We've been noticing a rise in trips to Turkey lately, which is no surprise, as it's an East-West crossroads that fascinates travelers. SmarTours (tel. 800/337-7773; www.smartours.com) has an offer called Treasures of Turkey that is well-priced and extensive -- it starts from $1,699 and spans 14 days and nine different destinations. In order to receive the promotional price -- which is based on double occupancy and reflects a discount of $800 per couple -- you must book by August 29. The lowest advertised price is valid for departures on October 30 and 31, along with March 25, 2009. Other dates are scheduled for different starting prices: October 1 and 15 are available for $1,799, along with April 22. And the latest scheduled departure, on May 13, starts from $1,899.
The trip includes round-trip airfare from New York (either JFK or Newark), airline fuel surcharge, intra-Turkey ground transportation and transfers, accommodations at first class hotels with private bathrooms, and 19 meals. In terms of guidance, you also have the benefit of an English-speaking tour director throughout the trip; the cost of sightseeing tours is also included in the price. Airport taxes and fees of $195 are not included, and you must secure a visa upon arrival for an additional $20.
The itinerary is chockablock with activity, starting with your welcome dinner in Istanbul, a guided tour around the city that includes the Topkapi Palace, the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, and leisure time to explore. From there you'll spend a couple of days in the Turkish capital, Ankara, visiting mosques, museums, and the like. Cappadocia is the next destination for guided excursions to see the Open Air Museum and the Kaymakli Underground City, which descends nine floors. Around the middle of your trip you'll have an entire day to yourself to explore Antalya with optional tours, or you can just take advantage of your situation at a seaside resort whose view takes in the Turquoise Coast. The last few days travel to ancient ruins, temples, shrines and theaters in Pamukkale, Izmir, Ephesus, Pergamum, and Troy, ending, finally, back in Istanbul.
Recent violence near the U.S. consulate in Istanbul and similar incidents in other locations throughout Turkey may make some travelers shy away from this destination. However, the U.S. Department of State (http://travel.state.gov) has yet to issue a formal travel warning for U.S. residents who want to visit Turkey, but it is wise to keep checking its web site for updates.
Talk with fellow Frommer's readers on our Turkey Message Boards today.