The Best of Turkey: Istanbul, Cappadocia & Ephesus Tour is the ideal travel choice for those who wish to enjoy the main historic sites and major attractions of Turkey in a longer tour but without a lot of bus travel. Instead, we connect the major destination cities by short 1 hour flights.
We’ll explore Istanbul and it’s ancient structures, from the mosques to the Roman influenced architecture. Immerse yourself in the history of this incredible city as you explore the Grand Bazaar, the Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern, and the Topkapi Palace with it's Imperial Harem.
Next, you'll take a short 1 hour flight to Cappadocia where you'll experience an entirely new region of Turkey and be amazed by breathtaking landscapes. While staying at a luxurious cave hotels at night, you'll explore the lunar like topography and cave mosaics during the day.
Sites such as Uchisar Fortress, OrtaHisar, Red Valley, Pasabaglari (Fairy Chimneys), Zelve Open Air Musuem (houses carved in rock, Seljukian Mosque and remains), Esentepe for panoramic view of the Goreme Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum (rock cut churches, frescos, monastery) and Kaymakli Underground City all await!
A quick flight departing Cappadocia to Izmir will allow you to experience the unique Aegean culture. With a visit to the wonderful village of Sirince. The next day you'll tour the highlight site of Turkey - Ephesus - once a great Roman city, it still has the glory as a must see site. The next day will allow you to "meander" along the river of its name to the much sought after site of Pamukkale before continuing overland to Antalya. This journey will allow you to see some of the Anatolian landscapes and some impressive mountains along the way to the beautiful, turquoise Mediterranean coast of Antalya.
In Antalya you'll enjoy a mix of touring and seaside lounging, where 8000 foot mountains rise from a backdrop of crystal clear waters. 3 nights here will allow you to see a mix of sites and enjoy the warm beaches.
You'll return to Istanbul for one last night before departing the final day on your international flight.
- An enormous public entertainment arena, it once seated as many as 100,000 zealous fans who came to watch chariot races, executions, and mock battles. Formerly the center of Byzantine civic life, it is still marked by the Egyptian Obelisk, the Bronze Serpentine Column, and the Column of Constantine.
- With its massive central dome flanked by six slender minarets, the Blue Mosque stands as the single most recognizable monument in the Istanbul skyline. Built between 1609 and 1616, the enormous complex also included a hospital, caravansary, public kitchen, marketplace, schools and the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmet I. The mosque’s immense interior, flooded with sunlight streaming through 260 windows, is decorated with more than 20,000 precious Iznik tiles detailing traditional flowers of Ottoman design. In fact, it is the deep blue glow of the tiles in the sunlight that gives the building its name.
- This famous basilica was constructed in the 6th century A.D.. It is often described as the greatest work of Byzantine architecture. Once the Church of Holy Wisdom, Christendom’s crowning glory, it glittered with mosaics and artistic treasures. Today, the Hagia Sophia is the fourth largest building constructed as a church in the world. It was dedicated to Hagia Sophia which means Divine Wisdom – an attribute of Christ.
- Istanbul, besieged countless times, has always needed permanent water supplies. As a result, many underground cisterns were built during the Byzantine Empire. Water was brought to these big reservoirs from distant sources via aqueducts. We will visit the largest and most ornate of these cisterns.
- The area of the Grand Bazaar was a trade center during the Byzantine period. Two domes were built by Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror to enrich the economic life of the city. Today, the atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar is mysterious and intriguing. It has become a very popular place, where visitors explore a labyrinth of streets and passages housing eighteen entrances and more than 4,000 shops.
- The home for 400 years of ruling Sultan’s in Istanbul, this is a not to be missed site. The second palace built in Istanbul after its conquest by the Turks, it served as the center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries. This palace’s maze of oppulent buildings is where the sultans, their courts, and their harems lived and governed.
- This covered market, built as part of the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) complex, is filled with the fragrant scent of spices from the Orient.
- This narrow, navigable strait between Europe and Asia connects the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea. It is about 20 miles long and up to one and a half miles wide. Our cruise will take us past the late Ottoman Palaces – Dolmabahce and Beylerbeyi, as well as beautiful, wooden mansions and modern villas built in this elegant section of the city during the 19th & 20th centuries.
- Once a leading city of Rome - it fell prey to silting up of the harbor - which also lead to the cities downfall and protection, to our benefit as it is now one of the best preserved cities from the ancient world.
- The ancient city of Hierapolis sits atop the white cliffs of Pamukkale. The “Sacred City” was thought to have been founded by the god Apollo, and it was believed that its ancient, hot spring fed baths had the ability to heal injuries and remove ailments. It is also the site of the largest Necropolis (city of the dead) in existence. Above the ruins of the city sits its amphitheater and the St. Philip Martyrium.
- An unusual natural and historical site with its sparkling, white, castle-like cascades, it is unique in the world. The site’s name means “cotton castle”, a name which accurately describes its calcareous formations, which were formed by limestone-laden thermal springs.
- An overlooked delight- set on the coast of Antalya - this museum has collections from so many ancient sites - they have to store the less well known pieces in the garden! Its section's include pre-historic tombs, a wonderful pottery timeline with rooms of intact specimens, all the best Statues from Perge, an overview of St. Nicholas (from nearby Demre, Antalya), the unbelievably impressive Lycian tombs, to the ruins recently discovered from the Antalya necropolis.
- Built in 2nd Century BC -and always well protected since, the harbor is now the center of a thriving city - Antalya's old town is a remarkable mix of 'get lost alleyways', sleek new restaurants, upscale bars, and delightful old protected Roman and Byzantine ruins - it was expanded under the Keykubat reign during Ottoman times and there are both Churches and Mosques to visit.
- Don't miss walking along the shore or the harbor- with impressive views of the bay and Toros mountains.
Perge / Perga Ancient Site
- Perga is located 15 km east of Antalya and is an impressively restored Greek/Roman/Byzanitine city. Don't miss one of the largest Roman bath complexes, the center of the road fountains, or the partially restored shops in the NE part of the city. This NE gate was the start of the Via Sebaste - the way of fame from St. Paul's first journey.
Aspendos Ancient Theater
- This ancient city is known for having the best-preserved theatre of antiquity. Not much of the city remains, but the theater is intact and you can in September often see evening performances. It is a marvel and not to be missed.
Side (Ancient ruins and seaside town)
- A bizarre mix of Ancient city/ Theater that encompasses a touristic downtown area on a isthmus jutting into the sea - this is a unique place- swimming beaches on either side of town make this a 3 way draw - ancient city, modern shopping and relaxing beaches.
Day 1: Istanbul
- Your private guide will welcome will welcome you at the Istanbul Airport and take you to your hotel in the heart of Istanbul (All our hotel options sit atop the tallest of the seven hills of Istanbul in the historic Sultanahmet district.)
- You will have time to become acquainted with the celebrated historic district of this bustling city before turning in for the night.
Day 2: Istanbul
- Today your guide will meet you at your hotel, and you will will first visit the Hagia Sophia to explore it's incredible architecture and remarkable story.
- Later you will also visit one of the Ottoman Empire’s greatest architectural achievements: the Blue Mosque.
- Following lunch, you will marvel at the Hippodrome and the Basilica Cistern.
- In the afternoon, you can browse the shops of the Grand Bazaar before retiring to the hotel for the night.
Day 3: Istanbul
- Your guide will meet you at your hotel and you will take off to the Topkapi Palace! After conquering Constantinople in the 15th Century, the Ottomans built Topkapi Palace. You'll have the opportunity to explore the palace and its treasures, including the hidden chambers of the Imperial Harem.
- Next, you'll make a visit to the Spice Market /Egyptian Bazzar before a boat tour of the Bosphorous Strait, and a quiet cafe offers a bit of rest in the afternoon. (Based our guides discretion, the morning and afternoon may be reversed in order to give you the best experience possible.)
- You'll spend your final night in Istanbul.
Day 4: Istanbul to Cappadocia
- Enjoy breakfast in Istanbul and then get ready for your flight to Cappadocia!
- A private driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the Istanbul airport for a one hour flight to Cappadocia.
- Your private guide and driver will will welcome you to Cappadocia as you exit from baggage claim.
- Directly from the airport your tour will begin with a visit to Uchisar Fortress, OrtaHisar and Red Valley.
- After a day of exploration and travel you will check-in to your hotel and retire for the night.
Day 5: Cappadocia
- You may choose to rise today or day 6 before dawn for an hot-air balloon ride over the picturesque Cappadocian valleys. Let us know if you would like to add this addition experience to your tour.
- Today, your Cappadocia guide will take you to explore Pasabaglari (Fairy Chimneys), and Zelve Open Air Musuem (houses carved in rock, Seljukian Mosque and remains).
- Following lunch, continue to Esentepe for panoramic view of the Goreme Valley, Goreme Open Air Museum (rock cut churches, frescos, monastery) and Kaymakli Underground City.
- Enjoy the incredible views of the Cappadocia landscape and enjoy the hospitality of your hotel in the evening before you retire for the night.
Day 6: Cappadocia - Ephesus
- In the morning you will be transferred directly to Cappadocia Airport for your flight to Izmir. Once here, you will be met again by a guide and driver and have a tour of Sirince village as you make your way to your hotel on the coast in Kusadasi.
Day 7: Ephesus
- Today will meet you at your hotel and you will visit the magnificent ancient city of Ephesus. You will enjoy a leisurely exploration of the city, including the Terraced Houses, followed by trip to the Ephesus Archeology Museum.
- Following lunch you will visit St. John’s Basilica, reputed burial site of the Apostle John, and see the ruin of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
- You will also make a stop at Mary's House, and from there you'll return to your hotel in Kusadasi for a relaxing evening.
Day 8: Pamukkale - Antalya
- Your guide will meet you at your hotel and a morning departure will take you overland to the much desired and highly photographed site of Pamukkale. With an optional chance to swim in the thermal waters of Cleopatra's baths, you'll see the beautiful white travertines and the remarkable site of Hierapolis.
- Following lunch you will continue through the mountains to the pearl of the Mediterranean - Antalya.
- Your hotel will be on the coast allowing you access to incredible views and seasonal swimming.
Day 9: Antalya
- Your guide will meet you in the morning and you will visit two amazing sister cities - Perge and Aspendos. Enjoy a relaxing day at both of these locations.
- You may also visit an optional local waterfall before returning to your hotel in Antalya.
Day 10: Antalya
- Today, you will tour Termessos, one of the best located historical sites in Turkey located on top of a mountain overlooking the sea. Your guide will meet you for an early morning departure.
- After a morning outdoors, you'll return to see the magnificent Antalya Museum before touring the old town of Kaleici where you may choose to enjoy the nightlife, restaurants, or bars at your leisure.
Day 11: Antalya - Istanbul
- Today, enjoy some leisure time before a private drive picks you up from your hotel and transfers you to Antalya airport, a flight to Istanbul, and transfer to your hotel where again you'll be overnight for one last time before your departure tomorrow.
Day 12: Departure
- A private driver will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the Istanbul airport for your international flight home.
What is included in the tour
- Accommodation in your choice of hotel category, or inquire to include your own selection of hotels or to exclude accommodation:
- Platinum Class Hotels (Four Seasons Sultanahmet, Argos Cappadocia, La Vista Boutique, Akra Barut)
- Gold Class Hotels (Hagia Sophia Mansions, Kayakapi Premium Caves, La Vista Boutique, Akra Barut)
- Silver Class Hotels (Sultanhan, Kale Konak, Doubletree by Hilton Kusadası, Marina Puding Suites)
- Bronze Class Hotels (Celal Sultan, Taru Cave, Ilayda Avantgarde, Dogan Antalya)
- Meals: 11 breakfasts, 9 lunches
- Services of a private licensed professional English speaking tour guide
- Airport Transfers with air conditioned transportation with driver
- Air conditioned transportation with driver in Cappadocia, Izmir, Antalya
- Domestic flights: Istanbul-Cappadocia, Cappadocia-Izmir and Antalya-Istanbul
- Admission fees to sites and museums
- Parking, portage, tipping (except guide & driver), toll roads
- Coordination and attentive customer service throughout the tour by Sojourn staff
- Required Association of Turkish Travel Agencies Foreign Visitors Insurance (a basic mandatory policy and not an adequate replacement for purchasing your own travel insurance.)
What is not included in the tour
- International flight tickets and international air and departure taxes
- Beverages at lunch
- Optional gratuities to your guides and drivers
- Travel insurance
- Visas, laundry, and personal items
- Entry visas to Turkey (purchased online before arrival)
- Optional programs listed in itinerary
2022 Prices are per person in US$ (inquire for 2023 prices)
Comparison Chart of Tour Packages
|Airport Greeting Service||Private Guide & Driver||Private Guide & Driver||Private Driver||Private Driver|
|Guided Language||Per Request||English||English||English|
|Hotels||Luxury 5 Star||Elite Boutique||4 Star||-|
|Tour Guide||Private Guides||Private Guides||Small Group Guides||Small Group Guides|
|Entry Tickets||Unlimited Included||Included||Included||Included|
|Daily Itinerary||Unlimited Flexibility||Unlimited Flexibility||Limited Flexibility||Limited Flexibility|
|Cancellation Policy||Fully Refundable up to 60 days, Credit towards future tour||Fully Refundable up to 60 days||Fully Refundable up to 60 days||Fully Refundable up to 60 days|