Wanderlust

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Can Americans Travel to Turkey? An Update with Specialist Starla Estrada

By GeoEx Staff | 1/3/18

The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia on Istanbul's Golden Horn. Turkey with GeoEx

As an adventure travel company orchestrating trips in places like Cuba, Tibet, and Iran, GeoEx must stay on top of not only hotel openings, museum closures, and up-and-coming guide talent, but also country-level policy changes, visa regulations, and diplomatic tensions. In recent years, we’ve navigated Cuba’s “opening” to Americans, South Africa’s strict rules for visiting children, and most recently, US passport holders not being able to obtain Turkey visas. We sat down with Starla Estrada, one of our Turkey experts, to get the latest on the current situation for US travelers wishing to go to Turkey.

What’s going on with Turkey visas for Americans?

For the past few months, Turkey stopped issuing visas to US passport holders. We're happy to report that US passport holders can once again obtain a visa (an electronic visa, in fact) and explore this enigmatic and enchanting country.

Ruins of the Library of Celsus in ancient city of Ephesus, Turkey with GeoEx

What makes Turkey such a special place to visit?

Turkey sits at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, bridging continents and holding tremendous ancient history. It is a fascinating cultural mosaic, rich in treasures from famed empires spanning 5,000 years. It’s also a paradise for relaxation amid breathtaking settings.

Istanbul, the country's most important and spellbinding city, is home to the architecturally astonishing Aya Sofya, the fabulous Topkapi Palace (center of the Ottoman government and the court from which Sultans ruled much of Europe and most of the Middle East), bustling bazaars (a delight for shoppers), and the storied Bosphorus River. Magnificent ruins pop up in such places as Ephesus (pictured above), once the second-largest city in the Roman Empire, while Cappadocia astounds visitors with its Byzantine fresco-filled caves and needle-like towers, formed by solidified, eroded volcanic ash. And the sublimely blue waves of the Aegean Sea beckon for relaxing sailing cruises by traditional gulet (pictured below), complete with stops for snorkeling, hiking rocky shorelines, wandering vivacious small-town markets, and meeting local chefs.

In addition to all there is to see, the Turkish people are incredibly welcoming ("To call a Turk gracious is needlessly repetitive") and the food is fabulous, infused with the flavors of the many cultures that have influenced the region.

Aerial view of a Turkish gulet on the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey with GeoEx

What advice do you have for US travelers in Turkey?

In addition to stressing the importance of working with a trusted travel partner, I recommend spending part of your trip learning about Turkey’s layered history and the other part sailing the Aegean aboard a lovely small yacht. We use only the finest gulets in the area, roaming Greek ruins by day and anchoring in peaceful inlets at night. After more than 30 years of taking travelers to Turkey, our deep in-country connections mean we can arrange guided tours at off-the-beaten-path spots and exclusive events like an after-hours dinner—complete with chamber music—among the vestiges of Ephesus. We have plenty of other ideas—like hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia's fairy landscapes at dawn, dining with a local family in the hilltop town of Sirince, enjoying private lectures by archaeologists at Aphrodisias and Troy, seeing Ankara like a local—that we love to share with our guests.

To really bring the country and experiences to life for our travelers, we pair them with tried-and-true, phenomenal national guides. GeoEx traveler Justine M. commented: "[Our guide] went beyond all expectations. He opened doors that were closed to the public, shared a love for the country that enriched our experience, and paid absolute attention to everyone's wants and needs. Exceptional."

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To find out more about options for private travel in Turkey, call Starla or any of GeoEx's destination specialists at 888-570-7108.

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