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Istanbul & Ephesus Half Term Holiday

A perfect half term holiday for families interested in culture and ancient history. Explore Istanbul, where East meets West, then bring classroom history lessons to life with a visit to Ephesus.

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With an easy 4 hours flying time and competitive flight prices, Turkey is an attractive destination for family holidays. We have developed this week long itinerary to Turkey to fit into school half term, either Spring or autumn as this is a lovely time of year to visit, with sunny weather and warm, but not fiercely hot, temperatures, ideal for sightseeing.

Your holiday begins in Istanbul, the ancient capital of the Ottoman Empire. Staying in the old quarter, you are in easy walking distance of the main sights, including the Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Aya Sofia. A short tram ride away and slightly less heavy on culture, you can take a relaxing cruise on the Bosphorus or explore the Grand Bazaar. At the end of a long day on your feet, you can sit back and relax on the roof terrace with beautiful views. For your stay, we recommend one of Istanbul's boutique hotels, but there are larger hotels we can recommend if you would prefer to have a pool.

After four nights in Istanbul, you will transfer to the airport to fly to Izmir so that you can visit one of Turkey's most famous ancient sites; Ephesus. Once the stronghold of the Roman Empire in Asia, this is a fascinating place to visit and get a glimpse of Roman life, as well as witness archaeology in practice (they have yet to excavate 80% of Ephesus.) You can either stay in the pretty hill-top town of Sirince, or in upmarket Alacati close to the sea. Both options offer boutique and relaxed accommodation, the perfect places to kick back after all the sight-seeing.


You will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel.

This morning, you will no doubt be raring to go, looking forward to a day of sightseeing ahead. We can arrange a guide for you, but Istanbul is very easy to navigate on foot and on the excellent tram system. We suggest you start your day with a visit to one of Istanbul's most iconic sights: the Blue Mosque. This moisque is still in use, so it will be closed during prayer times so check with your hotel Reception before you head out. Marvel at the incredible architecture of this beautiful building which seems to float above Istanbul. After visiting the Blue Mosque, you will want to see the Aya Sofia, built originally as a basilica and then converted to a mosque. After lunch, possibly in a cafe over-looking the Bosphorus, head to the eerie Basilica Cistern, an underground water cistern built in Byzantine times.

This morning we suggest that you get up early and go to the Topkapi Palace. The palace complex gets very busy during the day, so we suggest you go there first thing to avoid the worst of the crowds. Expect to spend a good few hours there, making sure that you visit the harem (you have to pay extra for entrance, but it is more than worth it.) After lunch, you might want to catch the tram to the Grand Bazaar, wander around the stalls and indulge in a spot of shopping.

Today you might want to go on a Bosphorus cruise. There are several companies offering guided tours, but we suggest that you take the tram to the ferry terminal and go for a 2 1/2 hour cruise. If you have more time, you could spend the day hopping from port to port along the river, using local ferries.

You will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to Istanbul airport for your flight to Izmir. Once you have arrived, you will pick up your hire car and drive to your accommodation.

Today you will have a guided tour of Ephesus.

Today is a day at leisure. If you are staying in Sirince, you might want to explore the town or drive to the coast to explore one of the beaches. There are some large water parks near to Kusadasi which may appeal to some families.

If you are staying in Alacati, you may want to drive to Cesme and take a gulet cruise out to Donkey and Black islands where you can swim and snorkel.

Today you will drive to the airport for your return journey home.


Guide price is based on recommended accommodations. Alternative accommodations and upgrades are available. Please get in touch or click on 'alternatives' below for alternatives and upgrade options.

Sari Konak

Istanbul & Around

Our rating


Price guide

Price rating 3

- A Tourdust favourite
- Individually decorated rooms
- Family run hotel
- Roof terrace with views

Sirince Terrace Houses

Ephesus and around

Our rating


Price guide

Price rating 3

- A Tourdust favourite for families
- Beautifully restored cottages
- Excellent self-catering option
- Near to Ephesus

Tas Otel

Ephesus and around

Our rating


Price guide

Price rating 4

- Swimming pool
- Afternoon tea
- Beautiful family rooms


Getting there

You will need to fly into Istanbul and then on to Izmir. Please contact us for a flight quote

When is best?

The best time for this holiday is either spring or autumn. In the summer months, Ephesus is over-run with cruise ship passengers visiting. The sun at this time is also fiercely hot, so it is worth while timing your trip to avoid the sun and the worst of the crowds. For more information on Turkey's climate, please look

Is it for me?

This itinerary involves a fair amount of sight-seeing, so an interest in culture and history will mean that you get the most out of it. We recommend this holiday be taken in spring and autumn. You can go in the summer, but be warned that it will be very hot and busy in Ephesus at that time.


For the latest travel advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth office check

What customers are saying after travelling with Tourdust

Average Rating

based on 493 reviews


  • On the first week the guides and staff were really flexible on times to transfer to and from Lopud which was really helpful. We were due to leave Dubrovnik on the 6 pm ferry on the Sunday but as it was so hot we decided to take the earlier ferry as suggested by the Adria rep.

    Accommodation in Dubrovnik was comfortable. We explored a little outside Dubrovnik city and wondered if it might have been nicer to stay nearer one of the little coves, five minutes from the city gates to get out the city.

    The sea kayaking week was excellent. Great guides and good trips. The accommodation was really comfortable - lovely family and the air condition was rather essential! I think we had booked a family trip but the guides asked if we would like to join a larger group which we did and this worked really well. Kayak trips were superb - about the right length and a good mix of destinations including the botanical gardens and lots of time to swim and snorkel. It was surprisingly manageable despite the heat. At the end we wished we had booked the 5 day tour. The farm evening meal was great fun.

    The two nights at Hotel More were a lovely bit of luxury. Really liked the hotel - quite small and slightly away from the main areas of activity in the bay. Again good advice on how to get around from staff.

    The second week with Huck Finn was also excellent. A good mix of activities - the rafting day in Bosnia was particularly good as we got to see a different country - quite a contrast with Croatia. Guides were again really good - very well informed and all trips were well organised. All transfers good. We had breakfast and evening meals with a local family which were lovely - lots of traditional cooking and they catered really well for different dietary requirements. The accommodation was rather more basic. We had two rooms on an upper floor with a shared bathroom so not our own space. It seemed that the accommodation varied quite a lot with others having small apartments with kitchens and fridges, which would have been helpful. Weather had cooled a little by then which was good as we would have had no means to cool the rooms down at night. Having said that our owner was a lovely lady - made us cakes and apple strudel when we came home at the end of the day.

    All in all an excellent trip!

    MissingDavid Withycombe reviewing Dubrovnik Kayaking Short Break on 25 August 2017

  • My kayak tour with Tour dust is an experience I will treasure forever. I believe Johnny is exactly the type of guide everyone hopes for on a trip like this. Upbeat, funny, enthusiastic, and an incredible level of skill in this sport. I have been kayaking for many years, but, being over 60 years old now, I certainly appreciated knowing we were in such very, very capable hands.
    And the other people who took part in the trip? What a great bunch! It's hard to believe we were mostly complete strangers just one week ago. I will treasure those friendships forever as well.

    MissingStephen McGrill reviewing Dubrovnik Kayaking Short Break on 06 October 2014

  • On our final night now in Dubrovnik sadly.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the first half Tourdust arranged with all the kayaking etc. our son was very sad to leave and preferred the earlier part of our trip to the second half chilling by the pool!

    Accommodation was 'ok', activities were just enough, some people couldn't keep up with the amount of kayaking but for us it was just the right amount. Johnny and Mattie were superb, they went out of their way to ensure everyone was happy all the time (I hope Tourdust look after them as they are a great asset to the company!!).

    They took us to some great restaurants, arranged all the transport and ensured everyone was safe during the activities.

    5 out of 5 to you guys, we hope to be back!!

    MissingRichard Jones reviewing Family Sea Kayaking Holiday in Dubrovnik on 22 August 2014

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