Image: Inside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
John Brecher  /  Msnbc.com
An inside view of the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. With the Turkish Adventure tour package, get round-trip airfare to Istanbul on a major carrier and 13 nights' accommodations divided between six cities, starting at $1,649.
updated 10/15/2007 11:22:52 AM ET 2007-10-15T15:22:52

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, 13 nights' accommodations, guided tours, and meals from $1,649 per person—plus taxes of about $116.

When: Dec. 5, 2008; add $80 for Nov. 23, 2007, Feb. 22, Nov. 21, 2008; add $240 for Nov. 2, 2007, Mar. 21, Nov. 7, 2008; add $580 for Oct. 5, 2007, Apr. 18, Oct. 10, 2008; add $630 for May 9, Sept. 19; add $900 for Jun. 20, Jul. 11, Aug. 1.

Gateways: Newark, New York; add $145 for D.C.; $205 for Chicago, Philadelphia; $245 for Atlanta; $275 for St. Louis; $315 for Los Angeles; additional cities available.

The fine print: Note that the $1,649 rate (and all other rates) takes into account a special $150 discount off the regular starting price of $1,799 exclusively for BT readers. Daily buffet breakfast, eight 3-course dinners, hotel service charges, tips, baggage handling, local taxes, and fuel surcharges are part of the package. Also included are the services of a bilingual tour director, licensed local tour guides, transportation by private coach, and entrance fees to select sites. Departure tax is an additional $116 per person. Traveler's insurance is available for an additional $179 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $360. You'll receive a complimentary travel bag as well as automatic enrollment in Go Ahead's World Traveler Club, which grants a $50 discount towards your next tour. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability. But to get the $150 BT exclusive discount, book by Nov. 21, 2007.

Contact: Go Ahead Tours, 888/462-4323, goaheadtours.com.

Why it's a deal: A recent Sidestep search yielded the following lowest round-trip fares between New York and Istanbul: $589 in December (multiple carriers) and $645 in November of this year (Delta). In comparison, Go Ahead Tours provides airfare, 13 nights accommodations, some meals, all local transportation, guided tours, and entrance fees for about $127 per night. And remember that as a BT reader, you get access to the $150 special discount.

Trip details:The Turkish Adventure tour package includes round-trip airfare to Istanbul on a major carrier, such as Delta, United, or Lufthansa, with 13 nights' accommodations divided between six cities.

The Go Ahead staff will welcome you upon your arrival in Istanbul and take you to your hotel, the Nippon, where you'll meet the rest of the group over dinner. The 171-room hotel is located in Taksim Square, the heart of modern Istanbul. Metro and bus stops are nearby.

Your three-night stay in the East-meets-West capital, formerly known as Byzantium and as Constantinople, includes a guided tour that visits Topkapi Palace, the 15th-century home of Ottoman sultans; the Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine church and Ottoman mosque turned museum adorned with 30 million gold mosaic tiles; and the Blue Mosque. You'll also have time to explore the city on your own or to join optional tours, like a morning cruise of the Bosporus strait, which connects Europe and Asia ($55 for a half-day tour with lunch). Another option is an afternoon tour of Istanbul's unknown treasures ($55). History buffs should stop by the Museum of Ancient Civilizations.

Next on the schedule is Bursa, the original capital of the Ottoman Empire. After a sightseeing tour, you'll travel to Canakkale, in the Marmara region. This northwestern province, whose shores along the Dardanelles strait touch both Asia and Europe, was used as a crossing point between the two continents for centuries. You'll stay overnight at the 136-room Hotel Akol, a beachside venue in the downtown area.

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Then you'll set out along the Aegean coast, stopping in Troy for a guided tour of the relics of nine civilizations dating back 5,000 years. You'll also pause in Bergama, home to the Acropolis of Pergamum, before reaching the coastal town of Kusadasi.

From here, you'll make excursions to the well-preserved classical city of Ephesus and stop by the Library of Celsius, the Temple of Hadrian, as well as the house where Mary is thought to have spent her final days. There is also an optional trip to the rural village of Sirince ($25). Your accommodations include a two-night stay in the 60-room Hotel Polat Beach, 2.5 miles from the Kusadasi city center.

Once you leave Kusadasi, you'll stop at the ruins of Miletus and Didyma's Temple of Apollo before reaching Pamukkale. You'll go on a guided tour of the travertines (white calcium terraces created from hot springs), the ruins of Hierapolis, and the Roman spa city. An optional afternoon tour takes visitors to Aphrodisias, one of Turkey's most significant archaeological sites of the Greek and Roman periods ($25). You'll stay two nights at the 275-room Lycus River Hotel in Pamukkale.

Then, after crossing the Kale River Delta, you'll arrive in Demre for a tour the Church of St. Nicholas, a restored version of the original, which was built in the 6th century A.D. Next on the itinerary are the ruins of Phaselis, followed by Antalya—where Cleopatra and Anthony once vacationed. A guided tour will take you to the Old Town, the archaeological museum, and Hadrian's Gate. You may also choose an optional trip to Aspendos and Perge ($25). The 120-room Best Western Khan Hotel in Antalya will be your base for this segment of the trip.

Slideshow: A Sultan’s City During the next two days, you'll visit the Mevlana Museum in Konya, the rock churches of Gorme, as well as the towns of Pasabag and Avanos. Phew! You'll get a chance to enjoy two evening performances in Cappadocia: the whirling dervishes, a Muslim sect known for its elaborate dance-like rituals ($45), and traditional Turkish folklore ($39). You'll also have one full day to explore Cappadocia on your own, or opt for a tour of the Eskigimus Monastery ($25). You'll spend two nights at the 200-room hotel Perissia before returning to Istanbul. For your final night in Turkey you'll stay at Hotel Nippon.

Turkey is a year-round destination, especially along the coast, where the climate is always mild. While the summer months of June through September are considered high season, weather-wise, spring and fall are the best times to visit.

Before you go, check the weather forecast, the latest exchange rate, and the local time at BudgetTravel.com. For more tips on what to do in the area, consult Turkey's official tourism Web site.

Not ready to go home, even after this trip's demanding pace? Go Ahead Tours offers a three-night trip extension to Athens from $899 per person including airfare. (Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $150.)

This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.

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