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A Family Adventure in Turkey: Ancient Wonders and Whirling Dervishes

Program Number: 18251RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/6/2014 - 7/18/2014; 7/11/2016 - 7/23/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Turkey
Price starting at: $3,998.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Family Programs; Intergenerational
Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 29; 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Fat; Low Salt    

With more Greek ruins than Greece and more Roman archaeological sites than all of Italy, is there a better place in the world to discover the mystery and magic of the ancient world than Turkey — “The Cradle of Civilization?” Three generations venture to three distinct areas of Turkey to learn about 10,000 years of human history — from Bronze Age settlements to Whirling Dervishes who still worship along the old Silk Road today.


• Explore the great landmarks of Istanbul: Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years — Topkapi Palace.
• In the ancient Greek city of Ephesus — site of one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World” — view stunning artifacts unearthed in archaeological digs.
• Attend the ritual of Whirling Dervishes at a 13th-century caravansary — a camel motel on the ancient Silk Road.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles over uneven terrain.

This is a family program for participants, their adult children and grandchildren ages 11 and up.

Date Specific Information

7-6-2014, 7-11-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Istanbul, 4 nights; fly to Cappadocia, 3 nights; fly to Ephesus, 3 nights; fly to Istanbul, 1 night; departure.

Overnight flight from the USA 1 night
Arrival Istanbul
4 nights

In Hagia Sophia, the most important and oldest architectural wonder of Istanbul, marvel at its massive dome and learn about its conversion from church to mosque. Take a field trip to Topkapi Palace and its harem, the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years. At the world-famous Blue Mosque learn about Islam and the Ottoman Empire. Follow a local expert through the great bazaars of Istanbul: the Spice Bazaar, the Pets Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar — a maze of 4,000 shops.

Flight to Cappadocia
3 nights

Early Christianity found shelter among the caves and subterranean dwellings of the barren landscape of Cappadocia. Visit the Kaymakli Underground City, carved out of the ground in 7th century to provide shelter from attacking enemies. At the Goreme Open Air Museum see the best preserved ancient church-caves and their colorful frescoes. Visit a pottery workshop for a hands-on demonstration and learn about this 5,000 year-old craft. Attend the ritual of Whirling Dervishes at a 13th century caravansary — a camel motel on the ancient Silk Road.

Flight to Ephesus
3 nights
Flight to Istanbul
1 night

Visit the ancient city of Ephesus, the best preserved and largest Greco-Roman city in Turkey. At the Museum of Ephesus, learn about the artifacts unearthed at nearby excavations. Try your hand at carpet and silk making at a local village.


Turkey is bracketed by seas on three sides, which has facilitated its status as a crossroads of different civilizations for tens of thousands of years. It is modernizing rapidly, but its past is everywhere apparent. It is a country where centuries-old mosques and castles blend with modern streets and buildings to create a unique blend of past and present, European and Oriental influences.

Istanbul: Comfortable hotel in heart of city with views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. Cappadocia: Boutique cave hotel carved into a cliff with modern amenities. Ephesus: Five-star hotel overlooking the Aegean Sea. Istanbul: Four-star hotel near the airport.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Sami Ozcini

Sami Ozcini has shared his love for Turkey — and his home city of Istanbul — with Road Scholar participants for more than 12 years. His on-site lectures bring a different perspective to understanding and appreciating the rich history and legacy of Istanbul. A graduate of Marmara University, Sami has a degree in English literature and enjoys traveling throughout Europe, Australia and the U.S. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and acting as a referee for amateur football games in Istanbul.
Yasemin Akhun

“Seeing people gradually becoming good friends with each other and myself is the best part of being a Road Scholar Group Leader,’’ says Yasemin Akhun. Since 1998, Yasemin has been leading educational adventures in Turkey, introducing lifelong learners to archaeology, music and local culture. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, tasting and cooking food from different cultures, and listening to Turkish classical music.
Meals and Lodgings
   Armada Hotel Istanbul
  Istanbul, Turkey 4 nights
   Yunak Cave Hotel
  Cappadocia, Turkey 3 nights
   Korumar Hotel
  Ephesus, Turkey 3 nights
   Airport Hotel
  Istanbul, Turkey 1 night
 Armada Hotel Istanbul
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Armada hotel is centrally located in the old city of Istanbul, on the city's historical peninsula. It is surrounded by the ancient city walls and is within walking distance and has views of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Camii). Open since 1994, the building was constructed on the site of a series of row houses which were built for the marine soldiers of the famed Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha (Barbarossa) in the 16th century. The hotel's façade replicates the original structures.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Cad, 24
Istanbul,  34400 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
  Room amenities: 110 rooms, decorated in the Ottoman style with traditional Edirnekari woodwork painting, are a graceful blend of past and present and offer all modern amenities, including air conditioning, central heat, hair dryer, mini-bar, cable TV, direct-dial telephone, Internet connection and safety-deposit box.
  Facility amenities: Restaurants, bars, rooftop terrace, room service and laundry service.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Contact Contact the Program Provider for reservations;
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 Yunak Cave Hotel
Type: Boutique Hotel
  Description: Yunak Evleri is a unique cave hotel typical of the region, where some caves date from as early as the 6th century AD. The luxurious cave rooms are carved into a cliff and they come with a balcony or patio. These rock-carved rooms are tastefully decorated with modern amenities and this hotel is regarded as among the best 55 design hotels of the world.
  Contact info: Esbelli Mah
Nevsehir, Cappadocia,   Turkey
phone: + 90 384 341-6920
  Room amenities: Spacious rooms, private bathroom with shower, hairdryer, CD player, kettle - coffee maker, non-allergenic beds, direct-dial phone, heat, safety deposit box, mini-bar.
  Facility amenities: Spacious rooms, free wireless, room service, restaurant, reading room, library, free internet connection.
  Smoking allowed: No

 Korumar Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Korumar Hotel enjoys an incredible location, overlooking the Aegean Sea. It is a five - star hotel, offerring all the amenities of a five-star hotel.
  Contact info: 2 Gazibegendi Bulvari
Aydin,   Turkey
phone: +011 90 256 618-1530
  Room amenities: A/C, Sat.TV, Minibar, Safe, 24 hr room service, haridryer.
  Facility amenities: Swimming Pool (indoor & outdoor), sauna, Turkish Bath, Fitness Center, restaurants, 24-hr room service, business center, etc
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Airport Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located in the airport, making it easy to transfer to flights.
  Contact info: Istanbul Ataturk Airport
Istanbul,   Turkey
phone: + 90 212 2465-4030
  Room amenities: Hair dryer, satellite tv, music, wireless internet.
  Facility amenities: Meeting rooms, gym, internet, business center, restaurant, free shuttle service.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: 165 EUR, INCL tax and BRKF Please contact for inquiries and reservations.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
6 PM You will be staying at Armada Hotel Istanbul that night.
  End of Program:
9 AM You will be staying at Airport Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Valid passport. The visa-on-arrival system in Turkey will be discontinued as of April 11 , 2014 and participants are encouraged to purchase their visas in advance on Electronic visa for Turkey costs $20 per person for US citizens ($60 for Canadians) when purchased on line. In order to provide a smooth transition, it was announced that the visa-on-arrival system will be continued until the end of the tourism season in 2014. However, the price of the visa upon arrival will now cost $30 USD for US citizens and $70 for Canadians. Therefore participants are encouraged to obtain their visas in advance in order to save money and time. More info can be found here.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxis are the best way to get to the hotel.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest airport:  Istanbul Ataturk Airport
  Transportation to site: Independent travelers can take taxis from the airport to the hotel and expect to pay around $25 - $30 in local currency. Taking the local train or the shuttle buses are not very practical and are very time and energy consuming.
  From End of Program
  Location: Istanbul
  Transportation from site: The best method to transfer from the hotel to the airport is to take take taxis. The hotel desk will arrange taxis with very short notice. Independent travelers should expect to pay $25 - $30.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Elevation Note: The highest altitude during the program will be about 3,000 feet.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure from the US
(Sunday, July 6)
 Depart From: Depart home for flights to Turkey. Meal served on the plane.

Day 2: Arrival in Istanbul. Welcome Meeting and Dinner.
(Monday, July 7)
 Arrive To: Arrive in Istanbul. Meet and transfer to hotel
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner at the hotel
 Evening: Welcome Meeting at the hotel
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Guided visits to Topkapi Palace and the Harem, Underground Cisterns and Blue Mosque.
(Tuesday, July 8)

Note: Walking to and between sites full day. Walking shoes recommended.

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit the Topkapi Palace and its Harem, the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Field trip to the world famous Blue Mosque, to witness its architecture and to learn about Islam.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Guided visits to Hagia Sophia, the most important Byzantine landmark in the city, Chora Church to marvel at the 14th century Byzantine mosaics and frescoes, MiniaTurk, a miniature city with small replicas of important structures in Turkey and the Rahmi Koc Industrial Museum, created by a wealthy industrialist.
(Wednesday, July 9)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Morning excursion to Hagia Sophia, the most important and oldest architectural wonder of the city and the Chora (Kariye) Church/Museum, to view the masterpieces of late Byzantine mosaic art, located by the ancient city walls of Constantinople.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant serving Ottoman food by the Chora Church.
 Afternoon: Visit MiniaTurk, a miniature theme park displaying important works of architecture around Turkey. Field trip to Rahmi Koc Industrial Museum to see the vast collection of objects/tools/vehicles etc of transportation, communications, aviation, engineering, science, toys, etc.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Private cruise on the Bosphorus, the straits that entitle Istanbul the only city in the world that is located on two continents. Visit the Spice and Grand Bazaar. Also stroll down the pedestrian Istiklal Street and climb the 14th century Galata Tower for sweeping views of the city.
(Thursday, July 10)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Enjoy a cruise on the Bosphorus, straddling between Asia and Europe and view the marvelous palaces, mansions, fortresses situated along the water. Field trip to the Spice Bazaar and the Pets Bazaar next to it. Continue on to the Grand Bazaar, a mze of 4,000 shops.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Walk down the pedestrian Istiklal Street and catch views of the old city from atop the 14th century Galata Tower
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Armada Hotel Istanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Flight to Cappadocia. Orientation tour in Cappadocia upon arrival.
(Friday, July 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Transfer to Istanbul airport to catch morning flight to Cappadocia. Upon arrival, transfer to cave hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the plane during flight
 Afternoon: Orientation tour of the area with photo stops. Visit the Kaymakli Underground City, carved out of the ground in 7th century to provide shelter from attacking enemies.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Yunak Cave Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum. Visit a local pottery workshop in Avanos (Hands-on activity). Evening attendance to Whirling Dervish ritual.
(Saturday, July 12)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Field trip to Goreme Open Air Museum to see the best preserved ancient church-caves with frescoes.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Visit a pottery workshop for a hands-on demonstration and training on the 5,000 year-old handicraft of the area.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant
 Evening: Attend the ritual of Whirling Dervishes at a 13th century caravansaray (camel motel on the ancient Silk Road).
Accommodations: Yunak Cave Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Optional hot-air balloon ride. Optional horse-back riding in the Land of the Beautiful Horses.
(Sunday, July 13)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Optional hot air balloon flight over this amazing landscape. The participants will be picked up from the hotel before sunrise to enjoy the flight with the first rays of sunlight. Rest of the morning free.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Optional activity: Horseback riding in the Land of the Beautiful Horses, as Cappadocia was once called.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own to explore the local fare
Accommodations: Yunak Cave Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Flight from Cappadocia to Izmir via Istanbul. Arrive in Ephesus area. Transfer to hotel. Rest of the day free.
(Monday, July 14)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Transfer to airport to take the flight from Cappadocia to Istanbul.
 Lunch: Lunch served on the plane during flight.
 Afternoon: Fly from Istanbul to Izmir. Upon arrival, transfer to Kusadasi. (1 hr)
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Korumar Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Full day to discover the ancient city of Ephesus. Also visit the Museum of Ephesus that houses the artifacts found in Ephesus.
(Tuesday, July 15)

Note: Walking on uneven territory at ancient sites. Comfortable shoes recommended

 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit the ancient city of Ephesus, the best preserved and largest Greco-Roman city in Turkey.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Field trip to the Museum of Ephesus, housing the artifacts unearthed at the excavations.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel
Accommodations: Korumar Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Beach day as well as possible optional visits to Steam Engine Museum and carpet village for a hands-on activity on hand-made rugs.
(Wednesday, July 16)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Visit the unique Steam Engine & Locomotive Museum. Later stop at the local carpet village for a hands-on activity on Turkish carpets and silk making.
 Lunch: Lunch at the carpet village
 Afternoon: Free time at the Pamucak beach nearby.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Korumar Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Visit the small village of Sirince before heading to the airport for an afternoon flight back to Istanbul. Accommodation at Airport Hotel in the Airport for ease of connections next day.
(Thursday, July 17)
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast at the hotel
 Morning: Check out from the hotel and visit the charming mountain village of Sirince (pop 400).
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant
 Afternoon: Transfer to Izmir Airport to take a late afternoon flight to Istanbul. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to the Airport Hotel, literally located within the International Terminal.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own at the Airport Hotel
Accommodations: Airport Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Departure from Istanbul for flights home.
(Friday, July 18)
 Depart From: Depart Istanbul. End of program.
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Ephesus Kusadasi
Kusadasi has a lively bazaar due to cruise ships docking every day. Fast paced resort town.
  Cappadocia Winery Visit
Wine has been produced in Cappadocia for thousands of years. The tradition continues.
  Istanbul Istanbul Modern Art Museum
Istanbul Modern is a relatively new museum displaying wonderful works of contemporary art from late 19th, 20th and 21st century. The museum enjoys an unparalleled location on the Bosphorus. For additional information, visit
  Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Housed in a 16th century palace, this museum displays the finest of early Islamic and Turkish art. Conveniently located across from the Blue Mosque For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

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The Turks Today

Author: Andrew Mango

Description: Istanbul-born, British-based Mango (Atatürk) offers an insightful, sympathetic portrait of recent Turkish history. The first third of the book discusses the growth of the Turkish state after Atatürk's death in 1938, with a fitful spread of democracy, clashes with Greece and the departure of Istanbul's Greek community. Economic and social conflict from 1960 to 1980 was subsequently "contained" by a military-driven constitution and rapprochement with Europe. A battle over the logo of the mayoralty of Ankara, the capital, illustrates the recent negotiations between Islamists and secularists. Istanbul, whose "infrastructure does not match its size," is growing as a regional base. In impoverished, traditionalist eastern Turkey, "the Third World has not been banished," though Mango argues that integration with the state—if not assimilation—is the best hope for the Kurdish minority. Turkey today, Mango suggests, resembles the late modernizing countries of southern Europe in many ways. He sees potential for a fully democratic and secular state, but warns that it takes time to "implant Western institutions in non-Western soil." Though this volume lacks some of the bite and immediacy of a journalist's book like Stephen Kinzer's Crescent and Star, it emerges as a more thorough introduction to a less-known but increasingly vital country.

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