Wonders of Turkey Family Vacation: Istanbul, Cappadocia & Kusadasi

A 10 day trip to Turkey 
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You want a family vacation to bring everyone together. Your trip should provide the beauty of nature and the intrigue of culture, relaxation, and enchantment. From the beautiful city of Istanbul to the breathtaking landscapes of Cappadocia and immaculate shores of Kusadasi, this customizable family vacation to Turkey will delight the entire family. Walk along Roman ruins and wander through a city carved out of the mountainside. Linger in the hot sand of a Mediterranean beach or have an unobstructed view of the world on a hot air balloon ride. Legends become real, and history comes alive when the family comes to Turkey.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Istanbul, Pamukkale, Ephesus, Kusadasi, Cappadocia

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Two Continents in One

Arrive in Istanbul, a city that has straddled two different worlds and embodies a distinctive culture of East meets West. Minarets tower over the old city. The Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea touch at the Bosphorus, the Istanbul Strait. The city is filled with vibrant cosmopolitan life and unparalleled historic culture.

Your private transfer meets the family at the airport and takes you to a luxurious hotel near the heart of the old city. Deep rich coffee emanates from cafes. Old men sit at tables and play backgammon. The Byzantine architecture blends with the Moorish structures. The cobblestone streets take you deep into the past. The kids are enthralled with the magnificent domes in the near distance. The water brushes against the shores. Fishermen return from their search for a daily catch. Istanbul is enchanting and embracing all at once.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Rising and Shining

The call to prayer fills the city streets and sounds like a soothing song. The minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia almost mirror each other. Fishing boats are painted with vivacious colors making them visible against the calm horizon. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel, and you begin your private tour of the city. The seaside is a crisp sapphire. The sunlight rises clear over the streets, and the Blue Mosque crowns one of the city’s seven hills.

The mosque was constructed in the 17th century and remains a masterwork of Ottoman architecture. Six minarets edge a cascade of domes. Each minaret rises 210 feet into the air, and the highest dome is 141 feet tall. Blue tiles decorate the interior walls. Enter the mosque and find over 20,000 ceramic tiles containing more than 50 tulip designs. The kids are enamored with the size and history of the mosque. The artistry takes your breath away. Stained glass windows beam exceptional colors onto the gallery floor. An arched colonnade wraps around the main courtyard. The towers frame the concentric domes. The wonders of Istanbul open up to you with ease around every corner. The kids are captivated by the mysteries of history, and you find the culture of the city fascinating. 

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 3: Fairytales and Undergrounds

The city awakens to the tranquil and soothing voice emanating from the many minarets around the seven hills. After breakfast, your private transfer takes you to the airport for your flight to Kayseri near the region of Cappadocia. The landscapes remind the family of a fairytale spread across the Anatolian plains. Boulders tower over the valleys and hills are shaped like a picturesque honeycomb. Since around the early Bronze Age, people have carved into the soft stone and built underground homes and churches cut out of the rocks.

The tall, thin spires of rock protrude from the arid and weather-shaped land. The conical peaks stand atop firm and totem shaped poles. The scenery reminds you of the moon and was created by historic lava flows and volcanic eruptions. From atop the hillside, you can look down on a village of fairy chimneys sweeping across the plain. The family has entered a unique world that offers wonders that the children have never imagined. Continue your exploration of Cappadocia with your journey into Kaymakli, one of the 36 underground cities in the region.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 4: Over the Air and Into the Rocks

The early morning sun rises over the landscape and layers the horizon with delicate light. Hundreds of hot air balloons rise over the region and look down on the valleys and towering rock faces. After breakfast, you continue your exploration of the region and its exceptional mixture of natural and human-made marvels. You find that the Goreme Open-Air Museum is on the fringe of Goreme Village. The museum is a collection of rock-cut churches constructed from the 10th to the 12th centuries.

Each church is decorated with remarkable frescoes that add color and context to the already fabled edifice. Step into the caves carved out of the mountainside and find the Apple Church. Elmali Kilise, also known as the Apple Church, was constructed in the 11th century in a smaller cave. Four irregular pillars support the central dome and also form a Greek cross. Refurbished frescoes depict scenes with bishops, saints, and martyrs, bringing the Byzantine style artistry and history to delicate life. The Archangel Michael is depicted in the central dome holding a large red orb, thought to be a reference to an apple. The family is in awe of the intricate architecture, extraordinary history, and gilded artistry at work.   

What’s Included: breakfast, tour, accommodation

Day 5: To Turkey’s Edge

Hot air balloons rise over the landscape once again in the early morning hours. The balloons cast shadows over the fairytale chimneys in the sunrise and add to the mystique of Cappadocia. After breakfast, your private transfer takes you to the airport for your flight to Kusadasi. The region has housed settlers since 3,000 BC. The seaside city looks out to the glowing Mediterranean. The emerald water is pristine. The esplanade is lined with palm trees. The sea breeze sweeps through the city and provides a refreshing, cooling touch.

The castle walls were refurbished in the 19th century and continue to watch over the harbor. The old quarter reminds you of Istanbul. Calm cobblestone streets and historic ambiance rise from the restaurants, shops, and homes. The rest of the day is at your leisure to enjoy the city as a family. Wander through the old quarter streets or stroll along the esplanade. Belek Beach is a comfortable stretch of opulent golden sand that touches the cool water. Spend time basking in the sun and relaxing with the family. The aroma of the ocean blends with freshly grilled fish zested with lemon juice.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, accommodation

Day 6: Reviving the Ancients

The sun peeks over the hillside. The statue of Ataturk stands proud as it watches over the city atop the citadel. The city moves at a relaxed pace in the morning, and your guide escorts you to the tremendous ruins of Priene. The Hellenistic City overlooks the Meander River. The river winds through the countryside over 340 miles and was mentioned in Homer’s Iliad. Priene was moved to the cliffside around 350 BC. You follow your guide up the footpath. The aroma of cedar rises from the hillside. The family has stepped deep into history and is caught by the splendor of the past that significantly shaped the present.

Priene’s Theater was built during its Hellenistic period and changed during the Roman era. Fifty rows of seats climb around the amphitheater and could hold up to 5,000 people. Five pillars continue to stand defiant of time and nature. The columns belonged to the Temple of Athena. Craggy mountains tower above the temple in the background. The kids are inspired by the height and strength of the pillars. You don’t tell them the portion was reconstructed in the 1960s. The Hellenistic walls remain intact and rise to 18 feet tall in some places.

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 7: The Elegance of Ephesus

The wealth of history around the region is too strong to ignore and too grand to want to. Fishing boats cast nets in the distance. Palm trees sway in the light sea air. After breakfast, you make your way to the gates of Ephesus to witness one of the most uncovered and restored classical metropolises. The world of Greco-Roman culture comes to life when you arrive. The kids want to run around and see every ruin, and more importantly, the buildings that remain standing. The mountains roll around the plateau and the aroma of fresh grass and marble fly on the back of the breeze.

The city was home to the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Over 300,000 people lived in the city at its height of power and popularity in the 2nd century AD. The Library of Celsus honored a Roman Senator and could store up to 12,000 scrolls. The exterior is magnificent, with four pairs of columns raised on pedestals. On the second story, the columns frame the windows. Niches contain statues of the four faces that look out over all who enter. You continue to find majesty in the most remarkable places, and the family looks to you for more.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 8: Water Ruins and Fake Snow 

Enjoy the morning with the quiet sounds of the Old Quarter coming to life. The cobblestone streets are playful and inviting. Old men return to their corners in cafes and break open the backgammon set. After breakfast, you are met by your guide and taken to the breathtaking hillside of Pamukkale. From a distance, the landscape looks like it is carpeted in snow. The closer you come to the “cotton castle,” the closer you come to the ancient city of Hierapolis. The city measures 8,860 feet long and stands over the snow-covered mountainside. Except it isn’t snow, it is calcium carbonate.

Temperate waters that range in heated degrees spill over the travertine terraces. Their mineral content has washed the hillside in white covering an expanse of 79 to almost 100 feet. The pools are an arctic blue, and the limestone looks like frozen snow dripping over the landscape. In the walls of Hierapolis, you will find a city whose hot springs have been in use since the 2nd century BC. The tripartite Frontinus Gate opens up to a street 46 feet wide. Venture to the Antique Pool and dip your toes into the warm water. Marble columns from the Temple of Apollo fell into the water during a historic earthquake. The family can swim with the ruins and enjoy the unique experience of the history and natural majesty.  

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 9: Finding the Familiar

The Mediterranean reflects the sunlight and shines like a gem against the shoreline. You make your way to the airport and return to Istanbul to find the city still bustling with magnificent culture and history. Step aboard a boat and journey down the Bosphorus for a different view of the city and its rich heritage. The strait forms part of the border that separates Europe and Asia. The 17-mile long waterway fills with boats traveling between continents. Travel under Mehmet the Conqueror Bridge and see the shores lined with distinct palaces. The breeze blows against the deck. The boat pushed forward against the tide.

The Dolmabahce Palace was constructed in the 19th century and graces the Bosphorus banks. It was meant to impress every bystander who witnessed its grandeur. With over 11 acres of land, the palace contains 285 rooms and 46 halls. The European styles blend with traditional Ottoman architecture to create a lavish décor both on the façade and within the palace walls. The gilded walls and high arches of the Ceremonial Hall have a distinct feel of royalty. An elegant and weighty chandelier dangles from the domed ceiling. Every footstep along the polished floor echoes in the lavish gallery. The entire family is in awe of every room’s embellishment and detailed artistry.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer, tour, accommodation 

Day 10: Holding Ancient Allure

Fishing boats disperse to the horizon and the morning call to prayer hums through the streets. The city awakens. Shops open and restaurants begin to simmer olive oil in their pans. At breakfast, the children tell stories of their favorite moments in Turkey, from watching the balloons over Cappadocia to walking alongside ruins in Ephesus.

Your private transfer meets you at the hotel and takes you to the airport. The domes of the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sofia catch the light and remind you of the magic of Istanbul and your adventures in Turkey. Enjoy your memories and dream about tours to Turkey on your plane ride home.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer

Price

Starting Price 

$2,595
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.