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Top Trip Memories

  • Gazing awed at the massive treasures of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul’s Topkapi Museum.
  • Dining at a rooftop restaurant situated between Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, as the sun sets and the iconic, exotic structures are illuminated.
  • Riding the ferries across the Bosphorus while crossing from Europe to Asia or vice versa.
  • Wandering through the seemingly endless market stalls in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar as persistent salesman hawk rugs, jewelry and souvenirs.
  • Watching a whirling dervish twirl and sway for hours on an outdoor stage, seemingly mesmerized by the entrancing rhythms of the sufi music played in the background.
  • Making a quick but tasty lunch of a fresh grilled fish sandwich sold at a sidewalk stand near the Bosphorus.
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride over the amazing landscape at Cappadocia, where the unusual volcanic rock formations are pocked with underground cave dwellings.
  • Exploring the old town at Antalya, Turkey’s largest beach resort, situated on a dramatic cliffside perch overlooking the Mediterranean.
  • Visiting the classical-era, beautifully preserved ruins of Ephesus near the coastal town of Kusadasi, a frequent cruise-ship stop.
  • Sailing down the Turkish coast in a traditional gulet, a two- or three-masted wooden vessel.
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Tour Tips

  • You could easily spend an entire week touring Istanbul, one of the world’s most fascinating cities, so don’t dismiss that option.
  • Consider making Istanbul a starting point for a Black Sea cruise and spending a few extra days there before your voyage; cruise lines or tour operators can arrange it.
  • You won’t regret booking a tour that includes Cappadocia, one of Turkey’s most remarkable sites.
  • If you’re a history or archaeology buff, be sure your tour includes a guided tour of ancient Ephesus.
  • As in much of the Middle East, touts and salesmen can be overly persistent and annoying to people they perceive as tourists. A good local guide should be able to shoo them away -- an excellent reason to take a guided trip.
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Turkey Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5

99%

recommend

267 Reviews

  • Excellent 200
  • Great 61
  • Average 5
  • Disappointing 1
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.7
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.7
  • Lodging
    4.7
  • Transportation
    4.7
  • Meals
    4.7

Tour Reviews

Fantastic tour – loved it!

Best of Turkey by Gulet

5.0
January 2017
Travel Talk
Recommend: Yes
So much fun with friends. Awesome service and guide :)

Very well planned.

Best of Turkey by Gulet

5.0
January 2017
Travel Talk
Recommend: Yes
Excellent tour guide (the best one I’ve ever had). The group was great and my family is happy. Great time in Turkey.

I loved the small group - there were only 9 of us and it was great.

The Best of Turkey

5.0
December 2016
G Adventures
Recommend: No
Amazing experience. I love Turkey and will definitely return in the near future. I am very happy with Gadventures style and I will be using Gadventures for my next 3 trips.

Spectacular Greece was Spectacular

Spectacular Greece with Island Cruise

5.0
November 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: Yes
This was our 3rd trip with smarTours, and we have enjoyed every one of them. We experienced a wonderful variety of sites. There was so much to see and do on this trip. Our guides were excellent, and our tour directors, Granville and Elena, both deserve special kudos for their breadth of knowledge and for making this trip so memorable.
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Awesome Greece Vacation!

Spectacular Greece with Island Cruise

5.0
September 2016
SmarTours
Recommend: Yes
This was our 1st smarTours trip. Based on this excellent experience we plan to do more. There was so much to see and do! I am so glad we finally made it to Greece and the Aegean Sea. Granville Lee Warner and Elana were outstanding guides. Both Granville and Elana were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated to making our trip as enjoyable as possible. We signed up for all of the side trips and thus our days were full. Yet the pace was always just about right and our travel group really enjoyed each other’s company. Credit Granville and Elana for our learning experiences, group cohesion and many fun times.
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Turkey Trips & Tour Advice

Turkey straddles two continents -- Europe and Asia -- but even the smaller European section, on the western side of the Bosporus, has a strong Middle Eastern feel. The star attraction of the European side is Istanbul, with its iconic Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. The Asian side features classical ruins at Ephesus, cave dwellings at Cappadocia, and beach resorts along the coasts. It's a don't-miss destination, whichever continent you're exploring. 

Istanbul alone is worth the trip to this fascinating country that spans two continents, Europe and Asia. In fact, greater Istanbul itself spans two continents, with ferry boats making continual trips across the Bosphorus between the western and eastern sides of the city.

Istanbul’s Glories

Istanbul is rich in architectural and historic treasures. The city’s two iconic landmarks, the enormous Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia -- a onetime Greek Orthodox basilica turned mosque and museum -- stand near each other within easy viewing distance of the Bosphorus. With their minarets and domes, especially when illuminated at night, the two help create as distinctive a skyline as any city in the world.

You could easily spend days examining the wealth of jewelry, china, costumes and carvings at the Topkapi Palace museum, most of them dating from the era of the old Ottoman Empire, which at one point dominated much of Europe and the Middle East. A jeweled dagger featured in the 1964 Peter Ustinov heist film Topkapi remains the top draw.

The Turkish Coast

Much of southwestern Turkey is lined with Aegean and Mediterranean Sea beach resorts, often packed with Europeans on holiday. The largest is Antalya, whose old section of winding cobbled streets sits on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean and is the site of numerous boutique hotels and chic shops. Antalya is said to be the third most visited city in the world after Paris and London, largely based on cruise ship stops and packaged flights from northern Europe.

Kusadasi on the Aegean coast is another popular resort, but many foreign visitors go there to see the nearby ruins of Ephesus, a 3,000-year-old Greek commercial center that was the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (a single column remains). Ephesus later played important roles in the Roman empire and early Christianity, and the ruins of the House of the Virgin Mary are said to be the last home of Jesus’ mother. The most striking ruin is probably the Library at Celsus, whose dramatic facade is still standing, though vast streets lined with ruins of temples and ancient house foundations can hold your interest for hours.  

Cappadocia

Cappadocia, a World Heritage site in central Turkey’s Goreme Valley, has become a must-stop on many Turkish tour itineraries. Not only does it contain strange volcanic rock formations produced by age-old forces of wind and rain, but dwellings and even churches have been chiseled out of the soft rocks. You can also find entire troglodyte cities connected by underground tunnels -- some dating from as early as the 5th century AD. Ancient monks decorated many of the chapels with striking Byzantine art.

Hot air balloon rides have become a popular way to view the unusual valley landscape, and are options offered by many tours.

Culture and Cuisine

Turks can sometimes seem aggressive, especially when trying to sell you something, but if your tour encompasses elements of cultural exchange, you’ll find the typical citizenry to be gracious hosts.

One highlight is the fine Turkish cuisine, epitomized by the mezes -- hummus, stuffed grape leaves, baba ghanoush (pureed eggplant), olives, and pita bread that constitute the start of just about any Turkish meal. These could be followed by lamb or vegetable stews or grilled kebabs, all aromatic of exotic spices.

If your mouth is watering for some of these dishes -- or just for a taste of Turkey in general -- let Stride help you plan your ideal multi-day tour to Istanbul and beyond.    

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