Arthur Frommer

Cheap tours to Turkey are often a delight

In November and December, all the major tour operators to Turkey offer 12-night tours of that country's main sights for as little as $1,063, not including airfare. That sum comes to $88.58 per person per night, including excellent accommodations, three meals and all escorted sightseeing.

Starting in January and through March 31, the price drops (exact rates haven't yet been published) to approximately $900 for the popular, 12-night "Turkish Delights" tour (or approximately $75 per person per night for everything except airfare). Quite obviously, those are better prices than anyone else operating escorted motorcoach tours of Europe offers to any other country.

So how much does airfare cost? All the operators use either Turkish Airlines or Delta Airlines, and none of them — I've phoned three — are yet willing to guarantee 2010 prices; they will name a price only when potential customers call and specify a particular date (departures of "Turkish Delights" are offered at least five days a week). But since $700 is an extremely conservative round-trip forecast of those air costs, the total two-week tour will generally work out to be about $1,600 in 2010, $1,700 in November and December of 2009 — and that's a remarkable figure for a travel experience as varied, as all-inclusive, and of such good quality, as tours to Turkey are.

I've had good reports from past travelers with Pacha Tours about those fall/winter trips to Turkey. This is a big company as Turkish tour operators go, with several offices in Turkey and other European cities, and you reach them either at www. or by phoning 800-722-4288. Look for details of the 12-night "Turkish Delights," which goes to Istanbul, Ankara, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Antalya and Pamukkale, among others.

After asking one tour company official to describe the fall/winter weather in Turkey, she responded that Istanbul was "like New York" in winter, while Ankara and Cappadocia "are more like Chicago."