Why Take a Tour?
Having authored travel guidebooks to Turkey for decades, I believe many travelers can tour the country on their own, but many visitors may find Turkey different enough that they want some help with their touring.
Help can range from a half-day walking tour to get a feel for Istanbul, all the way to a 22-day all-inclusive luxury tour of the entire country.
It's important to realize that tour doesn't necessarily mean 45 people jammed into a bus zooming by old buildings.
What a Tour Offers:
—Walking to and through Istanbul's most interesting sights with a small and congenial group of fellow explorers led by a friendly, knowledgeable guide.
—Strolling through a city's vibrant markets and haggling for the ingredients of a delicious Turkish meal that you will help—and learn—to prepare.
—Soaring over the moonscape of Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon.
—Jolly walks and meals with new friends, and a guide who can answer questions and tell stories that aren't in the guidebooks.
Joining a small band of other travelers on a common adventure means you don't have to make all those travel arrangements yourself; that if something goes wrong, others will fix it at no additional cost; that you have an advocate for special needs and situations; and that local experts will arrange experiences that you couldn't.
As for cost, a high-quality tour may be comparable in cost to the same arrangements made by you, because travel agencies and tour companies often negotiate discounted pricing on travel services.
So even if you're "the sort of traveler who doesn't go on tours," you should browse the tour offerings below. I think you'll be surprised at what you find.
Choose a Good Tour Company
Turkey has hundreds of tour companies and thousands of guided tours, from half-day tours of Istanbul to 21-day grand tours of the entire country. Here are some tips for your first trip to Turkey.
It's important for you to realize that all tours are not equal. A tour from a good company will give you far more value than a tour from a mediocre company, even if their tour itineraries and prices are similar. Low price does not always indicate good value-for-money. Before you sign up for any tour, read Good & Bad Tours in Turkey.
Turkey's top destinations for first-time visitors are Istanbul, Cappadocia, the Ephesus area south of İzmir on the Aegean coast including Pamukkale, and the western Mediterranean coast, including Antalya).
Tours by Specialty
You have a special interest in a certain activity or area, and you want to concentrate on it. Turkey has a tour to fit your interest!
—by Tom Brosnahan