Not to sound sappy, but there’s something about Turkey that’s just…magical. Maybe it’s the energy of Istanbul, the landscapes of Cappadocia, or the waters of the Riviera. So yes, it’s one country on two continents, but really, it’s its own world and—whoops, there we go sounding sappy again.
Exploring a 1,500-year-old mosque in Europe’s largest city
Cruising between continents on the Bosphorus Strait
Rising with the sun in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia
Perfecting your whirling dervish with traditional Sufi Muslims
What you'll get
Round-trip flights & airport transfers
11 nights in handpicked accommodations
5 dinners and one lunch
Expert Tour Director
24/7 support from our travel gurus
Insider tour of Istanbul with local guide
Entrance to the Hagia Sophia
Traditional Turkish cooking class
- Day 1: Overnight Flight
Cozy up in your airplane seat, study up on your sultans, and try to contain your pre-trip jitters enough to nap a little. The only thing sweeter than a big platter of freshly baked baklava is a 13-day trip to Turkey.
This tour requires a visa for U.S. citizens. Check entry requirements or call us with questions at 800-766-2645.
- Day 2: Arrive in Istanbul + Sightseeing in New Town + Welcome Dinner
Welcome to Istanbul—a city that’s simultaneously in both Europe *and* Asia. That’s right: for nearly 2,500 years, Istanbul has straddled two continents, withstood multiple name changes, and blossomed into a beautiful melding of Turkish, Ottoman, Greek, Roman, Islamic, and Christian culture.
In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner of local cuisine and drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Afterwards, you’re free to take the party elsewhere!
- Land at the airport and meet a waiting EF representative.
- Transfer to your hotel to check in and check out your room.
- Get to know the New Town—“new” meaning mostly from medieval times—on a tour of Taksim Square and the main shopping street: Istikal Avenue.
- Crane your neck at the famous Galata Tower—a nine-story stone observation tower built by the occupying Genoese in 1348.
- Day 3: Sightseeing in Old Town Istanbul
Out with the new, in with the old. Leave your history textbooks at home (not sure why you would travel with them anyways) and experience thousands of years of Istanbul’s history firsthand today as you navigate Old Town with a local expert.
- Gasp audibly at the magnificence of the Hagia Sophia, its iconic dome, and its 1,500-year life as a church, mosque, and museum.
- Take a peek at one of the most picturesque and oft-painted waterways in the history of humanity—the Golden Horn of Istanbul.
- Haggle your way through the Grand Bazaar—consider buying the exquisite jewelry or a handmade carpet (gotta pay extra for the flying kind, though).
Free time suggestions
Basilica Cistern: Get under the city’s skin with a visit to an ancient underground cavern built to collect rainwater during Roman rule.
- Day 4: Free Day in Istanbul + Optional Bosphorus Cruise & Walking Tour
A free day in Istanbul is the original Turkish delight: 24 hours to explore, sightsee, eat, and get lost on your own (read: with your new travel pals) in one of the world’s most exciting cities. Take full advantage of the locals’ ample hospitality and make yourself at home amongst the many minarets of the skyline.
Free time suggestions
Topkapi Palace: Part-castle, part-palace, part-museum, Topkapi Palace was the royal residence for the Ottoman Empire for over 400 years, beginning in the 1400s.
Döner kebabs: Like their Greek cousin, the gyro, döner kebabs—lamb, chicken, or beef with lettuce, tomato, onion, and sauces in a warm pita—are absolutely delicious and found absolutely everywhere. The perfect meal on the go!
Dolmabahçe Palace: In the 1800s, the sultans decided they required a more lavish palace, so they built Dolmabahçe. And, hoo boy, is it lavish. Go see it for yourself, count the chandeliers you find, and live your fanciest life.
Bosphorus Cruise & Walking Tour (extra cost)
Go big today starting with a spice market taste-testing. Next, cruise the Bosphorous Strait that divides Europe from Asia and take in Istanbul's iconic skyline by boat. Finally, feast on mouthwatering Turkish street food.
- Day 5: Fly to Cappadocia + Explore Kaymakli Underground City + Optional Turkish Night Show
Head to the airport in Istanbul—it’s not goodbye, it’s see you in a week—and board your plane for the Cappadocia Region of central Turkey. When you see this otherworldly terrain upon arrival, you may be wondering how you got to Mars. But rest assured, you’re not on another planet, you’re just in one of the coolest and strangest places in Turkey.
- Take a quick morning flight across the country.
- Prepare for maximum flabbergasting at the sight of the strange fairy chimney rocks dotting the landscape—they look like giant blades sticking out of the ground.
- Go down in history, literally, as you explore the ancient Kaymakli Underground City—an entire village dug up to 8 stories into the ground.
- Head to your hotel for an included dinner and try to wrap your head around what you just saw beneath Cappadocia’s surface.
Traditional Turkish Night Show (extra cost)
Cultural immersion takes on a whole new meaning when you go deep into a cave restaurant to experience it. Cappadocia and its many caves have long provided refuge from invaders, and tonight it will provide you refuge from boredom. The region has its own long and unique history of traditional dances and entertaining performances, and you get to see it all. Folk dancing, belly dancing, and, oh… unlimited beer and wine. Play your cards right, and you may even get a hands-on, or should we say hips-on lesson in belly dancing.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
- Day 6: Sightseeing in Cappadocia + Optional Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride
Stretch your calves for hiking, flex your fingers for photo-taking, and adjust your jaw to allow for adequate dropping—today you get to enjoy the great outdoors! Explore the insane landscape and unique way the caves of Cappadocia were occupied for thousands of years, right up until the 1950s.
- See an entire city carved into the rocks in the Zelve Valley where Christians and Muslims lived in harmony for centuries.
- Feast your eyes upon the fairy chimney rocks, stunning cliffs, and sweeping valleys of Göreme National Park.
- Enter the ancient churches left behind, but hidden out of sight, in the caves when Greek Christians were expelled from Cappadocia in 1923.
- Head to the town of Avanos to watch a pottery demonstration and make clay while the sun shines.
- Return to your hotel for dinner, and vow to never wash your eyeballs again after what they saw today.
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia (extra cost)
Note: This excursion is weather-dependent and cannot be guaranteed.
Wake up early, hop in your Turkish chariot (a nickname we just made up for hot air balloons), and rise with the sun to see Cappadocia’s towering rock pillars, cave villages, orchards and vineyards from high in the sky.
Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.
- Day 7: Travel to Pamukkale via Konya
What do Thanksgiving and your trip have in common? There’s plenty of turkey to go around! Today you’ll travel further into this fabulous country to the Pamukkale Region—famous for its thermal pools, hot springs, ancient Roman ruins, and kooky limestone formations.
- Travel to Pamukkale and get to the bottom of why its name translates to “cotton castle.”
- Stop en route in the city of Konya.
- Meet and greet with a group of traditional Sufi Muslims, and learn about whirling dervishes—a hypnotic dancing style that’s as fun to watch as it is to say.
- Day 8: Explore the Ancient City of Hierapolis
The Roman Empire was huge back in the day. Anyone who was anyone was a part of it. England? Yep. Morocco? Yeah, that was included. Turkey? You better believe that was a part of the Roman Empire. Today is all about the ancient ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis, the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, and the even ancient-er natural hot springs nearby.
- Go for a soak in the mineral-rich hot springs—ya know, in case you forgot your multivitamin this morning.
- Explore the amazing ruins of the ancient city of Hierapolis, including a fully in-tact amphitheater that held up to 15,000 people.
- Fall in love with Aphrodisias—tall columns, temples, and an entire stadium, all named after the goddess of love—often considered to be the best archaeological site in Turkey.
- Use your new archaeologist skills to uncover a newfound appreciation for chilling on the bus as you head to the Turkish Riviera.
- Day 9: Beach Day on the Turkish Riviera
Grab your floaties, order your daily döner kebab to-go, and head out to the beach. Take it especially easy today on the Turkish Riviera. They call this place the “Turquoise Coast” for a reason—once you take a dip in the Aegean Sea, we bet you’ll nail why that is.
Free time suggestions
Beach: The sand is white, the water is perfect, and the timing is right to veg out like a Turkish eggplant in the sun all day.
Bodrum Castle: Few castles are as castle-y as this fairytale fortification overlooking Bodrum’s port, built in the 1400s. If that weren’t enough, today it houses a very cool museum dedicated to ancient shipwrecks. Brains and beauty!
Turkish Coffee: Start things off with an always strong, sometimes spiced cup of Turkish bean juice, AKA coffee, served with the finely powdered coffee grounds still in the cup. Trust the process.
- Day 10: Explore the Greek Ruins of Ephesus
Ephesus is one of the best excavated and well-preserved sites of antiquity. Get ready to see some of the most incredible ancient Greek ruins, temples, and the remains of once poppin’ cities. Don your toga: today is not a myth, it’s the real deal.
- Say “oh my gods” in the shadow of the very impressive and very tall ruins of the Temple of Zeus in Euromos.
- Book it over to the 2,000-year-old Roman Library of Celsus and see if they have that scroll you’ve been meaning to read.
- Visit the house that legend has it the Virgin Mary lived at late in her life.
- Day 11: Explore the Ancient Ruins of Pergamon + Turkish Cooking Class
What’s the one thing your hometown lacks? Ancient Greco-Roman ruins, exactly! So here’s one more chance to experience an archaeological masterpiece, and it’s a doozy! Today you’ll explore the ruins of the city of Pergamon and learn how the ancient Greeks who lived here once thrived. All of the temples and gathering places and theaters are still mostly there—just a little bit more crumbly these days. A few more ruins never ruined anyone’s day!
- Take a cable car ride into the hills above the city for some views of the Turkish countryside to write home about.
- Swagger like Socrates through the Acropolis of Pergamon.
- Satiate your sightseeing appetite with a traditional cooking class to learn how to make (and eat) a Turkish pizza while you enjoy a drink or two.
- Day 12: Return to Istanbul + Optional Turkish Spa Visit + Farewell Dinner
On your final day in Turkey, will you answer the phone when adventure calls? Of course you will! Return to Istanbul to hit any sights you missed, become pen pals with a local, and most importantly: start planning your next trip with your new travel family.
- Board your morning bus back to Istanbul and watch the beautiful countryside go by.
- Enjoy some free time back in the big city to do as you please.
Free time suggestions
Meze: Turkish tapas! Try a smattering of small plates that will satisfy even the largest of appetites. Sample cheeses, cold eggplant salad, grilled octopus, stuffed grape leaves, and anything else your stomach desires.
Baklava: Sure, you can find baklava at Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants in America. But can you eat this delicious dessert of honey, nuts, and fillo dough while admiring the sunset over the Bosphorous Strait back home? Didn’t think so.
Share some last laughs and revisit the best moments of the trip at this included farewell dinner with the group.
Hammam Spa Visit (extra cost)
Get the full sultan treatment today at a hammam spa. Enter an ancient bath house and indulge in a full body scrubbing and bubble massage common to traditional Turkish spa days—soul-cleansingly relaxing.
- Day 13: Fly Home
Translation: Goodbye, friends. Your next destination awaits—home. Before you head to the airport, make sure to take one more group photo and grab that final drink. But this isn’t goodbye because you can always get the gang back together for another trip soon. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, we have a couple ways to keep your vacation going.
EXTEND YOUR TRIP 2 WAYS
1. Double the fun
A lot of our trips line up back to back! Give us a call—we can help you add another and save big while you're at it.
2. Go ahead or stay behind
Extending your trip is easy! During checkout, you'll have the option to fly to (or from) the gateway of your choice for an additional fee. We'll adjust your flights accordingly, but you'll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside of tour.
Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.
Traveling with us helps the EF community plant trees, at no extra cost to you.
Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5
Based on 17 authentic traveler reviews
Trip of a LifetimeLindsay, traveled Jul.. 2022
Deciding to go on the Grand Tour of Turkey was one of the best decisions I've ever made. This trip was three years in the making due to COVID and while I was hesitant at first, it ended up being the coolest place I've ever been to. So much is packed into this trip so you'll never be bored. It also covers a wide variety of experiences so there's a little some... See more
10/10 would recommend Turkey!Anonymous, traveled Jun.. 2022
Everything about this Turkey tour was amazing! Our tour director, Suley, made the experience that much better because he was so knowledgable about everything and had a bunch of suggestions for food and free time. He even took us to several shopping stops to help our bus rides not feel so long. The highlight of the entire tour would probably be Cappadocia and... See more
This is why EF is ULTIMATEAnonymous, traveled Jun.. 2022
Turkey was my first EF reunion trip and first birthday trip. And I couldn't have had a better time. Not only did I get a chance to reunite with old friends from prior EF trips but I got to make plenty new friends on this one. Every experience from Istanbul to Cappadocia, from the Riviera to Ephesus, was truly once in a lifetime. I've long said that the true ... See more
Turkish Fun in the SunKatlyn, traveled Jun.. 2022
Such a great experience! Our TD Sully was amazing, the history of Turkey is so cool, and the sites are breathtaking! Sign up for all of the optional activities! They are worth it! Especially the Hammam and Hot Air Balloon ride! If I could have stayed longer I would have!