Istanbul and Cappadocia 2023

I am just now back from our winter tour of Istanbul and Cappadocia, the third time we have run this distinctive and, as far as I know, unique itinerary.  It will not be the last.

I’ve long been convinced that this is the time to visit Istanbul and Cappadocia, in part because these are among Turkey’s busiest places in the season (which these days may be said to run from March to November).   In those months it can be a proper trial getting into Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace, Grand Bazaar and Yerebatan Cistern, or Cappadocia’s Open Air Museum.   In February there was neither queue nor crowd at any of them.

Then there was the weather, with mainly clear skies in Istanbul and cloudless ones in snow-covered Cappadocia.  It was perfect for exploring Istanbul on foot (which anybody who knows of the city’s traffic problems will especially appreciate).  And the thin covering of snow in Cappadocia even made it possible to walk the region’s wonderful valleys.  Our hike along the Rose Valley was one of the week’s many highlights.  So too, according to our guests, were our visits to the restored Yerebatan Cistern; to the wonderful Sokollu Mehmet Paşa Mosque (which we somehow had to ourselves); our boat journey up the Bosphorus almost unto the Black Sea, coupled with the brilliant Sadberk Hanım Museum; lunch at the wonderful Çıya Sofrası in Kadıköy; Cappadocia’s Keşlik Monastery

One of these days the weather gods will no doubt turn and subject us to a proper week of the rawest winter weather.  Which, while hardly ideal, would only mean spending rather more time under cover.  In Istanbul this would necessarily entail a longer visit to the magnificent archaeological museum, now impressively restored; visits to some of the other museums and the many mosques, churches and palaces in which the city abounds and which we as serial visitors know well; and longer sojourns over tea and hookah pipes.  In Cappadocia, at about 1300 metres, it might mean more time keeping warm in Turkish baths or over bowls of lentil soup.  It might even mean a day holed up at Kale Konak which, as about my favourite hotel in all the world, would be no great hardship.  Not with blazing fires, Cappadocian wine and warming dinners to enjoy.

We will be publishing next year’s dates for this superb tour in due course.