Taste of Turkey: 9 Days of Indulgence – Small Group Tour

Tour dates: Saturday, Sep 21, 2024 – Sunday, September 29, 2024 – space is limited!
Start/End: Istanbul, Turkey

At Where Sidewalks End, we believe in the transformative power of travel. Our mission is to create deep, meaningful connections between our travelers and the diverse cultures and histories of the world. Through our tours, we aim to inspire a sense of wonder and engagement, helping you experience the world in profound and life-changing ways.

We engage you with the world through immersive experiences beyond typical tourist paths. From the bustling streets of Istanbul to the mystical landscapes of Cappadocia and the ancient ruins of Ephesus, we curate journeys that allow you to explore deeply and experience authentically. Our tours are designed to let you connect intimately with the local life, traditions, and histories of the places you visit.

Join us on a unique journey through Turkey, starting in the dynamic metropolis of Istanbul. Experience the city’s lively street food scene, with flavorsome dishes like kebabs, köfte, and börek, and savor the distinctive culinary offerings at Çiya Sofrası. The adventure continues in Cappadocia, where you can engage with age-old traditions in villages like Sinassos and Ortahisar. Participate in pottery-making workshops, marvel at the artistry of Turkish carpets, and taste the exquisite local wines in Cappadocia’s vineyards. Opt for a breathtaking hot air balloon ride for a truly memorable experience. Conclude your expedition in Ephesus, exploring historic ruins steeped in legend, and immerse yourself in the sacred atmosphere of the House of the Virgin Mary. This journey is not just a tour; it’s an opportunity to explore, engage, and experience Turkey in unforgettable ways.

Don’t wait—book your journey now and get ready to connect with Turkey in a way you never imagined possible!

Confirm today – space is limited. 
The tour does not include international flights, travel insurance, or activities not listed in the itinerary below.
Tour dates: Saturday, Sep 21, 2024 – Sunday, September 29, 2024 – space is limited!
Book Now to secure your space! Only pay the $500 USD deposit to confirm your seats – balances will be collected no later than 60 days prior.
*Please note* There is a minimum number of people for this trip to be confirmed. Please do not book your international flights before we notify you of the tour’s confirmation (we will inform you no later than 60 days before departure, on July 23rd, or once minimum numbers are reached – whichever comes first)! If you want to book your flights prior, trip cancellation insurance is strongly advised.

Description

A Taste of Turkey

Small Group Tour of Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus

Spend 9 days exploring the wonders of Turkey, from the metropolis of Istanbul to the desert of Cappadocia, and the historical ruins of Ephesus. Experience the absolute best that Turkey has to offer. 

 

Item Details
Meeting Point Istanbul
End Point Istanbul
Duration 9 days / 8 nights
Physical Level Moderate – this experience involves several activities with medium energy – not suitable for all guests
Cultural Rating High – a good balance of cultural interactions, and engaging local traditions and ceremonies
Ages 18+ (a parent or guardian must accompany younger than 18)
Group Size Min 6 – Max 15 people (space is limited)
*do not buy flights until we email you that the minimum numbers have been met

Itinerary for your Tour of Turkey

Embark on a captivating journey through Turkey, where history, culture, and culinary delights converge to create an unforgettable experience. Our “Taste of Turkey” tour aims to give you a full palette of the country as you roam Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ephesus.

Day 1 – Arrival in Istanbul

On Day One, an arrival transfer will pick you up at the Airport to bring you to your hotel. Depending on arrival time, your guide may meet you at the hotel for a short walking tour near the Golden Horn and the Galata Bridge before dinner.

Enjoy your first taste of Turkish cuisine with your group for an abundant opening night.

Meals included (dinner)

Day 2 – Istanbul’s Historic Highlights

Istanbul's Historic Highlights Tour
A tour of Istanbul’s Historic Highlights

In the morning, we start to visit the glorious highlights of Constantinople. We visit Topkapi Palace and then walk to the other splendid relics such as the 400-year-old Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and the 2000-year-old Roman Hippodrome, and the Underground Cistern. and visit the Hagia Sophia Church, built in the first half of the 6th century, by Emperor Justinianus. We walk to the Grand Bazaar, with a 500-year-old history and 4000+ shops.

Meals included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 3 – A Taste of Istanbul – A Gastronomical Paradise

Istanbul Food Tour - shwarma
Istanbul Food Tour – an unforgettable dining experience

Istanbul’s street food scene showcases the city’s diverse culinary influences, blending Turkish, Ottoman, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine. From classic staples like kebabs and köfte to savory pastries, simit (sesame bread rings – a local street-food icon), and Turkish flatbreads, there’s a diverse array of flavors to explore. For an unforgettable dining experience, Çiya Sofrası offers a taste adventure, delivering some of the most memorable meals in Turkey.

Istanbul's Food Markets - exploring Kadıköy Deli Market
Istanbul’s Food Markets – exploring Kadıköy Deli Market

Step into history at Istanbul’s iconic Spice Market, a 17th-century marvel of Ottoman architecture. Originally a hub for exotic spices and goods from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, it now offers a sensory journey through vibrant stalls adorned with colorful tiles and vaulted ceilings. Beyond spices like saffron and cinnamon, discover dried fruits, nuts, teas, oils, and traditional sweets like baklava and Turkish delight.

Meals included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 4 – Hiking through Cappadocia

Hiking in Cappadocia Turkey
Hiking the breathtaking landscapes of Cappadocia

In the morning we will fly from Istanbul to make our way further into the country on an unforgettable adventure to Cappadocia. Your flight is included, and we pay Turkish Airlines’ carbon offset and sustainable aviation fuel projects initiatives, keeping your travels in line with our Trip Foundation’s ethos.

This unusual landscape is a geological and historical wonder composed of extensive underground cities (churches, schools, frescos, homes, ventilation systems etc.) carved into eerily eroded volcanic tuff. After checking into our hotel, we will walk to Uchisar Castle, an impressive rock formation long used by locals as a castle. It offers a superb panorama of the surrounding area. We continue to the Goreme Open Air Museum with its excellent examples of Byzantine rural art. Weather and snow conditions permitting, we will enjoy short hikes to explore, because the best way to explore Cappadocia is on foot.

Meals Included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 5 – Hot Air Balloons and Artisanal Workshops in Cappadocia

Take a ride in a Hot Air Balloon over the rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey
Take a ride in a Hot Air Balloon over the rock formations in Cappadocia (optional)

We will help book (OPTIONAL – Not Included) a hot-air balloon ride for those interested. The aviation authority will decide if the balloons are allowed to launch after 5 PM the previous day. If the flight is authorized, you will be picked up from your hotel before sunrise and you will be back to your hotel for breakfast. Make sure you have an extra layer, because the temperature drops due to the altitude (4000 feet) and desert climate, for this ride, and be prepared for a fantastic experience.

Explore lesser-known communities in the villages surrounding Cappadocia
Explore lesser-known communities in the villages surrounding Cappadocia, such as Sinassos, Babayan, and Ortahisar

After this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you will go on a journey through Cappadocia’s enchanting landscapes and villages like Sinassos, Babayan, and Ortahisar. These lesser-known communities offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the region, providing deep cultural experiences for you to explore.

Discover the ancient arts of pottery and the world-famous Turkish carpet weaving, deeply ingrained in Cappadocia’s cultural fabric. One of the highlights of your Cappadocia adventure is delving into the time-honored art of pottery. For thousands of years, the unique geological formations of Cappadocia, characterized by volcanic tuff and clay-rich soil, have fostered a thriving pottery tradition. Today, visitors have the opportunity to witness the craftsmanship firsthand, as skilled artisans mold clay into exquisite pottery pieces. Take part in a hands-on pottery workshop and explore your creativity as you craft your own unique souvenir to cherish from your Cappadocia journey.

Discover the Ancestral traditions in Turkish rug textiles
Discover the Ancestral traditions in Turkish rug textiles

Witness the intricate craftsmanship of Turkish carpets, each telling a story through traditional colors and symbolic designs. With origins dating back over a millennium, Turkish carpets are renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship, intricate designs, and lively colors. Explore the intricate weaving techniques, from the symmetrical (Turkish) knot to the asymmetrical (Persian) knot, and unravel the stories woven into each carpet’s intricate patterns. You will be captivated by the diverse array of carpets produced in different regions of Turkey, each with its own unique style and symbolism.

We will explore the unique tradition of Soğanlı dolls, handcrafted in the village of Soğanlı, and indulge in the region’s best-kept secret – local wine. Explore Cappadocia’s vineyards, tasting award-winning wines that showcase the region’s rich viticultural heritage, adding a flavorful dimension to your cultural journey.

Meals Included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 6 – Deeper into Cappadocia: Underground Cities and the Ihlara Valley!

Explore Ihlara Valley and the subterranean towns nearby
Explore Ihlara Valley and the subterranean towns nearby

As we embark on our journey southwards, we are in for an extraordinary experience exploring the wonders of Cappadocia. Our first stop takes us to the most impressive subterranean towns in the region: Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. These elaborate underground settlements, up to eight stories deep, hold a fascinating history. As we venture through a maze of tunnels, we will discover churches, private living quarters, storage areas, deep water wells, air shafts with carved chimneys, and even wine-producing chambers. It is astounding to imagine that up to 60,000 people lived here, taking refuge underground for months.

Visit hidden Byzantine churches adorned with original frescoes
Visit hidden Byzantine churches adorned with original frescoes

We continue our journey to the beautiful Ihlara Valley. This enchanting canyon offers a picturesque scene with its streamlined formations. As we hike (5 to 8 miles) along the narrow path, we will come across hidden Byzantine churches adorned with original frescoes.

We’ll break for lunch in the valley at a small café situated along the banks of the river.

Meals Included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 7 – Journey to Ephesus

Dining in Turkey
One of the many beautiful locations we will dine at on our journey across Turkey

This morning, we will fly to Ephesus (included). Upon arriving, we enjoy our first Aegean lunch at a local family restaurant and then visit the Basilica of St John.

After lunch, we take a 15-minute drive up to the hills to Şirince Village and check into our charming hotel for the last 3 days of our trip. We will save the rest of the highlights of this exceptionally unique area for the next day, giving you some free time to take in the new surroundings.

Meals Included (breakfast, lunch)

 

Day 8 – Explore the Ancient Ephesus

Discover many of the wonders of Ephesus, such as the Library of Celsus
Discover many of the wonders of Ephesus, such as the Library of Celsus

After breakfast, we visit the historical sites of Ephesus in a leisurely manner.

The well-preserved ruins of Ephesus are a testament to the city’s former grandeur and importance in the ancient world. Walking through the ancient streets, visitors can marvel at the impressive architecture, including the Library of Celsus, the Odeon, the Temple of Hadrian, and the Great Theater, which once hosted crowds of up to 25,000 people.

Located near Ephesus, the Basilica of St. John is believed to be the final resting place of the apostle St. John. This grand structure showcases a blend of architectural styles and holds religious significance for Christians.

For those seeking a deeper understanding of the region’s history, the Ephesus Museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts unearthed from the ancient city. These artifacts provide insights into the daily life, culture, and traditions of the people who once inhabited Ephesus.

 

The Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was a colossal and ornate structure dedicated to the goddess Artemis. Although only ruins remain today, its historical significance is well-preserved in the annals of history.

Finally, we go to a place of pilgrimage and spiritual reflection, the House of the Virgin Mary is believed to be the final residence of the Virgin Mary. Visitors can experience a sense of tranquility and devotion in this sacred site.

Together, these remarkable sites in the Ephesus area offer a unique and immersive journey into the past, allowing visitors to connect with the rich history, cultural heritage, and religious significance of this extraordinary region.

Meals Included (breakfast, lunch)

Day 9 – Return to Istanbul for a Bosphorus Cruise

Take a boat cruise on the Bosphorus Straits
Take a boat cruise on the Bosphorus Straits – a river that played a pivotal role in the history of Istanbul and the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires

In the morning you will depart back to Istanbul.

After you check in to your hotel, you will take a cruise through the Bosphorus.

The Bosphorus Strait separates the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey. It connects the Black Sea to the north with the Sea of Marmara to the south. The Bosphorus is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and varies in width from 550 meters (1,800 feet) at its narrowest point to 3,700 meters (12,100 feet) at its widest. It is surrounded by picturesque hills and neighborhoods. The Bosphorus has played a pivotal role in the history of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) and the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. Its strategic location made it a crucial waterway for trade and military purposes.

Enjoy one final dinner with your guide and fellow travelers, reminiscing over the unforgettable experiences you’ve had together!

Meals Included (breakfast, dinner)

What to bring to the Turkey adventure?

This is the basic list of what we suggest you bring with you. We will provide a more detailed suggested list prior to your departure:
– Sneakers/comfortable shoes.
– Long sleeves or bug spray.
– Sunblock.
– Hat/cap.
– A reusable water bottle and shopping bag (let’s reduce waste where we can, leaving only footprints).
– N95 Mask (not required, but recommended for visiting small villages if anyone feels unwell)
– Cash. It is up to you how much you wish to bring, for your personal expenses, and if you’d like to convert any cash before you come or withdraw money out of an ATM (we recommend a mix of the two).
– a sense of adventure and an open mind! Probably the most important element of your visit – we want to encourage and inspire you to break out of your comfort zone and get the most out of your trip. Of course, you can opt out of any activity you don’t feel comfortable with, though we are confident of their safety and would not put you in harm’s way if we didn’t stand behind the activities you will be experiencing.

What is included with the Taste of Turkey Tour?

Your  tour includes:
– information provided before your experience to educate you and properly prepare you
– a specially trained English-speaking guide who will facilitate your experience
– transportation during the tour (a private vehicle for most activities, as well as some local transport)
– translations with any locals
– meals (includes all breakfasts at the hotel, unless mentioned, and meals mentioned in itinerary)
– activities (all activities mentioned are included)
– accommodation (you will share accommodation in comfortable 3-star hotels throughout Turkey with a fellow tour member – same sex only – unless you select to have your own private room, or are traveling as a pair)
– a special small gift to take home with you

What is not included when on your Taste of Turkey Tour?

Travel Insurance (Compulsory)
– International flights
– Transportation (outside of the included itinerary)
– Accommodation in Istanbul if you arrive early or stay later than the described dates
– Alcoholic beverages
– Gratuities and tips
– Spending money if you wish to purchase souvenirs or for activities during your free time
– Meals not listed in the itinerary will be at your own expense

Supporting Local Projects with our TRiP Foundation

For every TRIP that you go on with WSE Travel, we will donate 2% to an environmental or community-based project in the country you’re visiting. We want to ensure that every guest we help, in turn, supports and preserves the destination we’re experiencing together as a direct result. We explore with a Travel Responsibly & Impact Positively (TRIP) ethos.

For more information on the projects supported by this experience, please visit our TRIP projects.

Cancellations & Rebooking

All tours, services, and experiences booked through WSE Travel are bound to our Terms and Conditions, which were modeled after most other travel services such as flights, hotels, and other tour operators.

This is a summary of our cancellation, rebooking, and refund policies. By confirming your reservation, you are agreeing to this policy:

1. Cancellation by Client:
60+ days before departure: 100% deposit transferable to another tour. No cancellation fees. Non-refundable deposit.
– 31-59 days before departure: 50% of tour cost forfeited. The other 50% is transferable to another tour. Non-refundable deposit.
– 30 days or less before departure: 100% of tour cost forfeited.

2. Cancellation by the Company:
– Option to choose another tour or receive a full refund, except in cases of force majeure.

3. Rebooking:
– Deposits from cancellations 60+ days before, and balance of deposits 30-60 days before, can be used for another tour, adjusted for cost changes.

4. Refunds:
– No refunds for unused services if the tour is left early by the client.
– Non-refundable deposits if canceled by the client (please refer to section 1 of the cancellation policy)
– Refundable deposits if canceled by the company (please refer to section 2 of the cancellation policy)

5. Pricing Changes:
– Price changes notified 30 days in advance; significant increases allow withdrawal without penalty.

For the complete terms, you can check the full policy here: Terms and Conditions

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