Hit the highlights of Turkey's diverse landscapes on this well-rounded, weeklong itinerary. Start in the center of it all in Istanbul to see the famous Blue Mosque and cruise down the Bosphorous Strait, then move to the plains of central Anatolia and witness Cappadocia's stunning rock formations from high above in a hot air balloon. After, fly to the Aegean coast to explore Sirince and the archeological sites of Ephesus, home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World


  • Wander through Istanbul's Old Town and discover the city by boat
  • Take a traditional pottery class with a master ceramist
  • Soar over Cappadocia's towering "fairy chimneys," by hot-air balloon
  • Explore Ephesus' ancient ruins and learn about its fascinating history 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul İstanbul
Day 2 Walking Tour of İstanbul, Cruise the Bosphorous Strait İstanbul
Day 3 Day Tour of İstanbul's Old Town İstanbul
Day 4 Fly to Ürgüp, Göreme Open Air Museum & Potter's Tradition Ürgüp
Day 5 Hot Air Balloon Ride, Cooking Class & Avcılar Valley, Fly to Şirince Şirince
Day 6 Explore Şirince & the Ancient City of Ephesus Şirince
Day 7 Transfer to İzmir & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul

Explore İstanbul's vibrant city center

Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul! Upon arrival at İstanbul International Airport, a driver will take you to your hotel. After some time to relax, meet your guide for a quick preview of the city. Settled on the European side of İstanbul, the district of Beyoğlu showcases posh, early 18th-century buildings, embassies, and boutiques. Discover magnificent architecture along Grande Rue de Péra, now known as İstiklal Caddesi. Some highlights to visit include several Christian churches, the Flower Passage, and the bustling Produce and Fish Market.

Day 2: Walking Tour of İstanbul, Cruise the Bosphorous Strait

Have your camera ready for the colorful Spice Market

Begin your full day of exploring the city at Topkapı Palace. Once the residence of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century, today, it houses a beautiful museum. Next, you'll visit the Spice Market, one of the city's longest bazaars and a wonderful place to buy local gifts such as nuts, coffee, teas, and Turkish delight, a traditional confection.

Later, enjoy a boat cruise through the Bosphorus Strait, admiring the shores of İstanbul's European and Asian sides. Seeing the city by boat offers an entirely different perspective, allowing you to understand its vast size and why it's played such an important geographic role for centuries. Afterward, return to the beating heart of İstanbul, starting in the Pera/Beyoğlu district. Important landmarks include St. Antoine's Catholic Church, the Tünel District, and Neve Shalom Synagogue. Don't miss the Galata Tower and square, built by the Genovese as an observation tower. 

Day 3: Day Tour of İstanbul's Old Town

The Blue Mosque at Dusk
Soak up all the shades of blue at the Blue Mosque 

Meet your guide this morning to visit the city's Old Town district. Start with the Blue Mosque, built in the 17th century, which earned its name due to the stunning azure tiles adorning its interior. On the west side of the mosque, you'll find the Byzantine-era Hippodrome. Discover the Hagia Sophia, built before the Middle Ages in the year 537 CE, making it the largest building in the world during that time. It isn't easy to fully understand the structure's magnitude until you go inside and marvel at its interior.

In the afternoon, you'll explore the Grand Bazaar, one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets. Have your pick of 61 streets and over 4,000 shops while you rub shoulders with the locals, soaking up the atmosphere as you use the occasion to buy gifts and Turkish delicacies of all sorts.

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Day 4: Fly to Ürgüp, Göreme Open Air Museum & Potter's Tradition

Become overwhelmed by the colors of Cappadocia

In the morning, a driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for a flight to Ürgüp. From there, you'll be met and transferred to Cappadocia, famous for its lunar landscapes and unbelievable rock formations. Once checked in at your hotel, your guide will take you to Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museum contains some of the world's most beautiful rock-cut churches and frescoes, created in the 10th to 12th centuries.

Afterward, you'll have the opportunity to visit a local pottery studio. Pottery craft has been a long-standing tradition in the region since the Hittite civilization (2000-1500 BCE), with the nearby Kızılırmak River supplying all the red clay used to produce these earthenware items since antiquity. The visit includes a live demonstration from a master ceramist, and you'll get to try making some pottery yourself.

Day 5: Hot Air Balloon Ride, Cooking Class & Avcılar Valley, Fly to Şirince

View of the intriguing village of Uçhisar

Opt for an early hot air balloon ride over the landscape's otherworldly volcanic rock formations and distinctive "fairy chimneys." It's an unforgettable experience as you soar over breathtaking valleys and other colorful hot air balloons flying nearby. Experience the plateaus and rocks from above as the sun rises and creates the most stunning colors. Upon landing, you'll spend some time exploring the beautiful town of Uçhisar, known for its natural fortress used for housing and defense.

In the afternoon, enjoy a cooking class where you'll be welcomed into a local's home to learn how to prepare a traditional Turkish dish. Cook regional delicacies alongside your host, then sit down and enjoy a delicious lunch. Following that, discover the stunning panoramic views from Avcılar Valley and Paşabağ Valley ("Valley of Monks"), where you can see more fairy chimneys and cave dwellings. Then it's time to say goodbye and fly to İzmir, on Turkey's western Aegean coast. Once you arrive, your driver will transfer you to your hotel in the idyllic hill town of Şirince.

Day 6: Explore Şirince & the Ancient City of Ephesus

Şirince Village
Explore living history in Ephesus

Spend some time getting to know the charming village of Şirince this morning—meandering its winding streets lined with fig trees and stopping for a coffee in one of its sunny, cobbled streets. Later, you'll visit the nearby Ephesus, an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the Hellenistic, Roman Imperial, and early Christian periods. This ancient city undergoes annual excavations, uncovering new sections and fantastic artifacts every year.

During your tour, see the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, followed by the House of the Virgin Mary, located on the top of the beautiful Bülbül Mountain. It's believed that Mary came to the area with Saint John, who spent several years spreading Christianity in Ephesus. Once the tour finishes, you'll transfer to your hotel in Şirince to enjoy your final night in Turkey at your leisure.

Day 7: Transfer to İzmir & Depart

Farewell, Turkey

It's time to say farewell to Turkey! Your driver will pick you up and drive you to the İzmir Airport, where you'll fly to İstanbul to catch your connecting flight. Güle güle (goodbye) and safe travels!

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Map of Turkey at a Glance: Istanbul, Cappadocia & Şirince - 7 Days
Map of Turkey at a Glance: Istanbul, Cappadocia & Şirince - 7 Days