hours)

    Yesemek or similar

    Day 11 - Gaziantep – Niğde - Cappadocia

    Today we journey into Central Anatolia to our next destination - Cappadocia. On the way we have a stop for a lunch break in Niğde, a small rural province in the southern part of Central Anatolia. The province is surrounded on three sides by ranges of the Taurus Mountains, including Mount Hasan and the Melendiz mountains. The plain is covered with nutritious volcanic soil and Nigde is a successful agricultural region, particularly apples and potatoes. The area has been settled since the Neolithic period of 8000-5500 BC. The area was later settled by the Hittites, who lived here for a thousand years up until 800BC. Then came Assyrians and Phrygians, Greeks, Persians, Alexander the Great, Romans, who built the city of Tyana with its palaces and waterworks. Roman rule persisted from the Eastern capital of Byzantium until the area was occupied by the Seljuk Turks from 1166 onwards. By the early 13th century Niğde was one of the largest cities in Anatolia and a number of impressive mosques and tombs date from this period. The area was brought within the Ottoman Empire in 1471 and thus passed into the territory of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s. We then drive to the incredible underground city of Derinkuyu, with some dwellings containing rooms expanding seven levels beneath ground level! Late in the afternoon we will arrive at Cappadocia. We will be based here for the next three nights to explore the wonders of Turkey's most surreal region (6.5 hours driving).

    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar

    Day 12 - Cappadocia

    After a relaxing breakfast we take a walk through Love Valley, where its magnificently sculptured, phallic rock formations have created one of the most surreal valleys of Cappadocia. Small valleys, cones, peaks and fairy chimneys blend harmoniously with fascinating caves. In the afternoon we drive to the unique Pasabaglari Valley, where multiple fairy chimneys hewn from the earth and shaped by centuries of erosion lend a moon-like landscape and atmosphere to the valley. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon and a hermit's shelter are built into one of the fairy chimneys, which appears to have three heads! We enjoy walking in the valleys and surrounds today, there are plenty of ups and downs on the trail. The path can be a little slippery in parts so please come prepared with adequate walking shoes. In the afternoon we will take the opportunity to discover the local handcraft of the region and visit a carpet workshop were we will be fascinated by the beauty of the carpets, a tradition that reveals the nomadic origins of the Turkish people. Returning to Goreme, we have a night at leisure. We may have an opportunity to attend a folk dance show or witness an original Whirling Dervish 'Sema' performance.

    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar

    Day 13 - Cappadocia

    For early birds, there is the possibility of rising before dawn to take an awe-inspiring optional hot-air balloon ride over the 'otherworldly' Cappadocia landscape and witness an amazing sunrise in the process. This morning we visit the Göreme Open Air museum, a fascinating complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by rock. The people of Göreme, at the heart of the Cappadocia region, realised that the soft rocks of the area could be easily carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries. This Christian sanctuary contains many examples of Byzantine art from the post-iconoclastic period. These frescoes are a unique artistic achievement from the 10th - 12th centuries. There are several fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore, most of them decorated with exquisite and colourful biblical frescoes.

    Heybe Hotel or Cinar Hotel or similar

    Day 14 - Cappadocia - Konya

    After breakfast we leave the fairytale landscapes of Cappadocia behind and drive to the village of Belisirma in the Valley of Ihlara on the slopes of Mount Hasan, one of the volcanos responsible for the forming of Cappadocia. From here we embark on a wonderful short hike along the Melendiz River and experience traditional village life, as we walk through the beautiful Ihlara Valley to Ihlara village. There are dozens of fascinating Byzantine cave chapels to explore along the way and most of them are decorated with exquisite biblical frescoes. We then leave the area of Cappadocia behind and drive to Konya, our stop for the night. Please note that Konya is a very religious town, so it is best that we dress conservatively during our time here. (Driving time: 3.5 hours)

    Bera Mevlana or similar

    Day 15 - Konya - Antalya

    Konya, known as 'Iconium' in Roman times, was also the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th Centuries and home of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded a mystic Sufi order popularly known as the 'Whirling Dervishes'. We visit Mevlana's Mausoleum and the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect that he founded. We then take a five hour drive to the coastal city of Antalya one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey. A highlight here is the beautifully preserved theatre at Aspendos - one of the finest in the ancient world. (Driving time: 5 hours)

    Khan Hotel or similar

    Day 16 - Antalya - Phaselis - Kas

    After breakfast we stop at the Lycian city of Phaselis, which was founded in the 7th Century BC and flourished as a commercial trading centre where anything could be bought and sold, including citizenships for 100 drachmas! The Phaselians were more concerned about preserving the affluence of their commerce than with staking any political independence, so they pragmatically accepted any conquerors that came their way. The city thrived until the 12th Century when it was superceded in importance by the nearby ports of Antalya and Alanya. The beauty of Phaselis is in its picture postcard setting. It is built around three small bays, each with its own beach, surrounded by fragrant woods and mountains. (Driving time: 2.5 hours)

    Linda Hotel , Maki Hotel or similar

    Day 17 - Kas - Kekova - Kas

    This morning we drive to Kekova, where we will board our local boat for a relaxing cruise through a series of peaceful and picturesque islands, all with very distinctive rock formations. Look out for some ancient houses that are submerged under the clear water! Our cruise also takes us to the settlement of Ucagiz and also the quaint village of Simena, with its stone houses covered in bougainvilleas. We can enjoy a spectacular view from the castle. We also sail from large bays to beautiful protected inlets, where we have the opportunity to enjoy some swimming off our boats. All in all a day of relaxation and beautiful vistas. We return to Kas for the evening.

    Linda Hotel , Maki Hotel or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch

    Day 18 - Kas - Pamukkale

    After breakfast this morning we drive to Pamukkale, also known as 'Cotton Castle' and a truly unique sight. This magical and spectacular natural phenomenon was created by deposits from thermal waters that cascaded down the mountainside over hundreds of years, forming a myriad of pools and terraces. As the water overflows from the pools, dazzling cream-coloured stalactites are formed that, from afar, resemble cotton or snow. The pools are filled with hot spring waters that supposedly have healing properties for a person's circulation and digestive systems. Close to Pamukkale are the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded by the King of Pergamon in 190 BC and by the 2nd Century AD it had become an important Roman bath centre. The extensive ruins of Hierapolis are well worth exploring and include a theatre, temple, holy area, monumental fountain, bath, basilica and necropolis. We spend our night in a hotel in Pamukkale. (Driving time: 6 hours)

    Tripolis or similar

    Day 19 - Pamukkale - Selçuk

    After breakfast we make an early start for a drive of about four hours to Selçuk, which is our base for visiting Ephesus - one of the best-preserved classical cities in the eastern Mediterranean and a great example of Roman architecture. We drive to Ephesus, possibly the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world and definitely a highlight of your trip! Always an important religious centre, Ephesus was founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th Century BC and flourished under Roman rule. The Greeks replaced the cult of the Anatolian fertility goddess Cybele with Artemis and built a fabulous temple in her honour. With the coming of the Romans, it became the Temple of Diana and was one of the original seven wonders of the ancient world. We visit the vast amphitheatre, walk the marble street once trodden by Cleopatra and Mark Antony, and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and wonderfully restored Library of Celsus. An orientation tour familiarises us with Selçuk, a sprawling town lying at the base of the ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill. Those who wish can optionally visit the last home of the Virgin Mary, who as legend has it came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot. We spend the night in a hotel in Selçuk and have a chance to reflect and fully comprehend the history and splendour of our day's discoveries. (Driving time: 3.5 hours)

    Hitit Hotel or similar

    Day 20 - Selçuk - Canakkale

    Early this morning after breakfast we begin the drive to Çanakkale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles, which connects the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea and touches both Europe (with the Gelibolu Peninsula) and Asia (with the Biga Peninsula). On the way, we visit an important historical site near Çanakkale, Troy. Troy (Truva) was a city that existed over 4.000 years ago and was known as a major ancient civilization. For many years people believed that it was the city mentioned only in the tales and never truly existed, as the area had become known as Ilium, or New Ilium. Archaeological digs subsequently proved that there had been nine separate periods of settlement. (3000 BC-AD 400) on what became accepted as the site of ancient Troy. Each successive period of habitation lies on top of its former incarnation. Here we can see the remnants of the ancient city walls in addition to a replica of the famous wooden horse. Historians are still at odds as to whether or not this fable or indeed the battle itself is stuff of lore or reality. Arriving in Çanakkale where we have the remainder of the day free to wander around this vibrant waterfront town and perhaps view the Trojan horse used and subsequently gifted to the city by the producers of the movie Troy filmed in 2004. (Driving time: 6.5 hours)

    Hotel Helen or similar

    Day 21 - Canakkale - Gallipoli - Istanbul

    We cross the Dardanelles and return to 'Europe,' and visit the Gallipoli Peninsula - a place of enormous significance to Australians and New Zealanders. Located at Turkey's most westerly point this area is now serene, but the role it played in April 1915 during the First World War is now firmly etched on the psyche of the New Zealand and Australian nations. We visit the beach and cemeteries of Anzac Cove, then head up the hill to pay homage at the poignant memorials of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair. The latter the highest ground secured in the campaign on the 8th of August, 1915 (by New Zealand and British troops) before being beaten back due to lack of reinforcement. From the Ataturk Memorial at this spot we can view the Allied troops' goal - the Dardenelles. We can look down upon the rough and barren hills and gulleys that became the graveyard for so many thousands of young men from both sides. Around this area we can find remnants of trenches used by the Turkish soldiers. After touring the former battlefields we head back to where our adventure began - Istanbul. We will arrive back in Istanbul in the late afternoon or early evening and the remainder of the evening is free. This unique city that is built embracing two continents (Europe and Asia), is a great place to spend our final night together, indulging in a true feast for the senses! (Driving time: 5 hours)

    Hotel Golden Horn or similar

    Day 22 - End Istanbul

    Our journey comes to an end today in Istanbul after breakfast. Extra accommodation at our Istanbul hotel can be booked through us. A departure transfer can be booked to take you tot the Istanbul Airport for your onward flight.

  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leader
    • Sightseeing including entrance fees where relevant
    • Visit to Mount Nemrut National Park
    • Walks in Cappadocia's ‘Love Valley’ and Ilhara Valley
    • Day boat cruise on the Turquoise coast including a delicious local lunch
    • Visit to the battlefields of the Gallipoli Peninsula
    • Arrival transfer (from Istanbul's Ataturk airport - IST)
    • Gratuities for essential services in tour package

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Departure transfer
    • Departure taxes
    • Visas
    • Travel insurance (compulsory on all trips)
    • Meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary)
    • Optional additional tours or activities during free time
    • Items of a personal nature
    • Gratuities for tour leader
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    The Best of Turkey

    Phil - Australia, 5 May, 2013
    Overall Rating

    We consider this trip excellent value for the cost and included most of the site we were interested in.

    The Best of Turkey

    George & Peta - Australia, 5 May, 2013
    Overall Rating

    This is an excellent trip for anyone intersted in both modern Turkey, Turkish history and antiquities. Facilities and maintenance at some of the hotels in more remote places could be improved. Overall we were very pleased and thought the trip was excellent value.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PEBE
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Istanbul
End City: Istanbul
Style: Small Group

What to know

This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.

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