Eastern Türkiye Tour

Türkiye - Now Accepting 2025 Deposits
Türkiye - Now Accepting 2025 Deposits
Save To Wish List

Adding item to wishlist requires an account

5327
  • May 12 – 27, 2025
  • 16 Days
  • TBA
  • Single Supplement: TBA

Take an Exhilarating Tour of East Türkiye, A Region Brimming with Historical Wonders, Including Castles, Tombs, and Four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Along with Karahan Tepe and Göbekli Tepe, Which Are Considered Among The World's Earliest Temples

East Türkiye evokes vivid imagery: women in traditional veils, mustachioed men in turbans wielding sabers, and camel caravans traversing vast, wild landscapes. However, the reality of Eastern Anatolia is strikingly diverse and vastly different from the rest of Türkiye.

This region boasts an eclectic mix of towering mountains, dense forests with waterfalls, green pastures, and the stark contrast of arid deserts in the south. As a historical crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures for millennia, East Türkiye is rich in a wide array of historical remnants.

Join Far Horizons and a small group of just 13 others for a 16-day adventure into this less-traveled part of Türkiye. Explore four UNESCO Heritage Sites: Ani, Diyarbakır & Hevsel Gardens, Göbekli Tepe, and Nemrud Dağ. Delve into the mysteries of Göbekli Tepe, a temple predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, and Ayanis, the last capital of Urartu.

Discover Karahan Tepe, a site that might be even older than Göbekli Tepe. Your journey will take you from the mountainous terrains of eastern Anatolia to the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates and onto the Cilician plain.

This tour offers a deep dive into the rich history and culture of Eastern Türkiye, a true nexus of civilizations. This is an educational tour of Türkiye unlike those found anywhere else.

Still considering what should be the destination of your next adventure? Browse our wider range of Tours to Europe & Türkiye.

We also offer a pre OR post-extension in Istanbul, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with many highlights, including Aya Sofya, Dolmabache Palace, Topkapi Sarai, and a stunning cruise up the Bosphorus.

Eastern Türkiye Tour Led by:

Dr Jennifer Tobin

Associate Professor of History and Classics

University of Illinois at Chicago
Greek and Roman Art & Archaeology

Why Choose Far Horizons’ Guided Tour of Eastern Türkiye?

  • Eastern Türkiye Tour is led by Professor Jennifer Tobin who excavated at Zeugma
  • Tour the new Şanlıurfa museum
  • Private tour of Ayanis by the director of the archaeological project
  • Visit Göbekli Tepe, possibly the world’s oldest temple
  • Visit Neolithic Karahan Tepe, possibly older than Göbekli Tepe
  • Tour four UNESCO Heritage Sites:Ani, Diyarbakır & Hevsel Gardens, Göbekli Tepe, Nemrud Dağ
  • See theTomb of Antiochus on Mt. Nemrud
  • Limited to 14 participants

Historical Turkey Tour Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1Depart for Türkiye

Fly to Istanbul, Türkiye.

Day 2Arrive Istanbul. Fly to Trabzon

Arrive Istanbul. Transfer to our flight to Trabzon. Upon arrival, enjoy a city tour. Dinner and overnight in Trabzon at Zorlu Grand Hotel. (D)

Day 3Trabzon

This morning we begin at the church of Hagia Sophia, beautifully situated in the western suburb outside the city walls and overlooking the Black Sea.  In the afternoon we drive to Erzurum with a stop en route at the cliff-side monastery of the Virgin Mary at Sumela in the Altindere National Park. Overnight for one night at the Zade Boutique Hotel in Erzurum. (B/L/D)

Day 4Erzurum

Erzurum has longed played a significant role in the history of Anatolia, witnessing the rise and fall of various empires including the Urartians, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans.  We begin today with a tour of its iconic monuments, including the Great Mosque, the Çifte Minareli Medrese (with its double minaret), Yakutiye Medrese, and the bazaar.  After lunch we transfer to Kars with a stop at the Cobandede Bridge. Overnight for one night at the Beylerbeyi Palace Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 5Ani

Just outside Kars is the ancient Armenian capital of Ani. Clearly the greatest achievement of medieval architecture to be seen anywhere in Turkey, this 11th century metropolis once was home for 100,000 people. Consequently, in 2016 Ani was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, the extraordinary walled city still contains splendid frescos that proclaim the richness of the city’s inhabitants and the excellence of the designers. After exploring the site, drive on to Dogubeyazit. This town is on the border with Armenia. And from here we will witness stunning views of sacred Mount Ararat. Overnight in the Ertur Boutique Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 6Ishak Pasa Seray, Ayanis, Tuşpa, Van

İshak Paşa Saray is a dazzling array of pointed domes and striped minaret invoking images from “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.”  Notably, a local feudal lord built this citadel in the 17th century. This lovely palace is one of the most memorable monuments in Turkey. And, for this reason, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. The edifice is noteworthy not only for its beautiful classical style but also for its internal central heating system. 

After a brief stop at Muradiye Waterfall, continue through breathtaking scenery to rarely visited Ayanis, the last castle complex of the Urartians. Here, we meet Professor Mehmet Isikli, the director of the archaeological project who will give us a private tour of excavations.

Then it’s on to Van. This city is handsomely positioned on the edge of Turkey’s largest lake within a lush green oasis encircled by stunning mountain peaks. Interestingly, it is also famous for the Van Cat, a pure white, longhair feline with one blue eye and the other green.

Van is the location of the 9th century BC former Urartian capital of Tuşpa.  This 3,000-year-old citadel is among the world’s most magnificent architectural monuments as observed by its royal tomb chambers and cuneiform inscriptions. Additionally, it is a superb example of the skills of Urartian stone masons. Overnight for two nights in the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in Van. (B/L/D)

Day 7Lake Van, Aktamar, Çavuştepe

The Urartian fortress of Çavuştepe perches on a mountaintop with breathtaking views of the surrounding area.  Clearly a very old stronghold, a cuneiform inscription on a temple here proclaims King Sardui II, who ruled between 764 and 735 BC, as the builder.

Nearby Lake Van is sprinkled with islands, several containing thousand-year-old monasteries and churches. We will board a cruiser to cross the lake to Akdamar to view a breathtaking 10th-century church constructed by an Armenian king. Built of carved red stone blocks, the walls of the chapel are adorned with exquisite friezes depicting stories from the Old Testament. (B/L/D)

Day 8 Transfer to Tatvan, Ahlat

Begin today at the Van Archaeological Museum to view remarkable artifacts found in the area before departing driving along the southern short of Lake Van to Tatvan. As we traverse spectacular scenery, we will stop at Ahlat, an historic town located on the northwestern edge of Lake Van. Here, the town’s small museum contains an interesting selection of artifacts including beautifully glazed pots and fine Urartian bronze-work.

Nearby is the Ulu Kümbet, or Great Tomb, built between 1273 and 1275 for a Mongol chieftain. Almost sixty feet high and topped by a conical stone roof, the 12-sided building is embellished with exquisitely carved decorations.  However, Ahlat is primarily known for its fascinating cemeteries. Forests of elaborately decorated Seljuk tombstones still stand. Created in the 12th and 13th centuries, most stand seven or eight feet tall adorned with rich, ornate carvings. Overnight for one night at The Crater Hotel in Tatvan. (B/L/D)

Day 9Malabadi Bridge, Mor Gabriel Monastery

En route to Mardin today we stop at three interesting sites. Afterward, see the 10th century Malabadi Bridge. When built it was one of the longest spanned stone arch spans in the world. Thus, UNESCO has placed it on the World Heritage Tentative List. Dayro d-Mor Gabriel, also known as Deyrulumur, is the oldest surviving Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world.

Our final stop is Anitli village to see The Church of the Mother of God, arguably the most beautiful of the many churches of Tur Abdin. The church is part of a large monastic complex on the southern edge of the town of Hah and is thought to have been built around 450 AD and expanded by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, with additions being made right down into the modern period. Overnight in Mardin for two nights at the Gazi Konagi Boutique Hotel. Dinner is on our own. (B/L)

Day 10 Mardin, Dara

This morning we tour Mardin, beginning with Deir-Al-Zafaran (the Saffron Monastery), center of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchy and still an active monastery. The site of the Saffron monastery has been a sacred place for thousands of years.

Continue to visit Dara, the remains of a Roman city built in the 6th century to protect the Roman border with Sassanian Persia. In the afternoon, we will have time to walk in the old city of Mardin to see the Great Mosque, bazaar and beautiful houses of Mardin. (B/L/D)

Day 11Diyarbikir

Today we depart for Diyarbakır, at least 5,000 years old and one of the oldest cities in the world. Diyarbakır is encircled by a massive parapet built of jet-black blocks of basalt more than three miles long. It is a perfect example of medieval military architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  From the top there are magnificent vistas overlooking the Tigris River valley including the Hevsel Gardens, also with UNESCO World Heritage status.

Part of the Fertile Crescent, this landscape linked the city with the Tigris River. This huge green space has played a vital role in keeping the city provisioned and watered since the ninth century BC. This evening’s walking tour will take us along the walls, and to Ulu Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Anatolia.  Dinner and overnight at the Dies Hotel in Diyarbakir. (B/L/D)

Day 12Mt. Nemrud

The Kingdom of Commagene emerged as a Roman puppet state in the first century BC.  The most renowned ruler was King Antiochus I, an Armenian king whose lineage connected him to the Seleucids, Ptolemies, and Macedonians. He ruled the territory in the 1st century B.C. and built his extraordinary mausoleum on the summit of Mt. Nemrud, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Certainly, it is one of the most extraordinary tombs in the world. From this imposing sanctuary we can see for almost fifty miles across the Mesopotamian Plain.  Our climb takes us to both the East and West Terraces to see the huge statues of Hellenistic gods – Apollo, Zeus, Fortuna – with the king prominently seated among them.

The western terrace contains a large slab with a lion, showing the arrangement of stars and the planets Jupiter, Mercury and Mars, and due to the astronomical alignments, it is believed to have been a place for religious ceremonies. Overnight at the nearby Euphrat Hotel. (B/L/D)

Day 13Göbekli Tepe

Today’s destination is Göbekli Tepe, perhaps the world’s oldest temple dating back to 11,000 years ago and predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years.  Excavations have uncovered several circles of standing stones and inside each are two 16-foot-tall T-shaped pillars towering over the ring of shorter stones. Furthermore, many of these are richly garnished with carvings of foxes, vultures, lions and other wild animals. Understandably, Göbekli Tepe has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  If available, we will meet with the director of excavations who will give us a private tour of the latest discoveries. After our tour, drive to Şanlıurfa with origins that are rooted in the Bronze Age. Renamed Edessa in the 4th century BC, it became a famous religious and intellectual center during the Byzantine period. Overnight for three nights in the El Ruha in Şanlıurfa. (B/L/D)

Day 14Urfa City Tour

In Şanlıurfa, our walk through the old quarter takes us to the bazaar with its interesting display of local goods. Afterwards, we will visit two museums – The Şanlıurfa Archaeology Museum and the Halepli Bahce Mozaic Museum, home to the famous “warrior Amazon queen” mosaics.

We will see the city’s 10th century Great Mosque that was constructed on what was thought to be the birthplace of Abraham, and an ancient castle that crowns the citadel. The current walls were constructed by the Abbasids in 814 AD. After returning to the hotel, enjoy our farewell dinner. (B/L/D)   

Day 15Karahan Tepe, Harran

Numerous historical ruins are located around Şanlıurfa. Karahan Tepe, along with world-famous Göbekli Tepe, is part of a cluster of Neolithic settlements. These are spread over 125 miles of southeastern Turkey between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The monumental structures carved out of the bedrock at Karahan Tepe contain T-shaped pillars and carved representations of animals, serpents, and other enigmatic figures similar to the ones in Göbekli Tepe.

In addition, Karahan Tepe is believed to be considerably larger than Göbekli Tepe, covering an area of about 33 acres. Sited along the road that ran from Nineveh to Carchemish, Harran was a major commercial, cultural, and religious center first inhabited in the 6th millennium BC. It was mentioned in the bible as the place where Abraham brought his family after they left Ur. Today, it is known for the curious beehive shaped homes scattered through the village.  Return to Şanlıurfa with the rest of the afternoon and dinner on our own. (B/L)   

Day 16Depart from Hatay Airport to Istanbul

Depart from Hatay Airport to Istanbul and our international flights home.  (B) Or fly back to Istanbul to join Far Horizons’ Western Turkey tour. 

Istanbul Extension Itinerary

(B) breakfast, (L) lunch, (D) dinner

Day 1Arrive in Istanbul: Aya Sofya, Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, Basilica Cistern

Arrive Istanbul and transfer to the historic area of the city. After a light lunch, visit Aya Sofya, the first church of Christianity, begun in the 2nd century AD by Constantine the Great. One of the great buildings of the world, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople and was the center of the Byzantine Empire for almost a thousand years.

Walk to the Hippodrome, scene of Byzantine chariot races, athletic events, victory celebrations and executions. Nearby, enter the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts. Housed within a 16th-century palace built by the brother-in-law of Sultan Suleyman, the museum contains the world’s richest collection of 13th-20th century hand-knotted Turkish carpets and an ethnographic section depicting objects used in everyday Turkish life.

We end today at the Basilica Cistern, the largest and most magnificently covered cistern in Istanbul. Built in the 6th century in the reign of Justinian, it supplied water to the Byzantine Great Palace nearby.

Overnight for the next four nights at the Ottoman Imperial Hotel, ideally located within walking distance of the important sites within the Old City. Enjoy a rooftop welcome dinner with views of the historic quarter. (L/D)

Day 2Dolmabahce Palace, Private Cruise up the Bosphorus

This morning we begin at Dolmabahce Palace, an impressive and elaborate landmark sitting on the European side of the city. Home to the last six sultans of the Ottoman Empire, this palace complex has 365 rooms and 22 salons, all lavishly adorned with a collection of European antiquities, furniture and one 4.5-tons chandelier. In the 17th and 18th centuries it became fashionable for high-ranking people of Istanbul to own a summer home on the Bosphorus, the sinuous straits separating Europe from Asia.

This afternoon, we travel by chartered boat to view these lovely wooden villas and elegant marble palaces along the shore. Afterwards, we leave our vessel to dine at one of the excellent seafood restaurants nearby. (B/L/D)

Day 3Culinary Walking Tour of Istanbul

Today we enjoy a culinary walking tour of Istanbul’s historic Old City that will transport our taste buds back in time!  With the iconic Grand Bazaar as our starting point, we embark on a journey to discover the best eateries that still utilize generations-old recipes in their creations.  As we dine where locals do, we will immerse ourselves in their culture and habits to truly understand why Turkish cuisine is one of the world’s most famous.  After our extensive exploration, we return to the hotel with a free afternoon and dinner on our own. (B/L)

Day 4Topkapi Sarai, Panorama 1453 Historical Museum

Begin today by exploring Topkapi Sarai, built in 1468 as a summer palace for Mehmet the Conqueror. Within the estate are exquisite gardens, the council chambers of government, and the harem, the home of the sultan’s family.

After a delicious lunch we visit the Panorama 1453 Historical Museum, housing a panorama painting of the conquest of Constantinople.

Our farewell dinner will be at one of Istanbul’s fine local restaurants. (B/L/D)

 

Day 12Depart Türkiye (OR begin the main Eastern Türkiye trip)

Transfer to the airport for our flight home OR, if you have chosen to visit Istanbul before the main trip, join the group to begin your Eastern Türkiye trip. (B)

Tour Information

Tour Cost & Inclusions

Price is based on double occupancy and includes:

  • Internal flights during the trip (if applicable)
  • The accompaniment of your scholar throughout the entire trip
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Hotel accommodations (3 or 4 stars; or best available based in the area)
  • Ground transportation
  • Airport transfers for arrivals and departures
  • Most meals as noted in the itinerary
  • Entry fees to all included sites and museums
  • Gratuities to guides, drivers, and restaurant and hotel staff
  • Coordination for any private presentations or tours

Trip prices are based on a minimum number of participants. If this minimum number is not met, trip prices are subject to change. Should the prices need to change, Far Horizons will reach out to registered guests to discuss directly.

Single Supplement

Should a roommate be requested and one not be available, the single supplement must be charged.

Exclusions

  • International round trip airfare
  • A separate donation check of $150.00 per person to a designated donation project
  • Passport or visa fees
  • Required vaccines or tests
  • Airport or departure taxes
  • Alcoholic drinks, beverages or food not included on set menus
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Personal tips and hotel incidental expenses
  • Laundry or other items of a personal nature

Donation Checks

As a tour company that benefits from the cultural and natural riches of our destinations, we have a policy of donating to the scientific and cultural sites and projects which we visit. This has created a bond between Far Horizons and the academic and local communities that has helped us establish an extensive list of lecturers and contacts in each of our destinations. We ask that each participant donate to the noteworthy project we designate. The donation amount is $150.00 per person. Note that the donation is required as part of your registration for the trip and that it is non-refundable.

Exchange Rate Fluctuations

Prices are based on currency exchange rates keeping below a projected level. While it is unlikely, if the exchange rates should change substantially, Far Horizons reserves the right to charge an additional amount to the trip cost.

Registration

A deposit of $1000 per person is required along with your registration & health forms, which will be linked in the email confirmation you receive once you pay your deposit on our booking platform. Final payment is due 120 days before departure. Prior to departure, you will be sent a reading list and a tour bulletin containing travel information.

Cancellation

Cancellations received in writing at least 120 days before departure will receive a refund less a $500 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received less than 120 days before the departure date will not receive a refund. If for any reason you are unable to complete the trip, Far Horizons will not reimburse any fees. Upon registering for the tour, the purchase of travel protection with both trip cancellation and emergency evacuation is strongly advised. Links to recommended insurance policies will be included in the email you receive confirming receipt of your deposit.

Air Ticketing

International round trip flights are not included in the cost of the trip. If Far Horizons must change the trip dates or cancel the trip for any reason, Far Horizons is not responsible for any air ticket you may have purchased. Please send your complete air schedule as soon as you have it. NOTE: Please contact Far Horizons if you would like for us to handle your air ticketing.

Private Tours and Talks

The private tours of archaeological sites and talks by specialists are scheduled in advance and include a donation to each. Specialists working at these sites are excited about showing their work to interested enthusiasts. However, please be aware that there may be times when the director or a member of the staff may not be on site when our groups arrive due to other commitments.

Walking and Standing

Far Horizons expects all participants to be physically active and able to walk and climb independently throughout the full touring days. This includes walking over uneven terrain (uphill and downhill) for 2 miles or more at each site. You should expect to be on your feet for much of each day, averaging as much as 5 miles of walking per day. As such, each participant should be able to walk unaided at a pace of 3 miles per hour for at least an hour at a time, and to stand unsupported for at least 60 minutes. Bearing this in mind, we suggest that, if you have not already done so, you begin walking several miles every day, ideally including stairs and hills. If you have questions about your ability to keep up with the group or the strenuous nature of this trip, please contact the Far Horizons staff.

Expectations During Travel

This tour is designed for flexible, energetic people who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. We have designed this trip to be as comfortable as possible, while also aiming to visit some remote or unique sites that other companies do not attempt to include in their itineraries. There may be days where we have very long drives and the conditions of the roads may vary. Hotels and transportation in some remote areas may not be up to western standards. There may be times when no bellhops are available; please pack with the understanding that you need to be able to handle your own luggage at times. Sometimes we may be walking over uneven trails for a mile or more; hiking boots are strongly recommended. Not every meal will be haute cuisine and several lunches may be picnics or box lunches. By maintaining a flexible attitude we will soon be captivated by the beauty of the natural scenery, the hospitality of the local people, and the fascinating sites we will see. Your flexibility and patience will be appreciated.

Itinerary Changes

Changes in our itinerary, accommodations, and transportation schedules may occur. While we are committed to keeping as close to the published details as possible, sometimes it is simply not possible. Weather events, government affairs, or other factors out of our control sometimes come into play. A good book to read as well as patience, flexible attitude, and a sense of humor are essential.

Travel Insurance

We strongly recommend that you consider purchasing travel insurance. Should illness or an unforeseen event force you to cancel your travel plans after your final payment or during your trip, it would be doubly unfortunate to incur a significant financial loss. Trip cancellation protection will enable you to be reimbursed for the loss of your payment if you are unable to travel for any of the covered reasons in the “Outline of Coverage” section, or should you have an accident or suffer from any medical conditions during the trip.  
Far Horizons offers customized protection plans through Travel Insured International (a Crum & Forster Company) with the following benefits:
 
• Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption for covered reasons
• Trip Delay
• Baggage Loss and Baggage Delay
• Emergency Medical Expenses and Emergency Medical Evacuation
• 24-Hour Accidental Death & Dismemberment
• 24-Hour Travel Assistance & Concierge Services
• Option to upgrade to ‘Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)’
 
We recommend reviewing the language in detail so you are aware of specific parameters; Depending on the policy, to waive the Pre-Existing Medical Condition Exclusion or to upgrade to CFAR coverage, the plan must be purchased within 14 to 21 days of the initial trip deposit, full trip cost must be insured, and traveler is medically fit at time of plan purchase. Otherwise, coverage may be purchased at any time prior to departure. 
 
To obtain a personalized quote and/or purchase a plan through Far Horizons/Travel Insured International, simply click HERE. For specific questions regarding the Worldwide Protector Plan, please contact Travel Insured International’s Customer Care Center at 1-800-243-3174 or by email at customercare@travelinsured.com, and refer to Far Horizons’ account number: 54070.

Tour Map