Outdoor Adventures in Turkey: Tour for Active Travelers

A 8 day trip to Turkey 
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Turkey isn't just evocative culture and history. The cityscapes and landscapes bristle with outdoor adventure, a thousand experiences to be had beneath dazzling Mediterranean skies. Cappadocia's surreal landscape offers an iconic playground; hot air ballooning, mountain biking, rock climbing. Then two continents are explored on two wheels and two legs in Istanbul. 

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General Information

Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Cappadocia, Istanbul, Derwent Valley, Goreme Open air Museum, Zelve Open air Museum, Avanos, Kaymakli Underground City, Mustafapasa, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Royal Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Spice Market, Bosphorus, Dolmabahce Palace

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Cappadocia – Touching Down in a Fairytale Landscape

It's a surreal start to the vacation as you land in Cappadocia. Strange chimney like geological formations extend across the valleys; entrances to caves and troglodyte dwellings can be spotted all around, and there's a feeling of incredulity as you say hello to your boutique cave hotel. Your international flight will have landed in Istanbul. Then it's a short transfer and domestic flight to Kayseri, where your driver and guide are waiting to transfer you into the fairytale landscape. The rest of the day is free, giving you a chance to relax and gaze out at the Cappadocia geology. Dependent on your energy levels, it's possible to arrange a visit to Mustafapasa Town, where old Greek houses stand resplendent in the late afternoon light. Tonight's dinner is included and will involve a traditional Turkish banquet at a local restaurant. Think meze, dolma, and a blend of fresh Mediterranean flavors.

What's Included: dinner at local restaurant, accommodation in a boutique cave hotel, airport transfer

Day 2: Cappadocia – Mountain Biking Through Surreal Valleys

Cappadocia offers a playground for adventure. While photos of the valleys indicate an ethereal beauty, they struggle to portray the scale of this lunar-like landscape. These chimneys and caves stretch for hundreds of miles and a mountain bike is one of the best ways to explore. By road, the surreal valleys extend in all directions. But by bike, you cycle through the chimneys and immerse yourself in a unique natural wonder. Peddle along dramatically cut cliffs and then sharply descend onto the valley floor where winding trails dissect the eroded geological formations. The trails are almost exclusively off-road, and as the asphalt rescinds into the distance you're engulfed by the inimitability of Cappadocia. In particular, the valleys of Dervent and Pasabag make for some pristine adventures.

Today's mountain bike tour is private and will be tailored to your interests and fitness level. There are many days of trails to choose from and your guide will offer routes that reflect the mood. A support vehicle is included and will transfer you to the most interesting and impressive sections, negating any mundane riding on the tarmac. Lunch is included and it's of the gourmet picnic variety, served in a setting with unrivaled views onto the landscape you're exploring.

What's Included: breakfast, lunch, accommodation in a boutique cave hotel, full-day private mountain bike tour

Day 3: Cappadocia – Exploring Underground Cities and Rock Churches

Cappadocia's landscape is a visual treat, a treasure chest of panoramas that flicker beneath a Mediterranean sun. Yet this is not merely an aesthetic destination. Culture hides below the valley floor and amongst the caves. Today's tour explores the beautiful and sometimes bizarre history of the region. Visit the Zelve and Goreme open-air museums, where churches have been sculpted into towering cliffs. Square holes have been carved as entrances and the churches stand side by side in stylistic unison. Frescos line their walls, shocks of color brightening ascetic interiors. Monasteries line the paths and the congruence of architecture imbues an old-world feel.

Enjoy a traditional lunch before seeking out a history beneath the ground. Descend steep narrow staircases and enter the gloomy world of Kaymakli underground city. It's dark and eerie, yet there's a poignant beauty to the multileveled corridors, caves, and remarkable living space. Thousands once lived here, persecuted Christians who hid underground. Emerge from below and discover the rock cut churches of Soganli village, a vast contrast to Kaymakli and another narrative on Cappadocia's history.

What's Included: breakfast, lunch at a local restaurant, accommodation in a boutique cave hotel, full-day tour of Cappadocia including Zelve, Goreme, Kaymakli, and Soganli

Day 4: Cappadocia – Hot Air Balloon Above Cappadocia and Unique Rock Climbing Adventure

As the sun begins to rise, the chimneys of Cappadocia move through a kaleidoscope of colors. Warm tones reflect across the valleys and the phenomenon is best observed from the sky. Today's hot air balloon flight means an early start, but it's more than worth it. Soar above this fairytale landscape and you begin to grasp the scale of the region. Hundreds of square miles are covered in weird geology and the panoramas are further enhanced by the morning light. A light breakfast and coffee is served before your departure. Then after a one hour flight, return to the hotel where a full breakfast is waiting. The rest of the morning is free and there are some intriguing souvenir shops to explore within walking distance.

This afternoon's tour is also an aerial one. As you might expect in a landscape of weird cliffs, Cappadocia is an internationally regarded rock climbing destination. No experience is necessary as there is a wide diversity of bolted routes spread across different areas. It's a private tour and the guide will select routes that respond to your experience. Some instruction will be provided but it's not too detailed or serious. This is a fun afternoon, climbing up cliffs and then rappelling back down with the charms of Cappadocia all around. Tonight's dinner provides an antidote to the exertion. Visit a traditional village and be invited inside by a local family. They've cooked up a huge feast of Cappadocian food and there are few better tastes than generations-old home cooking.

What's Included: breakfast, home-cooked dinner in local village, accommodation at boutique cave hotel, sunrise hot air balloon trip above Cappadocia, private rock climbing excursion

Day 5: Istanbul – Walking Tour of Istanbul's Wonders

Istanbul offers a very different landscape to Cappadocia. An eclectic architectural blend fills every street, evidence of both east and west harmoniously coming together as you soak up initial impressions of a city on two continents. After the flight from Kayseri the rest of the morning is free to settle into the city and enjoy the views from the hotel's terrace. The call to prayer adds beautiful resonance to the atmosphere, smells mingle and waft across the rooftops, and the city is remarkably quiet given its fame and size.

After lunch, take a private walking tour through Sultanahmet, the centerpiece of Byzantia and now Istanbul. Start in the Hippodrome Square and picture the raucous ambiance of chariot races and Roman rule. Flanking the square's remains are two renowned World Wonders. The domes of the Blue Mosque scream of grandeur yet they hide a serene atmosphere. Thousands of tiles provide the unique blue color, so remove your shoes and step inside. On the opposite side of the square, behind the roving tea sellers, you find the domes of the Hagia Sophia, once the second largest building in the world (after the Egyptian pyramids). Christian frescos showcase its 5th century history as a cathedral, and Arabic script reveals its many centuries as a mosque. Over a succession of rooms you discover a very impressive religious harmony.

Continue the wander through Sultanahmet, shoes walking across cobblestone and eyes darting into small cafes. The pace is leisurely and the attractions revel in their opulent glory. Take a peek in the Topkapi Palace, dozens of rooms revealing untamed indulgence, then meander into the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar. Etched into the ceilings are four centuries of history; evidence of fires and rebuilding, carvings of grandeur, domes bringing light that illuminates stalls of silver, trinkets, souvenirs, and carpets. Get lost and explore; your guide is alongside and knows how to exit the maze. Return to the hotel and the evening is free to continue your exploration of Sultanahmet.

What's Included: breakfast, accommodation in a boutique Sultanahmet hotel, airport transfers, walking tour of Sultanahmet including relevant entrance tickets

Day 6: Istanbul – Exploring Hidden Istanbul by Bicycle

Istanbul stands on the continental divide, uniting Europe and Asia in its inimitable style. A city of such fame may not seem like the perfect choice for outdoor adventure. However, Istanbul's central area has limited traffic and both continents can be explored on two legs or two wheels. Today's full-day tour is by bicycle, taking you from Europe to Asia and into hidden parts of the city. Cycle alongside the Bosphorus, peddle across bridges lined by expectant fishermen, and coast into suburbs well off the tourist trail. There's a leisurely pace and dozens of places to stop, take a photo, and savor the view. Again, this is a private tour so you dictate the speed and when to stop for an energizing mug of Turkish coffee.

Explore food markets bursting with fragrant produce and wind a trail through narrow city streets. Lunch is included at Ciya, one of Turkey's most famous restaurants. One time street stall, now multileveled restaurant, Ciya is an ode to the experimentation and freshness of the local cuisine. Handpick your meze by selecting from dozens of unique dishes. After lunch there's less cycling as you coast back to Sultanahmet and the hotel. The evening is at your leisure.

What's Included: breakfast, lunch at Ciya, accommodation in boutique Sultanahmet hotel, Two Continents Two Wheels cycle tour

Day 7: Istanbul – Spice Market and Elegant Bosphorus River Cruise

Your final day is one for all the senses. Follow the scents and explore the Spice Market, where saffron and cumin are amongst the flavors that spill onto narrow corridors. Whole sacks of spice line this huge covered bazaar and your guide provides a narrative about their uses. After the exertion of the last few days, today is tranquil and easy on the legs. From the Spice Market you transfer onto an elegant cruise ship and spend a couple of hours following the continental divide. On one side is Europe. On the other is Asia. Both leave lasting impressions with their riverside architecture and cityscapes.

Disembark yet stay alongside the Bosphorus as you take lunch in a traditional fish restaurant. The afternoon then provides a couple of final Istanbul delights. First the Dolmabahce Palace with its 365 rooms and 22 saloons, each furnished with abundant collections of European antiquity and furniture. Then drive uphill and enjoy vistas over the city; domes, minarets, palaces, markets, bridges, and the great Bosphorus dissecting the two sides. You'll return to the hotel around mid-afternoon and the rest of the day is free. For your convenience, a dinner table has been booked at Matbah Ottoman Palace Cuisine, an elegant restaurant that combines gourmet cuisine with a classical setting.

What's Included: breakfast, local lunch, dinner at Matbah Ottoman Palace Cuisine, full-day Istanbul tour by vehicle including Bosphorus River cruise

Day 8: Istanbul – Farewell to Istanbul

After seven action filled days you bid farewell to Istanbul and Turkey. Final memories come from a final glimpse at the city as you're transferred to the airport and your international departure.

What's Included: breakfast, airport transfer


Starting Price 

This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.