Premium Turkey & The Cyclades Islands

Premium Turkey & The Cyclades Islands

101 Views
16 Days From

$9910

$9637

Premium Turkey & The Cyclades Islands

16 Days Starting in Istanbul and ending in Santorini

Visiting: Istanbul, Kusadasi, Cappadocia, Athens, Paros, Naxos, Santorini

Tour operator:

Intrepid Travel

Tour code:

ERPIC

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 12

Physical rating:

Low

Age range:

15-99 years

Trip Styles:

Small Group

From:
$9910
$9637 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$273

NB: Prices correct on 24-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Dive into the magic of the Mediterranean on a 16-day Premium exploration of Turkey and Greece. Discover stunning islands and a sunken city, explore ancient cities, cruise the Bosphorus in a private boat, and marvel at diverse landscapes, from the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia to the glittering Mediterranean Coast. Hop across to the storied city of Athens, explore the charming villages of Paros, uncover ancient riches in Naxos and soak up million-dollar views in Santorini. With knowledgeable local leaders and a group of keen travellers by your side, you’re never far away from an unforgettable moment.

Highlights

  • Feast your eyes on the best of Turkey and Greece's otherworldly sights, from the marble streets of ancient Ephesus to the psychedelic rockscapes of Cappadocia and the legendary caldera of Santorini.

  • Indulge in iconic Feature Stays in a dreamlike cave hotel in Cappadocia and a whitewashed hotel with spectacular views in Santorini.

  • Get to know the real Turkey during Exclusive Experiences, including a cooking class with a celebrated chef, visit to an empowering carpet weaving cooperative, and traditional dinner at a locals home in Cappadocia.

  • Understand the dazzling variety of Greek produce during Exclusive Experiences, including a kitron tasting, an afternoon of wine tasting in Santorini and a hands-on cooking class with a local in Naxos.

  • Join experienced local leaders as you stroll the ancient streets of Ephesus, uncover the secrets of Sagalassos, explore the legendary ruins of Pergamon and discover the history and charming villages of Paros.

  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, CYDD (Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi). Donations help them provide scholarships and educational programs for economically disadvantaged youth in Turkey.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Istanbul

Location: Istanbul

Accommodation: Meroddi Barnathan Hotel or similar

Meals Included: dinner

Welcome to Istanbul, the first step of our Turkish adventure. On arrival, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your boutique hotel in the heart of the Old City. Istanbul is the largest city in all of Europe, it’s a place filled with history, culture and charm. From the magnificent mosques to the bustling bazaars, this place is sure delight you at every turn. On arrival, you might like to stretch your legs, get acquainted with the city and make your way to visit the 1500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage monument, Hagia Sophia. With incredible architectural beauty and varied history, it was originally built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral, then converted into a mosque, then a museum and has now been turned back into a mosque again. After exploring the city, this evening, join your local leader and small group for an important welcome meeting at the hotel. Then, take a short stroll to a local restaurant to enjoy dinner together and be welcomed with richly flavoured Ottoman and Turkish cuisine.

Included Activities:
-Istanbul - Welcome Dinner
-Istanbul - Welcome Meeting

Optional Activities:
-Istanbul - Hagia Sophia

Day 2: Istanbul

Location: Istanbul

Accommodation: Fer Hotel Istanbul or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

After breakfast, join your small group and local leader to explore Sultan Ahmet I’s Blue Mosque. With six minarets, 260 windows and it’s iconic, blue-tiled walls (made up of more than 20,000 Iznik ceramic tiles), the Blue Mosque is known as one of the most magnificent in all of Istanbul. After some time to gaze upon its beauty, you'll head out to explore the rest of the city on an orientation walk. Make your way to Sultanahmet (the Old City, formerly Constantinople), where historical sites and backstreets filled with hidden gems intertwine. Explore the hippodrome and the decorative statues and obelisks that remain from a time when this now tree-lined land would hold thousands of chariot racing fans. Then, get into some good-natured haggling with local artisans in the Grand Bazaar, packed with over 3,000 stalls of handcrafted jewellery, textiles and books. After exploring the best this fascinating city has to offer, it’s time to kick your feet back on a private yacht and marvel at the Istanbul skyline from sea. This fairy-tale experience across the Bosphorus Strait, which separates Europe and Asia, features panoramic views from the waterway that’s dotted with artisan palaces, mansions and historic monuments. Sit back and soak up the vistas after a jam-packed day of exploration.

Included Activities:
-Istanbul - Blue Mosque Visit
-Istanbul - Orientation Walk
-Istanbul - Private Bosphorus Cruise

Optional Activities:
-Istanbul - Topkapi Palace Combined Ticket (Topkapi Palace + Hagia Irene + Harem)

Day 3: Kusadasi

Location: Kusadasi

Accommodation: La Vista Boutique Hotel or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

After breakfast, it’s time to bid farewell to Istanbul and journey to Kusadasi, with a stop in Pergamon along the way. The ancient city of Pergamon, sitting high above the Bakirçay Plain in Turkey’s Aegean region, is easily accessible by cable car. At the top of the hill, you’ll discover crumbling ruins, large and small. Some of the most fascinating spots to explore include the well-known library that helped put Pergamon on the map, the colossal Temple of Trajan, 10,000-seat Hellenistic theatre and the Altar of Zeus. After some time here, walking in the footsteps of ancient emperors, we’ll continue to Kusadasi. Tonight, get comfortable at your perfectly appointed boutique hotel on the edge of the Aegean Sea – this will be your home away from home for the next three nights.

Included Activities:
-Pergamon - Ancient City Visit & Cable Car

Day 4: Kusadasi

Location: Kusadasi

Accommodation: La Vista Boutique Hotel or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

After breakfast today, you’ll explore the ancient city ruins of Ephesus. This is one of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world. As you walk in the footsteps of Cleopatra and Mark Antony, you’ll get a glimpse into how the ancient Romans lived. Stroll the marble streets surrounding the ancient theatre and explore the gymnasium, baths and beautifully restored Library of Celsus. From ancient ruins to ancient traditions, next up you’ll be treated to a carpet weaving demonstration and learn about the art of traditional carpet weaving from local social enterprise; Sultanköy. Carpet weaving holds incredible history in Turkey and has been dated back to the early Neolithic age – Sultanköy provides local women with employment while protecting and developing the ancient tradition. After a picnic lunch at Sultanköy, you’ll learn all about Turkish recipes and flavours with a hands-on cooking class. Get to know the local chef as you prepare a traditional meal and feast on your creations together – the perfect end to an incredible day.

Included Activities:
-Ephesus - Archaeological site visit
-Kusadasi - Sultanköy Carpet Demonstration & Picnic Lunch
-Kusadasi - Cooking Class

Day 5: Kusadasi

Location: Kusadasi

Accommodation: Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

Wake up without an alarm today and enjoy this coastal paradise at your leisure. Kusadasi is the perfect springboard to see some Turkey’s most incredible ruins and natural wonders, you might choose to take advantage of this and book an optional tour to explore Pamukkale & Hierapolis Ancient City. Pamukkale’s mineral springs have become well-known for their magical turquoise waters framed by a snow-white mineral build-up that cascades over the cliffs. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the hot springs were believed to hold therapeutic healing properties by ancients Greeks and Romans. After marvelling at the mineral pools and taking in the incredible landscape, discover nearby Hierapolis Ancient City. Explore the ruins of this equally beautiful ancient city and UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you’d rather skip the optional tour and stay closer to town, perhaps, stroll the seafront promenade and grab a bite to eat by the harbour or enjoy a little banter with the locals at the main bazaar area. However you choose to spend your day, you can swap stories with your fellow travellers over your group dinner this evening.

Optional Activities:
-Pamukkale - Hierapolis and Travertines National Park

Day 6: Cappadocia

Location: Cappadocia

Accommodation: Aya Hotel (Feature Stay) or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

Today, catch a flight to Kayseri and be swept away by the mystical beauty of Cappadocia, where we’ll stay in specially restored cave suites in the Old City centre. After checking in, you’ll be welcomed into a local home for home-cooked Turkish lunch – the best way to start this leg of our adventure. Next up, it's time to explore Goreme open air museum. Another incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site to check off our list, you’ll find richly decorated rock-carved churches, monasteries and chapels to marvel at. After getting to know Goreme, it’s time to get to know Cappadocia on a panoramic sights tour. Discover the region’s highlights like Imagination Valley where rock formations, known as fairy chimneys, stand majestically amid the orange-coloured landscape. With your local leader by your side, you’ll learn how these unusual formations came to be.

Included Activities:
-Izmir - Flight to Kayseri
-Cappadocia - Home-cooked lunch
-Cappadocia - Goreme Open Air Museum
-Cappadocia - Panoramic Sights Tour

Day 7: Cappadocia

Location: Cappadocia

Accommodation: Aya Hotel (Feature Stay) or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, dinner

After breakfast, we make our way to yet another out-of-this-world location to explore the underground cities beneath Cappadocia. It’s believed that these intricate subterranean homes were created in the 8th and 7th centuries BCE. Amazingly, there are roughly 200 them – more incredibly, they were abandoned in 1923 and not rediscovered until some 40 years later. You might spot remnants of subterranean wine cellars, stables and chapels, although it’s believed they were below ground for safety reasons, these city folk seem to have lived their lives to the fullest. Next, visit the studio of a local ceramic master whose family have been in the pottery business for six generations. You’ll learn the history and techniques of traditional Turkish ceramics and discover how the rich clay from the red river is moulded into exquisite pieces. Finally, in the afternoon, you’ll enjoy an easy hike through Red Valley – named for the incredible red hues the rock formations throw at sunset. Watch in awe as the sun sets over the landscape before heading back to town to enjoy our final dinner together with a delicately prepared traditional central Anatolian dish.

There’ll also be time today to take to the skies with an optional hot air balloon ride (at your own expense) if you wish.

Included Activities:
-Cappadocia - Kaymakli Underground City
-Cappadocia - Farewell Dinner
-Cappadocia - Pottery demonstration
-Cappadocia - Red Valley Hike

Optional Activities:
-Cappadocia - Hot Air Balloon Regular Flight
-Cappadocia - Hot Air Balloon Deluxe Flight

Day 8: Athens

Location: Athens

Accommodation: Hotel The Athenian Callirhoe or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, dinner

This morning you'll transfer to the airport for an unescorted flight to Athens, via Istanbul. Your Greek adventure begins in Athens, Greece’s storied capital with a lively cosmopolitan side. You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel, where you will meet your new local leader and fellow travellers for a 6pm welcome meeting. If you arrive early, you may like to pay a visit to Athens’ iconic Acropolis, or perhaps take a walk around the gorgeous National Garden. After your meeting, get a taste of Greece’s celebrated cuisine during dinner with the group at a local restaurant in the vibrant Psiri neighbourhood.

Included Activities:
-Athens - Welcome Dinner at Local Restaurant
-Complimentary Arrival Transfer

Day 9: Paros

Location: Paros

Accommodation: Saint Andrea Seaside Resort or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

This morning you will be transported to Athens' port at Piraeus and board a ferry bound for Paros – a beautiful and relaxed island with a layered history. Ferries are a great way to travel between the islands and are the lifeblood of many remote islands in Greece's multitude of archipelagos. In the afternoon, get to know Paros during an island tour with a local guide. Start off in Parikia, the island’s main town, where you will visit the Ekatontapiliani church, also known as the Church of a Hundred Doors. Explore charming narrow streets and learn about the architecture of the town. Continue with a drive through the island’s mainland, passing by ancient marble quarries, then stop off at the village of Lefkes. Take some time to explore the peaceful village, surrounded by verdant hills dotted with olive and pine trees, then carry on to Naoussa – a delightful village known for its whitewashed alleys, Venetian castle and stunning port. After your tour, enjoy an evening at leisure.

Included Activities:
-Paros - Highlights of Paros Half Day Island Tour with Local Guide

Day 10: Paros

Location: Paros

Accommodation: Saint Andrea Seaside Resort or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

The day is yours to uncover more of Paros’ charms. There’s certainly no shortage of things to see and do on the island. You may like to begin the day with a guided morning hike along the coast – starting off at a lovely fishing village and weaving through some of the island’s most pristine beaches. In the afternoon you will have the option to visit the nearby island of Antiparos – a favourite secret holiday spot for royals and celebrities, this lesser-known island offers a tranquil escape. Or perhaps you’d like to spend the day relaxing on one of Paros’ many beautiful beaches, cooling off with dips in Aegean Sea. Speak to your leader for more information about the activities on offer today and for tips on how to make the most of this spectacular island.

Day 11: Naxos

Location: Naxos

Accommodation: Naxos Resort or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, dinner

This morning you will say goodbye to Paros and catch a short ferry to Naxos. The largest of the Cyclades islands, Naxos has something for everyone – from glittering beaches to an endearing Old Town and hundreds of years of Venetian history. Take some time to settle in on arrival, then regroup in the late afternoon to discover the wonders of the town with the guidance of your leader. Pay a visit to the Portara, a giant marble doorway and the only remaining part of an unfinished temple of Apollo from 530 BC. Naxos is unique in the fact it is the Cyclades’ only self-sufficient island, meaning all produce is grown and available on the island without imports. Because of this, the cuisine is hyperlocal and differs to the rest of the country. This evening you will enjoy an included dinner and learn about the wonderful regional specialties of the island.

Included Activities:
-Naxos - Old Town Walk & Portara Visit

Day 12: Naxos

Location: Naxos

Accommodation: Naxos Resort or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

This morning you will drive to Eggares, a small farming village set in the region that produces most of the island’s produce. Here you will tour an olive oil press museum to learn about the importance of olive oil to Greek culture and traditional extraction methods. After your visit, you’ll put your new knowledge to good use as you travel to the nearby village of Galini for a hands-on cooking class. Meet with a local who will share her in-depth culinary knowledge with the group, leaving you with wonderful recipes you can cook up at home to bring you back to the island. First you will collect fresh ingredients from your host’s organic garden and learn about cultivation and farming on Naxos, then you’ll be shown how to put the ingredients together to create a marvellous Naxian dish from scratch, enjoying the fruits of your labour for lunch. Pair your lunch with a tasting of local kitron. With a history stretching back to the 19th century and only produced on Naxos, a taste of this citron liqueur will take you straight to the heart of the island’s culture.

Included Activities:
-Naxos - Cooking Class at a Local Home
-Naxos - Eggares Olive Oil Press

Day 13: Naxos

Location: Naxos

Accommodation: Naxos Resort or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

Today is free to explore more of wonderful Naxos. You may like to head to one of the island’s beaches for a day at leisure, or perhaps discover more of the Naxos’ history at a local museum. The Archaeological Μuseum of Naxos in Chora Naxos dates back to the 17th century and houses artefacts from the Neolithic to the early-Christian periods, and the Geological Museum of Apeiranthos digs up the natural history of the island. If you’re after a sweet treat, walnut cake flavoured with local kitron is an excellent regional specialty. Your leader will be on hand to help tailor a day that suits your interests.

Day 14: Santorini

Location: Santorini

Accommodation: Santorini Palace Hotel (Feature Stay) or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

Depart Naxos in the morning and catch a ferry to the magnificent island of Santorini. Upon arrival in Santorini's capital, Fira, you will be met and transferred to your Feature Stay hotel. A whitewashed building in the traditional Cycladic style, the hotel boasts a magnificent backdrop of the Santorini caldera and volcano. The island’s breezy, laidback atmosphere is translated into this superb hotel, offering tranquillity away from the main town, and where nothing is too much trouble. Here you’ll enjoy spacious rooms, modern amenities, an expansive swimming pool and a prime location for exploring the treasures of Santorini. Enjoy a free afternoon to absorb this veritable paradise. Your leader will be able to offer suggestions on what to see and do. In the late afternoon make sure you view Santorini's world-famous sunset, which has been immortalised in many photos and works of art.

Day 15: Santorini

Location: Santorini

Accommodation: Santorini Palace Hotel (Feature Stay) or similar

Meals Included: breaksfast

In the morning, embark on a hike along Santorini’s legendary caldera. The island you see today is what remains from a huge volcanic explosion that destroyed the early settlements and created a geographical caldera. The spectacular natural beauty of this caldera is what makes Santorini such a special place. Your walk begins at your hotel and you will continue along the north-western rim of the caldera, passing steep cliff faces and experiencing breath-taking views along the way. The walk ends in the town of Oia, built on a steep slope inside Santorini’s incredible volcanic caldera. Famous not only for its stunning scenery, Santorini’s microclimate and volcanic soil make it a top spot for wine production. This afternoon you will sip your way around the island during visits to two wonderful family-run wineries, where you will learn about history of wine production, its importance to the local economy, and taste the different varieties yourself.

Included Activities:
-Santorini - Caldera Hike
-Santorini - Winery Excursion & Wine Tasting

Optional Activities:
-Santorini - Thira Prehistoric Museum
-Santorini – Black Sand Beach Umbrella and Sun Bed Rental

Day 16: Santorini

Location: Santorini

Meals Included: breaksfast

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would to spend some more time on Santorini, additional accommodation can be arranged ahead of time (subject to availability).

What's Included

  • Accommodation
    Comfortable hotel (10 nights), Feature Stay (5 nights)

  • Meals
    15 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners

  • Istanbul - Welcome Dinner

  • Istanbul - Welcome Meeting

  • Istanbul - Blue Mosque Visit

  • Istanbul - Orientation Walk

  • Istanbul - Private Bosphorus Cruise

  • Pergamon - Ancient City Visit & Cable Car

  • Ephesus - Archaeological site visit

  • Kusadasi - Sultanköy Carpet Demonstration & Picnic Lunch

  • Kusadasi - Cooking Class

  • Izmir - Flight to Kayseri

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Transport

  • GREEK FERRIES
  • The main means of transportation in the Greek Islands is by public ferry. These ferries are large car ferries that transport hundreds of people, along with cars and trucks. There are no reserved seats and passengers are free to walk around the ferry freely. Luggage is stored in a designated area on the car deck and is not accessible while the ferry is moving.
  • STRIKES
  • Ferry strikes, bad weather and the general unpredictable nature of Greek public transport means you need to be prepared for possible delays and itinerary changes.

Accommodation

  • The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline only and may change. On some occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our preferred accommodation. In these cases, we will use a similar standard of accommodation.
  • Throughout the trip, we request that our properties prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However, this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination or on some trips, have use of shared day rooms until all rooms are available.
  • OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
  • The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
  • TWIN SHARE BASIS
  • Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per the gender marker on each of their passports. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
  • CHECK-IN TIME
  • Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
  • PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
  • If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
  • FACILITIES
  • Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

Important Information

  • 1. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.
  • 2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room?on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip?and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
  • 3. This trip includes domestic flights. The luggage allowance is 15kg for check in luggage and 8kg for carry on. You can store excess luggage at the start point hotel.

Check out our Q&As

  • Is this trip right for you

    Pickpocketing can be an issue in Athens, especially on public transport. But if you keep your valuables concealed and secure while travelling on the metro or bus, you should have no problems.

    Summer temperatures in Greece can reach up to 40°C, so you will need to be able to cope with the heat if you're visiting at this time. Please consider the time of year and your suitability to visiting during that season.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for latest COVID-19 policies

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Intrepid Travel has been taking travellers around the world for over 30 years

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Since 2002, The Intrepid Foundation has supported over 130 organisations across the world. We’re creating positive impact through the joy of travel, community and connection.

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

    Over 50% of traveller travel solo with Intrepid. You can choose to share a room with another solo travelle of the same sex for no additional charge, or choose to pay a single supplement if you’d like your own room. Please request this when booking, and we will secure you a single supplement wherever possible. Please note, if you are booking a last-minute trip, it may be harder for us to secure a single room

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Intrepid Travel allows you to make 10 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 56 days before the start of the tour.

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Intrepid Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform intrepid travel, 56 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Intrepid Travel requires a minimum deposit of 400 USD per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 56 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

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

    Up to 56 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 55 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

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

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