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Istanbul to Tehran by Rail
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You may have made your way into Turkey before, but now it's time to take it a little farther east and discover some of the greatest underexplored territory in the world. This 17-day rail tour will bring you through the Turkish countryside to see the highlights of the Cappadocia region and the elegant, lakeside city of Van. You'll cross into Iran to find yourself in bustling Tehran, roam ancient Persepolis, and sample Shiraz grapes in the city that gave them their name. Take a true adventure and experience a part of the globe that's made for small-group travel.

Middle East
  • Duration: 17 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Walking Tour
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Tour code: 153338
  • Starts: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Finishes: Tehran, Iran
You will Visit
  • Istanbul
  • Ankara
  • Göreme
  • Tatvan
  • Van
  • Tehrān
  • Shiraz
  • Isfahan

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Istanbul

There are no planned activities before an evening welcome meeting.

02

Day 2: Istanbul/Ankara (1B)

Enjoy an orientation walk around Istanbul before moving on to the capital city of Ankara.

Included Activities:
Istanbul Orientation Walk

03

Day 3: Ankara/Göreme (1B, 1D)

Visit Anitkabir before transferring to the town of Göreme, the base for exploring Cappadocia. With 2.5 days free to explore, there will be plenty of time to tour the area by bike, visit neighbouring villages, trek regional valleys or try a hot air balloon ride.

During one of the evenings, travel to a nearby village and enjoy dinner with a local family.

Included Activities:
Dinner with Local Family
Anitkabir Visit

04

Day 4: Göreme (1B)

Outdoor enthusiast? Hire a bike to get around on two wheels or join your CEO on an optional trekking tour through one of the beautiful valleys of the region.

If you want to go further afield, take a local bus to explore nearby villages.

Additional Notes:
If you pre-booked the Cappadocia hot air balloon ride, you will be flying today (weather permitting).

Included Activities:
Göreme Open Air Museum Guided Tour

05

Day 5: Göreme/Tatvan (1B)

Enjoy one more morning in Cappadocia before driving to nearby Kayseri. Board an overnight train for Eastern Turkey.

Transport:
Private Vehicle
Overnight train (beds)

06

Day 6: Tatvan/Van

Arrive to Tatvan and board a ferry for the scenic ride across Lake Van. Arrive to the other side and the town of Van in the afternoon.

Transport:
Ferry

07

Day 7: Van

Enjoy a day trip to Mt Ararat with a visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace.

08

Day 8: Van

Use a full day here to enjoy Lake Van. Drive to Gevas for a short cruise to Ahtamara Island to visit a beautiful Armenian Church. Opt to swim at the local beach.

09

Day 9: Van/Tehrān

Enjoy another day in the Van area with a visit to the Van Castle. Board the Trans-Asia train in the evening for the journey to Tehran.

Transport:
Overnight train (beds)

10

Day 10: Tehrān

Spend the day absorbing the scenery from the train, arriving into Tehran in the evening.

11

Day 11: Tehrān/Shiraz (1B)

Explore Tehran with a local guide, visiting the Sa'd Abad Palace and National Jewel Museum before boarding an evening train to Shiraz.

Transport:
Overnight train (beds)

12

Day 12: Shiraz (1L, 1D)

There is free time to explore the city's beautiful Regents mosque, Nasiralmolk mosque, Khan madrasa, Bagh-e Eram gardens, and perhaps even listen to some poetry being recited at the Hafez tomb.

This vibrant student city is buzzing with life and is a great place to interact with some Iran's youth.

13

Day 13: Shiraz (1B)

Travel to Persepolis to explore this fascinating sight. On the way back to Shiraz, visit the rock cut tombs at Naqsh-e-Rostam, the burial place of Darius the Great and his successors.

With free time, enjoy the vibe of Shiraz.

Included Activities:
Persepolis Tour
Naqsh-e-Rostam Visit

14

Day 14: Shiraz/Isfahan (1B)

Embark on an included visit to Pasargadae and explore the capital and burial site of Cyrus the Great.

Included Activities:
Pasargadae Visit

15

Day 15: Isfahan/Tehrān (1B)

Wander the tree-lined boulevards of Isfahan, the jewel of ancient Persia. On a city tour, visit Imam Square and mosque, Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, and the Ali Qapu Palace. Wander the bazaar and learn the history of Isfahan's bridges.

Stop in a miniatures shop and learn about this intricate art form before sampling some delicious gaz, a candy famous in Isfahan.

Included Activities:
Isfahan City Tour

Transport:
Overnight train (beds)

16

Day 16: Tehrān

Ramble through the enormous bazaar and visit the Imam Khomeini Mosque. View the many political murals that surround the former US Embassy then relax like the locals do by drinking chai and chewing on dates in a traditional chaikhuneh (teahouse).

Try some more of the fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (stew you crumble bits of bread into and mash up with a mortar and pestle right at the table!) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant.

17

Day 17: Tehrān (1B)

Depart at any time.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Istanbul orientation walk
    • Anitkabir visit
    • Traditional dinner with local family (Göreme)
    • Open Air Museum visit
    • Trans-Asia train
    • Mt Ararat day trip (Van)
    • Ishak Pasha Palace visit
    • Ahtamara Island visit
    • Van Castle visit
    • Tehran city tour, including Sa'd Abad Palace and the National Jewelry Museum
    • Karim Khan Citadel visit (Shiraz)
    • Vakil Mosque visit
    • Hafez and Sa'adi tombs visit
    • Persepolis guided tour
    • Naqsh-e-Rostam visit
    • Koran Gate visit
    • Pasargadae visit
    • Isfahan city tour
    • Golestan Palace visit (Tehran)
    • National Museum visit
    • Carpet Museum visit
    • Transport between destinations and to/from included activities
    Accommodation
    • Hotels/guesthouses (12 nts), sleeper trains (4 nts)
    • 9 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
    Transport
    • Trains, private vehicles, ferry, walking
    Group Leader
    • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides
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Tour Highlights:
  • Cover part of the Silk Road by rail
  • Soak in the dramatic scenery of Cappadocia
  • Savour the diverse flavours of Turkey and Iran
  • Absorb the ancient history of the region
  • Marvel at the dazzling bazaars and colourful mosques.