Image: Haghia Sophia
Bulent Kilic  /  AFP - Getty Images file
The Turkey Family Adventure package includes a guided tour of Istanbul on day two, which will feature stops at Haghia Sophia, a basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum.
updated 10/16/2008 10:33:04 AM ET 2008-10-16T14:33:04

The real deal: Seven nights' accommodations, guided tours, boat trip, full-day Mediterranean cruise, and some meals, for $999 per person—including taxes.

When: Depart on March 15, April 5, May 3, June 14, July 5, Aug. 9, Sept. 20, Oct. 4, Nov. 8, Dec. 20, 2009; Jan. 10, Feb. 14, 2010.

The fine print: Breakfast daily, one lunch, five dinners, hotel taxes, and transportation by private bus, train, and boat are included. While airport-hotel transfers are included upon arrival in Istanbul, transfers to Dalaman airport at the end of the trip are not included and can be arranged for an additional €80 ($109) per family. Travel insurance is mandatory and can be purchased through G.A.P. for an additional cost, which varies depending on individual. Based on double, triple, or quadruple occupancy; there is no single supplement as this is a family trip and accommodations are shared. However, you can choose to have your own room for an additional $89. (Please note that even if you pay extra for a single room, you will share accommodations while on the sleeper train on the second night.) One adult is required per two children (ages 5-17). The average number of participants in this tour is ten with a maximum of 15. To book this trip, refer to code ETFA. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: G.A.P. Adventures, 800/708-7761,

Why it's a deal: The $999 rate breaks down to about $143 a night and covers accommodations, taxes, some meals, transportation, a boat ride, a day-long cruise, guided sightseeing tours and activities, and the services of English-speaking tour guides. You'll also benefit from G.A.P's relationships with local hotels, which enable the company to offer you lower rates than what you'd be paying if booking on your own.

Trip details: The Turkey Family Adventure package includes a total of seven nights' accommodations: two nights at hotels, one aboard a sleeper train and four at a beach resort. (Aside from the meeting hotel, G.A.P. doesn't publish the names of the participating hotels in advance as they are subject to change.)

A G.A.P representative will meet you at the airport in Istanbul and transfer you to the meeting point, the Centrum Hotel in the Sirkeci peninsula, where Topkapi Palace and other historic sites are concentrated. Aside from a group orientation meeting at around 5 p.m., the day of arrival will be yours to explore the Turkish metropolis as you please.

The package includes a guided tour of the city on day two, which will feature stops at Haghia Sophia, a basilica-turned-mosque-turned-museum; Basilica Cistern, an underground water storage structure built in 532; the Hippodrome, a former horse-racing track; and the soaring Blue Mosque, built in the early 1600s.

An overnight 15-hour train ride brings you to Denizli, a province in the inner part of the Aegean region. The area's main draw is the natural calcium oxide-rich pools cascading down white terrace-like geological formations along the southern slope of Caldag. Here, you'll find the ruins of ancient city of Hierapolis. You'll also take an excursion to Pamukkale.

You'll stay overnight in Denizli, then proceed to Fethiye in the Mugla province, about 135 miles away. The city of 45,000 on the Fethiye Gulf has an outsize collection of Persian, Lycian, Carian, and Roman art. While in the area, you'll stop by Kayakoy ruins, a ghost village that was turned into a museum. Learn how to whip up a Turkish version of pancakes with the help of a local villager.

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Your home base for the next four nights will be Olu Deniz, nine miles south of Fethiye. The beach town, which sits along a protected blue lagoon with a secluded sandy bay, is a popular paragliding spot.

While in Olu Denz, the itinerary calls for a hike through the Saklikent Gorge, a visit to a local carpet-making center, and a boat trip along the Dalayan River, making stops at Ituzu Beach to treat yourself to a relaxing mud bath and at the ruins at Kaunos across the river. You can also look forward to a full-day cruise along the coast of the Fethiye Golf with plenty of swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

On day eight, you'll catch your homebound flight at the nearby Dalaman airport. For more tips on what to do in the area, check Turkey's official tourism Web site.

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

Getting there: International airfare is not included. According to a recent search on Sidestep, the lowest multicity airfares (arriving in Istanbul and departing from Dalaman) for departures in early April 2009 were: $1,185 from Houston (Turkish Airlines), $1,189 from Chicago (Turkish Airlines), $1,207 from Miami (Turkish Airlines), $1,265 from New York (multiple carriers), and $1,273 from L.A. (Turkish Airlines).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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