I was planning to travel to Istanbul from Mumbai this October but due to personal reasons had to cancel the trip. I had researched well in advance and asked quotations from various local travel agents based out of Istanbul or Cappadocia to find better accommodations and local experience. I didn’t like the Makemytrip.com Istanbul package and the choice of hotel stays just put me off. So I decided to do my own research and find out the best way to spend 8 days in Turkey. I wanted to cover major attractions like Istanbul, Pammukale, Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, Cappadocia caves, etc.
I found Istanbul based Efendi Travels the cheapest and the most inspiring.
They sent me a customised itinerary based on my requirements.
My requirements were as follows:
Day 1: Arrive to Cappadocia from Istanbul and transfer to the hotel (cave hotel)
Day 2: Full day Cappadocia with lunch, northern tour breakfast lunch dinner (if possible hot air balloon tour but will a 3 year old be allowed on the balloon)
Day 3: Cappadocia to Izmir by flight and stay in Kusadasi or Secluk (Secluk and Kusadasi very close around same area and main hotels in Kusadasi) breakfast and dinner
Day 4: Full day Pamukkale tour with lunch, breakfast and dinner
Day 5: Full day Ephesus tour with lunch, breakfast and dinner
Day 6: Izmir (Kusadasi to Istanbul by flight) transfer to the hotel (Breakfast)
Day 7: Istanbul full day old city and Bosphorus cruise, lunch and breakfast
Day 8: Departure transfers to Istanbul airport to come back to Mumbai
I also added, “Can you give me the costing in Euros? Also, please do not include hotels like ISTANBUL BYZANTIUM HOTEL, CAPPADOCIA AVRASYA HOTEL, KUSADASI MARINA HOTEL (these are part of MakeMyTrip itinerary and I didn’t like them). I want a boutique hotel. Even a quaint and authentic Turkish B&B will do as long as it is clean, safe and beautiful.”
They quickly reverted with the following itinerary:
Day 01: Flight from Istanbul Airport to Kayseri. You will be received at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Stay in Cappadocia cave hotel.
Day 02: You will visit Devrent Imagination Valley and walk through this lunar landscape. Next, visit Zelve Open Air Museum, where you will witness houses carved into the rocks, a Seljukian mosque as well as traces of most, if not all, ancient civilizations, Pasabaglari (the world-famous Fairy Chimneys), the village of Avanos, where you will witness a Pottery-making demonstration using ancient Hittite techniques, lunch at a local cave restaurant, Uchisar Rock-Castle, (the highest point in the region, Esentepe (a panoramic view of Goreme valley) and Goreme Open Air Museum (Rock-cut churches, frescoes, monastery). Return to the hotel about 16.30. Stay in Cappadocia. (breakfast and lunch included)
Day 03: Early balloon ride with pick up from hotel about 05.00 am and return to the hotel about 07.30 am. (*** 3 years old children are not accepted on the balloon, but baby sister service provided while you are on the balloon).
Pick up from your hotel about 08.30 am and transfer to the airport for the flight to Izmir departure at 10.20 am/arrival at 13.50. (Connected flight via Istanbul). You will be received at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Stay in Kusadasi. (breakfast included)
Day 04: The pickup time is 09.30 am from the hotel for a full day Ephesus Ancient City and Virgin Mary´s House Tour. You will visit Ephesus which is known to be the commercial, the religious and the social center of antiquity, and one of the highlights of any visit to Turkey. After the lunch, you will drive to Temple of Artemis (Diana), the site of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world; House of Virgin Mary, probably where she spent last years of her life; Isa Bey Mosque, this impressive mosque from XIV Century A.D. is unlike any other you will see in this country. Return to the hotel about 17.00. Stay in Kusadasi. (breakfast and lunch included)
Day 05: After breakfast, departure Pamukkale about 08.30 am which is the center of natural thermal spring waters with healing properties. Drive through a panoramic scenery for about 3.5 hours. Due to the chemical properties in the water, pure white colored travertines and stepped water terraces have been created on the mountain slope. It is for its resemblance to cotton piles that it is called ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish. Visit the travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis which has the biggest Nekropol with 1200 gravestones in Anatolia. The sacred pool also is one of the highlights of the site. There shallow thermal waters ripple over a wonderful scattering of ancient roman ruins that lie beneath. Thus, you shall have your swimming suites with you. You may also swim at Roman Thermal Pool by paying extra on your own for 26 TL. You will be transferred to Denizli Airport after the tour for the flight to Istanbul departure 19.00/arrival 20.05. You will be received at the airport and transfered to your hotel. Stay in Istanbul. (breakfast and lunch included)
See Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif romancing in the ruins of Hierapolis and Pamukkale in the song Tu Jane Na from the movie Ajab Prem Ki Ghajab Kahani
Day 06: Pick up time is about 08.30 from the hotel. You will visit Rustem Pasa Mosque, special with Ottoman tiles and then walk through the Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Market) built in 1664 and filled with the fragrance of the exotic East such as spices, dried fruits, Turkish delights. The Bosphorus cruise by TurYol boat takes about 1.5 hour and you will see the most impressive sights along the shores of the Bosphorus including Dolmabahce Palace, Ciragan Palace, Maiden´s Tower, Bosphorus bridges, Rumeli and Anadolu fortresses and Ottoman Residences. After lunch, you will see St. Sophia Museum, Blue Mosque, Million stone, Tomb of Sultan Mahmud and ancient Ottoman cemetery, Cemberlitas (Burnt Column) and the tour ends about 16:30 with free time at the Grand Bazaar. You will be advised by your guide for getting back to your hotel on your own. Stay in Istanbul. (breakfast and lunch included)
Day 07: Pick up time is about 08.30 from the hotel. You will visit Topkapi Palace (Harem section is extra), Basilica Cistern (Underground Water Palace) Roman Hippodrome. The tour ends about 12.00 noon. (No hotel drop off) Free afternoon at site. Stay in Istanbul. (breakfast included)
Day 08: Pick up from your hotel and transferred to the airport for your international flight. The tour ends.
The price quoted a month back was 2190 Euros for 2 adults and a child. (Flights from Mumbai to Istanbul and back not included)
And included the following:
– Domestic flights tickets/economy class
– Local airport shuttles
– 2ng stay at www.cappadociapalace.com in cave room
– 2 ng stay at www.hotelilayda.com in sea-view room
– 3ng stay at www.sultansinn.com at large double room
– Local guided tours in English with entrance fees included (Except Harem in Topkapi Palace and Terrace Houses in Ephesus)
– Meal courses as noted in the itinerary (No extra meal plate for 3 years old child. Drinks on lunches are self-payment)
Balloon ride in Cappadocia: Balloon tour is extra. The balloon tour costs as follows and we work with www.royalballoon.com.tr which is a major company.
Standard balloon tour; there are about 20 people in the basket and flies for about 45 minutes. The cost is 160 euro per person payable with credit card in advance.
Deluxe balloon tour; there are about 12 people in the basket which leaves you more space and flies for about 80 minutes. The cost is 230 euro per person payable with credit card in advance.
Whirling Dervishes Ceremony in Istanbul: The cost is 20 euro per person for only entrance fee known to the west as Whirling Dervishes, the Mevlevi Order was founded by Mevlana Rumi in the 13th century. The Order wrote of tolerance, forgiveness, and enlightenment. They survive today as a cultural brotherhood. They are not theatrical spectacles but sacred rituals. The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the sema, is a serious religious ritual performed by Muslim priests in a prayer trance to Allah. Mevlevi believed that during the sema the soul was released from earthly ties, and able to freely and jubilantly commune with the divine. The ceremony starts at 19:30 .We will able to provide you the entrance ticket of the ceremony but no transportation. The ceremony hall is within the old city district close to the hotel’s area. We recommend to be at site about 15-20 minutes in advance. The ceremony takes approx. 1 hour.
For more information you can contact them here:
Address: Yeni Akbiyik Caddesi No: 30 Sultanahmet – Istanbul – Turkey
Tel: +90 212 638 63 43
Mob: +90 554 625 72 93
Fax: +90 212 638 39 22
Association of Turkish Travel Agency License No: 2617
I hope this should help if you are planning a trip to Turkey. Leave me a comment if you have a better plan. I can use that for next time.
*This is just to help fellow travellers and is not a paid post. Please research well before booking.