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On this family vacation to Turkey, parents and children alike will feel the ancient magic of this exotic land. Your journey takes you through Istanbul’s scented bazaars, on hikes to ancient Crusader castles and crumbling ruins, through the passageways of an underground city, and along the stunning Turquoise Coast of the Mediterranean. This is a trip that has it all, from fun family activities like sailing, swimming, and hiking, to historical explorations into Turkey’s past and warm cultural encounters with its delightful people.
A definite highlight of the trip is the time spent sailing on a gulet, Turkey’s traditional wooden sailboat. You’ll spend three full days meandering along the Mediterranean Coast, with frequent stops to swim, hike, snorkel, and explore hidden ruins.
There's no end to the adventure as your family explores magnificent landscapes and coastal regions, with lots of time for fun in the sun and soaking up the beauty of this magical place!
Included in this exceptional itinerary are several special opportunities for behind-the-scenes access and exclusive tours and activities, such as:
Hands-on learning about traditional Turkish paper marbling. The earliest known marbled papers are Turkish ones from the 1400s. They were used for decorative purposes as well as to prevent erasure and forgery. Your lesson will be in a beautifully restored Ottoman building, where you will have a special demonstration of this Turkish art form, and then get to try your hand at it to create a souvenir from your trip!
Visit a rug workshop to learn about rug weaving, silk extraction, and dying wool. Rug weaving is an ancient tradition in Turkey, and families can opt to visit a weaving cooperative, where local girls weave woolen and silk carpets, spinning and dyeing the materials themselves.
Behind-the-scenes tour with an archaeologist at the ruins of Kibyra. Excavations of this Roman-era judicial seat started in 2006 and are still going on. In 2009, the interior of the city hall was unearthed, and the world’s largest portrait of Medusa was discovered, made out of inlaid marble pieces. Enjoy an exclusive tour of this very active excavation and a talk by the chief archaeologist!
Walk in the travertine pools at Pamukkale. The ancient Romans believed in the healing powers of these natural pools, and the nearby ancient town of Hierapolis sprang up as a spa retreat. They are called Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle,” and your family can enjoy a barefoot walk in these ancient baths before exploring the ruins of the town.
Visit the ruins of Hierapolis. Hierapolis was a city that was founded by the Seleucids as a thermal spa in the 3rd century B.C.E. It has long been believed that the mineral-rich thermal waters of Hierapolis have healing properties, and the area has always attracted people from all over who were seeking a cure for their ailments. The town or Hierapolis and the nearby springs are a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring remarkable white travertine pools and impressive ruins.
Final payment can be made by credit card. Exclusively on our Smithsonian Family Adventures, families are able to make their final family vacation payment by credit card.
|Dates||Adult Price||Child Price||Internal Air|
|06/27 - 07/11||$7,390||$7,190||$400|
|07/25 - 08/08||$7,690||$7,490||$400|
Single Supplement: $4,000
Triple discount (child under 12 sharing with two adults): $100
Child discount on internal airfare: $50
*Minimum of six participants required to run this adventure.
Arriving in Istanbul after your flight, you are met by your guide and taken to your hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner and orientation at your hotel’s rooftop restaurant, with stunning views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus as your backdrop.
Dive into Istanbul, the remarkable city that spans two continents and has been a crossroads of history for three millennia. This city was once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, and today soaring minarets, bustling marketplaces and non-stop water traffic are part of the city’s daily scene.
- Marvel at the Blue Mosque
- Tour Topkapi Palace
- Visit the Spice Market
- Explore Basilica Cistern
- Golden Gate of the Byzantines
- Cross the Bosphorus
- Paper marbling lesson
Travel to Cappadocia, a region in Turkey's central highlands noted for its remarkable underground dwellings, conical "fairy-chimneys," frescoed cave churches, and even whole villages carved from soft volcanic stone. Your route takes you through villages of modern-day cave dwellers where locals ride donkeys and dry apricots on their rooftops. Enjoy a whirling dervish show one evening.
- Kaymakli Underground City
- Hike through a valley with unique rock formations
- Witness traditional dances at the Turkish Night Show
- Göreme Outdoor Museum
- Rose Valley optional hike
- Friends Across Borders Meeting (pen pals)
- Pottery Workshop
Exploring the wonders of Ephesus is a memory-making family travel experience. Kids will love the chance to imagine what the city looked like in its heyday, from its opulent baths and gymnasium to the Great Theater, which held 24,000 people, and its Library of Celsus, which once contained nearly 15,000 scrolls.
- Discover the Wishing Wall
- Visit the Temple of Artemis
- Basilica of St. John
- Rug weaving cooperative
It will feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet when you first lay eyes on the bright white travertine thermal pools at Pamukkale. This area has been renowned for its healing baths for more than two millennia, and there is plenty of time for your family to walk barefoot through the brilliantly blue, mineral-rich waters before strolling through the nearby ruins of Hierapolis. These impressive ruins and the nearby springs are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Walk in the travertine pools at Pamukkale
- Ancient city of Hierapolis
An exclusive talk by an archaeologist at the active dig site of Kibyra is the highlight today. A number of remarkable discoveries have been made here over the last few years, including intricate mosaics and excavations of a stadium that could have seated as many as 15,000 people. Continue on to the sparkling blue waters of Mediterranean Turkey's aptly-named Turquoise Coast, where you board your gulet to begin your seaside adventure.
- Behind-the-scenes tour at Kibyra
- Embark on gulet cruise
Enjoy three days aboard a Turkish gulet, a traditional wooden sailboat, sailing along the fabled Turquoise Coast and dropping anchor in quiet coves, discovering sheltered beaches and calling at small harbor towns. Originally the land of the ancient Lydians (685-547 B.C.E.), the region was later colonized by the Greeks and the Romans. Along the way kids will love snorkeling and swimming in the warm waters.
- Explore Gemiler Island
- The ghost town of Kayaköy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Anchor at Cleopatra's Sunken Baths
- Optional hike to Lydae
- Dalyan Delta — beaches, sea turtles and other wildlife
- Port of Caunus and rock tombs
Disembark from your gulet this morning and drive to Dalman airport for the flight back to Istanbul. There will be some free time this afternoon for last-minute exploring
- Hagia Sophia
- Farewell dinner
One of several small boutique hotels in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. These are all restored townhouses which have been converted into hotels. The number of rooms vary from 10-20 and are spread out over several floors. Enjoy a rooftop restaurant and an easy walk to Hippodrome, Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
The Lykia Lodge has a warm atmosphere and fantastically beautiful architecture that keeps it in harmony with the region. It is centrally located and only three miles from Nevşehir and Göreme. The 146 rooms are nicely furnished and include an array of in-room amenities: private facilities, satellite TV, wireless Internet access, phone, hair dryer, and a private safe. The Lykia also has both indoor and outdoor restaurants, a chimney-bar, a swimming pool and fruit gardens.
Kalehan is a basic but charming hotel that was built and landscaped in the style of a 100 year old farmhouse using traditional materials. The recently renovated hotel is located a very short distance from the major sites of Ephesus, and each room offers a TV, mini bar, hair dyer, and air-conditioning. All the rooms and the restaurant are surrounded by lush gardens, and the pool is the perfect place to cool off after a day exploring the nearby ruins.
Located a short distance from the travertine pools at Pamukkale, the Colossea Thermal Spa Hotel is the perfect place to unwind after a day spent touring the local sites. The hotel features 231 rooms, each with air-conditioning, telephone, wireless internet, satellite TV, mini bar, and hair dryer. The hotel has a spa with thermal pool, fitness center, and game room.
This traditional motorized Turkish schooner has two-person cabins that range from 53-61 square feet, a private bathroom, a hot water shower and either two twin beds or one double bed. Our group will stay on one of three gulets during the four-night cruise. These teak boats are among the best Turkey has to offer. Thomson typically uses a sixteen-person gulet beautifully decorated with mahogany paneling. Amenities include a dining area, complete with a long table and chairs, cushioned foredeck for comfortable lounging, TV, CD player and refrigerator. With a friendly crew (usually four) to pamper you throughout, and a chef who prepares delicious meals, your family will feel well taken care of as you cruise along the stunning Turquoise Coast.
Why Turkey with Thomson and Smithsonian?