The Turkey Traveler

An Epic 7-Day Turkey Itinerary (Plus Option For 10 Days)

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Co-Founder of The Turkey Traveler. Globetrotter, Adventurer, and Frequent Traveler to Turkey!

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If you’re planning for a week in Turkey, you’re in for a fantastic trip. In this 7 day Turkey itinerary , you’ll get to see some of the most fascinating historical landmarks, and unique and unspoiled natural landscapes and get familiar with the warm-hearted Turkish culture.

If you want to see all the highlights of the country, this itinerary will show you the best of the country. We’ll also show you how to travel from A to B and which order to see things in, to avoid spending too much time traveling and spend more time exploring.

Are 7 Days Enough for Turkey?

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But first, the question we always get asked is; are 7 days in Turkey enough? The truth is, Turkey is a big country, 783,562 km² to be exact, and to really see all of it, you’re going to need more than 7 days.

Even to see the highlights, we recommend at least 10-14 days so you don’t have to rush around and exhaust yourself seeing everything.

However, if you only have 7 days in Turkey we totally understand that not everyone is blessed with time. You can see the highlights of Turkey in seven days, but you do need to sacrifice some landmarks unless you want to burn out with all the traveling.

This is why we have prepared two 7 day itinerary options. This is so you can decide which attractions to sacrifice and which side of Turkey you want to see most.

The Best Turkey Itinerary for 7 Days

Colonaded Street Ancient City of Perge

Fitting everything into 7 days is no easy task. So to help you pick the right itinerary for you, we’ve given you two options.

The first option is a history and culture tour of Turkey, taking you to some of the oldest and most beautiful historical landmarks in the country.

The second option covers some history, natural landscapes, and the iconic Turkish Riviera for some beach days.

Whatever brings you to Turkey, you’ll find our 7 day Turkey itineraries will cover it all. Let’s take a look…

Suggested Itinerary 1: Istanbul > Cappadocia > Izmir

Below you’ll find our first option for this 7 day Turkey itinerary. This is what we consider to be the best itinerary for seven days and covers the most iconic Turkey landmarks .


Day 1: Istanbul

Our itinerary begins in the enchanting city of Istanbul. This once capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empire, named then as Constantinople, is brimming with history and culture. It’s also the biggest city in the world to span two continents; Europe and Asia.

On the first day of your visit to Istanbul, you’re going to want to explore the neighborhood of Sultanahmet . This is where you’ll find the most iconic landmarks in the city, including the Hagia Sophia, The Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the Basilica Cistern.

This day will do a lot of walking but it’s all within the same area, so you won’t need to travel far today, but you’re going to see exactly why Istanbul is a city worth visiting .

Stop 1: The Blue Mosque


The Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is the most beautiful work of architecture in Istanbul, so it makes sense to visit this attraction first. It was built between 1609 and 1616 by Sultan Ahmed I. It became famous for its hand-painted Iznik blue tiles that you can see inside.

The mosque features more than 200 stained glass windows, as well as a stunning carved marble mihrab that’s worth checking out. It’s also the resting place of Sultan Ahmed I.

The Blue Mosque has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985 and is one of Turkey’s most famous sites.

Stop 2: Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia Istanbul Landmark

The Hagia Sophia is just across Sultanahmet Park from the Blue Mosque and is another one of the most important mosques in Turkey. It was built in 537 by the Roman Emperor Justinian. It was originally used as a cathedral for Constantinople, where it remained the largest Christian church in the Eastern Roman Empire for over 1,000 years.

After Constantinople was seized by the Ottoman Empire, it was converted into a mosque. It was a museum for a short time between 1935-2000 but was converted back into a mosque. It has some of the most stunning architecture, mosaics, and artistic coverings of all the mosques in the city.

📚 Read more: The Most Beautiful Churches in Istanbul

Stop 3: Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace Istanbul Turkey

Around the corner from the Hagia Sophia is the Topkapi Palace . The palace was the former home of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Today, it is a large museum, showcasing artifacts from the Ottoman era. Not all rooms are open to the public, but the most beautiful ones are. The Ottoman Imperial Harem and the treasury are the main reasons to visit this palace in Istanbul .

The Topkapi Palace was also declared a UNESCO site in 1985 and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

Stop 4: Basilica Cistern


During the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantines built several cisterns under the city as a water storage system for the city’s palaces. The largest and best-preserved cistern in the city is the Basilica Cistern .

The cistern is approximately 138 meters long by 64.6 meters wide, covering a total area of 9,800 square meters — roughly the size of two football fields. It has the capacity to store 100,000 tons of water. It is one of the greatest engineering achievements of the East Roman Empire.

It is just 150 meters away from the Hagia Sophia, so it makes sense to see this historical landmark on the same day.

Stop 5: Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Another one of the major landmarks in Istanbul is the Grand Bazaar. It is the largest and oldest covered market in the world, with 61 streets and over 4,000 shops. It began operating in 1455 after the Ottomans captured Constantinople.

The vibrant Grand Bazaar is the best place to pick up Turkish souvenirs , from Turkish delights to Turkish lamps, rugs, towels, and clothes.

Around the corner from Grand Bazaar is the Spice Bazaar. This is another souk market where you can shop for various teas and spices. The spices are said to help with certain medical conditions, from diabetes control to weight loss, and mood enhancers.

Stop 6: Turkish Hamam

After all this walking around, you’re going to want to relax a little. We recommend finishing off the day in a Turkish Hamam, which is similar to a Roman Bath. It’s not just a public bathing space, but a spa where you can get massages and beauty treatments.

Located next to the Hagia Sophia is the Hurrem Sultan Hamam, which was built in the 16th century. It’s a little pricey, but if you’re going to enjoy a Turkish bath in Istanbul , you might as well go to an authentic one!

Day 2: Istanbul:

On the second day we’re going to cross the Galata Bridge and explore the Kabataş neighborhood. This is still part of Europe and features many iconic attractions that should not be missed.

Stop 1: Galata Bridge

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We’ll begin at Galata Bridge, a 19th-century bridge that crosses Istanbul’s Golden Horn channel. The bridge is famous because of the fishermen who cast their lines here, attracting hundreds of seagulls.

The bridge has two parts, the top part is where the cars cross the bridge and also where you’ll find the fishermen, and along the bottom part you’ll find many restaurants serving fresh seafood meals. Though as scenic as it sounds, we cannot recommend you to eat at one of the restaurants underneath the bridge – they are pricey and not the best in terms of quality.

Stop 2: Galata Tower


Next, we’ll visit the iconic Galata Tower. By now you have probably noticed the tower in the skyline, given that it is the city’s watch tower.

It was built as a part of the Walls of Galata in 1348 by Byzantine Empire. The Galata Tower has had a tumultuous past, having caught fire in 1794 and 1831. It was also badly damaged in a storm in 1875.

The tower was renovated in the 1960s to look like the original but using concrete instead of wood. You can climb to the top of the tower and witness 360-degree panoramic views of the city. The museum and exhibition hall inside the tower is also one of the best museums in Istanbul .

Stop 3: Istiklal Street


Istiklal Street is the most famous street in Istanbul and is where you’ll find a blend of historic and modern. It was historically known as Grand Avenue of Pera, and is a pedestrian street made famous for its red tram that rides from one end to the other.

There are many high-street brands setting up shops here in the old buildings that were once apartments for the Romans. It’s a great place to pick up some street food or find a traditional Turkish restaurant down one of the side streets. If you’re into nightlife, you’ll find vibrant bars and clubs in this area.

This area also has some of the best rooftop restaurants in Istanbul , offering patrons sweeping views of the area around it, including Sultanahmet and even the Asian side on a good day.

Stop 4: Bosphorus Cruise

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If your legs are a little tired from all this walking, then a Bosphorus cruise is a great way to enjoy the sunset.

The cruise takes you through Istanbul’s Golden Horn and out into the Bosphorus Strait, the body of water separating the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. It goes as far as the Bosphorus Bridge before returning back to the harbor, which is usually in Eminönü.

It gives you a unique perspective of the city from the water, and it’s also the best way to see the palaces in Istanbul . Many of the palaces were built next to the water, and their beautiful decoration and architecture are best seen from the water.

If you want the nicer cruises, we highly recommend that you book your tickets online in advance. You can get some of the lower quality ones at the harbor, but you’ll want to reserve the better ones.

Stop 5: Whirling Dervishes Show

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If you went for a sunset cruise, then you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy a whirling dervishes show in the evening. This is a traditional Turkish dance where dancers look as though they are floating across the floor.

As well as being a dance, it’s an active meditation exercise, which originated from the Sufi tribes in the 13th century. This is one of our favorite things to do in Istanbul at night .

Day 3: Istanbul

No Istanbul visit is complete without exploring the Asian side, which is what you’ll be doing on the third day in Istanbul. We’ll be visiting the largest mosque in Istanbul, the hip and vibrant area of Moda, and tasting delicious Istanbul street food .

Stop 1: Çamlıca Mosque

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The first stop is Çamlıca Mosque, located at the top of Çamlıca Hill. To get here from the historic center, you must first take the metro to Üsküdar and then change to the metro to Kısıklı. From here, you simply walk up the hill.

The Camlica Mosque is the largest mosque in Istanbul and measures 72 m (236 ft) tall. The six minarets measure even higher to 107.1 m (351 ft). This stunning mosque is a sprawling complex large enough to house 63,000 worshipers at one time.

There’s also an art gallery, library, and conference hall. It was designed by two female architects, Bahar Mızrak and Hayriye Gül Totu, and was said to have cost $110 million USD to make.

Stop 2: Kadikoy and Moda

After spending time admiring the mosque, head over to the area of Kadikoy. Here you’ll find bustling markets and fishermen on the waterfront. This is the perfect place to sample some street food. We highly recommend the balık ekmek (fish sandwich). There are also plenty of cute cafes and restaurants.

After wandering the neighborhood of Kadikoy, head further south to Moda. This is a residential neighborhood with street art, boutique stores, cool coffee shops, and a relaxing park. If you haven’t tried Turkish ice cream, dondurma, yet, this is the perfect place to do so!

Stop 3: Uskudar

Uskudar is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Istanbul’s Asian side. It is situated adjacent to the Bosphorus, and facing west, naturally offers some of the best sunset views in Istanbul.

There are many things to do in Uskudar; if you have some time, we recommend you to walk around the neighborhood and check out some of the fresh fish markets. If it’s closer to sunset time, make sure you grab a spot by the promenade with a great view of the Maiden’s Tower!


After exploring Istanbul for the third day, you’re going to need to get to Cappadocia. To do this, you’ll want to take an evening flight to Cappadocia as the bus is 12 hours overnight. Flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia take just over 1 hour and flights run regularly every day. There are two airlines that regularly operate this route:

  • Turkish Airlines
  • Pegasus Airlines

There are two airports in Cappadocia – Kayseri Airport (ASR) and Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV). Both are quite similar in terms of distance to Goreme, the historic center of Cappadocia, so we recommend just booking the cheapest one.

Similarly, there are two airports in Istanbul – Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (SAW). Both offer flights to Cappadocia but IST is usually easier to get to, but it depends on where you are staying.

When planning your route to the airport, just keep in mind that the traffic in Istanbul can be terrible, so allocate your time accordingly.

When you arrive in Cappadocia, we HIGHLY recommend you to have an airport transfer to your hotel. This is because the taxi drivers at the airports in Cappadocia are known to overcharge tourists. You’ll definitely save money with the airport transfer!

Day 4: Cappadocia


Cappadocia is a vast desert landscape in the Anatolia region of Turkey. It’s set at 1,050m above sea level, so the temperature gets cold at night, even in the summer. You’ll want to base yourself in Goreme, one of the best areas to stay in Cappadocia . From Goreme, a lot of the places to visit in Cappadocia will be within walking distance away.

The entire region is famous for its fairy chimneys, which are ancient cave dwellings that people used to live in, as well as its unique rock formations that are unlike anything else in the world. You can stay in a cave hotel in Cappadocia , which is a unique experience in itself.


Cappadocia is notoriously hard to get around, so most travelers decide to take tours or rent a car in Cappadocia . This is the best way to see a lot of attractions in just a short time. Public transport in Cappadocia is unreliable, and it takes 2 hours on a bus to cover a distance that can take 30 minutes by car.

📖 Read More: Most Stunning Hotels In Cappadocia With Views Of Hot Air Balloons

Stop 1: Hot Air Balloon Flight


Without a doubt, Cappadocia is most well known for its hot air balloons that float through the skies during sunrise. Since the hot air balloons fly depart at sunrise, you’ll want to book this in advance so you can try and do this on your first day.

The reason we recommend doing it on the first day is that the flights are weather-dependent, so if the weather isn’t good for flying the trip can be moved to the following day.

You will only have two days in Cappadocia on this itinerary, so you do need to understand hot air balloon flights are really a stroke of luck.

Assuming you were able to have your hot air balloon flight in the morning, you’ll be back at your hotel by 9 am and ready to have breakfast. After breakfast, you can start exploring some of the best Cappadocia’s attractions .

Stop 2: Red and Rose Valley


There are many valleys in Cappadocia worth visiting, but if we had to choose just one (or two) then we would definitely say to visit the Red Valley and Rose Valley . These two valleys are located right next to each other, so it’s easy to visit both.

The valleys are some of the easiest hikes in Cappadocia and take you through stunning landscapes. You’ll pass fairy chimneys, cave churches, ancient cave dwellings, and impressive rock formations.

If you have more time, you can also visit Love Valley or Pigeon Valley , which are located just outside Goreme’s town center.

Stop 3: One of the Underground Cities

Kaymakli Underground City

There are several underground cities in Cappadocia, but the main ones are the Kaymakli Underground City and the Derinkuyu Underground City. These underground cities were built in the 7th and 8th centuries as a way for the local Christians to hide from the Arab invaders.

The Derinkuyu Underground City is the most popular one as it’s the largest underground city open to the public. It is eight levels deep and once housed 20,000 people. Only four levels are open to the public.

Kaymakli is the oldest underground city and also allows visitors to explore four levels, but it is much smaller than Derinkuyu.

The two cities are only a 15-minute drive from one another so it’s possible to see both, but they offer much of the same experience so we recommend you pick one. If you’re not sure which one to visit, we have a guide on which is better; Derinkuyu or Kaymalki.

Stop 4: Sunset Viewpoint


By now you’re probably feeling a little tired from all the exploring, so we recommend you take a trip to one of Cappadocia’s famous sunset viewpoints . There is one in the center of Goreme town called Lover’s Hill , if you don’t feel like driving far. These sunset viewpoints give you the best views of the valleys, fairy chimneys and rock formations of the region.

Alternative itinerary:

If you don’t want to rent a car and drive, you could do one of the red tours or green tours of Cappadocia.

These are popular tours that allow you to see as much of the region as possible, from the underground cities to the vast valleys in Cappadocia. Both tours have different attractions, so it’s best to look up which one is best for you.

Luckily, we have a helpful guide on this; red tour vs green tour .

There’s also the blue tour , which is a small group tour that also visits some of the best sights in Cappadocia, but the itinerary for the blue tour differs depending on the company you book with.

Day 5: Cappadocia

On the second day in Cappadocia, you’re going to need to go slow as you’ll have a flight to catch later in the day.

We suggest you explore the Goreme Open Air Museum in the morning, followed by one of the valleys after lunch.

Pigeon Valley or Love Valley is a good choice because they are close to Goreme. But if you have the extra time, we recommend heading to Ihlara Valley , a stunning canyon that stretches for 15 kilometers and reaches depths of up to 150 meters.

We don’t recommend hiking the entirety of it because it’ll take too long, but check out some of the landscape, cave churches, and especially the iconic Selime Monastery .


If you don’t have a long time to spend, then you can see Devrent Valley or Monks Valley , which take about 30 minutes to see.

Take an evening flight to Izmir. There are no direct flights from Cappadocia to Izmir. You’ll first need to catch a flight to Istanbul and change. Flights take around 4-5 hours with the change over in Istanbul but remember you need to get to and from the airport.

📖 Note: It is also possible to catch a flight tomorrow morning from Cappadocia to Izmir, because Izmir Airport has a direct train to Selcuk, which is where Ephesus (your next destination) is located.

Day 6: Izmir (Ancient City of Ephesus)


One of the biggest reasons to visit Izmir is to visit the ancient ruins of Ephesus. This well-preserved city dates back to the 10th century BC at the time of the Ancient Greeks. The city is huge, spanning an area of 6.6 square kilometers.

Visitors can still see the well-preserved Greco-Roman architecture from the remains of the city which gives you a glimpse of what life would have been like many years ago.

The most notable landmarks in Ephesus Turkey are the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian, the House of the Virgin Mary and the Roman Amphitheater that was once large enough for 24,000 spectators.

You can get to Ephesus directly from Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. We recommend getting an early flight to Izmir, storing your luggage in the airport, then going to Ephesus by train. It is the most time-efficient way to see Ephesus, especially since the train departures aren’t too frequent.

📖 Read More: How to Get from Izmir to Ephesus

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You could easily spend a day exploring Ephesus, but if you have time to spare we recommend visiting the nearby village of Sirence, which is a quaint market village that only has 600 residents.

It’s located about 8 kilometers from Ephesus and features many small houses dating back to the Hellenistic period. It’s also a great place to pick up handmade crafts to take home as souvenirs.

Day 7: Izmir

On your final day in Izmir, you’ll want to explore Izmir before you head back home. We suggest visiting the ancient ruins of Smyrna Agora Ancient City in the morning, followed by one of the green parks in the city.

The Kültürpark İzmir Park is a nice and relaxing area to wander around before getting a flight. Make sure to check out the stunning Izmir Clock Tower before you go, too. The Kemeraltı Bazaar is the perfect place to grab some Turkish souvenirs, if you haven’t done so already!

Don’t miss out on the Alsancak district . It is one of the busiest districts in town and where you can truly feel the spirit of Izmir!

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Are you reading this from Turkey? Maybe you need a VPN!

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If you’re already in Turkey, there is one thing you absolutely NEED: a reliable VPN .

You may find some of your favorite websites and apps are blocked in Turkey , such as popular hotel site

A VPN allows you to get passed this ruling and enables you to browse these sites without any hassle, and it’s completely legal.

We use Express VPN when we’re in Turkey and we’d recommend it to anyone. It’s affordable, quick, and easy to use.

Suggested Itinerary Option 2: Istanbul > Cappadocia > Antalya

For the second option of our 1 week Turkey itinerary, we have swapped out Izmir for Antalya. Izmir is definitely worth a visit if you love history, but another reason to visit Turkey is for the iconic Turkish Riviera.

If you would like some time by the beach, then you should make a stop by Antalya instead, one of the best coastal cities in Turkey . Don’t worry though, there’s still plenty of history to explore here, you just will have to miss the famous Ephesus.

For this itinerary, we would recommend you spend two days in Istanbul, two days in Cappadocia , and three days in Antalya .

You can follow the same itinerary as option one up until Cappadocia, but instead, follow these three days at the end.

is antalya worth visiting

Day 5-7: Antalya

The great thing about Antalya is not only its beaches but its location. Nestled in the center of Turkey along the coast, it’s possible to take day trips from Antalya to other areas that you might want to visit, such as Pamukkale, Alanya, Kemer and Side.

During these three days in Antalya, we’ll be exploring its incredible history, stunning surrounding nature, and beaches. We’ll also give you one day to pick a day trip of your choice.

Here’s where you can find airport transfers to make this part of the trip smooth:

  • To Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV)
  • To Kayseri Airport (ASR)
  • From Antalya Airport to hotel

Day 5: Antalya Beaches


After all the exploring you’ve done so far, you deserve a rest. We recommend you take the first day in Antalya to explore one (or two) of Antalya’s beaches.

If you are staying in Antalya’s historic center (Kaleici), which you totally should, then the city’s most popular beach – Konyaalti Beach, is only a short 30 minutes away by public transport. It is a beautiful beach with the famed Taurus Mountain Range in the background, however, it is quite a rocky beach.

Konyaalti Beach is one of the best beaches if you are traveling as a family in Turkey because it is super accessible and easy to get there.

If you want something more sandy, you can check out:

  • Lara Beach – an hour away from Antalya historic center
  • Kaputaş Beach – 3 hours away from Antalya in Kas, only recommend if you have the time.
  • Cleopatra Beach – 2 hours away from Antalya in Alanya, super beautiful.

Day 6: Day trip from Antalya

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We mentioned earlier that Antalya is a great location for day trips. It’s possible to take a day trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale from Antalya, but there’s a lot of travel involved.

If you want to take a day trip to somewhere historic, then the Ancient City of Perge or the Lycian Rock Tombs of Myra are only a short drive away.

Alternatively, you can take a boat tour from the historic Roman harbor. This is a great way to explore the turquoise blue waters of the Turquoise Coast and admire the stunning Lower Duden Waterfalls , one of the greatest attractions in Antalya.

Another popular day trip is to Antalya’s stunning nature spots. The Taurus Mountains and Koprulu Canyon are all a short distance from Antalya city center and provide excellent hiking, biking, and white water rafting facilities.

Day 7: Antalya Old Town

Roman Harbor Antalya

On the last day, you will need to fly back home, so you won’t want to travel too far that day. This is why exploring the Old Town of Antalya is best kept to the end. Antalya has a long and fascinating history, having been conquered by many tribes – from the Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, and even Egyptians.

The Old Town is the best place to see all that history come to life. Make sure to include the old Roman Harbor, Hadrian’s Gate, and the beautiful Antalya Clock Tower on your Antalya itinerary .

Extend to 10 Days Turkey Itinerary

You might be realizing by now that 7 days is not a lot of time to see the whole of this massive and diverse country. If you would like to extend your Turkey trip from 7-10 days, here’s what we recommend you do.

For a 10 day Turkey itinerary, we recommend you combine our two options. We recommend you spend three days in Istanbul , two days in Cappadocia, two days in Antalya, and then fly to Izmir for the final three days, spending one of those days taking a day trip to Pamukkale .

Your 10 day Turkey itinerary would look something like this.

  • Day 1-3: Istanbul
  • Day 4-5: Cappadocia
  • Day 6-7: Antalya
  • Day 8: Izmir
  • Day 9: Pamukkale
  • Day 10: Izmir to home

Pamukkale Travertine Terraces

📚 Read More: The Ultimate Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pamukkale Itinerary!

Getting Around Turkey

Turkey has quite a decent transport system, especially for internal flights. You can fly directly from Istanbul to Cappadocia, Cappadocia to Antalya , Antalya to Izmir, and Izmir to Istanbul, which really reduces the amount of travel time you spend. Especially as you only have 7 days.

You can also take long-distance night buses. The advantage of this is that you don’t lose a day of traveling by traveling overnight. The downside is it’s exhausting. After trying to sleep on a 12-hour bus journey, you’re going to feel very drained exploring all the attractions.

The same goes for if you are driving. It’s quite inexpensive to hire a car and drive, however, we don’t recommend this option for getting around Turkey for a 7 day itinerary. This is because you will be far too exhausted to see and do anything.

Long Distance Buses Turkey

In Cappadocia, there is a minibus network that connects you to all the main attractions, and it’s also possible to hire a car in Cappadocia or take taxis from A to B. Most attractions are within a 30-minute drive from one another so if you hire a car in Cappadocia you can see more, and also won’t be too tired after driving.

To get around the cities – Istanbul, Izmir, and Antalya have a great internal transport service, including a tram service that connects you to many of the main attractions.

For each city, you don’t need to buy a ticket, you can simply use your contactless payment card to pay for any public transport.

📖 Note: Contactless cards are now accepted in most of the major cities in Turkey, including Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir, Fethiye, Marmaris, Bodrum, Oludeniz, Alanya, and more.

Best Time to Visit Turkey

We know that we’re not all lucky enough to pack our bags and zip off at a moment’s notice, so if you’re planning a trip to Turkey in advance, then you’ll need to consider when is the best time to visit.

Fortunately, any time would be a good time to visit. Even in the winter! During the winter, temperatures in Istanbul, Izmir, and Antalya are mild at a comfortable 15°C on average. Winter in Cappadocia is a sight that you’ll never forget.

hot air balloon in winter cappadocia

Cappadocia is at a much higher elevation than the other spots on our itineraries, so you can expect it to be much colder. In fact, it even snows here.

Imagine seeing a desert in the snow? Magical. If Cappadocia is one of the main reasons for your trip to Turkey, then check out our complete guide on the best time to visit Cappadocia .

The wettest months of the year are December – February. This is when Turkey receives most of its rainfall, with a 19% chance of rain most days.

The hottest months are July and August. The temperatures can reach as high as the low 40°C’s in August, so if you’re visiting this time of year then make sure to prepare for it to be hot and bring plenty of sun protection.

Perhaps the best time of year to visit is during the shoulder seasons (April, October, and November), as the weather is dry, a comfortable temperature, and nearly always sunny. Plus they are considered the quiet season so you can visit without the crowds. This is the best time to visit Bodrum and destinations on the coast.

Tips for Visiting Turkey


Before you start packing your suitcase and booking places to stay in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Izmir, or Antalya, we have just a few words of advice to help you make the most out of your trip to Turkey,…

  • Get your e-Visa before you fly – Americans now need a visa to enter Turkey. Though you can get one on arrival, it is much cheaper to get it ahead of time on the government’s official site. If you’re not from America, it’s a good idea to check the entry requirements from your country, which you can also do at the official site .
  • Pick up a Turkish SIM card or an eSIM – Make sure you are always connected and have plenty of data, as you’re going to need to use Google Maps to find your way to attractions.
  • Get a museum pass if you want to see more than one museum – If you’re interested in seeing more than one museum, you can save money by using the city pass which allows you to enter multiple museums. There is a city pass for Istanbul and Antalya.
  • Get the museum pass for Cappadocia if you are doing independent sightseeing – The Cappadocia Museum Pass covers 13 attractions in Cappadocia, including the underground cities and Goreme Open Air Museum. You could potentially save some money by getting the Cappadocia Musuem Pass.
  • Book internal flights early – You can typically save a bit on your travel budget for Turkey if you are prepared and book your flights in advance.
  • Be prepared for disappointment with hot air balloons in Cappadocia – The hot air balloons can only fly when weather conditions are optimal, which is not every day. As you only have a short time in Turkey, you would need to be lucky for the weather to be good on your trip. For hot air balloons, it’s best to visit Cappadocia in June – August.
  • Drink plenty of water – Turkey is hot pretty much all year round, so be prepared for this and carry plenty of water with you.
  • Wear appropriate clothing when traveling in Turkey – You should cover your shoulders and knees when entering a mosque, and women need to cover their hair.

How Many Days In Turkey To Spend?


Generally speaking, you can spend as many as a few weeks to as little as a few days in Turkey . As we mentioned, Turkey is a massive country with plenty of things to do and see. Each region of Turkey provides a different experience for travelers – from rich historic cities like Istanbul to beautiful beaches in the Turkish Riviera.

If this is your first trip to Turkey, we recommend you to spend at least a week to two weeks. This will give you enough time to explore one region of Turkey thoroughly and understand its cultural significance as part of the Republic of Turkey.

For people with only a few days, it is best that you spend it in one city or part of Turkey, whether that would be Istanbul, Cappadocia, or Antalya.

FAQs About This 7 Day Turkey Itinerary

Here’s what people usually ask us about this 7 day Turkey itinerary…

Is 7 Days Enough to Visit Turkey?

7 days is not enough time to see all of the highlights in Turkey. We recommend to spend at least 10-14 days to see it all comfortably. But if you only have limited time on your itinerary, you can However, you can see many of the top landmarks in 7 days.

Where Should I Go in Turkey for a Week?

If you have one week in Turkey, you should focus your time on Istanbul, Cappadocia, and either Antalya or Izmir. This way, you can experience some of the best our every region in Turkey.

Which is better Bodrum or Antalya?

Antalya and Bodrum are both amazing places to visit in Turkey. We recommend Antalya over Bodrum since it is a little bit more historical, cultural and affordable.

Final Thoughts on Turkey Itinerary 7 days

So there you have it, this is how you can spend a week in Turkey. As you can see, there’s a lot to pack into a 7 day Turkey itinerary, which is why we have given you two options. We hope that this Turkey itinerary helps you plan your adventure.

If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.

best at travel turkey

Co-Founder of The Turkey Traveler

Louisa Smith

Louisa is a professional travel blogger with an insatiable wanderlust for exploring the captivating country of Turkey. With a deep appreciation for the country’s diverse history and natural beauty, Louisa has made it her mission to share the wonders of Turkey with the world. Born in the UK and raised by two Travel Agent parents, she was born with a perpetual case of the travel bug and now travels full time as a travel writer. Louisa has embarked on numerous adventures across Turkey, and shares her first-hand expertise and experience about her favorite destinations in Turkey, such as Antalya, Alanya, Fethiye and Bodrum.

18 thoughts on “An Epic 7-Day Turkey Itinerary (Plus Option For 10 Days)”

Excellent and detailed itinerary . Thanks a ton for the efforts. If you could share the 14 day itinerary recommendation, that would be very helpful

Thank you! We will prepare a 14 day itinerary in the future. But in the meantime, if I had 14 days, I would do something like this:

Day 1-3: Istanbul Day 4-6: Cappadocia Day 7-10: Antalya Day 11: Pamukkale Day 12-14: Izmir

Honestly, I wouldn’t add any more places to this as there are so many great day trips you can take from Izmir and Antalya, so I would prefer to spend more time there.

Thanks a ton.

Many thanks for such a detailed itinerary.

I am planning to visit Turkey during Eid holidays for 7 days in April and was actually struggling with the various tour agents to finalize the places. But this is very concise and informative.

I will definitely consider this.

Best comprehensive summary on visiting Turkey and to visit all the historical sites in 7-10 days itinerary.

Is there a ballpark budget you have for the 10 day trip (excluding flights)?

Hi Khadija, we have a complete guide on budgeting in Turkey. You can view that here:

hi planning to do a solo travel to turkey In Aug (12th-19th) with the following iternary.

3 days-Istanbul 2 days – capadocia 2 days- Antalaya

just wanted to know should i do bookings in advance for tours, ( i know balloon rides needs to be booked in advance). need some help and clarification on following:

1. is it safe to use the metro and tram for commuting in city? 2. should i book tours in advance since i heard its peak tourist season in Aug

Hi Sheetal, since you’re traveling in August I would recommend you book tours and hotels in advance as this is one of the busiest seasons in Turkey. If for any reason a tour can’t happen, you will be refunded. The hot air balloon rides for example can only fly when weather conditions are optimal so if the weather isn’t on your side you can reschedule or be refunded the full price of the ticket. Yes it’s safe to use the metro in Istanbul, it’s much safer than using public taxis in our opinion. You can use the tram in Istanbul and Antalya as well which is also safe. However, be aware of your belongings and keep an eye out for pickpockets when they are crowded. I recommend you get the Istanbulkart and Antalyakart, which are travel cards that you can top up and use on all public transport in the city.

I have 7 days and I want to visit – Istanbul, Cappadocia and Pamukkale. My in and out flights are from Istanbul. I have planed Istanbul and Cappadocia but I am struggling to plan beyond Cappadocia to Pamukkale. Any suggestions?

It’s quite a long distance from Cappadocia to Pamukkale, so because you are short on time your best option is to either take the night bus from Cappadocia to Denizli and then a bus to Pamukkale so you can save a day of your itinerary for exploring (assuming you can sleep on a night bus), or you can fly to Denizli and take a bus. Here is a complete guide on how to get from Cappadocia to Pamukkale that has more detail on how to do this.

hi guys, i have a trip to Turkey next week (20 Sept onwards). My planned route is Istanbul – Alacati – Cesme – Ephesus – Pammukale – Cappadocia – Istanbul.

I’m having trouble finding the right info for my travel from Izmir-Ephesus-Pammukale . 1. If i were to take the train in the morning from Izmir to Selcuk & then a taxi/minivan to Ephesus, is there any luggage storage place at the Selcuk Train station ? 2. From Selcuk in the late noon/evening, what is the best public transport to get me to Pammukale and stay the night there? 3. Early morning visit Pammukale pools and is there a bus to Cappadocia ? or any other suggested public transport?

kindly advise.

Hi D, there is no luggage storage at Selcuk train station, but there is luggage storage at Selcuk bus station which you can use for a fee. You can then get a train to Denizli after exploring Ephesus from Selcuk (I believe there are several throughout the day and the last one is around 8pm, but do check with the ticket office when you arrive). I suggest you stay in Denizli overnight and then get the minibus to Pamukkale the next morning. After exploring Pamukkale you should return to Denizli and then you can then get a night bus from Denizli bus station to Cappadocia, or you can fly from Denizli to Cappadocia if you don’t like long-distance buses. I hope this helps!

Hello Sean and Louisa! I came across your page while planning for my 12 days Turkey itinerary, which is happening end of Oct 2023. This would be my first time to Turkey and your page has been really helpful. Would like to get your thoughts & advice on my planned itinerary.

My planned route currently looks like this:- Istanbul – 3 days Cappadocia – 3 days Antalya – 3 days Pamukkale – 1 day Izmir – 3 days

Questions: 1. Is it advisable to rent a car to travel between Cappadocia > Antalya > Pamukkale > Izmir? I’m planning to fly from Istanbul > Cappadocia, and from Izmir > Istanbul on the final day. Can you recommend a good car rental contact? Are public transportation ie. buses frequent and reliable in this route? What would be the best way to get around? 2. Is it worth spending a night in Pamukkale or should I travel directly from Antalya to Izmir, and plan a separate day for Pamukkale? 3. Should I make a stop in Fethiye, in between Antalya and Pamukkale?

Thanks in advance 🙂

Hi Ade, we’re pleased you found this guide helpful. Your itinerary plan looks good! You can rent a car which is the easiest way to get around, but it’s also possible to get from place to place via bus. Buses are frequent between these places and you also have the option of taking night buses, which helps to give you more time for exploring. The bus company we like is Metro, and you can find bus tickets from their website here . If you prefer to rent a car, we recommend using Discover Cars. We have found the best prices with them and we have used them ourselves and know them to be reliable. You can browse car rental options here . If I were you, I would get the bus from Cappadocia to Antalya and take a day tour from Antalya to Pamukkale so you don’t need to worry about traveling yourself and spending the money on a car hire. Here is a link to a great tour from Antalya to Pamukkale . Then you can fly from Antalya to Izmir directly. I don’t think you will have time to fit Fethiye in on this trip, as it’s about 3-4 hours from Antalya to Fethiye depending on whether you drive or take a bus, and also not really on the route to Pamukkale. If you get the day tour as we mentioned then you should have plenty of time to fit everything in.

Thanks for the advice and reco! Would definitely consider them. Can I opt to take the bus from Antalya to Pamukkale (spend a night here) and then take another bus to Izmir the following day?

You can take the bus from Antalya to Denizli, and then there is another bus to Pamukkale. If you spend the night in Pamukkale, I recommend you get up early in the morning and visit the Travertine Terraces at sunrise, and explore the ruins and swim in the hot spring pools. Then you can leave late morning and catch a bus from Pamukkale to Denizli, and then another bus from Denizli to Izmir. It’s a lot of road travel, but it’s possible. I recommend you check out this guide on how to visit Pamukkale for sunrise .

This has been really helpful. Thank you so much!

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The Ultimate 9 Day Turkey Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Planning your Turkey itinerary?! You’ll be delighted by all the amazing sights, rich culture, and delicious cuisine that this beautiful country has to offer!

From unique sites like Pamukkale to vibrant and bustling cities like Istanbul, Turkey is a travel destination that is not to be missed.

Begin your trip in the city of Istanbul, where you’ll find amazing restaurants, historical sites, and beautiful architecture, and from here continue your journey to the most beautiful locations throughout the country which I’ll tell you more about in this guide!

I have put together this Turkey itinerary based on my experience on the 9 Day Essential Turkey Tour with Travel Talk Tours .

Turkey 116

Table of Contents


Here is an overview of the 9 day Turkey itinerary with Travel Talk Tours:

  • Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul
  • Day 2: Istanbul City
  • Day 3: Istanbul, Cappadocia
  • Day 4: Cappadocia
  • Day 5: Pamukkale
  • Day 6: Pamukkale, Ephesus, Kusadasi
  • Day 7: Kusadasi, Pergamum, Troy, Canakkale
  • Day 8: Canakkale, Gallipoli, Istanbul
  • Day 9: Depart from Istanbul

turkey itinerary map


Below is a list of what is included in the itinerary of Turkey with Travel Talk Tours:

  • Accommodation in 4 and 5-star hotels
  • 8 breakfasts, 5 dinners
  • Where available, complimentary hotel and coach Wi-Fi
  • Air-conditioned, modern coach or mini-bus to get around Turkey
  • Airport transfer from Istanbul Airport on day 1
  • Experienced Travel Talk local guides licensed by the Ministry of Tourism


Turkey 141 1


Below is a list of what is not included on the tour:

  • Flight tickets
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional activities
  • Tips and donations
  • Entrance fees to the sights and museums
  • Other services not stated in the itinerary

Turkey 118

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Day 1: arrival in istanbul.

You’ll arrive at the Istanbul Airport and will be greeted by the Travel Talk sign at the airport terminal, which will point you to the hotel transfer.

At 7:00 pm, meet in the hotel lobby for a quick meeting with your group of new travel buddies and tour guide.

If you arrive earlier in the day, you can begin to explore Istanbul by going to the top of the Galata Tower for stunning views or trying some delicacies at the Grand Bazaar.

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After breakfast, you’ll start the day by going through the opulent ancient city of Istanbul with your tour guide.

Stroll around the ancient city’s historic center, stopping at the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and Hagia Sophia on your way.

Later on in the afternoon, take a cruise down the beautiful Bosphorus River and see breathtaking views of Istanbul’s skyline, as well as spot some important landmarks including the Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy Mosque, and the Bosphorus Bridge.

You should know that the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia entrance is free, but both the Bosphorus Boat Cruise and Topkapi Palace Museum are not.

The cost is 160 Lira ($11) for the museum and 200 Lira ($13) for the boat cruise.

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After an amazing day in Istanbul, you’ll take the coach to Cappadocia which is known as The Land of Beautiful Horses and it’s one of Turkey’s most unique places to visit.

On the 8-hour-long journey, take in the stunning Turkish countryside and observe tiny towns and settlements along the way.

One of the stops in Cappadocia that makes this Turkey itinerary so unique is Derinkuyu Underground City.

This 60m-deep historic city is home to a church, wells, and stables. It’s a little chilly underground so be prepared with some warm clothing.


Turkey 44

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Get up at the crack of dawn for an optional sunrise hot air balloon ride over the world-famous landscapes of Cappadocia.

Alternatively, if you opt out of the balloon ride, you can take a taxi to some viewpoints and take photos of the dozens of balloons that float swiftly across the tops of the fairy chimneys.

Note: The hot air balloon ride is an additional cost of 2,700 Lira ($180 USD) and is weather-dependent. If it is too windy to fly, this activity will be canceled for safety reasons. Fingers crossed for blue skies and no wind!

After the balloon flight, head back to the hotel for a buffet breakfast before a jam-packed day visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site Göreme as well as some of the notable locations in Cappadocia such as the Göreme Open Air Museum, Pigeon Valley, Uchisar, and Cavusin.

In the evening, put your dancing shoes on, along with some smart-casual attire for the Turkish Night experience.

This is an optional activity that costs $30 and includes some light snacks and all-you-can-drink for 2 hours!



Another long day on the coach from Cappadocia to reach Pamukkale. It’s a total of 500 kilometers and will take about 8 hours, but there will be a few rest stops on the way for lunch and to stretch your legs.

Upon arriving in Pamukkale, if time permits, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at the famous white terraces to take some photos at sunset.

From here, it’s a short 10-minute drive to the beautiful Hierapark Hotel for an overnight stay.

Inside the hotel, guests have free access to the sauna, swimming pool, and thermal pools to relax after a long day.

You can also book in for a traditional Turkish bath and massage if you’re up for some extra pampering!

Turkey 89

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You’re in Pamukkale, so what can you do?

Well, the most popular attraction is the beautiful white terraces that are formed by mineral-laden spring water. It’s a sight to behold and you won’t regret visiting this spot on the Turkey itinerary.

There is also the option to take another hot air balloon flight over the white terraces of Pamukkale for $150.

This is a great opportunity if you missed out on the hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia, and the experience is equally as impressive, in my opinion.

At around 11 am, the next stop on this Turkey travel itinerary is Ephesus, located 156 kilometers from Pamukkale, and is considered one of the most famous landmarks in Turkey .

Ephesus is an ancient city that is both spectacular and well-preserved. It was mentioned in the book of Revelations and is an important site if you’re religious.

After a guided tour of the ancient city of Ephesus, continue to the seaside town of Kusadasi which is only about 30 minutes away and you’ll sleep here for the night before exploring more on day 7 of your Turkey itinerary.

Of course, a buffet dinner is included and you may also head into the town to a local bar for some drinks with your comrades.

Turkey 69


An early departure from Kusadasi to make tracks north to visit Asklepion, an ancient and well-preserved healing center in Pergamum, and afterward heading to the historical city Troy.

Troy is one of the most famous places in Greek mythology and was featured in movies such as Troy with Brad Pitt.

The ruins of Asklepion and Troy are fascinating, to say the least, so prepare your camera to take lots of photos.


Following a fun-fuelled visit to each of these places in your Turkey itinerary, the journey continues to Canakkale for an overnight stay in a 5-star hotel.

Turkey 124

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On day 8, wake up in beautiful Canakkale and travel to Gallipoli, which is just 1-hour away.

Gallipoli is a place of great importance, especially for Australians and Kiwis, because this region was once a battlefield during World War I.

On April 25th, 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers arrived on these very shores and fought an 8-month battle against Turkey, many of which lost their lives in combat. You’ll learn all about it during a guided tour of Gallipoli.

Here, you will visit the cemetery by the beach in ANZAC Cove, the war trenches, and the memorial monuments Chunuk Bair and Lone Pine.

Following a tribute visit to Gallipoli, it’s a 3-hour journey back to Istanbul which concludes this 9 day Turkey itinerary.

Turkey 136


On the last day in Turkey, if you have some extra time before departing, I recommend visiting the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, which has a large collection of pottery, metalwork, and textiles from across the Muslim world.

After you’ve had your fix of museums, spend some time strolling around Istanbul’s many markets.

The Grand Bazaar is the most famous, but there are also smaller ones like the Spice Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar.

Here you can find everything from spices to carpets to jewelry. Bargaining is expected, so don’t be afraid to haggle!

Additionally, if you’d prefer to put your feet up, check out Nova Santiye Cafe which is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and something to eat while taking in the stunning views of the city skyline from the rooftop terrace.


things to do in istanbul


How to get to turkey.

Arriving by plane is the easiest and most convenient way to begin your adventures in Turkey. Istanbul International Airport is the largest in Turkey and is served by dozens of airlines.

I recommend arriving as early as possible on your first day to give yourself time to adjust to the time change and explore a bit before the 9 day Turkey tour begins.


Best time to visit turkey.

The best time to visit Turkey is during the spring and fall seasons (April-May and September-October).

During these times, the weather is milder and more pleasant, making it easier to explore all of the sights without feeling uncomfortable in the heat or cold.

However, this shouldn’t deter you from visiting at other times as well – summer can be very nice in Turkey, especially along the coast, and winter can be a great time to visit Istanbul and Cappadocia with fewer tourists around.

Turkey 46


The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY) and the exchange rate is approximately $1 USD = 14 TRY.

Purchasing a sim card in Turkey is relatively cheap and simple. You can do this at the airport on arrival or find a phone store close to the hotel in Istanbul.

Alternatively, I recommend purchasing an eSIM online in advance and enjoying unlimited data throughout all of Turkey.

Also, make sure to bring your camera and your best lenses, so you can capture all the unforgettable adventures and experiences on the trip!

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Most nationalities require a visa to enter Turkey, which can be applied for online via .

Travelers from Australia, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, and the USA can apply for a 90-day e-visa online.

This process usually takes only a few minutes, however, I recommend obtaining it at least 2 weeks before your arrival in Turkey.

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa if staying for less than three months: the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Travelers entering Turkey must carry a passport or travel document valid for at least 60 days from the expiry date of their visa.



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Turkey is an incredible country full of so much history and beauty. Whether it’s the food, the culture, or the stunning landscapes, there is something here for everyone.

I hope with this guide I’ve given you some great ideas for exploring this amazing part of the world, and now it is time to go out and experience it all for yourself.

If you have any questions about this Turkey travel itinerary, please leave me a comment below this post and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

For a quicker response, be sure to join Jonny Melon’s Travel Tribe on Facebook and post your questions or recommendations to our awesome community.

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Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or it’s your first trip overseas, here are some useful travel resources to help you kick-start your next adventure!


Search and book accommodation worldwide.

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Find tickets, tours, and experiences around the world.

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Book buses, trains, and transfers online in advance.

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Hey friend, thanks for reading this guide!

Please know this post may contain affiliate links. When making a purchase through one of my links, I earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running. Rest assured, I only promote products and services that I personally use and recommend.

Click here to find out how you can support the site organically .

Many thanks!

4 thoughts on “The Ultimate 9 Day Turkey Itinerary (2024 Guide)”

How was your experience with Travel Talk Tours? What did you like the most and what could be improved? How big are the groups? Any tips to improve our experience?

The experience with Travel Talk Tours is always great! The group size varies between 20 – 30 people. The guides are what I like most, they are very knowledgeable and friendly. No further tips to improve your experience, absolutely everything is taken care of when you arrive! Enjoy Turkey 🙂

i saw yr turkey itinerary, where do u book the tour package. Planning to go in Dec ’22. tks Esther Ow

Hi Esther, I booked with travel talk tours as I mentioned at the beginning of this article. You can click on the link and it will take you directly to their wensite. Enjoy your trip to Tukey 🙂

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Home > 53 Top Destinations In Turkey: Best Places To Visit In Turkey For All

53 Top Destinations In Turkey: Best Places To Visit In Turkey For All

Post author Nicky

Written by our local expert Nicky

Nicky, originally from the UK, is now a local in Turkey. She moved to Marmaris, Türkiye for love 12 years ago and is now your Turkey travel planner.

Here is your complete guide to all the best places to visit in Turkey, which I have discovered as a local.

This guide has beautiful places in Turkey, from ancient sites, palaces, rock formations, beautiful beaches, hot air ballooning, scenic views, underground cities, amusement parks, and all the most famous places with countless historical landmarks and a seaside town (or 10) for every kind of traveler.

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler

  • Beach Resorts

Top Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Shop

Places to visit in turkey if you want to party, places to visit in turkey if you want to eat, places to visit in turkey if you want nature.

  • Saklikent National Park Antalya
  • Koprulu National Park
  • Butterfly Valley
  • İztuzu Beach
  • Mount Ararat

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want History And Archeological Sites

  • City Of Safranbolu
  • Mount Nemrut
  • Göbekli Tepe

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want Authentic Culture

  • Any village

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Go Off The Beaten Track

  • Northern And Central Turkey
  • Black Sea Coast
  • Gelemis 
  • The Lycian Way

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Like The Cold

  • Uludağ Ski Resort

Places To Visit In Turkey If You Want To Sunbathe

  • South Coast
  • The Blue Lagoon

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Find The Best Places To Visit On The Map

There are so many things to do in Turkey, from the lush greenery stretching from Fethiye to the Anatolia region to the ancient churches and underground cities waiting to be discovered.

Where Are The Best Places To See

You’re wrong if you think that Turkey is all beaches and Istanbul! Turkey is a vast country packed with major cities, towns, villages, beach resorts, and the list goes on.

That means there is something for everyone – and I’ll show you my favorites. My guide offers all the best places in Turkey to visit for history, food, nature, partying, and more.

Sure, not every destination will suit you, but I aim to provide a list so you know what you want to do and experience; then, you can find the ideal place that will suit you best.

If you want to know the best cities to visit in Turkey, jump ahead here .

For instance, if you want to enjoy the nightlife, it’s not a good idea to head somewhere like Adana, Aydin, Trabzon, or Rize. However, my husband and I always find fantastic opportunities to party the night away in Istanbul, Izmir, the province of Antalya, and any beach resort south on the Mediterranean coast .

If you want to enjoy history, you’re probably not going to find what you’re looking for that much in Marmaris (well, we have never). Still, in Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, you’ll have more history than you can possibly absorb into your brain! With Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Bosphorus Strait, and dozens of Turkish baths , to name a few.

It comes down to what you want and then figuring out where you want to go.

Let me give you some ideas on where to go in Turkey…

We’ve got the low down on the best places to visit in Turkey to shop!

1. Istanbul And Izmir

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler - Istanbul Bazaar

You can find everything in Istanbul —in fact. Taksim is the ideal spot for high-street stores, but there are also huge malls across the city, such as Cevahir and the Mall of Istanbul .

Izmir is also a great shopping spot , with several other malls and plenty of your international names. If you want traditional souvenirs , you’ll find these in most places, but you can’t beat Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar for choice and experience!

  • Guide To Istanbul
  • Guide To Izmir

We’ve compiled a list of the best places in Turkey to party.

2. Istanbul – Izmir – Antalya – Beach Resorts

best at travel turkey

Most people are surprised when they see the amount of nightlife in Turkey . Sure, it’s not everywhere you look, and some of the smaller cities and towns still tend to be more traditional in terms of beer houses, mainly for men, etc., but you’ll find many International and modern bars, too.

Taksim and Besiktas in Istanbul are ideal for party fans , but Izmir and the Antalya Province will tick your boxes, too. Taksim is home to some seriously loud nightclubs if that’s what you’re after!

Alternatively, the beach resorts on the Mediterranean Sea , such as Marmaris , Gumbet, Bodrum, and Alanya, also have plenty of bars and nightclubs.

  • Istanbul Nightlife
  • Where To Stay In Izmir
  • Best Beach Towns On The Turkish Coast

If you like to eat, here are the best places to visit in Turkey .

Traditional Turkish Drink Raki, Salgam (Turnip Juice) with Adana Kebab

Adana is a beautiful city of contrasts, where ancient traditions meet modernity. Enjoy a relaxing boat ride along the Seyhan River and visit the Grand Mosque’s striking architecture. Don’t forget to savor Adana kebabs , renowned for their delicious blend of flavors.

  • Guide To A Turkish Breakfast
  • What To Eat In Turkey
  • How To Tip In Turkey

4. Istanbul

A pink sky over Istanbul city at sunset from Calmica

There is nothing you won’t find here, including traditional Turkish food. Turkish food all over the country is delightful , and if you can head to a small village, be sure to try the homemade fare there.

You need to chow down in Istanbul and not miss trying the street food , as it’s not only cheap but also super filling.

  • Lesser Known Istanbul Street Food
  • Best Rooftop Restaurants & Bars In Istanbul
  • Where To Eat In Istanbul

Nature lovers, take note; here are the places in Turkey to head to to get your dose of lush greenery.

5. Saklikent National Park Antalya Or Cappadocia

Best Places To Stay In Cappadocia, Turkey

One of the most iconic travel photos worldwide is one of a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia , which is a true must-visit. The unique landscape around here is something to behold, and the so-called ‘fairy chimneys’ formed by years of rock erosion are genuinely magnificent. You can even stay in a traditional cave hotel!

Alternatively, or possibly also, head to Antalya’s Saklikent National Park. You can go canyoning, rock climbing, or sailing down the river, but whatever you choose to do, it’s genuinely breathtaking.

  • Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Guide
  • The Best Cappadocia Tours
  • Where To Stay In Cappadocia
  • Nearest Airport To Cappadocia

6. Koprulu National Park

Nature enthusiasts will find paradise in Koprulu National Park. Raft down the Köprüçay River through stunning canyons or go hiking amidst pine forests. The park’s natural beauty and outdoor activities make it an excellent destination for adventure seekers.

7. Pamukkale

How To Get From Pamukkale To Cappadocia - Sunset at Pamukkale

Its name means “cotton castle” in Turkish; Pamukkale is one of Turkey’s best tourist attractions that everyone will love, from kids to the most well-traveled people.

Whether you’re into nature or not, you’ll undoubtedly be impressed by the extraordinary features of this vast thermal spring. This natural UNESCO World Heritage Site is in inland southeastern Turkey but is a great day trip for major coastal cities.

Millennia of endless water flow and mineral deposits have created a stunning collection of travertine terraces, pure water, and snow-white limestone shimmering in the Turkish sun. Since antiquity, people have visited these hot springs and pools when it was the location of the Roman city of Hierapolis (Holy City).

Pamukkale Turkey - Family

Pamukkale is easily one of the best places to go in Turkey for a day trip from the coastal resorts. Although the terraces and pools are off-limits to visitors nowadays, you can still see them up close on footpaths. The on-site Roman ruins and museums are worth visiting , too.

  • Guide To Pamukkale
  • Best Thermal Hotels In Pamukkale
  • How To Get From Pamukkale To Cappadocia

Akyaka ,Turkey,

Nestled on Turkey’s southwestern coast, Akyaka is a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its serene charm. This picturesque town is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and water sports lovers.

The crystalline waters of the Azmak River wind their way through Akyaka, offering opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding. Stroll along the charming boardwalk and indulge in fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants. Akyaka’s unique architecture, with its traditional Mugla houses , adds to the town’s allure.

For a perfect day in Akyaka, explore the surrounding pine forests and soak in the natural beauty of this coastal paradise.

  • Why You Need To Visit Akyaka

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Places to visit in turkey if you want history.

So, where are the best places to visit in Turkey to learn about history?

9. Istanbul

best at travel turkey

Turkey is packed with history; if you want to study natural history, you should head to the southeastern region. While traveling there isn’t forbidden by any means and is relatively safe provided you’re careful , certain restrictions and places are not ideal.

Many governments warn their citizens not to go to the border area with Syria, for example. This is quite a shame because Mardin, which isn’t too far from the Syrian border, is one of Turkey’s oldest and most historic sites .

Despite that, Istanbul is the best place to go in Turkey for history, hands down, if not the entire world. There are more historical places to see in Turkey than you will ever have time to visit on one vacation!

  • The Istanbul Museum Pass – Save Time & Money
  • Whirling Dervishes In Istanbul
  • 17 Amazing Mosques In Istanbul Not To Miss
  • Best Museums In Istanbul

10. Çannakale

Things To Do In Gallipoli - Reasons To Go To Gallipoli - Tombs

Çannakale, located on the shores of the Dardanelles, offers a gateway to ancient Troy and the historic Gallipoli Peninsula. History buffs will be enthralled by the remnants of the ancient city of Troy, where the famous Trojan War unfolded. The Gallipoli Battlefields, a poignant reminder of World War I, is a solemn but essential stop for those interested in history.

Çannakale’s waterfront promenade provides breathtaking views of the strait, and the city’s warm hospitality ensures a memorable stay. Experience the intersection of history and natural beauty in Çannakale.

11. Ancient City Of Ephesus

Bodrum Vs. Marmaris - Ephesus day trip

Located near the present-day town of Selçuk on Turkey’s southeast coast , Ephesus is one of the world’s most magnificent ancient ruins and is one of the top places to go in Turkey for ruins.

This ancient Greek city dates back to the 10th century BC, after which it grew to become one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League in Classical Greece . The Roman Empire conquered this stunning city in the 2 nd century BC.

Celcius Library - Ephesus Turkiye

Now, the ruins of this ancient city are a UNESCO World Heritage Site ; Ephesus is easily one of the best sites in Turkey to visit ancient architecture and history. It was home to the fabled Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Simultaneously, other iconic buildings include the imposing Library of Celsus, the Gate of Augustus, and the Tomb of John of the Apostle. If you only have time to visit one historic site in Turkey, this should be it.

  • What To See & Do In Ephesus
  • Tours From Istanbul To Ephesus
  • Getting From Izmir To Ephesus

12. Aspendos

Best places to visit in Turkey - Aspendos

Another spectacular Turkish site dating from antiquity is Aspendos. This ancient Greco-Roman city is near Antalya on the southern coast of Turkey. There’s plenty of history to discover and learn about here, making it one of the best places in Turkey for history buffs to visit. The absolute star main attraction, however, is the massive Aspendos Theater.

One of the best-preserved theaters from antiquity, the Aspendos Theater, dating from the 2 nd century AD, once seated no fewer than 12,000 spectators. It is exceptional for its superb acoustics and impressive architectural design. The Theater of Aspendos is even more remarkable because it’s still in use today—it hosts the annual Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival.

13. City Of Safranbolu

City Of Safranbolu - UNESCO TURKEY

Another one of the many beautiful places in Turkey , the old City of Safranbolu, was an essential stop on the main east-west trade route between Europe and Asia in the 13th century. UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site for its significance to historic trade and its well-preserved buildings.

The Çarşı District is home to beautiful Ottoman Empire architecture, including hundreds of red-roofed traditional houses that line cobblestone streets. Other top attractions in Safranbolu include the 17th-century caravansary of Cinci Han and the restored Tarihi Cinci Hamam bathhouse.

  • Day Trips Ideas From Istanbul

14. Mount Nemrut

Hidden Gems In Turkey - Stone head statues at Nemrut Mountain in Turkey

By now, you’ve probably noticed that several of the best places to visit in Turkey are historical or cultural sites. And here we have yet another historic UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey. Mount Nemrut is no different.

Also known as Nemrut Dağ, Mount Nemrut is situated in southeastern Turkey and is one of the tallest mountains east of the Taurus mountain range.

This striking mountain is topped with several ruins, buildings, and famous statues. It is assumed to be the mausoleum of Antiochus, the former late-Hellenistic king of Commagene, which originated after Alexander’s empire fell. Seeing the temple tomb’s colossal statues and sculpted slabs is an experience that makes the trip out there more than worth it.

  • Top Landmarks In Turkey
  • Should You Visit Southeastern Turkey

So, where are the best places to visit in Turkey to experience culture?

15. Trabzon

Cities in Turkey - Trabzon - Sumela Monastery

If you’re looking for a breathtaking Turkish city to add to your travel list, look no further than Trabzon. This Black Sea gem in northeast Turkey is known for its stunning natural scenery , rich history, and delicious cuisine.

One of the must-see sights in Trabzon is the Sumela Monastery. Nature lovers will also enjoy exploring the Uzungol Plateau , hiking through the Altindere Valley National Park, and relaxing at one of the many scenic beaches.

No visit to Trabzon would be complete without sampling some of the local dishes like hamsi (anchovies), karadeniz pidesi (black sea bread), and kuyu kebabi (lamb cooked underground).

So, if you’re looking for a city with everything – from beautiful landscapes to tasty food – make sure to put Trabzon, Turkey, on your radar !

  • Guide To Trabzon

16. Sanliurfa

Cities in Turkey- Gobeklitepe, Sanliurfa / Turkey

Sanliurfa, often called the “City of Prophets,” is a unique place of historical and spiritual significance. According to local legend, it is the birthplace of the biblical prophet Abraham. Visit the vibrant bazaars of Sanliurfa, where you can shop for colorful textiles, spices, and handicrafts.

The city’s stunning Balikligol (Pool of Sacred Fish) is a serene oasis surrounded by gardens and historical sites. Witness the mesmerizing dance of the sacred fish, which is said to bring good luck. As you explore Sanliurfa, you’ll be immersed in a city where legends from ancient times and modern life coexist harmoniously.

17. Diyarbakir


Diyarbakir, located in southeastern Turkey, is a city of ancient walls and rich traditions. The city’s iconic black basalt walls, dating back to Roman times, encircle the old town and stand as a symbol of its resilience through centuries.

Explore the bustling, narrow streets of Diyarbakir, where you can savor traditional Kurdish cuisine. Don’t miss the chance to taste the delectable mutton dishes and baklava. The city’s Grand Mosque and the Hevsel Gardens along the Tigris River are must-visit attractions. Diyarbakir’s cultural heritage and warm hospitality make it a popular place for those seeking authenticity.

Cities in Turkey - Konya, Beysehir stone bridge view in town.Historic stone bridge on Beysehir lake

Konya is a city in Turkey that is full of history and culture. There are many fun things to see and do in Konya, making it a great place to visit. Some top sights include the Mevlana Museum, the Alaeddin Mosque, and the Selimiye Mosque.

There are also plenty of outstanding restaurants and shops to explore. If you’re looking for a city full of character and culture, Konya is definitely worth a visit .

  • How To Get From Istanbul To Konya

Cities in Turkey - Mardin, Turkey

Mardin, perched on a hilltop in southeastern Turkey , is a captivating blend of history and culture. The city’s ancient stone buildings, adorned with intricate carvings, transport you back in time.

Explore the narrow alleyways of the old town, where the scent of spices fills the air from bustling bazaars. The iconic Mardin Houses , made of local beige stone, offer a glimpse into the region’s architectural heritage. Don’t miss the chance to savor traditional Mardin cuisine, which combines flavors from Arabic and Turkish influences. As you wander through Mardin, you’ll discover a city where history and tradition harmoniously coexist.

20. Any Village

Best Places In Turkey To Visit For Every Kind Of Traveler - Ankara - Kocatepe Mosque

Many tour operators will take you to local villages and show you the local way of life . If you visit cities and towns , you’ll surely see some of them, but they’re usually touched by modern life and have changed a little. You must visit a local village to see how people live off the land, focus all their time and energy on family, and value communities. The food is also excellent!

Turkish people, by nature, are very welcoming, and hospitality is high on their list. If you meet a local family and they invite you to their home, you’re more than blessed in terms of the culinary delights that will come your way, too!

The good news is that many villages are close to the main tourist resorts on the south coast of the Turkish Riviera, so you can visit them if you hire a car.

Get off the beaten track and visit one of these options, which are among Turkey’s best places to visit.

21. Northern And Central Turkey

Best Black Sea Beaches -Amasra

Turkey is a safe country, and provided you listen to advice, e.g., the advice we gave before about not going close to the Syrian border; you’re more than fine. This is a huge country, and it’s exceptionally welcoming. Thanks to a very high-quality long-distance bus network, traveling around Turkey is straightforward, meaning you can go from place to place relatively cheaply.

If you want to leave the main tourist resorts and cities, head to the Black Sea Coast , with destinations in Turkey such as Rize and Trabzon. Do be aware that during the winter , however, this part of Turkey sees heavy snowfall, but it’s beautiful to see! Central Turkey is also a delight, and this is where the capital city of Ankara is situated.

  • Guide To The Black Sea Coast
  • Surfing The Black Sea

22. Gaziantep

Visit a museum in Southeast Turkey featuring a mesmerizing mosaic floor and majestic pillars - Gaziantep, Turkey - April 2022: Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Gaziantep, often called the “City of Gastronomy,” is a culinary haven in southeastern Turkey. Renowned for its delectable dishes and rich culinary heritage, Gaziantep offers a feast for the senses. Sample the world-famous Baklava, prepared with layers of thin pastry, pistachios, and honey, at local bakeries.

Explore the Gaziantep Castle and the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which houses remarkable ancient mosaics. The bustling markets of Gaziantep are perfect for indulging in traditional sweets and savory delights. With its culinary delights and historical sites, Gaziantep promises a delightful journey for foodies.

Most beautiful mosques in Turkey - Selimye Mosque - Edirne

Edirne, a city steeped in history, is a treasure trove of architectural marvels and cultural richness. Known for its stunning Selimiye Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Edirne’s skyline is dominated by its magnificent dome and minarets.

The city’s annual Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival is a testament to its cultural heritage, attracting participants and spectators from all over the world. Edirne’s Ottoman-style bridges, including the Meric River Bridge, offer captivating views and a glimpse into the past. Sample Edirne’s famous liver and meatball dishes at local eateries and immerse yourself in the grandeur of this historic city.

We’ve got the tourist spots in Turkey that are still fun while cold.

Do you think the best places to visit in Turkey are reserved only for the summer months?

Wintertime in Turkey can be magical, a great opportunity to relax, recharge your batteries, and see the traditional way of life. Of course, you can still embrace plenty of hectic action in the large cities, especially Istanbul .

  • Christmas In Turkey
  • Best Things To Do In Istanbul In Winter
  • Istanbul In January
  • Why You Should Visit Turkey In Winter

24. Cappadocia

Cave Hotel Cappadocia Turkey

Did you know that Cappadocia Is open all year round?

This beautiful fairy chimney landscape in Central Turkey is iconic for the hot air balloons flying high at sunrise every day. You might not know that Cappadocia isn’t close, so you can still head there and enjoy the beautiful scenery even when the weather is freezing and the snow is falling.

While hot air balloons are subject to cancellation at any time of year, depending upon weather conditions, it’s more likely to happen during the winter months. Don’t let that stop you, however, as there are many days when flights take off exactly as scheduled!

Even if you can’t get on the balloon, there are many things you can do around Cappadocia, with walking trails, cuisine, museums, archaeological sites , and, of course, the chance to stay in a cave museum!

Winter in Turkey is undoubtedly something you should do. While you might not be able to jump into the sea and get a suntan, you’ll experience something far more valuable – authenticity!

  • How To Enjoy Cappadocia In Winter

Places To Visit In Turkey For All

Things to do in Ankara - Ankara, Turkey - November 09, 2021: Front view of Anitkabir. Editorial shot in Ankara.

Turkey’s capital city, Ankara , is a modern metropolis with a rich history. Explore the awe-inspiring Atatürk Mausoleum and the ancient Roman Temple of Augustus. The city’s museums, vibrant nightlife, and diverse culinary scene offer a glimpse into contemporary Turkish life.

  • Epic Things To Do In Ankara
  • Istanbul To Ankara Train Guide
  • Istanbul Vs. Ankara – Which To Visit

Top Destinations If You Want To Sunbathe

If you want to know where to go in Turkey for the sun, we’ve got you covered (in 50+).

26. South Coast

Best Black Sea Beaches - Sinemorec Rocks - Sile Beach Turkey

Finally, if you want to kick back and relax, get a tan, and enjoy the summer temperatures (although, be warned, they’re hot), you should definitely head south and visit one of the many tourist resorts on the south coast.

  • Things To Do In Kas On Turkey’s Southern Coast

27. Side Antik Kenti

Side Antik Kenti is a seaside archaeological wonder that transports you to the ancient world. Stroll through the well-preserved ruins of temples, theaters, and baths overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a perfect blend of history, sun, and sea.

The Land of Legends in Belek, Turkey

Belek is a coastal paradise known for its luxurious resorts and pristine beaches. It’s a golfer’s dream destination with world-class golf courses. Relax by the turquoise waters, take a dip in the Mediterranean, or explore the nearby ancient ruins.

Lapped by the Mediterranean and Aegean Coast, you can also choose between some of the most beautiful places in Turkey.

  • Guide To The Turkish Riviera

29. Kusadasi

Kusadasi - Aegean Coast Turkey

Nestled along the stunning Aegean Sea, Kusadasi is a traveler’s paradise . With its crystal-clear waters, Kusadasi offers some of the most breathtaking beaches in Turkey . Beyond the shore, you’ll discover the ancient ruins of Ephesus, where history comes to life. Stroll through the bustling bazaars, savor the local cuisine, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of this coastal gem.

Bodrum beaches - Ortakent-Yahsi Beach Beach (Yahsi-Yalisi)

Bodrum is a coastal town that effortlessly combines history, culture, and natural beauty. The Bodrum Castle, overlooking the marina, is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Relax on the pristine beaches during the day, and as the sun sets, immerse yourself in Bodrum’s vibrant nightlife, filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants.

  • Where To Stay In Bodrum
  • Ferry Day Trip From Kos To Bodrum
  • Best Beach Resorts In Bodrum
  • Bodrum Beach Guide

Sailing Turkish Coast - Gumbet, Bodrum, Turkey

If you’re seeking a lively beach destination, Gumbet is the place to be. Known for its energetic atmosphere, Gumbet offers many water sports, beach parties, and vibrant nightlife. During the day, you can explore nearby Bodrum or bask in the sun along the golden shores.

  • Aegean Coast Of Turkey – Izmir, Bodrum & Beyond

32. Icmeler

Icmeler - Ibiza Beach

Tucked away on the southwest Turkish coast, Icmeler is a hidden gem known for its tranquil charm. The beach here is a haven for relaxation, and the town’s friendly locals make you feel right at home. You can leisurely stroll along the palm-lined promenade, indulge in delicious Turkish cuisine, and unwind in this serene coastal retreat. It is always a place where you can really unwind. 

  • Luxury Beach Resorts On The Turkish Riviera

33. Marmaris

Sedir Adasi, Marmaris

Marmaris is a diverse coastal town that caters to all types of travelers. Whether you’re interested in water sports, a boat trip to a secluded cove, or exploring the picturesque old town, Marmaris has it all. Don’t forget to visit the famous Marmaris Castle and enjoy a taste of the local nightlife.

  • Marmaris Or Bodrum – Which Is For You
  • Marmaris Or Antalya – How To Choose
  • Your Guide To Marmaris

Aerial view resort city Alanya in southern coast of Turkey

With its dramatic cliffside castle and two stunning beaches, Alanya is a coastal paradise with a touch of history that never disappoints me. Explore the centuries-old Alanya Castle, offering panoramic views of the coastline, and then relax on Cleopatra Beach, said to be the favored bathing spot of the ancient queen herself. Alanya’s vibrant markets and dining scene add to the charm of this captivating destination.

Not to mention, these cities along the southern coast are perfect for day-tripping to Greece!

  • Alanya Or Antalya – How To Choose
  • Your Guide To Alanya

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Turkey Travel FAQs

Should i go to turkey.

Yes! Turkey is an incredible country that offers diverse sights and delicious food. It is a melting pot of culture, history, and modern-day life.

When is the best time to go to Turkey?

If you want beach time, the best time to visit is from May to the end of September. If you’re more interested in sightseeing and city life, Turkey is a year-round destination.

What are the popular places to visit in Turkey?

While Istanbul is an obvious choice, the southern beach resorts are also bustling during the hottest months.

Where is Turkey?

Turkey is located on the border between Eastern Europe and Asia. It is bordered by eight different countries: Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, and Syria.

What is the most beautiful part of Turkey?

All of Turkey is beautiful in different ways. The south coast is particularly home to some of the best towns to visit, and when the sun is shining, it’s blindingly beautiful.

What is Turkey the most famous for?

Turkey is famous for its food, fantastic beaches, centuries-old history, music, and warm welcome to all guests.

Is Turkey safe to visit?

Yes. Turkey is safe like any other country. It is advised to avoid the border areas with Syria and Iraq and to watch your belongings in crowded spaces. 

What are the must-see cities in Turkey?

The must-see cities in Turkey include Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya, and Ankara.

Is Turkey cheap or expensive?

Compared to the rest of Europe, Turkey is considered a cheaper country, though prices have risen a lot in the last 12 months.

What are some of the best places to visit in Turkey?

Turkey offers a variety of incredible destinations to explore. Some of the best places to visit include sun-drenched beaches, lush mountains, vibrant cities, and ancient ruins.

What activities can I try while in Turkey?

In Turkey, you can engage in various activities depending on your interests. You can enjoy water sports at the beaches, go hiking in the mountains, explore bustling markets, indulge in delicious Turkish cuisine, and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the country.

Are there any recommended places to stay in Turkey?

If you’re looking for accommodation options in Turkey, there are numerous great places to stay. Depending on your preferences, you can choose from luxurious hotels, cozy guesthouses, seaside resorts, or even unique stays like cave hotels in Cappadocia.

How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites are there in Turkey?

Turkey boasts an impressive total of 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These sites showcase the country’s significant historical and cultural landmarks, providing visitors with awe-inspiring experiences.

Whether you are looking for panoramic views, water sports, natural wonders, or small-town feels, you can see that Turkey is the perfect place for everyone to go.

  • What To Pack For Turkey
  • Explore The 7 Geographical Regions Of Turkey
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  • 5 Reasons To Visit Gallipoli, Turkey
  • Top Things To Do In Istanbul
  • How To Get From Istanbul To Cappadocia
  • What To Wear In Turkey: Area-by-Area Guide
  • Things To Do In Cappadocia Other Than Ballooning

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Hi, I'm  Tom Brosnahan

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With over 50 years of travel writing experience and authoring more than 40 guidebooks, including the well-known "Lonely Planet Turkey", I share my best travel tips and local insight for exploring Turkey.

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Tour guide riding with guests through the landscape in Cappadocia, on a sunny cloudless day

Overflowing with Mediterranean energy and Middle Eastern hospitality, Turkey feels like a continent unto itself.

With Greco-Roman ruins, a sun-drenched Turquoise Coast , tiny hillside villages, delicately decorated minarets, and the world’s most spectacular historic mosques – Turkey is impossible to pigeonhole. If you know where to look among the shifting mountain backdrops, you’ll find one-of-a-kind sights and experiences that will set up camp in your heart. Break bread (and the fast) with new friends during Ramazan in the courtyard of the 17th-century Blue Mosque. Explore the hand-forged cave churches of Cappadocia in a landscape of towering wind-carved fairy chimneys. Sink your teeth into a gozleme filled with veggies you pulled from the dirt yourself. Discover Turkey with a local who is passionate about the land they call home.

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Culture and customs.

Turkey has a strong national identity and both its location and the legacy of the Ottoman Empire have contributed to a cultural mix of influences from  Europe ,  Asia  and the  Middle East . Cultural practices vary significantly depending on which region of Turkey you are travelling in. It's important to remember that while most Turkish cities are modern metropolises, Turks can still be quite traditional.

Travelers will find Turkish people to be polite and quite formal in their greetings, kind and hospitable as hosts and friendly as new acquaintances. While bars and nightclubs are common in big cities like Istanbul, outside of these environments it’s a good idea to take your cues from the locals and behave in a subdued manner. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, but raucous behavior should be contained to the appropriate venues and kept off the street.

While Turkey is nominally secular, the vast majority of the population identifies as Muslim and Islamic holidays like Ramazan (Ramadan) and Eid are widely observed and recognized as public holidays.

How to be a respectful traveler in Turkey

  • Clean your plate If you’re eating with locals (particularly as a guest in their home), you’ll make them very happy if you eat multiple servings and finish everything on your plate. Plan ahead and arrive on an empty stomach for extra points.
  • Know when to haggle Remember the first rule of bartering is to decide how much you’re willing to spend beforehand and use that as your guide. In regular shops – as opposed to markets – don’t attempt to haggle over prices.
  • Respect the elderly Small gestures like letting elderly folks go ahead of you through doors, offering them your seat on public transport and generally being considerate and respectful of older people will be greatly appreciated.
  • Keep criticism private It’s a good rule of thumb not to criticize the culture, government or politics of Turkey. While not all Turks are strict nationalists, you could cause a lot of trouble and offense. You should especially avoid discussing topics related to the Kurdish or Armenian people. When in doubt, follow the conversational lead of the locals. If you’re traveling with Intrepid, ask your leader for guidance. If you’re after a little insight into the geopolitical complexities of Turkey, check out the 'further reading' list below for some perspectives from Turkish authors.

History and government

Ancient history.

There is evidence of hominin habitation in the region known as Anatolia, or Asian Turkey, that dates as far back as 500,000 years and ample evidence of numerous Neolithic settlements popping up between 8000 and 10,000 years ago. 

Notable civilizations who occupied the prehistoric Anatolian region were the Hattians (circa 2500 BC to 2000 BC), the Hittites (circa 1700 BC to 1200 BC) and the Assyrians. From around 2000 BC, Greeks began settling in north-western Anatolia and the southern coasts, establishing individual city-states.

Pre-modern history

The majority of Anatolia was conquered by Alexander the Great in 334 BC. After his death, a succession of various Greek-Macedonian rulers controlled the area until 133 BC when the region was given to the Roman Republic.

Roman control had little impact on the dominant classical Greek culture, which continued to thrive in Anatolia until the region’s absorption into the Byzantine Empire.

Between the sixth and 11th centuries a massive wave of what is known as the ‘Turkic migration’ occurred, and millions traveled across Central Asia into Europe and the Middle East . Among this migratory wave were various Turkic tribes who brought the Islamic religion and Turkic languages that dominate modern Turkey.

The Byzantine Empire sustained a number of invasions and limped forward before finally collapsing in the 14th century, by which point much of Anatolia was already controlled by tribal micro-kingdoms. One of these Turkic tribal groups, the Ottomans, emerged as the dominant regional power during the 15th century and enjoyed a few hundred years of expansion and growth until territorial losses forced its eventual decline in the 19th century.

20th century

The final dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after defeat at the hands of the Allies in WWI was followed by a brief period of Allied occupation before the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk became the republic’s first president and introduced radical reforms to modernize Turkey and imbue it with a unique identity that was separate from that of the former empire. His ideas continue to be influential in contemporary politics today.

In the decades since the death of Ataturk in 1938, Turkey has seen a number of swings between democratic and autocratic governance, interrupted by brief periods of military governance and occasional political chaos.

Turkey today is a presidential republic where the ruling political parties have historically been nationalist and somewhat economically liberal, with a varying amount of Islamic influence. 

Far-left political activist groups and minority rebel groups have waxed and waned in terms of public and political influence. The most notable is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a militant political group originally formed with the intention of creating a Kurdish separatist state. The arrest of PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan in 1999 was a crushing blow to the once-powerful group, though they continue to operate with the stated aim of ensuring the rights and autonomy of the Kurdish people in Turkey and beyond.   

More recently, Turkey has experienced relative prosperity and political stability, though the economy – based on mineral mining, agriculture, tourism and construction – continues to fluctuate between growth and stasis.

Eating and drinking

Home to some of the tastiest produce you can get your hands on, traditional cooking methods and influence from Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Turkey’s food is surprising, delicious and delightful (pun definitely intended).

Plant-based options

Many Turkish favorites are already non-meat. Gozleme, simit and cig kofte are all vegetarian and easy to find in markets, street corner food stands and restaurants. Vegans will have a trickier time finding pre-made dishes that contain no animal products. However, Turkey has an abundance of markets selling fresh produce, bread and extras like hummus and fava bean dip. With a little planning, vegans will be able to assemble meze-style lunches when pre-made options aren’t available.

In dishes like soups and stews it’s a good idea to watch out for beef stock – called et suyu – as it is used frequently even in ‘vegetarian’ dishes.

Must-try Turkish dishes and beverages

  • Gozleme This spinach and cheese pastry is a tasty budget-friendly bite that will satisfy everyone (especially vegetarians).
  • Lokum Love it or hate it, this divisive treat (known internationally as Turkish delight) can be found in shops, bazaars and street stalls nearly everywhere in Turkey. Made from rosewater, lemon, sugar, cornflour and water, it's relatively easy to make… and even easier to eat.
  • Simit As far as quick and easy snacks go it’s hard to pass up simit, a bread similar to a sesame-encrusted bagel. Carts selling simit can be found at bus and train stations, main streets and other busy thoroughfares in most cities.
  • Cig kofte Made with bulgur, onion, tomato paste and spices, this south-eastern specialty is essentially a big ol’ vegetarian ‘meatball’. The traditional kind (made with raw meat) is now banned, so you can eat without fear of food poisoning.
  • Fish sandwiches Particularly if you’re spending time in the Bosphorus, a fish sandwich (or balik ekmek) is a must-try local dish. Made with white fish, onion and salad, it’s a simple classic that hits the spot.
  • Manti Though the ingredients that fill these handmade dumplings vary, the best kind are filled with lamb and served with yogurt and butter. It’s hard to move after polishing off a plate, but so worth it.
  • Turkish coffee Turkish coffee is known around the world for its unique brewing method. It's made with arabica beans which are ground into a fine powder and boiled with cardamom and water in a cevze – a pretty copper or brass pot with a long, thin handle.

Learn more about what to drink in Turkey

Turkey travel highlights

One of the best-preserved classical cities in the Eastern Mediterranean and arguably the greatest Greco-Roman site in the world, the ruins of Ephesus are essential viewing for amateur historians.

Turkey Highlights, 8 days

Turkey: Bike & Kayak, 12 days

Boasting incredible Roman ruins and a harbor that proves the term ‘Turquoise Coast’ is well-deserved, Antalya is a sophisticated slice of Mediterranean Turkey.  

Turkey Encompassed, 15 days

Essential Turkey, 11 days

3. Istanbul

People are passionate about Istanbul. Allow at least a few days to explore the sights of this continent-straddling city and discover the indefinable quality that inspires such devotion.

Taste of Istanbul, 3 days

Turkey Real Food Adventure, 11 days

 The main base for exploring stunning Cappadocia, Goreme has many buildings that are carved into the same soft volcanic rock that forms the fairy chimneys and spires the region is famous for.

Turkey Uncovered, 14 days

5. Mt Nemrut

Hike to the summit of this remote mountain and you’ll be rewarded with the ruins of an ancient mausoleum, including gigantic stone heads which are all that remain of epic statues of various gods.

Turkey Backroads, 5 days

Turkey Explored, 18 days

Cruise to the sunken city of Kekova, where you can swim and snorkel in crystal blue waters, taste fabulous local cuisine, float over an ancient sunken city or explore Lycian tombs.

Geography and environment

A fairly mountainous country sharing borders with Bulgaria , Greece , Syria, Iraq, Iran , Armenia , Georgia and Azerbaijan , Turkey also has wide stretches of coastline along the Aegean, Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Blessed with large tracts of fertile soil, Turkey is one of the world's biggest agricultural producers, and visitors can expect to see many farms, orchards, plantations and areas of permanent crops occupying certain regions.

Due to its location, Turkey is home to a wide variety of landscapes, from the rocky, forested coastline of the Black Sea region to the fertile plateaus of the Marmara, the white sand beaches of the Aegean and the limestone formations of the Mediterranean. Adding further environmental diversity, the Anatolia highlands (considered the heartland of the country) feature rugged snow-capped peaks and crystalline lakes.

With one of the biggest bazaars in the world, flea markets aplenty and a cutting-edge contemporary fashion scene in the bigger cities, shopping in Turkey is more diverse than you might think.

It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country, particularly perishable items. Australia and New Zealand, for example, generally have strict quarantine laws.

A note on ceramics

While beautifully decorated tiles and ceramics overflow from Turkey’s market stalls, you should keep in mind that their point of origin can be hard to decipher. In other words, watch out for fakes. The real deal tends to be pretty expensive (but worth it, if you ask us). Of course, if you’re just after something pretty to remind you of your travels, don’t feel too bad about reaching for the inexpensive option.

Things to buy in Turkey

  • Handwoven carpets Turkish carpets are a worldwide phenomenon and represent centuries of artistic tradition woven into a beautiful work of art. Go in with an idea of how much you’re willing to pay and don’t be afraid to bargain a little. Just keep in mind that quality craftsmanship deserves to be rewarded with a fair price. A lot of vendors and stores will give you the carpet in a bag suitable to transport as luggage, or you might consider shipping it back home.
  • Nazar boncuk (evil eye talisman) Want to bring home a little piece of Turkey and ward off evil spirits and intentions at the same time? An evil eye talisman is a perfect thing. You’ll see these little blue ‘eyes’ in every shop and the majority of Turks carry one with them wherever they go.
  • Jewelry Turkey's artisan-made gold and silver earrings, rings and bracelets are good buys. Bazaars, boutiques, museum gift shops and silversmiths offer a wide range of designs from modern to Ottoman-inspired.
  • Brass and copper You can find an assortment of brass and copper decorative objects for the home in the bazaars of Turkey. Serving platters, pitchers, trays, pots and urns will add some souvenir flair to your kitchen.

Festivals and events

If you want an adventure with a point of difference, consider planning your travels to coincide with these popular events.

Whether or not you want to travel during Ramazan (Ramadan) will depend on what kind of adventure you’re after. If you love immersing yourself in local culture and religious practices (and don’t mind a little inconvenience) you might just find traveling during this holy month a fascinating and enriching experience. While the days are dedicated to fasting and contemplation, the evenings are full of colorful celebration and, of course, feasting! Plus, there are fewer tourists around to compete with.

Anniversary of the Anzac campaign

Thousands of people head to Gallipoli every year to pay their respects to fallen Australian , New Zealand and Turkish soldiers who died during the bloody Gallipoli campaign of WWI. The moving dawn ceremony is an iconic event that grows in popularity each year, so if you're hoping to head to Gallipoli in April for Anzac Day, plan ahead.

Efes Pilsen One Love Festival

This annual summer music festival held in Istanbul presents two days of rock, pop, folk and electronic entertainment for masses of locals and visitors keen on soaking up some tunes and summer love.

Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Championships

Want to see thousands of oiled-up men wrestle and grapple with each other? Then this is the festival for you! This wrestling championship is held over several days, usually in late June, when Turkey's national sport is celebrated with gusto and fanfare. Apart from the one-on-one wrestling bouts, there’s Romani bands, traditional food and belly dancers providing the perfect sideshow attractions.

Cappadox Festival

Set in the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, this eco-friendly music festival features artists and musicians performing on solar-powered stages and inside the ancient caves that the region is famous for. Held around June, the festival was originally an annual event but has moved to a biennial timetable.

Learn more about festivals in Turkey

Further reading

For inspiring stories to prepare you for your Turkey adventure, check out these books:

  • Turkey: A Short History – Norman Stone
  • The Bastard of Istanbul – Elif Shafak
  • Last Train to Istanbul – Ayse Kulin
  • Poems of Nazim Hikmet – Nazim Hikmet
  • Istanbul: Memories and the City – Orhan Pamuk
  • Portrait of a Turkish Family – Irfan Orga
  • A Fez of the Heart – Jeremy Seal
  • Turkish Coast Through Writers' Eyes – Rupert Scott (ed.)

Similar destinations

Thinking about a trip to Turkey but still browsing other destinations? Or, maybe you've already traveled to the crossroads of Europe and Asia and you're looking for somewhere similar? Check out tours to neighboring locations:

  • Greece tours
  • Cyprus tours
  • Bulgaria tours

Turkey travel FAQs

Do i need a covid-19 vaccine to join an intrepid trip.

Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards

From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travelers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).

However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travelers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.

Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

Do you need a visa to travel to Turkey?

You may need a visa to enter Turkey depending on where you’re from. Foreign nationals from several countries will need an e-visa that allows stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period, including:

  • South Africa

Travelers from many countries – including  New Zealand , the  United Kingdom , Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,  Japan , Norway, Sweden and  Switzerland  – don’t require a visa for stays of less than three months if the trip is for tourism or business purposes.

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

The best time to visit Turkey is typically during the shoulder seasons of March to May or September to October when the temperatures are still warm and there aren't yet large summer crowds.

For the best beach weather, the hottest time of year is June and July, however, this collides with the summer holidays, so it will be busy.

The cooler months are quieter and accommodation (when still open) is cheaper.

If you are planning to travel to the eastern reaches of Turkey during Ramadan/Ramazan, it’s important to consider that many restaurants and shops will either be closed or operating at reduced hours. However, the carnival atmosphere that erupts when the fast breaks in the evening is magical, so travelers who enjoy immersive cultural experiences might prefer to travel during the holy month.

What's the weather like in Turkey?

The weather in Turkey depends on the time of year and region you're visiting. The southern coastlines typically experience a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and wet winters, while the interior regions can experience drastic temperature changes and even snow.

If you're planning on swimming, the water is generally still warm up until the start of November and October is great as it's much quieter.

Weather in Istanbul is fairly temperate, sheltered from severe weather by its proximity to the coastlines.

Is tipping customary in Turkey?

While tipping isn't mandatory in Turkey, a cash tip that equals a small percentage of the total bill is very much appreciated in restaurants.

It's also customary to tip staff while visiting hammams (bathhouses). It's not necessary to tip taxi drivers, although rounding up the fare for convenience is commonplace.

What is the internet access like in Turkey?

Free wi-fi is common in Turkey’s cities, but the quality of connection varies. Alternatively, Turkey has an abundance of internet cafes in large cities, and most of them serve coffee and snacks so you can refuel while you catch up with folks back home.

Internet access can be spotty or non-existent in rural areas, so it’s best to treat travel in these regions as an opportunity for a digital detox. 

Can I use my mobile phone while in Turkey?

Mobile phone coverage is good in Turkey, especially in large cities. Coverage may not be available in more remote areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your mobile carrier before you leave home if you wish to use your mobile.

What are the toilets like in Turkey?

Turkey has a mix of Western-style and squat-style toilets, sometimes with a jug of water for manual flushing. The latter becomes more common the more remote the region, however, there's typically a Western-style toilet in every bathroom.

Toilets are known as WCs (short for water closets) in Turkey.

Many public toilets require a small payment of roughly 2-10 TRY for use, so make sure you carry change when out and about.

You may find the standards of hygiene and sanitation in Turkey are laxer than you are used to so it's a good idea to carry toilet paper and hand sanitiser if you are concerned.

What will it cost for a…?

Turkey's unit of currency is the lira (TRY). Here's what you can expect to pay for a:

  • Half-litre of beer = 50-60 TRY
  • Simit (local bread roll) = 10 TRY
  • Casual restaurant meal = 300 TRY
  • Mid-range restaurant meal = 600 TRY
  • Basic hammam visit = 1000 + TRY/50 EURO

Can I drink the water in Turkey?

Drinking tap water isn't recommended in Turkey. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water or carry water purification tablets with you. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and to peel fruit and vegetables rather than eating washed or unwashed produce.

Are credit cards widely accepted in Turkey?

Major credit cards are widely accepted in tourist shopping areas and large hotels in Turkey, but are less commonly accepted by smaller vendors, in remote towns and rural areas. We recommend carrying cash for purchases to avoid being caught out.

What is ATM access like in Turkey?

ATMs are available in large cities in Turkey but are not common in rural areas and smaller towns. Be prepared for this by having enough cash before traveling out of the city.

What to wear in Turkey

Turkey can get quite warm in summer and during the shoulder seasons but it’s important to remember that clothing that covers you from elbows to below the knee is appropriate in (or even around) mosques. Think linen pants, lightweight tops/shirts and long dresses. Female travelers should also carry a scarf on them to wear when visiting mosques.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before traveling?

Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of their trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

What public holidays are celebrated in Turkey?

  • 1 January New Year's Day
  • 23 April National Sovereignty and Children's Day
  • 1 May Labour Day
  • 19 May Youth & Sports Day
  • 15 July Democracy and National Unity Day
  • 30 August Victory Day
  • 29 October Republic Day

View a full list of public holidays in Turkey .

The 30-day Islamic holy month of Ramazan (Ramadan) is widely observed in Turkey. The exact dates change every year, so it’s important you check when Ramazan will take place in the year you plan to travel. As a general rule, there are five consecutive public holidays observed at the beginning of the month and a few observed at the end.

The level of celebration varies considerably depending on what part of Turkey you are in. The east has a larger Muslim population and therefore a more devoutly observed Ramazan, whereas the southern and western coasts will be less affected.

Kurban (Eid al-Adha)

A four to five-day public holiday is observed during Kurban (Eid al-Adha), though like Ramazan the exact dates of this observation change every year.

Is Turkey safe for LGBTQIA+ travelers?

LGBTQIA+ travelers should be aware that while Turkey is nominally secular it can also be very conservative. As such, negative attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ individuals are common, particularly outside major cities.  

While same-sex relationships and non-normative gender presentation are not against the law in Turkey, LGBTQIA+ people have no legally enshrined protection from discrimination. Legal prohibitions against ‘ offenses against public morality’ can and have been used to persecute LGBTQIA+ folks, though the likelihood of this being used to target travelers is low.

Transgender travelers, in particular, should be aware that trans people in Turkey report being the targets of violence and overt discrimination. 

Istanbul and Ankara have established queer scenes, both of which are primarily oriented around cisgender gay men and to a lesser extent cisgender gay women. However, same-sex couples are still unlikely to engage in public displays of affection in these cities.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or ILGA before you travel.

If you are traveling solo on an Intrepid group tour, you will share accommodation with a passenger of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at the time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. A single supplement is available on some tours for travelers who do not wish to share a room.

Is Turkey accessible for travelers with disabilities?

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travelers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them toward the most suitable itinerary for their needs and, where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

While infrastructure is improving, much of Turkey remains difficult to navigate for wheelchair users and people with mobility concerns. Many cities in Turkey have been occupied for thousands of years and their design reflects that, with little regard given to making streets and attractions accessible. Travelers with impaired mobility will find that while tourist locales in Istanbul, such as hotels and mosques, are fitted with ramps and connected by an accessible tram, getting around the rest of the city can be challenging. Rural regions like Cappadocia will be difficult for travelers with mobility impairment to navigate independently. 

Squat toilets remain the norm in many parts of Turkey, which can pose problems for travelers with certain disabilities.

Traffic in Turkey can be chaotic, and even when traffic lights and pedestrian crossings exist drivers do not always obey them. Taxis are, for the most part, not wheelchair-friendly.         

Travelers who use battery-operated hearing aids should consider bringing a stash of extra batteries, as they can be difficult to locate in Turkey.

If you do live with a visual, hearing or other impairment, let your booking agent or group leader know early on so they’re aware and suitable arrangements can be made. As a general rule, knowing some common words in the local language, carrying a written itinerary with you and taking to the streets in a group, rather than solo, can help make your travel experience the best it can be.

Does my trip to Turkey support The Intrepid Foundation?

Yes, all Intrepid trips support the Intrepid Foundation. In fact, we make a donation on behalf of every traveler. Trips to Turkey directly support our foundation partner, C ontemporary Life Support Association (CYDD) . 

Contemporary Life Support Association (CYDD) provide scholarships and educational programs for economically disadvantaged youth in Turkey. Donations from our trips fund a program where young scholarship awardees undertake outreach workshops with marginalized children in regional villages. Workshops include information sessions on gender equality, health, law, culture, and other human rights topics.

Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.

How do I stay safe and healthy while traveling?

From Australia?

Go to: Smart Traveller

From Canada?

Go to:  Canada Travel Information

From the UK?

Go to:  UK Foreign Travel Advice

From New Zealand?

Go to:  Safe Travel

From the US?

Go to:  US Department of State

The World Health Organisation also provides useful health information.

What kind of accommodation will I be staying in?

Traveling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavor to provide travelers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.

When traveling with us in Turkey you may find yourself staying in a:

These locally run guesthouses are the perfect blend of a comfortable homestay and a hotel, combining well-situated and authentic Turkish accommodation with modern conveniences.

Immerse yourself in local village life and enjoy Turkish hospitality (and food) during a homestay. Share a home-cooked meal with your hosts and embrace the slow life.

How will I be traveling around Turkey?

Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport – which usually have less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.

Depending what trip you're on while in Turkey, you may find yourself traveling by:

Explore the rugged beauty of Turkey’s coast on a traditional Turkish sailing gulet. Spend days exploring submerged ruins and nights cozied up on deck under the stars.

What is it like traveling on a small group tour?

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or you’re about to embark on your first trip, traveling can be as intimidating as it is exciting. That's the beauty of a small group tour. From handling the logistics and organizing amazing cultural activities to local leaders who know each destination like the back of their hand (like which street has the best markets and where to get the most authentic food), traveling on a small group tour with Intrepid will give you unforgettable travel experiences without the hassle that comes with exploring a new place. Plus, you'll have ready-made friends to share the journey with. All you have to do is turn up with a healthy sense of adventure and we’ll take care of the rest.

Does my Intrepid trip include airfare?

While our Intrepid trips include many modes of transport, from tuk-tuks to overland vehicles, bullet trains and feluccas, airfare to and from your home country is not included in your tour package.

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  • Travel Tips

The Best Times to Visit Turkey for Pleasant Weather, Lower Prices, and Beach Days

Consider these expert tips to make the most of your visit.

best at travel turkey

A crossroads of cultures, history, and climate, Turkey offers a little bit of something for everyone. Visitors are drawn to the rich history and architecture of Istanbul , the beaches of the Mediterranean coast, the adventure of the central mountains, the food and festivals throughout, and so much more.

"As a country nestled on two continents — Europe and Asia — Turkey attracts visitors from all over the globe with its blend of ancient history, vibrant culture, and delectable cuisine," says Mina Agnos, president of Travelive and a Travel + Leisure A-List advisor . “Turkey is a destination that can be explored any time of year, but spring and autumn would be the best times to visit, with mild temperatures, favorable weather, and gorgeous colors.”

Nikada/Getty Images

Read on if you’re ready to discover more about the best times to visit Turkey, as well as what each time of year has in store. And, once you make a plan, this Turkey packing list will help you prepare.

Related : This Hotel in Turkey was Named One of the Best New Hotels in the World by T+L Editors — With Some of the Best Views of Istanbul

Best Time to Visit Turkey for Smaller Crowds

filadendron/Getty Images

One of Turkey's greatest attributes is its beautiful Mediterranean climate — even in the winter, the temperatures hardly dip below freezing. For example, January and February temperatures in Istanbul average around 48 and 49 degrees. These numbers might lower slightly as you travel further north or higher up into the mountains, but snowstorms are rarely a thing. Still, winter is the best time to avoid crowds, as most people save their travels for the spring and summer. Liam Dunch, Abercrombie & Kent product manager for Europe, agrees that January and February are the best times to visit Turkey for fewer crowds.

Best Time to Visit Turkey for Good Weather

wildart/Getty Images

Because Turkey is such a large country, with so many different areas to explore and things to do, experts may tell you there is no wrong time to visit Turkey for the weather. "It depends on your purpose," says Dunch. "If you'll explore the historic and cultural treasures, anytime is good. But the best times would be from mid-May to late June, and September and October." In Istanbul, for example, temperatures in May average around 71 degrees. In June, they rise to 80 degrees. The summer can be hot, with an average high of 85 degrees, but it's still quite comfortable. By September and October, the temperatures dip back down to 77 degrees and 68 degrees, respectively.  Spring and autumn also bring the best weather for hot air ballooning in Cappadocia , now a world-famous experience. While you can float above this landscape any time of year, the mild climate of April to June and September to October are most comfortable. 

Best Time to Visit Turkey for Lower Prices

As is true with most tourist destinations, lower prices are usually available when fewer tourists are in town, as businesses make their rates more attractive to lure in travelers during the slow season. The same is true in Turkey. Another option to save on cost is to book way in advance. "The best way to get low prices is to book early enough to get low rates on the hotels," says Dunch. "Otherwise, January and February in general."

Best Time to Visit Turkey for Festivals

Turkey is a country that positively pops with festivals; if you want to see how the locals celebrate, there many opportunities to do so. Istanbul is the destination with the most celebrations. The Istanbul Arts Festival is the leading one, and it takes place in mid-summer. To attend the Istanbul Jazz Festival, visit in July. Then there are others a bit more off the beaten path.

"The little village of Alaçatı, west of Izmir, hosts an incredible herbs festival in April," says Dunch. "Spring herbs are used as a specialty, fried into certain dishes in western Turkey in the spring." He adds that in Antalya a classical music festival is hosted in the world's best-preserved, 1,900-year-old amphitheater.  "Another interesting one is the Rose Harvest Festival in Isparta in early April," he says. "Come and see the black roses." Gallipoli and Urla also host grape harvest festivals in October. And this is just the beginning. Year-round, Turkey is a destination that packs in the celebrations and the festivals.

Best Time to Visit Turkey for the Beach

yagmradam/Getty Images

From Izmir to Bodrum, Antalya, and beyond, Turkey has some truly stunning seaside destinations. The best time to go to Turkey for beach weather is definitely the summer, when temperatures are at their hottest and driest — in July, Bodrum can get as hot as 95 degrees. In general, June, July, August, and September are considered to be the best times to hit the beach in Turkey. 

Worst Times to Visit Turkey

If you do go to the beach during the summer months, known that you'll likely be there with thousands of other tourists. Across the board, summer in Europe — and August in particular — is hot, crowded, and expensive. "Twenty years ago, no one in Istanbul had air conditioning; there was no need," said Dunch. "With the changing of the climate and global warming, the seasons are changing. August is still the warmest month, which receives a huge amount of European holiday-goers."

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14 of the best places to visit in Turkey

Whether you want to visit turkey’s cities such as culturally rich istanbul and liberal izmir, or watch hot-air balloons drift over cappadocia — these are the best places to visit.

The Istanbul skyline

H olidays to Turkey usually involve city breaks in Istanbul or a resort stay on its dazzling Aegean or Mediterranean coasts. But this vast country — more than twice the size of Germany — has many more treasures waiting for the intrepid traveller. Why not try skiing in the Uludag mountains, a soak in the mineral springs near Pamukkale, or sleep in a cave hotel in Cappadocia before soaring over its ethereal landscape in a hot air balloon? Whether you have a week, two weeks or even longer, Turkey has a delicious and culture-rich option for you. And for the budget-conscious, the weak lira means holidays here often offer incredible value. Here are some of the best places to visit in Turkey for your next break.

This article contains affiliate links, which may earn us revenue .

If you only have . . .

One week Spend a couple of nights in Istanbul then head down to the Aegean coast for history and beaches in Kusadasi or Izmir, and then inland for thermal springs in Pamukkale

Two weeks Take in both the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts either on a cruise or fly drive. For history buffs, there are countless archaeological sites to keep you busy

Three weeks Do a grand tour that loops from Istanbul down the Aegean coast, east along the Mediterranean and then up to Cappadocia. Fly back or stop via Ankara


The Eastern Express runs from Ankara to Kars

With its Armenian roots and heavy stone architecture, Turkey ’s easternmost city feels more like a Caucasian place than an Anatolian one. Kars is the last stop on the Eastern Express — a 24 to 32-hour train ride starting in Ankara — taking you through the stunning wilderness of the Turkish interior. Cabins are basic but clean and comfortable, the restaurant car is decent, and tickets are a bargain. Once you’re there, visit the ancient Armenian churches, some of them ruins, others converted into mosques, and climb up to Kars castle for a panoramic view out from the old fortifications.

Make it happen

Hotel Katerina Sarayi is housed in a Russian building commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II

You’ll be based in Kars for two nights and visit the surrounding regions on a six-day Land of Ararat tour with Fez Travel

2. Black Sea

Pokut Highland in the Black Sea region

Turkey’s northern coast misses out to the Aegean and the Med, but there is a cottage holiday industry here catering to surfers, ecotourists and Gulf Arabs who come to its cool green mountains for an escape from their desert summers. If you are a confident driver, hire a car and take a trip on the sometimes alarming roads along the coast. If not, with a base in Rize, the heart of the tea-growing region, or historic Trabzon or Samsun, you can visit ancient Christian monasteries, verdant mountain villages and lively port towns.

Abant Aden is a boutique eco resort in the green hills of Bolu

Wild Frontiers offers an 11-day Turkey: From The Black Sea to The Golden Horn tour that starts from Trabzon

3. Istanbul’s Bosphorus strait

The Ortakoy mosque on the European side of the Bosphorus strait

Pretty much any form of public transport that takes you from one side of Istanbul to the other will mesmerise you, be it the genteel passenger ferry with its tea stall and open decks, or the dolmus, the stuffed public minibus that weaves hair-raisingly through the traffic over the bridge. The strait is 550m across at its narrowest point, and the vistas from the middle are incredible; taking in palaces, shanty towns, mosques, skyscrapers, ports and islands. Sunset is the best time to see the historic peninsula from the water, when the sun sinks directly behind the domes of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.

Sumahan on the Water is Istanbul’s boutique seaside hotel

Add a Bosphorus cruise to your Istanbul stay — Velena Travel offers a classic sunset sailing on a luxury yacht

Cable cars at Uludag Ski Centre

Located 130 miles south of Istanbul, near the city of Bursa, Uludag Mountain has a mythological significance as it was believed to be a vantage point for the ancient gods during the Trojan War. Today, from December to March, it serves as Turkey’s premier ski destination, catering to a wide range of preferences from boozy all-inclusives to halal-friendly resorts. The mountain boasts 22 lifts and offers runs suitable for all skill levels, in addition to ski courses and equipment rental. It has become a favoured spot for Istanbullus to celebrate the New Year, and hosts music festivals in both winter and summer.

Monte Baia Uludag is all-inclusive and in the middle of 9,000m of slopes

Tourigy offers day trips to Uludag from Istanbul that include hotel pick up and cable car ride

5. Cappadocia

Hot air balloons in Goreme National Park

This enchanted landscape of rocky outcrops known as “fairy chimneys” is the perfect place to spend a romantic weekend outdoors. In the Cappadocia national park you can hike, horse ride and float over the 1,000m-high plateau in the middle of Anatolia. This city of cave houses was first settled by Christians in the sixth century, and lives on today with cosy boutique hotels built inside the ancient rocks. Indulge in the classic Cappadocia experience — a hot air balloon ride at dawn.

Seraphim cave hotel is a historic mansion set over an acre of fairy chimneys

BellaTurca Travel offers a two-day all inclusive Cappadocia tour from Istanbul with an overnight stay in a cave hotel and an optional hot air balloon ride

Paraglide over the Blue Lagoon in Fethiye

This quaint town is the jumping-off point for some of the most beautiful scenery along the Turquoise Coast, including the famed Blue Lagoon — a round inlet of crystal seas ringed with perfect sand. You can paraglide from the nearby Babadag mountain to enjoy a bird’s-eye vista of the coastline, and take boat trips out to bays that are only accessible from the water. Fethiye is also a starting point for the Lycian Way, a 300-mile hiking trail along the coast that is dotted with family-run pensions and cafés, but you can also camp along the way.

Ece Saray Hotel is in Fethiye’s glittering marina

The 13-day the Aegean Legacy tour from Encounters Travel includes a short gulet cruise from Fethiye

Turkish women sculptures in Anitkabir, Ankara City

Turkey’s modern capital, Ankara, often finds itself in the shadow of Istanbul — the historic heart of the Ottoman Empire and still the country’s largest city, both in population and cultural influence. While it can’t rival Istanbul in history or size, Ankara is still worth a weekend visit. The atmosphere is far calmer, there are elegant parks and broad pavements, and it’s the place to learn more about Turkey’s republican history. The most famous monument is Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s founder and first president, which also incorporates a museum and collection of neoclassical monuments.

Hotel Ickale offers classic luxury with a front-row view of Anitkabir

See both Istanbul and Ankara on a 14-day Turkish Delight tour from Globus

• Best luxury villas in Turkey to book now • Best all-inclusive hotels in Turkey for a break in the sun

8. Istanbul’s ancient shopping centre

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

The weak lira makes Turkey the ideal place to pick up a bargain, and if you know where to look there is great artisanship going on. Peruse Istanbul’s famous Grand Bazaar — said to be the world’s oldest shopping centre and certainly its most atmospheric. Stick to the antiques and leather sections if you’re actually looking for something to buy — for rugs, lamps and the other classic Turkish souvenirs, seek out smaller shops away from the tourist areas where you’ll find genuine products and lower prices. There are also lots of independent art galleries in upmarket neighbourhoods such as Nisantasi and Kadikoy on the Asian side, selling reasonably priced originals by Turkish, Iranian and Syrian artists.

Innova Sultanahmet is an opulent stay a stone’s throw from the Grand Bazaar

City Unscripted has a three-hour private shopping experience that takes you to local artisans in Istanbul, including at the Grand Bazaar

Beach outside the ruins at Olympos in Antalya

The gaudy heart of Turkey’s package tourism industry is also the gateway to some of Turkey’s most stunning natural beauty. Grab a hire car and head out of the city to find national parks, protected coastlines and species, and a burgeoning ecotourism sector. Kas, a coastal town 120 miles southwest of Antalya , has become a popular destination for middle-class Turks who come for the quaint old hotels and the villagey vibe. In Cirali, 40 miles to the south of the city, you’ll find a boho vibe with treehouse hotels and the ancient ruins of Olympos on an emerald green stretch of the coast.

Olympos Lodge is a chalet getaway with a luxury-eco vibe

Utracks offers a fully guided eight-day walk along the Lycian Way that departs from and returns to Antalya, and includes a visit to Cirali

A cosy outdoor cafe in Alacati, Izmir

Turkey’s most liberal city — and proudly so — Izmir’s unique vibe is flavoured by its young population, many of them students, its multicultural history and its relationship with the sea. Most of the beautiful old city was sadly destroyed during Turkey’s war of independence in 1922, but with its wide boulevards, palm trees and lively pavements packed with fish restaurants and bars, it’s still an easy place to fall in love with. Come in the spring before the weather gets too stifling and stay in one of the old courtyard houses that have been converted into boutique hotels.

Lagora Old Town Hotel has cosy rooms set around a 300-year-old courtyard

The ten-day Wonders of Turkey Luxury Tour from Ciconia Exclusive Journeys includes an overnight stay in Izmir

11. Pamukkale

The pools of Pamukkale in Turkey

Pamukkale — meaning “cotton castle” — is best known for the sparkling white terraces that have formed over thousands of years from calcium-heavy mineral springs cascading over a cliff. There are still hot springs in the area for those looking for a spa break. Unesco has listed it as a heritage site along with nearby Hierapolis, an incredibly well preserved ancient spa city with a Roman theatre. You can visit both sites in one day, although it can feel a bit rushed. Best to stay overnight and enjoy the benefits of the mineral springs too.

Hierapark Thermal & Spa Hotel Deluxe has indoor and outdoor thermal pools and is just 2.5 miles from Pamukkale

The seven-day Aegean Explorer tour from On The Go Tours includes a visit to Pamukkale and Hierapolis, with optional thermal spring experience

12. Kusadasi

The ancient fort castle on Pigeon Island

Best known for its beautiful beaches with clear blue waters, Kusadasi is ideal for a fly-and-flop break in Turkey. But while its natural beauty is its obvious draw, it’s also the gateway to Ephesus ancient city — considered one of the most well-preserved archaeological sites in the world. Highlights here include the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Artemis, and the Great Theatre. There’s also the islet of Guvercinada, or Pigeon Island, which is dominated by a 14th century fortress. There’s no need to charter a boat though — it’s connected to the mainland via a causeway.

Charisma De Luxe Hotel sits in front of a 60m private beach with sweeping views of the Aegean sea

The eight-day Taste of Turkey tour from Encounters Travel includes an overnight stay in Kusadasi and a visit to Ephesus

• Best hotels with waterparks in Turkey • Best hotels with swim-up rooms in Turkey

13. East Thrace

Wine has much improved in Turkey over the past few years, largely thanks to a clutch of cutting-edge wineries that are bringing viniculture back to Asia Minor. You can eat, drink and wander the vineyards at several of these in the East Thrace region, an easy day trip from Istanbul. Further south, there are a number of other open vineyards, many growing the Narinca variety, around the Aegean and Mediterranean coast. Several great wine houses back in Istanbul offer extensive local wine lists, served up with cheese and meat platters.

Bakucha Vineyard Hotel offers up luxurious cool with local food and — of course — great wine

Fez Travel has a full-day wine tour from Istanbul that includes lunch and visits to three different wineries

Gocek Marina

In Turkey, private sailing is not just for the rich and famous: you can get the private yacht experience on a modest budget. Gather enough friends and you can affordably hire a gulet — a traditional sail boat — with crew for several days of sailing around the coves, islands and beaches of this idyllic part of the Mediterranean coast. While Gocek is the hub for Turkey’s gulet tours, there are fishing villages all along the western coast where you will find mariners willing to take you out for a few hours. In Istanbul and other coastal towns, you can hire motor boats to take you out for the day.

Six can sail in luxury on the Gulet Serenity

Encounters Travel offers an eight-day Fethiye and Gocek gulet cruise that visits secluded bays and quiet islands

• Best beaches near Istanbul • Best hotels in Istanbul

Additional reporting by Qin Xie.

Take me there

Inspired to visit Turkey but yet to book your trip? Here are the best packages from Tui Holidays and BA Holidays . Here’s a selection of some of the best Turkey tours from our Times Travel partners . And if you’re still unsure of where you want to go or what type of holiday to book, get in touch here and one of the Designer Travel experts will be in contact to help you arrange your perfect tailor-made break.

Sign up for the Times Travel Newsletter here .

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2 Weeks in Turkey: The Perfect Turkey Itinerary

Last updated: April 17, 2024 - Written by Jessica Norah 92 Comments

If you are planning a trip to Turkey, our 2 week Turkey itinerary will help you plan the perfect trip. Turkey is a large country, but if you have 14 days in Turkey you have time to explore many of the country’s most famous highlights.

Our suggested 2 week Turkey itinerary includes visits to Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, Pamukkale, Kuşadası, Ephesus, Troy, Çanakkale, Gallipoli, and Ankara. You’ll have time to explore Turkey’s most cosmopolitan cities, marvel at its ancient archaeological sites, relax on its beaches, shop at its traditional bazaars, visit several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and enjoy its scenic landscapes. The detailed day-by-day itinerary covers some of the most famous and iconic places in Turkey as well as some lesser known spots.

Each day we provide a range of suggestions for what you might want to do to suit just about any person’s travel style, budget, and tastes. Activity suggestions include hot air ballooning, food tours, hiking, museum visits, boat trips, cable car rides, art tours, Turkish hamam experiences, watching the sunset, cultural performances, and enjoying the local night clubs.

Laurence and I have visited Turkey several times and wanted to share this 14 day itinerary to help you plan your own trip. With 2 weeks in Turkey, you can see and do a lot, but you do need to be choosy as Turkey is a big country with lots of interesting attractions!

This itinerary can work no matter how you plan to get around Turkey. We have provided advice for those planning to travel by bus, car, train, plane, or as part of a guided tour. If you are thinking about booking a tour, we also give some recommendations for tours of Turkey that are similar to our itinerary.

Our 2 week Turkey itinerary includes day-to-day transport details, sightseeing highlights, activity options, and lodging recommendations. In addition, we’ve also included loads of tips, advice, and recommendations to help you get the most out of your Turkey vacation!

2 weeks in Turkey itinerary 14 day Turkey trip Ephesus Celsus Library

Table of Contents:

Preparing for your Trip to Turkey

Before we share our suggested 2 week Turkey itinerary, we wanted to share some tips and advice and answer some frequently asked questions about planning a trip to Turkey.

These include travel basics like knowing the local language and currency, the best time of year to travel to Turkey, how to get a visa, how to budget for your trip, and the best ways to get around Turkey.

The most important things you need to decide before planning out your itinerary is when you plan to visit, how long you plan to visit, and how you plan to get around the country.

Best Time of Year to Visit Turkey?

Turkey is a year-round travel destination. Generally, the months that are considered the best months to visit Turkey are April, May, September, and October. They are months when it is warm but not super hot outside.

The summer months of June through to August are often very hot in most parts of Turkey and can make it uncomfortable to spend long periods of time exploring outdoors. So be prepared for the sun and heat if you visit during the summer.

The busiest time of year to visit Turkey is from April to September. So if visiting during this period, just note that places will be busy. So expect crowds at the most popular sites.

The least busy times of the year are the winter months. If you don’t mind a bit of cold weather, you might consider traveling between November and March. Just note that these also tend to be the windiest and wettest months as well as the coldest. Also some attractions in Turkey are seasonal and may be closed for part of this period.

It should also be noted that Turkey is a large country so the weather in Istanbul may be very different than that of Antalya, Bodrum, Ankara, or Kars at the same time of year. So best to check average temperatures and weather for the specific places in Turkey you plan to visit.

We’ve been to Turkey at many different times of the year, and for those who don’t love hot weather, we’d definitely recommend against visiting in the summer if you can. The spring and autumn are definitely ideal for temperature.

We have also visited in late November and early December and found it cool but pleasant and crowds were much more manageable. But you do need to be more prepared for rain and bad weather.

Blue Mosque Turkey 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary Sultan Ahmed Mosque

How Much Does it Cost to Visit Turkey?

Turkey is a relatively inexpensive country to travel to and it is easy to find affordable lodging, food, clothing, and transportation.

In Istanbul, you can pay USD $8.00 for a hostel bed or you can pay USD $500 for a luxury hotel room. Turkey can be a great destination for budget, mid-range, and luxury travelers alike.

If you are traveling on a budget, you can easily travel in Turkey for very little. You can get a bed in a hostel for under USD $10 and meals in inexpensive restaurants for under USD $5.00. Bus fares and train fares are also inexpensive. Even domestic flights are generally reasonably priced, especially if you book in advance.

To find out an idea of the current prices for things in Turkey we recommend checking out a site called Numbeo. Here you can check for the average prices of basic goods (bananas, taxis, gasoline, restaurant meals, wine) in Turkey or check on prices of goods for a particular city (see here for Istanbul ).

Although most things in Turkey that travelers are likely to be purchasing are inexpensive compared to say the USA, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe, imported goods are often the same price or more expensive. This includes imported grocery items, electronics, alcohol, and cars. Fuel can also be expensive.

Ephesus Turkey 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary Laurence Norah

Turkey Travel Practicalities?

Turkey, officially the Republic of Turkey, is a huge country of over 75 million people and its capital city is Ankara. The largest city is Istanbul. Turkey straddles Europe and Asia and is a place where eastern and western cultural practices mix.

Here are some things you should know about Turkey before your trip.

Language in Turkey

The official language is Turkish and that is the first language of most Turks. Many people in Turkey also speak Kurdish.

You’ll find English speakers in the larger cities and in all the main tourist hot spots; however, most Turkish people speak little or no English. If you are planning to travel independently, it is a good idea to have a Turkish-English phrasebook or translation app with you.

Religion in Turkey

There is no official religion in Turkey but the vast majority of the people are Muslim, with Sunni Islam being the largest sect. However, it is common to also see Christian and Jewish places of worship.

It is important to follow local customs regarding modesty and dress when visiting religious places. Both men and women are asked to dress modestly and you may also be asked to remove your shoes. Women will be asked to cover their heads.

We recommend that women always carrying a scarf or travel wrap with you to cover your head and shoulders as needed.

Blue Mosque interior 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Electricity in Turkey

In terms of electricity, Turkey operates on 220 volts / 50 Hz and uses round-prong Type C or Type E plugs that fit into recessed wall sockets. If your devices do not have Type C or Type E plugs (common in many European countries), you will need to take some plug adapters such as these ones .

If you are traveling from a country with 120v voltage (such as the United States or Canada), you will want to make sure to only bring electronics that will support 220v voltage, or you’ll need a separate voltage converter. You can see more in our guide about choosing a travel adapter for travel .

Currency in Turkey

The currency used in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY). Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Turkey, with Mastercard and Visa being the most commonly taken.

However, many small businesses, street vendors, taxi drivers, and market sellers do not take credit cards. You also will need cash for tipping. So it is always wise to have liras on you when traveling.

The best way to get liras is from a local ATM once you arrive in Turkey. But you can also get them from a currency exchange bureau or bank before or during your trip. You can check the current exchange rate here .

Drinking Water in Turkey

There are mixed reports about whether the tap water is safe to drink in Turkey. The tap water in some areas is considered safe to drink but not in other areas. So it is generally recommended that travelers do not drink tap water in Turkey. However, the water is considered safe for bathing and cleaning.

Although bottled water is available everywhere, the environmental impact of these plastic bottles is terrible. So we recommend instead that each person takes a reusable water bottle along with a water filtration system or purification tablets. Then you can fill it up with tap water from just about anywhere.

We use the LifeStraw water bottle and it not only filters out any bacteria and dirt, but also filters out chlorine and other chemicals that cause the water to taste bad.

Getting Online in Turkey

Wireless Internet is freely available at most hotels and other types of accommodation in Turkey. So that can be a free way to stay in touch and get online. If you want to be able to use your phone’s service, you might want to consider getting a local SIM card .

If it is important for you to be able to get online easily during your trip, you might consider taking along a mobile hotspot. On our last 2 week trip to Turkey, we used a mobile hotspot from MyWebspot and it worked very well.

You can read our guide for more tips on staying in touch and using the Internet while traveling . For those concerned about online safety, we also recommend using a VPN while traveling in Turkey if you plan to use WiFi.

Safety in Turkey

Turkey has generally been considered a safe country for travelers. However, you should always check the latest travel advisories in your country and those issued in Turkey

There has been a lot of unrest in countries neighboring Turkey, particularly Syria, and there has been noted instances of violence, protests, and fighting along its borders. So you will likely see some travel advisories advising against travel to some of the border areas.

As with any country, we always recommend protecting your valuables, protecting yourself against pickpockets, and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

The main thing we have experienced is that you need to be very careful when handing over cash or exchanging money. Be sure to carefully count what you hand over and say the amount out loud, and make sure you get the correct change back.

We’ve had a taxi driver in Istanbul scam us by claiming we gave them a much smaller denomination note than we did and would not give us back the correct change. We ended up paying about 4 times the regular amount for a taxi ride. We’ve heard similar stories from many other travelers as well.

hot air balloon in Cappadocia 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Do I need a Visa for Visiting Turkey?

Yes, most people, but not all, will need a visa to visit Turkey. Turkey has recently changed its policy so that residents of most European nations can enter Turkey without a visa.

You should check the current requirements for your particular country. Some countries may also have additional entry requirements.

Most nationalities that require a visa are eligible to apply for an e-visa in advance which is what we’d recommend doing. There are visa application places at the main ports of entry in Turkey but these can take longer and if your application is refused for any reason, you will be in a very undesirable situation. Best to apply and have it before you leave home.

With the e-visas, at most places the border patrol and authorities can check it in their system. But you will also want to bring along a digital and/or paper copy of your approved e-visa as well for back-up documentation.

How to Get to Turkey

Most visitors will arrive into Turkey via the international airport in Istanbul, but there are several ways to get to Turkey.

The main international airport in Turkey is the recently built Istanbul Airport in Istanbul. However, there are several major international airports in Turkey, including ones in Ankara, Mugla, Izmir, and Antalya.

There are direct or indirect flights to Istanbul from most parts of the world. The main airline operator in Turkey is Turkish Airlines.

It is possible to drive to Turkey via Bulgaria or Greece or to by taking a car ferry.

At the border you will need to provide a valid passport, visa (if needed), international driving license, vehicle license, international green card, vehicle registration details, and proof of insurance. Make sure your car insurance is valid for travel within all of Turkey. If the vehicle is not registered in your name, you may need a power of attorney document.

It may be possible to also enter by car from other countries to the east such as Iran or Georgia; however, the eastern borders are sometimes closed to private drivers and sometimes an authorized tour guide is required. Many rental car agencies will also not allow many of these border crossings. So do your research before your trip as it is often much easier to take a bus or train to make the crossing is there is one available.

If you want to travel to Turkey by bus there are regular services between Turkey and several European and Middle Eastern countries. You can check bus routes and book tickets on  BusBud .

There are ferry connections to Turkey for both cars and passengers, mainly from Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey has train links with eastern Europe and the Middle East; however, they are fairly limited and most trains are not daily so you will want to plan ahead. Wars and economic issues have closed a number of the long-distance international routes.

Currently, the two main places you can regularly get to Turkey directly by train are from Bulgaria and Iran.

If you are traveling in Europe by train and including Turkey in your trip, you will probably need to head to Sofia, Bulgaria and then connect to Istanbul via the Istanbul-Sofia Express train service. We took this train a couple of years ago.

If you are planning travel around Europe by train then you might want to consider a Eurail Global Pass (European rail pass for non-Europe residents) or Interrail Global Pass (European rail pass for residents of Europe). The Global Passes work for travel in over 30 European countries, including Turkey. The pass includes the Istanbul Sofia Express train service.

The most famous train service in the world, the Orient Express, once linked western Europe with Istanbul. It was a favored train by many famous writers, and we recommend taking along a book or two to enjoy if traveling by train.

A couple of novel suggestions include Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie and Stamboul Train by Graham Greene. For a travel memoir, Paul Theroux writes about his experiences traveling by train in 1973 from Paris to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Tehran in his book The Great Railway Bazaar . He then retraces his train journeys over 30 years later in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star .

The terminus train station for the old Orient Express service is still there and once a year the Venice Simplon Orient Expres luxury train still makes this trip from Paris (or London) to Istanbul.

Istanbul-Sofia Express train service

How to Get Around Turkey

You have a variety of options for getting around Turkey. These include traveling by bus, train, or plane, renting a car, or joining a guided tour.

The easiest way is to take a tour, where someone else handles all your transport, accommodation, and sightseeing. The cheapest is to travel by bus and train.

In terms of public transport, Turkey has a good bus system which connects much of the country. There are both daytime and overnight buses, and there are usually a few services to choose from if you are heading to some of the more popular destinations, including those on our suggested itinerary.

There are several bus companies in Turkey. Many of the buses have amenities such as power outlets, WiFi, and onboard entertainment. Bus prices are very reasonable.

In places where the regular buses don’t have a route (such as to suburbs or to tourist attractions located outside of a city) there are often dolmus that run in these areas. These are shared taxis or minivans that run a set route for a set price. Passengers can then get out of the dolmus at any point along its route by notifying the driver. See advice for using a dolmus here .

For most of the regular buses, you can check the routes and buy tickets online in advance. The best tool we’ve found for comparing timetables and booking bus tickets in Turkey is BusBud and you can check prices and book online here .

There is a train network in Turkey, but it is not as comprehensive as the bus network. However, it is sometimes faster to take a train than to drive or take the same bus route when it is an option. So while you can use it to get to some of the main travel destinations in the country, you will likely need to also use the bus.

The railway network in Turkey is run by the government-operated Turkey State Railways (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Devlet Demiryollari or TCDD). This includes a network of long-distance, regional, commuter, and high-speed trains. You can check routes and buy tickets here .

If you are planning to take a few train journeys in Turkey then you might want to consider a Eurail Pass (European rail pass for non-Europe residents) or Interrail Pass (European rail pass for residents of Europe). You can get a Global Pass that works for 32 countries in Europe (including Turkey) or a Turkey Select Pass (only valid for Turkey). The Eurail and Interrail passes are valid on all trains in Turkey operated by Turkey State Railways.

You will probably find a combination of train and bus will be the optimal way to get around if you are taking public transport. Bus and train prices are often similar, so in those cases, you’ll want to take whichever option is more time-efficient.

If you’d prefer to drive yourself, you can rent a car in Turkey. This can be a good way to get around if you want to have a more flexible itinerary and don’t want to take public transportation.

To rent a car in Turkey as a foreign visitor, you will normally be required to show a valid passport and visa, have a valid credit card, a valid drivers’ license in a Latin alphabet, and be age 21 or older (some age requirements may be as high as 27). If you don’t have a driver’s license in a Latin alphabet you will need to get an International Driving Permit prior to your trip.

The main roads in Turkey are in good condition and there are roadside services along the way. However, Turkey is known for a high number of accidents and bad traffic, especially in the cities. It can be a stressful experience for tourists not familiar with driving in Turkey. This is not to say you shouldn’t consider renting a car in Turkey, just be aware of the situation, get insurance, and be prepared to drive defensively.

Many of Turkey’s fastest highways and bridges have tolls. To drive any of these roads, you will need to first sign up for Turkey’s high-speed toll system called Hizli Geçis Sistemi (HGS) and have an electronic toll payment device on your car. You can’t pay the toll with cash or credit card at the toll booths. If renting a car, your rental car will likely come with the sticker and you should ask about it and any associated fees.

Just note that driving a car is generally the most expensive way to get around Turkey. You can often purchase 2 or 3 bus or train tickets for the cost of just the fuel between two cities. Given that drivers also have to take into account rental fees, insurance, parking, and highway tolls, driving a car is often even more expensive than flying.

Drivers should always keep local cash on hand as most of the tourist sites have paid parking fees and payment at some of these places is only accepted in cash.

You can rent a car in any of Turkey’s main cities, and many people rent a car in either Istanbul or Ankara. If you want to rent a car, you can compare and check prices online with Discover Cars here .

Finally, as Turkey is a big place, there are a number of domestic flight routes which can help you to get between some of the major locations quite quickly. There are over 50 airports in Turkey.

Flights are relatively inexpensive if booked in advance, although they are usually more expensive than taking a train or bus. The main airline in Turkey is Turkish Airlines.

So flights can help you cover large distances in a relatively short time. Just don’t forget to account for the time required to get to and from the airport and to check in and go through security. It is also important to think about the environmental footprint of taking numerous flights versus other modes of transportation.

However, airports are often located a fair distance from the tourism destinations so you will still need to combine flying with other modes of transportation such as a bus, train, car, taxi, or tour.

By Carpooling or Ridesharing

You can use carpooling or ridesharing services like BlaBlaCar to find rides in Turkey. However, given that the established bus network will get you to almost anywhere you need to go, that bus tickets are so inexpensive, and that carpooling is not that popular in Turkey means that you are probably better off using the bus (or train).

One of the most popular ways to explore Turkey is to join a guided tour. We can definitely recommend it if you are considering a trip to Turkey similar to the one we suggest in this itinerary.

A tour makes travel in Turkey much easier. You don’t have to figure out public transportation schedules or how to buy tickets, you don’t have to spend long periods of time driving or figure out where to park, and everything is planned ahead for you.

The best thing about joining a tour is that you have a tour guide who can help explain all the things you are seeing and give you lots of great advice for places to go, dishes to eat, and things to see.

Many attractions in Turkey include very little posted explanations so having some sort of guide (whether a person, audioguide, or book) is important to get the most from your visit.

Private tours in Turkey with a guide are also possible and can be a good value for those traveling with a family or small group.

We have a selection of recommended tours that are similar to this itinerary in this guide. We also suggest taking a look at Turkey tours on TourRadar here , where you’ll find a range of tours from various tour operators at different price points and durations.

Upper Duden Waterfall Antalya 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

How Long Should I Spend in Turkey?

It really depends on what you want to do and see in Turkey. Turkey is a huge country and it would take months to see all of its highlights.

I would say an ideal amount of time for a first trip would be 10 to 14 days. This will give you plenty of time to get a taste of Turkey and see some of the country’s most famous cities, historical attractions, and beaches.

Most first time visitors spend most of their time focused on the western part of Turkey and this is what we’d recommend. If you have 2 weeks, you can cover many of the highlights. If you have more time, or come back a second time, you can cover the lesser-known destinations of the west or expand your trip into the lesser-explored eastern part of Turkey.

For what to see with 2 weeks in Turkey, see our suggested itinerary below for an itinerary and day-by-day suggestions for what to see and do.

If you want to spend less time moving from place to place, you can easily just split your time between two places, for instance spending several days in Istanbul and then several days in another town or city, like Antalya, Fethiye, Ankara, or Izmir. You can spend time exploring the cities and take day trips to visit nearby attractions.

We’ve visited Istanbul several times now and still haven’t seen everything the city has to offer!

Hagia Sophia 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Tours of Turkey

Turkey is a big place and it is often a long distance between popular tourist attractions, resulting in quite large amounts of time transiting. While there is a fairly good public transport network and it’s possible to hire a car, we think for many people a tour is the best way to get around.

This way you can let someone else handle all the logistics of your trip, from transport to accommodation, and you can just enjoy yourself and focus on the sightseeing

. It also means you don’t have to worry about booking individual day trips for out of town sights, as most tours will already include stops at these attractions. You’ll also get a tour guide for the duration who can help explain all the amazing things along the way.

You can also spend the time on the coach reading, chatting with your travel companions, catching up on sleep, or surfing the Internet rather than driving or negotiating public transit.

Turkey is a popular destination, and there are a huge number of tours to choose from, varying from a few days to a few weeks. Most are offered at a reasonable price, with lots of budget and mid-range options.

When choosing a tour, it’s important to pick the style of tour that is right for you. Some tours are smaller groups, others are quite large. Some are geared to a younger traveler whereas others are more focused on a more mature traveler. Some include more time at historical and cultural sites whereas others may spend more time at beaches and seaside destinations. Check the comfort level of the accommodation and transport included.

It’s also important to read what is included when comparing tours. For example, some tours might include all your entry fees and meals whereas others will allow you to choose whether you want to pay for those things or not. So don’t just look at the price of the tour but also check what is and what isn’t included.

A good tour company should also be able to give you an estimate of the costs for all the optional activities and attractions that aren’t included, so you can budget accordingly.

For instance, we have taken a tour with Travel Talk Tours in Turkey and most of their budget-oriented tours work out to being about $50 to $80 per day per person for all inclusions, including transport, guide, attractions, meals, and lodging. You can read about our 12 day Turkey tour experience here .

We’ve put together a selection of tours of Turkey below which are quite similar to our itinerary, so you can pick a tour that is right for you. Most start in Istanbul but a couple start in Ankara.

  • This 10 day small group tour includes visits to Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, and Cappadocia
  • This 12 day tour includes visits to Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Fethiye, and Cappadocia.
  • This 12 day Turkey by gulet tour includes visits to Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Fethiye, and Cappadocia. It also includes 3 nights on a gulet boat. You can read all about our experience taking this tour of Turkey here .
  • This 12 day private tour from Ankara includes visits to Ankara, Istanbul, Cappadocia, Konya, Antalya, Kaş, Fethiye, Pamukkale, Efes, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Troy, and Gallipoli
  • This 13 day tour which includes Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, Bodrum, Pamukkale, and Ephesus
  • This private 14 day tour of Turkey which includes Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Antalya, and Cappadocia
  • This 19 day tour could be great for those with more time in Turkey. It includes visits to Istanbul, Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Fethiye, and Cappadocia, plus 7 nights on a gulet to visit nearby seaside towns and islands.

As you can see, there are lots of tours to choose from so you can probably find a tour that suits your travel needs. You can see lots more tours in Turkey from various tour operators on TourRadar here .

You can also consider mixing independent travel with a tour as we find this a good way to enjoy some time sightseeing on our own (such as in Istanbul) and then taking a tour to explore further afield.

Travel Talk Turkey Tour group 2 weeks in Turkey

14 Days in Turkey Itinerary Summary

Here’s a summary of our suggested 2 week Turkey itinerary to help you visualize what your two weeks in Turkey will look like:

  • Day 1: Istanbul
  • Day 2: Istanbul
  • Day 3: Gallipoli
  • Day 4: Troy & Kusadasi
  • Day 5: Kusadasi & Ephesus
  • Day 6: Pamukkale & Fethiye
  • Day 7: Fethiye
  • Day 8: Antalya
  • Day 9: Antalya
  • Day 10: Cappadocia
  • Day 11: Cappadocia
  • Day 12: Ankara
  • Day 13: Ankara
  • Day 14: Istanbul

2 Week Turkey Itinerary

The goal for this two week Turkey itinerary is to visit some of the many highlights the country has to offer.

Obviously, in a country with such a rich history, there’s no way to see everything on offer in two weeks. In addition, Turkey is a big country, so you also will want to factor in distance and travel times.

However, we feel that this itinerary would make a great starting point for anyone planning to spend between 10 days and two weeks in Turkey. It can, of course, be tweaked and adjusted based on how much time you have and your own personal interests, but we hope it gives you some inspiration for your own trip.

If you are planning to book a tour, this 14 day Turkey itinerary can help you decide which destinations you want to make sure are included in your tour itinerary. For those not taking a tour, we give travel suggestions for those traveling by bus, train, plane, and car throughout the itinerary.

Istanbul Spice Baazar Mısır Çarşısı 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 1: Istanbul

We think the best place to start (and end) your trip to Turkey is in Istanbul. The city has the best international connections, especially by air, meaning it’s easy to get here from elsewhere in Europe and further afield.

As an introduction to Turkey, Istanbul is also a great starting point. Known as the “bridge” between Europe and Asia, the city is literally split between continents. The Bosphorus Strait separates Europe and Asia, and Istanbul spreads across both sides of this divide.

Istanbul is the largest city in Europe by population; however, it’s not the capital of Turkey—that would be Ankara. Founded over 600 years before the birth of Christ, Istanbul has literally seen the rise and fall of empires. It is a city that has been known by many names over the centuries, including Byzantium and Constantinople.

In terms of what to see when you’re in Istanbul, two full days will let you see many of the highlights, but it will definitely leave you wanting more! So you will want to prioritize what you want to do and see most in the city.

We’d suggest that you spend your first full day exploring the most famous of the historical sites and attractions in Istanbul, most of which are part of the World Heritage Site in Istanbul . Most of the main historic sites in Istanbul are located in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul within the Fatih district which is where we recommend you start.

Some of the highlights you might want to visit in this area include the 6th century Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya), the 17th century The Blue Mosque (officially the Sultan Ahmed Mosque), Topkapi Palace , the ancient Hippodrome of Constantinople , the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici), and the Istanbul Archaeological Museums . A bit further away is also the impressive 16th-century Süleymaniye Mosque which is well worth a visit if you have the time.

These sites are all relatively close together and are easy to visit on foot, although taxis, public buses, and sightseeing buses are also options. As you visit these sites and wander the streets of the Old City, you will be taking a journey across thousands of years of history, including the Roman, Egyptian, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods!

You’ll also want to make time for a visit to the Grand Bazaar , which began in the 15th century and is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. Here you can buy a lot of things, including ceramics, lanterns, rugs, clothing, tea, jewelry, and books. But do be careful of what you are buying as you’ll find everything from locally handcrafted rugs and jewelry to cheap Chinese made souvenirs, so price and quality varies widely.

Another market you might want to visit is the Egyptian Spice Bazaar , or Misir Çarsisi, which is another large market in Istanbul. Vendors here are known primarily for selling spices, but you can also find sweets, tea, dried fruit, Turkish delight, souvenirs, etc.

If you are looking for a guided walking tour of the historical area of Istanbul, there are several tours you can join that cover all the highlights of the historical area of Istanbul. A few options include this full day tour with lunch , this small group highlights tour , and this customizable private tour .

After a day full of sightseeing, we recommend ending your day with a relaxing Turkish dinner at a local restaurant or consider a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus Strait.

A cruise on the Bosphorus allows you to truly appreciate the incredible size of the city. The Bosphorus separates the European and Asian parts of Istanbul so you will be floating along the continental divide. Many of the cruises include dinner and entertainment, such as this cruise and this one .

Where to Stay in Istanbul

We suggest staying in or near the old part of the city (the Sultanahmet neighborhood in the Fatih district) for easy access to the city’s most popular sights.

Here are some accommodation options to consider in Istanbul across a range of budgets. Istanbul has a huge number of properties to choose from and prices are very reasonable.

  • Big Apple Hostel & Hotel – This well-reviewed good-value hostel offers both shared dormitory rooms and private rooms. Breakfast is included in room rates, and there’s an on-site restaurant for other meals. A good budget option as dorm beds are usually around $17 with breakfast. Located a 10-minute walk from the highlights of the Old City
  • Agora Guesthouse – This is a well-reviewed guesthouse offering both dormitory and private rooms. An included breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace. Located just a few hundred yards from the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia
  • Tulip Guesthouse – This guesthouse offers good value private rooms with either shared or en-suite bathrooms. Breakfast is included and is served on the top floor terrace which offers lovely views. It is about a 5 minutes walk from attractions like the Hagia Sofia.
  • Berk Guesthouse – Grandma’s House – A well-rated guesthouse with en-suite guest rooms, included breakfast, and a rooftop terrace with nice views over the city. A 2-minute walk from the Blue Mosque.
  • Meserret Palace Hotel – A well-reviewed 4-star hotel offers en-suite rooms with tea/coffee making facilities and flat-screen TVs, 24-hour desk, room service, and an included breakfast. Located near the Spice Bazaar and about a 10 minute walk from the Old City.
  • Obelisk Hotel & Suites – This well-rated 4-star hotel offers en-suite rooms with tea/coffee making facilities, 24-hour front desk, and an on-site restaurant. Breakfast is included with rates. Located just a few hundred hard from the Hagia Sophia.
  • Boutique Saint Sophia – This 4-star boutique hotel offers private en-suite rooms with breakfast included and an on-site cafe and bar. The hotel is located near the Hagia Sophia with some rooms offering views of the attraction.
  • Régie  Ottoman – This stylish boutique hotel is set in a 150-year  old  renovated  Ottoman building and offers all the normal modern amenities and breakfast is included. The hotel has an on-site restaurant and is located about a 10-minute walk from the historic Sultanahmet area. We’ve stayed here and really enjoyed our stay.
  • Vogue Hotel Supreme Istanbul – This 5-star luxury hotel centrally located hotel offer guestrooms with modern amenities, 24-hour desk, room service, and an on-site restaurant. A great option if you are looking for a luxury property in this part of Istanbul. Located near the Basilica Cistern and Hagia Sophia.

If you are looking for a self-catering stay, options include these apartments in the Fatih district on and these Fatih district apartments in Istanbul on Vrbo. If you are not finding what you want, you can see this list of apartment booking websites .

Blue Mosque Istanbul Turkey 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 2: Istanbul

For your second day in Istanbul we recommend crossing across the Galata Bridge and exploring this part of the city. The Galata Bridge, which crosses the Golden Horn, is often seen as the link between the traditional and the more modern areas of Istanbul.

Highlights include the Galata Tower , a restored 15th-century tower that has an observation deck on top, enjoying the European style buildings and shopping along the picturesque Istiklal Avenue (Istiklal Caddesi), and the Taksim Square area which features the Republic Monument and is a lively area for shopping and nightlife. There are a lot of art galleries and museums in this area including SALT Galata , Pera Museum , and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art Museum .

We can also recommend visiting Dolmabahçe Palace , this beautiful 19th-century palace was once the home of the sultans as well as the first President of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It is the largest palace in Turkey and today is a museum.

If you are looking for a place to relax and have a coffee, you might want to make a stop at the cafe or tea lounge at the luxurious Pera Palace Hotel . The hotel is one of the most famous historical hotels in the city having such past guests as Agatha Christie. Or find a street cafe along Istiklal Avenue to people watch or wander over to a seaside cafe to enjoy the view over the water.

Or maybe you’d like to try a traditional Turkish hamam experience such as this one at Aga Hamami , which is the oldest hamam in Istanbul. Note that this is a traditional Turkish bathing practice, not a spa but it is a relaxing and cleansing experience.

Depending on what you want to do and see on this side of the bridge and how far you are willing to walk, you can explore entirely on foot or you can take public transit just about everywhere. Transport options include public buses, trams, taxis, and sightseeing buses . Or you can join a tour that includes transport.

For those on foot, note that Turkey has a lot of hills and there is a steep hill to get from the Galata Bridge to Istiklal Avenue. However, you can take the Tünel funicular that will take you up this incline. This is one of the oldest subway stations in the world.

If you are looking for a guide on your second day in Istanbul, this walking tour focuses on this area north of the Golden Horn, this small group art expert-led tour covers the main modern art museums and art spaces in this part of Istanbul, and here is a guided tour of the palace .

For your second evening in Istanbul, you might want to finish your day with an evening food tour, sampling some local nightlife, or a cultural event in the evening.

Those interested in seeing and sampling more of the local food scene in Istanbul may want to consider a food tour. There are several food tours in Istanbul to choose from such as this evening food trail tour and this small group food tour .

Those looking for an evening cultural performance might see what is playing at the local theaters, Süreyya Opera House , or see a Turkish dance performance or whirling dervishes show at the Hodjapasha Cultural Centre. Those looking for a more wild night out might want to check out the nightlife in and around Taksim Square or join a local-led pub crawl .

We then recommend spending a second night in Istanbul. This works well for those taking a tour, flying, or those driving themselves. However, those taking a bus may want to consider heading to Çanakkale today instead so you have more time to explore Gallipoli the next day.

How to Get to from Istanbul to Gallipoli

If you are not joining a tour in Istanbul, you have three main options for getting from Gallipoli from Istanbul. If you decide to take a flight or bus, you’ll want to head to Çanakkale (or Eceabat) and then take a tour or find transport to the nearby historical sites at Gallipoli.

By Car: It is about a 186 mile (300 km) drive from Istanbul to the Gallipoli peninsula which takes about 4 hours. If you leave on the morning of your third day, this will give you time to stop and see the main sights in Gallipoli before overnighting in Çanakkale.

By Plane: The fastest option is to fly. Flights take around an hour from Istanbul to Çanakkale and are usually reasonably priced if booked well in advance.

By Bus: The bus journey is generally about 6 hours from Istanbul to Çanakkale, or a little less if you go to Eceabat. Check bus times and prices, and book online here . Depending on bus schedules, those wanting to explore Gallipoli may want to catch a late afternoon or evening bus on Day 2 to have more time to explore Gallipoli on Day 3.

Galata Tower Istanbul 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 3: Gallipoli

Today we recommend leaving Istanbul after breakfast and heading southwest to the Gallipoli peninsula. The peninsula lies between the Dardanelles and the Gulf of Saros and is best known as being the location for the Gallipoli Campaign during World War I.

Most of the area is part of the Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park which was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1998. Whereas most historical attractions in Turkey date back thousands of years, this is a place where you can learn about more recent history.

On the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915, Allied Forces (which included British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, French, and Newfoundland troops) mounted an ultimately doomed attack on the Ottoman Empire to try to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and take control of a vital supply route. After about 9 months of fighting and minimal gains, and with around 250,000 casualties on each side, the Allies withdrew.

The event was a huge disaster for the Allied war effort, and had lasting repercussions. For Winston Churchill , then First Lord of the Admiralty, his promotion of the failed campaign would lead to him having a demoted role in politics and the failure would haunt him for years. It would have been difficult for anyone to imagine him as a later wartime Prime Minister!

Turkey was at that time part of the Ottoman Empire and was fighting on the side of Germany. For the Turks, one of the army officers for the Ottoman defense at Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk , would later become the first president and founder of modern Turkey.

The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the most important events in the war to take place from an Australian and New Zealand perspective. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were deployed, and like many of the countries involved, suffered heavy losses. The campaign is largely regarded as the trigger for the national consciousness of both countries, and to this day both countries formally remember their fallen on ANZAC Day (April 25th) each year.

For Australians and New Zealanders visiting Turkey, a trip to the Gallipoli peninsula is usually high on the priority list. However, we think this is a trip that should be of interest to anyone, regardless of nationality, in order to learn more about this event and reflect on the effects of war.

There are a number of places to visit across the Gallipoli Peninsula, including landing sites, memorials, and graveyards. A few of the more popular places for visitors include ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial, and Canakkale Martyrs’ Memorial. What you want to visit probably depends on your specific interests and your nationality, and y ou can see a full list of the sites here .

There are also a few museums in the area that focus on the Gallipoli campaign, including the Kabatepe Promotion Center And Museum in Kabatepe, Salim Mutlu War Museum (Salim Mutlu Özel Harp Anilar Koleksiyonu) in Alçitepe, and the Gelibolu War Museum in Gelibolu.

If you want to know more about the battles that took place here, we recommend getting a book such as Gallipoli: The Battlefield Guide . We would definitely recommend some sort of guidebook if you are planning to explore on your own without a tour guide.

Expect to spend a few hours here. It is a challenging place to get around unless you have your own vehicle, and we would definitely suggest taking a tour if you don’t have your own transport. There are a lot of tour options so it is usually easy to find a good value tour.

Here are some day tour options to consider, some also include Troy, which is on our itinerary for the next day.

  • An 8 hour tour of the Gallipoli sites with lunch from Çanakkale
  • A 6 hour tour of Gallipoli with lunch from Çanakkale
  • A full day tour of Gallipoli and Troy with lunch from Çanakkale
  • Another full day tour of Gallipoli and Troy with lunch from Çanakkale
  • A private tour of the Gallipoli sites from Çanakkale
  • A 6 hour Gallipoli tour with lunch from Eceabat

Now if you have extra time in Çanakkale, there is a fortress (Çimenlik Castle), an enclosed market called the Mirror Bazaar, a few museums you can visit (Military Marine Museum, city history museum, and Ceramics Museum), and a harbor area you can stroll around where you can find the wooden Trojan horse from the 2004 film Troy starring Brad Pitt. There is also Kilitbahir Fortress located just across the strait.

If you are staying in Eceabat, you can also spend some time relaxing on the beach there.

Where to Stay in Gallipoli

We would recommend spending the night in either Çanakkale (a short ferry ride from the Gallipoli Peninsula) or Eceabat. Eceabat is slightly closer to the Gallipoli sites, but Çanakkale has more services and attractions.

If you are traveling by bus, you’ll probably want to choose a place near the bus station.

It is easy to find good value accommodation in this area. Here are some options to consider at both locations:

  • Set Özer Hotel in Çanakkale – A centrally located good value hotel that offers private en-suite rooms with breakfast. Very close to ferry, waterfront, and main town attractions.
  • Kinzi House in Çanakkale – A well-reviewed and centrally located self-catering accommodation that offers a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and flat-screen TV. This is a great value option if you are traveling with a few people and want to cook yourself.
  • Artur Hotel in Çanakkale – A popular and well-reviewed hotel in the center of Çanakkale with private en-suite rooms and an on-site restaurant.
  • Kolin Hotel in Çanakkale – A 5-star hotel with all the modern guestroom amenities, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, spa, fitness center, multiple restaurants and bars, and a free airport shuttle. A good option for those looking for more amenities.
  • Eceabat Gezen Hotel in Eceabat – A very well-reviewed value hotel offering private rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Has a private beach area and a garden, as well as a bar and inclusive breakfast
  • Villa Bagci Hotel in Eceabat – This is a well-reviewed hotel offering private en-suite rooms with breakfast. Located a few hundred yards from the beach.
  • Hotel Casa Villa in Eceabat – Another well-reviewed hotel in Eceabat a few hundred yards from the beach. Features private rooms with en-suite facilities and breakfast is included.

How to Get from Çanakkale to Troy and Kusadasi

Your next stop of the trip is going to be Troy, after which you’ll head south via Izmir to Kusadasi. If you happened to already visit Troy today, then you can skip that stop and head straight to Kusadasi.

If you are not taking a guided tour, you have a few choices today:

By Car:   It’s around a 30 minute drive to Troy from Çanakkale, and then a little over 5 hours down to Kusadasi. We’d suggest spending a couple of hours at Troy, and then aiming to arrive in Kusadasi mid-afternoon if you are driving yourself.

By Plane: You can do part of the day by plane if you wish as you can fly from Çanakkale to Izmir. However, you will need to take a bus, car, taxi, or tour to get to and from Troy and then from Izmir to Kusadasi. Those planning to fly may want to base in Izmir instead of Kusadasi.

By Train: Part of today’s journey can be done by train as there is a train that you can take between Izmir and Selçuk (town next to Ephesus).

By Bus: There are regular buses (approximately every hour) from Çanakkale to Troy, the journey takes around 45 minutes. To head onto Izmir, you’ll need to backtrack to Çanakkale or head to Ezine, and from either you can get a bus to Izmir (about a 5.5 hour journey). From Izmir, it is about a 90-minute bus journey to Kusadasi.

You might consider taking a local private or shared taxi (called dolmus) to and from Troy. Then connect to the intercity buses in Ezine or Çanakkale onwards to Izmir and Kusadasi.

Check bus times and prices, and book online here .

Lone Pine cemetery 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 4: Troy & Kusadasi

For your fourth day in Turkey, you’re going to visit the ancient city of Troy and then head down the western coast of Turkey to the city of Kuşadası. You may also want to make a stop in Izmir, along the way.

We recommend heading out straight after breakfast so you have time to explore Troy in the morning.

The first stop of the day is Troy which is only about a 30-minute drive south of Çanakkale. A city has been at this location known as Troy from around 3,000 years B.C. right up until about 450 A.D.

Of course, as it existed for almost four millennia, Troy saw a lot of changes in its time. In fact, there were in fact no less than nine cities on this location, which was favored due to its waterfront location. Reasons for its demise are unclear, but the fall of the Roman Empire was likely a factor in its final abandonment.

The main reason that Troy is famous today is that it was the main setting of Homer’s Iliad about the Trojan War. This ancient Greek epic poem gave us the famous story of the Trojan Horse and the disastrous love triangle between Helen of Troy, King Menelaus, and Paris. The historical accuracy of the tale is highly debated but many historians do believe there was some sort of war and siege of Troy by Spartan and Achaean warriors in the 12th or 13th century BC.

The actual location of the ancient city of Troy was lost to history in the subsequent centuries. Later travelers and archaeologists searched for the location of the famous city and many believed it was somewhere in the Anatolia region of Turkey, particularly the Troad peninsula. It was Englishman Frank Calvert who would first excavate the hill at Hisarlik and find what is now believed to be the remains of the ancient city of Troy.

Whether the events of the Iliad took place here or not, UNESCO notes that the archaeological findings at Troy are the “most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world”. Structures have been found at Hisarlik from a number of periods including the Bronze Age and the Roman and Greek periods.

Today, Troy is a protected archaeological site, a national historical park, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a visitor, you can wander around and learn about the history of the place while seeing the various layers of the different cities. Naturally, there’s a giant wooden horse you can take a photo of as well. The recently opened Troy Museum (Troya Müzesi ) holds a number of artifacts from the archaeological site. We’re recommend allowing 2 to 3 hours to visit Troy.

From Troy you’ll continue south along the coast to the city of Kusadasi. Along the way, you’ll go through Izmir. Izmir is one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean, and was originally believed to have been settled in 6500 BC! It is now the third-largest city in Turkey by population.

Izmir offers lots of attractions and services. Some of the main tourist sites include the Roman Agora of Smyrna , the hilltop castle of Kadifekale (the “Velvet Castle”), the seafront and Kordon esplanade, Konak Square and its clock tower, several museums, and the Kemeralti shopping district. There is also a rich Jewish heritage here with several synagogues and other Jewish landmarks to be found here, especially in the Kemeralti district.

So Izmir may be a good place to stop and stretch your feet, and maybe visit an attraction or two. You could also decide to overnight in Izmir; however, our advice is to press on to Kusadasi as it’s closer to upcoming highlights and also has its own attractions.

Kusadasi is a popular coastal town in Turkey, which offers a wide range of accommodation options as well as beaches and attractions. It is also very close to Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most famous ancient ruined cities.

Today will be a long journey, regardless of your means of transport, so we recommend having a relaxing evening once you arrive in the Aegean seaside town of Kusadasi. Perhaps a stroll around town or a dip in the hotel pool, and then a nice dinner.

We recommend spending two nights in Kusadasi. However, those who are traveling by public transportation may also want to consider Selçuk (town next to Ephesus) as a base instead for the two nights as the transit connections are a bit easier there.

Where to stay in Kusadasi

Kusadasi is a popular resort town and there are a great many hotels to choose from, the majority of which offer excellent value. Most have pools and some are next to a beach.

Kusadasi is pretty spread out and we generally recommend staying within walking distance of the city center and seaside. Those traveling by bus will want to stay within walking distance of the bus station and bus stops. Some options to consider for your 2-night stay are as follows:

  • Hotel Stella – A well-reviewed good value 2-star hotel that offers en-suite rooms have balconies, a pool, an on-site restaurant, and inclusive breakfast. Located about 100 yards from the harbor.
  • Sezgin Boutique Hotel – A popular budget hotel with en-suite rooms, inclusive breakfast, and a swimming pool. Located about 150 yards from the city center.
  • Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel – This well-rated 4-star hotel offers ensuite rooms with views over city or water, a rooftop swimming pool, fitness center, and inclusive breakfast. Located near the city center and water.
  • Grand Sahin’s Hotel – This well-reviewed 4-star hotel offers ensuite rooms with balconies, an inclusive breakfast, on-site restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool, private beach area, and free parking. Located next to the seaside.
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Kusadasi – A popular city-center hotel offering 5-star facilities, ensuite rooms with balconies, a rooftop restaurant and bar, 2 swimming pools, fitness center, and a spa.
  • LaVista Boutique Hotel & SPA – This is a very well rated centrally located boutique hotel that offers large en-suite rooms, an on-site bar and restaurant, a fitness center, inclusive breakfast, and a lovely outdoor pool overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Where to stay in Selçuk

Those traveling by bus or train may prefer to spend the two nights in Selçuk instead of Kusadasi. For those using public transit, we recommend staying in central Selçuk within walking distance of the bus station and train station.

Here are a few accommodation options in Selçuk:

  • ANZ Guest House – A budget-friendly hostel that offers dorm beds as well as private rooms and family rooms. Breakfast is included and there is a rooftop terrace. Centrally located, about a 12-minute walk to bus station and train station.
  • Queen Bee Hotel – A good value bed-and-breakfast that offers rooms with private bathrooms and included breakfast. There is also a cafe on the ground floor here.  Centrally located, about a 12-minute walk to bus station and train station.
  • Celsus Boutique Hotel – A boutique hotel featuring outdoor swimming pool, garden, shared lounge, and inclusive breakfast. Centrally located, about a 10-minute walk to bus station and train station.
  • Vinifera Vineyards Hotel – If you are looking for something different and don’t mind being outside Selçuk, this hotel sits next to a vineyard and offers large ensuite rooms with patios, onsite restaurant and winery, a swimming pool, and inclusive breakfast. Located well outside of Selçuk so is best suited for those who plan to get around by car or taxi; however, you can get to Selçuk by train as the Çamlık station is about a 7-minute walk from the hotel.

Trojan Horse Troy 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 5: Kusadasi & Ephesus

Today, we recommend heading to Ephesus after breakfast to explore the archaeological sites there. Then return and spend the latter part of the day exploring Kusadasi itself. Ephesus is very popular and can get very crowded, so going early is a good idea to avoid some of the crowds and the afternoon heat.

Many people visit Ephesus as part of a tour, but it is also easy to get to on your own. It is about a 25-minute drive, bus, or taxi ride away. If you are taking public transport, you can take a dolmus (shared taxi or minibus) from Kusadasi which can drop you at the lower gate of Ephesus.

Ephesus is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Turkey so it is on many visitors must-see lists. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was an ancient Greek city, founded in the 10th century BC, and only abandoned around the 15th century AD after centuries of decline, mainly due to the harbor silting up. At its height, it was second only to Rome in size and importance in the ancient world.

Today, Ephesus is a large and important archaeological site where you can see the remains of temples, theaters, wide marble streets, agoras, bathing complexes, tombs, aqueducts, fountains, terrace houses, and more. Some of the main sights include the spectacular Library of Celsus , the Temple of Hadrian, and the Great Theatre.

Ephesus is an important religious destination too, especially for Christians. It was the location of one of the Seven Churches of Asia (or Seven Churches of the Apocalypse), the seven major early Christian communities, as noted in the New Testament Book of Revelations in the Bible.

It is believed that the Gospel of John may have been written here, and that Mary, mother of Jesus, lived out her final years nearby in the care of John. Important early Christian sites in Ephesus include St. John’s Basilica , Church of the Virgin Mary , and The House of the Virgin Mary .

Also located nearby is the ruins of the Temple of Artemis , one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unfortunately today, very little remains of the ancient temple.

For those interested in seeing some of the artifacts found here, you may want to take time to visit the nearby Ephesus Archaeological Museum in Selçuk after visiting the archaeological sites. It contains a number of statues, columns, coins, sarcophagi, tools, and other artifacts uncovered in Ephesus.

Most visitors just visit the main archaeological complex which contains over 25 main points of interest. There is an entry fee that covers all the sites (there is an additional ticket required if you want to go inside the terrace houses), and you can enter at the upper or lower gates and exit from either side. There are taxis, shuttles, and carriages that can transport you between the two if you wish.

It’s quite a large site, which runs from the top of a hill to the bottom, but once you get here you can visit everything on foot. Just be prepared for a bit of walking by wearing comfortable shoes and bringing your water bottle.

As you would imagine, there is a lot to see and take in here, and there isn’t a lot of information on display. We would recommend renting an on-site audioguide, joining a guided tour such as this one , or bringing a guidebook (like this one ) so you have an idea of what you are looking at. Most people spend 2 to 4 hours exploring the complex.

There is more to explore outside the main archeological complex for those with more time and interest. Sites located outside the main archaeological complex include the Temple of Artemis, House of the Virgin Mary, St. John’s Basilica, and the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. Other attractions in Ephesus include Selçuk Castle, Ayasuluk Citadel, and Isa Bey Mosque.

If you are considering a tour from Kusadasi (or Izmir), there are a variety of tours of differing lengths. We think that around 4 to 5 hours would work and then give you time to sightsee in Kusadasi in the afternoon, but you could also do a full-day tour if you want more time in Ephesus. Some tours to consider to Ephesus from Kusadasi are:

  • This 4 hour small group morning tour of Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis
  • This 3.5 to 4.5 hour private tour of Ephesus
  • This 5 hour small group tour of Ephesus , which includes the house of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus Terrace Houses, and the Temple of Artemis
  • This 6 to 8 hour small group tour of Ephesus , which includes the house of the Virgin Mary, the Temple of Artemis, and Isa Bey Mosque.

Once you have finished touring Ephesus, it’s time to return to Kusadasi. Kusadasi is a popular resort town and has a lot of cafes and restaurants as well as beaches. Depending on how you are feeling and how much time you have, you might want to visit one of the beaches (Ladies Beach is the most popular public beach), spend some time exploring the city’s attractions, or just relax by the hotel pool.

Our favorite thing to do is to take a walk over to Güvercinada , or Pigeon Island, a small island linked to the mainland by a causeway. There is a castle here that you can visit if you wish.

How to get from Kusadasi to Pamukkale & Fethiye

The next part of the trip involves a long day of travel, no matter what method of transportation you choose as the attractions are spaced far apart.

If you are not taking a tour, your best options are to take public transit or drive.

By Car: If you are driving, Pamukkale is about a 120 mile (190 km) drive from Kusadasi, and that drive takes about 3 hours if taking the toll roads (about 4 hours if not). From Pamukkale, it is another 125 mile (200 km) drive to Fethiye which is around another 3 hours of driving.

If that sounds like too much driving, you could skip Pamukkale, and just head south along the coast from Kusadasi to Fethiye. Then you would have more time to spend in either Kusadasi or Fethiye.

By Plane : You can fly from Izmir to Denizli (town near Pamukkale) and then from Denizli to Fethiye (airport in Dalaman). However, many of these flights connect via Istanbul meaning the flights often take as long (or even longer) than taking public transit or driving.

By Bus: From Kusadasi, it’s relatively easy to get to Pamukkale by public transport. You can go by bus, either directly from Kusadasi or via Selçuk. The bus takes between 3 to 4 hours.

Note that some of the bus companies (and the train) terminate in the town of Denizli and do not go directly to Pamukkale. So you may need to take a short 25-minute minibus or taxi ride to get from the bus station to Pamukkale which is located just outside Denizli. Just be sure to ask so you know if you need to transfer or not.

Then from Denizli, you can then take a bus to Fethiye, which will take around 4 hours. Check bus times and prices, and book online here .

By Train: You can do part of the route today by train. Take the local bus from Kusadasi to Selçuk (the town next to Ephesus), from where you can catch a train to Denizli. The train takes around 3 hours, and the first departure is usually around 9:00am. You can check train times and tickets here .

Then from the Denizli station, you can get a 25-minute minibus or taxi ride to Pamukkale. There is no train between Denizli and Fethiye, so you will have to take a bus from Denizli.

Ephesus Celsus Library 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 6: Pamukkale & Fethiye

For your sixth day in Turkey, our suggestion is to head east inland to Pamukkale and then south to the coastal town of Fethiye.

Pamukkale, which means “cotton castle” in Turkish, is another of Turkey’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s famous for two reasons. First, it well-known for its photogenic natural white travertine (a type of limestone) terraces which are filled with thermal water. Second, the ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis are located here.

Springs in a cliff above the terraces provide the mineral-rich waters which have created the incredible landscape of petrified waterfalls and terraced basins of thermal water at Pamukkale. The milky white water is due to the large amount of calcium carbonate found in the water.

A thermal spa at Hierapolis was built on top of Pamukkale to take advantage of the hot springs in the 2nd century BC by the kings of Pergamon. It grew into a small city and you can see the Greco-Roman ruins here today. Pamukkale has been a popular tourist destination for about two thousand years.

The main reason people visit Pamukkale today is to see the white limestone terraces here, which are really quite incredible. These terraces cover a large area of almost 2 miles (3 km) in length. Although the terraces are natural, the bathing pools are artificial and have been created for tourists. Some of these are open to bathing or swimming.

Unfortunately, the thousands of years of tourism, as well as the more recent rise in mass tourism, has taken its toll on the location. Large sections of the pools don’t look like you see them in photos as many often have little water in them and the ones open to the public are often crowded with people.

To protect the site, most of the pools are now closed entirely to bathers, with only a small area accessible for swimming at one time. The water can be a bit dirty with all the people in them and they can also be very slippery so do be careful if you plan to go in them.

In addition to the small terraced pools, you can pay extra to swim at Cleopatra’s Pool, a former Roman pool, which is a thermal pool and spa that is privately run and includes locker rooms and showers. You need proper swimwear to enter this pool.

However, the good news is that the Pamukkale site is very large, and if you move away from the main crowds you can enjoy lovely views of the terraces with hardly any people around you.

After seeing the thermal spa and perhaps dipping your toes into one of the thermal pools, you can then take some time to explore Hierapolis. Many people come and just see some of the thermal pools and leave, but if you are going to take the time to come all the way to Pamukkale, we recommend taking some time to explore the rest of the site.

The city has Greek and Roman ruins, including ancient bathing complexes, gates, a huge theatre, temples, shrines, a martyrium, and an extensive Necropolis. The site has the Tomb of Philip the Apostle and the earliest evidence of the use of a crank and rod mechanism (as depicted on a sarcophagus). Housed in the former Roman Bath building is the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum which you can see some of the many artifacts unearthed at the site.

If you don’t have a guide but want to learn more about the history of Pamukkale and Hierapolis, we recommend taking along a good guidebook like this one .

There’s lots to see here, and it’s all included on the entry ticket, so take advantage of it. Most people spend about 3 hours here, but you’ll want to plan to spend longer if you want to fully explore Hierapolis.

Once you are done sightseeing in Pamukkale, continue on to Fethiye where we recommend you spend the night. Fethiye is a city (and district) located in the southwestern area of Turkey along the Aegean Sea. It is a popular tourist area and there are a lot of attractions in and around the city.

Given that you will likely be coming from a long day of travel and sightseeing, we recommend using your first evening in Fethiye to relax. We recommend spending two nights here.

Where to stay in Fethiye

You have two main options for where to stay in Fethiye. You can stay near the marina and old town for easy access to the sights, or you can stay a little further north on the 4km long Çalis Beach. So just depends if you prefer to be near the city center or have easy beach access.

Here are some options for places to stay in Fethiye:

  • Turunç Hostel – If you’re looking for a hostel, this is a great value and well-reviewed option in the heart of the town. Private and dorm rooms are available, with a good value breakfast on offer.
  • Infinity Exclusive City Hotel – A great value budget to mid-range option offering private en-suite rooms in the city center.
  • Orka Boutique Hotel – This popular and well-reviewed mid-range boutique hotel offers en-suite rooms, an on-site restaurant, and inclusive breakfast. Located a few yards from the sea, and a short walk from the city center.
  • Ece Marina Suit – This well-rated beachfront hotel near the old town overlooks the marina and has a private beach. Rooms are designed to be family-friendly and offer good value comfortable accommodation with living area and apartment-style facilities.
  • Hotel Delta – Found on Çalis Beach around 3 miles north of the old town, this well-reviewed hotel offers en-suite rooms with balconies and an on-site restaurant. Breakfast is included.
  • Eyna Hotel – This popular beach front property on Çalis Beach has great reviews, en-suite rooms, an on-site restaurant, and breakfast is included.

Pamukkale Hierapolis 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 7: Fethiye

Fethiye is a beautiful coastal city and resort town on Turkey’s Aegean Sea. The area is known as the Turquoise Coast because of the incredible color of the water you’ll find here.

Fethiye has a lot to offer, but one of the most popular things to do here is to get out on the water and take advantage of the scenic coastline, beautiful waters, and nearby islands. Popular water activities include boating, swimming, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, fishing, and water skiing.

The Travel Talk tour we did included 3 nights on a traditional gulet boat. This might be too much boat time for many, but we definitely recommend considering spending part of a day on the water here.

On a boat trip, you can take in the scenery, swim, snorkel, and sightsee at a relaxed pace. Then you can return to your hotel, take a shower, and head out to watch the sunset and enjoy a bit of the city’s culture and nightlife.

Or if a day on a boat sounds like too much, you can just find a pretty beach to lie on! Çalis Beach is a popular beach that stretches along the city or you can find a smaller and less crowded one further away.

Alternatively, if you are up for some more sightseeing and cultural sites today, there are a number of attractions in and around Fethiye. These include the Fethiye Museum, Saklikent National Park, the rock tomb of Amyntas, the Roman theatre above Fethiye, ancient Lycian hilltop citadel of Tlos, ancient Lycian city ruin of Cadyanda, Butterfly Valley, and the spectacular beach at Ölüdeniz Lagoon. Paragliding is also a very popular activity in this area.

Of course, many of these attractions and activities are located outside the city, so you’ll either need to have your own transport, take a bus, or take a tour to experience them.

Below, we’ve put together some recommend boat tours, as well as other day tours from Fethiye you might consider. Alternatively, feel free to just wander the city itself, which is very beautiful and has a number of sights worth visiting.

  • A full day boat tour from Fethiye with swimming and snorkeling opportunities. Lunch included.
  • A full day boat tour from Fethiye to Ölüdeniz with swimming, lunch, and stops at Butterfly Valley and St. Nicholas Island
  • A popular tandem paragliding tour over beautiful Ölüdeniz

Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration for your day in Fethiye. We recommend enjoying the sunset from the beach, a seaside cafe, or your hotel balcony. Lots of nightlife opportunities here in the evening to enjoy in this popular resort town.

How to Get From Fethiye to Antalya

We recommend heading to Antalya on the next part of your trip. If you are not taking a tour, you have three options for getting from Fethiye to Antalya:

By Car: If you are driving, it’s about a 125 mile (200 km) drive if you take the most direct route which takes about  2.5 to 3 hours.

However, you can take the more scenic coastal route along the D400 between Fethiye and Antalya if you have more time and want to enjoy the scenery. It’s a nice drive. Taking the scenic route will add another 2 hours to your drive so I’d estimate about 4.5 hours.

By Plane: It is possible to fly from Fethiye (Dalaman Airport) to Antalya . Most flights are 3.5 to 4.5 hours long as most make a stop in Istanbul.

By Bus: In terms of public transport, there are regular direct buses from Fethiye to Antalya, with journey times taking around 3 to 3.5 hours on average. You can check bus routes and ticket prices online here .

gulet near Fethiye Turkey 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 8: Antalya

Today, we recommend leaving Fethiye in the morning and heading to the southern coastal city of Antalya. But there’s no rush today so feel free to spend some more time in Fethiye if there is something you missed yesterday.

It takes about 3 to 4 hours to get to Antalya, depending on route and transport. So if you leave in the morning, you’ll still have half the day left to explore Antalya. Those traveling by car or tour bus may take the coastal route along the D400 which is slower but a very nice scenic route.

Antalya is believed to have been founded by King Attalus II of Pergamon around 150 B.C. and so has a long history. Most of the historical architecture in the city now dates to the medieval Ottoman period. The city is situated along the Turkish Riviera and has become Turkey’s most important international seaside resort.

There is a lot to do in Antalya and we recommend spending two nights here, giving you about 1.5 days to explore Antalya and the surrounding area. Once you arrive in Antalya and check into your hotel, we recommend spending your first afternoon exploring the town of Antalya and its city center attractions and perhaps spending some time on the beach.

In the town itself, we can recommend exploring the old town (Kaleiçi) on foot as there are a number of things to see here including Hadrian’s Gate, the Roman Tower (Hidirlik Tower), Yivli Minare Mosque (Fluted Mosque), and the Antalya Museum (regional history museum).

The Old Marina area is also worth exploring and is a great place to enjoy a meal or drink. You can also take a sightseeing boat tour from here.

Elsewhere in town you’ll also find a panoramic elevator for views over city, several city parks, a toy museum, and lots of other historical attractions.

If you prefer something more relaxing, you may also want to head to one of the area’s beaches. There are also some nice beaches within 10km of the city center, including Lara Beach (sandy beach) and Konyaalti Beach (pebble beach).

In the evening, Antalya is a lively place with lots of restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs. The city also has cinemas and some movies are shown in their original English (with Turkish subtitles). There are also regular shows which include traditional Turkish music and dance and belly dancing performances.

Those who enjoy the theater or opera will also find the Antalya State Theater and the Antalya State Opera and Ballet here. There is also the popular Fire of Anatolia Dance Show that is regularly held at the Gloria Aspendos Arena.

If you are visiting in the summer months, you may want to see if the Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival is taking place during your visit. Throughout this popular festival, regular performances are held at the ancient Aspendos Roman theater.

Where to Stay in Antalya

Antalya is a large city and there is also a lot of accommodation throughout the Antalya region along the coast. We have two different recommendations depending on your interests and budget.

Our first recommendation is to either stay close to the Antalya Old Town center so you are within walking distance of the majority of attraction in the city itself. This is great for those who are are interested in the city attractions and nightlife here, and for those needing the public transit connections here.

Our other recommendation is to consider spending these two days at a nice coastal resort outside of the city. Antalya boasts some of the nicest hotel resorts in Turkey and if you are looking for an all-inclusive resort, you have a lot of options. These all tend to have multiple restaurants and bars, swimming pools, spas, fitness centers, and kids’ activities. Some also have beach access.

Here are some lodging options near the Antalya Old Town:

  • Hostel Vague – If you’re looking for a budget option in Antalya, this hostel is a great option. It’s centrally located, offers shared and private accommodation and an on-site kitchen, lounge, terrace, and garden for guest use
  • Beyaz Butik Hotel – A well-reviewed homestay option offering private en-suite rooms and breakfast. A short walk from the old town.
  • White Garden Hotel – With a rooftop terrace, outdoor pool and easy beach access, this is a great value and well-reviewed hotel near the old town
  • Tekeli Konaklari – Located in a restored Ottoman Pasha’s residence, this property features private rooms set around a central courtyard, with easy access to the old town. Rooms are en-suite and breakfast is included.
  • Cap d’Perge Hotel – This well-reviewed adults-only hotel offers private en-suite rooms with lots of amenities, a private beach, and an on-site restaurant. This one feels a bit tucked away but is still within easy walking distance of the historic center of the city
  • ATICI Hotel – A popular and central hotel located right in the heart of the city center offering private en-suite rooms.

Here are a few resort hotel options to consider near Antalya:

  • Xanadu Resort – This 5-star resort near Belek includes swimming pools, water slides, a kid’s club, fitness activities, several restaurants, a spa, and access to a private beach.
  • Gloria Serenity Resort   – This 5-star resort includes swimming pools, a fitness center, sports center, several restaurants and bars, a spa, a game room, kids’ club, and beach access. We have stayed in one of the villas here and it is a great place if you want a relaxing place to stay on your trip.
  • Land of Legends Hotel – This family-friendly hotel is geared to kids and all guests get free access to the Land of Legends theme park. The hotel and park feature roller coasters, a water park, pools, restaurants, children’s shows, and more.

belly dancer 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 9: Antalya

Today you’ll spend a second day exploring Antalya. There are lots of options for how you can spend your day, depending on your interests.

If you didn’t explore the historic city center and Old Marina areas yesterday, you might want to do that today. You can wander this area easily on foot.

Or perhaps head to the Beydaglari Coastal National Park. Here you can take the cable car (Olympos Telferik) to get a great view of the area. The park offers opportunities for hiking, paragliding, climbing, and other outdoor activities. In the winter there is skiing and snowsports.

For those interested in waterfalls, there are several waterfalls in the area. The most popular are the Upper Duden Falls and Lower Duden Falls. We can also recommend a visit to Kursunlu Waterfall.

For those looking for historical and archaeological sites outside the city, we can recommend the ancient Greco-Roman city of Aspendos . Here you can see the impressive remains of a Roman theatre, aqueduct, and basilica are well worth the visit. Another option is the ancient Greek city of Perga (or Perge) that contains a Bronze Age acropolis among many other of its ruins.

Those who like theme parks may want to spend the day at The Land of Legends , which is an amusement park with roller coasters, water slides, live shows, a surf pool, and a cinema. Very popular with families visiting the area.

Golfers may want to hit the links and try one or two of the many golf courses in the area. Belek and the surrounding area is considered the top golf destination in Turkey with over 20 different golf courses in Antalya. In 2012, the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final was hosted at the Antalya Golf Club in Belek.

If you are feeling like a lazy and inexpensive day out, consider just heading to a beach and having a relaxing day in the sun. Or if you are staying a resort, you can just spend your full day enjoying the resort amenities.

Note that many of these attractions, like the waterfalls, Aspendos, and the national parks, are located outside of the city center. Some you can reach by public bus, but many you will need to either hire a taxi or join a tour if you don’t have you own transportation.

Here are some day tours you might consider taking today:

  • This 8 hour tour includes a guided city tour of Antalya, a boat tour, a visit to Duden Waterfalls National Park, and lunch
  • This full day tour includes the Tunektepe cable car ride, visit to Duden Waterfalls National Park, Antalya city tour, lunch, and a boat ride
  • This 9 hour tour from Antalya includes visits to the ancient cities of Aspendos, Perge, and Side as well as a stop at the Kursunlu Waterfall
  • This 5 hour waterfall tour includes visits to three different area waterfalls in the Antalya region plus lunch
  • This full day jeep safari includes Saklıkent Gorge, Patara beach, and Kaputaş as well as a buffet lunch

In the evening, we recommend enjoying more of the Antalya nightlife. There is something to suit just about any taste whether you are looking for a relaxing seafood dinner at the harbor, a dance performance, a sunset cruise, or a night out at the clubs.

Those traveling by bus may want to consider taking an overnight bus to Cappadocia tonight instead of spending the night in Antalya.

How to Get from Antalya to Cappadocia

Your next destination in Turkey is Cappadocia. Note that Cappadocia is the name of the region, rather than a specific city. The main tourist destinations in the region are in and around the town of Göreme.

By Car: It is a long 310 miles (500 km) drive from Antalya to Göreme, and the drive will take you about 7 hours. So this will use up most of your day. You may want to stop to visit the Derinkuyu Underground City before heading into Göreme today.

By Plane: Flying is the quickest option to get from Antalya to Cappadocia. Direct flights take about 1 hour, but those with connections usually take about 3.5 hours. In the summertime, there are often direct flights, but off-season you’ll likely have to connect through Istanbul.

The two main airports in Cappadocia are Kayseri Erkilet Airport in Kayseri, around a 1 hour drive from the main tourist sights, and Nevsehir Kapadokya Airport in Gülsehir, around a 40 minute drive away. From the airports, you can book an airport transport service to hotels in the region here .

By Bus : If you are traveling by public transport, there are a number of buses from Antalya to Göreme. The buses take about 9 hours, and most are overnight buses although there are some daytime routes as well. Check bus times and prices, and book online here .

Aspendos Roman Theater Amphitheatre Antalya 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 10: Cappadocia

Today we recommend leaving Antalya after breakfast and heading to Cappadocia . Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s most well-known tourist regions and it is definitely an area worth exploring.

Cappadocia is a region of central Turkey that has been inhabited since at least the 5th century BC. It is best known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys” and rock formations formed by erosion, the many rock dwellings carved into the rock valleys by the troglodytes (cave dwellers), and the carved rock churches, some of which still have existing frescos. There were entire underground villages here.

Cappadocia today is one of the most popular and visited areas of Turkey by international travelers. Visitors come to see its surreal landscapes, interesting rock formations, and ancient cave dwellings. It is also one of the most popular places in the world to take a hot air balloon flight!

The main town is Göreme and we recommend using this as a base to explore this region. There is a lot that you can see and do in the region, so you’ll want to prioritize your time here.

One of the most popular places to visit in the area is the Göreme Open Air Museum . The large outdoor complex contains ancient rock-hewn homes and some of the area’s most important rock churches and chapels. Many contain well-preserved frescos dating back to the 9th to 12th centuries. This site is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, along with several other locations in the region, including the underground cities of Kaymakli and Derinkuyu.

A number of underground complexes built in this area. In terms of ones you can visit, Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are both partially open to visitors. The two underground cities were once connected. At Derinkuyu, it is believed that as many of 20,000 people could have lived there at one time!

Most of the area’s rock formations are made of soft volcanic tuff, which made it easy to carve and some of the dwellings were quite large. One of the better-known formations is the so-called Uçhisar Castle which is a mountain-castle that served as both a monastery and residential housing for up to 1,000 people in the Byzantine era.

Natural erosion of the rock has also lead to the interesting rock formations found throughout the region. There are lots of places to see these formations as they are scattered throughout the region.

For seeing local rock formations, you can visit one or two of the many valleys that feature a large concentration of these formations. These include Pigeon Valley (or Valley of the Dovecotes is full of dovecotes carved into the volcanic rock), Ihlara Valley (canyon full of cave dwellings and rock churches), Love Valley (full of phallic-shaped pillars), and Monk Valley (full of fairy chimneys and other rock pillars).

Most of these valleys offer plenty of opportunities for hiking as well. Some valleys also permit quad biking tours which are also popular.

This region is also known for its traditional arts and crafts, particularly pottery, and earthenware pottery has been made here for centuries. If you are interested in pottery and handicrafts, you’ll want to visit the town of Avanos which has a number of shops and galleries. We recommend a visit also to the Güray Museum in Avanos, which is an underground cave museum filled with antiques, ceramics, and pottery.

This is also an important region for those interested in the Hittites who were a people in the central Anatolia who established a Bronze Age empire in the region. The empire’s capital was in Hattusa, and the ruins of the ancient city can be visited today and are another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hattusa and the main Hittite archaeological sites are about a 2.5 hour drive from Göreme.

As Cappadocia is a bit spread out, again you will either need your own transport or to take a tour for the majority of these attractions.

There are lots of tour options around Cappadocia so they are all pretty competitive with each other so you should be able to find one at a decent price. Most include lunch in the tour price. Here are some tours of Cappadocia to check out:

  • A full day small group tour of Cappadocia which includes lunch and visits to Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Selime Monastery, and Göreme Valley
  • A full day private tour of Cappadocia which includes Göreme Open Air Museum, Pigeon Valley, Kaymakli Underground City, and other highlights
  • A 6.5 hour tour of Cappadocia , including Devrent Valley, Zevle Open Air Museum, Pasabag, Göreme Open Air Museum, and Pigeon Valley. Lunch is included.
  • A 6 to 7 hour tour of Cappadocia, including Uchisar Castle, Love Valley, Göreme Open Air Museum, Monks Valley, Avanos, and Devrent Valley. Lunch is included.
  • A full day private tour of Cappadocia , includes lunch and visits to Göreme Open Air Museum, Uchisar Castle, Pigeon Valley, and Kaymakli Underground City.
  • This full day tour with trekking explores south Cappadocia and includes visits to Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Belisirma, and Selime. It also includes a 4 km trek in Ihlara Valley and lunch.
  • This private Anatolian art tour focuses on the local art and handicrafts of the region, particularly in Avanos. This includes carpet weaving, pottery, Ebru (water marbling), and jewelry. You get a chance to watch some of the art being made and chances to shop for local pieces.

Depending on how you travel to Cappadocia, you are likely spending a large portion of today traveling between Antalya and Cappadocia. So you may not have much time to explore on your first day.

If you don’t get into Cappadocia until the late afternoon or evening, there are still some activities you might consider on your first day.  For example, you might consider a sunset ATV tour, sunset horseback riding tour , or night show performance and dinner . Or maybe just heading to Sunset View point to watch the sunset before dinner.

We recommend going to bed early so you can be up to take a hot air balloon flight or watch them take off from afar in the morning!

Where to Stay in Cappadocia

Our recommendation for your time in Cappadocia is to stay in Göreme, Ortahisar, or Ürgüp. These three towns are next to each other and all feature a wide range of accommodation options.

You can see the hot air balloons from all of them, depending on weather conditions, with Göreme being the closest to the main launch sites.

Our recommendation is to stay in one of the many cave hotels on offer in this area, which is a unique experience! Just be aware that many of the cave hotels offer a range of accommodation options, and not all of them will be in a cave, so do double check before booking a specific room type if this is important to you.

Here are some accommodation options to consider in Cappadocia:

  • Hostel Terra Vista in Göreme – This is a well-reviewed budget hostel option that offers both dormitory and private rooms with included breakfast. It’s not in a cave, but it does offer lovely views across Göreme.
  • Homestay Cave Hostel , Göreme – This is a well-rated hostel with some of the dormitory rooms located in a cave. Breakfast is included.
  • Guzide Cave Hotel in Göreme – This good value cave hotel offers a range of en-suite cave room types with breakfast included.
  • Grand Elite Cave Suites in Göreme – This well-reviewed cave hotel offers room types to suit most budgets, and also has an outdoor swimming pool and breakfast is included.
  • Aydinli Cave Hotel in Göreme – This cave hotel offers ensuite rooms, inclusive breakfast, and a lovely rooftop terrace that offers great views across Göreme.
  • Zara Cave Hotel in Göreme – This is another wonderfully reviewed cave hotel offering a range of en-suite cave rooms across a variety of budgets. Breakfast is included and the hotel has a shared lounge and terrace area for nice views.
  • Kayakapi Premium Caves in Ürgüp – This upscale cave hotel offers stunning cave rooms in restored historical caves, a magnificent view across the surrounding landscape, an on-site restaurant, a swimming pool, a spa, and breakfast is included. We’ve stayed in this cave hotel and really loved it.

Piegeon Valley Cappadocia 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 11: Cappadocia

This morning we recommend getting up early to enjoy a hot air balloon flight. Cappadocia is very well-known for hot air ballooning and up to 100 balloons fly here on most days (weather permitting). Due to the unusual landscapes and wide open places, it is considered one of the best places in the world to experience a balloon flight.

If you want to take a hot air balloon flight, just be sure to book once in advance. If you are traveling with a tour, almost all tours offer this as an optional activity.

You’ll need to get up early as the balloons fly in the morning around sunset. How early will depend on the time of year and this can range from a very early 4:00am to 7:00am. Most balloon companies offer pick-up from your hotel and many also include breakfast (or at least coffee and a snack).

Most flights last between 1 hour and 1.5 hours in the air and you travel slowly over the scenic landscape. It is great to see all the interesting rock formations from above as well as see all the other hot air balloons in the sky. If you are looking for a splurge experience in Cappadocia, this is a good one to consider.

We’ve been to Cappadocia twice and have done hot air balloon flights with two different companies, and we can say that some companies definitely are better than others. We can wholly recommend booking a flight with Royal Balloons based on our experience. The staff, food, and safety precautions were all excellent.

Hot air balloon flights are widely available from many companies, but you will want to book in advance to secure a spot. Here are some few suggested options to consider for a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia.

  • This 2.5 hour experience with Royal Balloons includes flight, hotel pickup, champagne toast, and breakfast. We did this trip and it was excellent; highly recommend!
  • This 2 hour experience includes breakfast, champagne, souvenir flight certificate, and hotel pickup
  • This 2.5 hour experience includes breakfast, champagne, and hotel pickup
  • This private balloon experience is exclusively just for you and your group and includes hotel pickup and champagne toast.

Just remember that hot air balloon flights are weather dependent so cancelations are common if the winds are too strong or the weather is bad. So we recommend trying to have flexibility in your schedule for the next morning to do the flight if it is canceled. This will allow you to reschedule and hopefully get a chance to go up the next day.

If you are not interested in taking a balloon flight or the flights are a bit above your budget, you might still want to get up to watch them take off in the morning. The majority of hot air balloon flights launch from around Göreme. You can see them from many of the hotels (ask at yours specifically) and from many parts of the city.

The Sunset View point we mentioned for sunset is also a good place to watch sunrise and the balloon launch, and take photos.

After your morning balloon experience, you may be tempted to crawl back into bed for a nap, but we’d recommend using the rest of your day to see more of the wonderful landscapes and explore the local cultural attractions. There is plenty to see and do in the region to keep you busy all day!

If you are planning to take a balloon flight and then join a day tour today, just make sure that you will have time to get back from your flight before the tour departs.

For those who do want a more relaxing day time activity, you might consider shopping, spending time at one of the local spas (some hotels have their own spas) or hotel pools, going hiking in one of the valleys, or enjoying a mud bath at the Cappadocia Mud Baths & Spa . Laurence found a visit to the mud baths invigorating after a day of travel.

In the evening, we recommend enjoying the sunset and having a nice dinner. There are plenty of evening experiences you can enjoy as noted on Day 10. But if you got up early today, you are probably ready for an early night!

How to Get from Cappadocia to Ankara

Your next destination in Turkey is Ankara, the country’s capital. You have several options on getting between the Cappadocia area and Ankara. If you are planning to use public transportation, we’d recommend checking the schedules in advance.

Those with less than 2 weeks in Turkey may want to skip the stop in Ankara and head onwards to Istanbul today.

By Car : It is about a 180 mile (290 km) drive from Göreme to Ankara, which takes about 3.5 hours.

By Plane : You can fly from Cappadocia (Kayseri or Nevşehir airport) to Ankara, but there are rarely direct flights so you will likely need to layover in Istanbul. Flights often take 4 to 5 hours.

By Train : There are usually two regular trains a day that run from Kayseri to Ankara, one during the day and one overnight train. They are not high-speed trains so the journey takes about 6.5 hours. Check train times and book online here .

By Bus : You can take the bus from Göreme (or other town in Cappadocia) to Ankara. The bus journey takes about 5 hours on average. Check bus times and prices, and book online here .

Cappadocia balloons 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 12: Ankara

If you had a really early morning the day before, you may want to enjoy a relaxing later breakfast to start the day. Then it is time to head onward to Ankara.

If you weren’t able to take a balloon flight on the previous morning for any reason, you could do that this morning. Also if there is anything else you missed in Cappadocia, you could fit it into your morning and then head to Ankara in the late morning or early afternoon.

Ankara is the capital of Turkey, and the second-largest city after Istanbul. Like most cities in Turkey, it has a long and rich history and has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age. The city became the capital of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and is today a major center of government, industry, and culture.

Despite being the capital city, Ankara is not nearly as well-known to travelers and is not as touristy as Istanbul. Many of its attractions are focused more to Turkish people than to international visitors, giving the city a much different feel than that of Istanbul and the more touristed regions of the country.

It is a great place to see and learn more about how Turkish people live, eat, work, and play. We recommend taking the time to explore this city and to consider hiring a local guide or joining a local walking tour during part of your time here.

The most popular visited attractions in Ankara is the Anıtkabir or the Mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk was the first president of Turkey, and is regarded as the founder of modern Turkey and was a leader of the Turkish War of Independence. He died in 1938, having served 15 years as President. Anıtkabir is a monumental complex of plazas, towers, statues, and a museum.

The city’s second most visited attraction is the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and this is probably the one must-see place for most foreign visitors. The museum’s galleries tell the story of Turkey’s people in the past 8,000 years in chronological order, including the Neolithic, Early Bronze, Assyrian, Hittite, Phrygian, Urartian, Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuq, and Ottoman periods. The museum is especially known for holding the most comprehensive exhibition on Hittite artifacts in the world. It was named the first “European Museum of the Year” in 1997.

Ankara has many archaeological and historical sites. These include the Ankara Castle (a.k.a. Ankara Citadel), Roman Theatre, Temple of Augustus and Rome, the Roman Baths, and the Roman Road. Most of the Roman ruins can be found in or near the Ulus quarter in central Ankara.

The largest mosque in the city is the Kocatepe Mosque which has become a landmark of the city. Other impressive mosques the 16th-century Yeni Mosque, the 15th-century Haci Bayram Mosque, and the 12th-century Alâeddin Mosque.

Ankara offers a lot of shopping opportunities, from traditional bazaars to modern shopping malls. The street bazaar along Cikrikcilar Yukusu, also known as the “Weavers’ Alley”, is one of the best places to go in the city for traditional shopping. Another nearby popular market is Bakicilar Carsisi which is famous for its copper products. Those looking for more modern stores may want to head to the Kızılay area.

We also recommend a wander around the Hamamönü, which is a restored late Ottoman neighborhood in the center of Ankara. The area has been restored and amongst the historical structures are handicraft markets, shops, cafes, and restaurants.

If you enjoy museums, there are about 50 of them in and around Ankara. They focus on everything from war to art to steam locomotives to technology. In addition to those already mentioned, some museums you might consider are the Ethnographic Museum, Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum (technology), Independence War Museum, and Republic Museum.

Ankara is also a cultural performance hub. You can see the state opera and ballet companies of Turkey perform, as well as classical music orchestras and theatre performances.

For those looking for a different type of nightlife, the large student population of Ankara means there are also things happening in the bars, clubs, and cafes located in the more student-friendly areas of the city.

Here are a few tour ideas in Ankara:

  • This private full-day tour of the city’s highlights is designed to help you understand the history of Ankara with visits to some of the city’s main attractions including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara Citadel, Ataturk Mausoleum, and the Old Copper Market.
  • This private tour with a local guide can be booked from 2 to 6 hours and focuses on introducing visitors to Ankara. This tour is designed to show you the local side of Ankara and help you plan the rest of your time in the city.
  • This full day private day tour visits the Hittites sites of Yazilikaya and Hattusas. Includes hotel pick-up and lunch.

As you can see, there are plenty of things to do to fill a couple of days in Ankara!

Where to Stay in Ankara

Ankara is a big city, so ideally you will want to stay relatively close to the center to minimize transport times. We recommend staying near the city center, so in the area around Ankara Castle and the train station, as this will put you in walking distance of most of the main sights in the city.

Here are some accommodation options in Ankara to consider:

  • Deeps Hostel – This budget-friendly hostel offers both dormitory and private rooms, an on-site shared kitchen, and a dining room. It is also centrally located and is about a 5 minute walk from the main train station.
  • Sahinbey Hotel – This great value central 2-star hotel offers rooms with private bathrooms and an included breakfast. It is located about a 5 minute walk from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and also near Ankara Castle.
  • Kahya Hotel Ankara – This centrally located 4-star hotel offers en-suite rooms, 24-hour front desk, free on-site parking, terrace, and an on-site restaurant.
  • Güvenay Business Hotel – This well-rated central business-focused hotel offers comfortable en-suite rooms, an on-site restaurant, a terrace, a 24-hour front desk, a business center, and inclusive breakfast
  • Divan Cukurhan – This very well-reviewed historical hotel offers lovely en-suite rooms, with an on-site restaurant, 24 hour front desk, and optional breakfast. Located directly opposite of Ankara Castle and a 5 minute walk from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.
  • The Ankara Hotel – Another well-reviewed 4-star hotel offering modern en-suite rooms with lovely views of the city, an on-site bar and restaurant, free on-site parking, and inclusive breakfast. Located within the train station so a great place to stay for train travelers.

If you are looking for a self-catering option in Ankara, there are a number of options to rent a private room, apartment, or villa. You can check out these city center apartment options on Booking, and these city center options on Vrbo.

cat Turkey 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 13: Ankara

For your second day in Ankara, we recommend you use it to do the things that you didn’t have time to do on the first day.

If you visited many of the most popular attractions like Anitkabir, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, and Ankara Castle yesterday, you might want to spend a more relaxing day wandering around one of the neighborhoods, doing a local food tour, and shopping. Ankara is a good place to search out any Turkish foods you haven’t had the chance to try yet or buying any last minute souvenirs or gifts.

Also a good time to do anything you had been wanting to do in Turkey that you hadn’t been able to do yet. For instance, if you had been wanting to try a Turkish hamam, you could do that today. One central historical hamam to consider is Şengül Hamamı .

If this is your final night in Turkey, we recommend planning something nice to do in the evening!

How to Get from Ankara to Istanbul

As the two largest cities in Turkey, Istanbul and Ankara are very well connected so you have lots of options on how to travel between them. The fastest way to get from Ankara to Istanbul is to fly although taking a direct high-speed train is also a good option.

By Car: If you’re driving, it’s around a 280 miles (450 km) drive from Ankara to Istanbul, and the drive takes around 5 hours.

By Plane : There are many daily direct flights between Ankara and Istanbul and these flights take about 1 hour.

By Train: The direct train takes around 4 to 4.5 hours. Several trains run this route each day and there is also an overnight sleeper train.

By Bus: Bus journeys between Ankara and Istanbul take between 6 and 7 hours on average. There are a great many bus services to choose from, including overnight options. Check bus times and prices, and book online here .

Turkish breakfast 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary Day 14: Istanbul

You’re back in Istanbul, having completed your fantastic 2 week trip in Turkey!

If you have more time in Istanbul, you can see anything that you didn’t have time to see during your first visit here. There are plenty of things to see and do in the city. You can also do some final souvenir shopping and enjoy a final Turkish meal.

If you are flying home from the Istanbul airport, you may want to pre-arrange an airport transfer .

2 weeks in Turkey itinerary Jessica Norah Laurence Norah

Our 2 Week Turkey Itinerary Map

We have marked out our suggested route for our 2 week Turkey itinerary on Google maps. This should help you more easily visualize the route over the 14 day trip through Turkey.

You can access our route map  here or by clicking on the map image below:

14 Day Turkey Itinerary 2 weeks in Turkey

There you have it, our suggestions on where to travel in Turkey for 2 weeks!

Like what you see above but don’t want to book the transport, hotels, and activities yourself? Considering booking a guided tour, you can see our list of recommended tours of Turkey earlier in the post.

Our 2 week Turkey itinerary will help you plan the perfect trip to Turkey. Our detailed 14 day Turkey itinerary includes Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, Pamukkale, Kusadasi, Ephesus, Troy, Gallipoli and Ankara. Two weeks in Turkey gives you time to explore Turkey's cosmopolitan cities, ancient archaeological sites, beaches, bazaars & scenic landscapes. We also give tips & advice to help you get the most out of your Turkey vacation! #Turkey #TurkeyItinerary #Turkeytravel #2weeksinTurkey

Which of these places would be on your Turkey travel itinerary? Have you been? If so, we’d love to hear about your favorite places or tips on traveling in Turkey.

If you have any questions about traveling to Turkey or our 2 week Turkey itinerary, just leave them as a comment below and we’ll try our best to answer them. As always, we love to hear from you!

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Isha Post author

March 24, 2024 at 3:23 pm

I will be in Turkey on Tuesday. This guide has been an extremely useful resource in planning my 14 day trip. I will be starting from Istanbul to Izmir (stay in kusadasi) – Cappadocia – Antalya (from Antalys day trip to Heirapolis and Permukkale). Thank you very much

Jessica & Laurence Norah Post author

March 25, 2024 at 4:26 am

So happy to hear our Turkey itinerary has been helpful in planning your own 14 day trip. Sounds like you hae a great trip planned. Hope you have a wonderful time and just let us know if you have any questions!

Best, Jessica

April 10, 2024 at 2:02 am

Hi, thanks again for this blog which was the best resource in planning my trip. I am back. I had an amazing time. The only thing i did not need was a water bottle (which i packed). I also downloaded the vpn.

Istanbul – toured by myself and didnt need a tour guide as most places are accessible by wandering around-4 days flew to Izmir-kusadasi-ephesus. did a tour with a guide. 2 days

flew to cappadocia did the green and red tours, skipped the balloon. Also did the turkish night dance which was overpriced in my opinion. 4 days

flew to Antalya. did day tour and went to permukkale and hierapolis by road.

Thank you so much for this amazing blog resource.

April 14, 2024 at 1:00 am

You’re very welcome and thanks for taking the time to tell us about your travels in Turkey. So glad you had such a great trip to Turkey and that our Turkey itinerary was a helpful resource in planning your trip and thanks for letting us know where you went and how you organized your time. Sounds like you did a mix of independent travel and guided travel, which sounds nice. I am sure it might be helpful to future readers looking to plan a similar trip.

Hawa Post author

February 20, 2024 at 4:33 am

Thank you so much for sharing your 14 day itinerary as well as tips! Extremely useful and no doubt that you guys had an amazing time! My hubby and I are planning to visit Turkey in September. Overall itinerary is 16-17 days. We want to visit the following places but are not sure which way to plan the routing. Can you please advise/assist us based on the places that we want to visit. We also not keen to hire a car and would prefer flying wherever possible. If there are no flights available for certain routes, then we opt to take a bus. The places are: Istanbul, Izmir, Pamukkale, Cappadocia and Antalya. Please assist us. Also we were planning to spend 3 full days in Antalya and about 2 and half days in Cappadocia. Is this okay? Or would you suggest us staying longer in Cappadocia then Antalya. Thank you! Kind regards,

February 20, 2024 at 12:44 pm

Happy to try to help with your trip. I am going to assume you are flying in and out of Istanbul? In that case, you could do Istanbul – Izmir – Pamukkale – Antalya – Cappadocia – Istanbul or do that in reverse ordering, leaving Istanbul and going to Cappadocia first. It really makes little difference which way you go, just that you on in an order that makes logical sense.

So a trip based on those locations and some of your plans you stated might be:

Istanbul – 3 nights Izmir – 4 nights Pamukkale – visit as part of a day trip from Izmir? Antalya – 4 nights Cappadocia – 3 nights Istanbul – 2 nights

Above is 16 nights in total

So it is easy to fly from Istanbul to Izmir. When in Izmir, you can either use local buses, taxis, or join day tours to visit places like Epheseus and Kuşadası. I’d also consider taking a day tour from here to Pamukkale. You can see a number of day tours available from Izmir here on GYG and here on Viator .

For Pamukkale, you can visit by public bus, join a day tour from Izmir (or Antalya), fly into Denizli airport and then take a taxi or bus. I’d probably opt to just join a day tour as you don’t have to worry about getting to the actual sites from a bus station or airport. Most of the tours include stops at both the hot springs and the ancient city of Hierapolis.

Then from Izmir, you can take a flight to Antalya and then taxi to your hotel. Then from Antlaya, you can take a flight to Cappadocia (2 different airprot options). Then from Cappadocia, fly back to Istnabul for a couple of days before your flight howm.

Our suggested itinerary has lots of info on things to do at each of these locations, but feel free to ask if you have further questions.

Anyway hope that helps answer your questions and get you started in planning out your itinerary and starting to book your trip.

Just let us know if you have more questions as you continue to research your trip!

Linda Post author

January 14, 2024 at 6:50 pm

Hi Jessica and Lawrence, Your post is so amazing and helpful for me to understand traveling in Turkey! My partner and I are thinking of hiking the Lycien Way. Do you have any recommendation regarding tour group and how to do it? This will be our first time going to Turkey. Thank you! Linda

January 15, 2024 at 4:49 pm

So glad that our Turkey itinerary has been helpful to you and your partner. So are you looking to extend a 2 week trip around Turkey by adding in the hike, or are you going to to focus on doing the hike? The full hike is about a month but you can easily do a shorter section of it which can range from 1 day to a couple of weeks.

So if you want to do a general trip around Turkey (similar to the one we wrote about) and hike the Lycien Way as part of a guided tour, I’d probably do a regular guided tour around Turkey first, exploring places like Istanbul, Epheseus, Antalya, Troy, Cappadocia, etc. first. We give lots of suggestions for tour companies that do similar itineraries to the one above as well as those for slightly shorter or longer trips.

Then after that ends (almost all begin and end in Istanbul) add on a second hiking specific tour of the Lycien Way after that you can get a flight down to Dalaman Airport (DLM) or Antalya Airprot. Most of the hiking trips end/begin at the Dalaman Airport (or in nearby Fethiye) or in Antalya. Domestic return flights within Turkey are normally pretty cheap (about $150 to $250 per person). You just need to be sure to book your tours in advance and leave a little leeway in case there are delays or anything, so I’d probably leave a full day at beginning and end (also nice to have a day to relax in between tours).

So as you probably already know the Lycien Way is an approximately 760 km (472 mile) way-marked footpath around the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, stretching from Fethiye to Antalya. However, the exact length and such is different depending on map and guidebook, and has changed over time. But generally it takes about 30-40 days to walk the full path. It is generally recommended to do it in the Spring by most sources although autumn also can be nice. I can’t give any specific personal advice on hiking it or a tour group as we have never tried hiking any more than a short section.

Now if you are looking for a tour group, I don’t know of any that regularly do the full path from start to finish with English speaking guides (I would check local hiking/trekking companies in Turkey or ask in a Turkey hiking forum) but there are several companies that do group or private 6-10 day hiking highlights tours of the Lycien Way so that you experience some of the main and more scenic and easy to reach sections. But they also arrange your transport, food, luggage, accommodation, etc. Tour companies like Intrepid, Explore, and UTracks all seems to offer them, and the Explore one in particular seems to get a lot of really good reviews online. You can compare various tours here that include the Lycien Way.

If you want to do the Lycian Way, I would recommend getting a copy of the English guidebook on this by Kate Clow (she is the authority on the route as she waymarked and promoted it). Note that the latest version of this guidebook was published in 2022 (it can be hard to find so you may need to order it directly from her website Trekking in Turkey). This guidebook along with free online resources and mapping apps should help inform and guide you whether you choose to do it on your own or with a guide.

Hope the above helps, but let me know if you have more questions as you research and plan your trip to Turkey!

Charles Post author

December 15, 2023 at 4:18 pm

Istanbul, Turkey is such a captivating destination, love the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and the Grand Bazaar. This website offers such valuable insights into these attractions, as well as local cuisine and practical travel advice. Had such an enjoyable visit to this enchanting city. Would love to return to follow your whole itinerary but not the time on this trip. Thanks so much and Happy travels!

December 16, 2023 at 8:18 am

Hi Charles,

So glad you had such a wonderful visit to Istanbul and glad you found our Turkey articles helpfull. Hope you get a chance to return to Turkey soon and see more of the country beyond Istanbul – lots of great places to visit!

Georges Chahoud Post author

October 11, 2023 at 11:09 am

Thanks a lot for the precious informations two weeks in turkey , what do you suggest me if I would like to visite the princesses islands ( Istanbul) and more excursions tour three weeks .

October 12, 2023 at 11:30 am

Hi Georges,

Glad you are finding our 2-week Turkey itinerary helpful in planning your trip. So with three weeks, I would probably just spend some more time at the cities and stops that are of most interest to you. It can also give you more time to do day trip and excursions from those places such as Istanbul, Antalya, Cappadocia, or Kuşadası. Or if you are planning to join a tour, it will likely allow you to choose a longer tour with more stops.

I think you mean the Princes’ Islands in Turkey, near Istanbul (I am not familiar with any Princesses Islands)? For that, I would probably just do it as a day trip and allocate a morning and afternoon for the visit. We have visited as part of a day trip and the main island is easy to get to by taking a ferry boat. I think it is the equivalent of a couple of dollars for a ticket each way and most people head to Büyükada (Big Island). You can book tickets in advance or just buy once you are there. You can also join as part of a tour, and here are some day tour options that you can book in advance. In addition to your transport, some of the tours also include a guided walking tour, lunch, bike rides, music, and/or fishing.

If you are looking for a 3 week guided tour, it is hard to make a recommendation without knowing more about your budget, age, interests, and who all is traveling together. But a couple of options would be this 19-day tour with TravelTalk or this 18-day tour with Intrepid Travel. But here are several more tour options that are between 18 and 25 days in length. If you decide to do a tour like those that is less than 21 days, then plan a couple of extra nights on your own in Istanbul at the end (where you can visit the Princes Islands for instance).

Hope that helps and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip to Turkey!

October 15, 2023 at 12:55 pm

Hi Jessica. Thanks a lot for your reply, I found it very useful. I’m happy to find you and to be one of your followers. Concerning my voyage to turkey, my budget is about 5000C$, do you think is enough for 21 days, I’m 61 years old and for me it’s a discovering voyage, most probably I gone be alone . Thanks again.

October 16, 2023 at 8:19 am

You’re very welcome. Glad the information was useful in planning you vogage to Turkey.

Yes, $5000 CAD (about $3700 USD) is enough for a comfortable trip around Turkey for 3 weeks if you plan it well. Turkey is not that expensive. Flights are the biggest cost, if the $5000 is in addition to your international flight then that is a very nice budget to have, but you’ll need to be more budget focused if your flights will come out of that sum. You’ll have about a $230 CAD budget per day (currently about $170 USD or 4700 Turkish lira).

Just a side note, the Turkish lira (the official currency of Turkey) is very unstable and so most tourist places prefer you to pay in euros (or sometimes GBP or USD). A lot of tourist activities will be priced in euros so good to know the CAD to EUR conversion rates once in Turkey. So while you may want to have a small amount of Turkish lira cash on you for small establishments/markets/gratuities/etc, you can pay with most things with your credit/debit card or in euros.

You can stay in comfortable moderate hotels or guest houses, visit attractions, do some excursions, and eat well within your budget. You can choose to plan the full trip yourself and do your own travel (by car or public transit) or join a tour with a tour guide where that all is taken care of for you with that budget. If doing it on your own, you should be able to book most big things in advance (flights, hotels, car rental, excursions) so you’ll know the cost and be able to stick to your budget and then allow for all the needed extras (food, attraction tickets, public transit, taxis, souvenirs, gratuities, etc.).

If you want to do it on your own, you certainly can, but if you prefer some company and a guide, there are lots of tours within your budget as well. We’ve used Travel Talk in Turkey but they definitely cater to a younger demographic but Intrepid Travel’s Comfort or Premium tours might be nice fit. We’ve used Intrepid Travel in Morocco and the age range was from late 20’s to 70’s on their more Premium category tours.

One thing you might consider is to do a mix where you are part of a tour for some parts of your travels and you are on own for other parts so you get the ease of group travel for the more far flung destinations and can do it on your own in places like Istanbul.

I am not sure when you are planning to visit, but if you are flexible, I would probably recommend avoiding the hottest months in Turkey (particularly July and August) as it can be pretty uncomfortable to sightsee, especially the historical sites and gardens, in the summer heat.

Hope that helps! If you have further questions as you get further into planning your trip, just let us know.

Georges Post author

October 17, 2023 at 9:46 am

Hi Jessica, i hopeI do not bother you with my questions, but I find that your instructions are very useful. I have two questions,since I am planning to visit the western part of Turkey. In your opinion, is it better for me to start in Ankara and end with Istanbul, or vice versa, or to start and end in the same city (to avoid distances). Secondly, in your opinion, is it better for me to book hotels In advance, such as a flight ticket, or to leave hotel reservations until I arrive in Turkey to avoid unpleasant surprises (I heard that, as for some hotels, you book a room and are surprised when you arrive that your room does not look at all like what you saw in the picture, and perhaps it is from another hotel. What do you think? Thanks a lot.

October 18, 2023 at 12:31 pm

Sure, no problem. So I would probably recommend flying in and out of Istanbul as that is normally the cheapest option as Istanbul is the larger international airport. If you are planning to take domestic flights in Turkey, Istanbul is also a good hub for that. But flying in and out of Ankara can also work if prices are better there. So definitely price compare across airports, dates, and routes. We’ve generally flown Turkish Airlines on round-trip tickets into Istanbul. Then I’d just recommend planning your itinerary in a circular fashion around the Western part of Turkey starting and ending in either Istanbul or Ankara.

We do generally recommend booking your accommodation in advance (before you leave for your trip) if you know your dates. Trying to find accommodation on the same day once in a location is not the best idea and can waste a lot of time. It is also easier to stick to a budget if you know your lodging cost beforehand. But it is of course up to you and I would do what best fits your travel style.

But if you want to stay in a comfortable hotel and have that set and know the price in advance, I would just book in advance once you know your dates and itinerary and I would generally recommend booking with a free cancellation option just in case you needed to cancel your trip or change dates. Of course if you have travel insurance, you can normally do a claim there if you couldn’t make your trip due to illness or flight cancellation or something, but having the free cancellation for your hotels just makes that easier.

We normally book online via (or with some kind of cancellation option. We have not had any unpleasant surprises in Turkey but I think if you stick to well-reviewed hotels on an international booking website like Booking or Hotels with plenty of reviews (especially from other Western travelers) and photos, you should be fine. We give some hotel recommendations throughout the itinerary across budgets and that should get you started on your search, at least in those areas. But Turkey has a lot of decent mid-range options in the main tourist cities and towns in the west part of the country that are not very expensive, but I would avoid the very cheap/basic ones and any that have no or few reviews.

gezilecek yerler Post author

August 9, 2023 at 7:01 am

Thank you for this great Turkey itinerary. Greetings from Turkey!

August 10, 2023 at 10:49 am

Thanks for taking the time to comment. You are very welcome and glad you found our 2 weeks in Turkey itinerary helpful! If you have any questions, just let us know. And enjoy your travels around Turkey!

Anne Post author

July 28, 2023 at 8:13 am

Thank you for so generously sharing this itinerary in such detail! We are planning to spend the entire month of May, 2024 in Turkey. For most of the first week we’ll be staying with friends in Istanbul, and after that we will travel by bus. We would love to follow your itinerary, expanding on it to fill out our month. Which of these options would you recommend as the best ways to spend our extra time: 1. Spending time in the Black Sea region on our way back from Capadocia? 2. Adding a multi day boat tour while we’re in the Mediterranean region? 3. Spending additional days in one or more of the Mediterranean towns along the route? 4. Adding stops along the Mediterranean? 5. Taking the ferry and spending time in Greece? So many ideas!

July 30, 2023 at 4:22 pm

That is wonderful that you have a full month here and have friends in Istanbul. So it sounds like you have 3 weeks to cover the rest of the itinerary (excluding Istanbul of course) and that gives you time to add some extra time to all the stops and to add an extra stop or two to the trip. So I would recommend going through the itinerary and seeing which places you want to add time in the existing places, taking into account bus travel times/stops. Then see how much extra time you have leftover and then that can help you decide which of the options might work best.

I would first add an extra day or two to the places along the route that you are most interested in visiting. As the itinerary covers a lot of ground in 2 weeks, you have extra time to add an extra day or two to any of the stops. Even if you don’t want to spend 3 days in the town itself, it nice to have the longer stay without needing to move hotels and you can do day trips (either by public bus or join a bus tour) to neighboring towns and attractions. You already have a lot of time in Istanbul, but you might want to spend extra time for instance in Kusadasi, Fethiye, or Cappadocia. Maybe spend a night in Denizli/Pamukkale to make that day not so long and more leisurely. So I would go through the 2 week itinerary you already have and make it slower first of all.

If interested in cultural sights/cities, you might want to add an overnight stop in Konya – a lot of people stop to see a whirling dervishes performance at the Culture Center but also a number of mosques and museums. If you like more the beach vibes, you might want add more of those such as Bodrum or Marmais.

If you like time on the water, then yes, I would definitely recommend a boat cruise. Laurence did a multi-day gulet trip and enjoyed it a lot. It’s a great way to see some of the islands, swim, etc. Options range from budget group trip to luxury private ones, and from a few hours to 2 weeks in length. You can take boat trips from a number of places such as Kusadasi, Kas, Fethiye, and Bodrum. If you want to do a multi-day trip, you would want to book that in advance before you leave. Boat day tours you can normally arrange the day before or even same day if needed (although still a good idea to book those in advance too).

If you want to see a bit of Greece and plan to do a boat trip, some of the boats also go to Greek islands given that some of them are so close to Turkey. But the ferry could also be an option if you wanted to make a short visit to Greece. To be honest with 3 weeks outside of Istanbul to explore, I’d probably recommend focusing on Turkey and saving Greece for a future trip. But if you don’t think you’ll ever return to the area, it could be worth the extra time.

The Black Sea region is not as popular with international tourists as most of the other places on the itinerary but can definitely be a nice extra place to spend some of your time if you have at least a few extra days to spare in your itinerary. The beaches are not going to be as great as the ones in the south but it has some lush green hilly areas, alpine areas, forests, waterfalls, castles, coastal cities, tea plantations, historic mosques, lovely lakes, etc. So if you are looking for a more off the beaten path area or just a green area this can be a good choice and you could head there after either Ankara or Cappadocia before heading back to Istanbul. But just be sure you have plenty of time to add this and that there are good bus connections to the parts of the region that you would like to visit. Depending on which part of the region you visit, it can take you a day (~12 hours) to get from the region to Istanbul, and also most of a day to get there from Cappadocia (a little less if leave from Ankara) so you’d probably need 5 days free to be able to spend 3 days here so may or may not work with your schedule. The biggest Turkish city in the Black Sea region, Samsun, definitely has regular connections to both Kayseri, Ankara, and Istanbul by bus so you can look at that route to get an idea of connections and timing. You can check them on Busbud and FlixBus .

Anyway, hope that helps a little! Just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your 2024 trip to Turkey.

Radhika Bayanwala Post author

May 1, 2023 at 9:56 am

Hello, for a 12 day trip what part of this trip do I cut down on?

May 1, 2023 at 12:48 pm

Hi Radhika,

I think it really depends on what you are most interested in doing/seeing in Turkey. I would maybe look at the itinerary day by day and see which places seem less interesting and take 2-3 days out of the itinerary. So for example if not very interested in the coast, you might cut the 2 nights in Antalya or if not as interested in more city/cultural stuff you could cut the stop in Ankara and go directly back to Istanbul from Cappadocia, which would save you two days. It is really just up to you!

If you have any questions as you plan your trip to Turkey, just let me know!

Ferhana Abader Post author

February 11, 2023 at 12:51 pm

Hi Jessica, Thank you so much for this, it really is helpful. My husband and I want to visit Turkey towards the end of April from South Africa. We will be staying for 2 weeks. We want to go to Istanbul, Cappadocia and Antalya. Do you think it’s a good idea to stay in Istanbul for 2 nights, Cappadocia for 3 nights, Antalya for 3 nights and back to Istanbul for another 6 nights. We not really into history so we won’t be visiting quite a few of the places mentioned here. If 8 days in Istanbul is too much where do you recommend we go to where there’s other things to do besides visit historical sites?

Thank you so much 🌹

February 13, 2023 at 8:43 am

Hi Ferhana,

Glad you have found our Turkey itinerary helpful!

So yes, I think if historical and cultural sites are not that interesting to you, you might find that 8 full days in Istanbul might be too much. That is a pretty long time. Istanbul has a variety of things to do, but the main appeal to many visitors is of course the historical sites, churches/mosques, museums, etc. Of course there are also loads of other things including the markets, shopping, art, boat rides, evening entertainment, food tours, etc. So I think 4-6 days in total would probably allow you to see much of what you wish to see perhaps? But it really depends on what you enjoy doing. I’d maybe make a list of what you really want to do there and see how much is on it. That should help you decide.

If you feel you are spending too much time in Istanbul, the simplest thing would perhaps be to just add a night or two to your time in both Cappadocia and Antalya. This way your time is still divided by just 3 places.

If you like the beach and/or outdoor activities, another idea would be spend more time along the Turkish coast. In addition to Antalya, you might want to spend a few nights in either Fethiye or Bodrum. In the coastal cities, in addition to beaches, shopping, and the local historical attractions, you can do things like hiking, boating, golfing, water parks, and adventure tour activities like sailing, paragliding, rock climbing, or dirt biking. Gulet boat tours are popular and you could even consider an overnight trip where you get to sleep on the boat – they range from budget to luxury experiences.

Anyway, hope that helps give you some ideas! If you have any further questions as you plan your trip to Turkey, just ask.

February 13, 2023 at 10:07 am

Thank you so much for your response 🌹 This definitely helps me to make a more informed decision about my itinerary. Take care

February 13, 2023 at 11:58 am

You’re very welcome! Wishing you a great trip, and just let us know if you have further questions.

Jonathan Abrahams Post author

February 11, 2023 at 1:54 am

Thanks so much for this great write-up and itinerary for Turkey. It has definitely helped make my upcoming trip a lot easier to plan.

I’m visiting Turkey in April from the 22nd of April to the 6th of May this year. I’ll be mostly using public transport since I’m traveling solo.

My current schedule is as follows: 01. Istanbul (I arrive 7pm first day so it wouldn’t really count) 02. Istanbul 03. Istanbul 04. Istanbul 05. Selcuk (catch an early morning flight to Izmir and train to Selcuk – visit Ephesus and whatever else I can fit in) 06. Denizli (catch an early train from Selcuk and visit Pammukkale and whatever else I can fit in) 07. Antalya (take a bus to Antalya from Denizli – This time can be flexible if I want to see a bit more of Denizli) 08. Antalya 09. Antalya (taking an overnight bus from Antalya to Cappadocia – 9 hours) 10. Cappadocia 11. Cappadocia 12. Cappadocia 13. Ankara (take a bus from Cappadocia to Ankara – probably early in the morning) 14. Ankara 15. Ankara (take early afternoon flight from Ankara to Istanbul and catch my early evening flight out of Istanbul back home)

Normally when I travel I like to stay in one location for about 3 days to explore it and the surrounding areas, but I had to fit Selcuk in (for Ephesus) and Denizli (for Pammukkale). Do you think I’m spreading my time alright or should I perhaps move around a day or two here or there? Also, have you ever used AirBnB in Turkey and if so, how has it been?

Many thanks Jonathan

February 13, 2023 at 8:18 am

Hi Jonathan,

I think your proposed Turkey itinerary looks fine and glad to hear that our post made it easier for you to plan your trip and itinerary.

I do think that you will be a bit rushed for the 1 night visits as you say but that really can’t be helped unless you borrow time from elsewhere to stay longer in say Selcuk. Days 5 & 6 are definitely going to be longer/busy days for you. So it just depends if you are OK with this or not. If you wanted more time in those places, I’d suggest removing one of the other longer stops (say Antalya or Ankara).

In terms of how to spend your time, I would just review what you really want to see/do in each place and make sure you have enough time to do that. For example, as yourself what are the three main things you really want to do? How much do you want to see Pammukkale? What do you plan to do in Cappadocia/Ankara? etc. If you find that you are having to skip something you really wanted to see or feel it is too rushed, see if you can remove time elsewhere where maybe there are lower priority places. It is really about your priorities and how you want to organize your time, so really only you can decide if the alloted time and itinerary is a good fit for you or not. It is always good to also go with the mindset that hopefully you will return another time so you don’t feel like you have to see everything this trip.

Traveling by public transit is definitely your cheapest option; however, it does of course have the drawback as taking the longest and you will lose some travel time and have to be sure to check the bus/train schedules to be sure to make the most of your time. The overnight bus is a good way to maximize time (and saves you from paying for a hotel that night).

We have used Airbnb in a lot of places around the world, but not in Turkey. In Turkey, good value lodging is easy to find and often includes things like free breakfast, a front desk, a restaurant, and housekeeping so we have found it more appealing to stay in hotels here. I am sure Airbnb is good in Turkey, and if you use it just make sure to stick to places that have consistent good reviews and will be within walking distance of any needed public transit stops. We tend to only find Airbnb worth it for 3 night or more stays.

Anyway, hope that helps and wishing you a great trip to Turkey. If you have any further questions, just ask!

Jonathan Post author

February 13, 2023 at 3:16 pm

Thanks for the feedback Jessica. I’ve only made one change by flying out of Istanbul on my 4th day so I can spend two nights in Selcuk. Other than that I’m happy with my itinerary. Again, I can’t help but say thank you again for this awesome write-up that you’ve done.

Regards Jonathan

February 14, 2023 at 12:59 am

That sounds great to have that extra night in Selçuk so that you don’t have to feel rushed there. Ephesus is a large and important site so it is good to have a full morning and afternoon – having a tour guide can be a good idea here to better understand the ruins.

Having 2 nights will also give you time to see other things in that area. Depending on your interests, Kusadasi is a fairly easy minibus or taxi ride away (about 20 minutes), so that would be an option on the day you are not visiting Ephesus.

Wishing you a great first trip to Turkey!

Mona Post author

January 25, 2023 at 9:58 am

HI! Loved getting all the ideas from your trip! We’re travelling early March this year with our 9 month old! i wanted to know if they would allow him to be on the hot air ballloon with us in a baby carrier strapped to us since were traveling alone and cant leave him anywhere ! would love to know while i plan! def want to do the air balloon though

February 1, 2023 at 4:32 am

Glad you are finding our advice and Turkey itinerary helpful in planning your upcoming trip!

So you can not and should not take a baby in a hot air balloon. It would not be safe to do so as your baby could easily be injured, whether strapped to you or not. Landings can be rough and we’ve seen a number of injuries over the years we’ve been ballooning, luckily most are minor and it is not usual.

There are generally age and/or height requirements for hot air ballooning and these vary around the world and by the operator. Minimum age generally is between 5 and 10 years of age. In Cappadocia, I think the minimum age for most operators is 7 years of age.

So if you want to take a hot air balloon in Turkey, I would choose a hotel in Cappadocia that offers well-reviewed babysitting services. Many hotels in the area do this. For example, the hotel I last stayed at in the region, Kayakapi Caves hotel , offered family rooms, children’s menus, and babysitting services to parents. I would check on these services before booking any hotel.

But if you don’t want to leave your baby, I would choose an alternative activity that you would be able to do safely together. Then you can always return in several years and do a hot air balloon ride together as a family.

Anyway, hope that helps and wishing you a wonderful trip to Turkey!

Ashwani Post author

November 17, 2022 at 4:10 am

Very very detailed article. As someone who lives in Turkey, I really appreciate your travel information. it was a good guide.

November 18, 2022 at 3:57 am

Hello Ashwani,

So glad to hear from those in Turkey that they have found the travel information useful and accurate. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Wishing you happy travels!

Ustun Post author

October 7, 2022 at 2:18 pm

Very very detailed article. As someone who lives in Turkey, I really appreciate your travel information. it was a good guide. You can also contact me for any help.

October 12, 2022 at 2:43 pm

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment and let us know that you enjoyed our Turkey travel guide. Always glad to hear from locals that our travel information is accurate and helpful.

If you have any questions, just ask but I am sure you have your own local contacts!

Preeti Post author

September 30, 2022 at 1:10 pm

Extremely helpful blog! We planned our itinerary quite similarly to the one mentioned above. Super in-detail and insightful. Thanks!

October 1, 2022 at 10:27 am

So glad you found our 2 weeks in Turkey guide helpful in planning your itinerary. If you have any questions, just ask!

Wishing you a wonderful trip! Jessica

Dominic Martin Post author

August 29, 2022 at 7:53 pm

Hi Jessica & Laurence, I am glad to have come across your blog. I am planning a 30 day budget trip to Turkey (end Oct to End Nov). We are a couple and will be using Istanbul for arriving and departing in to Turkey. Could you suggest an itinerary for the same? We are open to exploring all options.

Jessica Post author

August 31, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Hi Dominic,

The first thing to determine is how you plan to get around Turkey. We talk about all the options above.

If traveling on a smaller budget, the cheapest way to get around Turkey is definitely by bus. Buses go to most destinations in Turkey. Since you have a lot of time, you can be flexible and would have the time to work with a bus schedule.

Another good option to consider is a budget-oriented tour for part of your trip. For instance, you could do a week in Istanbul on your own, join a tour for a couple of weeks that will take you to all the tourist highlights (Ephesus, Pamukkale, Troy, Cappadocia, beaches, etc.) and then return you to Istanbul to spend another week on your own. One example of a tour company we have used for budget trips is Travel Talk Tours . Some of the tours average out to about $50 to $100 per person/per day so can be a good value, depending on your budget and if any of the itineraries match the main things you want to see/do. Some include time sailing on a boat for a few days.

It is easy to find inexpensive and good value hotels or hostels in most places in Turkey and food is also not very expensive (in comparison to Western countries anyway). You can book your lodging in advance to make sure you stay within your budget.

It is really hard to say what would be the best itinerary for you as it will depend on what you like to do, what you really want to see, your budget, etc. A person most interested in history and ancient sites may have a very different itinerary and priorities than someone more intersted in beaches and sailing. So here is a suggestion that is basically just adding nights to our itinerary and making day stops into overnight stays:

Istanbul – 5 nights Gallipoli/Çanakkale – 1 night izmir – 2 nights Troy/Şirince – 1 night Kusadasi – 3 nights Denizli/Pamukkale – 2 nights Fethiye – 3 nights Antalya – 3 nights Konya – 2 nights Cappadocia – 4 nights Ankara – 2 nights Istanbul – 2 nights

Hopefully, the above gives you an idea of how to get started in booking your trip to Turkey.

Dominic Post author

August 31, 2022 at 6:03 pm

Thanks for the detailed information Jessica. Will work around this.

September 1, 2022 at 1:52 pm

You’re very welcome and hope this helps. Just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip to Turkey!

Jay R Post author

August 29, 2022 at 6:22 pm

Hey Jessica & Laurence!

Thanks for putting together such a great guide. We are planning to go to Turkey in October for an engagement. We were trying to keep it to 14 days but finding it difficult. Also, we were hoping to squeeze in Mount Nemrut but it does not seem practical.

We are planning to rent a car.

Here is what we are thinking:

Istanbul – 3 nights Safranbolu – 1 night Hattusha – few hours Cappadocia – 4 nights Antalya – 2 nights Kas – 1 night Fethiye – 1 night (Paragliding) Pamukkale – 1 night Selçuk – 2 night Istanbul – 1 night

We really want to try and squeeze in Epheseus but we are already over the 14 day stay we were planning.

Do you have any suggestions based on this proposed itinerary? Would you remove any stop or shorten any days?

Also, for renting cars, the reviews seem all over – do you have any suggestions?

Thanks again to both of you for putting together such a great resource!

August 31, 2022 at 11:45 am

Glad that our suggested 14 day itinerary was helpful in putting together your own. Happy to try to give advice about your upcoming trip.

My biggest advice especially if trying to decide what to try to fit in and what to cut, is to just make a list of your top must-see places and then order them by how much you and your travel partner(s) want to visit. Then you can cut the places you want to see least and spend more time on the places that are a must-see. With only 14 days you can only see a bit of Turkey as its a huge country with so much to see/do but you can certainly see a number of places in 2 weeks. Hopefully you have the chance to return some day and see those places that don’t make it on this trip 😉

I would definitely not recommend adding to your current itinerary if you are trying to keep it to 14 days unless you remove some of the stops as you currently already have 16 days/nights by what you listed. If you want to bring it down to 14, some suggestions would be to skip Safranbolu/Hattusha, remove one night from Cappadocia (3 nights is probably enough), skip the 1 night in Kas, and/or remove the last night in Istanbul (and just fly home that day). What you remove will of course depend on how much you want to see each place. Removing the 1 night stops is generally a good place to start if needing to pare down an itinerary.

You might also consider dropping off your car at the Izmir airport and flying home from Izmir (via Istanbul) to avoid that long drive back from Selçuk and avoid the need to spend an extra night in Istanbul. Also you could potentially stop in Ephesus that day if you had time as it would be on your way to the airport.

So if you want to include Mount Nemrut, you can do so, but you are going to have to skip some of the other places. That will take you much further over to eastern Turkey and is about a 7 hour or so drive from the most eastern place on your itinerary at the moment. If you want to do that I’d probably end your itinerary as you have it above in Fethiye and fly home from there via Istanbul (skipping Pamukkale, Selçuk, and extra night in Istanbul). That would put you at about 14 days in total if you add a couple days for driving and visiting Mount Nemrut.

I am not sure if your question about rental cars is about where to check rates/companies or safety of driving a rental car in Turkey? We cover some of this above in the article. But in terms of where to look for rates, I’d recommend this comparison website to get a good idea of prices as they compare a lot of brands, both international (Sixt, Hertz, Europcar) as well as more local Turkish companies. Make sure you read all the terms of the rental. In Istanbul, you can pick up a car at the airport or in the city, so if exploring the city first, you might want to compare prices as you can sometimes save by not getting it from the airport.

In terms of driving/safety, the road network in Turkey and road safety are not the best in general, but if you stick to main routes to tourist destinations in western Turkey, it is OK, well-signed, and doable. But the further east you go and the more you go to rural and offbeat places, the less great the road system is. It also depends where you are coming from, your comfort with driving, and the road conditions you are used to in your home country. If safety is a concern, I’d definitely do your own research and read the latest stats/reports to make your own informed decisions.

Alternatives are taking buses or trains (buses go to most/all of the places you list, trains to a few), flights, or guided tours that include transport. Buses for most popular destinations are easy to book online these days (see some links above in article). The issue of course with taking public transit or flights is you’d have to keep to a schedule and you’d probably want to remove the 1 night stops (and maybe do them as guided day trips instead).

Anyway, hope the above helps give you some direction and answers to your questions. If you have further questions as you book your trip, just ask.

Wishing you a safe & fun trip to Turkey!

Ivelisse Garcia Post author

August 26, 2022 at 3:17 pm

Hi, Jessica am going to Turkey for 15 days , arriving in Istanbul then capadocia, konya, Antalya, Pamukale, but my question is from pamukale what other city I need to stay to see the churches and then returning to Istanbul, please advise( no tour company on our own)

August 27, 2022 at 5:17 am

Hi Ivelisse,

Happy to try to help. So there are a lot of churches in Turkey, so it depends of course on which ones in particular you want to see.

I am guessing you might be talking about the Seven Holy Churches of Asia (as mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Revelation) as those are popular places for tourists and pilgrims? Those would be the seven churches located in the ancient cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

I’d probably recommend splitting your time between Denizli and Izmir to see the 7 churches and Pamukkale (which is near Denizli). So maybe two nights in Denizli and then three nights in Izmir.

If you are looking for a single base to see all 7 churches, I would recommend Izmir. You’d probably need at least 3 days to see them as day trips plus I’d recommend another day to explore Izmir itself. So I would maybe do 4 nights there if trying to see all 7 churches from there.

Then from Izmir, you can then head north to visit Troy, Gallipoli, etc. before returning to Istanbul.

Ivelisse Post author

August 27, 2022 at 7:24 am

Thank you so much that helps me so much

August 28, 2022 at 3:44 am

You’re very welcome, happy to help. Yes, if you are wanting to visit all seven churches, the best solution would probably be to split your time between Denizli and Izmir.

Wishing you a wonderful trip to Turkey.

Ana Post author

August 10, 2022 at 5:02 pm

Hello Jessica and Lawrence! Thank you for such nice detail explanation in what to do in Turkey. I am planning a trip by the end of October 2022 and I’m traveling solo ( I’m a female 54 old and have traveled before by myself but I’m a bit rusty.. haven’t traveled in the last 4 years)I like the options provided, but was wondering if I have 14 days to spend there what would be the best for me? I was thinking about using air to move from one city to another in order to save time and get to know more places. I was thinking arriving to Estambul from USA Florida and get a flight to start in Capadocia so I could finish in Estambul. Do you have any plan for a solo female traveler??

August 11, 2022 at 6:49 am

Glad you are finding our 2 week Turkey itinerary helpful in planning your own 14 days in Turkey. We are happy to try to help.

If you are wanting to get between places by plane, then I’d recommend choosing 4 to 5 places to base with nearby airports and from those cities/towns you can explore the city and take day tours to places you want to visit from those places (e.g.,Epheseus, Pamukkale, Troy, etc.). Note that you will of course need to take a taxi, bus, or book a transfer to get from airports to towns.

So I would first recommend making a list of any must-see places and planning based on that. For example Izmir can be a base for places like Ephesus, Pamukkale, Pergamum, Kusadasi, etc. You can visit some places by bus on your own and others are going to be best by day tour.

Then you’ll want to check the nearest major airport to those sites. Some of the places with regular flights are Istanbul, Izmir, Konya, Antalya, the Cappadocia area, Bodrum, and Ankara.

So for example if you have 14 days, you mights do something like: 3 days Cappadocia, 3 days Antalya, 4 days Izmir, 4 days Istanbul. But it of course depends on where you want to go and your travel preferences (e.g., beaches versus museums versus ancient sites).

You might also want to look into tour options if you don’t want to make all the arrangements on your own and don’t mind some travel companions. For example you could join a tour for the first 10 days and then spend the rest of the time on your own in Istanbul. Tours are generally a good value in Turkey and can make life simpler if you don’t have a lot of time to plan.

Hope that helps! Jessica

September 24, 2022 at 3:10 pm

Thank you so much!!! Your ideas have helped a lot!😀

September 25, 2022 at 6:01 am

You’re very welcome! If you have any further questions as you start planning and booking your trip, just ask and we’re happy to try to help.

VINCE YIP Post author

August 10, 2022 at 12:19 am

I, fortunately, stumbled upon your blog. Its super informative and comprehensive – THANKS so much for that. Just hoping you can help give me some advice, It will be my first trip to Turkey and I will be travelling solo, arriving either Istanbul or Izmir on 25SEP22.

I will be flying into Turkey from Santorini and am thinking of flying straight into IZMIR (although it will take a good 8 hrs including transits in Athens and Istanbul.

I would like to cover Istanbul, Izmir/Selcuk/ Ephesus , Pergamon & Ayvalik, Miletus / Prienne (Kusadasi as base ?), Fethiye, Pamukkale, Antalya, Konya and Cappaodicia – 3 nites at least (for last, then fly back to Istanbul and spend a week in Istanbul). I do not have a time constraint so do not need to rush as such but do not wan to “over-stay” unneccesarily either in areas that do not warrant more time.

My “dilemma” is between Izmir and Cappadocia – what do you propose is the best way to move from one place to another and which cities would you recommend flying between instead of public transport ? Are buses well-served for your destinations – going anti-clockwise from Izmir. I am thinking once i arrive each town, i will look local guided tours as necessary.

Are there tours originating from Izmir to Ephesus and Pergamon where they pick me from my hotel. Any suggestions or insights you can offer with regards to travelling efficiently in time and logistics would be appreciated.

Thanking you in advance.

August 11, 2022 at 5:48 am

Glad that you found our Turkey itinerary and travel advice helpful in planning your upcoming trip to Turkey.

Yes, I don’t think it really matters if you start in Istanbul or Izmir, as it just depends if you want to spend some time in Istanbul at the beginning or your trip or not. As you note, you will likely fly to Istanbul either way, you just need to decide if you want a connecting flight to Izmir or not.

I would consider skipping Ayvalik as this seaside town is about a 2.5 hour drive north of Izmir and while you can get there by bus pretty easily, it will eat up a lot of time unless there is something here you really want to visit. It is also in the wrong direction based on your travel plans.

So an itinerary might look something like this:

Izmir – 3 days (visit Ephesus/Selcuk from here, perhaps also Pergamon or Ayvalik if going there) Kusadasi – 3 days (visit Miletus and Priene on day tour from here, visit Pergamon if haven’t done so from Izmir) Pamukkale – 1 day – (you can either visit by taking bus from Kusadasi to Denizli and stay overnight and just do on own, or just join a guided day tour from Kusadasi) Fethiye – 2 days Antalya – 3 days Konya – 2 days Cappadocia – 3 days Istanbul – 7 days

Since you have a lot of time, buses are cheap and pretty easy. You should be able to book regular buses (see section above about transport and buses) to any of the above. You can book online in advance in most cases. The nearest station I think to Pamukkale is Denizli so that one might be better done as a day tour unless you want to stay overnight there. Between Cappadocia and Istanbul, I’d probably recommend flying as it will save you time but you can also take a bus.

The easiest way to book tours is to just do so online in advance once you know your dates of travel and when you want to go. Most tours by both GetYourGuide and Viator offer free cancelation if done so 24 to 48 hours in advance if you needed to change your trip. Just be sure to check the cancellation policy before booking. This way you will know you have a tour booked and will know price in advance.

Tours to Ephesus, both group and private tours, are available from Izmir, Kusadasi, or Selcuk. If you are basing in İzmir you can see tour options here .

Similarly, tours to Pergamon are offered from Izmir, Kusadasi, or Selcuk. Izmir makes the most sense as it is the closest one to the city, but it will depend on tour availability what might be best for you. This is one of the reasons it makes sense to book any tours in advance to help determine how many nights you need in each town or city.

Vince Yip Post author

August 11, 2022 at 11:31 am

Hi Jessica,

Thank you so much for responding with your recommendations-really appreciate your generosity. Your suggestions sound great and sensible. I am overwhelmed by the number of similar tours on offer …but will get there. I was initially thinking of driving but at the same time didn’t want the hassle. I will let you know how I go…in due course.

Thanks again n all the best !! Vince

August 12, 2022 at 1:31 am

Between Izmir, Kusadasi and Selcuk – which town would you suggest as a better base , also which of these 3 would have more to offer apart from being a good base to Ephesus, Pamukkale etc.

August 12, 2022 at 3:15 am

You’re very welcome for the help.

As for the best town to base of the 3, as I said, you could do the tours to Ephesus, Pergamon, and Pamukkale from any of those three towns/cities. So any would work. However, if you were to choose just one, I’d personally say Kuşadası just as there are a lot of tours on offer from there (probably more than from Izmir) and it also has the seaside location, beaches, resorts, nightlife, tourist services, the castle, and some other sites of historical interest, etc. It is also a popular place from which to do boat tours or buggy tours. So you could definitely spend a day or two enjoying the town in between the tours.

When choosing tours, there are going to be a number of competing options to all the popular places like Ephesus and Pamukkale. So I would just recommend reading the details, see what is included for the price, make sure it is available on your date of travel, and check the cancellation policy. I would also recommend booking ones with good recent reviews from the past year and good cancellation policies. For example from Kusadasi, you can see a number of tour options here from GYG.

If flying in from Izmir and basing in Kusadasi, it is about a 1 to 1.5 hour drive by car, bus, private transfer, or taxi to get to Kusadasi. With luggage, I’d probably just book a private transfer for convenience. But you could also go by bus which takes a little longer but is much cheaper. I think the Havas airport shuttle is currently only about $5 (USD).

If just staying in one and considering 3 tours, and you have a lot of time, I’d probably spend 5 days there. That would give you 3 days out and 2 days to spend exploring and relaxing in the town/city.

Div Post author

June 27, 2022 at 2:52 pm

Hi Jessica and lawrence, You have a wonderful blog full of useful information. I stumbled upon it while researching about Turkey. I would like to know if last week of November will be a good time to visit Istanbul and Cappadocia. I am looking for a family trip 3 days in each location. This will be our first time in Turkey and not planning to do too much all at once. I would like to fly hot air balloons and visit the historic sites in Cappadocia and also do the high profile locations in Istanbul as you have listed above. Is Antalya doable in one week time frame? will be traveling from west coast of US and hence want to leave time for jet lag and travel delays. Any recommendations much appreciated.

June 28, 2022 at 10:39 am

November can be a good time to visit Turkey as the weather is cooler so you don’t need to worry about the hot temperature in the summer and it is not as popular a time to visit so less tourists. But you’ll want to bring along long sleeves and some warmer clothes as it can get chilly, especially in the evenings. I’d be sure to check the predicted weather in both places before your trip so you can pack accordingly.

So if you have 1 week in total for your trip and 6 nights, then splitting it between Istanbul and Cappadocia is a good idea. I wouldn’t really recommend trying to visit anywhere else as it will make for a rushed trip. If you are driving, you might consider a stop in Ankara on the way between them (since it is on the way), but since flying is probably a better option to save time (it is an 8 to 10 hour drive), I’d probably just split your time between Istanbul and Cappadocia. Taking the short flights in between them.

Three nights in Istanbul will give you plenty of time to see many of the highlights as we describe in the article. If you stay in the city center, it is easy to walk to many places. There are also a lot of walking and driving tours you can join for sightseeing.

For your time in Cappadocia, I’d recommend flying to save time (you can get a domestic flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia, and then book a shuttle or taxi to the town where you are staying). If the hop-on hop-off bus is running when you are there then that is a good option to get around as it stops at all the main tourist sites (Göreme is probably the best place to stay if doing bus). Or you can just book a guided tour (group or private) that goes to the places you want to go. And yes, we’d definitely recommend also booking the hot air balloon flight for one morning as that is definitely a highlight for many people. If staying 3 nights, I’d book the balloon flight for your second morning so that if it gets canceled due to weather you’d be able to potentially rebook on your third morning.

Antalya is not close to Istanbul or Cappadocia, so unless you have more than 1 week, I would probably not recommend also trying to go there. But if you have more time, it is a good option if you want to add some beach time to your trip. But you’d probably want 2-3 nights there to really enjoy it.

Hope that helps, and if you have more questions as you plan your Turkey trip, feel free to ask!

Kownain Andrabi Post author

June 21, 2022 at 8:02 am

Hi! We have planned our 2 week Turkey trip in the third week of August this year. I have been reading and re-readinh this blog so many times! 🙂 We have planned a few places – Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Konya, Bodum, Selcuk and Antalya. I am just a bit confused as to the sequence of the places. Like which place should we visit first. This itinerary is being really helpful but since we are not going to all the places listed, I am a bit confused

June 21, 2022 at 9:32 am

Hi Kownain,

Glad you are planning a trip to Turkey and that our blog has been helpful!

All of these places you mention are in the itinerary except Bodrum. Selçuk is just the town next to Ephesus (which as we note could be a good overnight stop instead of the suggested Kusadasi. The order you would probably want to visit them based on their geographical locations would be Selçuk, Bodrum, Pamukkale, Antalya, Konya, and then Cappadocia.

Now, it is also going to depend on where you are going to enter into Turkey (if you are coming from abroad). Most international flights land in Istanbul (or possibly Ankara). So if planning to fly in and out of Istanbul, then you can start your trip there.

But if you are not planning to actually visit Istanbul and do sightseeing there, you might consider taking a regional flight onward to Izmir to start your trip there and fly out of one of the airports in Cappadocia. This will allow you to skip several hours of driving or buses to get to the starting point of your trip from Istanbul.

Hope that helps, and I would definitely recommend that you start planning and booking your travel now (e.g., flights, hotels, tours, car rentals) as your trip is only a couple of months away.

Just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip!

June 23, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Thank you so much ch Jessica. Yes I forgot to mention that we are landing in Istanbul and leaving back from there as well. So the beginning and end of our trip will be Istanbul. We have already booked to and fro flights but we might have to book some domestic ones. I am trying to finalize the itinerary by this weekend. I might have more questions to follow😅

June 24, 2022 at 5:03 am

You’re very welcome!

Yes, so your itinerary would likely be Istanbul, Selçuk, Bodrum, Pamukkale, Antalya, Konya, Cappadocia, and then Istanbul. I would check to see what makes sense in terms of price and time on how to get to Selçuk and from Cappadocia. You have the options of flying, renting a car to drive, or taking a bus.

Your other option of course if you don’t want to plan and book all your transport, accommodation, and activities is to book a private tour that starts and ends in Istanbul such as this one .

Yes, happy to answer any further questions you might have. Wishing you a great trip to Turkey.

July 3, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Hi Jessica! I am here again 🙂 I made the itinerary and had to skip Pamukkale and Konya because they just didn’t fit. Also we are traveling with our 2-yr old for the first time so we don’t want to rush through places. Following is our itinerary (as of now). Can you please see and check if there’s anything we can change/improve. Day 1,2: Istanbul Leave for Cappadocia on Day 3 by air Day 3,4: Cappadocia Leave for Antalya on day 5 by air Day 5,6: Antalya Leave for Fethiye early on Day 7 by car Day 7,8: Fethiye Leave for Bodrum on day 9 in bus/car Day 9,10: Bodrum Leave for Selcuk on day 11 in car/bus Days 11,12: Selcuk/Ephesus Leave for Istanbul on day 12 via air Day 12,13: Istanbul Leave for home on day 14

We want to spend one more day in Istanbul, but not sure how to do that. Waiting for your insight Thank you so much

We have booked the main flights to and from home but not any other ones. We really want to finalize the plan in a couple of days so that we can book the hotels and domestic flights

July 4, 2022 at 4:24 am

Glad you have an itinerary drafted now for your Turkey trip. It looks OK to me and makes sense in terms of the order. Skipping Pamukkale and Konya is probably a good idea given traveling with a 2-year-old. But as you say, it may be a bit rushed with a young child, as you’ll only have 2 nights at any location with a lot of travel time getting from place to place.

So if you are wanting to simplify it a bit, I would probably take out one of the three coastal stops. I guess it depends on what you speciically want to do in Antalya, Fethiye, and Bodrum, but if it is mainly beach and water related, then I’d recommend cutting out at least one (if not two of them). If you have 4-5 nights in the same place it would make for a much more relaxing time, especially with a 2 year old. It might also mean you won’t need to rent a car and you could have the extra day in Istanbul.

Antalya is a great family destination and has good flight connections. A lot of the hotels and resorts have a kids pool, children’s activities, beach access, and offer babysitting services. Antalya has lots of beaches, historical sites, family theme parks, water activities, day tours you can take, etc. So unless you have things that you really want to see/do at Fethiye or Bodrum, I’d consider spending more time there and taking them out of the itinerary. Or you could alternatively just split your time between Antalya and Fethiye and skip Bodrum.

Another idea to save time and reduce stops is to group together all your time in Istanbul at the beginning of your trip and spend the first full 4 or 5 days there at once, rather than splitting it into 2 separate shorter stays. This would mean less moving and changing hotels, and less time going back and forth from the aiport. So for example, at the end you could book a flight from İzmir back home (likely will connect via Istanbul airport) rather than going back into Istanbul itself.

P.S. You are probably already aware of this, but many popular activities and tours have minimum age limits. So for example, hot air ballooning in Cappadocia is not possible with a 2 year old due to safety regulations. So just be sure when planning activities, that you check the age limits.

Anyway, hope that helps and gives you some ideas.

August 14, 2022 at 11:30 am

Your suggestions and advices have been really helpful. We are leaving in 5 days so everything is pretty much booked. We skipped Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Konya and are doing Istanbul, Izmir, Bodrum, Antalya and back to Istanbul. As I had mentioned earlier, going to Cappadocia with our toddler doesn’t make much sense and Pamukkale and Konya were too hectic. I just want some final suggestions. In Istanbul we have 3 full days in the beginning and another 3 full days at the end. I was wondering how to split the Istanbul itinerary effectively. We want to visit as many places in the city as we can (including the cruise) since there is plenty of time but not sure how about the order. About Izmir, we are planning to do one half day in Ephesus and then visit the town of Izmir and for the next day. In Bodrum, we will mainly be relaxing and then we have two full days know Antalya. How do you suggest we go about our itineraries for each of these cities effectively without getting over-exhausted? Really looking forward to your valuable suggestions.

P.s: Also I am all nerves because this will be our first vacation as a family and don’t know what to expect from the little one😥

August 15, 2022 at 2:28 am

So glad to hear that you have decided on your itinerary and have a lot of your trip booked now. I think splitting your time between just 4 cities makes sense if traveling mostly by plane and traveling with a toddler.

Yes, given the age restrictions I mentioned, Cappadocia may not be the best place to visit now with a 2-year-old and so taking it out gives you more time in the other places.

We give suggestions for about 3 days worth of things to do in Istanbul and since you have 5 to 6 full days, I’d consider just doing them slowly over time. With a toddler, you are not going to want to try to squeeze stuff in all day, so since you have the time, you can go more slowly and be more flexible. For instance you might plan 3 hours of sightseeing after breakfast, come back to have a big break in the afternoons and then go out for a few more hours later in the day. I am not sure the order makes much difference although you’ll want to check opening dates/hours but most of the major attractions are open most days.

Izmir, I think splitting time between Ephesus and visiting the city is good. For Antalya, if you have two days, you might spend one day walking around the old city, perhaps a cable car / gondola ride for the view, and maybe a tour out to Aspendos (Roman amphitheater). Then the second day just relaxing, whether that be one of the water parks, beach, or pool. You could also consider a boat ride. But this does depend a bit on where you are staying in Antalya as the resorts are a bit spread out and many also have their own activities on offer.

I think the best thing to do to not become over-exhausted is to just plan ahead and make sure you have time for breaks in your trip each day. I would also check the weather and see how hot it will be on your trip. If it is going to be really hot on some parts of your trip, it is best to avoid being outside (especially in unshaded places) during the hottest parts of the day (usually from about noon to 5pm). This is particularly important obviously with a baby. So if doing say a tour to an ancient ruined city or amphitheater or an outdoor walking tour, these might be best done in the mornings. Then taking a break in the afternoon in your hotel or some other air-conditioned or shaded area. And then coming out again in the late afternoon or early evening.

Hope that helps, and wishing you a wonderful trip to Turkey with your family!

Mr. Prakash Chandra Devkota Post author

May 19, 2022 at 1:31 am

What an incredible itinerary. we are planning a road trip in Turkey of this nature. Thank you very much for sharing this information.

May 19, 2022 at 4:46 am

Hi Mr. Devkota,

Glad our Turkey itinerary and travel information is helping in planning your own road trip in Turkey. If you have any questions as you plan your trip, just ask.

Wishing you safe and fun travels!

Sid Post author

May 17, 2022 at 5:48 am

Thank you so much for this post. We are planning a 12 days trip to Turkey in Beginning the 4th of July week (aware it will be pretty hot). The places we plan to cover are Istanbul, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye/Oludeniz and Pamukkale.

We were not sure which way would work best. Whether we do the circular country tour left to right (beginning with Pamukkale) or right to left (beginning with Cappadocia) from Istanbul.

Request you to please share your thoughts on the same

May 17, 2022 at 6:07 am

Glad you enjoyed our post! So it sounds like you are planning to visit most of the places we list in our 2 week Turkey itinerary on your 12 day visit. The direction you do the trip really makes no real difference as you are essentially doing a circular trip. You just want to make sure that things are in logical order based on location as you go around. So you can follow the order as we list it or you can just reverse it.

Now, it does depend of course on how you plan to get around Turkey. As it may be easier to go one direction or the other depending on available flights, bus schedules, etc. Or if you are joining a tour or hiring a driver, they will of course have a set route. But if you are driving, then you’ll rent your car in Istanbul and return it in Istanbul so it wouldn’t make much difference. The only thing you may want to check on is accommodation availability as that could sway the direction.

If all is equal, I’d personally recommend leaving Cappadocia for last. Just as the scenery there is really unique and stunning, and if doing a hot balloon flight that is something special to look forward to doing towards the end of your trip.

And yes, expect it to be hot. You will want to be prepared for the heat so just be sure to pack accordingly, protect yourself from the sun, and always have plenty of water with you. But as long as you know the temperatures and weather and are prepared, you should be OK.

If you are planning to visit in early July, I’d highly recommend booking the main parts of your trip soon, particularly any international flights, rental cars, tours, and accommodation. You will be visiting at the height of the High Season for tourism to Turkey so good to make advance bookings, especially if working with a set trip budget.

Hope that helps and just let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your trip to Turkey!

May 18, 2022 at 7:34 am

Thank you so much Jessica!!


November 16, 2021 at 4:01 am

Nice article on Turkey, it helped us a lot to explore. I am an entrepreneur by profession and a traveler by heart. Your article made our stay exciting. Very attractive information.

November 16, 2021 at 4:13 am

Thanks so much and glad you had such a wonderful trip to Turkey and that our article could help provide some helpful information.

Wishing you safe & exciting future travels!

Sandra Post author

November 16, 2021 at 3:23 am

Thank you for all your useful information. Our Turkey trip was great.

We didn’t end up staying at a big resort in Antalya but drove one hour from Antalya to Milyos Hobbit Hotel . This hotel was situated on a mountain with great views and nice staff.

We will go plan a new trip to Turkey at soon, there is so much to see!

Best regards Sandra

November 16, 2021 at 4:12 am

So happy that you found our 2 week Turkey itinerary helpful, and that you had such a wonderful trip to Turkey!

Glad you enjoyed your time in the mountains. I think a lot of people enjoy the time along the coast, but certainly, some might prefer the mountains for a more peaceful time. For those reading this, the hotel she stayed in is about an 1 hour and 20 minute drive from Antalya and the coast. So a great location for getting away in the mountains but not so great if you want to be on or near the coastal area. Can be good for car drivers but not so convenient to reach by public transit.

So glad that you are considering another trip to Turkey soon. There is so much else to see in the country, particularly in eastern Turkey!

Wishing you safe & wonderful future travels! Jessica

Jack Hall and Sam Montgomery Post author

October 26, 2021 at 8:41 am

Great and informative article on visiting Turkey for two weeks or so. We went for 18 days in 2016 in the spring. Everything was organized by toursturkey which we found online. Their agent Tujan did a wonderful, detailed job. Our itinerary was almost identical to yours, but did not include Ankara. It did include the 4 day gullet cruise out of Fethiye, which we would not have missed. All hotels and guided tours were included ( we specified top grade hotels, not luxury) and breakfasts included at the hotels. Some other meals at sites outside cities. A great trip.

October 28, 2021 at 9:18 am

Hi Jack & Sam,

So glad you enjoyed our article about traveling to Turkey! And happy to hear that you have been to Turkey back in 2016 and went to many of the places we recommend. We definitely tried to give people a sense of what they could see with 2 weeks and tried to include a variety of the most popular places in Turkey.

Yes, I think that if people have the extra time, spending some time on a gulet is really nice and my husband spent several days on one as well once as part of a tour and really enjoyed it. Most people just do a day cruise (which is a nice way to spend a day), but you can definitely see a lot more of the coast/islands if you do a multi-day cruise and stay aboard the boat. But if you only have 2 weeks, it definitely takes away some of the time that could be spent doing other things so it is something people would need to weigh the pros and cons of doing. We are lucky to have been to Turkey a few times but most people just visit once so will need to prioritize what they want to see given the big distances in the country.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on your own visit to Turkey. Perhaps you will have a chance to return to see more of the country and also explore the capital city 😉

Saleem A Bikanerwala Post author

September 2, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Extremely informative. Thank you so much. Can you kindly point me to folks who do package tours. We are interested in a 14 day tour and want to know how much it would cost. We are 16 in total.

September 3, 2021 at 1:05 am

Yes, just scroll down to the “Tours of Turkey” section of our article and we list a number of tour providers and specific tours, including one that is 14 days in length. That should get you started, but there are a number of options out there. It will depend on your budget and where you want to go.

In places like Istanbul, you can also book day tours easily as there are a lot of options. But you would want a longer guided tour to explore the rest of Turkey.


May 19, 2021 at 6:20 am

Hello! Thank you so much for the valuable information.

I am planning on going to Turkey in June (after school is out, I am a teacher.). I live in Doha and this will be my first adventure. My husband and I want to do the road trip, starting at Istanbul and finishing the trip there as well.

Your information is so important to me. Are hostels easy to find? Do you suggest I get a sim card for the phone, so that I can use Waze and research things easily? Should I rent a car at the airport or is it ok to get a rental outside of the airport?

Thank you in advance for sharing all of your knowledge! 🙂

Best, Lynette

May 20, 2021 at 5:01 am

Hi Lynette,

So glad to hear that our 14 day Turkey itinerary has been helpful to you in planning your summer road trip in Turkey with your husband!

Yes, if you are flying into and out of Istanbul, then I’d follow the itinerary as is since it starts and ends in Istanbul. If you have less than 14 days, however, you’ll likely need to cut out some of the stops and rework the route a bit.

So hostels are easy to find in the larger cities for sure and many of the popular tourist towns. However, in smaller towns and cities, there may only be one hostel so options may be limited. But if you are on a budget, I’d also recommend checking out guesthouses, B&Bs, and budget hotels in Turkey as many offer a really good value, especially for a couple traveling together. Many of the guesthouses are not too much more expensive than a private hostel room.

If you are trying to stick to a budget for your accommodation, I’d recommend booking in advance so you know the price in advance and know where you will be staying. We list a number of hostels, guesthouses, and hotels for each place in the itinerary so you can book online in advance once you know your dates.

For the rental car, you can either rent from the airport or from Istanbul as there are rental car offices in the city as well. If you don’t need a car in Istanbul (we never use one there), you can save money by waiting to pick up your rental after you have already spent time exploring Istanbul. I’d just be sure to book your car in advance once you know your dates and where you plan to pick it up.

Yes, if your mobile phone works on the same frequency as used in Turkey and it is unlocked, you should be able to just use a local Sim card. You should be able to purchase these in many places in Istanbul or at the airport (or you can order one online before your trip). Just be sure to check the Sim card data rates. For more information about this, you can read this post about options for getting online when traveling .

Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have further questions as you plan your road trip. Wishing you a safe and fun trip to Turkey!

Sylvia Dsilva Post author

May 13, 2021 at 7:16 am

Hi Jessica & Laurence,

I’m really glad to have come across your post and its helps me plan my trip to Turkey. My boyfriend and I are going to be travelling in June’21 and I would like to know if I can start my journey from Cappadocia onwards and follow the same itinerary backwards and arrive to Istanbul.

Thank you for all the answers in advance, Sylvia

May 14, 2021 at 4:25 am

First, I am happy to hear that our Turkey itinerary has been helpful to you and your boyfriend in planning your summer trip to Turkey.

I would like to just note, as you are probably already aware, that Turkey is currently in a strict lockdown due to a surge of coronavirus cases over the past few months so almost all businesses are closed and travel is very restricted. The current strict restrictions will last at least until May 17th but some restrictions are likely to remain for the near future. So I would keep watching that situation to make sure that you are able to travel in June and that the things you want to visit will be open and it is safe to travel to those areas. I would make sure that any travel plans and bookings are able to be changed or canceled or that you have good travel insurance that would cover you in the event that you were not able to travel to Turkey in June.

Now, in terms of where to start your Turkey itinerary, you can start it anywhere along the route as it is a circular route. I would probably base it on where you are entering the country. Most foreign travelers will arrive into either Istanbul or Ankara, which makes them the best places to start the trip. It might also depend on how you plan to get around the country (e.g., car, train, bus, guided tour, etc.) as routes and dates may affect your itinerary.

But yes, you can, of course, start in Cappadocia. So you can go from Cappadocia to Antalya to Fethiye, and so on, going backwards through the itinerary. Just note if you start in Cappadocia and end in Istanbul, you will have to decide what to do with the days in Ankara – you can either skip Ankara or head there from Istanbul, perhaps by train as there is a good connection between the 2 cities, and spend the 2 days there before heading back for your time in Istanbul. Then you can depart from Istanbul.

Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have any further questions.

Shek Ahamed Shadhik Post author

March 25, 2021 at 4:49 pm

Such an amazing Itinerary. Me and my lady are planning on such a road trip experience. Is it ideal for a couple where only I will be driving the car the whole time? Also, do I have an option of airport pick up and drop at Ankara for car rentals?

March 26, 2021 at 9:06 am

Glad you found our Turkey itinerary helpful in planning your future road trip around Turkey. Yes, I think it is fine for someone driving but you also have the option of course to do public transit or take a guided tour instead. It just really depends on what you prefer and how much you want to spend behind the wheel driving as some of the distances are pretty great.

Yes, if you are arriving to Turkey through Ankara airport, you can rent your car there as there are several rental car agencies located at the airport as well as in the city center.

If starting in Ankara, I would just adjust the itinerary to start in Ankara and you can start there and then move to Istanbul and follow the itinerary until you are back in Ankara.

You don’t really need the car to explore Ankara (or Istanbul) and especially in Istanbul, I wouldn’t really recommend one. So you might want to explore Ankara and Istanbul on foot and using public transport (the 2 cities are well linked by train), and then pick up a car in Istanbul if you want to save some money on a rental car and not have to worry about parking/driving in the larger cities.

Hope that helps, and just let me know if you have any other questions as you plan your trip.

Wishing you happy and safe travels, Jessica

Blaž Dobravec Post author

March 21, 2021 at 4:28 am

Dear Jessica & Laurence,

Me and my girlfriend are traveling to Turkey in the middle of April, we were also thinking of doing a similar route as you guys did. I have a question about the current situation about the overnight busses and the domestic planes, since there is a curfew. Are there any other restrictions?

thank you for all the answers in advance, Blaž Dobravec

March 21, 2021 at 8:57 am

Hello Blaž,

Glad that our Turkey itinerary has been helpful in planning your upcoming trip to Turkey. If you have a similar amount of time, this can be a good route to try to see some of the highlights.

Unfortunately, Turkey is seeing an increase of coronavirus cases right now and many believe that there will likely be travel restrictions throughout the Spring and perhaps the summer months as well. Many governments, including ours here in the UK, are urging people to not travel there and to cancel any non-essential travel plans there for now.

So yes, I think not only will there be restrictions regarding transport in Turkey as you are seeing, but you are likely to see a lot of travel attractions closed or with travel restrictions. A lot of bars and restaurants are currently allowed to operate with reduced capacity (I think many that are open are at 50%).

I would check the latest news and also check to see what your home country has to say about travel to Turkey. Depending on your thoughts on this information, you might want to consider rebooking your trip for a later time when things are more stable there and you are going to be more able to travel freely and visit more places. There has been a lot of speculation about another short lockdown in Turkey by multiple news outlets recently given the spiking cases which could occur during your trip.

Sorry for the bad news, but I hope it helps and encourages you to check out the latest news and restrictions in Turkey and make an informed decision regarding your travel plans. If you do still plan to go in April, I would make sure that everything you book is able to be canceled and/or you have travel insurance that would cover disruptions due to Covid-19.

Let me know if you have any further questions about planning a trip to Turkey!

Josh Clement-Sutcliffe Post author

July 18, 2020 at 5:54 am

We love Turkey and feel like you should go for at least two weeks, partly because its such a large country but also because there is so much to do! Istanbul is magnificent, I loved exploring Topkapi palace and learning about the Ottoman history

July 18, 2020 at 6:55 am

Yes, we agree! 2 weeks is a great introduction trip to Turkey to explore Istanbul and see some of the highlights of the western part of the country. If you wanted to cover the highlights of the entire country, we’d recommend adding an additional 2 weeks to your trip.

Glad you enjoyed your time in Istanbul!

Marc Forrest Post author

April 6, 2020 at 6:56 am

This is a very impressive and detailed itinerary for Turkey – very helpful indeed! My wife and I are dreaming about a tour to Turkey and we now have a good draft of what to see and do! However, one place we may want to add is a stop in Konya to see some of the spiritual places and things. Have you been ? Would this be easy to add to this itinerary? Are there tours that go there or how might be the best method?

Thanks for any help and keep up the good work. Hopefully we will all be traveling again soon once we beat COVID-19!

Keep safe! Marc

April 6, 2020 at 8:36 am

We have not visited Konya yet, but it is one of the places we’d love to see on a future visit.

If you are planning to follow our suggested Turkey itinerary, then you could stop at Konya between Antalya and Cappadocia. I would recommend adding a night in Konya to your trip so you have plenty of time to visit some of the highlights there. Or you could do a day trip from Ankara as you should be able to easily hire a guide and do a guided day tour to Konya from Ankara.

If you are driving or taking the bus between Antalya and Cappadoccia, you will drive right past Konya so it makes a convenient place to stop. It is about a 4 to 4.5 hour drive from Antalya or about 6 hours by public bus.

Once you get to Konya, there are guided tours you can join such as this one of the city highlights and this one focused on Sufism .

In terms of guided tours of Turkey that include Konya, not many of the English ones stop at Konya. However, it is a regular stop for Turkish people and people interested in Sufism and archaeological sites like Çatalhöyük. So if you want a tour that stops in Konya in English, you will likely need to book a private tour or you can just add on a private day tour from Anakara. There is this private tour that is for 12 days and includes Konya.

If you want to join a guided tour and it doesn’t include Konya, you can fly from Istanbul to Konya pretty easily and spend a couple of days there to explore Konya on your own (or join day tours around the city from there) before or after your tour. I’d probably recommend a local guide or getting a good guidebook to the sites for exploring Konya to get the most of the visit (as with many places in Turkey).

Hope that information helps, and wishing you a wonderful trip to Turkey once travel opens back up and is safe again!

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Divergent Travelers

Best Time to Visit Turkey: Month by Month Breakdown

Many people ask when the best time to visit Turkey would be and truthfully this answer depends on a number of factors. Straddling both Europe and Asia this beautiful nation has a combination of exotic flavor and cosmopolitan flair.

Being the 37th largest country in the world, it also has a diverse topography that allows you to do a wide range of activities. Are you interested in exploring ancient ruins, bathing in crystal blue waters, hiking up stunning mountains or shopping in a vibrant city?

Do you prefer to bask in the sun, or perhaps are milder temperatures are more up your alley? Are crowds something you would prefer to avoid, or would you rather visit a destination at the height of its splendor? These are all things to consider when choosing the most optimal time to visit. 

When you speak to people about visiting most tourist destinations you will often hear the terms high season, shoulder season and low season. The high season in Turkey runs from May through September.

This is the time when the temperatures can soar but along with the numbers on the thermometer, so to are the numbers of visitors who visit during this time. Because high season brings demand to its destination, accommodation rates and airfare prices are usually at its highest.

There are two shoulder seasons – on one side there is the month of April and on the other side is October through mid-November. The shoulder seasons are perhaps an ideal time to visit with lesser crowds, moderate temperatures and discounts on accommodations and airfares.

One thing to make note of, however, is that some shops, restaurants and accommodations do shut down when the high season is over so not everything will be open during this time.

Low season runs from mid-November until March and is when temperatures drop bringing the possibility of rain or snow. This is not to be said for all of Turkey, however, as the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts enjoy mild winters and are popular year-round destinations. 

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Turkey (Travel Guide)

Table of Contents

January & February in Turkey

January and February are fairly cold months in Turkey. Istanbul’s location near the sea makes it common for it to be especially windy during this time. If you are wanting to take a cruise on the Bosphorus, be aware that it is possible that unforeseen weather may cause cancellations.

On a positive note, because of the decline in visitors at this time, you can frequent all the amazing museums and sites with very little crowds. As you travel further inland and to the east, snow is not uncommon.

Visiting iconic places such as Cappadocia in the winter is just as beautiful as the summer. It has a different vibe with snow-topped fairy chimneys and plenty of opportunity for amazing panoramic photographs since there are far fewer people to contend with.

If skiing is an activity that interests you, perhaps traveling further north to the small ski resort of Kartalkaya in the Koroglu Mountains is a place to be. 

March & April in Turkey

In March and April, temperatures begin to rise and flowers begin to bloom. Crowds are still at minimal and accommodation and airfare rates are still fairly low. If you visit in April you will be able to see the tulips in full bloom which is a spectacle in itself as parks and gardens are bursting with vibrant colors.  

Each year at the beginning of April, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts hosts the Istanbul International Film Festival . This event celebrates the best of national and international film. It is the largest film event in Turkey with over 200 films to be seen.

In 2020, this event will take place from April 3 to 14th. 

On April 23rd, Turkey celebrates National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. Commemorating the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly which took place on April 23, 1920, this day hosts many events and festivals throughout the country.

Because Ataturk dedicated the Turkish Republic to children, school children take seats in the Parliament and symbolically govern the country. The biggest ceremony takes place at the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara. 

On April 25th, Canakklale is bustling with energy as thousands flock to Gallipoli to pay respects to the Australians and New Zealanders who selflessly gave their lives in 1915 by fighting for the Allied Forces against the Ottoman Empire during WWI.

The day begins with a service at dawn where veterans and their families stand in silence for two minutes, while the remainder of the day you can visit the surrounding battlefields.

Similarly the Turkish also celebrate Canakkale Naval Victory Day on March 18 each year. This is to commemorate the success of Ataturk who successfully led his troops to victory. 

As Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country it is important to make a note of when Ramadan takes place. Ramadan is the ninth month in the lunar calendar and lasts between 29 to 30 days.

Because of this calendar, the beginning of Ramadan moves backward by about 11 days each year. For 2020 Ramadan takes place from April 24th to May 23rd. This Islamic holy month is intended to bring Muslims closer to God and teach them about patience, spirituality, and humility.

Part of the observance is for Muslims to fast during daylight hours. Depending on where you are in the country you may notice slight differences.

Restaurants tend to be less busy during the day and some places that usually serve alcoholic beverages may refrain from doing so during this period.

Swimming areas will also be less crowded as people who are fasting are not allowed to swim. After sunset places like Istanbul get back into a lively atmosphere where locals head to restaurants that offer special Ramadan menus or buffets.

Tourists and non-Muslims are welcome to join in on the festivities.

May & June in Turkey

If you are like me you will also think that May and June are the best months to travel around Turkey because the weather is hot, but not at its peak. Having said this, I was there near the end of June and walking around the historical sites at times became a little unbearable.

It may be the perfect temperature to lay on a beach but when you are walking around an uncovered historical site you will have to bring a hat and sunscreen as there is very little shade. 

On May 5th & 6th is one of Turkey’s annual festivals called the Hidrellez Festival. This festival is a celebration of spring and is more often celebrated in the countryside.

To mark this occasion various ceremonies and rituals associated with nature are performed which in turn guarantee the well-being and prosperity of the family and community for the upcoming year. These rituals have cultural meanings and provide the community with a sense of identity. 

July & August in Turkey

Summer in Turkey is hot and dry and can even reach temperatures beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  Swimming in the Mediterranean is a welcomed activity and coastal towns are in full swing.

This is also the peak season for cruise ships, making the beach resorts and ancient sites a bit busier. As I mentioned earlier, be conscious of the heat when visiting any of the historical sites.

With very little shade and a lot of walking, it is best to visit these sites early in the morning. As a lot of people tend to flock to the coast during the summer months, Cappadocia tends to be a little quieter.

Enjoy a majestic balloon ride high above the fairy chimneys or hike the valleys that turn into a beautiful pinkish hue. 

Every year Istanbul hosts the Istanbul Jazz Festival during the month of July. Concerts are held in different locations around the city and provide unique experiences to festival-goers by turning unconventional spots into concert venues. 

During the summer months is when the renowned Aspendos International Opera and Ballet Festival takes place. Aspendos is located in Antalya Province, just 2 and a half miles north of Serik and 24 miles from Antalya.

It has a unique location in a magnificent Roman amphitheater that dates back to 2nd century A.D. This open-air theater truly is phenomenal as it has perfect acoustics where sound can easily reach the last bench. 

September & October in Turkey

September and October are part of the shoulder seasons and like their spring counterparts are great months to explore Turkey. Temperatures are mild and it tends to be relatively dry. One thing to make note of is that in late October hotels and amenities start to shut down for the winter along the Mediterranean coast.

October 29th is Republic Day. This day marks the creation of the Turkish Republic in 1923. A new constitution was adopted which replaced the old constitution of the Ottoman Empire.

It is a national holiday where public administration buildings, schools, post offices as well as many small businesses remain closed. If you are trying to get around the bigger cities be aware that public transport schedules may also vary.

The day is celebrated with parades, public speeches, traditional dancing as well as fireworks. 

November & December in Turkey

Like the beginning of the year, November and December remain quite chilly throughout most of Turkey. The southern part of Turkey in the Antalya region has far warmer weather but in general, expects to dress warmer.

When traveling in January and February, there are perks to traveling to Turkey during the winter. You can take advantage of the amazing museums and sites as you don’t have to contend with the crowds. 

For 11 days in December Konya hosts the Mevlana and Whirling Dervish Festival. Thousands of people gather to commemorate the life and teachings of the 13th-century poet and Sufi mystic Rumi.

The Mevlevi Order was founded in 1273 by Rumi followers after his death. The Mevlevi believe in performing their dance and musical ceremony known as the Sama.

The Sama represents the spiritual journey of a man’s ascent to find love and truth by deserting the ego and arriving at spiritual perfection. Konya is one of Turkey’s more religiously conservative cities and because this is a spiritual event certain rules must be followed while attending the festival.

Women need to wear a headscarf and men and women are seated separately. In 2019 this event takes place from December 7th to the 17th. 

As you can see Turkey truly is a destination that you can visit all year round. With so much to see and do there is something for everyone no matter what time of year you visit. 

More on Turkey:

  • What to Wear in Turkey: Ultimate Turkey Packing List
  • 11 Unmissable Things to do in Istanbul
  • 9 Reasons to Visit Selcuk Turkey (Including Ephesus!)
  • Foolproof Guide to Pamukkale Turkey
  • Cappadocia, Turkey: 10 Things to Know Before You Go
  • 5 Reasons to Add Cirali, Turkey to Your itinerary
  • Dalyan, Turkey: Essential Guide & Best Things to do
  • Ephesus, Turkey: Best Sites to Visit in the Ancient City

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Travel planning resources, about heather halpern.

Based in Edmonton, Canada - I caught the ‘travel bug’ many years ago when I was a competitive rhythmic gymnast and haven’t been able to quench the thirst for exploring the world. Even though I live a pretty regular life with a full time job, I aim to take at least one overseas adventure a year. This means, I skimp, save and try to live the happiest life possible throughout the year so that I can experience my one true love…travel!

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Best Time to Visit Turkey: When to Go & When to Avoid!

Home » Blog » Turkey » Best Time to Visit Turkey: When to Go & When to Avoid!

With so much to see and do in this country, it can be tricky trying to pick the best time to visit Turkey. We put together this guide to help you sort out when to visit and plan your trip to this unique and unforgettable country.

Cappadocia Turkey hot air balloons at sunrise

It sounds almost cliche, but Turkey truly has something for everyone. From its world-famous beaches and iconic hot air balloons to a fantastic food scene and rich history, everyone will find at least a couple of reasons to fall in love with Turkey. 

This large, wildly popular country has coastline and mountains, desert and lush valleys, and shares its borders with a whopping eight other countries. 

The attractions, cultural influences, and weather unsurprisingly vary in each of these regions, which makes Turkey a great travel destination year round. However, choosing the best time to visit Turkey isn’t necessarily a simple, quick decision. 

While Turkey’s beaches and coastal communities have a typical Mediterranean climate, the country also has vast deserts and mountains soaring to nearly 17,000 feet. As you can imagine, the weather in these regions can be (and often is) vastly different. 

Many of the best places to visit in Turkey are within a few hours’ drive of one another. So it’s likely that in one trip you’ll experience diversity in topography and weather. 

Whatever it is that draws you to this unique, gorgeous country, this guide will help you decide on the best time to visit Turkey for your specific travel needs. 

When is the best time to visit Turkey?

While the best time to visit Turkey depends largely on the activities you have planned, visiting during the shoulder seasons of fall and spring are typically the best all-around options, when weather is pleasant and large crowds are mostly gone.

best at travel turkey

Spring and Fall are Turkey’s “shoulder seasons,” sandwiched between peak summer tourism months and the winter, when weather is dreary and some attractions aren’t open. Traveling during these times allows you to take advantage of mild weather, easy accessibility to just about everywhere in the country, and less crowds. 

This guide takes a deep dive into all four seasons, to help you figure out which is the best time to visit Turkey for you, taking into account your specific travel needs. 

Answer these questions to get started:

  • Are you planning to visit locations all over Turkey or stay in one destination?
  • Are you easily bothered by crowds?
  • Are you negatively affected by high heat and humidity?
  • Do you mind chilly temperatures?
  • Do you prefer to spend your time at the beach or exploring a new city?
  • Are you on a tight budget?

Thinking about your answers to these questions is going to help you start to determine when to visit Turkey.

Article contents

  • Our experience in Turkey

Turkey geography overview

  • Weather in Turkey  
  • Spring in Turkey  
  • Summer in Turkey  
  • Fall in Turkey 
  • Winter in Turkey 

Overall BEST time to visit Turkey

Want a quick recommendation? Jump down to see our personal advice for the best time to visit Turkey. Plus, we’ll share what times of year we’d avoid visiting!

  • Our Recommendation…

Our experience traveling in Turkey 

We’ve visited Turkey in all seasons

Pamukkale hot springs Turkey

Our experience:

  • We visited Turkey in May 2016 and had perfect weather for our entire trip throughout the country and it felt less crowded than other places in Europe during that time.
  • Our Director of Content, Amanda, has visited Turkey during every other season and spent a decent amount of time there. 

Summer in Turkey

I (Amanda) have been to Turkey in both July and August and found the weather to be pretty hot in Istanbul and down on the southwestern coast. This is peak tourism season so accommodation prices are a bit higher, streets are more crowded and everyone flocks to the coast to escape the heat of the city. 

Air Conditioning (A/C) isn’t as common (nor are screens on windows) in Istanbul, so you may be looking at some pretty uncomfortable temperatures during these months. And yes, there are mosquitoes! (Which is why I never understood the lack of screens around the world.)

Would we recommend visiting during summer?

If you can avoid visiting Turkey during the summer time, I would. However, if that’s the only time that works in your schedule, it’s not the worst. Just make sure you find some accommodation with A/C and consider visiting the coast!

Kaputas Beach Turkey

Fall in Turkey

In Istanbul there is a noticeable difference in the weather from August to September. You shift from wearing loose, breathable clothing to needing a light jacket almost overnight (in my experience). However, the temperatures are much more pleasant for spending days walking around and sightseeing. 

Plus, the weather in the south on the coasts is still very warm and perfect for sunbathing and refreshing dips in the Aegean. 

October marks the official start of “low season” all over Turkey and accommodation prices will reflect the shift. 

Would we recommend visiting during the fall?

Absolutely! Fall, in my opinion, is the absolute best time to visit Turkey, with cooler temperatures and families and kids back in school. 

Kas Turkey

Winter in Turkey

Winter in Istanbul actually gets quite cold. In fact, it even snows there! (I don’t know why but I was surprised to hear this and even experienced it on my New Years Eve trip.) 

Though the south won’t get quite as cold, most of the resort towns shut down for the season so there isn’t much going on down there. While that may be a good excuse to have a quiet holiday, you won’t be experiencing typical beach weather. 

Would we recommend visiting in winter?

That depends… If you are expecting colder weather and don’t mind it, a trip to Istanbul might actually be really nice in winter. There’s still plenty to do in the city and the tourist crowds will be much thinner (if not nonexistent!). 

However, I wouldn’t recommend a trip to the coast of Turkey in wintertime as so much will be closed down, you won’t get the full experience. 

Though I have not personally experienced it, I had a friend who visited Cappadocia in winter and loved it! The crowds were practically nonexistent and prices were so much cheaper. 

She was lucky enough to get to do a hot air balloon ride over the snow-covered landscape. However, the hot air balloons are commonly grounded due to weather conditions during winter so keep that in mind. 


Spring in Turkey

We (Katie and Ben) have visited Turkey in the springtime and had a really great experience. We’d totally recommend visiting during the spring before temperatures get too hot and the summer crowds come out.

best at travel turkey

Turkey is a fairly large country—a bit bigger than the U.S. state of Texas—that sits atop two continents. Some people refer to this as “Eurasia,” but officially, Turkey is a transcontinental country with parts in both Asia and Europe. 

The country is situated almost entirely in western Asia’s Anatolian Peninsula, also known as Asia Minor. However, a small portion of Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city by far, is on the European continent. The Bosphorus Strait is the waterway that divides the city, and the continents, giving Istanbul its nickname, “ the gateway between the East and West .” 

The country’s unique geography doesn’t end there. It has three distinct coastlines, the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west. Turkey also shares official international borders with eight countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Georgia, and Syria. 

It should come as no surprise that Turkey is rather diverse topographically. Of course, it’s very well-known for the beautiful Mediterranean beaches that form the country’s southern and western coasts. The northern coast is also home to the entire southern shore of the Black Sea. 

You’ll also find other-worldly landscapes in the deserts, stunning mountain ranges, modern citiescapes, and everything in between. The highest mountain in Turkey, Mount Ararat, towers 16,854 feet above sea level.

Another very interesting thing about Turkey is that its unique positioning also makes it one of the most earthquake-prone regions on the planet. In the past century, the country has sustained more than a dozen major quakes.

Weather in Turkey

Coast of Turkey

Turkey experiences four distinct seasons, in line with the Northern Hemisphere. Summers can be scorchingly hot, with oppressive humidity on the coast and extreme dryness inland, while winters are typically cold, rainy, and bring snow. 

Spring and fall usually bring much better weather across the country, with mild temperatures and little precipitation. The Turkish coasts, in particular, have divine weather during these times of year. You’ll find beaches deserted in the winter and packed in the summer, despite the almost unbearable heat. It’s amazing what a quick dip in the water can do!

A notable exception, like most high-altitude areas, is Turkey’s mountains and highland regions. Here, summer is actually one of the best times to explore, when temperatures are cooler. By contrast, higher elevations get much more snow in the winter. Ski season here lasts 4-6 months at high elevations and offers a great way to experience the country during less-pleasant months. 

Stats on Turkey Weather & Seasons:

  • Warmest month(s) in Turkey:   June – September
  • Coldest month(s) in Turkey: December – March
  • Rainiest month(s) in Turkey: December – February
  • Driest month(s) in Turkey: June – August
  • Most crowded month in Turkey: July – August
  • Least crowded month in Turkey: November – February

best at travel turkey

Spring offers an excellent opportunity to enjoy great weather before summer crowds begin descending on Turkey’s beaches and other popular destinations. March and the first part of April remain fairly quiet, but late April and May mark the official start of the tourist season country-wide (and especially in Cappadocia!). 

You’ll find some crowds later in the season, especially during spring break and Europe’s spring holidays, but crowds are much more manageable than during the summer and the weather is generally fantastic this time of year. Note that while ambient temperatures on the beaches may be warm, the water will likely be very cold until early summer!

In Istanbul, which experiences fairly harsh winters, spring temperatures hang out between 55-72ºF (13-22°C) and most of the winter rain subsides. One notable exception is April, which is one of the rainiest months across the entire country. The coasts see daily temperatures that are consistently a bit warmer than in the cities, and you’ll enjoy even more sunshine and less rain. 

March marks the official start of spring and in Kurdish communities across Turkey, you’ll find festive Newroz (New Year) celebrations. The Istanbul Film Festival is also in April, followed by the Istanbul Music & Jazz Festival. 

Best things to do during spring in Turkey

  • Head to the coast to enjoy the beaches with few crowds and pleasant weather
  • Wander around Istanbul and experience the city-wide annual tulip festival in April
  • Experience Ramadan traditions across the country in late March into April
  • Check a major item off your bucket list with a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia
  • Take a hike at Mount Nemrut and enjoy a perfect melding of nature and ancient history
  • Hike at least part of Lycian Way, a 300-mile stretch of the Aegean Coast with jaw-dropping mountain views bordering the sea

Paragliding over Oludeniz Turkey

Like many places in the Northern Hemisphere, summer in Turkey is peak tourism season and will be busy pretty much anywhere you go. 

With the exception of Istanbul and the desert regions, which get unbearably hot, you’ll find good weather and plenty of people enjoying it. Temperatures (and crowds) really start to rise in mid- to late June when local schools let out for summer break, so if possible, we recommend timing your summer visit for early June. 

July and August are definitely peak months for tourism in Turkey, and while much of the country is extremely hot, the beaches offer a welcome relief. They’ll also, unsurprisingly, be packed, with accommodations increasing in price and decreasing in availability. 

Conversely, Turkey’s mountainous regions in the north and east offer relief from the heat during the summer months. If you’re a hiker, this is hands-down the best time to visit Turkey! Some of the highest, most rugged mountain ranges are actually covered with snow until late July or even early August!

Across the country, summertime also brings many festivals and other celebratory events. Istanbul begins hosting a series of outdoor concerts in June, and cruise season on all Turkey’s coasts really gets into full swing in June as well. 

Best things to do during summer in Turkey

  • Try paragliding over Ölüdeniz, one of the best areas in the entire world to do so
  • Explore the Ruins of Ephesus
  • Kayak over the sunken city of Kekova
  • Explore the unique and fun things to do in Cappadocia
  • Enjoy a boat ride to experience the spot where the Black Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea
  • Go diving in Side to the super unique Underwater Museum, where hundreds of sculptures sit on the seafloor

best at travel turkey

Much like the spring months, f all is a great time in Turkey to enjoy fantastic weather without the massive crowds that flood the country during the summer. As you may expect, early fall typically has better, more predictable weather than late fall. 

The cooler late-Fall weather draws fewer crowds, however, and with the start of October, prices for accommodation and activities see a significant drop. Fall foliage is also spectacular across the country during this time, so there are certainly reasons October and November could be considered the best time to visit Turkey. 

Average temperatures hover around 70ºF (21°C) in Istanbul and 76ºF (24°C) on the coasts during the early fall. As winter gets closer, you’ll see those numbers drop to around 53º and 58º, respectively (12 and 15°C). 

November marks the noticeable start of the low season for travel, as well as the first hint of the rainy season country-wide, but you may still catch some nice weather. 

Early fall is also an excellent time to visit Turkey’s highest-elevation mountains, when weather is still pleasant and extreme weather hasn’t set in. Remember, some places in the east and north are only reliably accessible in August and September!

Istanbul holds many events throughout September into October and notably, November is the beginning of pomegranate season. You’ll see fresh pomegranate everything during this time of year.

Best things to do during fall in Turkey

  • Go for a dip at the magical Pamukkale Thermal Pools
  • Visit Yedigöller National Park, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the entire country in the fall
  • Book yourself into a cozy cave hotel in Cappadocia
  • Check out the more than 4,000 shops at the Grand Bazaar (bring cash and some solid haggling skills!)
  • Enjoy mostly-deserted but still warm beaches, especially on the Mediterranean Coast!

best at travel turkey

Winter in Turkey is without a doubt the slowest season for tourism, being that the country is well-known for its sparkling beaches. The exception is the mountains, particularly in the northeast, when winter is the high season for skiing and other winter sports enthusiasts. 

We know, Turkey isn’t what typically pops into your mind when you think of winter sports destinations, but there are actually some impressive skiing and snowboarding!

The winter months bring rain, cold, and even snow to some parts of the country, but Turkey’s beaches, particularly on the southern coast, can still experience mild weather. For example, Istanbul’s average winter highs are in the low to mid-40s (about 5-7°C), but on the coast, it’s around 50°F (10°C). 

Winter weather on the coasts is hit or miss, so if you’re visiting in the winter, we’d recommend not planning your whole trip around the beach. Leave some free time open or have a Plan B and if you end up getting great weather on the coast, bonus! 

Overall, if you can brave the cold and rain, winter can be a great time to visit Turkey — especially its cities. Prices for accommodation are often significantly less expensive in the winter. 

Fewer crowds also mean that things like museums and the renowned Turkish bathhouses are easier to enjoy. These are great options when it’s cold and wet out! 

You’re likely to find some lively New Year’s Eve parties, but most of Turkey doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so December tourism is lower than in many other destinations. 

Best things to do during winter in Turkey

  • Explore Istanbul’s museums at a leisurely pace without the crowds
  • Experience the tradition of a luxurious hamam , a Turkish bathhouse
  • Peer into the underwater world at the Aqua Vega Aquarium
  • Hit the slopes for some skiing or snowboarding at Cappadocia’s Mt. Erciyes or Kartepe, within easy driving distance from Isyanbul
  • Enjoy the frosted, magical landscapes of Cappadocia. The city’s “fairy chimneys” are even more whimsical under a bit of snow (don’t count on heading out in a hot-air balloon in the winter, however!) 

Best time to visit Turkey in our opinion…

best at travel turkey

There truly is no wrong time to visit Turkey, but the best time depends very much on what you want to see and do.

In our opinion, September would be the best time to visit Turkey . The weather is usually mild; cooling down from the summer heat, but not too cold to still enjoy the beaches. It’ll still feel like summer on the Mediterranean, just with fewer crowds and a reprieve from the heat. 

And by contrast, winter in Turkey provides beautiful snowy landscapes, winter sports, and budget accommodations.  If you’re traveling to Turkey on a budget but aren’t as excited about the snow, the absolute best time to visit Turkey is during the month of October. Officially the start of low season, you’ll see prices drop significantly on things like accommodation and popular tours.

If you’re headed to Turkey, we’ve got some things you should see!

We have lots of resources on travel in Turkey and destinations throughout the country. Check out our  Ultimate Turkey Travel Guide  for all the answers to your travel questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

  • Epic Places to Visit in Turkey
  • Cheap & Fun Things to Do in Istanbul
  • Fun & Unusual Things to Do in Cappadocia
  • Cappadocia Cave Hotels for Every Budget

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Have you ever been to Turkey before? When did you go and what was your experience like? Leave your comments in the section below and we’ll do our best to respond to any questions!

Comments (3) on “ Best Time to Visit Turkey: When to Go & When to Avoid! ”

Hi i wanted to visit turkey i wasnt there yet, i dont have alot of money so im looking for best time an cheapest time an it must not b toooo warm an not toooo cold either an im not a beach fan but i do love nature an i love shopping and i love sightseeing so wats best time an how long shall i stay

Good article. I would wish to visit Turkey

i have enjoyed this article so much and it is very informative, I pictured myself in Istanbul… It changed my mind about Turkey and planning on visiting next year

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Istanbul views, including Galata tower.

Turkey’s melting pot: a foodie break in Istanbul

The best way to understand the city is through its food, and the best guide is a Michelin-star chef who knows where to find succulent doners, crisp calamari and rich taramasalata

S aturday morning, 10am, and I’m sitting at a café table on a cobbled street in the Beşiktaş neighbourhood of Istanbul, sipping a glass of çay (Turkish tea) and waiting for breakfast. By the café entrance, a plump, grey-haired man in a crisp white apron is sharpening a knife, before slicing through what is generally acknowledged to be the largest doner kebab in Turkey. The kebab weighs 100kg, a meaty monster slowly cooking from the outside in. Our guide, Sinan, tells us that Black Sea (Karadeniz) doners from this area are always the best – all of it will be gone by mid-afternoon.

Istanbul is a city that runs on its stomach. It may be steeped in history, but the best way to understand this multi-layered melting pot of east and west, Ottoman and Byzantine, is undoubtedly through its food. I’m lucky enough to be spending a couple of days with Cenk Debensason, recently awarded a Michelin star for his restaurant, Arkestra . The chance to discover the city through his eyes – and taste buds – promises a different version of Istanbul.

After breakfast, instead of following the well-trodden tourist trail to the historic district of Sultanahmet, we head north to Bebek, a leafy suburb where the streets are dotted with boutiques and small-batch coffee shops. I feel rather like I’m in the Turkish equivalent of Hampstead. Like London, Istanbul shares a similar sense of being a collection of villages, stitched together over the centuries, and getting away from the centre offers the chance to experience it more like a local than a visitor. We dip into Midnight , where the artfully arranged shelves and racks are filled with jewellery, ceramics and clothes by the city’s hottest designers, and head on to the Petra Roasting Company , where sofas are shared with snoozing cats and the nuttily rich Ethiopian coffee fires us up.

A cafe on the waterfront at Ortakoy on the European shore of the Bosphorus.

From Bebek, we go further north to Tarabya, a waterfront neighbourhood that has attracted tourists since it began life as a health resort in the 18th century. As we drive alongside the Bosphorus, it reminds me of the winding roads that flank Lake Como: restaurants and hotels on one side, the water on the other – and on the opposite side, opulent mansions built decades, even centuries before, for the city’s wealthy elite.

We’ve come for lunch at Kiyi , an Istanbul institution that has been serving the same fish-rich menu since it opened in the 1960s. The meal is exquisite: plump mussels stuffed with mint, crisp calamari, rose-tinted octopus and taramasalata thick with roe. The vast turbot that appears as our shared main course, buttery soft, slipping off the bone like silk, ruins me for all other fish for ever.

After lunch, we drive back to Beyoglu to explore the cobbled streets of the Çukurcuma district, where the elegant, European-style mansions house antique shops selling everything from ancient statuary to art deco lamps and retro 1960s furniture that could have come straight from the set of Austin Powers. One of the most famous is A La Turca , owned by the ebullient Erkal Aksoy, who shows us around his extraordinary emporium before settling us in on slouchy leather sofas with tea, biscuits and glasses of his homemade cherry brandy.

Chefs at Ciya Sofrasi restaurant serving Anatolian specialities in Kadikoy.

The following day we set out on the ferry to Kadiköy, on the Asian side – one of the city’s foodiest neighbourhoods. Next to me, a man produces a bread roll from his pocket and tears off chunks, throwing them up to the gaggle of gulls flying alongside the boat. To my surprise, instead of swooping down to gobble the crumbs from the water, they dive and dart to catch the bread in mid-air – an impressive display of aeronautics that shows the gulls are as obsessed with food as everyone else in this city.

In Kadiköy, we dip into pickle shops, with their glass jars stacked from floor to ceiling, and cubby-hole stalls with great gold samovars of olive oil and soft mounds of spices – scarlet chilli, golden saffron, the brittle woody flowers of star anise. It’s warm enough to sit outside for lunch at Çiya Sofras , which specialises in traditional Anatolian dishes. The table groans with unctuous aubergine and yoghurt dips, crispy lahmacun (flatbread with spicy meat) and succulent kebabs.

The ferry ride back is a blissful hit of sunshine before we walk through the city’s Dickensian meatpacking district to one of its newest treasures – the Zeyrek Çinili Hamam – a spectacularly beautiful Turkish bath, dating back to the 16th century. Opening its doors this spring after a 13-year restoration project, it offers bathing spaces that are pristine white and freckled with stars cut into the domed ceiling, and there’s a fascinating museum charting the cultural importance and history of hamams in both Ottoman and modern-day Turkish life.

Food at Arkestra, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Istanbul.

On our final night, we take a taxi through the city’s labyrinthine roads to Arkestra , Debensason’s restaurant, tucked away in the quiet Etiler neighbourhood in Beşiktaş. Stepping through the door feels like walking into the coolest kind of house party. Upstairs, cocktails are flowing in the Listening Room bar, while the main dining room feels like a buzzy, upmarket bistro. The food is modern and creative, a confident mix of classical French technique and vibrant Asian flavours. Tuna sashimi comes with sushi rice ice-cream and a ginger ponzu vinaigrette, panko fried beef with sweetly sour tonkatsu sauce. Everything looks beautiful, tastes delicious and leaves you wanting just a little bit more – the perfect metaphor for Istanbul itself.

Soho House Istanbul has double rooms from £256 room-only ( )

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10 Best Places to Visit in Turkey

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Steeped in history with a landscape that encompasses beaches and soaring mountains, Turkey has acted as the gateway between Europe and Asia for thousands of years. Being a place of trade and of exchanging cultures has made Turkey a richly diverse country. The point where East meets West, the wealth of culture and breadth of influences has left its mark and is revealed in the country’s mouthwatering culinary landscape, as well as in the innumerable religious monuments and archaeological sites.

Istanbul, once the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, features prominently in most travel plans but there are many more great destinations. You could enjoy your time here staying in boutique hotels inside caves and floating in hot air balloons above the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, wandering in the midst of the Greco-Roman world in Ephesus, or simply soaking up the sun in the luxury beach resorts along the Aegean Sea. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Turkey:

10. Ankara [SEE MAP]


Turkey’s capital city, Ankara, is a sprawling, modern city home to government buildings, commercial businesses, universities and foreign embassies. Located right in the center of the country and the Anatolia region, Ankara is an important transportation hub, linking nationals and tourists alike to other major destinations in Turkey. However, Ankara is not all business. This bustling city also offers a few historic sites and some arts and culture.

An old city once inhabited by various cultures including Hittite, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman, Ankara is riddled with ancient structures and ruins reflecting its history. Some of the most notable of these are the Temple of Augustus, the Citadel, and a Roman Theatre. Numerous historic mosques can also be found throughout the city. An important 20th century landmark, Anitkabir, is a mausoleum housing the tomb of Turkey’s first President, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Ankara boasts a lively arts and culture scene with a large concentration of theaters and museums, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, which houses more than 200,000 objects. Traditional markets and modern malls provide fantastic shopping choices where items such as fresh produce, spices, carpets and electronics can all be purchased.

9. Mardin [SEE MAP]


Perched on a strategic hilltop overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia in southeastern Turkey, Mardin is the capital of the Mardin Province. One of the oldest settlements in the region, Mardin is best known for its cultural diversity and Old City of sandstone buildings that cascade down the hill.

Mardin’s Old City is easily toured by walking. The maze of meandering streets leads visitors along terraced houses and popular sites like Deyrü’z-Zafaran Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in the world, and the Sultan Isa Medresesi, a medieval monument that once served as an astronomical observatory. Zinciriye Medresesi, a 14th century Islamic school, features beautiful courtyards and art works.

The Great Mosque, with its soaring minaret, is hard to miss. Although closed to the public, the citadel presents fantastic photo opportunities. Throughout the Old City is a myriad of shops selling the likes of pottery, silverware, leather and traditional headdresses.

8. Konya [SEE MAP]


One of the oldest cities in the world and best known for its remarkable Seljuk architecture and Whirling Dervishes, Konya is a large city in Turkey’s Central Anatolia Region. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Konya prospered as a capital city under the rule of the Seljuk Dynasty. Today, attractive buildings from that era can still be admired such as the Alaeddin Mosque, which houses the tombs of several sultans. Another popular example is the Ince Minare Medrese, now a museum displaying artifacts from the Seljuk and Ottoman eras.

Although in ruins, the Seljuk Palace is also worth a visit. A modern day architectural attraction is the Seljuk Tower, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Turkey, featuring a revolving restaurant at the top two floors.

In the 13th century, Konya was the home of the Persian theologian and Sufi mystic, Rumi. His tomb, the Mausoleum of Rumi, with its neighboring Melvana Museum, is a must-see site in Konya. Rumi’s followers founded the Mevlevi Order, which are also known as the Whirling Dervishes due to their famous religious ceremonies in which they spin around and around on the left foot while wearing white, billowing gowns. These ceremonies, also known as Sama, can be observed weekly at the Mevlana Cultural Centre.

Konya also offers beautiful green spaces and parks such as Alaeddin Hill, in the city center, and the Japanese Park with its lovely pagodas, waterfalls and ponds.

Because Konya is one of Turkey’s more conservative cities, bars and nightclubs are not as plentiful. However, some hotels and cafes do offer alcoholic drinks.

7. Antalya [SEE MAP]


Nestled along the beautiful Turkish Riviera on the Mediterranean coastline, Antalya is a large, vibrant city welcoming tourists with numerous resorts, hotels, bars and restaurants. Spectacular scenery frames the city with gorgeous beaches and lush green mountains dotted with ancient ruins. From swimming and sailing to mountain climbing, sightseeing and family fun, Antalya offers something for everyone.

A walk around Kaleiçi, the Old Quarter, offers a step back into the city’s ancient past with views of the old city walls, Roman gates, maze-like streets and historic structures that include the Clock Tower and beautiful, old churches, mosques and temples. At the heart of the Old Quarter is the Cumhuriyet Square, surrounded by shops, cafes, Turkish baths and street performers.

Antalya’s main beaches, Konyaalti and Lara, offer white sands, water sports, resorts, bars and restaurants. Nearby the beaches are water parks, amusement parks and a zoo. Several museums exhibit artifacts and relics from the area, including the award-winning Antalya Museum.

6. Marmaris [SEE MAP]


One of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts, Marmaris is a picture-perfect setting of pine-clad mountains, sandy white beaches, turquoise waters and historic architecture. Located along the Turkish Riviera in southwest Turkey, this stunning cruise port is a tourist paradise with exceptional sightseeing opportunities, water sports, fantastic dining and buzzing nightlife.

Marmaris presents so much to see and do that visitors will be spoiled for choice. A walk along the cobblestone streets of the old quarter offers attractive architecture and a visit to the 16th century Castle of Suleyman the Magnificent. Various boating tours take visitors exploring around the picturesque bays and neighboring villages.

Horse safaris canter through lush pine forests, orange groves, traditional villages and around untouched bays and stunning waterfalls, while jeep safaris present off-the-beaten-track adventures.

Marmaris also features water parks for the whole family and Turkish baths for total pampering and relaxation. If that is not enough, there are a number of day trips from Marmaris to outstanding destinations like Dalyan, Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cleopatra Island.

The nightlife scene in Marmaris is one of Turkey’s most exciting. There are hundreds of restaurants featuring cuisines from all over the world from fast food to fine dining. Bars and clubs are found throughout the city and along the beaches. Not to be missed are the Turkish Night Show venues, which feature traditional Turkish food, mezes and belly dancing.

5. Side [SEE MAP]


A major port in ancient Pamphylia and occupied by Alexander the Great in 4th century BC, Side today is a picturesque town of classic ruins and modern day resorts overlooking sandy white beaches. Located on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast in the Antalya Province on a small peninsula, Side offers fantastic sightseeing, nightlife and outdoor adventure.

Side’s star attraction is an excavated site of ancient Hellenistic and Roman ruins that include the remnants of a colossal amphitheater, an agora, a Byzantine basilica, public baths, marble columns and various temples. The Roman baths are now restored to house a museum, which displays a number of Roman statues and artifacts. Overlooking the beach, the Temple of Apollo is a spectacular sight, especially at sunset.

Featuring narrow streets and attractive gardens, the charming town of Side offers many restaurants ranging from delis and pizza shops to upscale dining in a variety of cuisines. Just outside of town, the Manavgat River offers boat tours, white water rafting and impressive waterfalls.

4. Bodrum [SEE MAP]


Located in the Mugla Povince in the southern Aegean region of Turkey, Bodrum is the site of the ancient fortified city, Halicarnassus, which was once home to marble buildings, temples, statutes, paved streets and the Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

After falling into ruins, the city remained a quiet fishing village until the 20th century when Turkish intellectuals brought popularity to it through their writings. Today, Bodrum’s intriguing ruins, stunning beaches and cliff-top resorts attract people from all over the world.

On Bodrum’s eastern side, tourists will find a beautiful beach overlooking brilliant blue water. Near the beach are plenty of cafes, bars and nightclubs. On the western side of town is the marina, shopping centers and restaurants.

No visit to Bodrum would be complete without seeing the Castle of St. Peter, also known as Bodrum Castle. Built from 1402 by the Knights Hospitaller it now operates as a museum. Other sights include the last remains of the Mausoleum, and ancient amphitheater and the Myndos Gate, which was once the scene of a bloody battle during a siege by Alexander the Great.

Besides sightseeing, other things to see and do in Bodrum include the award-winning Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology which is housed inside Bodrum Castle, historic windmills, Turkish saunas and mud baths, windsurfing, scuba diving and boat tours that feature nightclubs and glass-bottomed dance floors.

3. Ephesus [SEE MAP]


Europe’s most complete classical metropolis, Ephesus is an ancient site located in Aegean Turkey. By the 1st century BC, Ephesus was one of the largest cities in all of the Roman Empire, boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. The ruins of Ephesus are well preserved and contained within a large archaeological site, making it one of Turkey’s most popular tourist attractions.

Ephesus was declared a Roman settlement in 133 BC, although it did not reach its peak until some 200 years later. At one point, when the city was the capital of Roman Asia Minor, Ephesus housed more than 250,000 permanent residents. St.Paul lived in Ephesus, fostering Christianity among many other religions. With the decline of the harbor of Ephesus, and the sacking of the city by Germanic Goths in the third century, Ephesus began its decline.

Big Theatre

For roughly 1,500 years, Ephesus was all but forgotten. The remnants of this incredible classical city were hidden from the world until the 1860s, when an international team of archeologists began unearthing the ruins. Today, less than 20 percent of Ephesus has been excavated, but it is still one of the largest accessible archeological sites in the world.

Without question, the most famous structure in Ephesus is the Temple of Artemis. The temple was once the largest on the planet, showcasing just how important the city of Ephesus was. Unfortunately, the temple itself was largely destroyed around the fifth century, but it is still possible to tour the ruins.

Some of the most recently excavated attractions in Ephesus, and certainly some of the most popular, are the Terraced Houses. These were the homes of the richest residents of Ephesus in approximately the first century, and they were built in a modern Roman style.

Remarkably, some of the homes had hot and cold baths, marble floors and even heating systems. On the walls, you can spot unusual artwork, mosaics and even love poems scrawled by hand.

No trip to Ephesus would be complete without seeing the famed Library of Celsus. Built in 123 AD, the library was once of the largest libraries in the ancient world, coming in third after the libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum. The library has been restored, making it easier to see its two-story design, its columns and its capitals.

Be sure to admire the four statues that represent the four virtues. While these are now replica statues, and not the originals, you can still see Sophia, representing wisdom, Episteme, representing knowledge, Ennoia, representing thought, and Arete, representing goodness.

Stone Carving of the Goddess Nike in Ancient Ephesus Turkey

Just two miles from Ephesus is the town of Selçuk, where many visitors choose to spend time before or after exploring the ruins of Ephesus. In the center of Selçuk, you might want to stop and admire the Roman aqueduct that once supplied water to the city, or you could learn a little more about the archeology of the region by exploring the collections at the Museum of Ephesus. You can also browse at the market or pick up double knot carpets, the most popular souvenir from the area.

2. Cappadocia [SEE MAP]


Situated in Central Anatolia of Turkey, Cappadocia is best known for its fairytale landscape of unusual formations resembling chimneys, cones, mushrooms and pinnacles. Natural processes such as ancient volcanic eruptions and erosion have all sculpted these odd formations over the ages, with some of them rising as much as 130 feet (40 meters) high. However, thousands of years ago, mankind added remarkable touches to the landscape by carving out houses, churches and underground cities from the soft rock.

Inhabited as early as 1800 BC, Hittites and other residents chiseled out underground tunnel complexes, seeking safety from invading Persians and Greeks. Much later in the 4th century AD, Christians, fleeing out of religious persecution from Rome, sought refuge in Cappadocia’s tunnels and caves. Today, the region’s natural wonders and historic sites all make it a popular destination.

While much of Cappadocia is located in the province of Nevsehir, some of the main towns in the region are Ürgüp, Göreme, Avanos, Ortahisar and Mustafapasa. Many of these towns offer hotels, restaurants, nightlife options and attractions such as museums, rock castles, fairy chimneys, underground tunnels, old Greek villages, monasteries and handicraft markets. Some of the caves in the region are actually hotels and cater to tourists.

1. Istanbul [SEE MAP]

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Turkey

Once serving as the capital of the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, Istanbul today is the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest in the world. Istanbul stretches across both sides of the Bosphorus, a narrow strait that connects Asia and Europe, making it the only city in the world spanning two continents. Impressive architecture, historic sites, dining, shopping, nightlife and exotic atmosphere all make Istanbul one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

See also: Where to Stay in Istanbul

The Old City is where most of the city’s impressive historic sites are found, which include the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Another important district is New City, known for its modern day attractions, skyscrapers and shopping malls. Beyoglu and Galata are popular zones for nightlife and entertainment, while the Bosphorus area is home to beautiful palaces, waterfront mansions and urban parks.

There is no shortage of exciting things to see and do in Istanbul . A shopping affair not to be missed is the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s oldest and largest covered markets. Visiting a Turkish bath is also a great way to experience the local culture. The nightlife scene in Istanbul abounds in numerous restaurants, pubs and nightclubs to suit every budget and preference.

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Reader interactions.

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June 29, 2018 at 12:49 pm

You must go to Rize too.

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December 18, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Izmir is one of the best Turkey there is,lots of historic places and many great places to see

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November 13, 2017 at 8:45 am

You should have added Bursa and Cumalikizik to your list. Bursa and its vicinities offer a lot for the visitors, who would like to taste great food, experience thermal baths, Turkish baths, visit bazaars, mosques, madrasas and enjoy beautiful nature…

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June 29, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Turkey has a lot to offer for those who wants to see mixture of cultures, tradition and history. I have been to half of the places mentioned above and each place has its unique history and taste to it. Actually i am planning to move to live in Izmir with my family in less than a month time. We are so excited about this venture, and look forward to get more of Turkey in next few years.

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June 21, 2017 at 10:33 pm

I can’t believe you skipped Kastamonu

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May 30, 2017 at 2:29 am

I’m suprised you skipped Gaziantep. Gaziantep has the most beatiful Turkish cuisine. You have to taste beyran, kebab, baklava, kadayıf.. In addition, I strongly recommend you to see the ancient city of Zeugma . There are many wonderful muesums and castlle in Gaziantep. I must say that Gaziantep has the biggest zoo.

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February 23, 2017 at 12:49 am

Black Sea would be the hidden Gem!! From amazing mountains to the Black Sea it has so much for all to see.

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November 15, 2015 at 12:53 pm

I like Ankara, Istanbul, and Antalya. But I really love Ephesus because I really like Greek mythology and historical cities.

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June 7, 2015 at 8:52 am

Antalya is definitely one of the best places. When I was a kid, I went there with my family for three days, the beach was sooo awesome!

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May 16, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Turkey rocks. Its an amazing destination with a lot of beautiful n mesmerizing sights. Pammukale, Izmir, Uzungöl n safran bolu, Amasra, çanakale should b added to this list if u have time. Moreover u can skip Ankara.

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February 26, 2015 at 1:16 am

in addition to: For the ones who are interested in history, Edirne is wonderful to see.

February 26, 2015 at 1:11 am

Don’t make a mistake and never go to Ankara. One of the worst cities in Turkey. I know because I live in Turkey and I lived in Ankara.

Bodrum, Istanbul, Ephesus, Kapadokya, Mardin (security is important), Side, Fethiye (dead sea), Datca and Cunda. These are the best i think

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January 8, 2015 at 2:56 am

I cannot believe that you mentioned Ankara in the list. There should be Bursa which has 7 sites (5 Ottoman sultan complexes, Ottoman bazaar and Cumalıkızık Ottoman Village) in Unesco World Heritage list. The city is only 90 minutes by ferry from Istanbul. I highly recommend.

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November 3, 2014 at 1:33 am

i’m planning to visit Turky soon ,because it is amazing

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October 25, 2014 at 6:49 am

I think,Istanbul is the best to travel,however,Ankara is also awesome place.

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October 11, 2014 at 7:42 am

I can’t believe you missed out Pamukkale! That place looks incredible! Other than that, great list! I can’t wait to explore more of Turkey.

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September 8, 2014 at 6:26 am

I like Uzungol, Sultan Murat & Sekarsu nice climate, nature at Iis best …

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September 2, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Nice list, Side is definitely amazing. Visiting ancient sites in Kas is something travellers shouldnt miss. Two cities are very different one is more touristy and both have great Roman ruins.

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August 22, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Izmir is SOOOOOO much better than Istanbul , its crazy that its not even on this list

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June 15, 2014 at 7:38 am

If you have 5 days in Istanbul , thats just nice to see it alone . Stay near the Grand Bazaar entrance, which is very near to the tram station of Beyjezit. you can walk to the Grand Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace . and Citedel Basalica. Take a tram to Eminonu , where the Spice market and famous Fish restaurants, and then take the Bosphorus Cruise from there. On the third day take a City bus ride to see the outskirts of Istanbul. On 4th day you can go back to see more of what you havent covered the first three days.

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April 12, 2014 at 1:01 pm

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March 10, 2014 at 12:13 am

Very surprised that the Black sea region is not on your list

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January 25, 2014 at 11:44 am

Can somebody advise where to go in turkey for 5 days.?

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January 16, 2014 at 9:22 am

I visited Turkey last year and i must say i was impressed greatly! If you want a bit of everything on a trip then dont miss this place.

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October 7, 2013 at 12:49 am

Wey!! I have done all of them apart from Ankara and looking to do that this winter

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Agencies in Turkey 2024/2025

Top Tour Operators and Travel Agencies in Turkey. Below you will find 39 of the best tour operators and travel agencies in Turkey offering in total 376 tours and holidays through-out Turkey. Combined they have received 348 customer reviews and an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars. The top tour activities offered in Turkey are: Sightseeing, attractions, culture and history, Adventure and sport & Wildlife, landscapes and nature.

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39 Tour Operators in Turkey with 348 Reviews

Sunnova Travel

Sunnova Travel

  • Address Korkutreis Mah. Ilkiz Sok. 12/2 Sihhiye Cankaya, Ankara, Turkey
  • Response Rate 98%
  • Response Time 2 hours

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  • Best-in-Class Top 5% of companies
  • Excellent Service Top 10% of companies
  • Superior Service Top 15% of companies

Exodus Travels

Exodus Travels

  • Address Grange Mills, Weir Road, London, England
  • Response Rate 85%
  • Response Time 1 hour

Fez Travel

  • Address Hocapasa Mah. Tayahatun Sokak No:3 Sukran Han 3rd Floor, Sirkeci, Istanbul, Turkey
  • Response Rate 71%

G Adventures

G Adventures

  • Address G Adventures Ltd, 60 Bastwick Street, London, England
  • Response Rate 90%
  • Response Time 3 hours

Expat Explore

Expat Explore

  • Address 10 Merryweather Place, London, England

On The Go Tours

On The Go Tours

  • Address 3 Shortlands, 4th floor, Office 19, Hammersmith, England
  • Response Rate 88%


  • Address Nelson House, 55-59 Victoria Rd, Farnborough, England
  • Response Rate 96%

Ciconia Travel

Ciconia Travel

  • Address 18 Exhibition House, Addison Bridge Place, London, England
  • Response Rate 100%

Travel Talk

Travel Talk

  • Address 18 Exhibition House Addison Bridge Place, London, England

Encounters Travel

Encounters Travel

  • Address Leigh House, Varley Street, Leeds, England
  • Response Rate 94%

Tour Altinkum Travel

Tour Altinkum Travel

  • Address İkicesmelik Mah. Suleyman Demirel Bul. Melis Apt. B-Blok D:5, Kusadasi, Turkey
  • Response Rate 75%

World Expeditions

World Expeditions

  • Address 1B Osiers Road, Wandsworth, London, England
  • Response Rate 82%

Destination Services

Destination Services

  • Address Edificio TUI, SM2, Calle Rita Levi, Parc Bit, Palma de Mallorca, Spain


  • Address 38-51 Bedford Way, London, England

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  • Getting around Turkey: Transportation Tips

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Virtually the whole of Turkey is well covered by public transport, including long-distance buses, domestic flights, minibuses and ferries. The aged train network is being overhauled, with new high-speed lines linking the capital Ankara with İstanbul, Konya and Sivas. Late booking is the norm for public transport users in Turkey, but reserve well in advance for major public holidays – especially for flights and trains. Car rental rates are reasonable if you look around, and low-season rentals usually considerably cheaper than in high season.

By long-distance bus

By city bus and taxi, by bicycle and motorcycle, seating plan tips, tailor-made travel itineraries for turkey, created by local experts.

Sensational landscapes of Cappadocia

4 days  / from 1050 USD

Sensational landscapes of Cappadocia

3 different modes of transportation to explore Cappadocia - by hot air balloon, on the back of a camel as well as on an ATV quad. Why choose if you can have it all? Four days filled with fun and adventure in the volcanic valleys around Cappadocia make an unforgettable trip.

City & culture - Istanbul and Cappadocia

5 days  / from 1100 USD

City & culture - Istanbul and Cappadocia

Explore two absolute highlights in Turkey - Istanbul, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire with its many landmarks. After a few days in the city, fly to Cappadocia and explore the surreal surroundings, either on day tours or from above in a hot air balloon.

Magical Turkey

9 days  / from 2500 USD

Magical Turkey

Visit Gobekli Tepe and Mount Nemrut in Southeastern Anatolia before proceeding to Cappadocia with its volcanic scenery. After a few days in the valleys, continue to Pamukkale and the ancient city of Ephesus. Your tour starts and ends in Istanbul.

For more (non-transport) information, read our round-up of fascinating facts about Turkey .

Turkey’s train network is run by Turkish State Railways (TCDD; w Unfortunately, a major overhaul of the network means there is much current uncertainty as to which trains are operational. As an example, until work is completed on the new high-speed line between İstanbul and Ankara, scheduled for 2015, the only option for rail travellers is to take the bus to Eskişehir and then the high-speed train onto Ankara (and vice versa). The service between İstanbul and Konya has been cancelled, though it is still possible to reach İzmir by rail by taking the high-speed ferry from Yenikapı and the 6 Eylül Ekspres onto İzmir from Bandirma. A useful new high-speed service also links Ankara with Konya.

Until the situation becomes clearer, in general trains are probably best used to reach provincial centres such as Adana, Kayseri, Erzerum, Kars and Diyarbakır from Ankara. These trains are slow because the mountainous terrain has resulted in circuitous routes. As a result, journeys can sometimes take double the time by road. The advantages are the chance to stretch your legs, unwind and watch the scenery unfold at leisure. To get accurate schedule information , especially with the plethora of delays and re-schedulings caused by the network overhaul, go to the station in person, scan the placards and then confirm departures with staff. Several choices of seats are available on most routes, including first-class, reclining Pullman seats; first-class standard seats (usually in a six-seater compartment) and second-class seats (generally in an eight-seater compartment). For long distances, though, it’s advisable to get a sleeper . Cheapest are küşetli (couchettes), with either four or six bunks in a compartment depending on the route, and two-bedded yataklı (sleeping-cars) with a basin, soap, towel and air conditioning. All yataklı beds come with sheets, pillows and blankets provided, as do örtülü küşetli beds; for standard küşetli beds you’ll need to bring your own bedding. For maximum privacy, and for women travelling without male companions, it’s probably best to book a yataklı berth to avoid having to share. There are always (usually helpful but tip expected) porters on hand to make up beds. Note that all beds fold away in the day to convert the compartment into a seating area.

All long-distance services should have a licensed büfe wagon, offering simple meals at surprisingly reasonable prices, but it’s as well to check in advance (note that most wayside stations offer some sort of snacks). On major train routes it’s essential to reserve ahead , but unfortunately this cannot be done earlier than two weeks in advance – and it’s almost impossible to arrange sleeper facilities from a station that’s not your start point. It’s theoretically possible to book online, but the English version of TCDD’s website is so hard to use that you’d be brave to risk it (rail site w has a step-by-step guide on this). Probably the best option for most travellers, especially for long-distance train travel, is to buy tickets from a reputable travel agency, though that incurs a small supplement.

Fares and passes

To give some idea of prices , a pullman seat for the lengthy 28hr, 1076km journey from Ankara to Kars (close to the Armenian border) costs TL35.5, while a bed in a two-berth yataklı compartment costs TL82.5. An economy seat on the Yüksek Hızlı Tren (High-Speed Train) for the 233km journey between İstanbul and Eskişehir costs TL25, and a pullman seat on the Bandirma to İzmir (334km) train is TL20. Buying a return ticket brings the fare down by twenty percent, while foreign students (with appropriate ID) and children also get twenty percent off. InterRail passes are valid, though a better bet for Turkey-only travel is the one-month TrenTur card (available at major stations) which costs TL175 a month for unlimited second-class travel, or TL550 for any class of sleeping car.

Long-distance buses are a key part of the Turkish travel experience and, despite keen competition from domestic flights and relatively high road accident rates, look set to remain so. Major otogars (bus stations) are veritable hives of activity, with dozens of separate companies vying for business and a plethora of places to eat, drink, souvenir shop or have your shoes shined.

The vehicles used by many companies are luxurious coaches, complete with air conditioning, though without on-board toilets. Journeys are sometimes accompanied by loud Turkish music or film soundtracks, though increasingly the better (and more expensive) companies use coaches with aeroplane-style screens set in the back of the seat in front, along with headsets. There’s a choice of TV channels and films, though very seldom in English. Several companies also have free wi-fi aboard, which is of far more use to the non-Turkish-speaking traveller. Traditional services remain, however, with attendants dishing out free drinking water and cologne for freshening up. In addition, most companies serve free coffee/tea/soft drinks and cakes on board. Every couple of hours or so there will be a fifteen-minute rest stop ( mola ) for tea, as well as less frequent half-hour pauses for meals at purpose-built roadside cafeterias.

Bus companies are private concerns and there’s no comprehensive national bus timetable , although individual companies often provide their own. Prices vary considerably between top- and bottom-drawer companies, though convenience of departure and on-board service are equally important criteria. If in doubt, inspect the vehicle out in the loading bay ( peron in Turkish) and ask at the ticket office how long the trip will take.

Bear in mind that long-haul journeys (over 10hr) generally take place at night, and that because of rest stops buses never cover more than 60km per hour on average. As a broad example of fares, İstanbul–Antalya (a 450km trip) costs around TL45 with a standard bus company, TL60 with a premium company. The 1240km journey from İstanbul to Hopa, on the Black Sea near the Georgia border, costs TL85 with a premium company.

Buying tickets

Most bus companies have ticket booths both at the otogars (bus terminals) and in the city centre. One of the big advantages of coach over plane travel is that, national holidays apart, you can usually just turn up at the bus station and find a seat. If you do this it’s worth checking out various companies to see which offers the best price and most convenient departure – touts that work for particular companies will not necessarily take you to the office of the company that has the cheapest or soonest departure.

Unacquainted women and men are not usually allowed to sit next to each other, and you may be asked to switch your assigned seat to accommodate this convention. If you buy your ticket at a sales office in the centre of town, ask about free servis (service) transfer buses to the otogar , especially if (as most now are) it’s located a few kilometres out. These buses will often also take passengers from otogars into town centres, but that system is more erratic. Of the country’s two premium coach companies , Ulusoy ( w ) and Varan ( w ), Ulusoy offer by far the most comprehensive network. Their seats are more comfortable than most and they don’t segregate single passengers by sex. Both have online booking systems in English. Kamil Koç ( w ) and Pamukkale ( w ) are two of the best standard outfits, though neither has online systems in English.

A dolmuş (literally “stuffed”) refers to a car or small van ( minibüs in Turkish) that runs along set routes, picking passengers up (give a normal taxi hand signal) and dropping them off along the way (just say inecek var or müsait bir yerde to be set down). Few cities have car-type dolmuşes left – these include Bursa and Trabzon. On busy urban routes it’s better to take the dolmuş from the start of its run, at a stand marked by a blue sign with a black-on-white-field “D”, sometimes with the destination indicated – though usually you’ll have to ask to learn the eventual destination, or look at the dolmuş’ windscreen placard. The fare is invariably a flat rate (usually TL2), making it very good value for cross-city journeys, not so great for a one-stop hop. In some cities (eg Antalya) dolmuşes have been banned because pulling in at random is both dangerous and slows traffic. Locals, confusingly, still refer to the midibuses that replaced them, and stop only at fixed points, as dolmuşes.

Inter-town and village services are always provided by twelve- or fifteen-seater minibuses, and in these instances the term “ dolmuş ” is seldom used. For the remotest villages there will only be two services a day: to the nearest large town in the morning and back to the village in mid-afternoon. Generally, though, minibuses run constantly between 7am or 8am and 7pm in summer, stopping at sunset in winter or extending until 10pm or 11pm (or even later) near popular resorts.

In larger towns, the main means of transport are city buses , which usually accept only pre-purchased tickets available from kiosks near the main terminals, newsagents, or from kerbside touts (at slightly inflated prices). This is certainly the case in İstanbul, where you have to use a pre-purchased token ( jeton ) or a smart travel card (İstanbul Kart). In some cities, such as Antalya, it’s still possible to pay on the bus.

Yellow city taxis are everywhere, with ranks at appropriate places. Hailing one in the street is the best way to get a cab, but in suburban areas you can call them from useful street-corner telephones; sometimes you just press a buzzer and wait for a cab to turn up. City cabs all have working, digital-display meters and fares are reasonable. Each town sets its own rates, which includes the minimum charge and a unit charge for the distance covered. The main problem with using a cab is that few drivers – even in tourist areas – speak much English, so you may have to write down your destination on a piece of paper. Overcharging of foreigners in İstanbul and major resorts is, unfortunately, not uncommon – make sure that the driver turns his meter on and (trickier) that he doesn’t take you all around the houses to reach your destination.

While the excellent intercity bus network makes travel between major centres easy, having a car allows you to visit off-the-beaten-track sites. But be warned – the standard of driving in Turkey is often both poor and aggressive and the enforcement of traffic rules arbitrary, all factors that have led to the high road accident rate with over four thousand fatalities per year. Driving during public holidays, especially the religious Şeker and Kurban bayram s, and an hour or so prior to the iftar (fast-breaking meal) during Ramadan, is especially dangerous.

Rules of the road

You drive on the right , and yield to those approaching from the right. Speed limits are 50km/h within towns (40km/h if towing a trailer or caravan); open road limits are 90km/h for cars, 80km/h for vans (70km/h if towing something); motorways ( otoyol in Turkish), 120km/h for cars, 100km/h for vans and small trucks. Drink-driving laws are in line with those of the European Union – 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – and drink-driving carries a fine of TL590. Even so, drink-driving is a major problem; in 2010, almost 140,000 Turkish drivers had their licences seized for the offence. Front seat belts are mandatory and it’s a fineable (TL66) offence not to buckle up – though few drivers do.

Traffic control points at the approaches to major cities are common. You’ll probably be waved through simply upon showing your foreign ID, especially if it’s a rental car. Make sure the rental company provides the insurance certificate, the pollution compliance certificate ( eksoz muayene tasdiknamesi ), and the vehicle registration, or certified copies thereof.

Speeding fines , levied on a sliding scale according to how far above the limit you were, are heavy, with penalties of up to TL300 (though there’s a considerable “discount” if the fine is paid within ten days). Usually you’ll be given a ticket, which you take to a designated bank to pay. Jumping a red light carries a fine of TL140.

If you have an accident serious enough to immobilize you and/or cause major damage to other people’s property, the traffic police will appear and administer alcohol tests to all drivers, results of which must also be submitted along with an official accident report ( kaza raporu ) in order to claim insurance cover. It used to be an offence to move a vehicle involved in a car crash before the police showed up, but if there is only minor damage it is now OK to do so providing you have exchanged details with the other driver.

Heed the signposted no-parking zones , especially in resorts, as towing is common and although the fines are not too heavy the hassle of finding the pound and negotiating language barriers is considerable. Generally, it’s wisest to patronize the covered ( katlı ) or open otoparks . In open car parks you may well be required to leave your keys so the attendant can move your car. If you leave your car in the street in some towns and cities, you may return to find a chit on your windscreen (typically TL5), to be paid to the roving attendant.

Road conditions

Road conditions have improved enormously over the last few years, with better surfaces and more and more dual carriageways. On both single and dual carriageways there’s usually a hard-shoulder area to the right of the driving lane, and often slower-moving vehicles pull into this to allow impatient drivers to overtake. Be very wary of doing this, especially at night, as you might find yourself ploughing into pedestrians or parked/broken-down vehicles. With continual road improvements being made countrywide, roadworks are often a (sometimes dangerous) nuisance – especially in the southeast. Sizeable archeological sites are usually marked by large white-on-brown-field signs, but side roads to minor sites or villages are often poorly signposted.

Typical hazards include drivers overtaking right, left and centre, failure to signal and huge trucks. Small-town driving hazards include suicidal pedestrians, horse-carts, speeding scooters and motorcycles (often with the entire family astride one vehicle) and tractors.

Toll highways , marked with white-on-green signs, are well worth the modest fees but to use them you’ll need to buy a KGS ( Kartlı Geçis Systemi ) smart card, as many toll booths will not accept cash. They are available from some rental outlets, several banks including Halkbank, İşbankası, Garanti Bankası and Ziraat Bankası, and some toll booths, and can be topped up at “ KGS dolum noktası ” machines at many motorway service stations.

Main toll roads include İstanbul–Ankara, İstanbul–Edirne; Adana–Gaziantep; Adana–Pozanti through the Cilician Gates; İzmir–Çeşme; and İzmir–Denizli.

Night driving is best not attempted by beginners – be prepared for unlit vehicles, glare from undipped lights, speeding intercity coaches and trucks and, in rural areas, flocks of sheep and goats and unlit tractors. Warning triangles are obligatory; make sure you put it on the road behind your vehicle following a flat, breakdown or accident, and ensure your rental car has one.

Fuel and repairs

Filling stations are commonplace and open long hours, so it’s difficult to run out of fuel. Fuel costs are very high owing to high taxes, and even diesel ( mazot or dizel ) is TL4.1 per litre. Petrol ( benzin ), available in four-star ( süper ) and lead-free ( kurşunsuz ) grades, goes for around TL4.6 per litre. Rental cars generally use unleaded, but in some remote eastern areas it may be difficult to find.

In western Turkey, roadside rest-stop culture conforming to Italian or French notions is the norm. You can eat, pray, patch a tyre, phone home, shop at mini-marts and, sometimes, even sleep at what amount to small hamlets (essentially the descendants of the medieval kervansaray s) in the middle of nowhere. In the east you’ll find more basic amenities.

Credit and debit cards (Visa Electron, Visa and MasterCard but also American Express) are widely honoured for fuel purchases in much of Turkey (chip-and-PIN protocol is the norm), but carry cash in more remote rural areas and the east.

Car repair workshops are located in industrial zones called sanayis at town outskirts. To repair a punctured tyre (a common event in Turkey) head to a lastıkçı (tyre workshop); new tyres for small cars start from TL95. Always check that the spare and toolkit are sound and complete before leaving the rental agency.

To rent a car you need to be at least 21 with a driving licence held for at least one year. Your home country licence should be enough, but it is very helpful, especially at traffic-control points, to be able to show an international driver’s permit (IDP). A compact car rented from a major chain on the Aegean and Mediterranean coast will cost around €75 per day or €395 per week in high season (April–Oct), less in low season. Rent a car from a local firm in low season and you may be able to find something for around €30 a day, €40 in high season. Diesel-fuelled rental cars are becoming more widely available at a premium but are well worth considering if you intend doing a lot of kilometres. If you pick up a car at one of İstanbul’s two airports (and think carefully before you do so, the city traffic is horrendous, parking and route-finding difficult and accidents commonplace), you will be required to buy a KGS card for TL35, otherwise you won’t be able to leave the motorway at the exit booth – most do not accept cash!

Some rental companies allow rental in one town and drop-off in another – at a premium. The international players like Hertz have outlets at many of Turkey’s airports as well as downtown/resort offices; local outfits (some of which also offer advance, online booking services) may not have an office in the airport but with advance booking will bring the car to the airport and have someone meet you outside arrivals. Be warned: tanks are sometimes near empty so you need to fill up right away.

When checking any car out, agency staff should make a thorough note of any blemishes on the vehicle – go around the vehicle with them when they do this as you may be liable for scratches and dents not noted at the time of rental. Basic insurance is usually included, but CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) is not, and given typical driving conditions taking this out is virtually mandatory. Along with KDV (Value Added Tax), all these extras can push up the final total considerably. Rental insurance never covers smashed windscreens or ripped tyres.

Touring Turkey by bicycle is perfectly possible for experienced cyclists, so long as you avoid the hottest months, the busiest roads and don’t expect any kind of deference from motorists. Be prepared to do your own repairs as local mechanics experienced in working on state-of-the-art bikes are thin on the ground and confined to big cities such as Ankara, Antalya, İstanbul and İzmir. There is a well-developed home-grown mountain bike industry, and spares by such as Shimano are readily found in the big cities. Indeed, unless you’re passing through Turkey or are a real bicycle freak, it’s worth considering buying a home-grown model here, as that way the spares and repairs will be less problematic. Reasonable bikes start from TL350, though imported models are likely to be far more expensive than you could buy at home. In cities, lock your bike; in rural areas theft is not likely to be a problem, even if the curious stares of incredulous locals could be. Bikes-rental facilities are few and far between in Turkey; a notable exception is Cappadocia, particularly Göreme, and there are outlets in bigger resorts such as Antalya.

Given Turkey’s road conditions, only confident, experienced motorcyclists should consider driving here. Plenty of visitors risk a day or two on a scooter in resort areas. In larger resorts and big cities there will be at least one motorbike rental agency , or a car-rental company that also rents out motor-scooters and mopeds ( mobilet ). You’ll need an appropriate driving licence, and most companies insist that it has been held for at least a year. As with cars, always check the bike for scratches and dents before renting it. Helmets are mandatory, despite the endless numbers of helmet-less riders you’ll see.

Turkey’s domestic ferry network is confined to İstanbul and the Sea of Marmara. Şehir Hatları ( w ) operates ferries along the Bosphorus, between the European and Asian sides of the same strait, and to the Princess Islands. Longer runs across the Sea of Marmara to Yalova (for Termal & İznik), Mudanya (for Bursa) and Bandırma (for the Aegean coast) are the preserve of İstanbul Deniz Ötobüsleri ( w ) sea-buses. Any of the trans-Marmara car-ferry links save time compared to the dreary, circuitous road journey, but are relatively expensive with a vehicle.

Private companies offer services from the Mediterranean town of Taşucu to Girne in Northern Cyprus year-round, and catamarans run from the resort of Alanya in the summer months.

Travel by air is becoming the norm in what is a very big country, and makes sense for those on a tight schedule or who wish to visit far-flung places like Van or Erzurum. Turkish Airways (Türk Hava Yolları or THY; t 0212 225 0566, w offers the most comprehensive domestic flight network, though most flights from the west of the country are routed through either İstanbul or Ankara. THY faces stiff competition from private airlines, and has set up its own budget wing, Anadolujet ( t 444 2538, w ), which covers many of the same domestic routes as its parent, with Ankara as the hub.

Sunexpress ( t 444 0797, w ), which has direct flights from the Mediterranean gateway resort of Antalya to Adana, Ankara, Bodrum, Dalaman, Diyarbakir, Erzerum, Gaziantep, Hatay (Antakya), İstanbul, İzmir, Kars, Kayseri, Malatya, Mardin, Samsun, Trabzon and Van, was set up jointly by THY and Lufthansa.

Of the private airlines, Onur Air ( t 0212 663 2300, w ) offers direct flights from İstanbul to the following destinations: Adana, Antalya, Diyarbakır, Erzerum, Gaziantep, İzmir, Kayseri, Kars, Malatya, Samsun and Trabzon.

Atlasjet ( t 444 0387, w ) covers the same destinations plus Nevşehir, Sivas and Van, while Pegasus ( t 444 0737, w ) covers Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bodrum, Gaziantep, İzmir, Kayseri, Trabzon and Van.

Fares with THY are reasonable – for example, promotional one-way fares from İstanbul to Antalya (tax inclusive) are TL94, though more usual prices are from TL124. THY also offers variable student, youth and family discounts. Fares with Atlas, Onur, Pegasus and Sunexpress also start from as low as TL59 one way (occasionally less if there’s a special offer), and are very good value.

The key to finding cheap economy fares is early booking – generally six weeks to a month prior to departure, except at peak holiday periods when earlier booking is advised. These fares are often comparable to, if not cheaper than, inter-city bus fares, though getting to and from some airports by cab adds to the cost considerably.

Beware, last-minute cancellations (by text message in Turkish) are not unknown, particularly with Sunexpress. You’re told to appear at the airport 1hr 30min before your departure, but an hour is usually adequate leeway for completing security procedures. Baggage allowances vary between companies – usually it’s either 15 or 20kg, but make sure you check to avoid unwanted extra baggage charges.

Be sure to remember that İstanbul has two airports, one on the Asian and one on the European side. Some carriers use both airports, Sunexpress only Sabiha Gökçen on the Asian side of the city.

When buying tickets, ask to see the seating plan so that you can choose window or aisle, a front seat (better views) or avoid certain less comfortable seats, such as those above the wheels and immediately behind the central door, which have less legroom. Even more important, if you’re making a daytime trip in the heat of summer, work out the general direction of travel and try to get a seat on the shady side of the bus – a powerful sun beating down on the windows of even an air-conditioned bus makes quite a difference.

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The 10 Best Trips for Seniors and Retirees Who Love to Travel

Getaways for your golden years.

O ne of the wonderful things about hitting retirement age is having the flexibility in your schedule to go out and explore the world. If you're looking for trips for seniors, you're in luck: InsureMyTrip recently released its list of the top 10 cities around the world for senior travel, making it easier than ever for people over age 60 to find the ideal spot for their next vacation. (We think some of them sound like the best places to retire too.)

To determine the top 10 trips for seniors, the folks at InsureMyTrip evaluated a handful of travel considerations for cities around the world. Those included the ease of walking in the city, access to health care, public transportation, the number of tours for seniors and peacefulness. You'll notice that many of the best places to travel in your golden years are also great for traveling on a budget .

And before you ask: Yes, travel is a good idea for anyone who's able, regardless of whether they're age 60, 70 or beyond. In fact, travel helps keep us young. "We know loneliness affects older Americans disproportionately, and the importance of social connections only increases as we age," says James Moses, president and CEO of Road Scholar, one of our favorite tour companies . "[Travel provides] enriching, meaningful, stimulating social connections to hundreds of thousands of older adults."

Ready to find out which trips for seniors over 60 made the cut? Read on for the top picks, in order.

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1. Istanbul, Turkey

Best for: Activities

Coming in at No. 1 in InsureMyTrip's list of trips for seniors is Istanbul. "Istanbul's recognition as the best destination for senior citizens highlights its cultural richness with highly rated things to do and high-quality health-care services," says Sarah Webber of InsureMyTrip. Cosmopolitan Istanbul is a cultural and ethnic melting pot, a unique city straddling two continents (Europe and Asia), with Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern Turkish structures—it's a skyline of domes and minarets made up of mosques, churches and synagogues, palaces, castles and towers—and of course, incredible cultural landmarks, including the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque.

The Turkish city scored highly across many of the metrics, particularly for its quality of things to do (a rating of 4.63 out of 5), health care and ease of walking.

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2. Athens, Greece

Best for: Guided tours

An absolute must-visit highlight of Greece is the city of Athens, which offers a unique mixture of modern buildings and ancient monuments. You'll find bustling cosmopolitan streets lined with shops and international hotels, but turn any corner and the views of the storied Acropolis appear before you. More than 22% of the population is over 65 years old, so it's no wonder the city has a large number of guided tours aimed at senior citizens—an astounding 181, according to InsureMyTrip.

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3. Rome, Italy

Best for: Ancient architecture

It's hard to talk about visiting Italy without starting at this classical city, where contemporary culture stands shoulder to shoulder with ancient architecture. Landmarks of the Eternal City include the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, and you can even travel to another country by crossing into Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel. "The inclusion of Rome in the top three destinations for senior citizens is thanks to its number of tours for senior citizens [107] and high-quality things to do, making it a dream city for many elderly travelers," says Webber. "The average age of the population [47 years old] is among the highest in the study, making it ideally suited for older travelers."

4. Bangkok, Thailand

Best for: A great deal

Bangkok is the spot to head to for affordable bucket-list travel . Here, golden temples and palaces line the winding Chao Phraya River, and travelers can take advantage of affordable luxuries such as authentic Thai spas, with prices starting as low as $10 for a two-hour massage, incredible local cuisine for just a few dollars and a ride on a tuk-tuk costing just $1.50 an hour. Bangkok's quality of things to do (rated 4.51 out of 5)—hello, golden-Buddha-filled temples—and health care (a rating of 77 out of 100) helped secure its spot in the top five trips for seniors.

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Best for: Holiday markets and winter charm

There are definitely some surprises in the survey, says Webber, including multiple spots in Eastern Europe that fill the middle of the list, starting with Tallinn. "Eastern European cities are hidden gems for senior citizens," she says. "[They] are perhaps lesser-known vacation destinations, but this study highlights they have plenty to offer for senior citizens."

Tallinn has been experiencing what InsureMyTrip calls "a boom in tourism," with a 33% increase in foreign tourism this year, according to The quality of things to do (rated 4.61 out of 5) and health care contribute to its high score. This well-preserved medieval city is beautiful to visit anytime, but it's one of our favorite snow-covered towns to visit in winter, when the lights of the Old Town against the snow create plenty of warmth. Any time of year, stroll the historic district and visit the walled fortifications; then stop into a cafe for a coffee or wine.

6. Vilnius, Lithuania

Best for: Attractions

Another Eastern European gem, the Lithuanian city of Vilnius offers great value for your money as soon as you step off the plane. Just taking the train from Vilnius Airport to the city's center is only 89 cents. But it's not just bargain-price travel that make this an appealing destination. The survey found that Vilnius had the best-rated attractions, earning it a rating of 4.66 out of 5 for the quality of things to do there. You'll find a mix of museums, gardens and historic sites, including a Baroque-architecture-filled Old Town. And don't miss the 16th-century Gates of Dawn, which contain an icon from the Virgin Mary.

7. Prague, Czech Republic

Best for: Walking

Prague isn't just one of the top trips for seniors; it's also one of our favorite hidden gems in Europe. The perfectly preserved city has bright red trolleys traversing original cobblestone streets hemmed in by charming stone buildings. Around every corner, you'll find a new treat, like the Charles Bridge, which is lined with majestic stone statues, Michelin-starred restaurants and classic pilsner bars. Another highlight: an entire "castle district" centered around majestic Prague Castle. It ranks high on the survey for its walkability and public transportation, making it an easy city to explore without worrying about needing a ride.

8. Riga, Latvia

Best for: Performing arts

Rounding out the list of under-the-radar gems of Eastern Europe is Latvia's coastal capital city of Riga, which sits right on the Baltic Sea. Its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features a maze of medieval streets dotted with Gothic and Baroque churches and hidden courtyards. The lively new town is an expanse of wide boulevards filled with elegant Art Nouveau architecture.

There's no shortage of places to go in Europe , but Riga scored high for the quality of things to do. One example: The Latvian National Opera dates back to 1782 and presents hundreds of opera and ballet performances throughout the year. Hungry? You're in luck. Riga is the home of the largest food hall in Europe, Riga Central Market.

9. Berlin, Germany

Best for: Museums

A dynamic and modern metropolis, Berlin draws travelers from all corners of the globe to experience its modern arts, nightlife and historic cultural sites, including Museum Island (five popular museums on a Spree River island) and the Brandenburg Gate. Reminders of the city's complicated past—including the graffitied remnants of the Berlin Wall—are ever-present and absolutely worth visiting. Want to experience a different side of Berlin? Go gallery hopping, eat street food at Markthalle Neun, wander through the diverse Kreuzberg neighborhood or see a burlesque show. And don't worry about aging out of Berlin; the InsureMyTrip survey found that the city has one of the highest average ages (48) in the world; only Tokyo ranked higher, with an average age of 49.

10. Helsinki, Finland

Best for: Public transportation

The capital of Finland is one of the least polluted capital cities in the world. One reason, according to The Telegraph , is that residents routinely use public transportation and bicycles to get around (the city makes it easy by maintaining roughly 2,400 miles worth of cycle lanes). It's also the most honest city in the world, according to a Reader's Digest study—in our test, 11 out of 12 people returned a lost wallet.

On the survey, Helsinki also scored high for health services, so you won't have to worry no matter what the day holds. You can bike to Esplanade Park to relax at a free outdoor concert, tour Suomenlinna (Fortress of Finland) or visit one of the seaside city's many museums, including the Finnish Museum of Photography, the contemporary art museum or the National Museum of Finland.

About the experts

  • Sarah Webber is the director of marketing for InsureMyTrip , an authority on travel insurance.
  • James Moses is the president and CEO of Road Scholar , the world leader in educational travel for boomers and beyond.
  • InsureMyTrip : "Best Cities to Visit as a Senior"
  • Statista : "Greece: Age distribution from 2011 to 2021"
  • : "Estonia's Tourism Industry Booms: 226,000 Tourists Registered in March 2023"

The post The 10 Best Trips for Seniors and Retirees Who Love to Travel appeared first on Reader's Digest .

Mature woman sits on the steps of the monuments of Greece

The easiest ways to get around in Turkey

Jennifer Hattam

Oct 12, 2021 • 6 min read

Image of the road near Alanya in Taurus Mountains, Turkey.

If you want to get off the beaten track, renting a car or a 4WD may be your best option © Dziewul / Shutterstock

Stretching from the Aegean Sea to the Caucasus Mountains, Turkey covers an area bigger than the size of Texas. Fortunately, it’s well-connected by domestic flights and buses, although less so by rail. 

With generally good highways and varied landscapes ranging from sea shores to summits, Turkey is prime road-trip territory. Larger cities have metro and tram systems, while even the smallest villages are generally served by at least one daily dolmuş (shared taxi) or minibus. 

Here’s our guide to the best ways to get around in Turkey .

Nearly 50 cities in Turkey have active domestic or international airports, though the smallest might have as few as one daily flight, typically connecting with one of Istanbul’s two airports or with the capital city of Ankara. Domestic tickets are generally cheap unless you’re trying to travel during one of the major Turkish holidays. And you can fly from one end of the country to the other in just under two hours.

Domestic flights are operated by national carrier Turkish Airlines , along with its subsidiaries AnadoluJet and Sun Express, and by low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines .

The transport company Havaş offers comfortable bus transfers into nearby cities and towns from 19 airports. Other places are served by local buses and minibuses as well as taxis. Other than Antalya and Izmir, most cities do not have rail systems connecting to their airports.

Passengers on the Metrobus in Istanbul, Turkey

Bus and dolmuş

At any hour of the day or night, buses of all sizes and standards are criss-crossing Turkey, supported by a vast network of 24-hour rest stops, some of which could pass for small shopping malls. Most long-haul buses stop at these every few hours so passengers can smoke, eat, pray, go to the bathroom, and shop for local food products and souvenirs.

Larger bus companies like Kamil Koç , Pamukkale and Varan operate coaches between major cities with reclining seats, snack service and sometimes even seat-back entertainment systems and wi-fi. Journey times can be long, and ticket prices aren’t always that competitive with flight fares, but it’s a very local way to travel.

To reach smaller towns and villages, you’ll probably have to transfer to a dolmuş or minibus at the nearest otogar (bus station). A dolmuş is most often a minibus, though sometimes a van or sedan, that sets off only once it is full of passengers ( dolmuş means “filled” in Turkish), which can mean long wait times in little-traveled areas. Dolmuşes run on a set route, but passengers have to tell the driver where they want to get off. The vehicles usually have a sign in the window indicating their destination, and in busy cities you might see a tout calling out the routes of the next departing dolmuş . In many places, dolmuş routes are being converted to minibus ones, with scheduled departures and set stops.

Tip for taking long-distance buses in Turkey: When bus stations are located on a city’s outskirts, large companies will usually offer a minibus or van servis (service) from the town center that’s included in the ticket price.

An extensive and mostly well-maintained highway system and a wealth of scenic small villages and interesting, off-the-beaten-track sights make road-tripping a rewarding way to travel in Turkey. Car rental with insurance from a major international company like Avis, Budget or Enterprise usually costs between $50 to $70 per day. Both manual and automatic transmission cars are typically available. For travel into more remote, rugged places like the mountainous Black Sea region, renting a 4WD vehicle is strongly recommended.

Drivers in Turkey can be aggressive and don’t always follow the rules of the road, so keep your wits about you and expect the unexpected. Parking and traffic in Istanbul are often abysmal, so it may be worth paying the higher rate to rent at the airport and start your journey from there, rather than the city center. 

Tip for renting a car in Turkey: Rental cars should be equipped with an electronic device for recording highway and bridge tolls, and the cost will be added onto your total bill after you return the vehicle.

Train travel is generally limited and slow in Turkey, though the options are improving. One major exception to this is the busy high-speed line connecting Istanbul , Eskişehir and Ankara . Be sure to buy tickets well in advance for this route, and for the popular overnight trip on the Doğu Ekspresi (Eastern Express), a leisurely and Instagram-friendly journey between Ankara and the border city of Kars . All trains are operated by Turkish State Railways , including local services around Izmir and trains to Konya and Adana. 

Ferry on the water at sunset in the Bosphorus in Turkey

Despite being bordered by four seas, Turkey doesn’t have many options for getting around by boat. Ferries from Istanbul travel across the Marmara Sea to Yalova (home to the hot springs of Termal) and Mudanya (near Bursa ). A ferry also runs between Bodrum and Datça , two popular vacation destinations on the country’s southwest coast. 

Taxis are available almost everywhere in Turkey, from big cities to small towns. In Istanbul, they have a poor reputation for surliness and attempting to scam passengers, particularly tourists. Using the local ride-hailing app BiTaksi (which is also available in Ankara) or Uber (which only offers rides in standard yellow and turquoise cabs because of outcry by taxi drivers) can provide more accountability, as can having your hotel call a taxi rather than finding one on the street. Such problems are encountered much less elsewhere.

Public transportation in cities in Turkey

Turkey’s largest cities – Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Bursa – all have some kind of metro or light rail system, as do Antalya, Konya and Gaziantep, among a handful of others. Smaller cities are generally well-served by bus and dolmuş or minibus, though the lack of route maps and signage can make this a tricky way to get around for visitors. The smallest towns and villages might have only infrequent minibus service. 

Mountain bikers exploring routes in Turkey's beautiful area of Cappadocia

Turkey is not a particularly bike-friendly place, with limited infrastructure and little driver awareness of sharing the road, but bike touring in the Turkish countryside is rewarding for experienced and well-prepared cyclists. Several marked trekking routes, including the Evliya Çelebi Way in western Turkey and the Hittite Trail east of Ankara, are also accessible by cyclists as well as long-distance walkers.

Accessible transportation in Turkey

Newer airports, trains, metros, trams, buses and ferries in Turkey might have some features to make them more accessible to travelers with disabilities, but these can be inconsistently applied. In crowded cities, unexpected obstacles can make getting around tricky even for travelers without mobility challenges.

Click here to download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guide.

You might also like: The 10 most incredible places to visit in Turkey The most incredible ancient sites in Turkey Do you need a visa to go to Turkey?

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