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Essential Turkey


See some of the best bits of Turkey – a cultural melting pot that straddles Europe and the Middle East – on this 10-day trip with likeminded travellers. Indulge your senses with traditional Turkish food (don’t forget to try a coffee and some shisha, too!), explore ancient ruins and walk in the footsteps of Marc Antony, Cleopatra and the Trojan army. Dip your toes in the Dardanelles Strait, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea and sail along the south coast, uncovering the mysteries of ancient sunken cities. With so much on offer, what more could you ask for.

10 days, from

$900

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: ERYT
Style: Basix
Theme: 18 to 35s

Details

Countries Visited:  Turkey
Accommodation: Hotel (4 nights), Pension (3 nights), Multi-share guesthouse (2 nights)
Transportation: Ferry , Local bus , Private Bus , Boat , Tram
Included Meals:

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • Eat, swim, sunbake, repeat – that’s what will happen when you get cruising along Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline. The choice is yours if you’d like to go exploring, or just relax on deck.

  • Thought all the best Roman ruins were in Italy? Think again! Turkey is home to one of the best-preserved classical of Ephesus – so discover it just like Anthony and Cleopatra did 2000 years ago.

  • Take a group hike from the deserted ghost town of Karakoy over the hills to check out the stunning Blue Lagoon – your group leader will know all the spots to go to get the best vantage points.

  • Pay your respects of the battles fought and lives lost in Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. This once war-torn stretch of coastline is now a peaceful reminder of times past.

  • Wade through the scenic hot springs at Pamukkale – pure white calcium deposits that cascade down the cliffs overlooking the town, are said to have magical healing properties.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Istanbul

Kick off your Turkish adventure in Istanbul – the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, and now you – for one night, at least – have called home. You’ve got all of today to explore the capital city before you join up with your travel crew and group leader at an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Until then, maybe get out into the city streets to see the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Grand Bazaar and stunning Aya Sofya. Your accommodation is right in the thick of the action, so you won’t have to walk far for your first kebab. After the meeting, why not head out on an optional group dinner – a good introduction to some fabulous Turkish cuisine is in a street-side cafe.

Day 2: Canakkale

Today you’ll take a bus to the shores of Gallipoli (approximately 5.5 hours) – a significant peninsula for Australians and New Zealanders. It is a spot of pilgrimage for many to see the now calm waters and peaceful landscape that reside where such a brutal battle took place during the First World War. Take in the reverence and serenity of the region, and hear stories of heroism and mateship that shone through the tragedies of war. Continue onwards to Canakkale where you’ll spend the night. This city has a young local vibe due to it being a popular university town, so chill on the edge of the Dardanelles with a drink or check out a local band with some of your travel pals.

Day 3: Ayvalik

Today, there's the option this morning to take an excursion out to the ruins of Troy, where you can explore the ancient walls, climb around the 4500-year-old ruins, check out the Trojan horse statue and gaze across the Troad (the Plains of Troy) towards the Dardanelles and the hills of the Gallipoli Peninsula. Later on, drive down the coast to Ayvalik (approximately 3.5 hours). Head on a leader-led orientation tour to discover a town that’s a fascinating mix of Greek and Turkish cultures. Check out the cobblestone backstreets, beautiful houses and lively cafes. You could also hop on a boat from Ayvalik to Cunda Island, which is filled with Greek Orthodox churches and known for its dairy farming. The town is set around a harbour and looks out to the Aegean Islands, so what better way to kick off the evening than with a drink at a harbour-side bar, eating a local Ayvalik tost – think a Turkish-style toasted sandwich with all the trimmings.

Day 4: Selcuk

This morning, take a 4-hour journey by local bus to the traditional farming village of Selcuk. Once arrived, take an orientation walk to get your bearings – a town full of history and packed with artefacts and relics that reflect its past as an ancient fortress. Later you can head out to the nearby ruins of Ephesus and explore the streets once walked by Marc Anthony and Cleopatra. This is one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman classical cities in the world. You’ll be amazed by the sophistication of this ancient city, which had running water, public toilets, in-house heating, a medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is also well preserved, but it’s the magnificent library that’s perhaps the coolest structure. Nearby are the remains of the Temple of Artemis – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Chill out tonight in Selcuk, where you could try some Turkish meze and raki for dinner with some of your travel crew.

Day 5: Pamukkale

Travel east inland to Pamukkale (approximately 4 hours), which literally translates to 'cotton castle'. Here, spectacular natural hot springs with a high calcium content cascade over the edge of the cliffs, leaving bright white terraces, or ‘cotton’. It's been used as a spa since the second century BC, and its waters are said to have heaps of healing properties. If you’ve got Cleopatra on the mind after yesterday’s stories, then maybe choose to head out to the ancient city of Hierapolis and take a dip in what used to be her old pool – the transparent water-filled springs sculpted as a gift from Marc to Cleo. You can also check out the other ruins of the city – Hierapolis is known for its abundance of temples and religious structures, and the amphitheatre shouldn’t be missed.

Day 6: Fethiye

Jump on a local bus bound for Fethiye (approximately 5 hours). Arrive in time to check out this seriously vibrant harbourside city, and if there’s time, catch a dolmus to Saklikent Gorge or explore the back streets of the Old Town of Fethiye and hunt for a bargain. The best thing is – you’ve got the power to decide. Tonight, enjoy a walk by the harbour with your group, try some local seafood and check out the thriving nightlife scene.

Day 7: Kayakoy

This morning, travel to the eerie ghost town of Kayakoy. Wander through deserted stone houses and through the overgrown countryside, and be sure to watch out for the goats. You’ll be setting off on a hike today, so make sure you’re wearing some good shoes. From Kayakoy, continue by foot over the hills to catch a glimpse of the amazing Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz. Once arrived in town, hang out for a bit, quench your thirst and take a swim in the sparkling Mediterranean before jumping back on a local bus and heading back to Kayakoy for tonight. Chill out and enjoy an included dinner in Koyakoy.

Day 8: Kekova

This morning take a local bus back to Fethiye and then continue on local bus to Kas (approximately 3 hours), which is right near the southernmost point of Turkey. With its whitewashed buildings covered in bougainvillea and cobbled streets, Kas is one of the most attractive towns on the Turkish Mediterranean Coast. Spend an hour or two lunching and wandering the streets, before you transfer an hour down the road to Kekova. After arrival and settling down, follow your leader on an orientation walk around the town. Then it’s a free night to spend as you wish.

Day 9: Southern Coast Sailing/Kekova

Get ready for a fascinating day out cruising and exploring off the Turkish coast. Cruise onwards to the sunken Lycian city of Simena, from where remains of a mysterious civilisation can be viewed, as earthquakes sunk this land almost 2500 years ago. Here you can walk up to nearby Simena Castle, swim in crystal-clear waters, or explore Lycian rock-tombs. More swimming, sunbaking, eating and repeating – cruising the Turkish coast is a dream. Get back to Kekova in the afternoon and enjoy the rest of the day in this idyllic town.

Day 10: Antalya

After breakfast, hope on a public bus (approximately 3.5 hours) to Antalya – the capital of the Turkish Mediterranean. It’s hard to get a bad photo of Antalya due to it's charming cobblestone streets, historic Old City, vibrant marina and the Taurus Mountains framing the city. Head around town with your group leader, jump on the old Nostalgic Tram or go to Konyaalti Beach for some more time chilling out beachside. If you are in the mood for some last-minute history, check out some of the best museums in the country, or get theatrical at Aspendos ancient city with a beautiful, intact theatre from Roman times. Tonight, why not stake out some food and shisha with your group – Antalya has a thriving nightlife scene, so use it to your advantage.

Day 11: Antalya

With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time after breakfast, provided you comply with your accommodation’s internal check-out times.