Where East Meets West: Magical & Mythical

Turkey

The deep culture, complex history and varied landscapes of Turkey can best be described as “epic.”  Turkey encompasses something like six different geographical regions, ranging from lush Mediterranean Sea coast to high desert plateau.  It can claim more ancient Greek and Roman ruins than Greece or Italy.  And that’s not even mentioning the fantastic food and the fascinating local people.

Why Travel with MIR to Turkey
  • Over two decades of Turkish travel experience
  • Travel programs such as the Washington Agricultural and Forestry Education Foundation have chosen MIR to guide them to Turkey
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
Signature Experiences

We regularly garner applause from our travelers for the inspired opportunities we provide to help them get to know the distinctive art, architecture and accomplishments of the age-old country of Turkey.  Below is just a sampling of the Turkish experiences MIR has designed to take our clients far from the familiar.

  • See the sunrise over Nemrut Dağ
    Watch the rising sun illuminate the monumental stone heads of UNESCO-listed Nemrut Dağ...
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    See the sunrise over Nemrut Dağ

    Turkey

    Nemrut Dağ, Turkey

    Watch the rising sun illuminate the monumental stone heads of UNESCO-listed Nemrut Dağ.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Admire the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
    Enter the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia in UNESCO-listed Goreme National Park, admiring some of the region’s finest and strangest rock...
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    Admire the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia

    Turkey

    Cappadocia, Turkey

    Enter the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia in UNESCO-listed Goreme National Park, admiring some of the region’s finest and strangest rock formations; called “Fairy Chimneys,” they are cones of tuff topped by caps of basalt.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Boat over Lake Van to Akhtamar Island
    Take a boat ride to Akhtamar Island and the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross, perched above the beach on beautiful Lake Van....
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    Boat over Lake Van to Akhtamar Island

    Turkey

    Van, Turkey

    Take a boat ride to Akhtamar Island and the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross, perched above the beach on beautiful Lake Van.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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  • Take in the highlights of magnificent Istanbul
    Walk the narrow streets of the Sultanahmet district, admiring the soaring Blue Mosque and grand Hagia Sophia...
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    Take in the highlights of magnificent Istanbul

    Turkey

    Istanbul, Turkey

    Walk the narrow streets of the Sultanahmet district, admiring the soaring Blue Mosque and grand Hagia Sophia.

    Journeys with this Signature Experience

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Ways to Travel to Turkey with MIR

We design every one of our Turkey trips to help you discover for yourself why you need to visit Turkey multiple times to experience even half of what there is to experience here.

Take a look at your options, from small group escorted tours to independent, custom and private travel:

Small Group Tours

We currently don’t feature any small group tours to this destination. Check out our custom and private travel opportunities.

Rail Journeys by Private Train

At the moment, we don’t offer any rail tours that include this destination. However, we do have a variety of options for rail journeys by private train, including those that travel along the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway.

Custom and private travel is our specialty. We’ve been designing unforgettable custom itineraries along the coasts and through the hills and dales of Turkey for over 25 years; a majority of our guests travel on custom itineraries.

Read more about how to design your own trip and consider this: You can customize our Eastern Turkey & Georgia: Legacy of Empire small group tour to match your preferred dates of travel.

Design Your Own Custom Trip

Traveling privately on a custom program means flexibility:

  • You set the dates, the focus and the level of accommodations.
  • You are met on arrival and seen off at the end of your trip.
  • Your in-country transportation is pre-arranged hassle-free.
  • Your own expert local guides ensure that you get the most out of your visit.
  • And the best part? You travel at your own pace on an itinerary exclusive to you.

Check out just a handful of our Turkey signature experiences below and then get in touch with a MIR Private Journey Specialist to craft an itinerary that suits your travel goals, budget and style.  Or get started planning now.

Suggested Itineraries for Private Travel

Whether you’re looking for a compact trip with all the highlights or something a little roomier with some of the extras, MIR’s Private Journeys department can suggest places to see and things to do based on our local knowledge, and design a one-of-a-kind itinerary for you, your family or your group of friends.

Find out more about our custom & private travel expertise or connect with a Private Journey Specialist to get started.


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Our Favorite Places in Turkey
Turkey

Ani

The ruins of Ani, the medieval Armenian capital, date back as early as the fifth century. Located along a major east-west caravan route, Ani flourished from the 10th-13th centuries. At its height, with a population of around 100,000, Ani was larger than any European city at that time. Ani suffered heavily at the hands of Mongol invaders during the 12th century, and from many earthquakes, including a particularly devastating one in 1319. Its territory has been disputed by Armenia and Turkey, with control passing back and forth between the two countries. Though most of Ani now lies in ruins, the fact that several thousand-year-old churches are still standing attests to the quality of early Armenian craftsmanship.

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Journeys that travel to Ani

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Ani.

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Turkey

Ankara

Ankara, Turkey's capital, is an ancient city.  The Biblical Hittites were the first to name it at some point before 1000 BC and the city had been inhabited and controlled by Persians and Romans before it passed to the Byzantine Empire.  Ruins of the Roman Ancyra, an important administrative and market town, are still visible; the most notable of these ruins is the Temple of Augustus.  Today, Ankara is a busy modern metropolis of over four million, but the connection to its past remains visible through the ruined old castle that looks out over the city from a central hill.

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Journeys that travel to Ankara

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Ankara.

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Turkey

Cappadocia

The region of Cappadocia is bordered by Mt. Erciyes to the east and Mt. Hasan to the west. These formerly active volcanoes were instrumental in creating the strange topography that Cappadocia is known for. Three million years ago, eruptions spewed out tons of ash that settled and hardened into a soft rock called tuff. Other eruptions covered the tuff with layers of lava, which cooled into basalt, a much harder rock. In the millennia after these eruptions, wind and rain eroded much of the tuff, leaving the harder basalt. The “Fairy Chimneys” here are cones of tuff topped by caps of basalt.

 Tuff is easy for people to carve, and they have been doing just that since at least the time of the Hittites in 1600 BC. Cave-homes were carved from rock cones, their entrances hidden by stones. During the Christian era, underground monasteries and churches were dug out and decorated with frescoes that remain bright even today.

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Turkey

Ephesus

One of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the marble streets, public baths and monuments of Ephesus demonstrate the power and vitality of the ancient world. Among the discoveries is the Library of Celsus, built between 110 and 135 AD, which, at its peak, housed between 12,000 and 15,000 scrolls.

Originally Ephesus was established on the Aegean Sea, but time and silt have enlarged the alluvial plain so that the excavations now are nearly six miles from the shore.

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Journeys that travel to Ephesus

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Ephesus.

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Turkey

Gaziantep

With almost one million inhabitants, Gaziantep is the largest city in the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey.  Evidence indicates that the area has been settled since the Bronze Age.  The center of pistachio nut cultivation in Turkey, Gaziantep is famous for its copperware and its baklava, which is rumored to be the best in the world.

Gaziantep is home to numerous sites of interest; modern museums, medieval mosques and the kale, or castle, believed to have been constructed by Romans, and restored in the 6th century AD by Emperor Justinian I.

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Journeys that travel to Gaziantep

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Turkey

Istanbul

Istanbul, sprawled across two continents connected by two slender bridges, and former capital of two great empires, leads a dual life, both ancient and modern. The narrow streets of the Sultanahmet district with its ancient Christian and Islamic monuments eventually lead to regions populated with tall office buildings and modern shops.

First named Byzantium, the city was renamed Constantinople by Roman Emperor Constantine, who moved the capital here in 330 AD. The Roman Empire evolved into the Byzantine Empire, profoundly influenced by the area’s Greek–speaking inhabitants. The Byzantine Empire reigned for over a thousand years until the Ottoman Turks, originally from Central Asia, conquered Constantinople in 1453 and renamed the city yet again.

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Turkey

Kas

Kas is a small fishing and yachting village where they produce almonds and honey. This laid-back harbor town has some of the best and easiest shopping in all of Turkey and lots of great little restaurants and bars.

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Journeys that travel to Kas

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Kas.

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Turkey

Kars

Kars is a city of about 150,000 in northeast Turkey near the Armenian border.  Located in territory that has been bitterly disputed for centuries, Kars has been controlled by early Armenians, Ottoman Turks, Russians, Soviets and the Republic of Turkey.  The nearby border with Armenia has been closed since 1993 to protest Armenia’s acquisition of the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The old Citadel of Kars, on an outcropping above town, has passed through as many incarnations as the city itself has, and displays Turkish, Armenian, Caucasian, Kurdish and Russian aspects.

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Journeys that travel to Kars

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Turkey

Van

The city of Van has passed from empire to empire since its origin as the capital of the ancient Urartu Empire in the 9th century BC.  For many years it was ruled by the Armenians, then from 1548 until the end of WWI it was ruled by the Ottoman Turks.  Its Armenian population was wiped out during the war, and the city itself was destroyed.  A new Van grew up near the ruined city.

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Turkey

Nemrut Dağ

Antiochus I, king of the Commagene kingdom, had this monument constructed in the 1st century BC.  The king re-contoured the remote mountaintop, and topped it with a gracefully symmetrical 150-foot dome made of small white limestone rocks.  At the base of the dome he created terraces, and on the terraces are seated monumental stone statues, their beautifully carved heads several yards away from their bodies.  At sunrise and sunset the heads pick up the luminous glow of the sun, and the Euphrates far below is a river of molten silver.  Nemrut Dağ has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

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Journeys that travel to Nemrut Dağ

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Turkey

Trabzon

Trabzon is the largest Black Sea port in eastern Turkey, and began as a Greek trading colony in the 7th century BC. The local Turkish dialect is understood by Greek speakers. Trabzon is a lively city with an ancient bazaar and many cafes and restaurants.

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Journeys that travel to Trabzon

Contact a MIR Private Journeys Specialist at privatejourneys@mircorp.com or 800-424-7289 to plan a custom & private trip to Trabzon.

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When to Travel to Turkey

Ramadan, throughout Turkey (dates vary by year)

Turkish dancers in EphesusThe main religious public holiday in Turkey is known as Şeker Bayram and celebrates the end of the holy month of fasting, Ramadan. The Islamic holiday, Ramadan, is a time when Muslims focus on self-reformation, spiritual cleansing and strengthening their relationship to God. The holiday lasts a month, and during this period, Muslims fast during daylight hours, eating only before sunrise and after sunset. The holiday of Bayram marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and is a special celebration. Everyone puts on his best clothes, and communal prayers are followed by feasting and visiting with relatives and friends, with presents of clothes and money being exchanged.

Nevruz, throughout Turkey (March 21)

Nevruz is a feast of spring and the coming of the new year, celebrated in Turkey by Kurdish peoples. The celebration is marked by concerts in parks and squares, trade fairs and national horseracing competitions. Unlike the western New Year traditions, Nevruz is celebrated during daytime hours, and people visit friends and relatives, buy and plant seedlings of fruit trees, have outdoor gatherings and exchange gifts.

Oil Wrestling Competitions, northwest Turkey (June-July)

Oil wrestling has been a traditional Turkic sport since Ottoman times and is still performed in a few regions of Turkey. Oil wrestling involves pairs of men clad in leather breeches and soaked in a layer of olive oil, who then wrestle each other in a field. It is mainly a summer event that takes place in various towns and villages between late June and early July. The most famous area for oil wrestling is in the northwest of the country near Edirne.

Camel Wrestling Festivals, throughout Turkey (dates vary by year)

Camel wrestling is one of the most popular sports in Turkey and the events combine festive tradition, competitions and gambling. The regally-decorated camels are very wily and circle each other, looking for an opportunity to hook a leg over the other’s back and force him to the ground. During the tournaments street sellers offer a variety of food, drinks and souvenirs and performers offer traditional music and dance. Late winter/early spring is the best time for these festivals, the most famous of which is the Selcuk Camel Wrestling Festival on the 3rd Sunday in January.

Mevlana Festival, Konya (December)

The festival of the Whirling Dervishes commemorates the anniversary of the death of the 13th century Sufi saint Mevlana, or Rumi, as he is also known. The whirling dervishes perform in white flowing robes and black cloaks. The Mevlana festival takes place in Konya in December and often over one million visitors take part in the festival.