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Turkey for Solo Travelers: Istanbul, Ephesus & Cappadocia

11 days |  13 days with Istanbul extension
11 days |  13 days with Istanbul extension
Group size1520 travelers
Physical activity
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From the Golden Horn to the Cappadocian town of Göreme, indulge in an array of Turkish delights.

Straddling the European and Asian continents across one of the planet’s most vital waterways, Turkey captivates its guests with the best of both worlds. And on this Solo Tour, you and your soon-to-be best friends will shuttle from highlight to highlight—think multicultural monuments in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, Roman ruins in Ephesus, and the desolate beauty of Cappadocia. Even more awaits on this trip’s Istanbul extension, where you’ll encounter pastel beauty and Christian heritage in the neighborhoods of Fener and Balat.

Your tour package includes

  • 9 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 9 breakfasts
  • 2 lunches
  • 5 dinners
  • 1 food tasting
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Included highlights

  • Hagia Sophia
  • Blue Mosque
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Ephesus ruins
  • Pamukkale’s travertine terraces
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Day-by-day itinerary

Print itinerary
Overnight Flight1 night
Day 1: Overnight flight

Board your overnight flight to Istanbul today.

Istanbul2 nights
Day 2: Arrival in Istanbul

Welcome to Turkey—or, as they say in Istanbul, merhaba! After touching down, transfer to your hotel and take some time to settle in. Then, gather with your Tour Director and fellow travelers at an evening mixer, and get to know one another over a drink.

Day 3: Sightseeing tour of Istanbul
Included meals: Breakfast, Welcome lunch

Istanbul’s roots extend to 660 B.C., encompassing three name changes, stretching across two continents, and blossoming into one massive metropolis. Today, set off on a tour of the city’s vibrant streets with your Tour Director in the lead (and get to know some of its 15.5 million inhabitants along the way).

  • Make your way to the city’s crown jewel: the Hagia Sophia. Originally built as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral in 360 A.D., this UNESCO World Heritage Site has also functioned as a mosque, Catholic church, and secular museum over the years—and held the title of world’s largest building for close to a millennium. Step inside this beautifully ornamented structure and get lost in the moment.
  • Take a short walk to Sultanahmet Square—better known as the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Considered the athletic and social center of the Byzantine Empire’s capital city, it now houses an array of historic artifacts, including a Greek sacrificial tripod and an Egyptian obelisk.
  • Sit down to an included welcome lunch at a local restaurant, served with beer or wine.

Once you’ve finished dining, take off on another guided tour. Next up on the itinerary: a pair of Istanbul icons that illustrate Ottoman history and religious traditions.

  • Head to the edge of Sultanahmet Square to the imposing Blue Mosque—instantly recognizable by its six javelin-like minarets, cascading domes, and the colorful tiles that adorn its interior. Enter and admire this holy place, then sit down to learn more about Ottoman Islamic practices.
  • From one UNESCO World Heritage Site, set out for another in the form of Topkapi Palace. Now a museum, this 15th-century palace served as the cradle of the Ottoman Empire, housing its sultans for almost 400 years. Tour its expansive grounds, picturing them as they were in their heyday.

Please note: When entering the Hagia Sophia, women must wear a headscarf. Travelers must also remove or cover their shoes when entering both the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Ephesus Region2 nights
Day 4: Flight to Izmir & transfer to the Ephesus Region
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Board a flight to the western city of Izmir this morning. Then, head south, tracing the Aegean Sea, to the historic Ephesus Region. Arrive at your hotel and freshen up, then head to a local restaurant with your group for an included dinner, served with beer or wine.

Day 5: Sightseeing tour of Ephesus
Included meal: Breakfast

Board your bus for a short ride to the ancient city of Ephesus. Historically significant in more ways than one, it stands as one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in all of the Mediterranean, and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Greek and Roman ruins. Alongside your Tour Director, you’ll enter the complex for some guided sightseeing.

  • Explore some of Ephesus’ grandest highlights: the Library of Celsus (one of the last extant examples of the ancient world’s great libraries) and the ruins of the Basilica of St. John (said to have been built over the final resting place of John the Apostle).
  • View the 2,300-year-old Great Theatre, a hulking 25,000-seat arena that’s used as a performance venue to this day.
  • Step inside the House of the Virgin Mary, a Catholic shrine where the Virgin Mary is said to have spent her final days.

Spend your evening sipping and sampling local delicacies with your group on an optional outing to a meyhane—a traditional Turkish wine house. If you’d rather enjoy some alone time, take the night to find a meyhane of your own before returning for a restful night at your hotel.

Traditional Turkish Meyhane Dinner

From $89 per person

Turkish Lakes Region2 nights
Day 6: Turkish Lakes Region via Pamukkale
Included meals: Breakfast, Dinner

Depart the Ephesus Region and head further inland, trading mesmerizing ruins for monuments of a different sort. Known as the “cotton castle,” Pamukkale is a collection of snow-white travertine terraces—limestone deposits left by mineral-rich hot springs, cascading down like petrified waterfalls. These flats cup turquoise waters into small pools; one look at them, and you’ll realize why UNESCO named them a World Heritage Site.

Hop back on your bus and venture deeper inland into Anatolia, making your final stop at your hotel in the Turkish Lakes Region. Decompress for a bit before joining your group for an included dinner, served with beer or wine.

Day 7: Sightseeing tour of Sagalassos
Included meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You’ve gone off the beaten path to get to your hotel—now go a little further to the ancient city of Sagalassos. Located on the slopes of the Taurus Mountains some 9,000 feet above sea level, it was once one of the wealthiest cities in the old region of Pisidia. By the time Alexander the Great first conquered it in 333 B.C., Sagalassos had already accrued over 7,000 years of history, and has registered thousands more since.

  • Visit the Upper Agora and view the Antonine Nymphaeum, a long structure decorated with statues of the Greek gods Dionysos, Nemesis, and Asklepios. Another surprising attraction? The Antonine Fountain: Set within a separate house, this 2,100-year-old fount still pulls water from an aquifer—thanks to some extensive reconstruction.
  • View the heroön, a small shrine built to honor a legendary hero. After, pass through the remains of the Roman baths; a temple built in the Doric style; another dedicated to Apollo Klarios; and, finally, the Roman theater, one of the highest-altitude stages in the world.
  • Wrap up with a visit to the nearby town of Aglasun, where you’ll enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant.

Feeling refreshed after your meal? Join your Tour Director on an optional excursion to the Isparta Province’s famed lavender fields. If not, head back to your hotel in the Turkish Lake Region for some rest and relaxation.

Please note: The lavender field excursion is only available on select departures in July and August. You may book it directly through your Tour Director.

Cappadocia2 nights
Day 8: Cappadocia via Egirdir
Included meals: Breakfast, Tasting, Dinner

En route to Cappadocia, take a brief detour to the lakeside town of Egirdir. Straddling the shores of its namesake lake, guarded by looming Mount Sivri, it’s a popular holiday destination for Turkish vacationers—and understandably so.

  • View Egirdir Castle—supposedly built by the Lydians and then expanded by the Romans, Byzantines, and Seljuks—and the Dündar Bey Madrasa. Also known as the Stone Madrasa, this medieval Islamic school now functions as a bazaar, and is marked by a doorway ornamented with geometric carvings.
  • Stop by a local shop for a tasting of Turkish delight and other local specialties. Before hitting the road again, drive up to a scenic overlook, grab your camera, and snap some pictures of the peninsular town.

Continue on to Cappadocia, disembark your bus, and sit down with your group for an included dinner, served with beer or wine.

Day 9: Sightseeing tour of Cappadocia
Included meal: Breakfast

Today, pay a visit to the Göreme Open-Air Museum—a UNESCO-listed collection of fresco-adorned churches, carved into volcanic rock, which date back to the fourth century.

  • See the fairy chimneys: spectacular rock formations that stretch as high as 130 feet into the sky. Then, visit a cave village and a rock-carved church, and ponder over how masons hewed them from stone.
  • Stop in Avanos—a town of just under 15,000 people—to discover a craftwork that has typified the area since 1650 B.C.: red clay pottery.

Add a particularly tasty excursion and develop an appreciation for Cappadocian wine, or take the afternoon to roam the village of Göreme. (This tiny town was an important center of early Christianity, and has the highest concentration of painted churches, hermitages, and monasteries in the region.)

Please note: For an additional cost, you can book a hot air balloon ride for this morning through your Tour Director.

Cappadocia Valley Walk & Wine Tasting

From $69 per person

Istanbul2 nights
Day 10: Flight to Istanbul, Grand Bazaar & Bosphorus cruise
Included meals: Breakfast, Farewell dinner

Fly back to Istanbul this morning, then head to the city’s Grand Bazaar. Spanning 61 streets and containing over 4,000 vendors, it’s one of the oldest covered markets in the world. Navigate the sprawl with your Tour Director, getting their take on the best merchants, then take a little free time to shop to your heart’s content.

This evening, cruise through the Bosphorus Strait, looking out on decadent Ottoman palaces and imposing medieval castles as you journey through the narrow waterway that separates Europe from Asia.

After returning from your cruise, sit down and celebrate your trip with your group during tonight’s farewell dinner, served with beer or wine.

Flight Home
Day 11: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your stay in Istanbul to roam this continental crossroads for a while longer. Technicolor neighborhoods? Lanes lined by lazing cats? It’s all in your future (or so your coffee grounds say).

Extension to Istanbul
Istanbul is Europe’s largest city, as cosmopolitan as any—and if starting your journey with a few days there simply wasn’t enough, ending it with a few more might do the trick. Go beyond Istanbul’s core neighborhoods and you’ll find rows of beautifully colored houses in Balat, eclectic churches in Fener, and thriving minority cultures in both, underlining the city’s status as a gateway between two continents.
Istanbul2 nights
Day 11: Sightseeing tour of Fener & Balat
Included meal: Breakfast

Further up the European side of Istanbul, right along the Golden Horn, you’ll find two UNESCO-listed neighborhoods: Fener and Balat. Kick off your extended stay with a guided tour of the pair, led by your Tour Director.

  • Begin by strolling along the Colored Houses of Balat, richly hued wooden structures that line both sides of narrow cobbled lanes. As you go, learn about the Jewish, Greek, Armenian, and Orthodox communities who have all left their legacies in the area.
  • Cross into Fener and enter the Patriarchal Church of St. George. Designed in the Neoclassical style, it ranks as Istanbul’s principal Eastern Orthodox cathedral and serves as the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople—one of the leaders of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
  • Continue on to another, quirkier house of worship: the St. Stephen Bulgarian Church. Serving the Bulgarian Christian minority of Istanbul, its gold-plated accents stand in stark contrast to its slate walls. Why grey? This Neo-Byzantine, Neo-Baroque building was constructed almost entirely out of prefabricated cast iron.

If you’ve worked up an appetite, try your hand at crafting some popular Turkish dishes by adding this evening’s optional cooking class to your itinerary. Or, take off on your own and find the best kahve—Turkish coffee—you can find. (Just drink it slow: This strong brew’s meant to be savored, and is unfiltered to boot.)

Turkish Cooking Class & Dinner

From $165 per person

Day 12: Free day in Istanbul
Included meal: Breakfast

Named after the Arabic word for “bathhouse,” the hammam, or Turkish bath, has been imitated across the world. Start your final day in Istanbul with some well-earned relaxation by opting into this outing. To ease into free time at your own pace, stop at a cafe before one of the greenspaces that line the Golden Horn.

After a fun-filled day, toast to your trip with a farewell drink this evening.

Hammam Spa Visit

From $159 per person

Flight Home
Day 13: Departure
Included meal: Breakfast (excluding early morning departures)

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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Hotels, flights & FAQ

Here's the nitty-gritty—where you’ll stay, how you’ll get there, and what to know about your destination before you go.

Hotels

We handpick every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm. Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date, but these are frequently used hotels for this tour and we're confident you'll be satisfied.
Grand Hotel Gülsoy
Grand Hotel Gülsoy

This lavish hotel is located in the center of old Istanbul. Guests enjoy the indoor pool, a Turkish bath, and bicycle rentals. Nearby, you’ll find the...

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Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Kusadasi
Ramada Hotel & Suites by Wyndham Kusadasi

This comfortable hotel is located just outside of the Kusadasi City Center. Guests enjoy the outdoor pool, a private beach area, and a fitness center....

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Sagalassos Lodge & Spa
Sagalassos Lodge & Spa

This peaceful hotel is located in the Turkish Lake Region town of Aglasun. Travelers enjoy extensive spa facilities, an on-site restaurant that serves...

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Dinler Hotels - Ürgüp
Dinler Hotels - Ürgüp

This contemporary hotel is located in Cappadocia. Guests enjoy indoor and outdoor pools, a Turkish bath, and laundry services. Nearby, you’ll find the...

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Flights

Round-trip flights are one more thing we handle to make your journey as smooth as possible. Our team of travel experts will find the best flight itinerary for you at a competitive rate, thanks to our partnerships with top airlines.
Add our airfare package and you'll get:
  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights

FAQ

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