Family Adventure Travel in Turkey
The Lycian Way – ancient towns dot the azure coast of southern Turkey, and it is a delight for walking, boating and kayaking.
Ballooning in Cappadocia – Cappadocia is like another world, with underground cities, fairy chimneys and hidden valleys. An early morning balloon ride takes in amazing sights.
Sailing on a Gulet – spend a few days sailing the Aegean Sea on a traditional wooden boat. It’s an adventure of a lifetime!
Turkish food is one of the world’s great cuisines. Whether you are a meat eater, vegan or something in between, Turkish food, once prepared for the Sultan, has influenced all the countries of the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
Simple lentil soup with lemon to Iskender kebab doused in yogurt and the multiple pistachio baklava desserts are just the very beginning of a grand culinary adventure.
Gobekli Tepe is a prehistoric temple dating back 12,000 years. It is one of the great mysteries of our time. Ephesus is an Ancient Roman city with a huge library, while Istanbul is home to the Hagia Sofia, once the largest building in the world for 1000 years, as well as numerous wondrous mosques and palaces.
Exploring the history of Turkey is exploring the history of humankind!
Cappadocia – a fairytale wonderland of underground cities, churches carved into caves and amazing cave hotels.
Gobekli Tepe – the world’s oldest temple dating back 12,000 years.
The Food – kebaps, baklava and Turkish delight are just the beginning of a whole new culinary discovery!
Grand Imperial Palaces of Istanbul – Dolmabahce and Topkapi.
Shopping in amazing bazaars where you can find everything under the sun.
Roman and Greek ruins at Ephesus and Aphrodisias bring ancient glories back to life.
Boating on the crystal clear Aegean Sea.
Turkey Sample Itinerary
Arrival into Istanbul. You’ll be met and transferred to your hotel in the city. Istanbul is one of the greatest cities in the world. A grand imperial city situated on two continents, it really fascinates from the moment one arrives.
Day 2 – Exploring Byzantine Istanbul
Today you will have a guided tour of Byzantine Istanbul, once called Byzantium. Start with a visit to the Hippodrome, which was one of the largest chariot race grounds of the Byzantine Empire. Then visit the Underground Cistern built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It is an amazing feat of architecture, deep underground, and is 70 meters wide and 140 meters long.
Day 2 continued…
Next, you will walk to St. Sophia, the Church of the Divine Wisdom. One of the architectural marvels of all time, this was the greatest building in the Western world for 1000 years! It was built during the reign of Emperor Justinian ( AD 537 ) and it remained the greatest church in Christendom until the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 by Sultan Mehmet II, who ordered that the great church be converted into a mosque. In 1934, Atatürk (first President of Modern Turkey) proclaimed it a museum. It is a mosque once again today.
You will then board a local ferry for the Asian side of Istanbul. You’’ll explore Kadiköy – a colorful open air street market full of local produce. This is a non-touristy area and is a great opportunity to see how Istanbul residents live themselves. You will visit a family owned “Turkish Delight” store, where you will learn first-hand how this famous sweet is made. For dinner, you’’ll be visiting a restaurant owned by one of Turkey’s foremost cooks, who is passionate about introducing visitors to the food of his homeland, the region of South East Anatolia, bordering on Syria. The ingredients in this special restaurant have come from there – they include aromatic red pepper, pistachios,chickpeas, olive oil and pomegranate molasses. Later, you will take the ferry back to the European side where you are staying.
Day 3 – Exploring Ottaman Istanbul
Begin the day with a tour of the incredible Blue Mosque, built in 1616. With 20,000 blue ceramic tiles decorating the interior and 200 stained glass windows, it is a building that is incredible to see. Afterwards, explore the Topkapi Palace, residence of the sultans and their harems for 400 years. It is hard today to imagine that kind of life – where the gardens were once lit by candles riding on tortoises’ backs and where great palace chefs who, together with over 1300 kitchen staff, cooked for the Ottoman Sultans and up to 10,000 of their guests on a daily basis!
Then it’s on to lunch, where you will be introduced to the very popular Turkish dish of “kofte”. Kofte are meatballs, and are so much loved in Turkey that restaurants throughout the country are dedicated to this single dish – that is all they have on the menu! You’ll visit one such dedicated Kofte restaurant, which has been hard at work making meatballs since 1920! This very Turkish dish is found in various forms across the lands formerly controlled by Turkey – the Balkans, North Africa, and across the Mediterranean. (Turkey also has wonderful vegetarian cuisine and for non meat eaters we will visit a specialty vegetarian restaurant instead).
Day 3 continued…
For dessert you will visit one of the best stores for pastries and desserts. Baklava is the best known sweet in Turkey – and has traveled to neighboring Greece and across Arabia. It is phyllo pastry, filled with pistachios or other nuts and typically covered in a special syrup. Borek is also a phyllo pastry, typically filled with cheese and baked on huge platters, which are then cut into large squares.
After lunch, you will explore some of the ninety-two streets of the famous Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar is the largest and oldest covered Bazaar in Turkey with more than 4,000 stores. A variety of Turkish handicrafts, rugs, rare jewels, leather jackets and inexpensive souvenirs are all sold in small shops next to each other. The streets are named according to specific trades, such as gold and silver sellers, carpet sellers, booksellers, etc. The most oriental atmosphere in Istanbul is found in the bazaar. This evening fly to Cappadocia, the magnificent natural region in the center of the country.
Today you have your first full day tour of spectacular Cappadocia.
Your first real encounter with Cappadocia’s almost Martian landscape is in the Dervent Valley, where the rock formations are amazing. A walk through the Zelve Open Air Museum is a journey into the past, with its troglodyte houses. This is one of the earliest inhabited monastic settlements in Cappadocia.
After Zelve you’ll visit Pasabag’s “fairy chimneys” and then it’s on to the famous Goreme Open Air Museum to see the best examples of Byzantine art in Cappadocia. These are found in rock-cut churches with frescoes and paintings dating from as early as the 10th century. You complete the tour with a visit to the Uchisar Rock-Castle, giving you a panoramic view of the valleys of Cappadocia.
Today’s tour begins with a descent towards the center of the earth, with a trip to the underground city of Kaymakli, one of the largest and deepest of Cappadocia’s many such settlements.
Continue to the Soganli Valley, which is one of the earliest settlements in Cappadocia. After this, drive to Urgup through the unspoiled villages of Cappadocia, surrounded by typical “table-top” mountains. On the way visit the Medrese in Taskinpasa, a Theological School of the Seljuk Turks.
After lunch in Mustafapasa at an old Greek house hosted by a local family, enjoy a family friendly 5km hike through the fabulous Red Valley, a spectacular area that sees few tourists.
This morning fly to Bodrum, on the Aegean coast. Transfer to the marina and board your traditional Turkish sailing boat – a Gulet – which will be home for the next 5 nights and which will allow you to explore the wonderful coastline of Turkey. All meals are included.
Four full days exploring the incredible Aegean coast – with many stops on the Turkish, and even perhaps the Greek coast. Spectacular ancient sites, little seaside villages, and plenty of swimming and snorkeling await you!
After arriving back in Bodrum, either continue to the Greek Isles, located very close by, or fly back to Istanbul airport today, and connect to your flight back home.
Extend your trip?
Explore the magnificent nearby Greek Islands of Samos, Kos, Kalymnos, Patmos or Rhodes.
Is Turkey a good destination for family travel?
Yes! If your kids are interested in ancient Greece and Rome, then Turkey is a treasure chest, as it was home to some of the best of both civilizations. Add in fascinating bustling markets, super friendly people and some of the best food in the world, and it’s a family destination that is unbeatable.
What are travel accommodations like in Turkey?
Fabulous, ranging from boutique restored caravanserais (ancient traveler inns) to deluxe palace hotels and everything in between. You can even sleep in a cave hotel!
Is Turkey an expensive travel destination?
Not really. Turkey is currently one of the best priced destinations in Europe, especially after experiencing a collapse in its currency in recent years. It is a very good time to consider a trip to Turkey as money goes much further than it did even just three years ago.
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We checked into the Villa Pasha Hotel in Sultanahmet – we had met the owner and his cousin while waiting…