Gardens and History of Turkey Tour 2023

Gardens and History of Turkey Tour

September 4th – 13th, 2023

Istanbul – Cappadocia – Izmir – Ephesus – Urla – Istanbul

Visiting Turkey, sitting on the edge of the Islamic world and the European Union,  is one of the easiest and most fascinating ways to explore the Islamic culture. Between the incredible food, the richness of history in Istanbul, the hot air balloon rides over Cappadocia, and the stunning mosques, it’s no wonder that Turkey is the 6th most-visited destination in the entire world!

I remember my first visit there with very fond memories….it was a reminder to me of visiting Malaysia as I heard the call to prayer for the first time in Kuching and brought me smack dab back to a very humble mindset.  I was in a different world, so unused to the customs but so happy to be seeing and hearing them.  Turkey is like that.  Everywhere you look there are glorious reminders that you are not ever going to be bored…ever.  Everywhere you go you will record your memories in photos, to remind you just how rich this country is in so many ways.

This tour required a lot of time spent on making the best use of our time until we finally decided to move it around so that we begin and end in Istanbul to make it is so much easier for you to arrive and depart.  It is pretty jam packed too and we had to rejig and double check to make sure that the places we were going to and the time it takes to get to each of them is as short as possible.  This is always the challenging part of putting a tour together but I really enjoy it and I hope you like what we have put together.

Are you ready? The gateway to Europe from the Middle East, Turkey has layered history and jaw-dropping natural beauty. And, oh that food!

Foods to try…Turkish Delight – Traditional Turkish delight sweets are made with the aromatic flavors of Bergamot orange, rosewater, mastic, or lemon.

Baklava – In Turkey, making baklava is an art form and every artist has their own signature. You will find baklava with walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts and a range of sweet flavors like honey, rosewater, or orange flower.

Simit – Some may refer to this as the love child of a pretzel and a bagel. These round and doughy carb delights are typically covered in sesame seeds.

Kunefe – If you adore the idea of cheese as a dessert, it will be love at first sight when you lay eyes on kunefe! This sweet cheese pastry is made with shredded filo stuffed with melted cheese and soaked in a sweet syrup

There are others like kofta, kumpir so try them all! Including Turkish Coffee, although I found this to be really really strong, it is a tradition!

The real deal… The term hammam refers to Turkish baths, which are well-known throughout the world for a variety of reasons, including religion, culture, and general hygiene.  A very memorable experience for those so inclined…

Turkey is not only a safe destination but also one that I believe everyone should experience once in their life.  Turkey is a country that truly has it all—it’s a place where history meets adventure. From its rugged coastlines to the lively city of Istanbul to vast deserts and “fairy chimneys,” the terrain will surprise and enchant you.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Turkey, especially Visa and Mastercard. If you’re shopping in the markets, it’s smart to have cash on you. ATMs are very common in Turkey. It’s advised to use the ATMs that are attached to banks when possible. These tend to be safer and are less likely to be tampered with. When withdrawing from an ATM, you’re also likely to get a pretty fair exchange rate.   Most common currency is the Euro and US dollar.

In Turkey, the standard plug is type F, the standard voltage is 220 V, and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

If Canadian or American, you will need a visa but it is very easy to get online.  You can check here  Remember to print or do a screen capture of the bar code and the approval page and number because it’ll be an online link. You will not receive the approval information by email.

Everyone must have personal travel insurance…this is a requirement by Turkey for all tourists traveling in their country.

**Please note that the final payment on this tour will be 120 days

Make sure you bring your vaccination certificate along with you.

We have 3 Domestic flights included in this tour and have increased your 1 check in bag weight to 25 kgs – your carry on weight remains 8 kgs.

Books to Read Before Traveling to Turkey

A Turkish Awakening by Alev Scott – One of my favorite books and a great way to get a better sense of modern Turkish life and history.

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak – A story about two families coming together from Turkey and the United States and the search to connect with Turkish heritage/identity.

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres – About the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the consequences of World War I and the forced migration of Christian Turks to Greece and Muslim Greeks to Turkey!

Constantinople: City of the World’s Desire by Philip Mansel

Istanbul: Memories and the City by Orhan Pamuk

Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey by Andrew Mango



Please Click on Each Day to bring up the Itinerary for that Day

Day 1. Sept 4. Monday. Arrival in Istanbul

Transfer on your own to your hotel in Istanbul where the rest of the day is at leisure. Check in time is 3 pm.

Taking a taxi from the airport is very easy to do as well.  Recent check on pricing was around 35-40 Euros.  We can arrange a private transfer for you but they are expensive…120 Euros for 1 or 2 people.  Advise if you would prefer this.

I also advise coming in 1 pre tour night so that you have time to settle in before our tour but I do need to know that asap.

Located along the banks of the Bosphorus strait, the city of Istanbul is rich in culture and history, and is an amazing place to visit. You can learn a lot about Islamic culture and see dazzling displays of artwork and architecture that were created during the reign of the Ottoman Empire.  Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, played for centuries a major part in world politics, first as the capital of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, then as the capital of the Ottoman Empire, the most powerful Islamic empire in the world. Nowadays, Istanbul’s Asian side is filled with Western-style sprawling suburbs, while its European side is a wonderland of mosques, magnificent palaces, and crowded bazaars.  Istanbul, the only city that straddles two continents.

Overnight in Istanbul

Radisson Blu Pera Hotel – Superior View Room

Radisson Blu Hotel, Istanbul Pera offers you the ultimate Turkish experience with unique views to the Golden Horn. The hotel is in the Pera district which is known as the center for cultural, arts and entertainment in İstanbul and is within walking distance to most historical sights and public transportation. Between the hotels, delicious food and drink facilities are the Super Breakfast buffet and the A la Carte restaurant with its magnificent Golden Horn view.

Day 2. Sept 5. Tuesday. Istanbul

After breakfast we drive to the Asian Side of Istanbul to explore Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, an unexpected oasis amongst the towering high-rise blocks and motorways that surround it. To date, more than 50,000 trees and shrubs have been planted in this 50-hectare park, which aspires to establish the largest collection of oaks in the world. A section of the garden is devoted to scented plants and there is also a rock and screen garden.

Our tour continues to a very peaceful Baltalimanı Japanese Garden, inspired by the Chofu Garden on the Kanmon Straits of Japan. Complete with a traditional pergola, stone bridges, a natural pond and the famous sakura cherry tree, the garden was opened in 2003, which was the year of Turkey in Japan and was to be the first of a hundred Istanbul gardens dedicated to the horticultural heritage of Istanbul’s many sister cities.

Sakip Sabanci Museum The former  home of the Sabanci Family, one of the two richest families of Turkey with their gardens – one of the most important gardens of Istanbul with its 100-year history, with 115 different plant varieties, colored by flowers such as redbud, lavender, and mimosa from the Far East, America, Australia, North Africa and Caucasus regions, including rare plants in Turkey – overlooking the Bosphorus. and

Dolmabahce Palace. Until the 17th Century this site was one of the coves in Bosporus. In mythology it is the place where Argonauts’ legendary ship “Argo” had anchored in order to find the Golden Pelt, and in history Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror had breached his ships again in this cove to cross over to Golden Horn during the conquest of Istanbul. One of the unique gardens of Bosporus called Dolmabahce (Filled up Garden).  The sultans moved here from Topkapi because it was more comfortable. There is a terrace garden and landing stage beside the Bosphorous. The enclosed back gardens served the harem quarters and the favourite girls (cariyeler). The administrative section of the palace, used by the sultans and then by Ataturk, as a formal garden.

Overnight in Istanbul.

Radisson Blu Pera Hotel

(B, Welcome Lunch)

Day 3. Sept 6. Wednesday. Istanbul – Fly to Cappadocia

Blue Mosque whose interior walls are covered with twenty thousand blue Iznik tiles, featuring many different tulip, rose, carnation, and lily designs, magnificent!  It is named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district. It was built by Mehmet Aga, the imperial architect and was very controversial due to its six minarets, which many at that time believed was sacrilegious as it rivaled the architecture of Mecca itself! There is some incredible art and architecture throughout, but keep in mind that it is an active mosque with daily prayer services. When visiting the Blue Mosque, it’s important to dress appropriately with your shoulders and legs covered as it is a religious site.

We will walk through the site where the Hippodrome used to be…

Hagia Sophia that has inspired architects and religious leaders for over fifteen hundred years. Constructed in 326 by Constantine the Great, it has been a cathedral, a mosque, and now a museum. Built in the 6th century, this church influenced architecture for centuries. Its original design was created as a mirror of the heavens. Explore the vast galleries and beautiful mosaics. Given its age, the church is in remarkable condition and the interiors are full of important frescoes and mosaics depicting holy subjects.. It’s considered to be one of the most influential works in architectural history and has a lot of impressive features, including artwork throughout its many spaces.

Then transfer to the Istanbul Airport to have late afternoon flight to Cappadocia.

Overnight in Cappadocia.

Utopia Cave Cappadocia– Standard Room

(B, D)

Day 4. Sept 7. Thursday. Cappadocia

In the heart of Anatolia, this whimsical destination is famous for its “fairy chimneys” and the rainbow of hot air balloons that flow overhead.  Please note that if you wish to go ballooning, it will depend on the weather so this cannot be confirmed until we arrive and our guide in conversation with them determines if today or tomorrow…it is also very early to rise…I think around 4:30 am but wow what a thrill and memory it was, truly something you will never forget.  Ride lasts about an hour.  We will then advise cost and you pay them directly to our guide if you wish to go.


After breakfast visit local municipality carpet cooperation, sort of a carpet farm where you will get the chance to explore the district from a cultural perspective.

Goreme Valley. The lunar like landscape of this region is eerie, yet beautiful. Over thousands of years, the rain has eroded this landscape to give rise to strange rock formations known as “Fairy Chimneys”. Many of these have homes and churches carved into them. Some of the grottos are magnificently decorated with colourful frescoes depicting biblical scenes.

Overnight in Cappadocia.

Utopia Cave Cappadocia

(B, D)

Day 5. Sept 8. Friday. Cappadocia

After breakfast explore typical Turkish village, Avanos to see the techniques of ceramic art dating from 12th B.C. to 3rd B.C. periods and then we will explore. Avanos, famous for its beautiful old houses, pottery, and onyx.

Then we enjoy a home cooking class followed by lunch.

In the afternoon we will explore one of the underground cities of Cappadocia.

Optional Whirling Dervishes performance? If you’re interested in learning more about Turkey’s rich cultural heritage, you may enjoy this. Historically, the term dervish referred to a specific group within Sufism, an Islamic order. Sufi whirling is a type of active meditation performed as part of a religious ceremony, with participants dressed in flowing robes or gowns, sometimes in bright colors and patterns.  I was amazed at this myself…our guide will advise what night and the price.

Overnight in Cappadocia.

Utopia Cave Cappadocia

(B, L, D)

Day 6. Sept 9. Saturday. Cappadocia – Fly to Izmir

Transfer to airport for our flight to Izmir. Now this flight could be as long as 4.5 hours.  We will just have to wait until later to see the timing and if possible to do anything, or just go to our hotel and relax….it’s a big day tomorrow!

With over 3500 years of history, the port city known historically as Smyrna offers a variety of archaeological sites, not to mention easy access to ancient Ephesus. CN Traveler labeled this spot as “Turkey’s most overlooked city” and it’s easy to see why. While tourists flock to Istanbul and other coastal hotspots, this treasure is left for the locals. Turkey’s third-largest city, this coastal city has always looked toward Europe. A meeting point of cultures, Izmir offers a unique blend of European and Middle Eastern influences.

Overnight in Izmir

DoubleTree by Hilton Izmir – Alsanack – Guest Room

Centrally located in the heart of Izmir, Turkey, the hotel is just a short distance from the old town. Enjoy close proximity to shopping malls, markets and restaurants.

(B, D)

Day 7. Sept 10. Sunday. Izmir: Ephesus

The old stomping grounds of everyone from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra, the ancient city of Ephesus was a key Roman city. It was the capital of Asia Minor, and second only to Rome in terms of population and cultural significance. As one of the best-preserved ancient Roman cities along the Mediterranean, this cultural mecca is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Today’s excursion takes us to Ephesus, the largest ancient city ever uncovered.  Once populated with 300,000 people, it has an enormous amphitheatre, which can still hold 24,000 spectators.  As you walk down the marble covered streets, see gymnasiums, bath houses, public latrines, the library of Celsus and the Temple of Artemis.  Ephesus was included by Alexander the Great in his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Ephesus is one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world today and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

In the afternoon explore House of Virgin Mary, where she is believed to have spent her last few days.

Clinging to the side of the Bulbul Mountain, there is a chapel in honor of the place St. John is said to have brought Mary at the end of her life.

Overnight in Izmir

DoubleTree by Hilton Izmir – Alsanack – Guest Room

(B, L, D)

Day 8. Sept 11. Monday. Izmir – Urla

Our destination today is Urla where we will visit a truly beautiful and hidden plantation that has some of the largest collections of plant species in Europe with over 58 varieties of palms, various types of conifers, cacti, aromatic plants, broad leaved trees and olive trees, some of which date back 1,000 years, and taste delicious local olive oil . Klazomenai Ancient City is also home to the oldest (2600 years) olive producing factory…. an area full of ancient olive trees and ancient olive jars.

After tasting local wines having a history dating from  the 4th Millennium BC. in one of the boutique vineyards West of Turkey, we will head back to our hotel.

Overnight in Izmir

DoubleTree by Hilton Izmir – Alsanack – Guest Room

(B, L, D)

Day 9. Sept 12. Tuesday. Izmir – Fly to Istanbul

Early morning flight then visits to…

Spend the morning visiting of Underground Basilica Cistern, largest surviving Byzantium Cistern. Cisterns are large underground reservoirs used to collect rainwater, of which there are hundreds beneath Istanbul. The Basilica Cistern is the largest, and you can actually descend into the chambers because it holds very little water today to see some amazing rock carvings and columns. Two of the columns are made of reclaimed blocks that have been carved to resemble Medusa, the snake-haired woman from Greek mythology who could turn anyone who made eye contact with her to stone.

Grand Bazaar. The term bazaar refers to a market, specifically a large market space with numerous stalls and vendors.  The Grand Bazaar is the world’s oldest and largest, boasting 61 streets and over 4,000 individual stalls selling spices, sweets, dried fruit, jewelry, and more..  You might recognize the view from the rooftops from James Bond’s iconic chase scene in “Skyfall”.

We will likely have our Farewell Lunch before the Bazaar just in case you might not want to go but instead head back to the hotel.  This will be decided the day of.

Overnight in Istanbul.

Radisson Blu Pera Hotel – Superior View Room

(B, Farewell Lunch)

Day 10. Sept 13. Wednesday. Istanbul Departure

Transfer on your own to Istanbul Airport.  Again, we can arrange a car (120 Euros) if you wish but taxis can be arranged from the hotel.



9 Nights Accommodation

3 Nights Radisson Blu Pera Hotel – Istanbul

3 Nights Utopia Cave Hotel – Cappadocia

3 Nights Double Tree Alsancak Hotel – Izmir

9 Breakfasts 5 Lunches and 6 Dinners

3 Domestic Flights Istanbul – Cappadocia/ Cappadocia – Izmir/ Izmir – Istanbul

(Please Note we have increased your 1 check in bag weight to 25 kgs + 1 carry on of 8 kgs so note this when packing)

Visits to Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden, Baltalimanı Japanese Garden, Sakip Sabanci Museum, Dolmabahce Palace, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Goreme Valley sightseeing, Avanos, Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, Klazomenai Ancient City, Underground Basilica Cistern and Grand Bazaar

Olive Oil and Wine Tasting

Cooking class in Cappadocia

English speaking tour guide who is also a specialist on History and Archaeology

Baggage handling at the hotels

Coach and Driver

Tips for Guide and Driver

Unforgettable Memories


We are holding 5 rooms for 1 night pre-tour  Single or Double 250 US per room per night (Includes breakfast and VAT)

Gardens & History of Turkey 2023

September 4th – 13th, 2023

Land package per person for Twin sharing or Double  4389 US

For those wanting their own room please add 1300 US to above price

Tour is priced in US because that is the currency most often used along with the Euro in Turkey.. please convert into your own currency.

Tour is priced in the currency we pay our suppliers at destination. Due to exchange rate volatility, we only convert to U.S. Dollars at time of final payment at the prevailing exchange rates at that time. Your final payment will be in U.S. Dollars 

Not Included:

Flights, insurance, meals and drinks not noted, items of a personal nature and extra hotel charges such as  daily maid servicing. 

NOTE: The way Turkey works is very complicated…so what we will have on the bus is water for you to take when you have lunches or dinners and to drink throughout the day. No drinks are included but we will provide for you either a glass of wine or beer with our first Dinner September 6th in Cappadocia. All other drinks will be on your own account.

Note: Minimum of 10 must be registered for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you are notified that we have reached this.


Tour is subject to changes in itinerary but not in dates