Kick off your trip in Istanbul with some Grand Bazaar and Old Town times. Head to Gallipoli then on to Ayvalik for some delicious treats. Next up is ancient Selcuk and Greco-Roman Ephesus, then Pamukkale for healing natural pools, Konya for Whirling Dervishes, and Cappadocia for slightly phallic, lunar-like landscapes. Awkies.
Mother Nature was in a good mood the day she created Love Valley in Cappadocia. Sometimes referred to as ‘Turkey’s Undies’, it consists of a bunch of phallic rock structures sprouting up all over the countryside. You could say there’s a stiff breeze in the air.
Day 1-2 - Istanbul
Merhaba! Welcome to Turkey.
We've found accommodation right near the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market (so you won't have to lug your treasures very far). Convenient, no?
- Arrive in Istanbul. Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please check with the hotel reception or the hotels noticeboard for confirmation of where and when this meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early, so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please contact the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your trip leader.
- Head out on an optional group dinner, a good introduction to some fabulous Turkish cuisine in a street-side cafe
- Take a guided tour of the treasures of the Old Town including the iconic Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome
- Explore under your own steam in the afternoon. Maybe visit the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market
- Perhaps barter for a bargain, enjoy a cruise on the Bosphorus or indulge in a traditional hamam (Turkish bath)
Day 3 - Gallipoli - Eceabat
No jokes about Gallipoli. If you choose to take the optional trip to Troy, however, you're free to remember Brad Pitt's terrible accent in the movie and laugh yourself silly.
- Take a bus to the shores of Gallipoli, a place of immense significance for Australians and New Zealanders (approx. driving time: 5.5 hours). It is a spot of pilgrimage and reverence and the calm lapping waters belies the murderous campaign that took place here. This now-serene site is located at Turkey’s most westerly point and played a crucial role in 1915 for Allied forces during the First World War. The combatants here included other Commonwealth and British troops, as well as the French and Turkish
- Cross the Dardanelles by ferry to accommodation in Çanakkale
Day 4 - Ayvalik
We suggest you devote this day to finding the best burek of the trip. Or the best kebab. Or the best baklava. Maybe just devote this day entirely to food. Your local guide can help.
- Drive down the coast to Ayvalik (approx. driving time: 3.5 hours)
- Optional excursion to Troy, where you can explore the ancient walls, climb around the ruins and gaze across the Troad (the Plains of Troy) towards the waters of the Dardanelles and the hills of the Gallipoli Peninsula
- Take an orientation tour of Ayvalik and view its Greco-Ottoman houses, cobblestone streets and lively cafes
- A drink at a harbourside bar is a great way to enjoy the sunset
Day 5 - Ephesus - Selcuk
Ephesus is the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. Antony and Cleopatra lived here for a while, as did the Virgin Mary. These days it would be known as something of a hotspot.
- Take a local bus to Selçuk (approx. driving time: 7 hours)
- Explore nearby Ephesus - perhaps the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world (optional). Ephesus, founded by Ionian Greeks in the 11th century BC and brought to full flower under Roman rule, was always an important religious centre
- Walk the marble streets once trodden by Antony and Cleopatra and marvel at the gymnasium, baths and the restored Library of Celsus
- Close by is the last home of the Virgin Mary who, as legend has it, came here accompanied by St John and lived out her days in this beautiful spot
Day 6 - Pamukkale
This place is so pretty Walt Disney would be jealous he didn't invent it. Apparently the thermal waters can cure asthma, but bring your inhaler just in case.
- Set off on a morning orientation tour around Selçuk, a town full of history and packed with artifacts and relics that reflect its past as an ancient fortress on Ayasoluk Hill
- Travel to Pamukkale (approx. driving time: 6 hours), with its spectacular natural pools, shelves and ridges, formed by a spring with high calcium bicarbonate content that cascaded over the edge of the cliffs, leaving calcium deposits
- Perhaps explore the ancient city of Hierapolis, known for its abundance of temples and religious structures
Day 7 - Konya
Konya is home to the famous Whirling Dervishes. Please note that most of the whirling takes place behind closed doors. You won't see people spinning randomly on the street.
Breakfast | Dinner
- Catch a bus to Konya (approx. driving time: 5 hours). This town dates back to Roman times and was also the capital of the Seljuk Turks from the 12th to 13th centuries. It is most famous as the home of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, who founded a mystic Sufi order popularly known as the 'Whirling Dervishes'
- Seize the chance to visit Mevlana's Mausoleum and the museum housing manuscripts of his works (optional), as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect that he founded
- Please note that Konya is a very religious town, so it is best that we dress conservatively during our time.
Day 8-9 - Cappadocia
Explore Cappadocia, the lunar-like landscape in the interior of the country. Moon boots optional.
- Take the bus to Cappadocia (approx. driving time: 3.5 hours) - an extraordinary region that has bewitched travellers for centuries. Cappadocia was formed thousands of years ago as volcanic ash settled, hardened into soft rock and then eroded, forming strange and fantastic spires, domes and gorges
- On arrival in Göreme (our base for two nights) we can catch another bus for an hour that takes us to Derinkuyu (optional) – an incredible underground city that descends eight floors (60 metres) below the surface
Day 9 -
- Today we grab our boots and hike from Goreme to Ortahisar (appx 2.5 hours)
- Later have free time to explore the valley or Ortahisar Castle - its the biggest fariy chimney in the Cappadocia region!!
- Tonight we have the perfect opportunity to enjoy a traditional home cooked meal at our homestay for the night.
Day 10-11 - Cappadocia - overnight bus - Istanbul
Jess said her favourite part of Istanbul was the Basilica Cistern. After the initial shock of discovering it's not a giant toilet, she described it as "...amazing, creepy, Medusa head, fishy, haunting, lovely". Jess has a way with words.
- Spend a free day exploring the Cappadocia region
- Perhaps stop by the Göreme Open Air Museum - always worth a visit (optional). It is a fascinating complex of medieval painted cave churches carved out by rock
- Farewell Cappadocia and make the long journey by overnight bus back to Istanbul (approx. driving time: 10-12 hours)
- The trip ends on arrival in Istanbul at the bus station (between 7 am and 8 am), but there are plenty more kebabs to be eaten if you're thinking of sticking around a bit longer. Additional accommodation can be booked if you wish to further explore this great city. Alternatively you may wish to book a departure transfer to connect with an onward flight - please inquire at time of booking
What to Know
Local leader, accommodation and transport.
- International flights, arrival & departure transfers, departure taxes, visas, travel insurance (compulsory on all trips), meals (where not listed as included in the itinerary), drinks, optional additional tours or activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature, entrance fees.
Trip Dates and Prices
Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments
At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.
Michele - Australia, 2 July, 2014
Lovely to discover and take a Geckos tour with my friend who's travelled to India and Vietnam previously. Great way to travel hassel free. Appreciate support from Aynur and Jan in your HQ in Istanbul to reassure me after my slip on the car ferry to Canakkale on a very wet morning.
Carla - United Kingdom, 9 July, 2014
Great tour - giving a good overview of some of the more noteworthy sites in Turkey - but do look at your guidebook as there are some equally awesome sights nearby that you can easily reach by taxi in your spare time!
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