Istanbul to Athens Explorer

Istanbul to Athens Explorer

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15 Days
From

$3185

$3026

Istanbul to Athens Explorer

15 Days Starting in Istanbul, Türkiye and ending in Athens, Greece

Visiting: İstanbul, Ankara, Göreme Open Air Museum, Konya, Pamukkale, Kuşadası, Athens, Archaeological site of Mycenae, Archaeological Site of Olympia, Delphi, Meteora

Tour operator:

Encounters Travel

Tour code:

297

Specialist Group:

18-30 Somethings

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 50

Physical rating:

All Ages / Not applicable

Age range:

8-95

Special diets catered:

Request dietary needs

Tour operated in:
English
Interests:

Cultural, History

From:
$3185
$3026 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$159
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Tour Overview

This 15-day tour takes you on an unforgettable journey through the historic lands of Turkey and Greece. Culture, history, philosophy, mythology, religion, politics, architecture - these two countries were, and still are, both incredibly important and influential in these fields. You will visit many famous landmarks and sites on your tour, seeing ancient ruins and half-buried civilisations, temples of Greek gods and statues of legendary warriors, iconic buildings and fascinating natural spectacles. Highlights include Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the mythical landscape of Cappadocia, the travertines of Pamukkale, Athens with its many attractions, and numerous ancient temples of the Greek gods. History and legend will become your reality as you traverse these famed lands over two amazing weeks.

Highlights

  • Istanbul Old City

  • Cappadocia scenery

  • Underground city

  • Pamukkale

  • Ephesus ruins

  • Acropolis & Parthenon in Athens

  • Epidaurus

  • Birth place of the Olympics at Olympia

  • Temple of Apollo at Delphi

  • Clifftop monasteries at Meteora

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Arrival In Istanbul
Location: İstanbul
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: No Meals

Your exciting two-week voyage begins in Istanbul. This famous city is located at the meeting point of two continents, Europe and Asia. As such, it abounds with captivating cultural, historical, and religious landmarks.

Grand old buildings contrast wonderfully with the cosmopolitan atmosphere. You arrive at the airport and are transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free for you to spend at your leisure.

Day 2 : Tour Of Istanbul Old City
Location: İstanbul
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we tour the older areas of Istanbul, known as the Old City. We stop at its most important landmarks, including the majestic Hagia Sophia, the famous Blue Mosque, the fascinating Topkapi palace, and the remarkable Hippodrome.

We also have the choice of enjoying a boat cruise on the Bosphorus, the river that separates Europe from Asia. The night is spent is Istanbul.

Day 3 : Ankara: Ataturk Mausoleum: Depart For Cappadocia
Location: Ankara
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we leave Istanbul and head towards Ankara, the capital of Turkey. We first stop at the tomb of one of the country’s most iconic figures, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. He was the leader during the Turkish War of Independence, and was the Republic’s first president.

Our next destination is Cappadocia. This is one of the main highlights of any visit to Turkey. The scenery is this region is one of a kind and will take your breath away.

Miles of oddly-shaped formations rising out of the rocky landscape have created an otherworldly scene. Cappadocia has become one of the most popular destinations in Turkey, and it’s easy to see why. We spend the night here.

Day 4 : Carpet Weaving Village Visit
Location: Göreme Open Air Museum
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we visit a series of unique cultural and archaeological landmarks. First, we tour the Goreme Open Air Museum, where numerous churches and monasteries have been built into the rocky mountainsides. Inside, many colourful frescoes and paintings have been beautifully preserved.

We then make our way to see the fairy chimneys of Pasabag and visit the impressive Uchisar Castle, before stopping off at a carpet village. The art of carpet weaving is historically significant in Turkey, and our visit provides us with a chance to see how the process works. Our day ends off with an optional folklore and belly dancing performance.

Day 5 : Kaymakli Underground City: Silk Road: Stop At Sultan Hani Caravansary: Mevlana Museum In Konya
Location: Konya
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we visit and explore the Underground City of Kaymakli. We then travel in the footsteps of the travellers and traders of the past. Heading down the famous ancient Silk Road towards Konya, we stop off at the Sultan Hani Caravansary, one of the biggest caravansaries in the world.

Historically, this was a place where travellers would stop to rest during their travels, and we are able to imagine their experiences as we stop to do the same. We continue on our way to Konya, where we visit the Mevlana Museum. This is the resting place of Jalaluddin Rumi, one of the most celebrated poets in the world.

Our last stop today is the Aladdin Mosque, a 12th-century place of worship.

Day 6 : Pamukkale: Hierapolis
Location: Pamukkale
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we leave Konya and visit the travertines of Pamukkale. This remarkable natural site is made up of white calcium steps that are dotted with bright blue pools and hot springs, creating a magical contrasting landscape.

We then head to the ruins of the city of Hierapolis, which features many temples and other religious sites, earning it the name "The Sacred City". We see its impressive theatre, which is beautifully preserved, as well as the Necropolis, the enormous graveyard.

We continue to the Temple of Apollo. This was built in dedication to the famous Apollo, the Greek god of poetry, music, healing, and medicine. We can also see the beautiful leather goods that are handcrafted by the local people.

Day 7 : Laodicea: Kusadasi
Location: Kuşadası
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Our destination today is Kusadasi, one of Turkey's most popular beach resorts. On our way, we stop to explore the ancient city of Laodicea, which was once the main city of the Lycus River Valley region. Extremely well-preserved, this city was once known as The City of Zeus - Diospolis. In the afternoon we will continue our journey to Kusadasi, where you'll have time to relax by the Aegean sea.

Day 8 : City Of Ephesus
Location: Athens
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we visit the ruins of Ephesus. The remains of this ancient city have been very well preserved, reconstructed, and restored. Visitors can therefore explore the city and experience it as its original residents might have done.

This is a unique and thrilling experience. Leaving Ephesus, we stop at another carpet weaving village, before we leave Turkey. We arrive in Athens, Greece.

Day 9 : Athens (Free Day)
Location: Athens
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today is spent exploring Athens on your own. Greece’s legendary capital is one of the most culturally and historically significant cities in the world. It was once the historical capital of Europe, and is bursting with religious, philosophical, and mythological sites and landmarks.

Keeping in mind the sites that will be included on the following day’s tour, you are free to explore this intriguing city at your own pace.

Day 10 : Guided Athens Tour
Location: Athens
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we get a taste of Athens. All the key landmarks are included on our tour: the iconic Acropolis, the Panathenaic Stadium, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Zeus, the Parnethon, and more.

You will feel as though you have stepped into the pages of a history book or mythology novel. Some of the more modern landmarks of Athens are also included on the tour: its University, National Library, Academy, and Syntagma (Constitution) Square.

Day 11 : Corinth Canal Crossing: City Of Mycenae
Location: Archaeological site of Mycenae
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we make our way to the Pelopponese Peninsula via the Corinth Canal. This canal, one of the world’s smallest, separates the mainland of Greece from the Peninsula. Once on the other side, we head towards Mycenae. This ancient city was the citadel of the Mycenaean civilization, one of the world’s foremost ancient nations.

We are able to appreciate the famous and unique aspects of the city, including the Cyclopean walls, the iconic Lion Gate at the entrance, numerous royal tombs, and the burial site of Agamemnon, who was an eminent King of Mycenae. Our overnight destination is the scenic coastal town of Nafplio.

Day 12 : City Of Olympia: Rio-Antirio Bridge Crossing
Location: Archaeological Site of Olympia
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today we visit the birthplace of the Olympic Games: the city of Olympia. Here we can see many interesting landmarks, including the Ancient Stadium, where the Games of old took place.

We also visit the Archaeological Museum of Olympia, which houses a very famous statue known as Hermes of Praxiteles. We then head to the city of Delphi via the Rio-Antirio Bridge, another famous landmark, although this one is much more recent!

Day 13 : Delphi
Location: Delphi
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Today is spent touring Delphi. This was another key centre of ancient Greece. Its main attraction is the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which is found on the slopes of a magnificent mountain.

We see the Sanctuary of Athena, who was one of the Oracles of Delphi, as well as the Castalian Spring, the waters of which were used for cleaning the temple and cleansing those who came to it. Our overnight destination is the city of Kalambaka, which is reached after a drive though several charming central Greek villages.

Day 14 : Meteora Tour: Journey Back To Athens
Location: Meteora
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: 4-star hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

We see another captivating natural and archeological spectacle today - the dramatic formations of Meteora which rise impressively into the sky. Old Christian monasteries sit atop and along the cliff faces of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Leaving Meteora, we make our way back towards Athens via Trikala, Lamia, and Thermopylae. On the way, we stop to see the statue of King Leonidas, the celebrated Spartan king who is remembered for his heroic stand against Persian forces in the famous Battle of Thermopylae.

Day 15 : Tour Ends
Location: Athens
Meals Included: Breakfast

Our 15-day adventure comes to an end today. After breakfast in Athens, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight home.

What's Included

  • Accommodation

    6*

  • - All accommodation as stated in the itinerary in 4-star & boutique hotels

  • - All transport and transfers in AC vehicles

  • - 24-hour airport arrival & departure transfer service

  • - Services of local tour guide in Turkey and Greece

  • - Entrance fees to sites visited in Turkey

  • - Meals as indicated in the itinerary (14 breakfasts, 7 dinners)

  • - Tipping kitty

  • - Max group size in Turkey - 20; Max group size in Greece - 50

What's Not Included

  • - International flights

  • - Visa fees (if required)

  • - International flight between Izmir (ADB) and Athens (ATH)

  • - Travel insurance (compulsory, available on request)

  • - Meals not indicated in the itinerary

  • - Entrance fees to sites visited in Greece (allow approx. EUR 79 (Apr-Oct) or EUR 45 (Nov-Mar)

  • - Greek hotel residence tax (allow EUR 10.50p/p for shared rooms, EUR 21 for single rooms, see Tour Notes)

  • - Drinks, snacks and other personal expenses (e.g. laundry)

  • - Tips for guide & driver

  • - Optional tours

  • - Any other items not mentioned above

More Info

This 15-day tour takes you on an unforgettable journey through the historic lands of Turkey and Greece. Culture, history, philosophy, mythology, religion, politics, architecture - these two countries were, and still are, both incredibly important and influential in these fields. You will visit many famous landmarks and sites on your tour, seeing ancient ruins and half-buried civilisations, temples of Greek gods and statues of legendary warriors, iconic buildings and fascinating natural spectacles. Highlights include Istanbul’s Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, the mythical landscape of Cappadocia, the travertines of Pamukkale, Athens with its many attractions, and numerous ancient temples of the Greek gods. History and legend will become your reality as you traverse these famed lands over two amazing weeks.

Mode of Transport

AC minibus/coach

Accommodation

4-star and boutique hotels

Check out our Q&As

  • What currencies are required for this tour?

    The Turkish lira was re-valued at the end of 2004 to become the ‘New Turkish Lira’. The word ‘New’ has now been dropped, and we are back to ‘Turkish Lira’ again (TRY). It is normally cheaper to convert money to Turkish Lira in Turkey than at home. Using an ATM or a credit card will often get you the best possible exchange rates; the post and telephone office (PTT) and banks offer very reasonable rates, too. Try to use ATM machines that are attached to banks while they are open, so that if your card is swallowed you can go into the bank and get it released back to you. It is difficult for us to specify the money that you will spend per day, however, as a general rule USD 20-50 per day can provide you with additional meals, tipping, snacks & drinks. Should you wish to purchase many souvenirs or other luxuries, of which there is a diverse range, you will have to budget for these. A mixture of cash and credit cards are the best forms of currency. Credit cards are accepted in most restaurants, bars and pubs. MasterCard and Visa are most welcomed; American Express cards work at some ATMs and AmEx offices. Credit cards are also useful for cash advances, which allow you to withdraw Lira instantly from associated banks and ATMs throughout Turkey. Cash cards and ATM’s are widespread in most of Turkey including in Istanbul, Canakkale, Selcuk, Marmaris, Pamukkale, Fethiye, Kas, Cappadocia, and Ankara.

  • Are vaccinations required for this tour?

    You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation. UK travellers visiting European Union countries including Greece should also carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as it entitles travellers to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in most European countries. Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for Turkey are Hepatitis A and Tetanus. No additional courses or boosters are generally recommended for Greece. More information is available here: Turkey, Greece Malaria map - there is low risk malaria in some south eastern regions of Turkey, not visited on our tours. Malaria map - there is low to no risk of malaria in Greece, none in tourist areas. Yellow fever certificates are not required for either country.

  • What is the tipping policy?

    Tipping is common practice in Greece, though not as extensive as in Turkey. In both countries, for basic restaurants, taxis and local markets, leave the loose change. For more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. We include a 'tipping kitty' in your tour price which your tour guide will use to tip a wide range of people along the way to help ensure the smooth running of the tour. This does not include your tour guide(s) or driver(s) though. Drivers: You may have a range of private drivers on your trip. For those you see for at least several days and who are more involved with the group, a tip of around EUR 1-2 per person per day is generally appropriate. Tour guides: If you think you tour guide and/or tour leader has worked hard and provided a good service then s/he will appreciate a tip of a few Euros. How much you tip is subject to your satisfaction with their service and your personal budget. You should not feel pressured to tip any particular amount. As a guideline, we can suggest that for good service, a tip of EUR 3-5 per person per day for local tour guides or local tour leaders would be fine.

  • Do you require a visa for this holiday?

    Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities. Most foreign nationals require a visa to enter Turkey, and need to obtain it in advance online through http://www.evisa.gov.tr. Applicants just need to log on to the following link, provide the requested information, (after the application is approved) make online payment and download their e-Visa. More information is available here http://www.mfa.gov.tr/visa-information-for-foreigners.en.mfa From the 2nd March 2020 all UK nationals will not need to obtain a visa for Turkey (for visits of up to 90 days in each 180 day period). This will also apply to citizens of the Schengen area countries Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Poland. Some foreign nationals require a visa to enter Greece, though many do not (including UK, EUR, US, CA, AU, NZ, SA). More information is available at visas for foreigners.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    In Turkey we provide a fully trained, local English-speaking guide to accompany you all the way from Istanbul to the end of the tour in Kusadasi. You are also transferred by the guide or one of our other representatives to the airport in Izmir for your departure to Greece. In Greece a fully trained, local English-speaking guide accompanies you for all the sightseeing tours through Nafplion, Olympia, Delphi, Meteora and back to Athens. At Encounters Travel we try to use local guides and reps as much as possible. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing.

  • Is travel insurance compulsory?

    Yes! Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event).

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    You are always able to change your travel date. However, some charges may apply depending on how long before your departure you make the change. Our flexible booking conditions and reduced charges will apply if you are changing date because of a Covid-19 reason or because your government is advising against travel to your destination. Please check our detailed booking conditions for full details.

  • When is my balance payment due?

    For all tours departing in 2020 and 2021, balance due dates are reduced to 28 days. For 2022 departures onwards they will revert back to our standard conditions (60 days).

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    On most of our group tours, solo travellers may choose to form a temporary 'tour bubble' and share a room with another traveller of the same sex in the group. If a room share is not available then a single room supplement may be payable, with the costs for these kept as low as possible. We have also removed compulsory single supplements from many of our tours, and are reducing the cost by 50% on s

  • How long can I keep my booking as a 'Credit on File'?

    New bookings need to be made within 1 year of your original departure date, with travel started within 2 years of your original departure date.

  • Can I transfer my booking to someone else?

    Yes, if you don't want to, or can't travel, you can transfer your booking and existing payments to other family members or friends. We are waiving our normal fees for doing this for all departures up to the end of 2022. This applies to bookings you may have moved to a Credit on File as well as those setup on a particular date. Note - not all payments may be transferrable.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

Marijo Wilson  

recommended trip

February 2018

Best trip I have ever been on. I have traveled with many tour companies but none compare to the itinerary, information, and professionalism of this company.

trico Plumb  

google Review

January 2021

Awesome trip. Our guide was amazing and the trip exceeded our expectations.

captain_Philly  

8 day/7 night Taste of the Balkans Tour

May 2018

and liked the variety of tours they offered as well as their reasonable prices. The idea of hitting 4 Balkan countries in one trip was appealing (along with the very reasonable price), so I booked it. The pros: I got to see A LOT... starting from Athens and moving up through Meteora, Tirana, Kotor, Budva, Dubrovnik, and finally Split. We did city tours, ancient ruins, the Parthenon, monasteries, forts, museums, excellent food and wine all along the way! The price was very good. Some hotels were better than others (Splendido in Kotor was awesome), but overall for the price I paid, it was more than worth it just for the hotels and transport for 7 days, let alone the guides. Speaking of the guides, Gorgi and Besmir were fantastic!! They were such great company, kept things running, offered great advice, and became my friends. Once the other 8 people or so went home, I enjoyed hanging out with them on the beach in Split on my last day just like old friends. The cons: Encounters is a large agency and subcontracts the guides/drivers in different countries, so you never know what you're gonna get - at least I can say that Gorgi and Besmir were awesome! Also, the group format can be rough because it's hard to get 10-15 people to agree on anything. Some folks in our group were definitely disappointed that due to a bad route plan we had to skip a fishing village or something. Also, some miscommunication on departure times caused some stress. The border crossings can be tricky because some Balkan cultures do not like or recognize others...so if that's the case you may have to wait and hour or two and be hassled (apparently Greece and Albania do not particular recognize Macedonian passports because they think it's not a real country). Lastly, while it was great seeing so much, it was very rushed... early departures in the morning followed by hours and hours in the van, border crossings, quick tours, hotel checkins, and a little free time each night. The title "Taste of the Balkans" is exactly that, a taste. Now that I know that I absolutely LOVE Montenegro and Croatia, I will return to those two places for a week each instead of spending one day here one day there.

Dates & Availability

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May 10, 2024 - May 24, 2024
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Book with Confidence

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Encounters Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform encounters travel, 60 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Encounters Travel requires a minimum deposit of 150 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of encounters travel charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 35% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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