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Discover Turkey and Northern Cyprus

Discover Turkey and Northern Cyprus in all its glory during this fifteen-day journey beginning in Istanbul. Take a trip through history from ANZAC day in Gallipoli to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, explore the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, then hop over to northern Cyprus where time stands still and people are hospitable as ever. Tread the paths of history, soak up some incredible landscapes and immerse yourself in this cultural melting pot.

15 days, from


per person


12 people max


Trip code: ERSTC
Style: Original
Theme: Explorer


Countries Visited:  Cyprus Turkey
Accommodation: Hotel (13 nights), Overnight Train (1 night)
Transportation: Private Bus , Public Bus , Train , Dolmus , Gulet , Plane
Included Meals:

  • 13 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Discover the incredible ancient and modern history of Turkey as you explore thousands of years of history hidden within the remarkable ruins of Ephesus and discover Gallipoli on a guided tour that will teach you about the significant events that took place in this area.

  • Taste local fruit wines in one of the best-preserved Greek Ottoman villages in the country. Get to know the friendly locals with a Gozleme making demonstration and a home-made lunch at a local family in Cappadocia.

  • Travel and stay a little differently – and come home with memories to last a lifetime – from taking local buses and trains, to staying in one of the cave hotels that Cappadocia is famed for.

  • Visit fairytale-like St Hilarion Castle, famously rumoured to be used by Walt Disney as inspiration for the castle in Snow White and Seven Dwarfs.

  • Discover Europe's last divided capital, known as Lefkosia to the Turkish and Nicosia to the Cypriot communities, it is full of surprises with an eclectic mix of cultures and architecture.

  • Stay in a traditional Cypriot village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Join your village hosts for some traditional bread and cheese making


Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Istanbul

Welcome to Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have all once called home. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1 pm, followed by a guided tour of the Old City with your expert leader. Visit the scene of many a chariot race in the ancient hippodrome, check out the Blue Mosque, take a walk past the wares of the Grand Bazaar and marvel at the architectural masterpiece that is Suleymaniye Cami. If you're not too exhausted after all the exploring, join your new friends for dinner and bask in the beauty of a real Turkish kebab. While you might be familiar with the shaved meats and pita bread sensation that you may have come across at 2 am, nothing beats the kind they wrap up in Istanbul.

Day 2: Canakkale

After breakfast this morning, hit the road enroute to Canakkale – a port city on the southern shore of the Dardanelles. You’ll stop along the way to explore Gallipoli on a guided tour that will teach you about the significant events and history embedded in this area. Your guide will take you to ANZAC Cove and major memorial sites like Brighton Beach and ANZAC commemorative Site. You’ll also take in the views across the Dardanelles Strait and the Gallipoli Peninsula. This evening, we’ll spend the night in Canakkale with free time to grab dinner and get ready for tomorrow’s adventures.

Day 3: Kusadasi

This morning, we’ll drive to Selcuk with a stop in Troy – where history and mythology sit side-by-side – along the way. You’ll wander the ancient city walls with your group leader and even get a chance to enjoy a photo op with a replica Trojan Horse. You’ll learn more about how this place has confounded historians and archaeologists alike before continuing on to Selcuk. In town, on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings – you’ll visit the Isa Bey Mosque, a beautiful example of 14th-century Seljuk Turkish architecture, and the imposing Byzantine citadel of the Grand Fortress.Then drive out to the nearby picturesque village of Sirince and taste some locally produced fruit wines. This authentic Greek Ottoman village seems to have been overlooked by modern development and the unique local architecture nestled in the hills make for a photographer's dream. Continue onto the seaside Kusadasi and enjoy a breezy evening here.

Day 4: Ephesus/Overnight Train

This morning, take a private minivan to visit the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus – one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman classical cities in the world. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history, which really comes alive with a local guide to enhance your experience. Considering their age, the ruins are in incredible shape, and it’s not difficult to imagine them in their full glory over 2000 years ago, equipped with running water, public toilets, a medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that is the most striking. Later you will stop for lunch at a family-run restaurant, where you’ll feast on gozleme made fresh before your eyes. Then, head back to Kusadasi for a relaxed afternoon - you could take to the Aegean and explore the coastline on a gulet, a traditional wooden Turkish vessel, or there are plenty of beaches in town to relax on. Get ready for transfer to Izmir in the early evening - an overnight train, will be waiting to transport you through the night to the central Anatolian city of Konya.

Day 5: Konya / Cappadocia

Wake up in Konya, a traditional Turkish city that's closely linked with the whirling dervish sect of Islam developed in the 13th century by Celaleddin Rumi, considered one of Islam's greatest Sufi mystics. Take an opportunity to visit the Mevlana Museum and stretch your legs in town before hitting the road to Cappadocia. Keep an eye out for the fairy chimneys, the hallmarks of Cappadocia's otherworldly landscape, as you drive across the Anatolian plains. Stop enroute at one of the underground cities that once provided a safe haven in times of war or persecution. Arrive in the Cappadocian town of Ugrup in the late afternoon and take a sunset valley walk before settling in for the evening. This evening, you'll be treated to a stay in a local cave hotel that Cappadocia is famous for here.

Day 6: Cappadocia

This morning you have the option to take a hot air balloon flight, a once-in-a-lifetime experience during which the sun illuminates a skyline dotted with balloons. Even if you'd prefer not to take a flight, it's still worth waking up for this truly incredible sight. Later this morning, enjoy a guided walk through one of the nearby valleys, possibly the Valley of Love, which features fairy chimneys, deserted rock-cut homes and churches. Your leader will know a number of fantastic scenic routes, and a good walk is by far the best way to experience this unique environment. In your free time today, maybe visit the UNESCO-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, a monastic complex composed of churches, rectories and dwellings cut into the soft cliff face. You could also hire a bicycle and ride to Avanos to check out the Red River or relax in a Turkish bath. This evening you’ll be warmly welcomed into a local cave home where the family will prepare a special home-cooked dinner for you and your group. Sit down to a feast made with passion, enjoy a friendly chat with your affable host and perhaps top off the night with some Turkish delight.

Day 7: Cappadocia to Istanbul

Wave goodbye to Cappadocia and transfer to the airport for a flight back to Istanbul (expect to arrive between 1 pm and 4 pm), then grab your bags and jump on the metro as the group heads to the Sultanahmet District for the final evening of the trip. Meet up with your travel buds in the evening and take a stroll across the Galata Bridge to one of the city's trendiest neighbourhoods, a place of contradictions where tool-selling tradesman share space with chic cafes and galleries – this is the place to be seen. Perhaps, try a local favourite, balik ekmek (fish sandwich), for dinner, then cleanse the palate with a baklava. Maybe check out a few of the bars, or simply enjoy a farewell cay (Turkish tea) overlooking the Bosphorus.

Day 8: Kyrenia

This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Ercan International Airport in the TRNC, on arrival exit the terminal buidling and look for your transfer to Kyrenia. Welcome to Kyrenia (Girne-Turkish), a beautiful town that boasts an average of 320 sunny days per year. Come 6pm, begin your travels with a welcome meeting at the hotel. Check with reception to confirm the specifics just to be safe. If you’re going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Your trip leader will be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at the meeting, so please have these on hand.

Day 9: Kyrenia

Embark on a walking tour of Kyrenia’s Old Town in the morning. The winding alleyways reveal a quaint mix of old stone buildings with colourfully restored architecture, along with the spectacular remains of the abandoned 16th-century Chrysopolitissa Church. Take a visit to the Venetian Castle that guards the city, taking in the magnificent sea vistas from the top of the fortifications. This afternoon, you’ll have free time to explore. You may choose to partake in a sunset cruise on the water floating around the shores of Kyrenia, considered one of the best ways to experience Northern Cyprus. Watch as the rolling hillsides and towns on the coast slowly roll by while you take in the sunshine on the deck.

Day 10: Kyrenia

The beautiful untouched beauty of the west of Northern Cyprus is your background today for a journey through its history. In the morning, visit Bellapais to explore its monastery, one of the few and fantastic Gothic architectural masterpieces of Cyprus, made famous by Lawrence Durrell’s book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus. Afterwards, head east towards the Five Finger Mountains, a mountain range stretching over 250 km along the northern shore of the island. You’ll have the option of joining a light hike (4 km, 1 hour) on the slopes leading to the Antiphonitis Monastery, a well-preserved byzantine church with frescoes from the 12th and 15th centuries. It is a unique location to explore the evolution of the fresco painting art through the centuries and the Latin influence on the orthodox tradition, but also the scars of art dealing on the black market. In the afternoon, you’ll have the chance for go for a dip at Alagadi Beach, a renowned spot for turtle nesting, followed by some free time in the old town of Kyrenia.

Day 11: Kormacit Village

In the morning, travel to the picturesque St Hilarion Castle. With walls and towers that sprout out of the rocks almost randomly, it’s rumoured that Walt Disney used the castle as inspiration for The Queen’s Castle in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The highest point stands at a towering 730 metres (2395 feet) above sea level, offering a marvellous view of the land below. Then, travel onwards to Nicosia. Known as Lefkosia to the Turks and Nicosia to the Greeks, the city is full of surprises thanks to a mix of cultures and architecture. The Selimiye Mosque is one of the Turkish side’s highlights, previously known as the Cathedral of Saint Sophia before the Ottomans added minarets in 1571. Marvel upon the interior’s whitewashed walls and examine traces of Gothic architecture lying in the architecture despite the Islamic refurbishment of the building. Afterwards, take a walking tour passing through both sides of the country’s green line. Your passport will be required for the checkpoints at the border and the intriguing contrasts between the divided city will become apparent as you enter the Greek side of the island. Later in the afternoon, loop back into the Turkish side with a trip to Kormacit village, one of the last inhabited villages of Maronites, a catholic community originally from Lebanon, which settled in Cyprus with the Crusaders.

Day 12: Kormacit Village

Start your morning in Kormacit with a tour of the village. Visit the 14th-century St George Chapel, the 19th-century St George Cathedral as well as the ethnographic museum. The Maronites speak a dialect of Old Arabic, very similar to the Syriac dialect that Jesus Christ is said to have spoken. From Kormacit, explore Morphou, Soli and Lefke, discovering Roman mosaics in Christian basilicas, Gothic architecture in Orthodox churches and fine examples of Armenian and Christian traditional homes with ornate balconies. Back in Kormacit, enjoy a traditional dinner in the backyard of Ema, one of the village’s few remaining Maronites, and taste Maronite specialties (rabbit, bulguri, Anari cheese, etc.) and even get involved in the dinner prep.

Day 13: Buyukkonuk

This morning, head off to Komi Kebir (Buyukkonuk), a traditional Cyprus village where residents have been working together to preserve local culture and heritage. Meet with your hosts Lois and Ismail before joining in some traditional bread and cheese making and with a sneaky tasting afterwards. Then perhaps take a wander through the local fields to the remains of the Auxendios church. The Karpaz Peninsula is dotted with abandoned churches, many of which have been left for years and have since been re-purposed as shelters for farm animals or simply left to fall in favour of new mosques. Enjoy a traditional village vegetarian meal for lunch, using local produce such as carob pekmez and zivania – a local firewater made from grape skins. Tonight, you’ll spend the night in a local guesthouse.

Day 14: Famagusta

This morning, travel towards Famagusta, first stopping for a tour of the ancient city of Salamis. Once a thriving port city, Salamis served many dominant groups over the course of history including the Assyrians, Persians, Egyptians and Romans. Continue on to St Barnabas’ monastery, dedicated to St Paul’s good Cypriot friend Varnavas (Barnabas) who carried out missionary work on the island. Our next stop is Varosha, the ghost town trapped in the buffer zone. You’ll have free time this afternoon. Ask your leader for some insider tips on where to go for a swim, or enjoy some time in the Old Town of Famagusta. In the evening, be sure to get together with your group for dinner to share your Northern Cyprus stories.

Day 15: Famagusta

Your trip comes to an end today after breakfast. As there are no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time.