Jeremy Seal’s Cultural Tours to Turkey

Jeremy Seal’s Cultural Tours to Turkey for 2024 and 2025

We are: Jeremy Seal, writer on Turkey (A Fez of the Heart, Meander, A Coup in Turkey); and Yunus Özdemir, expert archaeologist, lecturer and guide.  Together we have been creating and leading small-group cultural tours to Turkey for the last decade.


‘What made the trip so special was your attention to detail.  Every anchorage a joy to wake up to, every day full of new surprises, marvellous food and the camaraderie with like-minded fellow travellers.   The knowledge and history of the area that you and Yunus bring to bear is impressive and did so much to bring a marvellous past to life.’  – Karina Bateman

‘No exaggeration here – our best gulet trip ever.  The food was remarkably good  (fresh cakes at tea time were scrumptious),  The brief wide-ranging talks from you and Yunus over a drink before dinner were fascinating.’ – John Birkhead

That was one wonderful, wonderful week which seemed to last for at least two – in a very good way – time certainly expanded to fit in so much.  The mix of famous sights and those that seemed like hidden secrets was perfect – and similarly for the mix of eating places.  Your leadership was brilliant – lots of knowledge passed on to us along with a lot of fun.  We felt cosseted throughout the week rather than herded through hordes of other visitors.  And then snow in Cappadocia!   Just perfect.’ – Cecily Grant



All these tours are fully bonded by Heritage Travel, Bath, UK.  Click through for the full itineraries and prices.


4th-11th February 2024:  Winter Istanbul and Cappadocia In 2023 we ran this tour shortly after the devastating earthquake hit the south of the country (here’s a link to a piece I wrote for the Guardian on visiting at such a difficult time).  Having run the tour on several occasions, always with great success, we’re offering it again without the least hesitation.  Istanbul and Cappadocia are among the most popular destinations in all Turkey so it makes excellent season to explore them in the off-season, when it happens they are at their most alluring, not only because of the absent crowds but because in their distinctive ways Istanbul and Cappadocia have a winter atmosphere all their own.  We stay four nights in Istanbul, then three in Cappadocia, in cosy and comfortable hotels, with a flight of roughly an hour connecting the two.  Istanbul highlights include the brilliantly renovated archaeology museum and Haghia Sophia, a transformed experience now that it serves as a mosque, whatever the political implications of the re-designation.  In Cappadocia we’ll aim, weather allowing – as it has done on previous visits – to walk the best of the valleys while having plenty more elbow room than is typical at the region’s wonderful rock churches and other sites.  We’ll be sure to take opportunities for warming bowls of lentil soup and hamams (Turkish baths).


10th-18th May 2024:  Göbekli Tepe and Southeast Turkey.   We first ran a tour to this remarkable region in 2022 – and would have repeated it last year had it not been for February’s devastating earthquake.  It turns out, however, that the damage along our itinerary was marginal.  We are happy to be returning to a region we have been almost improperly excited about for some time now, not least for the amazing diversity of ancient sites in the Upper Euphrates Valley, in some cases of dizzying degrees of ancientness, specifically around the cities of Urfa and Gaziantep.

Sites include Neolithic Göbekli Tepe, perhaps the most arresting archaeological site anywhere in the world; the astonishing mountain-top tomb at Nemrut Dağı; and Harran, noted not only for its Old Testament associations but as the one-time capital of the Ummayad Empire, earliest of the Islamic dynasties.  Then there are our main bases, the small cities of Urfa and Gaziantep, which offer fascinating sites of their own as well as magnificent new archaeological museums, fabulous market areas, tremendous food traditions and an exotic character at once Kurdish, Arabic and Turkish.

4th-7th June 2024: Sagalassos, Kibyra and Perge.  A short land tour exploring the great inland sites around Antalya, dove-tailing with:

7th-21st June 2024:  The Shores of Lycia A gulet fortnight beginning in Antalya and ending in Fethiye.

2nd-5th October: A Few Days in Rhodes.  A short hotel-based land tour, designed to dovetail with:

5th-19th October:  A Gulet Fortnight from Fethiye to Bodrum.  As the season seems to get later every year, with October looking to replace May as the season, we are running this fortnight accordingly.

24th-31st October:  Istanbul Revealed, a tour of the city for Martin Randall Travel.  This is fully booked, but we plan to run it twice in 2025.

8th-15th November:  I am leading a Guided Writing Week in Dorset with fellow writer and Turkophile Jason Goodwin.

Initial provisional Dates for 2025 (with links and itineraries to follow): 

February 2025:  We plan to run our winter tour to Istanbul and Cappadocia.

4-11 May 2025: Istanbul Revealed for Martin Randall Travel

13-25 May 2025:  I will be leading a combined land and gulet tour for Steppes Travel.

23-30 October 2025:  Istanbul Revealed for Martin Randall Travel.


Our tours are designed and run by us.  We make it our business to be there every time you descend a ladder into a dinghy, clamber onto a jetty, wander through an ancient site or along a footpath.  But we cannot always be your eyes; it pays to be aware that the ground is often uneven, not to say steep, with no shortage of rocky protuberances, in Turkey.  You will need a reasonable level of mobility, balance and fitness.  We grade the sites we visit to the best of our ability, but cannot be absolutely sure that all outings and activities will be within the capabilities of all guests.  We expect you to follow our advice if we feel that an outing, or an element of an outing, is beyond you.  If you are the least uncertain as to your suitability to join a tour, I’d urge you to consult me.

Please feel free to express any interest whatsoever, however conditional, by emailing me or calling me on 07757 703604.

Favourıte Gulet
At Pınara
Village Lunch
Dig Team, Tlos
Jeremy and Yunus
Winter landscape, Cappadocia
Bread Delivery
Winter lunch, Cappadocia
Gulet Lazing
At Cedreae
Spring Flowers
At Nemrut Dağı
Medrese students, Urfa

Call Jeremy on 07757 703604


Our Tours: Some Background


From 2013, as the internet reduced many travel journalists to penury, I wondered how I might otherwise turn my undimmed enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, Turkey to account.  I began guiding for companies like Westminster Classic Tours (now no more), and soon discovered how much this rather more hands-on and sociable relationship with an audience appealed.  Unlike travel journalism, with its insistence on the new and the newsy over the tried and the tested, guiding allowed me to take guests to places, people, restaurants, swimming spots and much else besides that I, and often they, had encountered before – secure in the knowledge that we would enjoy ourselves.  Guiding has given me a platform to develop my relationship with a country which means a great deal to me, while sharing its joys and delights with like-minded types whom I have come to think of as friends.

What with coups, crises and the subsequent collapse in tourist numbers to Turkey, however, Westminster Classic Tours and my other employees were all but gone by 2016.  I might have given up too but for a hard core of splendid Turkophiles who soon made it clear that they would not be put off, whatever the papers and neighbours might be saying.  So I teamed up with my Turkish friend and guide Yunus Özdemir and launched a tour programme; in 2017, the nadir for Turkish tourism, we managed to run two tours, both on gulet schooners, which proved a great success.  Since then we have been developing and extending a programme which now sees us offer not only gulet tours and land tours, both in spring and autumn, but also a midwinter tour to Istanbul and Cappadocia.

Our classic gulet tours are often described as archaeology holidays, though that po-faced description fails to evoke the diverse and joyous experiences on offer: visits to southwest Turkey’s superb and picturesque classical sites, certainly, but also pristine swimming spots and idyllic overnight anchorages, wonderful food and drink and exceptional service, informed talks on the region’s culture, history and politics, and like-minded company.

As we run such a limited schedule of tours, we are always interested in making itineraries to order, not least for groups of walkers as we think gulets make a perfect base for walking holidays: daily walks, of negotiable length, to remote and lovely ruin sites, before returning to the gulet for the usual round of swimming, sunning and relaxation.  Click here for a typical itinerary

Our holidays are led by ourselves – two guides who have been exploring Turkey for decades: myself, originally a teacher in Turkey in the 1980s and latterly a travel writer specialising in Turkey whose books include A Fez of the Heart (1995), Meander (2012) and A Coup in Turkey (2021), as well as Santa: A Life (on local boy St Nicholas); and the delightful Yunus Özdemir, a qualified guide and archaeologist.  To ensure maximum comfort, there are never more than 12 guests on board the gulet, though the land tours may go slightly bigger. The cost of your holiday now includes all tips, including that for the gulet crew.  Rest assured that rather than leave you to fend for yourselves on the final day, as many gulet holidays do, our itineraries now extend to the moment we drop you at the airport for homeward flights, often in the evening.

These holidays are full-board; all meals and on board drinks, including alcohol, are included as are land visits, entry fees, crew tips and airport transfers.  Alcoholic drinks are not included on the land tours and where meals are taken on land during gulet tours. International flights and visas are not included.  These holidays are fully bonded by Heritage Group Travel, your contact point for the paperwork.

Call Jeremy on 07757 703604