Frommer's Favorite Local Tour Company -- Using a local travel agent can make anybody a bit skittish, but expert in Turkey, and particularly Istanbul, is the English-proficient Credo Tours (tel. 0212/254-8175; fax 0212/237-9670; www.credo.com.tr), specializing in creating private jaunts or theme tours on special request.
Only a true foodie can appreciate the rewards of planning a vacation with a special emphasis on the eating habits of a country. In Turkey, where much of the language and expressions refer back to the kitchen, there's no better way to get to the heart of this culture. Cooking classes have become so much in vogue these days that it seems that everyone is offering one. The Istanbul Culinary Institute, Mesrutiyet Cad. 59, Tepebasi (tel. 0212/251-2214; www.istanbulculinary.com), offers professional and amateur programs, as well as short, 1-day crash courses in techniques (cutting, stocks, or sauces), Ottoman cuisine (meat dishes with fruit, for example), or in Turkish basics (rice, böreks, and mantis). There are also monthly gastronomic walking tours where groups of at least four people get a crash course in street food. One such tour stumbles over to the Kumkapi wholesale fish market at 4am! Tours cost about 100TL per person; custom tours are available for 200TL per person. Turkish Flavours, Vali Konak Cad. Ugur Apt. 14/3, Nisantasi (tel. 0532/218-0653; www.turkishflavours.com), takes this culinary concept into private homes in Istanbul and on the road through private food-focused Istanbul day excursions and tailor-made itineraries into the heart of Anatolia. All tours get to the heart of the Turkish culture through market excursions, home cooking, and even wine tastings.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.