A Taste of Turkey


17th June -4th July 

Tour Overview

It’s hard to describe how much I enjoyed my tour of Turkey with Judith and her amazing guides. We packed so much into the 17 days and yet somehow it was still a relaxing holiday which also provided plenty of stimulation, incredible food, great company and wonderfully diverse scenery.

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An Exploration of the History, Culture and Cuisine of Turkey

This tour gives you a taste of the history, culture and cuisine of Turkey. Turkey is a land at the crossroads of Asia and Europe,Russiaand the Middle East.  Across the centuries, this land was populated by great empires including the Greeks, Persians, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans.  The vast Ottoman Empire covered three continents for almost 600 years and controlled the spice road. Our tour will introduce you to the history – back to the days of Byzantium – with visits to key historical sites from Greek, Roman and early Christian heritage (such as Ephesus, Troy and Aya Sofia) as well as the palaces and mosques built during the Ottoman period (such as Topkapi, the Dolmabahce Palace and the Blue Mosque). We will also visit areas of natural beauty on the coast and the magical area of Cappadocia with its Fairy Chimneys, early Christian churches and underground cities right in the centre ofTurkey. To this day, food is an important part of Turkish culture.  Ancestors of modern day Turks adopted various foods from various cultures and this has created a diverse, developed and refined cuisine.  Most Turks love eating and relishing food and it is an essential part of their social life and culture. Turkish food is based on the freshness of the ingredients.  In rural areas, the vegetables come right out of people’s garden just before cooking and meat comes from a farm or local butcher.  Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialties include meat or fish, eggplant, green peppers, cucumber, cabbage, onions, olive oil, lemon, oranges, lentils, chick peas, dried beans, tomatoes, yogurt, olives, cheese, tomato paste, red pepper paste and pomegranate molasses. Nuts, (especially pistachios, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts), together with spices have a special place in Turkish cuisine.  Common spices and herbs include parsley, dill, garlic, cumin, black pepper, paprika, mint, oregano, pul biber (red pepper), sumac, allspice and thyme. Some of the foods we will learn about, taste and savour on tour include meze (appetisers), dolma (stuffed vegetables with rice or meat), soups, salads, rice and bulgur pilafs, vegetables, börek (pastries with meat, cheese or vegetables), pide (flat bread with cheese, meat or vegetables), kebabs, fish and seafood, desserts and drinks. Our tour will give you the opportunity to taste and learn about Turkish cuisine, by visiting restaurants, cafes and private Turkish homes.  We will taste all the most celebrated dishes from Turkish cuisine and you will learn how to cook some signature Turkish dishes which can easily be prepared by you at home in New Zealand.  Our tour gives you a balance of organised activities such as visits to main historical sites with qualified guides and free time to explore at your own pace.

                          A Taste of Turkey- Itinerary

Day 1: Istanbul 

On arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport we will meet you and transfer you to our hotel in the heart of the historic city of Istanbul.  We will meet and have dinner in a local restaurant in the evening.

Days 2/3/4: Istanbul

We will have three full days to view the main sights of Istanbul.  These include:

  • Aya Sofya (Church of the Divine Wisdom) built by the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century
  • Blue (Sultan Ahmet) Mosque with its beautiful tiled interior.
  • Topkapi Palace of the Ottoman Sultans including the Treasury and the Harem quarters
  • Basilica Cistern – the amazing underground water storage area under the city with its magnificent columns
  • Church of the Holy Saviour of Chora – with the best preserved Byzantine mozaics depicting the life of the Virgin Mary
  • Dolmabahce Palace– the last home of the Ottoman Sultans as well as the place where Ataturk died
  • Shopping in the Grand Bazaar and the (Egyptian) Spice Bazaar (as pictured)
  • Boat trip on the Bosphorus waterway, which bisects the city and separates Europe from Asia
  • Lunch at the famous Asitane restaurant, which specialises in old recipes from Ottoman palace cuisine
  • Dinner at a seafood restaurant
  • Dinner in a traditional Turkish restaurant in the old city
  • There will be some free time for shopping, Turkish baths and own activities.

Day 5: Gallipolli Peninsula and Canakkale 

We travel by road along the European shore of the Sea of Marmara to the Gallipoli peninsula and will have a comprehensive guided tour of the key battlefield and memorial sites on the peninsula such as Anzac Cove, Ariburnu Cemetery, Chanuk Bair and Lone Pine before crossing the Dardanelles by ferry to Cannakkale where we will stay the night.

Days  6/7/8 : Kusadasi

We continue our bus trip south through the olive groves of the Aegean region to Kusadasi.  We will stop at the ancient site of Troy and the ancient city of Pergamon, known as a centre for learning and medicine in ancient times. We will spend 2 nights in Kusadasi.  From our base we will explore:

  • Ephesus– the best preserved and restored ancient city of Turkey.  We will have a guided visit at a leisurely pace including the Temple of Artemis – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world -as well as the beautifully restored library of Celsus and many other points of interest.
  • House of the Virgin Mary – reputed to be her last resting place when she came to Ephesus with St John in the 1st century.
  • Dinner will be provided at our hotel the night of arrival.
    • Lunch at the beautifully preserved village of Sirince known for its beautifully preserved old houses and fruit wines.

Day 9 –  Pamukkale    

  Day trip through  Pamukkale – What looks like a winter wonderland is actually a summer landscape with hot springs, crusted with calcium deposits creating terraces of chalk ponds. Later in the afternoon travel 20 km to Denizli for the evening where we will spend the night.

Day 10/11      Kas  

Our journey continues to Kas, the charming fishing port and village.  Our stay in Kas includes:

  • A boat trip to Kekova and Kale on a traditional gulet including barbecue lunch, a visit to Kale and its Crusader castle with opportunities to swim in the Mediterranean or just relax on board our boat
  • Dinner at Bahce Restaurant in Kas famous for its extensive meze selection
  • There will be a free night to explore on your own.  You might like to stroll around the night markets and small fishing port, which are an easy walk from the hotel.


Day 12/13: Antalya 

It is a short drive to Antalya with the road skirting the Mediterranean coastline.  We will spend two nights in one of Turkey’s most popular holiday destinations.  While in Antalya, you will have some free time to explore the old Roman city of Kaleici, have a Turkish bath, and go shopping.  You can also go swimming if you wish. We will also have a cooking lesson in a Turkish home so you can see local women prepare a meal of homemade Turkish specialities with a demonstration of cooking techniques.

Days 14/15/16/17:  Cappadocia

Our journey from Antalya to Cappadocia continues east along the coastline, then North up over the Toros Mountains to the central plateau.  On the way, we will stop at Konya to visit to the tomb of Mevlana (poet and sufi philosopher).  We will also have lunch in Konya– famous for its specialities such as “etli pide”. We will have 4 nights in Cappadocia, a fascinating region where you will have the opportunity to meet and experience Turkish culture and hospitality.


Over the available days, we will include the following visits and activities:

  • Goreme Open AirMuseum(a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • Zelve Open AirMuseum
  • Pasabag (famous for spectacularly photogenic fairy chimneys), Devrent Valley(also known as Valley of the Fairy Chimneys) & Red Valley
  • Underground city at Kaymakli– a maze of levels that go 7 or 8 stories underground
  • Visit to Avanos to see the pottery/ceramic artisans at work
  • Visit to Urgup and Mustafa pasha and Pancarlik valley
  • A local home where you will experience Turkish hospitality with lunch prepared using traditional cooking methods
  • The first night we will include dinner at the hotel and the last night dinner is included in a local restaurant.
  • Folklore Show including “Whirling Dervish” ceremony, Turkish traditional dance and belly dancing

Optional things you might like to do would include

  • sampling local wines in Urgup,
  • walking in the landscape,
  • learning about traditional Turkish carpets and
  • hot air ballooning.

Day 18: Departure 

The last day, we farewell you at the airport in Cappadocia for your flight back to Istanbul and onward connections so you will be able to check in for your international flight (or other plans). Tour Inclusions

  • New Zealand/ Turkish tour directors
  • Accommodation for 16 nights (4/5 star or special category hotels)
  • All breakfasts and 9  lunches and 9 dinners
  • Boat trip on the Mediterranean
  • Folklore Show
  • Deluxe transportation with A/C  (including parking, tolls and ferry fees) and transfers to and from airports as specified in itinerary
  • Internal flight (economy class) Cappadocia to Istanbul
  • Professional English speaking local guides
  • Entrance fees for museums, sites and historical places as detailed in the itinerary
  • Expenses and tips for all guides and drivers (no tipping policy)


Contact me for information on tour prices and travel options – judith(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)judith-cullen.com


I will never forget the call to prayer, the surprisingly tasty wines, the thick creamy yoghurt and the fascinating geography. I will most definitely be on another of Judith’s tours. Thanks.

I loved having all the meals included – meant we didn’t need to think! -It was all fantastic – I just loved every single one of our food experiences! The tour was perfectly pitched & executed. Sometimes the ‘timing’ was over extended, however that was generally because we were having such a good time! The tour had a really good vibe which reflected the great relationship you have with both Alison & Hasan.


I always felt fully informed about all aspects of the tour.

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