Ever since I stuck an idyllic poster of the tropical bay of Fethiye in Turkey onto my wall, while the rest of my friends were sticking heartthrobs on theirs, I have been in love with Turkey. But there is so much more to this mystical country than the beautiful beaches and crystal clear bays and it is wise to take some Turkey tours to experience the best of Turkey.
Choosing the places to visit and tour in Turkey is not easy. There are so many tour companies, so many levels of luxury and so many travel operators offering different tours and cruises showcasing different aspects of this country. From that unforgettable day tour of cities like Istanbul, Antalya, Kusadasi, Cappadocia, Izmir, Ephesus to making a discovery of the hidden treasures of the transcontinental experience in Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Taksim and other attractions you don’t want to miss.
It is easy to get bogged down when there are so many excursions to choose from and ultimately make the wrong decision. In this article, I hope to decipher the confusion between the masses of tours and pick the very best tour for you, on the River Nile.
Best Time To Go
Istanbul and European Turkey experience hot summers and cooler winters. There is sometimes even snow, so make sure you take a jumper if you visit in the winter. The best time to visit is in spring and autumn, from April to May and from September to mid-November respectively, when Istanbul is warm and sunny but not stifling and the inland regions enjoy pleasant temperatures and clear skies.
If you like to trek or hike, the best time to visit Turkey is in April, May and June. Likewise, October is cool enough for walking around in the daytime heat. Try to avoid visiting during the height of summer that is July, August and September because the heat averages 40 degrees and is extremely uncomfortable.
Conversely, if you like the beach or to laze by the pool, head to Istanbul in the summer. The best pool can be found at the shoreline Four Seasons in Istanbul.
Best Hotels In Istanbul
The tours below start in Istanbul so you will need to book a hotel as your base. In terms of places to stay, the two best luxury hotels in Istanbul are the Four Seasons although there are plenty of brilliant luxury hotels Istanbul Old Town. If you are looking for a hotel with a club lounge in Istanbul, we have covered this too.
1. Best Tour Of Istanbul
Istanbul operates all year round so if the weather is the least of your priorities, visit in any month. It can be grey and cold from November through to the beginning of March and if it is extremely windy, the Bosphorus cruises and ferries closed down, so bear this in mind if you dream of cruising up and down this waterway.
In terms of tours, our top pick is Memphis tours for the ultimate Istanbul day tour. Enjoy an Istanbul City Tour visiting famous sites with Memphis Tours. Your guide will pick up from your hotel and taking you to all of the most exciting sites in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet area.
Tour to the most impressive sights in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet area. Visit Topkapi Palace, which was the official residence of the Ottoman Sultans and the centre of state administration. Inside you will tour the lavish palace and see riches that displays the power of the Ottomans.
Continuing on the nearby Blue Mosque and the Basilica Hagia Sophia, you will see the culmination of Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque architecture. Blue Mosque is considered to be the last great mosque of the classical period. Hagia Sophia was renovated several times, serving as a church under the Byzantines and then a mosque during Ottoman rule. Continue on to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, which was the heart of civil life in the Byzantine city.
Finally, you will end your tour at the Grand Bazaar to wander the alleys of this historic complex. The bazaar is the largest and oldest in Turkey and it is famous for offering everything from Persian carpets, leather goods and jewellery to ceramics, spices and antiques. After your time in the bazaar, your guide will return you to your hotel. The tour will last approximately 6 hours.
2. Cappadocia from Istanbul Day Trip
Cappadocia is one of those touristic places that is open all year round but most attractions involve outdoor activities and since Cappadocia is also prone to snow, rain and hard winds during winter. This means that activities might be cancelled in the winter, especially the number one attraction of hot air balloon trips which are outlined in our third best Turkish tour from Istanbul. A Cappadocia tour from Istanbul by flight. The best time to tour Cappadocia is usually May to October.
For the Cappadocia from Istanbul day trip, you will be picked up from your hotel in Istanbul to take a 45 minute flight to Kayseri Airport in Cappadocia.
Upon arrival, your private guide will meet you to share one of the most amazing city in Turkey. Firstly you will visit the famous “Devrent Valley and “Pasabagi” (or Monk`s Valley).
After lunch at a local restaurant in “Avanos” Town on the banks of Kizilirmak Red River, you will see some of the world-famous Turkish Handicrafts being made here. In the afternoon you will visit the “Goreme Open Air Museum and “Uchisar Rock Castle”.
Finalize the tour with a visit to the “Underground City of Serhatl or Özkonak” which is one of the best-preserved and deep subterranean towns of the region. Transfer to Kayseri airport for your flight back to Istanbul.
3. Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul by Flight
For the two day Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul by flight, you will be picked up from your hotel in Istanbul to take a 45-minute flight to Kayseri Airport in Cappadocia to spend stunning 2 Day Cappadocia Tour from Istanbul.
Upon arrival, you will be met by our tour guide who will run your excursion in Cappadocia including visits to the Devrent Imagination Valley and a walk through this lunar landscape.
Next, visit the Zelve Open Air Museum, where you will witness houses carved into the rocks, a Seljuk 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 will be taken in a local restaurant, Uchisar Rock-Castle, which is located at the highest point in the region, Esentepe and offers a panoramic view of Goreme valley. You will visit Goreme Open Air Museum with rock-cut churches, frescoes and a monastery before transferring to your hotel for an overnight stay. Your dinner and overnight stay will be in Cappadocia. Lunch and dinner are included in the tour.
On your second day, after breakfast, which is included, you will have a free day in Cappadocia until your flight back to Istanbul. We suggest trying out the world-famous hot air ballooning ride in the early morning and pictured above. You won’t find a more Instagrammable moment than this!
After this, transfer to Cappadocia airport for your domestic flight to Istanbul, where you will be transferred to your hotel in Istanbul.
4. Bosphorus Boat Tour
After being picked you up at your hotel, you will spend a special day on a Bosphorus Boat Tour. Travel by bus to the Golden Horn which has played an important role in the development of Istanbul. This inlet separates the European shore into two. You will visit the Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar), the air here is filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice.
Then start your excursion by boat along the waterway separating Europe and Asia. The shore is lined with old wooden villas, palaces of marble, fortresses, and small fishing villages.
During the excursion, you will pass the magnificent Dolmabahce Palace, and further along, the parks and imperial pavillions of Yildiz Palace. On the coastal edge of this park, is Ciragan Palace, 300 meters of its marble facade faces the shore.
At Ortakoy a great variety of artists gather every Sunday to display their work along the street. Ortakoy is a symbol of tolerance with a church, a mosque and a synagogue existing side by side for centuries.
You will also see the Rumeli Fortress (from the Sea). It is one of the most beautiful works of military architecture. After this four hour tour, you will return to your hotel.
5. Princes Islands Tour
Memphis tours will pick you up from your hotel to enjoy an excursion to Princes’ islands.
Cruise in the “Marmara Sea”, an old fashioned public boat, to Princes Island. Stop at Büyükada, the popular summer resort with pinewood scenery and wooden mansions, once the pleasure island of Byzantine Princes. Tour of the island by horse-drawn carriages before lunch at a fish restaurant. In the evening, you return to İstanbul and transfer to your hotel.
6. Istanbul to Ephesus Tour
You will be picked up at early morning from your hotel in Istanbul to take a 45 minutes flight to Izmir for your Ephesus tour.
Upon arrival, your private guide will meet you and you will be transferred by an air-conditioned, non-smoking vehicle to the Ancient City of Ephesus where you will enjoy a stunning Ephesus tour and explore some of the best-preserved theatres, fountains and buildings in the world. Tour the Temple of Hadrian, the Celsus Library, Harbor Street and the Great Theater.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue on to House of the Virgin Mary, a pilgrimage site for many people of all denominations. According to belief Mary may have spent her last days there. Near there you will also visit the ruins of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
To complete your tour you will visit the “Isa Bey Mosque” a 13th Century authentic Muslim temple and then head to a carpet shop to see how the Turkish carpets are made by hand. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight to Istanbul and you will then be transferred to your hotel.
7. Istanbul Troy Day Trip
This long day tour, the Istanbul Troy day trip, starts with an early morning pickup at 06:30 from your hotel in Istanbul. You arrive at the lunch stop in Eceabat at 12:30 and you then take a ferry across the Dardanelles and drive to Troy, which was made famous by the legendary Trojan Horse from the times of Beautiful Helen, the Queen of Sparta, and Paris, the Trojan Prince.
After the tour, you will be returned back to ferry port to take a ferry across the Dardanelles. You will return to Istanbul in the evening, arriving back in approximately 23:00.
8. Full Day Bosphorus and Asia
For the full day tour of Bosphorus and Asia, your guide will pick you up from your hotel at 8:30 AM. You start with a visit to Spice Bazaar (Egyptian Bazaar). The air here ıs filled with the enticing aromas of cinnamon, caraway, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice.
Next is a boat trip on the Bosphorus and an amazing cruise between the two continents, Europe and Asia. Along the Bosphorus, you will see the Dolmabahçe and Beylerbeyi Palaces, wooden villas and mansions up to the Rumeli Fortress from the sea. İstanbul had been besieged many times before Mehmet the Conqueror took the city in 1453, but it managed to defend itself with the help of the Roman city walls.
Bosporus Bridge offers the unique chance to step from one continent, Asia, to another Europe. Then visit Beylerbeyi Palace, the summer residence of Ottoman Sultans with its original furniture and magnificent gardens with the Harem on the Asian Side.
The next stop is Çamlica Hill, one of the highest points in Istanbul. At the top of it, you can rest and admire the magnificent panorama of Istanbul and the Bosphorus from the beautiful gardens, the landscape in traditional style, as you sip your drinks in a cafeteria.
9. Gallipoli Tour from Istanbul
You will be picked up from your hotel in the early morning to enjoy a fully guided Gallipoli Tour from Istanbul. Drive for 4 hours stopping in Tekirdag for refreshments before having lunch on arrival at Eceabat Town.
Begin the guided tour of the ANZAC Battlefields visiting ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine Australian Memorial, Johnston’s Jolly, (Turkish and Allied trenches and tunnels), The Nek, Chunuk Bair New Zealand Memorial. At the end of the tour, you will be transferred back to Istanbul and transferred to your hotel.
10. Green Bursa Tour Istanbul
After an early start with a pickup from your hotel, enjoy a Green Bursa tour from Istanbul. Depart by ferry-boat via Yalova, enjoying the lovely countryside view. Drive to Bursa, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire from 13th century which is known for its pretty Islamic monuments, historical bazaars, the ski resort on the Ulu Mountain (Uludag) and the delicious traditional cuisine.
Climb to Uludag, the legendary Mount Olympos, by Teleferik (Cable Car). Have barbeque lunch on top of the mountain and then free time for Atv safari at all seasons or ski motor and ski in the winter season (your own expense).
Visit Ulucami (Grand Mosque), The Green Mausoleum, the old Silk Market in the Covered Bazaar and visit Inkaya Plane Tree. Return to Istanbul and you will be transferred to hotel late in the evening after this fantastic tour.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.