Istanbul to Ashgabat

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting in the bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, you'll cross into the fascinating country of Iran, a country close to our hearts. You'll journey through the stunning highlands and deserts to the ancient city of Yazd, then down to the cultural and historical highlights fo Shiraz, Persepolis and Esfahan on the way to the capital of Tehran. Then you will overland west through Tabriz and the Kurdish region of Turkey en route to the magical land of Cappadocia. We then head to the magnificent historic city of Istanbul. Join us on this unforgettable epic overlanding experience on the Silk Road!

Duration: 26 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites Physical rating: Average
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 167533
Starts: Istanbul, Turkey Finishes: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
You will visit
  • Istanbul
  • Göreme
  • Sivas
  • Erzurum
  • DoÄŸubayazıt
  • Tabriz
  • Zanjan
  • Ashgabat



Day 1: Istanbul

Border Information: if joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA code: IST).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting.

If you are travelling beyond Tehran, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip - if anybody that has arranged to apply for an Iranian visa in Istanbul, we will visit the Iranian embassy immediately after our meeting. the rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Istanbul.

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Istanbul.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*


Day 2: Istanbul

Today we will have a free day to explore the myriad of highlights in the old Byzantine and Ottoman capital. There are many places to visit, such as the spectacular Blue Mosque, the colossal Hagia Sophia, the bewildering Grand Bazaar, the phenomenal Topkap  Palace, and a ferry cruise on the Bosphorus river.


Day 3: Göreme

Today we start our journey with a full day's drive east to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 4-5: Göreme

We will have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.


Day 6-7: Sivas

Over the next two days we will travel through the stunning landscapes in eastern Turkey towards the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t.

We will aim to wild camp or stay at a basic local campsite near Sivas on the first night, and near Erzurum on the second.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours each day.


Day 8: Doğubayazıt

Today we will complete our drive to the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t. On arrival we will have an included visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes and the nearby Mount Ararat.

In Do ubayaz t we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.


Day 9: Tabriz

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Gurbulak, enter Iran at Bazargan.

Today we will drive across the Iranian border to the city of Tabriz, where we will have free time to explore some of the sights of the old town.

In Tabriz we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.


Day 10: Zanjan

Today we will continue our journey east to the small town of Zanjan, where we have free time to explore and possibly visit the fascinating historical laundry hall of Rakhatshor-Khaneh.

In Zanjan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 11: Ashgabat

Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. In the afternoon we will visit the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market.


Day 12: Ashgabat

Border Information: if leaving in Ashgabat, you will most likely exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ashgabat. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

    • Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries
    • Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era
    • Visit the Ottoman-era Ishak Pasha Palace in the hills overlooking DoÄŸubayazıt and take in the impressive views of the surroundings, including the famous Mount Ararat
    • See the spectacular Dome of Soltaniyeh, the huge mausolem of the Ilkhanate (Mongolian) emperor Öljeitü built in the 14th Century and the 3rd largest dome in the world behind the Cathedral of Florence and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
    • Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
    • Explore, shop, and haggle at the vast Altyn Asyr Sunday Bazaar
    • 10% Camping - 90% Hotels
Why book with us?

Trusted by travellers since 1979

We guarantee to beat any price

Low deposits, Book now. Pay later.

24/7/365 Help on the road

Tour Highlights:
  • History & Culture