Real Food Adventure - Turkey Trip Notes

  • Trip code : IERZZ
  • Trip length : 10 Days
  • Trip starts in : Istanbul, Turkey
  • Trip ends in : Istanbul, Turkey
  • Maximum group size : 12
  • Ages : Min 15
  • Meals : 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Accommodation : Hotel (7 nights), Overnight bus (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
  • Transport : Dolmus, Overnight bus, Train




Hosgeldinz! Welcome to Turkey.

Cosmopolitan cities brimming with modern delights, archaeological sites filled with ancient splendour, curious landscapes straight out of a storybook and picture-perfect coastlines frequented by the jet set… this is tantalising Turkey! Visitors won't be able to forget travelling through this exotic land which sits at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, yet displays a fair bit of Middle Eastern flair.

Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surprise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west. Originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, then Constantinople when the Romans made it the capital of their eastern empire. Today, intriguing Istanbul is a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people and a rich history and food scene waiting to be explored.

Your adventure begins with a Welcome Meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Learn to tell your shish from your iskender on an epic kebab crawl through Istanbul, savouring this signature Turkish dish in its many variations. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a baklava tasting.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Head to the celebrated Egyptian Spice Bazaar. Meet a spice merchant, sit down for a Turkish coffee, and savour a typical Turkish sweet. Continue your walking tour around Sultanahmet and Eminonu, taking in some of the most celebrated sites of the city - Suleymaniye Mosque and the Hippodrome.

The area around Eminonu is bustling with a myriad of street food options. Local favourites include barbecued corn, roasted kestane (chestnuts), and, of course, Turkish delight! We finish our walking tour at the Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar), where you will have some time to explore the narrow alleyways and plethora of shops for some retail therapy.

In the evening, you have the option to share a home-cooked meal with a local family, take a street food crawl on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, or make a booking at one of the city's world-class restaurants. Your leader will have plenty of suggestions.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Fly from Istanbul to Dalaman (1 hour), then take a public shuttle to Akyaka via Gokava.

The beautiful and tiny coastal town of Akyaka is part of the international citta-slow movement. Citta-slow towns are committed to following the tenets of the slow food movement at a community and governmental level. Towns recognised as part of this association celebrate eco-gastronomy - reliance on locally-grown produce and a commitment to the preservation of regional culinary traditions.

Akyaka is surrounded by a wetland conservation area, protected forests and overlooked by the impressive Sakartepe Mountain. The charming Azmak River runs through the town and there a number of great beaches nearby. This is the perfect place to unwind. The town has built a reputation for fantastic seafood and vegetables. The best place to try both is at one of the riverside restaurants. Take a seat on one of the wooden terraces built over the water and savour the flavours of 'cittaslow'.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Take a tasting tour through Akyaka's Wednesday market. Each week, villagers come into town to sell their wares. Sample local olive oil, spices and regionally grown fruit and vegetables. Sit down alongside local shoppers for a lunch of gozleme accompanied by ayran (a refreshing yoghurt drink).

The afternoon is free for you to enjoy. Kayak along the river, hike up the nearby mountain, relax on a beach or check out the small township. There are a number of great cafes serving ev yemekleri (home-cooked cuisine).

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Take a public bus to Selçuk (approx. 3.5 hours).

Selçuk is the perfect base for experiencing this fascinating region of Turkey. There are many historical sites nearby, including the dazzling Roman ruins at Ephesus. On the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill lie several historical buildings, including the Isa Bey Mosque and the Grand Fortress. Selçuk is also home to one of the ancient world's Seven Wonders – the Temple of Artemis – although, sadly, only a single pylon remains.

This evening we visit the local village of Sirince. This authentic Greek Ottoman village seems to have been overlooked by modern development and is a photographer's dream. Settlers to this region post World War I and the Turkish War of Independence where responsible for reviving the local wine industry, made from fruit grown in this area.

Enjoy a tasting and consider buying a bottle to take on a walk up a gentle slope through cobbled streets and alleys to an atmospheric garden café. Here, your host will introduce you to the process of making manti (Turkish stuffed dumplings). It is widely believed that manti were brought to Turkey in the 1300s by the Uyghur people—one of the oldest Turkic tribes— who carried the dried manti in sacks on horseback, ready to be cooked and eaten at any moment. Try your hand at making this historic dish, then enjoy with the traditional accompaniments of tomato sauce and yoghurt.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



This morning, take a guided tour of Ephesus, one of Turkey's most important ancient sites.

Ephesus is one of the best-preserved classical city in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkey's premier tourist site. Once the capital city of Roman Asia Minor, the city has a fascinating history spanning over 1,500 years, which comes alive with a local guide to enhance the experience. You will be awed by the sophistication of this ancient city, which had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a brothel and Roman baths. The theatre is well preserved and regularly hosts concerts, but it's perhaps the magnificent library that takes most people's breath away.

Travel to Izmir (1.5 hours). There will be time for dinner at an atmospheric local restaurant, before boarding an overnight train bound for Konya in the Central Anatolian region. The overnight train has first class cabins with twin beds, fridge and a wash basin. All bedding is provided. The dining car is the perfect place for an evening raki, before retiring for the night.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Arrive in Konya by early morning, then take a private transfer to Goreme (approx. 3 hours) - our gateway to the fabled Cappadocia.

Perhaps stop for a mid morning snack of Etliekmek. This is a local and larger variation of the traditional Turkish lahmacun and consists of flat bread baked with ground meat, tomatoes, peppers and onion.

Stop past Derinkuyu and its impressive museum. Large enough to shelter around 20,000 people, the 60-metre deep underground city of Derinkuyu is awe-inspiring. Built between the 7th and 8th centuries, the city included such mod cons as wine and oil presses, cellars, refectories, stables and chapels.

For lunch discover a local pide saloon and sample Turkey's answer to the Italian pizza. Enjoy toppings from fragrant lamb, black pepper, tender spinach to fresh eggs and Turkey’s famed peynir cheese, made from sheep’s milk.

Cappadocia fascinates all travellers. Shaped by wind and water, its otherworldly rock formations have to be seen to be believed. In times of peace the people in this region lived on the land but in times of war or persecution they took to living underground. Cappadocia, thanks to its rich volcanic soil, also lays claim to fertile orchards and vineyards.

Central Anatolian cuisine is characterised by a focus on wheat (pastas are one of the region’s signature products) as well as cooking in clay. One of the regions classic dishes, testi kebabi, consists of pieces of lamb or chicken cooked in a tall elegant clay pot, the top of which is smashed off just prior to eating. For the next two nights we will stay in the village of Ortahisar. Here, your host Nazim, along with his family, welcome you to their family home which has been lovingly and carefully converted into a guest house. This is a unique opportunity to experience a traditional cave hotel set within a picturesque valley. Nazim's wife Aysa is also an excellent cook and this evening we sit down to a simple yet delicious village dinner in these wonderful surrounds.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



For early birds, a hot air balloon ride over the majestic landscape is a highly recommended experience. Please advise your leader if you wish to make a reservation. Important note: Intrepid only recommends balloon rides by our experienced operators and the activity cost can vary depending on the type of flight chosen.

After breakfast, be welcomed into the home of a celebrated local cook. Nuray has won many awards for her regional cooking, Under her tutelage, learn to prepare some classic Central Anatolian dishes. The menu will depend on the season. Sit down and enjoy the results over lunch.

Celebrate your final evening on this Real Food Adventure with a visit to one of Cappadocia’s most famous wineries to learn about Cappadoccia's 4,000-year-old wine industry. Afterwards, walk through the stunning Red Valley, and watch the sun setting with a glass of local wine overlooking this beguiling landscape. Afterwards, why not savour the local speciality - testi kebab - for dinner. Your leader will be able to recommend a restaurant dedicated to the perfection of this delicious claypot kebab.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



The morning is free for final exploration. Perhaps visit the Open Air Museum or try a Turkish hamam.

In the afternoon, you will be introduced to one of the region’s most interesting tatlis (desserts) in a cooking demonstration. 'Aside' is a deliciously-odd dough-like dessert made from grape syrup, flour and butter and typically topped with walnuts. Enjoy this final taste of Central Anatolia, accompanied by a cup of rich Turkish coffee, before jumping on an overnight bus bound for Istanbul.

The overnight bus to Istanbul is approx. 12-13hrs. The coach is air conditioned, modern and comfortable, has a food & beverage trolley service, and stops every 2-3hrs for toilet breaks. Most coaches have TV's in the back of each seat and free WiFi. Please be aware that while the seats recline they are not fully reclining.

There is also an option to book a flight to Istanbul (at additional cost). Passengers who prefer this option, should speak to their agent prior to departure or tour leader on day 1 of the tour for booking information. Any additional hotel accommodation and transfers required will need to be paid locally and are subject to availability.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 nt)



Your Real Food Adventure ends on arrival in Istanbul and you are free to leave at any time. Additional accommodation in Istanbul is available and can be arranged through your booking agent.

If you wish to continue your Ottoman food adventures, consider joining Real Food Adventure Macedonia & Montenegro. This trip commences on Thursday in Skopje, Macedonia and there are a number of direct flights from Istanbul to the start point.



  • Istanbul - Kebab Crawl
  • Istanbul - Spice Market and Street Food Tour
  • Akyaka - Lokanta Dinner
  • Akyaka - Wednesday Market Tasting Tour
  • Selçuk - Manti Cooking Demonstration
  • Selçuk - Ephesus archaeological site
  • Göreme - Derinkuyu Underground City
  • Göreme - Cooking Class & Lunch
  • Göreme - Sunset Wine Tasting in Cappadoccia Valley
  • Göreme - Tatli (Dessert) demonstration & tasting


not-included1International flights, departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.




For those of you who dream of experiencing a location in depth and comfort but are mindful of budget. Ideal for those that enjoy the quirkier side of a destination without roughing it. Join inquisitive travellers of all ages for a fun, informative experience.

Style Facts

  • Comfortable tourist class hotels
  • Family homestays
  • Private and local transport
  • More inclusions than Basic Tours
  • Fully trained and experienced leaders.

This tour is operated by our partners Intrepid.


visa1A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.Please click here for more information.


medical-preparation1We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.


Money1Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

You will need to take cash to cover all additional expenses not included in your tour cost. These include food, drinks, optional sightseeing, tips, laundry, souvenirs and possible delays. If in doubt, bring more than you think you will need. It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the time; providing your claim falls within the scope of your policy, your insurance company will make reimbursement later


travel-insuranceYou must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information.


responsible-travel1Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.For further information about responsible travel please click here.

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.


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