Itinerary Highlights
    • Discover Istanbul with a clued-up local resident
    • Marvel at the colossal statues at the summit of Mount Nemrut
    • Visit the sunken city of Halfeti on the drive from Gaziantep to Sanliurfa
    • Wander around the pools of Abraham in Sanliurfa
    • Enjoy a boat ride along the Tigris River in Hasankeyf

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Embark on a diverse twelve-day journey through Eastern Turkey, embracing its cultural, archaeological and geographical wonders from Istanbul to Lake Van. Explore the world's oldest religious site, delve into Sanliurfa's beauty and discover monasteries and mosaic-filled museums, all within a region steeped in profound historical significance.

Your adventure begins in Istanbul, where a local guide will take you to the city’s best museums, mosques and markets. Carry on through Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Diyarbakir, Mardin, Tatvan and finally Van. With a driver and local guide accompanying you along the way, not a single corner of Eastern Turkey will slip by unnoticed.


Everything is 100% tailored to you

UK to Istanbul

Day one of your Eastern Turkey itinerary starts with a flight from the UK to Istanbul. The four-hour flight arrives this afternoon in historic Istanbul, a captivating city that straddles Europe and Asia, where you'll be met and transferred to your city centre hotel. If it's not too late, our in-country Concierge can recommend the best restaurants and nightspots to explore.


Tour of Istanbul with a local resident

Today, you’ll get to grips with Istanbul alongside someone who knows the city best – a clued-up local resident. Wander through the city’s narrow streets and discover multiple museums, shops, cafes, mosques and markets. If you’re feeling peckish, your guide will let you follow your nose (literally) and stop at any food stalls that take your fancy… think steaming döner kebabs and crispy börek. In the evening, unwind at a restaurant recommended by your guide and discuss the day’s discoveries over a delicious local dinner.

DAYS 3 & 4

Fly to Gaziantep and tour the city

This morning, your Eastern Turkey adventure starts with a transfer back to Istanbul airport for a one-hour domestic flight to Gaziantep in south-eastern Anatolia. After landing, you'll be met by your local guide and driver. Over the next two days, they’ll take you through the city to visit the stunning mosaic museum, housing a priceless collection from the sunken city of Zeugma. You’ll also see the citadel and the old town of Gaziantep, stopping in one of the many pastry shops (trust us, this is the place for the world's best pistachio baklava). Along with the buzzing café culture, Gaziantep is a lovely spot to wander and explore the old town's beautifully restored bazaars and stone houses. In the evenings, try out some of the fantastic local restaurants recommended by your guide.


Gaziantep to Sanliurfa

Today is an exciting day of exploration as you depart Gaziantep for the two-hour drive to Sanliurfa, the next stop on your Eastern Turkey itinerary. En route, stop at the sunken city of Halfeti, which was semi-flooded by the Euphrates River in 2000. The village now sits on the eastern bank of a newly created lake, and you can take a boat across the Euphrates to see it. Continue to Sanliurfa, check in to your hotel for the next two nights, and then visit perhaps the highlight of your entire Eastern Turkey itinerary: Gobekli Tepe, one of the most important archaeological digs in the world. This is the earliest religious structure ever discovered, dating from around 10,000 BC and predating the Great Pyramid of Giza and Stonehenge by around 5,500 years.


Explore Sanliurfa

This morning, your knowledgeable local guide will accompany you on a stroll through the captivating city of Sanliurfa. You'll explore the enchanting flower-filled gardens lining the Pools of Abraham, venture to the Cave of Abraham, see the impressive Ulu Cami (Great Mosque) and peruse the vibrant bazaar. Your guide will enlighten you on how Urfa's architecture resembles Aleppo and how the town's population reflects a rich ethnic tapestry, comprising Arab, Turkish and Kurdish communities.


Marvel at Mount Nemrut

This morning, your local guide will meet you for the drive from Sanliurfa to Diyarbakir, stopping off at Mount Nemrut, one of the best-known sites in Eastern Turkey. The site is a vast funeral monument built by King Antiochus I Theos and consists of substantial stone heads scattered over the mountaintop. The views of the surrounding plains are fantastic, but the stones themselves are fascinating; they offer insight into ancient Commagene culture. After your visit, you’ll drive to the Roman bridge of Cendere and the Karakus cemetery, before heading to Diyarbakir and passing by the Ataturk dam. You’ll arrive at your hotel in the evening, just in time for dinner and bed.


Onwards to Mardin

Today, you’ll embark on a scenic drive from Diyarbakir to Mardin, soaking in the rich history and cultural treasures. In Diyarbakir, explore landmarks like the Grand Mosque, the City Walls, and the iconic Four-legged Minaret, before wandering through the charming backstreets and marvelling at the Ten-eyed Bridge. When you’ve arrived in Mardin, uncover the secrets of Dara Ancient City, once a bustling Roman outpost, and visit the symbol of Syriac Christianity, the Deyrulzafaran Monastery. Stroll through the historic alleys where history echoes through the stone walls before settling into your hotel for the night.


Hasankeyf to Tatvan

This morning drive to Hasankeyf, approximately two hours away. The town is situated by the Tigris River and is sadly soon to be submerged under the flood waters of a new dam on the Tigris. It is one of 37 villages that will be displaced by the dam, along with many other archaeological sites, so this represents the last chance to visit. The town itself is spectacularly located on a cliff overlooking the Tigris and the name Hasankeyf means 'fortress of the rock'. The town has a distinctive red brick mosque in the middle of it with large storks nests perched on top.
Continue to Tatvan on the western shore of Lake Van and visit the tombs of the rulers of the Seljuk Dynasty (who reigned over an empire from Turkey to Central Asia in the early second millennium) in Ahlat before returning to Tatvan for the night.

DAY 10

Tatvan to Van

Feast on a hearty Turkish breakfast to fuel yourself for today’s guided drive from Tatvan to Van. You’ll stop at the Ahlat Seljuk Cemetery, a sacred resting place for notable figures steeped in the Seljuk Empire’s history. Continue onwards to Van, a city on the eastern shore of Lake Van. Dump your bags at your lakeside hotel before heading out to one of the popular restaurants recommended by our local Concierge.

DAY 11

Historic sites in Van

It’s your final day of exploring Turkey, and it’s going out with a bang. Begin your day by immersing yourself in history at the Archaeology Museum, where a rich collection of artefacts spanning various periods awaits discovery. Next, journey to the Castle of Van before delving into the world of feline fascination at the Van Cat House, which is dedicated to preserving the distinct breed indigenous to the area. Conclude your adventure with a visit to the captivating Akdamar Island, where you can marvel at a 10th-century Armenian church adorned with stunning carvings. After a busy day, head for a final tipple overlooking Lake Van and raise a glass to the past 11 days in terrific Turkey.

DAY 12

Fly home via Istanbul

This morning, indulge in a final breakfast of the Kurdish speciality, otlu peynir (herb cheese), at one of the renowned breakfast spots in Van. Afterwards, head to Van airport for a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Istanbul, followed by a four-hour connecting flight back to the UK, bringing you back by mid-afternoon.

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip starts from £4,000 to £5,700 per person. The final cost of the trip depends on the way we tailor it especially for you. The final cost varies according to several factors, which include the level of service, length of trip and advance booking time. The exact price will be provided on your personalised quote. The average starting price for this trip is £4,600 per person.
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