Gems of Türkiye: Istanbul & Cappadocia Tour

From $2,595 pp

  • Duration

    7 days
  • Bookable From

    Year-round
  • Trip Style

    Privately Guided
  • Country

    Türkiye
  • Physical Rating

    Easy

Overview

Discover two of Türkiye's absolute gems with a visit to the legendary Constantinople (now Istanbul), followed by the magical and surreal lands of Cappadocia.

This compact trip allows you to soak in the impressive cities of Istanbul and Capadoccia with all they have to offer in a short time frame. Our experienced guides will waste no time with long bus rides during this tour.

Begin by exploring Istanbul's architectural masterpieces of the last two millenniums, walk its timeless streets full of history and vibrant culture, relish exotic dishes, and stay in the Sultan's neighborhood to connect with Arabian traditions that are still alive today.

Moving on to Cappadocia, this area is renowned for its captivating, startling, and surrealistic landscapes. Its strange and unique scenery includes volcanic chimneys (called Fairy Chimneys). These were excavated for use as houses by early Christians. You'll also see gorges, vineyards, elaborately carved and frescoed rock churches, and entire underground cities!

Highlights

Istanbul Highlights

  • Visit the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace
  • Take a Bosphorus cruise through the Golden Horn
  • Experience Beyoğlu nightlife, Taksim Square, street food, art, and shopping

Cappadocia Highlights

  • See Fairy Chimneys - the iconic and surrealistic landscape made of unique rock formations
  • Visit underground cities, a cave hotel, and cave churches
  • Try authentic food from the tandoori culture of the region
  • Visit wineries
  • Enjoy a classic hot-air balloon ride (extra cost)

Seasonal Notes

This trip runs all year round. Türkiye is in a temperate zone and also geologically very diverse. For example, while it snows in the Cappadocia area, it may be spring-like in İstanbul. Both locations promise many things to see and do.

  • Mid-April to June and September-October: This is when Istanbul will have the best weather and is also therefore the ideal time to visit. Capadoccia presents similar moderate conditions.
  • July-August: Summers can be scorchingly hot and flooded with tourists, so we don't recommend traveling during this time if your schedule allows.

We believe beautiful places are beautiful all year round. If your schedule allows, we encourage you to travel outside of July-August for several reasons. It helps reduce the environmental impact of this area, avoids over-tourism, and rewards you with more tranquil site visits. Spring and fall offer the best balance of pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

Itinerary

Day 1 Istanbul [Türkiye] (arrival day)

Arrive to Istanbul Airport where your transfer will take you to your hotel. Please find your guide at Cup & Clouds Café. You clear the customs, walk through the sliding door, it is across the hall.

Check into the hotel in the heart of Istanbul.

Depending on arrival time, your guide will take you for a short walking tour near the Golden Horn and the Galata Bridge before the welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel in Istanbul
Meals: Dinner

Day 2 Istanbul's Historic Highlights

Discover the magic of Istanbul! In the morning, we start our sightseeing with a visit to the glorious highlights of Constantinople. We visit Topkapi Palace and then walk to the other splendid relics such as the 400-year-old Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and 2000-year-old Roman Hippodrome, and the Underground Cistern. and visit the Hagia Sophia Church, built in the first half of the 6th century, by Emperor Justinianus. At the end of the day, we walk to the Grand Bazaar, with 500 years of history and 4000+ shops.

Accommodation: Hotel in Istanbul
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3 Hiking the Prince Islands

We will take the water taxi to Büyükada (Prinkopi) after the breakfast. Büyükada is the largest of the Prince Island and it is our favorite island to hike. Today's hike varies between 5 to 9 miles. It includes the rich historic heritage of churches, monasteries and mansions, and pine-shaded trails, and quiet roads.

The Prince Islands, also known as Adalar in Turkish, are a group of islands located in the Sea of Marmara, just off the coast of Istanbul, Turkey. These islands hold a special charm and allure, making them a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Here are some aspects that make the Prince Islands special:

  1. Car-Free Environment: One of the most unique features of the Prince Islands is that motorized vehicles are prohibited on the islands. This creates a peaceful and serene atmosphere, where the main modes of transportation are bicycles and horse-drawn carriages. The absence of cars and traffic contributes to a relaxed and stress-free environment.
  2. Historic Architecture: The islands boast a rich history dating back to ancient times and are home to a variety of architectural gems. Visitors can explore Ottoman-era mansions, picturesque wooden houses, and historical landmarks like churches, monasteries, and mosques.
  3. Natural Beauty: The Prince Islands are blessed with natural beauty, featuring lush forests, olive groves, and pristine beaches. The islands' landscapes are perfect for leisurely walks and hiking, providing opportunities to connect with nature.
  4. Escaping the City: For Istanbul residents, the Prince Islands offer an escape from the bustling city life. Locals often visit the islands on weekends to enjoy a relaxing day or weekend getaway in a tranquil setting.
  5. Cultural Heritage: Each island has its own cultural identity and unique attractions. Büyükada, the largest island, is famous for its historical buildings and charming streets. Heybeliada is known for its religious sites, including the Halki Seminary. Burgazada and Kınalıada are smaller and quieter, offering a more secluded atmosphere.
  6. Summer Resorts: In the 19th century, the islands became popular summer resorts for Istanbul's elite and foreign dignitaries. Many old wooden mansions and villas from that era still stand, adding to the islands' historical significance.
  7. Ecotourism and Outdoor Activities: The car-free environment and natural beauty make the islands ideal for ecotourism and various outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and swimming.
  8. Cultural Events: The Prince Islands host various cultural events, including art exhibitions, music festivals, and theater performances, attracting artists and art enthusiasts from all over.

Overall, the Prince Islands offer a unique combination of history, natural beauty, and tranquility, making them a special and captivating destination for travelers seeking a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle.

Accommodation: Hotel in Istanbul
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4 Cappadocia from the Ground

Transfer to Istanbul Airport and take a domestic flight to Cappadocia.

This unusual landscape is a geological and historical wonder composed of extensive underground cities (churches, schools, frescos, homes, ventilation systems etc.) carved into eerily eroded volcanic tuff. After checking into our hotel, we walk to Uchisar Castle, an impressive rock formation long use by locals as a castle. It offers a superb panorama of the surrounding area. We continue to the Goreme Open Air Museum with its excellent examples of Byzantine rural art. Weather and snow conditions permitting, we will enjoy short hikes to explore, because the best way to explore Cappadocia is on foot.

Accommodation: Hotel in Cappadocia
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5 Cappadocia from Above

We will book (OPTIONAL) hot-air balloon ride for this day. The aviation authority will decide if the balloon are allowed to launch after 5 PM the previous day. If the flight is authorized, you will be picked from your hotel before sunrise and you will be back to your hotel for breakfast. Make sure you an extra layer, because the temperature drops due to the altitude (4000 feet) and desert climate, for this ride and be prepared for a fantastic experience.

We start our day with the best picturesque spots, including Red Valley, Paşabağ vineyards, Love Valley, Pegion Valley. Than visit a local home for a cooking class and lunch. Then we have a short drive to Avanos. This part of Cappadocia is well known for its pottery, and this afternoon you may wish to wander this town and explore the back streets to learn more about this ancient art.

Pottery has a long and rich tradition in Cappadocia, dating back thousands of years. The unique geological formations of the region, with its volcanic tuff and clay-rich soil, have made it an ideal place for pottery production. Today, Cappadocia is known for its distinctive pottery art, and visitors have the opportunity to witness the traditional craftsmanship and even try their hand at creating their own pottery pieces.

Accommodation: Hotel in Cappadocia
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6 Cappadocia from Below [Türkiye] (departure day)

As we embark on our journey southwards, we are in for an extraordinary experience exploring the wonders of Cappadocia. Our first stop takes us to the most impressive subterranean towns in the region: Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. These elaborate underground settlements, up to eight stories deep, hold a fascinating history. As we venture through a maze of tunnels, we will discover churches, private living quarters, storage areas, deep water wells, air shafts with carved chimneys, and even wine-producing chambers. It is astounding to imagine that up to 60,000 people lived here, taking refuge underground for months.

We continue our journey to the beautiful Ihlara Valley. This enchanting canyon offers a picturesque scene with its streamlined formations. As we hike (5 to 8 miles) along the narrow path, we will come across hidden Byzantine churches adorned with original frescoes.

We'll break for lunch in the valley at a small café situated along the banks of the river.

Then, we'll transfer you to the airport and our services will end.

Accommodation: Hotel in Cappadocia
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Customization

This trip can be customized to be longer or shorter. We recommend this 6-day itinerary if you have the time.

We also recommend combining this trip with the Hike & Sail the Turquoise Coast trip (especially if you shorten this itinerary!), or a similar trip in the nearby Greek Dodecanese Islands.

Please contact us for more information.

Route Map

Inclusions & Exclusions

  • 6 nights' accommodation in charming boutique hotels

  • All meals with a great representation of Turkish Cuisine

  • All land transportation and airport transfers in Türkiye

  • Parking fees

  • Certified professional guide & their expenses

  • Entrance fees to museums and archaeological sites

  • $30 of climate action per guest: $15 toward carbon removals, $15 towards sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

  • International flights to/from Türkiye

  • Domestic flight to/from Cappadocia

  • Hot Air Balloon Ride

  • Cooking Class

  • Visa

  • Travel Insurance

  • Personal Expenses

Pricing

Prices exclude flights to/from the destination.

Prices are for double room occupancy unless indicated otherwise.

  • Deposit per person

    20% of the trip price

  • Solo Traveler

    $5,450

  • Group of 2 Travelers - price per person

    $3,795

  • Group of 3-4 Travelers - price per person

    $3,095

  • Group of 5-6 Travelers - price per person

    $2,695

  • Group of 7-10 Travelers - price per person

    $2,595

Optional Add-ons

  • Domestic flights between Istanbul & Cappadocia: Approx. $200 (subject to change)
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride: Approx. $250-$300, depending on season
  • Cooking Class: Approx. $50-$100, depending on season

Sustainability

We are the only active member of ATTA (Adventure Travel Trade Association) from Türkiye and we have signed the Travel’s Climate Action Agreement powered by ATTA. We are a signatory of Tourism Declares Climate Emergency and have published a Climate Emergency Plan. We are also a proud member of Tomorrow's Air, and issue $15 carbon removal contributions for each traveler.

Environmental Initiatives
Our commitment to the environment takes us to implement clear guidelines for reducing Greenhouse gas emissions from transport and selecting the most environmentally friendly transport options.


Sociocultural Initiatives
The activities are carefully chosen to help travelers connect with local products and get to understand the traditions and culture of the destination.


Economic Initiatives
This trip helps provide employment to local people. We work with suppliers that are locally owned or managed, use local and seasonal products and services, and benefit the local community by hiring locally and equitably and by providing fair working conditions.

Health & Safety

Be sure you have traveler's insurance.

FAQs

What does the Physical Rating of "Easy" mean?

The Physical Rating of "Easy" means that there is only light physical activity required on this trip and it's suitable for those with an average fitness level. No physical preparation is required for this trip.

What are the accommodations like?

We emphasize small family-run guesthouses and "boutique" hotels with character and atmosphere. 90% of the hotels we choose have a form of Global Sustainable Travel Certification.

Do I need a visa?

Please click here to find out the passport, health, and visa conditions for any country.

Why do we write “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey”?

The spelling of “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey” is important for several reasons, including accuracy, and respect for the local language and culture. “Türkiye” is the Turkish name for the country, and it is written in the Turkish alphabet. Using the correct spelling shows respect for the local language and culture. Using the correct spelling of “Türkiye” instead of “Turkey” is a matter of cultural sensitivity, accuracy, and respect for the country and its people.

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