Grand Tour of Turkey | EF Ultimate Break
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Grand Tour of Turkey

13 Days  •  5 Cities

Why Go?

What do you know about Turkey? Maybe you know that Istanbul is the largest city in Europe. Maybe you know that its history spans thousands of years across the Greek, Roman, and Ottoman Empires. Maybe you know its main imports and exports, but we don’t know why you’d know that TBH. But here’s what you may not know: a trip to Turkey means some of the most thrilling nights out and scenic backdrops in Istanbul. It means hiking through out-of-this-world landscapes in Cappadocia, and sunbathing on out-of-this-galaxy turquoise water beaches in the Turkish Riviera. Or uncovering some of the world’s best ruins of long-gone ancient empires that live on here, including two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But the most important thing to know is that this trip to Turkey will serve straight-up fun on a skewer, wrap eye-opening adventures in a pita, and leave your wanderlust fully satisfied.

What are the top highlights?

  • Melt into the international hodgepodge of one of the world’s most important and historical cities: Istanbul.
  • Stuff your face with Turkish foods—from döner kebabs and meze, to baklava and börek.
  • Cave in to adventure in the deep underground city of Kaymakli.
  • Experience Istanbul from underneath the city in the ancient Basilica Cistern, and from inside the world’s most iconic Mosque-turned-museum, the Hagia Sophia.
  • Check out trippy landscapes in the instantly Instagrammable Cappadocia region.
  • Discover the immaculately preserved ruins left behind by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
  • Sprawl out on the so-called ‘Turquoise Coast’ for a beach day in the Turkish Riviera.
  • Learn how to cook Turkish pizza hands-on—so delicious you won’t be able to keep your hands off of it.

Your trip includes

  • Round-trip flights & airport transfers
  • Multilingual Tour Director & local guides
  • Private motorcoach
  • Internal flight to Cappadocia
  • 11 nights in hand-picked accommodations
  • Welcome Mixer & three-course Farewell Dinner
  • Daily breakfast, lunch in Ephesus, & three dinners
  • Entrance to the Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern & other select attractions

Accommodations

You’ll stay at accommodations hand-picked by our team of local experts, in rooms only for EF Ultimate Break travelers. Each property is located in a safe, convenient area. You’ll receive your exact accommodations 30 days before your trip departs.


Click here for examples of where you'll stay.

Flights

Admit it, booking flights is the worst. Here's why you should let us do it for you:


  • Flight costs are included in your monthly payment plan, so you can pay over time
  • Airport transfers are included, so we’ll be waiting, sign in hand
  • Flights are booked with major airlines
  • 24/7 support no matter what time zone you’re in
  • One checked bag included on most flights
  • Option to make changes to your trip up to 99 days before departure

Booking with a friend? Let us know and we’ll do our best to make sure you’re on the same flight. Still want to book your own flights? That’s cool, simply select ‘No flights included’ instead of your departure city in the ‘Flights from’ dropdown.

Itinerary

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 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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.

In the evening, it’s time for your Welcome Mixer. Enjoy some appetizers over drinks with fellow travelers at an authentic local spot. Then it’s on to wherever your new friends and the party takes you.

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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • Gasp audibly at the magnificence of the Hagia Sophia, its iconic dome, and its 1,500-year life as a church, mosque, and museum.
  • Play one mosque, two mosque, red mosque, Blue Mosque as you enter and appreciate the extraordinary architecture and history of the aforementioned Blue and Süleymaniye mosques.
  • Get under the city’s skin with a visit to an ancient underground cavern, the Basilica Cistern, built to collect rainwater during Roman rule.
  • 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).

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)

We can’t make you into a Turkish citizen, but after this cruise, street food feast, and spice market tour, we think you’ll feel Turk-ish. Start your day with a little kick as you peruse the spice market for samples and flavorful tastings—Constantinople, as the city was known back in the day, was an important stop on the Silk Road. Next, cruise the Bosphorous Strait that divides Europe from Asia and admire Istanbul’s Instagrammable skyline from a boat. Finally, with a big appetite worked up from a day of snapping your camera shutter, make yourself into a Turkish street food expert as you feast on döner kebabs, baklava, and more traditional dishes. Cap things off with a strong Turkish coffee to keep you good, caffeinated, and ready to party after this jam-packed day.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Now that you’ve been deep underground, try on a new perspective for size: way up high in the sky. 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 in exhilarating fashion. Go higher in Turkey than an actual turkey can fly, see further than you thought possible, and take in spectacular #views along with dozens of other balloons.


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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • Say “oh my gods” in the shadow of the very impressive and very tall ruins of the Temple of Zeus in Euromos.
  • Try not to get turned into stone by the Medusa head statues guarding the spectacular—and spectacularly old—Temple of Apollo.
  • 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!


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Today’s Highlights:


  • 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.


Farewell Dinner


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 with a visit to a hammam spa. Enter an ancient bath house and as you acclimate to the steamy temperatures, think to yourself: yes, yes this is indeed the height of luxury. From there, indulge in a full body scrubbing and bubble massage common to traditional Turkish spa days. Cleanse yourself of all your worries (and dead skin) and come out a lean, clean, towel-wearing machine.


Why wait? Save money by booking this optional excursion before your trip departs.

Day 13: Fly Home

Hoşçakalın arkadaşlar!


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
Many of our trips line up back to back. Give us a call and we’ll help you add another destination—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 a $30 fee. We’ll adjust your flights accordingly, but you’ll be responsible to take care of your transportation, hotels, and other logistics outside the tour.

Note: Depending on your desired gateways, additional fees may apply.

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Stress-free Booking You have 48 hours to cancel and receive a full refund. You can also switch trips up to 99 days before you leave.

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