Quick Planning of Your Biblical Tour to Turkey: With Questions & Answers

Whether you prefer a suggested itinerary or want a customized journey, Tutku Tours can create the perfect travel plan tailored to your group's interests and desired trip length.

Question: Are all the Seven Churches of Revelation located in Turkey?
Answer: Yes, the Seven Churches mentioned by John in the Book of Revelation (1:11) are all found in western Turkey, and each had a Christian community in the first-century A.D.

Ephesus                 Revelation 2:1-7; Acts 18:19-21;
Smyrna                   Revelation 2:8-11
Pergamum            Revelation 2:12-17 
Thyatira                  Revelation 2:18-29; Acts 16:14
Sardis                     Revelation 3:1-6 
Philadelphia          Revelation 3:7-13 
Laodicea                Revelation 3:14-22

Question: Can I visit all the Seven Churches?
Answer: Yes, a complete tour of all Seven Churches typically takes four days.

Question: What is there to see today?
Answer: There are extensive archaeological remains at these sites today. The largest and best preserved is the ancient city of Ephesus. Other important archaeological sites include Pergamum, Laodicea, Sardis, and Smyrna.

Question: Is it worthwhile to visit Thyatira and Philadelphia?
Answer: Many groups skip Thyatira because it is an extra hour of driving from Pergamum, and there is little to see. If your tour is focused on the Seven Churches, you will probably want to include it. However, if your tour itinerary includes many more biblical archaeological sites and your time is limited, you may wish to skip Thyatira. The same comments are valid for Philadelphia, except it is along your route if you drive from Sardis to Laodicea (Pamukkale).

Question: Can we visit the island of Patmos?
Answer: The Greek Island of Patmos is located some 60 miles southwest of the Turkish port city of Ku$adasi (near Ephesus). There are no regularly scheduled ferries from Ku§adasi to Patmos, but groups may charter a private boat which takes four hours each way. Usually, we depart at 7:00 am, arrive in Patmos at 11:00 am, visit the Monastery of John, the Cave Church of the Apocalypse, eat lunch, and then depart from Patmos no later than 2-3 pm, arriving back in Ku$adasi around 7:00 pm. This is a premium private tour and requires extra fees for the boat and a private local bus and guide in Patmos.

Question: Can we overnight at the island of Patmos?
Answer: There are hotels on Patmos, but staying there will mean you will need to pay extra for the harbor tax for the boat to remain there overnight and then pay the boat rental again for the return journey the next day.

Question: How long is the classical “Missionary Journeys of Paul in Asia Minor, modern Turkey”?
Answer: 14 Nights/16 Days including traveling time from North America

Question: Can we start the tour in Antioch?
Answer: Antioch is the eastern-most classical Pauline site in Turkey. We suggest starting from Antioch driving westward one way and ending your tour in Istanbul. While most international flights arrive in Istanbul, we can easily book a domestic flight for you from Istanbul to Adana or Antakya (Hatay). Those who wish to have a Greek extension can cross to Greece at the end of the tour and visit the Pauline sites in Greece too.

Question: Can we visit the Cave Church of Paul and Thecla in Ephesus?
Answer: Archaeologists have discovered a hidden cave with frescoes of Paul and Thecla behind the Terrace Houses. The cave is normally closed to the public, but with prior notice Tutku Tours can arrange permission for your group to make a special visit escorted by a local archaeologist. You need to hike up about 10 minutes from the Terrace Houses in Ephesus. Group members must have good walking capabilities.

Question: Can we visit the Asia Minor Research Center in Antalya?
Answer: Yes, you can arrange to visit the AMRC while in Antalya.
If Mark Wilson is available, he can do a PowerPoint presentation for your group either at the AMRC (if the group is small) or in a meeting room at your hotel. To schedule a presentation, contact Mark at:

Question: What are the main sites visited by Paul in Turkey?
Answer: Tarsus, Antioch, Iconium, Perga, Attalia, Pisidian Antioch, Miletus, Ephesus, Myra, Patara, Assos, and Alexander Troas.

Question: Is it worthwhile to visit Colossae and Lystra?
Answer: There is only an empty mound (tell; hoy Ok) to see at both sites. If your time is limited, you may wish to skip Lystra, which is a bit out of the way. Since the books of Colossians and Philemon were addressed to the church in Colossae, many groups wish to visit it. Because Colossae is so close to Laodicea and Hierapolis, it takes only an extra hour to see the site’s location.

Question: Can we have a Worship Service in the mornings?
Answer: Groups can hold their own worship service in private hotel meeting rooms, on the bus, or at some ancient church sites. There are some local churches in Turkey, particularly in Istanbul and Izmir, but most others are not near your tour route.

Question: Can we visit the St. Paul Cultural Center/St. Paul Union Church in Antalya?
Answer: Yes, if your group visits Antalya, the St. Paul Cultural Center there is available to your group. However, to hold a service, prior arrangements must be made (http://stpaulcc-turkey.com/). Your group can also arrange for a special luncheon or presentation from the pastor as well as to see the church’s beautiful 7-paned stained glass interpretation of the Seven Churches of Revelation.

Question: Can we have extension trips to other countries?
Answer: Today, due to the expansion of low-cost international airlines, visiting more than one country is easier than in the past. We can offer you extension trips to Tunisia, Switzerland, Spain, Sicily, Scotland, Russia, Romania, Malta, Lebanon, Jordan, Italy, Israel, Ireland, Greece, Germany, Georgia, France, England, Egypt, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Armenia.

Question: What is the easiest way to cross from Turkey to Greece?
Answer: There are several Greek islands within an hour’s ferry ride of Turkey. The Turkish towns and Greek islands with good ferry connection are: Marmaris-Rhodes, Bodrum-Kos, Kuşadası-Samos, Çesme-Chios, Ayvalık-Lesbos. After getting to those islands, you may take a domestic flight or overnight ferry to Athens.

There are at least two direct flights a day from Istanbul to Athens. Also, there are now low-cost direct flights from Izmir to Athens 3 days a week. It is also possible to drive from Turkey to Northern Greece by bus.

Question: How do we prepare a tour itinerary?
Answer: Our website has several suggested itineraries. You can choose a prepared itinerary. Or you can tell us your priorities and desired trip length, and we will plan a customized itinerary for you.

Question: How many days do we need to see all the Seven Churches and the Pauline sites in Turkey?
Answer: You need about 16 Days.

Question: How many days do we need to see all the Pauline sites in Turkey?
Answer: You need about 12 Days.

Question: How many days do we need to see all the Seven Churches in Turkey?
Answer: You need at least 4 Days in the Izmir area.

Question: What are the flight options from North America?
Answer: Delta and Turkish Airlines have direct flights to Istanbul; Lufhansa and other European carriers fly first through their hub in Europe. Turkish Airlines has non-stop direct flights from five North American cities to Istanbul: Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Question: What is the size of our vehicle?
Answer: Tutku tours operates three types of vehicles: Van (6-14 seats), Minibus (23 seats) and Bus (42 seats). All vehicles have air- conditioning and a professional driver. Busses have a PA system.

Question: What is the suggested hotel category in Turkey?
Answer: We can book any hotel category for our groups. 5 star hotel rates are much higher than 4 star hotel rates. 3 star hotel rates are about the same or slightly lower than 4 star rates. We usually suggest 4 star hotels for groups. Once a proposal is given and accepted, we provide the hotel names and websites.

Question: How is the tour price determined?
Answer: First, you need to decide on the dates, tour itinerary and departure city. Then Tutku Tours will be able to provide you with the Land & Air rate. Winter is the cheapest time to travel; spring and fall are the cusp seasons with lower rates. Spring-time is the greenest if photography is a priority; fall weather is comfortable but all the vegetation is brown. Summer is the high season, so it is the most expensive for flights and hotel rooms.

Question: Do you provide tour brochures?
Answer: Yes, Tutku Tours is able to provide full-color PDF tour brochures that you can email to the potential tour participants or post on your website. We can also print hard copies if you need them.

Question: How do we handle the sign-ups?
Answer: We prefer that you handle the sign-ups, collect all payments and pay us directly via bank wire. Some group leaders prefer that Tutku Tours take the sign-ups and collect the tour fees.
In that case, we accept Visa and MasterCard payments at no extra cost.

Question: What is the payment procedure?
Answer: We usually need a deposit of $200 per person at the time of booking. The deposits are fully refundable until the full payment, 90 days prior to departure. That means you do not risk losing the deposits. For example, if you pay a deposit of $3,000 for 30 persons but the group’s final number is 20, we will refund $1,000 or deduct $1,000 from the final payment.

Question: What is the cancellation policy?
Answer: Below is the Cancellation Penalty chart:
120-90 days prior to departure: No Penalty
89-60 days prior to departure: 10%
59-45 days prior to departure: 25%
44-30 days prior to departure: 50%
29-15 days prior to departure:75%
14 days & After No refund

Question: When do we get the air tickets?
Answer: 15 Days prior to departure. You will receive all the travel documents and the flight tickets of all tour participants. The group leader is responsible for delivering the flight tickets to the tour members.

Question: Do we need a Visa to enter Turkey?
Answer: U.S. and Canadian citizens can get the Turkish Visa upon arrival. The visa fee is $20 for U.S. citizens, and $60 for Canadian citizens. Make sure not to get into the passport line until you have purchased your visa. Citizens of ALL other countries are responsible for checking their own country’s visa regulations for travel.

Question: Do you offer travel insurance?
Answer: Travel insurance may be given as a separate package at an extra cost. Travel Insurance is a contract between the traveler and the insurance Company (American Express, Travelex, Travel Guard, or other).

Question: When will we meet you?
Answer: A Tutku Tours representative will meet you after the customs and baggage claim with a sign with your group’s name written on it.

By Dr, Mark Wilson

It is extremely important to carry your passport with you at all times in a safe place. Never leave it in your hotel room. Perhaps wear a waist or chest pack to carry money and your passport. The only place where a replacement passport can be obtained is in Ankara.
To replace one is a major endeavor, and it will consume several days of your valuable time in Turkey. Carry a photocopy of your passport in a separate place as well as provide the tour leader with a copy. It’s also a good idea to keep pictures of both your passport and your Turkish visa on your phone.

The guide and driver for the tour are trained professionals, so it is customary at the end of a tour to collect a tip for them from each tour participant. The usual tip in Turkey is $5 per person per day to the guide and $2 per person per day for the driver. No tips are expected at the meals served in the hotel or for morning baggage pickup. This is usually built into the tour price. At check-in bellboys are available to assist you. Five lira or $1 per bag is usually sufficient. Hotel elevators are usually small and not created for group members attempting to the reach their rooms with baggage at the same time. American groups usually want to take their own baggage so this process can be slow and frustrating. If possible, let the bellboys bring the baggage with the service elevator and pay a small tip. In Turkey it is not customary to tip taxi drivers, and in restaurants the usual tip is 10%.

Upon arrival in Turkey you will want to exchange some dollars for Turkish lira at a döviz (foreign exchange) for everyday shopping.
There are also ATM machines everywhere, so the easiest way to obtain lira is to use your ATM card (ATM=Automatic Turkish Money).
At the Istanbul Atatürk Airport, both are located in the baggage claim area, so get some lira while waiting for your suitcases. Charge cards, such as Visa and MasterCard, are accepted at many locations, but for major purchases a commission fee may be charged. If you plan to make a major purchase, such as a carpet, it is best to pay in cash (hence bring $20s, $50s, even $100s).
Payment in cash allows you to negotiate for the best price. Do not bring traveler’s checks as they are usually difficult to cash in Turkey.

Summer weather is hot (90+°) during the day, so dress accordingly.
Be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Although Turkey is a Muslim country, it is a liberal one. Clothing is casual, especially in the tourist areas of western and southern Turkey.
Jeans are acceptable for everyone. Shorts are acceptable also, especially in the resort areas, but in the small towns and rural areas women in shorts attract attention. So in those areas capri pants or slacks are preferable. Bare legs are not allowed in mosques so dress appropriately. Remember: modest dress is a virtue in Muslim countries. Bring a swim suit because several hotels have hot springs or pools available for bathing. Since there is a lot of walking on the tour, be sure to bring comfortable shoes, such as hiking boots or walking shoes. Winter weather can be cold so bring a warm coat and warm undergarments, especially for travel in central Turkey and in the mountains.

Walking in Turkey
Walking around in Turkey can be a challenge. Sidewalks are uneven, so if you fail to pay attention to the surface, it is easy to stumble and fall. Bikes, motorcycles, and even cars can be on sidewalks, so watch out for them. Steps are everywhere in hotels and restaurants. Often they are uneven or in unexpected places, so be watchful. Also, the frequent use of marble and stone makes these surfaces especially slippery when wet. So proceed carefully on wet floors.

Shopping is fun in Turkey, and expect to do some bargaining!
There are many wonderful souvenirs and gifts to buy. Probably the major purchase to consider is that of a carpet or kilim. Depending on the size and quality, the price might run from $50 to $5000.
Places where quality carpets can be purchased at fair prices can be recommended by your guide. You can bring a small carpet home with you on the plane, but for larger carpets the dealer will usually ship it to your home at no extra charge. If you need to match a certain color or fabric, bring a swatch with you. Also, if you need a certain size, determine the measurement in meters beforehand since carpets are sized using metric measurements.

International Telephone Calls
There is a 7 hour time difference between EST and Turkey; 10 hours with PST. If you bring a cell phone, make sure it has international capabilities or is able to roam using one of Turkey’s excellent cell phone providers. Check with your cell phone company to know what the international rates are since they vary between carriers. Some companies may provide free Wi-Fi calling or have free texts or data while abroad. Many visitors also use Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or some other app to call in the evenings from their hotels.

Wireless Connections and Internet Cafes
Most tourist hotels usually have a wireless connection either in the rooms or in the lobby, and unlike the US, this service is usually free. If you don’t bring a laptop, there are many inexpensive internet cafes in Turkey.

No special shots are required before going to Turkey. However, you should be current with your shots, especially tetanus. You may want to bring stomach medication such as Imodium in case of diarrhea. Eating yogurt regularly at breakfast usually helps to alleviate potential stomach problems. Drinking Coca-Cola is also good for the stomach. If you are susceptible to motion sickness in planes or boats, you may want to purchase some Dramamine. There is also a patch available called Transderm Scop. If you need medicine while in Turkey, it is easy to obtain because most medications can be purchased over the counter at a drugstore (eczane) without a prescription.

Smoking is forbidden now, in all indoor, public areas, but many people still smoke in Turkey. If you are susceptible to cigarette smoke or have allergies, be prepared for it with medication. Some of the hotels may have non-smoking rooms.

Food and Water
Turkey has wonderful cuisine, so eating is a culinary delight. Breakfasts and dinners at the hotels are usually buffet style with an abundance of food. Food in hotels is prepared with tourists in mind, so you can eat everything without a worry including fruit and produce. Drink only bottled water, and never drink tap water.

Coffee at hotels is normally instant (Nescafe), made in large pots and often weaker than Americans like. Turkish coffee is not drunk at breakfest. So if you need a good cup of coffee in the morning, purchase a coffee cup with a built-in press pot at Starbucks along with a pound of coffee ground especially for use in a press. There is always hot water at breakfest, so you can fill your cup with water and have a great cup of coffee in the morning.

If you are using film, it best to purchase it in advance. Most speeds are available in Turkey but more expensive and sometimes dated. Photos and videos can be taken at most sites. However, flash photography is usually forbidden in museums. Adapters or transformers for use with the 220 volt system are needed to charge digital cameras or camcorders.
Batteries for digital cameras (except lithium ones) are readily available for purchase. The use of tripods is not allowed in museums or archaeological sites.

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