turkey, azerbaijan, and georgia at a glance
Far off the beaten path and flying under the radar, experience the stunning sights and contrasting landscapes of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Georgia – where the walls speak of centuries of rich history and where ancient traditions intersect with a modern way of life.
Traverse through the verdant hillsides and majestic mountain peaks of Gudauri to the medieval mosques and villages of old Baku. Marvel at the ancient ruins of Ephesus, settle in for a spectacular soaking in Pamukkale’s thermal hot springs, and spend a night under the starts in a gullet boat. Brimming with history and bursting with flavor, Turkey and the Caucasus intrigue and delight at every corner.
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Your flight from Turkey to Azerbaijan is included in the cost of this Meetup Tour. Please ensure that your passport details are filled out in your Traveler Portal as soon as you book. We will send you your flight details no later than 90 days before your Meetup Tour.
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Enjoy our hand-picked, premium accommodation combining the best of design, location and comfort.
Welcome to istanbul!
Airport pickup & welcome dinner
Merhaba! Welcome to Turkey! This women’s only tour kicks off in Istanbul, the continent-straddling metropolis that the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans have previously all called home. We will pick you up at the airport and bring you to the hotel to meet the rest of the group. Your welcome meeting with the guide starts at 6pm at your hotel followed by your first taste of Turkish cuisine at a beautiful restaurant around the corner. Until then, you’re free to go out and explore! Meals: dinner
Hagia Sophia, Grand Bazaar & water marbling class
Today you’ll visit all of Istanbul’s most historic and iconic sites with a full day tour of the city. Wander across the plaza to the Hagia Sophia, a masterpiece of Byzantine architecture which holds more than 1,500 years of Turkish history. Then seek out treasures in the famed Grand Bazaar, which offers up 3,000 shops to explore! We’ll meet a few of the local characters, perfect your haggling skills, have a true Turkish coffee, and shop. We’ll cross the bridge to another popular part of the city, Galata Tower, where we’ll end the day with a water marbling art demonstration at a female artist’s workshop. The evening is yours to explore this area’s shops and restaurants before making your way back to out hotel. Meals: breakfast
Lunch at a female owned olive grove & swimming in Mediterranean Sea
After breakfast, we’ll hit the road to the quaint town, Ayvalık. We’ll be welcomed with a delicious traditional Turkish lunch at a woman-owned olive grove. Our hostess for the day started this journey in 2012 with 800 trees and now she is exporting olive oil all over the world. We’ll get to know her initiative for boutique olive oil production and enjoy a taste of the products produced in the region. Once we arrive in Ayvalık, enjoy a walk on the charming cobblestone and if time permits, visit çöp(m)adam. This experimental project in Ayvalık aims to address the issues of women’s employment in Turkey and the importance of recycling/re-using. Meals: breakfast and lunch. | Drive time: approx. 5 hours
EPHESUS + SIRINCE
We’ll leave Ayvalık in the morning and head to Ephesus. This ancient site is one of Turkey’s most important historic attractions and it is an absolute marvel. Explore this beautifully preserved classical city with your local guide who will bring its colorful 1,500 year history to life. Watch in awe as the sophistication of this former metropolis reveals itself: it had running water, public toilets, a renowned medical institute, a theatre and Roman baths. After Ephesus, continue on to the adorable little village of Sirince. The town’s name actually means “cute” in Turkish and it is perhaps the perfect synthesis of a traditional Turkish and Greek village. Join local women for a hands-on cooking class where you’ll learn a bit about the traditions of the Turkish kitchen. Tonight we will stay at a beautiful hillside property with cottages, incredible views, and the warmest hospitality. Meals: breakfast and dinner | Drive time: approx. 3 hours
After breakfast, a long travel day lies ahead of us today, but the journey is absolutely worth it. We’ll be stunned by the unreal landscape of Pamukkale. Plunging from a 700 foot high cliff, the calcite-laden waters have created an incredible scene of mineral forests, petrified waterfalls and a series of terraced basins. Take your time here and continue to our thermal spa hotel! Meals: breakfast | Drive time: approx. 3.5 hours
This morning, take some time to unwind and release the stress of the busy city with a yoga session with your group. Then, drive to Kas. Spend some time on the eerie streets, then continue to Kas (which means eyebrow in Turkish) and begin exploring on a walking tour. Now primarily a holiday town, Kas is strewn with the remains of Lycian tombs, iconic, white-washed walls covered with climbing bougainvillea and an ancient theatre where you can watch a spectacular sunset. The walk is sure to inspire your appetite and your leader will be on hand to show you where to grab a great gozleme (stuffed Turkish flatbread). The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy this easy-going town, perhaps sit back with a pomegranate cocktail or check out the local markets. Meals: breakfast | Drive time: approx. 3 hours
Drive to Ucagiz village. Declared off-limits to developers, Ucagiz is a quaint fishing and farming coastal village amid islands and peninsulas. Here you’ll meet a local fisherman’s wife, who is as comfortable steering a traditional gullet (boat) as she is cooking a Turkish feast or embroidering one of her famous village scarves – which you will learn how to make. After a homemade lunch, she will take you by boat to visit the ruins of an ancient sunken Lycian city on the northern side of the island. There’s also plenty of opportunities to swim in the crystal turquoise waters. Tonight, you will sleep on deck, under the stars. Meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner
After waking up on the water, we say goodbye to our floating home as we continue on to Antalya. Antalya has been the crossroads of humanity for thousands of years, hosting the magnificent cities of Lycia, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. Our guide will give us a brief walking tour of the old city before checking into the hotel. The afternoon is free to explore on your own. If you like, you can sign up for an optional treatment at a hammam, a traditional Turkish spa. Meals: breakfast | Drive time: approx. 3 hours
Flight to Cappadocia & Goreme Open Air Museum
Make sure your cameras are charged, because we are headed to Cappadocia! Over millions of years, rain and wind have shaped the soft white volcanic rock of the plain into an otherworldly landscape of dripping cones, pillars, pinnacles, and fairy chimneys soaring more than a hundred feet into the sky. We’ll visit the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Later in the day, we will learn the tradition of carpet and rug making in Turkey. The afternoon and evening are free with a few optional activities to choose form. You can enjoy a meal at Kadıneli Restaurant, an NGO project focused on giving the women of Uchisar a place to work and make an honest wage. You can also choose to discover the unique traditions and mysticism of Rumi’s Mevlevi Order and watch the devout whirling dervishes act out a hypnotic sema performance. Meals: breakfast
Hot air balloon ride & dinner at a local's cave home
Early birds have the option to take a hot air balloon over the ethereal Cappadocian landscape. The scene at sunrise is sure to take your breath away! The group will reconvene after breakfast for a walk of the surrounding valley to witness the fascinating rock formations and fairytale chimneys. Then visit Soganlı, a 4th century AD centers of Christianity in Cappadocia. There are thousands of pigeon houses, caves and shelters besides the frescoed churches and monasteries carved into the rock. Later, we will learn about the tradition of pottery making in this region. Tonight we will have a group dinner with a well-known local woman who homecooks delicious Turkish cuisine in her cave home. Meals: breakfast and dinner
Flight to Istanbnul
This morning, we catch a flight back to Istanbul. You will have most of the day to do any last minute shopping or sight seeing with your guide there to give recommendations. In the evening, we celebrate all of our wonderful memories with a group farewell dinner. Meals: breakfast and dinner
goodbye turkey, hello azerbaijan
Flight to Azerbaijan
After breakfast, hop on a flight to Baku! We have arranged a private arrival transfer from the Baku airport to our group hotel. Travelers arriving on flights landing at similar times will be grouped on the same transfer. This evening, your welcome meeting will be in the lobby of the hotel at 6pm, where you will meet your guide! Join your local leader for traditional Azerbaijan dinner in a caravanserai tonight. Meals included: breakfast, dinner
Old City walking tour
This morning, embark on a tour of the city with your local guide. Stroll down the curved roads of the fortified Old City, once the Medieval capital, where your guide will weave together the history of Baku from the rule of the Shirvanshahs to the cosmopolitan city you see today. Visit the Shemakha Gate, Maiden Tower, and Old Market Square while passing by deliciously smelling bakeries and carpet vendors. End with a guided tour of the Grand Palace of the Shirvanshahs. Later today, stop by your guide’s favorite local tea shop to relax. Afternoon is free at your leisure. Meals included: breakfast
Yogurt-making lesson in a local woman's home & stained glass workshop
Leave Baku and head for the Caucasus Mountains in the northwest of Azerbaijan. Drive through a dry landscape that gives way to a densely forested mountain area, stopping en route in Shamakhi for a yogurt-making lesson in a local’s home. On arrival in Sheki, have lunch at the local cafe and try famous local dish – piti (stew). Afterwards visit a craft workshop where the famous shebeke – stained-glass windows with intricately carved frames – are made by hand. Make your final Azerbaijan purchases and visit local silk scarf shop owned by a local family before leaving for another country tomorrow! Meals included: breakfast and lunch. Drive time: approx. 4. 5 hours.
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before driving to Lagodekhi – a town at the Azerbaijan–Georgia border where you will change transportation and prepare to cross into Georgia! From here, travel to Georgia’s Kakheti region, known for its winemaking. Enjoy a wonderful lunch with a female wine maker and listen to her stories. Lunch includes delicious homemade cuisine, wine, and chacha – a local brandy. There will also be time to listen to unique Georgian polyphonic songs – a traditional style of music prevalent in the Kakheti region. Afterwards visit Gremi, a complex that includes a castle and church from the 16th century before travelling to your beautiful accomodation for the next 2 nights. Meals included: breakfast and lunch. Drive time: approx. 3 hours.
Explore Kakhetia wine region & visit historic wine estate
Spend your half day exploring beautiful wine region of Kakhetia with a local guide. Wander through the raucous local farmers market in Telavi, where butchers carve up fresh meat and vendors offload piles of spices. Continue to Tsinandali, a historic estate and winery once owned by noted Georgian poet Alexander Chavchavadze. In 1814, aristocrat Chavchavadze was the first to bottle wine produced using the qvevri method. Tour the complex, which consists of a memorial house, European-style landscaped garden, a traditional winery, wine cellar, hotel and cafe. Drive to the hilltop fortified town of Sighnaghi, which has been preserved to its original image and now offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding Caucasus Mountains. Spend the rest of your day at your leisure. Meals included: breakfast, lunch | Drive time: approx. 3 hours.
Explore Kakhetia wine region & visit historic wine estate
Drive up the famous Georgian Military Highway, which leads to the Georgian-Russian border. On the way there, visit the 17th-century Ananuri architectural complex, a fortress that overlooks the Zhinvali water reservoir. The views here are spectacular, so make sure those camera batteries are charged. The carvings on one of the churches are some of the best samples of Georgian art out there. Today’s drive through the Caucasus Mountains is a memorable one (it can get slow, steep and windy up here). In the afternoon, visit a local family where the host will take a masterclass on how to make khinkali (Georgian dumplings which originated in mountainous regions of Mtiuleti, Pshavi and Khevsureti). Meals included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Drive time: approx. 4 hours.
Hike in the mountains to Gergeti Trinity Church
Follow the Tergi River on a drive to Stepansminda (formerly known as Kazbegi). Explore this mountain village before taking a 2.5-hour walk through beautiful valleys and woodlands to Gergeti Trinity Church (2170 m). Those who don’t wish to hike have the option of driving up by 4WD minivans. This 14th-century church sits at the base of the second-highest volcanic summit in the Caucasus – Mt Kazgbegi (5047 m) – and, weather permitting, you may catch a glimpse of this frosty behemoth. The image of the pointed spires of the isolated church against the mountains is truly breathtaking, and a great place to practice your photography skills. Drive back to Gudauri for a relaxing afternoon. Meals included: breakfast, dinner. Drive time: approx. 2 hours.
Jewelry workshop with women empowered NGO & UNESCO sites
Make the drive to the capital of Tbilisi. On your way here pay a visit to the Tserovani Refugee Settlement, home to 8000 people displaced by the 2008 conflict between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Georgia over South Ossetia. While here you will visit an enamel jewelry workshop – a social enterprise offering training and employment to displaced youth and women within the camp. You will have the chance to meet the jewelry artists whose pieces tell the story of Georgia, and with their guidance, you will design a piece yourself. Stop for a light lunch of Georgian specialties then tour the settlement to learn about the issues surrounding long-term displacement faced by thousands of Georgia’s citizens to this day. Continue to Mtskheta, the ancient capital and religious center of Georgia. Visit World Heritage-listed sites with your local guide on hand to share their fascinating histories, such as the 6th-century Jvari Monastery and Svetiskoveli cathedral. Once in Tbilisi you will have an orientation walk with your leader in the late afternoon. Meals included: breakfast and lunch. Drive time: approx. 3 hours.
Walking tour of Tiblisi, sulphur baths & solo time
After breakfast take part in a sightseeing tour of Tbilisi. The locals like to call their capital the “Balcony of Europe”, placing it on par with many of Europe’s graceful old cities. All the sights in the Old Town are very close to each other and within a few minutes’ walk. We start our visit to Old Tbilisi from Metekhi Church, and then walk to the Synagogue, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Basilica. In the afternoon, join your leader for a truly local experience – sulphur bath. Soak, scrub, drink tea and enjoy your time. You’ll have a bit a free time in the afternoon before we’ll gather for a farewell dinner to celebrate the end of your journey. Meals included: breakfast and dinner.
farewell for now!
Today your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. There are no activities included on this day and you are free to leave at any time. If you would like to spend some more time in Tbilisi, we are happy to help you arrange extra accommodation. Otherwise, share a ride to the airport and start planning your next trip! Meals included: breakfast. Drive time: approx. 40 mins.
Our accommodation is carefully chosen to give you the best combination of comfort, location, and style. These are photos from our collection of favorite hotels to give you a sense of the accommodation you can expect with us. All of our accommodation is 4 and 5 star with many beautiful views in prime locations.
Nisanyan Houses Boutique Hotel
With a rooftop terrace offering lovely views over the charming town of Sirince, the Nisanyan Houses Hotel has renovated a number of bungalows and village homes to create a boutique hotel experience. This is warm family-run operation that you will fall in love with!
Lopota Lake Resort & Spa
Located in the heart of Kakheti region, this resort spreads around the lake and is surrounded by picturesque Caucasus Mountains. In Lopota, guests stay in high-class hotel cottages where you can relax at the forest spa, take part in sports or adventure activities, and discover the rare local flora and fauna.
Marco Polo Spa Hotel
Surrounded by mountain views, this spa hotel is the best combo of elegance, natural beauty, and relaxation. Opt in or a spa treatment or swim in the pool before a grand buffet served in the dining room.
Arrival: Fly into Istanbul International Airport (IST).
We strongly recommend that you arrive by 3pm to make it in time for the welcome meeting and dinner, but we will pick you top any time today. Your airport transfer will meet you with a sign with the SoFe Travel logo and take you from the airport to our group hotel in Istanbul. If fellow travelers arrive around the same time, we’ll bring you to the hotel together.
An airport pickup is not included if you arrive a day or two before the tour begins, but we can arrange one for you at an extra cost.
Departure: Depart from Tbilisi International Airport (TBS).
Hotel check out is around 10am. You are welcome to leave any time today. Ask your guide to help you arrange a ride to the airport or share a transfer with fellow travelers.
*Please note that your arrival and departure airports are not the same
On rare occasions, any domestic flight that we include in this trip may be changed or canceled with little notice. Remember, we cannot control the decisions that airlines make, so sometimes amendments will need to be made to our mode of transportation. Rest assured that if this happens, we will still get you to your destination. Part of the unique experience of traveling in any form is having the flexibility and grace to embrace detours.
All travelers must apply for a Single Entry Tourist E-Visa to Azerbaijan in advance. As of 10th January 2017, nationals of 81 countries can apply for an Azerbaijan e-visa without the previously required visa support. Applications can be made directly though the electronic vias portal here.
Most nationalities do not currently require a visa for Georgia, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, USA & all EU member states for stays of up to 30 days. The full list of countries and terms can be found on the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs website here.
The itinerary is subject to change due for any reason – weather, unexpected cancellations, impromptu local opportunities, or surprise additions.
All bookings are subject to our terms and conditions.
Comprehensive travel insurance is mandatory or you may be refused to join the tour. See our guide for help choosing a plan.
The baggage allowance for our internal and international flights is 1 check in suitcase that is a maximum of 30lbs/15kg and 1 carryon. An additional fee applies to bags that exceeds this and is payable at the airport.
What our travelers say
the whole trip was amazing
“The whole trip was amazing and it’s hard to pick just a few favorites bc I loved the whole itinerary. Sleeping on the Gulet boat, hot air ballooning, Pamukkale…Sleeping on the Gulet was a beautiful experience bc I love being on boats and it was so much fun and peaceful. Our group of women were amazing and so much fun!” Faye H. | Turkey & Egypt
inspired me to continue exploring
“Having the opportunity to learn from like-minded people and share experiences was incredible, whether this was their first solo trip or had been travelling solo for years. It both validated the complex feelings that can occur while travelling alone and inspired me to continue exploring.” Emily L. | Turkey
sofe is my favorite way to travel!
“SoFe Travel brings so much to your trip to Turkey. We go into people’s homes to appreciate and understand their culture and traditions. I have been on 4 SoFe Travel tours, and I’m signing up for more! You really get to experience the countries in a way you couldn’t on your own and the community of women is so empowering and fun, SoFe is my favorite way to travel.” Aiheeya R. | Egypt (twice), Bali, & Turkey
Photos from the road
We love to collect photos from as many of our Meetup Tours as possible. If you want to see more, check out the stories on our Instagram! @solofemaletravel. When you travel with us, tag @sofetravel and you may even get featured!