Turkey On A Budget Map
Day 1 Istanbul
You can arrive at any time on Day 1 as there are no activities planned. Today is a good day to explore the Aya Sofya as it's closed on Mondays. There will be a brief meeting in the evening where you will meet your CEO and fellow group members, as well as completing some admin and learning more about our trip to come. After the meeting, you may choose to join CEO and group for an optional dinner in a local restaurant.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 2 Istanbul (1B)
We begin our day with an orientation tour of Istanbul on foot, with your CEO. During this tour we will point out attractions such as the Aya Sofya and the Topkapi Palace, which you will want to return to and explore during your free time, as well as visiting and hearing the stories behind many of Istanbul’s sights and discovering some of your CEO's hidden city secrets.
Our walk will include a wander through the atmospheric Spice Bazaar. Built in 1660, and also known as the Egyptian Bazaar as this is where many of the spices were originally imported. This market was, and is the centre of Istanbul's spice trade. We head downhill to the Bosphorus. The many local ferries departing from here are a great way to see the city from the water, on the cheap! The newly renovated Galata bridge now houses many bars and restaurants, and is a great place to grab the traditional Turkish fisherman's lunch of fresh, fried fish in a roll washed down with a cold beer. Walking back towards the Sultanahmet area, your CEO will point out the Topkapi Palace, home of the Ottoman sultans and their harems, as well as the fascinating Archaeological and Ancient Oriental Museums located in a nearby park. Once in Sutanahmet Park, your CEO will explain a little of the tumultuous history behind the Aya Sofya – we recommend a visit during your free time.
We explore the fabulous Blue Mosque, admiring the beautiful symmetry and internal tile work of the building. As it is a working mosque, take the chance to learn more about the ceremony behind Islam, the religion of around 98% of today's Turks. In front of the Blue Mosque, the ancient Hippodrome was once the scene of chariot races and now houses monuments from various moments in Istanbul’s history. Although there is little sign of it now, Divan Lu was once famous amongst travellers on the 70’s Hippy Trail for its western food and relaxed atmosphere. En route, CEO will point out a couple of hamams, or Turkish baths- an unmissable Turkish experience for any visitor.
Passing by various graveyards, mosques and tea houses, our path leads uphill to Istanbul’s grandest mosque complex and hilltop landmark, the Suleymaniye Camii. Learn more about the famous Sultan who is buried here, as well as the master architect who designed these beautiful buildings almost 500 years ago. There are many traditionally dressed sellers in this area touting refreshing glasses of sherbet for just a few cents- worth a try on a hot day! You are free to stay and explore the Grand Bazaar (please note that it is closed on Sundays), perhaps pause for lunch at one of this area’s many restaurants, or you may choose to accompany your leader back to the hotel. The remainder of your time is free until we depart for the train station this evening.
In the evening we set off for the bus station ready to board our overnight bus, departing at 6pm this evening.
Approximate travel time: Istanbul to Cappadocia via Ankara, 12 hours
Days 3-5 Cappadocia (2B,1D)
Arrive in the town of Goreme, our base for exploring Cappadocia. There will be plenty of free time for exploration. Opt to visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by Orthodox monks. There are more than 10 caves to visit, many of the churches are close to 1000 years old and still retain their amazing colour and vibrancy. Choose relax at a Turkish Bath after a full day out.
There are options to hire bikes to explore the area. There are also local buses from town to town if you would like to see other villages of this region.
One of the best ways to explore Cappadocia is on foot. You can join an optional trekking tour through one of the beautiful valleys guided by your CEO. Explore old houses, churches, pigeon holes and orchards, all blessed with stunning views over the surrounding countryside. Ask your CEO about the many other walking and hiking options available in the area.
While here, there will be the chance to visit a local pottery centre where you can take the opportunity to create your own masterpiece, as well as a carpet demonstration to learn more about the process involved in making these Turkish works of art. Why not go to a Turkish performance with your group fellows to experience a taste of local dances and music.
Please note if you have pre-booked the Cappadocia Balloon Ride, you will be flying on Day 4.
Overnight bus on Day 5 to Antalya.
Approximate travel time: Cappadocia to Antalya, 8 hours
Day 6 Çirali (1B)
This morning we set off for our journey to the Mediterranean coast. Passing through the stark Anatolian landscape we enter the richly forested mountain region which leads to the coast and the small village of Çirali. There is time to relax before our evening walk to view the spectacle of the chimera, a phenomenon where flames mysteriously rise from cracks within the local rocks.
Approximate travel time: Antalya to Çıralı, 2 hours
Day 7 Overnight boat trip (1D)
Continue to the beautiful coastal village of Kekova where we board our boat for an unforgettable night at sea.
The facilities are very basic on board. We sleep on the deck under the stars with mattresses and full bedding, all of which is provided. There is a toilet and an open air shower on board. Dinner is included and cold drinks are available for purchase. This really is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the crystal waters that Turkey is famous for!
Sleeping on the boat is seasonal from May to October. Please note that even during these months the overnight boat trip will still be dependent on weather conditions. From November to April you will stay in a guesthouse in Ucagiz and will enjoy a boat trip on Day 8.
Approx travel times: Cirali to Kekova, 2.5 hours
Day 8-9 Dalyan (2B)
Back on land at Ucagiz travel up to the charming town of Dalyan. Opt to embark on a boat excursion for a close-up view of the famous Carian rock tombs and some remains of the ancient city of Kaunos and Dalyan. Cruising to Iztuzu Beach, past rock faces peppered with ancient tombs, there is time to relax at the beach and enjoy a cold drink. There is also the chance to visit to some local mudbaths, if you wish.
Approx travel time: Kekova to Dalyan, 5 hours
Day 10 Pamukkale (1B)
Time to leave sea level behind, passing through fruit orchards we make our way to Pamukkale. In the afternoon, we'll visit the famous white cliffs of Pamukkale. 2700m long and 160m high, visible from up to 20kms away, Pamukkale is made up of 17 hot water springs in which the temperature varies between 35 and 100 degrees. The white cliffs are formed when the calcium carbonate, which is deposited at first as a soft jelly, hardens with time.
We also explore the ancient site of Hierapolis built on top of the white "castle". This UNESCO World Heritage Site is evidence that the hot springs of Pamukkale were used as a spa since the 2nd century BC.
Approx travel time: Dalyan to Pamukkale, 6 hours
Day 11-12 Selçuk (2B)
Travel to the town of Selçuk. You can choose to visit the ruins of the ancient Roman town of Ephesus. One of the foremost cities of the world in its time, with a strategic location on the trade route, this well-preserved city is one of the best places in the world to get a real feeling of what life must have been like during Roman times.
You may also choose to walk up to the remains of the St John Basilica, visit the mosque of Isa Bey or just wander the streets and cafes of this vibrant Turkish town. Catch a local “dolmus” bus 8kms to the picturesque village of Sirince where you can sample some of the local wine or shop for crafts. The beach at Pamucak is also within reach for the dedicated sunseekers.
Approx travel time: Pamukkale to Selçuk, 3hrs
Day 13 Troy/Çanakkale (1B)
Travel to Çanakkale. Upon arrival opt to visit to the world famous Troy. Troy was first made famous by the Iliad, Homer's epic poem, and more recently by Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt in the film of the same name. For centuries the story in the Iliad, was regarded as just a myth until the ruins of the city were found in in the mid-nineteenth century. While today not too much remains, it is possible (with a bit of imagination) to get a feel for what a great city this must have once been. Of course you won’t want to miss your chance to have your photo taken with the Trojan horse!
In the afternoon, opt to visit Gallipoli, where thousands gave their lives during WWI in the battle of the same name. Here the Turks fought off the numerically superior, but badly commanded, Allied forces who were forced to withdraw nine months later. We will visit ANZAC Cove, the war cemeteries, Lone Pine and other important sites. Even for those who are not familiar with this battle, this is a moving and beautiful site, completing any trip to Turkey.
Enjoy the harbour town of Çanakkale, a busy port with a thriving student population. Join the crowds as they stroll the waterfront nightly, enjoying the atmosphere of the night.
Overnight in Çanakkale.
Approximate travel time: Selçuk to Çanakkale 7 hours.
Day 14 Istanbul (1B)
We'll continue our journey to Istanbul where there will be the opportunity to continue your sightseeing or get in some last minute shopping. Why not top off a wonderful adventure with an optional dinner at one of Istanbul's atmospheric restaurants.
Overnight in Istanbul.
Approx travel time: Çanakkale to Istanbul, 5hrs
Day 15 Istanbul (1B)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is normally mid-morning, but luggage storage facilities are available. We are able to organise extra post-trip accommodation if you wish to extend your stay for a few more days. Please ask at the time of booking.