Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Aegean

The Treasures of Turkey

Soar in hot-air balloons, sail across the Aegean, hike through valleys and up to ancient castles, and make friends on a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will never forget.

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Tour Summary

Join Sunshine for an exclusive tour and adventure with a small group of travelers.

Perfect for first-time and veteran travelers, this tour offers the ideal balance of thrilling, outdoor experiences alongside an in-depth look into the culture and history of a region that has been the birthplace of multiple great civilizations.

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Tour Price:
$545 single supplement
Tour Dates:

June 16 - June 23, 2023



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Day 1

Istanbul: Where East Meets West

  • 6:00 pm gathering with our Turkish guide and @withsunshinesol at our hotel
  • Welcome dinner

Welcome to Istanbul, the gateway between East and West. Tonight we'll take time to get acquainted, hear from our guide, and, of course, eat and drink together after a long day of traveling.

Walking: light, 2 miles

Day 2

The Hagia Sophia, Underground Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Underground Cistern
  • View of the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Street food tour (optional)

On our first full day we'll explore one of the most well-known religious structures in the world, the Hagia Sophia. It stood for almost a thousand years as the largest church in Christendom, but was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered the city in the 15th century.

After visiting the lofty dome of the Hagia Sophia, we'll descend to explore the ancient cisterns built in the 6th century. This magnificent underground structure once supplied 80,000 cubic meters of water to the Great Palace of Constantinople and other parts of the city.

Next we'll move to the Grand Bazaar, perhaps the most famous market in the world. You could spend weeks just within its covered streets and still have shops to see. Your local guide will help you navigate this labyrinth, teach you the basics of haggling in Turkey, and show you some of his favorite shops.

Walking: strenuous, 5 miles

Day 3

Topkapi Palace, Sulemaniye Mosque, Bosporus Cruise

  • Topkapi palace & harem
  • Suleymaniye Mosque
  • Spice market
  • Bosporus cruise
  • Turkish bath (optional)

We'll start this long day with a visit to Topkapi Palace. Now a museum, this magnificent structure is a story-book palace that for centuries was the residence of sultans and the administrative center of the vast Ottoman Empire.

Next we'll visit Sulemaniye Mosque, an architectural wonder designed in the middle of the sixteenth century by the architect Sinan. It is a mathematical wonder of beautiful proportions, rivaling the greatest buildings of the Renaissance.

No visit to Istanbul is complete without a visit to the Spice Market. You'll find much more than exotic spices and teas here. Taste Turkish delight, dried nuts, caviar, and much more.

After the Spice Market we'll hop on a boat to see the strait that is the gateway to the Black Sea and one of the most important shipping lanes in the world. From the water you'll see how this ancient city straddles both Europe and Asia.

Walking: moderate, 5 miles

Day 4

Cappadocia and Uchisar Hike

  • Flight to Cappadocia
  • Pasabag Valley
  • Cooking class and lunch at a local house
  • Zelve Valley hike
  • Uchisar Castle

Today we'll trade the bustle of the city for the epic but contemplative landscape of Cappadocia. After our early flight we'll tour the Pasabag Valley and enjoy a cooking class and typical lunch at a local house.

Next we'll set out on foot to hike through the fairy chimneys of the Zelve Valley. Finally, we'll scale the citadel of Uchisar Castle, which looks over the valley and served as a defensive position for centuries.

Walking: strenuous, 8 miles
Travel time: approx. 3.5 hrs.

Day 5

Hot-Air Balloon Rides and Ancient Cave Dwellings

  • Early morning hot-air ballooning experience (optional)
  • Kaymakli Underground City
  • Pigeon Valley walk
  • Avanos pottery museum and workshops
  • Wine tasting and Turkish barbecue

This morning we'll venture into the valley well before sunrise to prepare for an epic and serene hot-air balloon ride. This activity is optional and will depend on favorable local conditions.

After our lofty ascent we'll move underground to explore Kaymakli, an underground city carved out of the soft volcanic rock and where at one time more than 3,000 people lived.

Next we'll take our bus to the nearby town of Avanos. Sitting on the Kızılırmak river, this town is famous for its carpet weaving and pottery. In a workshop we'll see firsthand the entire process of traditional pottery making. Tonight we'll lounge under the stars as we feast on traditional Turkish barbecue and quench our thirst with a variety of Turkish wines.

Walking: moderate, 4 miles

Day 6

Ephesus and Kusadasi Beach

  • Early flight to Izmir
  • Lunch at Selcuk
  • Ephesus Archeological Site
  • Relax at beach hotel

Today we'll say goodbye to Cappadocia and catch an early flight to Izmir. After our flight we'll stop of a traditional lunch in Selcuk before heading to the ancient Greek city of Ephesus. We'll tour the ancient ruins including the Library of Celsus and a theatre where up to 24,000 spectators used to gather.

In the afternoon we'll head to Kusadasi to check into our 5-star beachfront hotel. We'll have free time rest at the hotel, hang out on the waterfront, or to explore Kusadasi nightlife.

Walking: moderate, 4 miles

Travel time: approx. 3 hrs.

Day 7

An Aegean Boat Trip

  • Free morning
  • Boat trip exploring Dilek Peninsula National Park
  • Goodbye dinner

On our last full day we'll have a chance to explore Kusadasi, especially the local market, but we'll spend most of our day on a boat where we'll explore the coastline, swim to beaches, hike trails through a national park, and go snorkeling. After a long afternoon in the sun we'll gather once more for a final group dinner.

Walking: light, 3 miles

Day 8

Farewell, Until the Next Adventure Begins

  • Early flight for Istanbul via Izmir
  • Return to USA, continue on to Samos, or other destinations

While some travelers may wish to take the ferry to the nearby island of Samos in Greece, most of the group will catch an early flight back to Istanbul. From here you may connect back to the USA or continue your journey in Turkey or beyond.

Walking: light

Travel time: approx. 2 hrs.

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 14
Day 15

Day 15

What's Included

All breakfasts and 6 dinners or lunches.
All transportation to tour related activities, including our private bus, tour-specific flights, and boats.
7 nights in elegant, boutique hotels.
The cost of all entrances (except optional activities), local guides, and tips to 7 different tour activities.
Your friendly Alithea tour manager for the duration of the tour.
A pre-tour consultation with an Alithea expert.

Tour Tips

Pack Light

Alithea hotels are boutique, family-run and, located in the historic centers where the ancient roads are too small for buses. That often means needing to walk between our bus and hotels. Between destinations we will be required to carry our own luggage which may include significant stairs and no elevator. We encourage our travelers to take a simple carry-on size bag with a small backpack for hikes and outings.

Come Prepared

Come prepared to live in the moment. We will walk, talk, celebrate, dine, and laugh with each other. When we’re not exploring with our local guide we’ll be encouraged to venture out on our own or simply to relax and take in the beautiful view.

Bus and Travel Time

Like every great story, there is no possibility of discovery and of arriving at beautiful places without a journey to get there. On our Turkey journey we will take the bus, boat, and plane in order to arrive at our spectacular destinations.
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For further questions don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.
Are flights included in the tour price?

Roundtrip flights (USA -Istanbul) are not included in the tour price. Flights during the tour (Istanbul-Cappadocia, Cappadocia-Izmir, Izmir-Istanbul) are included, however, and will be booked by Alithea Travel.

When should I buy my tickets and for what dates?

This tour is confirmed and travelers should purchase flight tickets upon making their deposit..

We recommend leaving the USA on Thursday, June 15th in order to arrive in Turkey on June 16th, but you may wish to arrive earlier in order to adjust to the time change. Since the tour will end on Friday, June 23rd, you should book your departure flight for this day unless you wish to extend your stay in Istanbul.

Is a visa required to enter Turkey?

The Republic of Turkey requires foreigners to apply for an e-visa before entering the country. The application is very simple and takes about 5 minutes to complete. The cost for US citizens is $50, and after submitting your details the visa will be sent electronically within 24 hours. It is recommended to apply for the visa 2-4 weeks before your departure. We like to stay on top of these details, so we'll send you a reminder with a link to the Turkish e-visa website a month before the tour start date.

Will my deposit be refunded if the tour doesn't fill up?

All deposits are fully refundable within 30 days or in the event that the tour is postponed. Travelers will also be given first-choice priority to transfer unused credit to future adventures with @withsunshinesol.

Will Sunshine be guiding the tour or just traveling with the group?

Sunshine will be an active participant throughout the tour, but will allow the local experts to handle the guiding. She will, of course, document and film most activities, hikes, and hotels.

I'm traveling alone, can I choose to share a room with another traveler to avoid the single supplement?

Sharing a room with a travel partner can help lower the accommodation costs. If you wish to share a room with a fellow (same-sex) traveler, we can place you on a list with like-minded solo travelers. We cannot guarantee matching each person with a roommate, but we will do our best. Single occupancy rooms will always incur the single supplement fee.

I'm traveling with one friend, but we will pay our deposits separately. Can we still travel together and avoid the single supplement fee?

Sure thing. Sign up and send us a note. We'll make sure you room together.

Will there be a lot of free time for independent exploration?

This is an action-packed itinerary that visits many of the highlights of Turkey in just one week. Whenever possible your guide will provide time to relax and enjoy a glass or wine or go for a walk with your traveling friends.

What additional expenses should I budget for this trip?

All activities are included in the cost of the trip except for the Turkish bath and the hot-air balloon. You can expect the Turkish bath to run about $50 and the hot air balloon approximately $325. All breakfasts and six lunches or dinners are also included. We recommend bringing spending money for souvenirs. The e-visa (see above) also has a cost of $50.

Will Sancho be there?

It pains us to say that Sancho the doggo has to stay in the USA for this trip. Sunshine decided that it would be logistically impossible to take him on this particular journey––not to mention all of the stress he would face while traveling on a plane.

Reserve Your Place

Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Aegean

The Treasures of Turkey

A $500 deposit is required to reserve your spot. All deposits and discounts (if applicable) will be applied to the total tour price. Deposits are refundable within 30 days of payment.

*Read our refund policy here