Turkey's Jewish Heritage

(9 days / 8 nights)


2 Travelers
4 Travelers
6 Travelers
10 Travelers

Rates above are per person, double occupancy, in US dollars, and in your own private group
Subject to availability on dates selected 
A 10% discount applies to the following period: November 15 - March 15
Single room supplement: +$690

Istanbul Gallipoli Troy Assos Pergamum Izmir Ephesus

The history of the Jewish people in Anatolia dates back over 2,400 years, with Jewish communities in Asia Minor dating back to the 5th century BC. In addition, many Sephardic Jews expelled from the Iberian peninsula in the late 15th century were welcomed by the Ottoman Empire, propelling considerable emigration during the early- to mid-20th century. Today, Turkey continues to be home to a small Jewish population.

We designed this tour to deliver as much as possible in a relatively short period of time. As a large number of these sites are clustered in Western Turkey, the tour thus concentrates in this region. 


Day 1: Arrival at Istanbul Ataturk Airport 
Meet your guide and enjoy a private transfer to your hotel, located in the charming Old City district of Sultanahmet. Traveling along the old city fortifcation walls, you’ll learn a bit about this exciting city along the way. The remainder of the day is at leisure; why notstretch your legs with a walk around the neighborhood, then with dinner on your own at a rooftop restaurant. We can suggest several with great views over the Sea of Marmara! 

Day 2: Istanbul 
Private sightseeing includes the historic Galata quarter, where large numbers of Sephardic Jews began to reside starting in the 1930s. In this area, we’ll enjoy a fascinating tour of the area’s highlights: the Galata Tower (built in 1348 by the Genoese), the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Karakoy, as well as Sultanahmet-district sites such as the outdoor Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, the incomparable Hagia Sophia Museum, the underground Basilica Cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. (B) 

Day 3: Istanbul 
Your private sightseeing tour today includes the sprawling Topkapi Palace and its Harem, the Ahrida and Yanbol Synagogues in Balat (a historically Jewish district on the Golden Horn), the Art Nouveau-style Kamondo Staircase, built at the end of the 19th century, the Zulfaris Synagogue & Museum in Karakoy, and the Etz Ahayim Synagogue in Ortakoy. We end our day with a leisurely hour-long ferry ride on the Bosphorus Strait, the waterway separating Europe and Asia. (B) 

Day 4: Istanbul – Princes’ Islands by boat 
This morning, we visit the Spice Market before enjoying a relaxing excursion by ferry to the Princes’ Islands (Adalar). On the way to this archipelago of nine islands in the Marmara Sea, we enjoy the magnificent views associated with the Istanbul skyline: the intercontinental Bosphorus Bridge, the Maiden's Tower (Kiz Kulesi), and the picturesque Sarayburnu peninsula crowned by the Hagia Sophia, the imperial Blue Mosque and its six minarets, and the breathtaking Topkapi Palace complex. Once we reach Buyukada, the largest of the islands, we’ll take a phaeton (horse-drawn carriage) tour to see the island's many charming and splendid villas and gardens before breaking for lunch at a watefront seafood restaurant. Also on Buyukada, is the Heshet Le Avram Synagogue (only open during the summer months). (B) 

Day 5: Istanbul / Gallipoli / Troy / Assos
We rise early this morning for a full day of road travel, heading to the northern Aegean Coast. We will visit Gallipoli and its multitude of battlesites and memorials, and the ANZAC Beach Cemetery. We then travel across the Dardanelle Strait  to the famed city of Troy, setting of the Trojan War. After an exploration of the ruins here, we continue on to Behramkale,and nearby ancient Assos, where Aristotle lived, studied, and opened an academy. We’ll spend the night in Behramkale. (B, L, D) 

Day 6: Assos / Pergamum / Izmir
This morning we depart for Pergamum, once one of the richest kingdoms of Asia Minor. Here, we will see the magnificent Acropolis, the library, the great theater (once seating 10,000 spectators!) and the marble-columned Temple of Trajan. In the shadow of the theater, lies the ruins of the Temple of Dionysus along with the Altar of Zeus. We continue on to the Asclepium, a sanctuary built in the 4th century BC, and named for Asclepius, the Greek god of healing. Later this afternoon we continue onto Izmir, where we will spend the night. (B, L) 

Day 7: Izmir / Sardis
In the morning, we tour Izmir's important Jewish heritage sites: Izmir's bazaar, concentrating on the Jewish-owned section, as well as the synagogue of La Judiera.   We’ll walk along Havra Sokak, known as the Street of Synagogues, where there are nine small, yet active synagogues, which primarily serve Jewish merchants and artisans working nearby. We continue our tour with a panoramic drive through the lovely Alsancak quarter, and later, the Karatas quarter, home of Beth Israel Synagogue, a handsome Ottoman and Victorian-style building dating from the turn of the century. Afterwards, we walk to the Asansor, a 19th century funicular which once took passengers from the shore road up the sheer cliffs to the affluent residential district above. Next, we take to the road again and drive to the ancient site of Sardis. During its heyday as a Roman city, Sardis had a very large and prosperous Jewish community.  Here, we visit the ruins of a beautiful and richly-appointed synagogue. We will then spend the night in Izmir. (B) 

Day 8: Izmir / Kusadasi / Ephesus
Today, we’ll visit the fascinating ruins of Ephesus, considered to be the most well-preserved classical city in the Eastern Mediterranean. Your tour will include the villas known as the Terrace Houses, home to the wealthiest Ephesians. Later on, we’ll reach Sultankoy, where we learn about local rug-making proceses which include silk extraction, dyeing and weaving. Then, it’s time for a break – a fresh and organic al fresco lunch using ingredients from Sultankoy’s farm and orchards. At the end of the day, a final stop is made in the town of Selcuk to visit the Museum of Archaeology, if you choose. We’ll then head back to Izmir for one more night. (B, L) 

Day 9: Izmir / Istanbul – homebound departure
Gule gule!  Farewell!  Transfer to Izmir’s Adnan Menderes Airport for a flight to Istanbul, connecting to your flight home. We look forward to welcoming you back to Turkey!  (B) 

Price of the trip package includes:

  • Accommodations: 
    4 nights in Istanbul: Hotel Ottoman Imperial – Premium Room
    1 night in Assos: Hotel Nazlihan – Standard Room
    3 nights in Izmir: Hotel Key – Standard Room
  • Domestic flights in coach class within the program (Izmir to Istanbul)
  • Meals as indicated by (B, L, D) - B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner 
    12 meals: 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 1 dinner (includes bottled water)
  • Private, licensed, professional English-speaking guide throughout trip
  • All transfers and travel in a non-smoking, modern, air-conditioned vehicle with a driver
  • All entrance fees to the sites and museums mentioned in the program
  • Parking, ferry, and toll road fees (not applicable if driving a rental car)
  • Gratuities at restaurants (where a meal is included in the program)
  • Porterage fees at airports (when our guide travels with you)

Price of the package excludes:

  • Airfare for international flights
  • Beverages other than water during included meals
  • Optional gratuities to the tour guide(s) and driver(s)
  • Tipping for porters at hotels
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas, laundry, and personal items