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Turkey Travel Tips (from a local): 15 Things to Know About Turkey

by Drifter Planet | Jan 26, 2020 | Turkey

Turkey Travel Tips - things you need to know before you go

Turkey travel tips post has been written by our Europe content specialist – Alara Benlier, who is originally from Turkey. This post has been further expanded by the editor. 

Turkey is historical, vibrant, and insanely beautiful. This country that’s twice the size of California offers an exhaustive selection of places to visit and travel experiences to its visitors.

While in Turkey, you can find pretty much every kind of landscape (and even more) if you know where to go.

You can enjoy thermal springs with crystal clear waters , relax on the inviting beaches, see the ruins of ancient empires, float on a hot air balloon over unique formations , party on a yacht like a millionaire, enjoy delicious cuisine , and even go skiing.

White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water - Pamukkale, Turkey

Turkey’s unique location attracts millions of tourists each year. No matter the season, you can do many fun activities here. Moreover, you can experience countless cultural trips, including wandering around ancient ruins that are also listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites. 

So, whether you are a passionate photographer, a gourmet, an adventure lover, or just a professional sunbather, you can have the holiday of your dreams in Turkey. If you are interested, here is everything you need to know before visiting Turkey from a born and raised Turkish expat. Here are my top Turkey travel tips for you.

Travel Tips for Turkey

Table of contents, turkey weather and when to visit.

A dog sitting on the road in Cappadocia with snow around

No, Turkey isn’t just a summer destination like many places in Europe. Depending on what you want to do, you can visit Turkey during every season.

Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara region gets very warmer in summer and it can sometimes rain too. This area gets colder than many other parts of Turkey during winter and it can snow too (but not often).

Most of the coast of Turkey has typical warm Mediterranean weather (think of Italy, Greece, etc.) with warm and dry summers and mild winters. The middle part of the country (like Central Anatolia) gets warmer summer days but chilly nights and mornings. 

During spring, summer, and winter, not only you can enjoy many breathtakingly beautiful beaches, but also you can do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, and even canoeing in the ancient lands of Turkey. And starting from Winter, here is a winter wonderland.

Over the years, Turkey has become a hot spot for ski lovers with its excellent ski resorts, splendid hotels, and amazing nature.

Visa for Turkey

Some nationalities do not need a visa to enter Turkey, that includes some European countries a few Asian countries, and also a few South American countries. They can enter visa-free for 90 days.

Many other nationalities can enter with an eVisa and some with a conditional eVisa. Passport holders in Australia, the UK, USA need to apply for an Electronic Visa (e-Visa). Indian travelers can get a conditional e-Visa if they already have an active visa from the US, UK, Ireland, or the Schengen countries.

As the name suggests, the e-Visa Application System allows travelers to apply their e-Visas online. You just have to fill out the online form and pay the visa fee, and within 3 minutes, you will receive your visa! Just don’t forget to apply for your visa between three months to 48 hours before your travel date.

What is the capital city of Turkey?

Most people get this wrong. The capital of Turkey is not Istanbul, it is Ankara.

Is it safe to travel to Turkey?

The answer to this question is yes, but just like anywhere in the world, you should be cautious about your surroundings. Thankfully, Turkey’s name is coming clean after several terror attacks that happened in the past, and today, it is declared safe by many governments. 

Just be careful around the crowds, and if you are too anxious, try not to visit Turkey around religious and public holidays. Keep in mind that the coasts are safe, and big cities like Istanbul are always surrounded by policemen. Unless you are visiting the cities close to the Syrian border, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

In any case, you should make it a point to read the travel advisory before you plan your trip and once again before you visit. 

Currency in Turkey and Managing Money

Turkish Lira notes of 10s and 20s - Currency in Turkey

The local currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira . Although most places would prefer cash, you can also pay with VISA and Mastercard. 

Try to carry a smaller amount of money for smaller purchases. Turkey has banknotes for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira. So carrying two 50 liras instead of one 100 lira might be better. Haggling is also very common in local shops. You might get up to 50% off from bigger purchases.

Which SIM Card to get?

Due to the legal restrictions, it might be complicated to get a local SIM Card if you’re traveling here for a longer period of time. Generally, you can get a SIM card by showing your passport at one of the shops in the airport or in a store in the city. 

There are three network operators in Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone, and Türk Telekom. They have official stores everywhere around the country. 

Turkcell is known for its good connection, but it is the most expensive one. Vodafone is also fairly good and Türk Telekom is the cheapest one. Although Türk Telekom is good, if you are planning to visit locations with high altitudes, I would stick with Vodafone or Turkcell according to my budget. 

Also, all mobile devices purchased outside Turkey that use a Turkish SIM must be registered with the government after 120 days. If not, you will end up with a phone that doesn’t work.  

Scams in Istanbul

Outside the Blue Mosque at night, Istanbul - Turkey Travel Tips

Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in Turkey due to its historic beauty. And just like every other tourist city, here also has typical tourist scams.

Although the Turkish people are very helpful, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to scams. The most known ones are taxi scams, pickpockets, and paying more because you are a tourist. 

Taxis usually take a longer road to get you to your final destination to make you pay more money. To prevent that you can use public transportation, or if you have to use a taxi, you can ask the reception of your hotel or hostel to call a cab for you. 

To avoid pickpockets, you have to be careful about your belongings. If you are around a crowd, keep your bag in front of you or somewhere you can see it. 

Last but not least, sellers might charge you more money because they think that you don’t know the actual price of their products or services. To prevent that, do your research! Thanks to the internet, you are one click away from knowing all the best and the worst shops all around the World. 

Overall Istanbul is a majestic city, but keep in mind that Turkey offers more incredible cities. So, if you have enough time, try to spend less time in Istanbul, and explore other cities in Turkey.

Getting around in Turkey

You can get around in Turkey by internal flights, renting a car, using a coach, and depending on the location – even a ferry.  

With its bunch of airlines that fit your budget, Turkey can be easily explored by plane. Due to the competition, you can book a cheap flight and fly to almost every city in Turkey.

One of the low-cost carriers in Turkey is Pegasus Airlines, that’s what the Drifter Planet team used in Turkey twice. Although it is not the most environmentally friendly option, if you have a tight schedule, you can always get to your destination very quickly via plane.

Although renting a car is always an option, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are aiming for a heart attack, then renting a car might be the one for you. Having one of the most expensive gas in the entire World, constant traffic, and of course, so many angry drivers that ignore most of the traffic signs, you can easily rent a car in Turkey with your passport or driver’s license. Just make sure to rent your car from a reliable agency, like Europcar, or Avis, and get insurance for the car. 

Most Turkish people use the coach, especially the night coach, as a more budget-friendly option. The buses in Turkey for longer destinations are very luxurious and shockingly affordable. Every Turkish town and city has a bus station, called Otogar . From there you can buy your bus ticket, which is called bilet in Turkish. 

Buses in Turkey - Metro turizm bus

If you are a solo traveler, depending on your gender, you can book a seat next to your own gender to ensure safety as well. During your trip, you will be served a cake or sandwich, and a bottle of water for free. Most of the bus companies also provide wireless Internet, and a film to watch. Buses will stop in many resting places for you to use the toilet, stretch your legs, and eat in restaurants.

Metro Turizm bus ticket - Turkey travel tips

It isn’t easy to prebook the buses online without a Turkish card or phone number but it can be done if you really try your best. We were able to book a bus with “ MetroTurizm “, but only after translating the entire website into English. Somehow their English version of the website wasn’t allowing bus bookings at that time.

Ferries are also a great option for traveling in and around Istanbul, Izmir, and from incredible cities like Bodrum and Marmaris to the Greek islands.

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Turkey

Sunrise view - Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey

The most beautiful place on earth where you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride is right here in Turkey . It is in a mystical fairy land called Cappadocia , which looks like it belongs on another planet. Cappadocia’s landscape looks surreal, and it looks it is out of a science fiction movie like Star Wars.

There are fairy chimneys and caves everywhere in Cappadocia. People still live in these caves and many have been transformed into spectacular hotels. Right here, you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride to experience the most magical sunrise.

Cappadocia is massive and has around 10 villages that are all unique in their own way. One can get a little confused about where to go. The most popular place in Cappadocia for a hot air balloon ride is Göreme. Be sure to read about Cappadocia on our website – Hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia , staying in a cave hotel in Göreme , and Cappadocia’s Instagram-worthy spots .

Recommended Itinerary for Turkey

It is no secret that there are lots of places to visit, lots of things to do, and lots of things to eat in Turkey!  If you want to visit this glorious country, but don’t know where to start, there is a great 10-day itinerary on this website, which covers the most attractive places you can visit in Turkey. However, if you want to spend more time in Turkey to understand the culture better and explore all around it quickly, here is a two-week itinerary of Turkey!

Day 1 and 2 – Istanbul

Sunset cruise over Bosphorous, Istanbul itinerary

Istanbul is mostly famous for its bridge that brings together Asia and Europe, mosques, tulips, seagulls, and Turkish bagels. But the city also has a great history dating back to 660 before Christ, the Roman empire, Byzantine, and Ottoman Empire. If you want to check out the historical monuments on your first day, you can start exploring Istanbul from Sultanahmet Square, where you can find Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque, and Basilica Cistern. 

On your second day, you can shop at the Spice Bazaar aka Mısır Çarşısı, which is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. Here, you can buy spices, Turkish delights, jewelry, souvenirs, dried fruits, and nuts. The Grand Bazaar, on the other hand, is the oldest and largest bazaar in the world with 4,000 shops and 350,000 visitors a day! 

Day 3 and 4 – Bursa

Bursa was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. But here is not only known for its history, but also its silk, ski resorts, and thermal baths made here a must-visit city. Due to its location near an extinct volcano called Uludağ mountain, Bursa has thermal baths with mineral-rich waters.

If you are visiting Bursa, you should experience the traditional thermal Turkish bath, since it is one of a kind! The mineral water boils up from below to comfort you and nurture your skin! As a tradition, you should get the best rubdown (kese) to get rid of the dead skin cells and a massage just to relax your muscles.

Day 5 – Izmir and Ephesus (Efes)

Izmir is blessed with amazing beaches, gorgeous nature, and of course, ancient places like Unesco World Heritage Site listed Efes! 

Celsus Library, Ephesus - Turkey Itinerary

While in Ephesus, you can check out many historic gates and temples, but the most impressive ones are definitely the Temple of Artemis and the Library of Celsus. But if you enter Ephesus from the south entrance, you will see its world-famous theatre. This theatre not only witnessed history but also hosted many amazing performances by Elton John, Ray Charles, Jethro Tull, and many more!

Day 6 and 7 – Bodrum

With its pure white buildings with Saxon blue doors, its amazing seacoast, and gorgeous bougainvillea flowers, Bodrum is definitely a must-visit city! This old fishing town is located on the coast of the astoundingly clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea and also hosts the ancient city of Halicarnassus, which is said to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus has an ancient tomb, which was built between 353 and 350 BC! Here, you can also check out the Myndos Gate, which was built under the reign of King Mausolus. This gate witnessed the greatest battles during the siege of the city by Alexander the Great.

Day 8 and 9 – Fethiye

Oludeniz Beach, Fethiye, Turkey Travel Tips

With its breathtaking marina, amazing nightlife , and otherworldly sea, Fethiye is the only city in the world, where you’ll find sarcophaguses on the streets!  Here, you can swim in the Dead Sea/Blue Lagoon, and also do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, canoeing, and many more! The world-famous beach of Fethiye and its blue lagoon, Ölüdeniz, is known for its shades of turquoise and aquamarine, and it is officially awarded as a Blue Flag beach.  

On your second day, you can hike the ancient Lycian Way to check out the amazing views of the sea and the mountains. You also have to check out the gorgeous Butterfly Valley! This valley’s name comes from the endemic butterflies that live near the waterfalls on the canyon wall. From the top of this valley, the view of the bay is just breathtaking.

Day 10 and 11 – Antalya

When you first hear Antalya, you might think of beautiful beaches, a bright sun, and 5-star hotels. But Antalya also offers gorgeous ancient cities and sights! On your first day, you have to check out Aspendos, which is an ancient Greco-Roman city in Serik. Aspendos has huge fame with its breathtaking Roman theatre, the best-preserved theatre in Turkey. The theater has a seating capacity of 20,000 people, and it is still used for concerts. 

For your second day, you can visit the Konyaaltı, which has a pebble beach with amazing turquoise waters. Here you can also paraglide and enjoy many water sports. Or around 60 km away, you can visit the sandy Lara Beach, which is known for its curative sands for the ones with rheumatism problems!

Day 12 and 13 – Pamukkale

Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey

With its mineral-rich hot springs and its ancient Greco-Roman city, Pamukkale is a natural site, located in Denizli. Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish, which suits its amazing calcium-rich springs that shaped its snow-white limestones over the centuries perfectly. But this Unesco World Heritage site is not only popular for its natural pools but also its holy ancient city of Hierapolis!

Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey

On your second day, you have to check out this Greco-Roman city. Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BCE. After the archeological diggings, many significant structures like gorgeous Byzantine gates, a theatre, temples, thermal baths, and an extensive necropolis came to light.

Day 14 and 15 – Cappadocia

Cappadocia's unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations

With its fairy chimneys, amazing nature, and fun hot air balloon activities, Cappadocia offers a great time for its visitors. Being on the Unesco World Heritage List, with its fairytale-looking landscapes with fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards, and vineyards, it is surreal to fly over the beautiful valley and have the most romantic time while gazing at the sunset!

On your second day, you should visit the Ihlara Valley, which is a 16 km long valley that is home for 105 ancient churches! This unique valley’s honeycombed churches were built by Cappadocian Greeks. It is truly a magical place to wander around while listening to the peaceful river sounds.

What to Eat in Turkey?

Shish Kebab with Naan - my food in Istanbul

Turkish cuisine is one of the most diverse and famous cuisines in the entire World. You may have eaten Turkish dishes before, but there are some must-taste dishes that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Turkey!

  • As the main dish, you can have Iskender Kebab , Şiş (Shish) Kebab , Mantı , Etli Ekmek , or if you are vegetarian, you can have Meze or street food like Kumpir . 
  • Iskender Kebab is a traditional Döner kebab that is served with yogurt a warm tomato sauce and melted butter over pieces of thinly sliced lamb meat and pide. 

Turkish food menu - Turkey travel tips

  • Şiş (Shish) Kebab , on the other hand, is grilled chicken, beef, or lamb on a skewer, served with rice, salad, and fries. 
  • If you crave carbs, you should try Mantı aka Turkish Ravioli! Mantı is little a handmade dumplings filled with ground lamb or beef, topped with creamy yogurt and melted butter tomato paste sauce. Or Etli Ekmek, which is a long and thin piece of flatbread, topped with meat and cheese. 
  • If you are a vegetarian, you will love Etli Ekme because you can choose your own toppings to “vegan-ize” it. 
  • As a lighter dinner option, you can have Meze , which actually consists of a small selection of dishes commonly served with drinks or before a meal. You can either just eat Meze, or you can also order a main dish with them. Turkish people love eating Meze while drinking Rakı , which is a traditional alcoholic beverage. 
  • Traditional Turkish Mezes are Cacık, which is yogurt with herbs and cucumber, hummus, and butter, and Dolma, which is rice-stuffed vine leaves, eggplant salad, Feta cheese and all served with a warm pide. Pide is a flatbread which is kind of like a pizza, but is much better. It is a typical Turkish comfort food.  

Eating Pide -Turkish Food -

  • Lastly , Kumpir is actually a giant baked potato, which is cut down the middle and served with butter, cheese, and various toppings that you choose. As a dessert, you can have World-famous Baklava, and of course Turkish delight.
  • Turkish cuisine is very flavourful and best complemented with local alcoholic beverages. You can have some Turkish wines including Kavaklidere Yakut (Bogazkere – Okuzgozu), Merlot, and Vinkara. 

The national drink, Rakı, is a must if you want to have an authentic Turkish food experience. It is a spirit, distilled from grapes and made with aniseed. When Rakı is mixed with water and ice, its color changes from transparent to white, which is why it is also called lion’s milk.

Ramadan in Turkey

Ramadan is called Ramazan in Turkey. It is important to know about this because it is a month-long fasting time, that ends with Eid ul-Fitr. During this time, the locals do not eat or even drink anything from the time the sun rises to the time it sets; they only eat after the sunset.

If you’re in a smaller part of Turkey during Ramadan, you should know that some restaurants will be shut during the day, and it is considered inappropriate you eat in front of those who are fasting. Although in touristy places like Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square, you will easily find a bite to eat. 

The dates for Ramazan for the next year are the Evening of Sun, Mar 10, 2024 – Tue, Apr 9, 2024. 

What to Wear in Turkey?

Trying to bathe in Pamukkale's Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes

No, all Turkish people don’t dress conservatively. Somehow the country is split where one-half of the people wear conservative attire while the other half wear whatever they want and don’t mind showing some skin. Don’t stand out as a tourist, but try to blend in.

You can wear pretty much anything you want in Turkey, depending on the weather. During summer, light cotton pants, T-shirts, and flip-flops are the most common clothes to wear. Depending on the location, you can also wear shorts.

During Spring and Fall, you should bring a warm jacket/windbreaker because the weather is rainy, and it is chilly at night. And during winter, you better pack your sweaters because it snows almost everywhere in Turkey. For the beach, you can basically wear anything you want. Most Turkish women love sunbathing in their bikinis. 

If you are planning to visit mosques and churches, you should not wear any shorts or sleeveless tops. Women should also cover their hair. And don’t forget to bring socks since most of the mosques have carpet floors, and walking with your shoes on a carpet (or inside the house) is not acceptable for Turkish people. Overall, modesty is very appreciated in Turkey. If you want to avoid some looks while walking in the city, try to dress up on the conservative side.

About Turkish Hamams

Turkish Hamams - Turkey travel tips

Turkey might be known for its amazing beaches, and historical places, but this country is also blessed with more than 1,000 thermal springs. These mineral-rich springs have also healing properties, which is the reason why they attract many tourists throughout the year. 

You will find lots of Traditional Turkish Bath places which are called Hamam anywhere you visit in Turkey. If you want to get rid of all the dead skin cells from your body, you can visit the Hamam of your choice. But there are a couple of things to know! 

For example, every Hamam has two sections, one for women and one for men. This means that at most of the Hamams, you can’t get scrubbed down with your significant other. 

Keep in mind that, Hamams are HOT. If you have any lung or heart problems, ask your doctors for permission beforehand.

If you are visiting a Hamam, don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and some clean sandals. 

When you enter the Hamam, you will see an amazing interior and five to six taps of water with beautiful sinks underneath. In the middle, there will be a big stone which is called göbektaşı. 

If you want to be rubbed down by a professional, he or she (depending on your gender) will come and rub you there. Before the rubbing, you need to be inside the Hamam for at least 15 minutes. Afterward, they will first soak your body with warm water, otherwise, the dirt won’t come off. 

After washing up, you will receive a massage, and later you will get rubbed with an oriental washcloth, which is called kese. Finally, you will receive another soapy wash, followed by a rinsing session with cold water. 

After the whole experience, don’t forget to tip your attendant. PS. You need to wash your private parts yourself. Most of the Hamams, people inside are butt naked, but it doesn’t mean that you also have to be. Also, bring your own soap and shampoo if you are allergic, and don’t forget to remove your makeup because it will get ruined.

Etiquette for Visiting Mosques

Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Turkey Travel Tips

One of the most beautiful experiences in Turkey is listening to the unmissable call of prayer 5 times a day from a nearby mosque. There’s something calming and soothing about this sound. Of course, you should try to expand this experience by visiting a mosque. Please don’t be stupid enough to mimic this sound of prayer, even if you’re in a hostel and are sitting with backpackers. 

Mosque Etiquette - what to wear - Turkey travel tips

Dress conservatively if you’re visiting a mosque. Cover your legs, arms, and shoulders – this is for both men and women. In most of the mosques, you will be able to pick up a scarf to cover your head on your way in. Photograph the architecture by all means, but look out for “photography allowed” signs before you do. Do not take the liberty of photographing the locals in prayer without their permission.

Just like many places of worship all over the world, you will need to remove your shoes at the entry point so wear something that can be easily removed. 

Quick Tips for Solo Women Travelers

Traveling to any new country as a solo woman traveler can be overwhelming but at the same time, liberating. Turkey is an amazing country and is an excellent destination for a solo woman traveler.

We have mentioned this before in this article, but it is time to reiterate – try to blend in. Dress like locals and don’t let your outfit or actions scream “tourist”. Be careful of your surroundings at all times and listen to your gut. If a place or a situation doesn’t feel safe for any reason, then get out. Make friends with other women travelers that you meet, share stories, and stay connected. 

Did follow our travel tips for Turkey?

Tag  @drifterplanet  on Instagram and hashtag it  #drifterplanet . We will be happy to share your journey with our audience.

About the writer:

Alara Benlier

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you.  We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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Hello Travelers!

Sonal of Drifter Planet

Namaste, Guten Tag! I'm Sonal from India, living in Germany and exploring Europe. I've been writing about my travels since 2015. I often travel alone (and sometimes with family of 3).

I love European city breaks, nature, adventure, hiking to viewpoints, Yoga, and road trips. I have a knack for creating the most amazing travel itineraries and in-depth destination guides which will help you make the most of your trip.

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Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Drifter Planet

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Home » Middle East » Travel Safety

Is Turkey SAFE to Visit? (2024 • Insider Tips)

Turkey is an outrageously beautiful and intriguing country.

Sandwiched between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a country that receives a lot of tourist attention, and for good reason. Its unique mixture of strange culture, friendly people, and gob-smacking geology leaves visitors begging for a return visit.

A secondary, more sinister characteristic of Turkey’s geographical placement is it’s effective role as “gatekeeper to the west”. Bordering both Syria and Iraq, Turkey works hard to defend it’s borders, but the terrorist threat is sadly very real.

This situation may have left you with the question “ is Turkey safe to visit ?”

Don’t worry, because we’re going to be covering the whole lot. From the potential terrorist threat to sunscreen disasters, we’ll be taking you through all the best safety tips for travelling this stunning gem of a country.

So let’s jump in!

cappadocia hot air balloons turkey

The Broke Backpacker is supported by you . Clicking through our links may earn us a small affiliate commission, and that's what allows us to keep producing free content 🙂 Learn more .

There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, as things change quickly. The question of “Is Turkey Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on who you ask.

The information in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practice common sense, you will probably have a wonderful and safe trip to Turkey.

If you see any outdated information, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. Otherwise, stay safe friends!

Updated April 2024

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Is Turkey Safe to Visit Right Now?

Safest places in turkey, 22 top safety tips for traveling to turkey, is turkey safe to travel alone, is turkey safe for solo female travellers, where to start your travels in turkey, is turkey safe for families, getting around turkey safely, crime in turkey, what to pack for your turkey trip, getting insured before visiting turkey, faqs on turkey’s safety, so, is turkey safe for travel.

The short answer is, yes , travelling to Turkey is very safe. Turkey is a delight to explore and most trips are trouble-free. According to Trading Economics, Turkey received over 49 million visitors in 2023 . You’ll be pleased to know that the vast majority of tourists have a very safe visit.

Turkey is BIG on tourism. By big, we mean huge. In 2023, Turkey was the  6th most popular tourist destination in the world.  Turkish authorities are all about making sure the country is safe for tourists, so you’ll be a priority for them when you visit.

The arches and minarets of The Blue Mosque in Instanbul

You should be aware that the southern borders with Iraq and Syria are no-go zones. It’s best to avoid Sirnak and the province of Hakkari too. There is an unpredictable security situation in these areas and heightened risks of terrorist attacks. Follow local media for better information on dangerous places.

Major cities can pose a problem to tourists in terms of petty theft and muggings, but crime rates are low in Turkey, and it’s unlikely you’ll feel threatened unless you’re out late in a bad part of town. Since Turkey is one of the great cheap countries to travel in Europe (and a little bit in Asia), Tourists are considered rich, so watch out!

A couple of pretty sizeable  earthquakes  occurred in 2017, and aren’t uncommon. Take preparations to ensure you know what to do in case of an earthquake.

In terms of politics, as long as you don’t get involved in protests , or start liking Daesh or terrorist posts on Facebook, you won’t have any trouble. People like to get mixed up in protests for something to do. DON’T. People get detained every year, and it is a stupid thing to do (even though it might be morally right).

As we’ve mentioned before, not everywhere in Turkey is safe (although 95% is). To make your travel planning a bit easier, we’ve listed the top places to stay in Turkey, as well as the no-goes.

Bosphorus Boat Tour Breakfast Street

  • Istanbul : Istanbul is undoubtedly an epic city. Formerly Constantinople, this city is home to unbelievable architecture, eye-opening things to do , and a raucous nightlife. A trip to Turkey really isn’t complete without visiting this fantastic city.
  • Bodrum : Bodrum sits along the Mediterranean Sea of Turkey’s coastline and is renowned for crystal clear waters and plentiful beach activities — including an underwater archaeology museum! Home to some of the most epic hostels in Turkey and a great party scene, travellers are in for a treat.
  • Cappadocia : Cappadocia is one of the most unique places to stay in all of Turkey. With the moon-like landscape, and wildly bizarre rock formations called “fairy chimneys,” there’s a lot to see and do in Cappadocia that is downright strange but completely marvellous! There are also underground cities and cave churches, and houses carved into rocks. There are some wonderful places to stay in Cappadocia , so don’t miss out!

Check out our detailed  where to stay guide for Turkey  so you can start your trip right!

Places in Turkey to Avoid

Most of Turkey is absolutely stunning and totally safe. There are of course exceptions, so we’ve listed a few places you should simply steer clear of.

  • Turkish border with Iraq and Syria : Why would you want to go here? Just why? Special military zones, refugee camps, and increased risks of action from terrorist groups.
  • Sirnak, and the province of Hakkari : All but essential travel is discouraged from these zones, as they are considered much less safe to visit than the rest of the country. Terrorist attacks can happen with little or no warning, and there are large security concerns.
  • Diyarbakir City And Province : Many visits are trouble-free, but there was a car bomb in 2016, and the FCDO doesn’t rate it. Don’t worry, there are better places to go anyway.

Eastern provinces are generally at greater risk from terrorist attacks, and there are heightened security forces in these areas to reflect that.

You may be stopped and asked for your ID at any time in Turkey, so it’s a good idea to keep it on you when travelling. You can never escape random checks! (even at ear-melting Turkish festivals )

Make sure your travel insurance covers any potential medical bills and health risks, and inform yourself on local laws before travelling. You can find great information on the official turkish government site , and get your visa while your at it!

Keeping Your Money Safe in Turkey

One of the most common things to happen to you whilst travelling is losing your money. And let’s face it: the most annoying way for this to actually occur is when it’s stolen from you.

Petty crime is pretty much a problem all over the world.

The best solution? Get a money belt.

Active Roots Security Belt

Stash your cash safely with this money belt. It will keep your valuables safely concealed, no matter where you go.

It looks exactly like a normal belt  except for a SECRET interior pocket perfectly designed to hide a wad of cash, a passport photocopy or anything else you may wish to hide. Never get caught with your pants down again! (Unless you want to…)

is turkey safe ephesus

Turkey might be a little on the rocks thanks to terrorist attacks and political unrest, but it’s been building itself back up to the tourist behemoth it once was. To help you out, here are some tips for staying safe in Turkey.

  • Avoid political demonstrations  – might seem interesting, but just don’t get involved. Not worth it.
  • Don’t go around flashing your cash  – or any amount of fancy jewelry or decedent clothes you might have. Screams “I’m rich and oblivious; scam/rob me!” Keep a money belt on you for ultimate anonymity. 
  • Be wary of scams  – these come in all shapes and sizes, and basically, it comes down to the old classic: don’t talk to strangers.
  • In fact, do some research on scams  – the scammers can be pretty savvy. Knowing some of the most common scams will help.
  • Keep your belongings close to you in tourist areas  – mainly a problem in cities, but pickpockets are active here.
  • Teach yourself a few Turkish words and phrases  – this will help you get by, especially if you get lost.
  • Carry your hotel/guesthouse/hostel’s business card  – show it to someone if you’re, again, lost.
  • Don’t insult the Turkish government  – the government is hot on censorship and takes harsh criticism as an insult – and a crime.
  • Protect against mosquitoes  – these can be more than pesky especially in coastal areas. Bring repellent, buy coils, cover up.
  • Watch where you tread  – safety standards aren’t as high as Western countries, so unfinished and unsafe pavements are common.
  • Take a good medical kit with you – you never know when you might need it!
  • DON’T take any drugs  – it’s illegal. Prison sentences run as high as 20 years.
  • Careful of what you photograph – it’s against the law to take photos of military installations.
  • Know about mosque etiquette  – you don’t want to offend people. Covering your legs and shoulders is mandatory.
  • Be aware of how you’re acting – public displays of affection are offensive here. For real.
  • Be vigilant when it comes to terrorist attacks  – watching the news, avoiding religious celebrations and big gatherings. Generally being aware of the situation, will help you stay a little safer.
  • Dress respectfully  – Istanbul and beach resorts may be liberal, but other places… not so much. Watch how other people around you are dressing.
  • Always keep an emergency stash of cash – Never keep all your cards/ currency in one place. And hide it all from thieves with a hidden money belt .
  • Take toilet paper!  – yep, really. You won’t find this everywhere.
  • Stay hydrated and cover up in the sun  – Turkey can get baking hot during the summer months. The sun takes no prisoners!
  • Don’t agree on the first price for anything  – it’s inflated, every single time. Taxis, souvenirs, whatever. Offer half and go from there.
  • Be respectful during Ramadan  – eating in public during the day is not very respectful.
  • Don’t drink too much alcohol  – some of it might be stronger than you’re used to. Counterfeit alcohol is a common occurrence in Turkey.
  • Watch out for packs of stray dogs  – especially in towns and cities. Rabies is rampant and, besides, they can be pretty scary…

Nic paragliding over the blue lagoon in Oludeniz near Fethiye in Turkey shot on a GoPro. Below them is a mountainous landscape and beautiful blue ocean.

There are loads of great experiences to be had while travelling alone . People in Turkey are pretty welcoming and there are a few well-trodden routes where you can make friends with other backpackers, too.

To make sure you stay safe in Turkey while travelling alone, here are a few pieces of advice.

  • Going on a group tour is a good idea. Whether it’s a simple walking tour from your hostel or a multi-day excursion, it’s going to be a good way to  get to meet fellow travellers.
  • Single male travellers are pretty susceptible to scams. Especially the “hey my friend let’s go for a drink” scam. Learn to say “no”. There are some pretty dodgy people out there who are pretty clever when it comes to parting unsuspecting solo travellers from their cash.
  • Don’t tell people you’ll be travelling alone. 
  • Walking around alone after dark, especially in city areas, is never really a good idea pretty much anywhere in the world. The same goes for Turkey.
  • You can get a pre-paid sim at the airport and we recommend you do. Phoning accommodation, having data to talk to friends and family back home, checking maps; there are all of that sorts of things you can do with a phone. Most importantly,  people will know where you are  if you’re in contact.
  • Do your research on accommodation . Somewhere with good reviews is likely to attract nice travellers, too!
  • You should probably try and act like a local as well  without appearing ridiculous .  Be aware of how people around you are behaving and interacting, how they’re dressing, and you’ll get to know how best you can fit in.

Turkey is safe for solo travellers, absolutely, but being aware of the situation at all times is going to help. Keep up with the news, talk to friends back home, and, most importantly, make friends with other backpackers along the way.

Is Turkey safe for solo female travelers?

The gals DO travel by themselves to Turkey, regardless of who says what. Obviously, there are concerns when it comes to travelling as a woman  anywhere in the world, but generally, Turkey is safe for solo female travellers .

For a little extra security, here are a few pointers if you are thinking about it. Follow them and hopefully, you’ll hit that sweet spot between travelling safely and having a great time.

  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” . People will invite you in for tea, or invite you to look at this or look at that, or whatever. But if you don’t want to, don’t go.  A polite no is fine.
  • Walking around by yourself when it’s dark is just silly. Even if you’d do this in your own country, you don’t have your bearings in Turkey. The chances of you getting lost, or worse, is probably just going to be that much higher than where you’re from.
  • It’s probably best to dress modestly. Long flowing fabrics, long skirts or trousers – that sort of clothing. It’s a moderately conservative country, so if you want to lessen the attention you’ll get and avoid offence, especially in more conservative countryside areas, dress accordingly.
  • Getting a tour is a great idea. Meeting fellow travellers is going to be good for your sanity and your safety. Make sure that you get a tour from a well-reviewed, reputable tour company. Random people off the street offering you tours = steer clear of these sorts of things.
  • Understanding that it’s  not usual for women to travel by themselves in Turkey won’t stop you from getting attention, but it will probably help for your peace of mind.
  • Catcalling happens, a lot. The best course of action is to  ignore it.  Wear dark sunglasses if you want to avoid eye contact.
  • Sexual assault against female travellers in Turkey does happen. It’s best not to get too drunk (also watch your drink in clubs ), make sure you go out in groups, and just listen to your gut if someone seems weird. They probably are.
  • Wear a shawl or scarf on your head if you plan on visiting a mosque.
  • Outside of tourist areas, only stay at mid-range family-oriented hotels – or well-reviewed, female-friendly hostels. And if someone knocks on your door late at night,  don’t answer it.  Complain to the hotel staff about it in the morning.

Where to Stay in Turkey

With loads of unique attractions, great culture and amazing food, Istanbul is one of the most popular travel destinations in Turkey.

Life in Turkey is very  family-oriented – people here love their families and people love kids (strange)! For this reason and many others, Turkey is safe to travel for families.

Don’t be concerned if someone in a restaurant, a local, or a tour guide actually picks up your child  without warning  and starts whizzing her/him around to show them off to everyone. This is pretty normal, and more than anything shows you how open and caring Turkish people are when it comes to children.

Is Turkey safe to travel for families?

Be wary of  a lack of pavements.  If you’re coming with a pushchair, be warned: things can get BUMPY. And just so you know, breastfeeding isn’t normal in public. Some women do breastfeed discretely, so  follow suit.

As we said earlier,  Turkey can get HOT.  The biggest danger (for children) is probably the sun. Stay safe in Turkey by not letting your little ones in the sun for too long.

Public transportation in Turkey is generally safe and pretty convenient. Turkey is a  well-travelled country  with good connections to most major (tourist and non-tourist) destinations. And epic Istanbul hostels to stay in along the way!

You’ll find Istanbul  in particular is bursting at the seams with transport options, from  tram  networks to  ferries. There are a number of bus companies that cover all the main routes.  Do your research and find one that’s right for you. 

Is public transportation in Turkey safe?

There are also dolmuses, which are essentially minibuses. These run between towns and are often cramped.

You can also hop on the metro . Not everywhere, obviously, but in  Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir,  and Bursa.  This is a quick and safe way to get around Istanbul (no traffic-congested roads!) you’ll have to keep an eye out for pickpockets though.

You can also catch  long-distance trains.  The state-run trains and private railways cover a fair portion of the country. These are becoming an increasingly popular way to travel around maybe because there are less crazy drivers involved.

You can even get  high-speed trains , though these are relatively expensive compared to a bus ticket. Sleeper trains exist, too.

The U.S. travel authority lists Turkey as a level 2 country due to the terrorist threat. However, a particularly great piece of travel writing I’ve found states that ” travellers… …are more at risk of being overfed by their hosts than running into any sort of crime”. That said, tourists should stay aware of pickpockets, especially within major cities. Turkey has a very low homicide rate , much lower than the U.S., and on par with Mauritius and Albania. It’s generally very safe.

The proximity of terrorist organisations, their unpredictability and love of large crowds is one of the main reasons that Turkey gets a certain danger warning from governments. If you are worried about this, stay away from Eastern Turkey, and minimise your time in crowded areas.

Laws in Turkey

It is illegal to be without a valid form of photo identification in Turkey. Make sure to carry your passport in your person at all times to avoid sour confrontations with local authorities. It is illegal to insult theTurkish nation or flag, or to tear up currency. Again, stay away from protests, as this can land you in trouble.

Some antiques or historical items bought in boutiques are illegal to take out of the country. Make sure you are not trying to leave with anything of historical value.

Everyone’s packing list is going to look a little different, but here are a few things I would never want to travel to Turkey without…


Hanging Laundry Bag

Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.

Gifts for backpackers

A decent head torch could save your life. If you want to explore caves, unlit temples, or simply find your way to the bathroom during a blackout, a headtorch is a must.

Yesim eSIM

Yesim stands as a premier eSIM service provider, catering specifically to the mobile internet needs of travellers.


Monopoly Deal

Forget about Poker! Monopoly Deal is the single best travel card game that we have ever played. Works with 2-5 players and guarantees happy days.

Pacsafe belt

This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off.

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

travelling in turkey reddit

SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

Planning a safe trip is always stressful, especially in a country like Turkey. To help you out, we’ve listed and answered the most frequently asked questions on Turkey’s safety below.

Why is Turkey considered unsafe?

In general, Turkey is not considered unsafe. With over 50 million visitors a year, it is a fantastic country to explore. However, there is a recognised terror threat close to the Syrian and Iraq borders. Only travel to south-east Turkey if it is absolutely essential. However, the Turkish government works to make sure the country is safe for Tourists, who provide a key source of income for the country.

How dangerous is Turkey?

Turkey is far from being “very dangerous”. However, you should still use your common travel sense and be aware of your surroundings. Basically, act like you would in any other European country.

Where is Turkey at Risk of Terrorism?

The risk of terrorism is highest near the borders with Iraq and Syria. The province of Hakkari, and the town of Sirnak are best avoided due to this risk too. Since terrorism is all about creating terror however, rural areas, and places with low footfall are much safer. Most of Turkey is absolutely stunning and totally safe.

Is Turkey LGBTQ+ friendly?

The LGBTQ+ community in Turkey is not massive. Keep in mind that the country has very strict religious rules and the government isn’t the most open-minded one either. Showing affection of any sort in public is generally not allowed or tolerated. Big cities like Istanbul have an LGBTQ+ scene, but it’s still relatively small. If you keep your relationship private, you won’t have any issues in Turkey.

Is it safe to live in Turkey?

We’d say Turkey is safe to live in just so long as you stick to the secure areas. You won’t want to live in the provinces that have travel warnings, we imagine, as these places are  definitely unsafe. There are plenty of safe places to live in Turkey. From the capital Ankara to the obvious choice of Istanbul; plenty of expats do make their homes in the major cities for many years, in fact. You’ll have to do your research . Depending on what neighborhood what town, in what province you live, how people treat you is going to vary quite dramatically. Liberal mindsets and education make a difference. As we already saw, the family is key in Turkey. So if you’re coming with children, it might break down some barriers for you. It goes without saying, but learning at least a little bit of Turkish is going to help you get by in day-to-day life, especially if you’re staying longterm. Away from the mainland, the islands in the  Aegean Sea  are a popular place for expats to move to.  Bodrum  is popular if you’ve got the budget for it, whilst  Didim  is known for its British expat community.

Yes, Turkey is, and basically always has been, a  popular tourist destination and a safe place to travel to.  Despite the potential threat of terrorism and despite potential political upheaval, Turkey is doing well.

There may be issues with the current government as to which direction it’s currently heading, what with freedom of speech issues and the persecution of critical journalists. Not to sound insensitive, but those things won’t concern you.  What will concern you is travelling around Turkey safely and having an amazing time; all easily done.

A street market vendor in Istanbul, Turkey is selling spices to a local woman on a very crowded street.

Looking for more info on traveling to Turkey?

  • Let me help you choose  where to stay  in Turkey
  • Swing by one of these  fabulous festivals
  • Check out my favorite Airbnbs  in the centre of all the action
  • Plan the rest of your trip with our fantastic  backpacking Turkey travel guide!
  • See exactly how to travel the world for a year , even if you’re broke

Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!

Made it this far? You get 15% OFF to book a place to stay ! Offer valid exclusively for Broke Backpackers 😉

travelling in turkey reddit

Share or save this post

photo of a person holding a smartphone with Holafly logo

Curious about safety for tourists who travel by sailboat and stay at local marinas. Also tourists who travel with their dog. We will be going to Turkey to buy a sailboat and staying for a few months before sailing west towards Spain. We will be traveling with our dog on the boat, but would like to take her on daily outings with us. Are restaurants with outdoor seating in Turkey dog friendly ?

Any updates on safety for traveling to Turkey within the next couple weeks? Curious if the country has been impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict?

At the time of writing we are not aware of any direct or indirect consequences but ultimately, like you we are relying on the news to get our information.

Just bear in mind that this terrible situation is an unprecedented one during our lifetimes and could change very fast.

Just a few corrections * You can take photos of any public or governmental buildings. Any law as you mentioned is not existing here. Only the exception can be military areas. But they are prohibited in all countries as well. * I’ve been here for 35 years and always found toilet papers in all toilets not exepting alaturka toilets. I just asked someone around me. I was not alone. We have all used papers yet. Are you sure you’re looking rightly? * According the statistics, the number of terrorist attacks are less than France, Germany and UK here. Crime statistics also better. Sure we are not in Scandinavia, but our cities like Antalya safer than Paris or Hamburg. (That’s why you can find 2M German Antalya anytime but can’t found 1M German in Hamburg.) * The taxicabs are not safe and never been fair for tourists. Use public transportation if possible. If you have to use taxi, call it from a taxi station. Unfortunately most of the taxi drivers are really shame for us. * We’re not Arab and most probably you can find more camels at U.S. zoos. * Wear whatever you wear in your country. Most of us wear like western people. Since we’re a multi cultural country, you may see headscarfs, mini skirts, sports wear, traditional dresses so as colorful in San Francisco. (must see: Russian girls in Antalya beaches)

So don’t worry about safety. However if you had any trouble just call 155 and keep calm. Our caps are really tourist friendly and experienced. ( they don’t like only us )

Hi Mahmut. Thanks for taking the time to comment and providing your perspective. It may indeed be correct that terrorism and crime is a bigger problem in European countries, we are certainly not saying that Turkey is any more dangerous than Western Europe. We do mention these issues in our Paris, London & Berlin guides. As for the toilet roll comment, I also managed to find it in most places too! Maybe our author was just unlucky”

Excellent pointers and comprehensive information about the do’s and don’t in Turkey. The write-up was certainly useful and quite helpful.

Actually , I just scrolled down this website to know what the “liberty loving “ Americans think About my country ( by the way , I’m 13).And I saw that you see it more like an Arabic country. Fist of all , you can wear what you want outside of mosques , only being to open will make you look bad , and being to closed makes you look like a terorist. So I advice female travelers not to come like Arabs. That’s disgusting whit these fully closed faces. WE CANT EVEN SEE THEIR FACES . And if you see these women, they are probably Arabic tourist.And Tunceli is more are for now .The Turkish Communist Party took the provience of Tunceli so everythink is free there.AND LASTLY , SAYING THAT TURKEY IS NOT SAFE MEANS THAT YOU ARE DISRESPECTING THE TURKISH SOILDERS FIGHTING AGAINST PKK TERORIST WHO ARE SUPPORTED BY THE USA , EVEN IF YOU DONT FIND IT SAFE TO COME , IT IS BECAUSE THE USA.

This was helpful! The one thing not covered was if it is safe to be out and/or LGBTQ in Turkey, or a Gay Couple. It would have been nice if that was included since you covered most other traveling scenarios, and that’s mine! Thanks for the helpful tips.

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Turkey Traveler View

Travel health notices, vaccines and medicines, non-vaccine-preventable diseases, stay healthy and safe.

  • Packing List

After Your Trip

Map - Turkey

Be aware of current health issues in Turkey. Learn how to protect yourself.

Level 1 Practice Usual Precautions

  • Global Measles May 28, 2024 Many international destinations are reporting increased numbers of cases of measles. Destination List: Afghanistan, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of South Sudan, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Zambia

⇧ Top

Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor at least a month before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need. If you or your doctor need help finding a location that provides certain vaccines or medicines, visit the Find a Clinic page.

Routine vaccines


Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before every trip. Some of these vaccines include

  • Chickenpox (Varicella)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis
  • Flu (influenza)
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)

Immunization schedules

All eligible travelers should be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Please see  Your COVID-19 Vaccination  for more information. 

COVID-19 vaccine

Hepatitis A

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers one year old or older going to Turkey.

Infants 6 to 11 months old should also be vaccinated against Hepatitis A. The dose does not count toward the routine 2-dose series.

Travelers allergic to a vaccine component or who are younger than 6 months should receive a single dose of immune globulin, which provides effective protection for up to 2 months depending on dosage given.

Unvaccinated travelers who are over 40 years old, immunocompromised, or have chronic medical conditions planning to depart to a risk area in less than 2 weeks should get the initial dose of vaccine and at the same appointment receive immune globulin.

Hepatitis A - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep A

Hepatitis B

Recommended for unvaccinated travelers younger than 60 years old traveling to Turkey. Unvaccinated travelers 60 years and older may get vaccinated before traveling to Turkey.

Hepatitis B - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Hep B

Cases of measles are on the rise worldwide. Travelers are at risk of measles if they have not been fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure, or have not had measles in the past, and travel internationally to areas where measles is spreading.

All international travelers should be fully vaccinated against measles with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, including an early dose for infants 6–11 months, according to  CDC’s measles vaccination recommendations for international travel .

Measles (Rubeola) - CDC Yellow Book

Dogs infected with rabies are commonly found in Turkey.

Rabies is also present in some terrestrial wildlife species.

If rabies exposures occur while in Turkey, rabies vaccines may only be available in larger suburban/urban medical facilities.

Rabies pre-exposure vaccination considerations include whether travelers 1) will be performing occupational or recreational activities that increase risk for exposure to potentially rabid animals and 2) might have difficulty getting prompt access to safe post-exposure prophylaxis.

Please consult with a healthcare provider to determine whether you should receive pre-exposure vaccination before travel.

For more information, see country rabies status assessments .

Rabies - CDC Yellow Book

Recommended for most travelers, especially those staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas.

Typhoid - CDC Yellow Book

Dosing info - Typhoid

Avoid contaminated water


How most people get sick (most common modes of transmission)

  • Touching urine or other body fluids from an animal infected with leptospirosis
  • Swimming or wading in urine-contaminated fresh water, or contact with urine-contaminated mud
  • Drinking water or eating food contaminated with animal urine
  • Avoid contaminated water and soil
  • Avoid floodwater

Clinical Guidance

Avoid bug bites.

Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever

  • Tick bite 
  • Touching the body fluids of a person or animal infected with CCHF
  • Avoid Bug Bites


  • Sand fly bite

Airborne & droplet

  • Breathing in air or accidentally eating food contaminated with the urine, droppings, or saliva of infected rodents
  • Bite from an infected rodent
  • Less commonly, being around someone sick with hantavirus (only occurs with Andes virus)
  • Avoid rodents and areas where they live
  • Avoid sick people

Tuberculosis (TB)

  • Breathe in TB bacteria that is in the air from an infected and contagious person coughing, speaking, or singing.

Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in Turkey, so your behaviors are important.

Eat and drink safely

Food and water standards around the world vary based on the destination. Standards may also differ within a country and risk may change depending on activity type (e.g., hiking versus business trip). You can learn more about safe food and drink choices when traveling by accessing the resources below.

  • Choose Safe Food and Drinks When Traveling
  • Water Treatment Options When Hiking, Camping or Traveling
  • Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
  • Avoid Contaminated Water During Travel

You can also visit the Department of State Country Information Pages for additional information about food and water safety.

Prevent bug bites

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in Turkey. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.

What can I do to prevent bug bites?

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below).
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

What type of insect repellent should I use?

  • FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone
  • Always use insect repellent as directed.

What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?

  • Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
  • Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks properly.

What can I do to avoid bed bugs?

Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance. See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them. For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs .

For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites .

Stay safe outdoors

If your travel plans in Turkey include outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.

  • Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
  • Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
  • If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation : use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
  • Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
  • Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.

Stay safe around water

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
  • Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
  • Do not dive into shallow water.
  • Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
  • To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.

Keep away from animals

Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies.

Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
  • Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
  • Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
  • If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.

All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:

  • Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
  • Go to a doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.

Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.

Reduce your exposure to germs

Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.

Avoid sharing body fluids

Diseases can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen.

Protect yourself:

  • Use latex condoms correctly.
  • Do not inject drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
  • Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
  • If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.

Know how to get medical care while traveling

Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:

  • Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
  • Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
  • Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
  • Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call Turkey’s embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
  • Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.

Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website ( www.jointcommissioninternational.org ).

In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.

Malaria is a risk in some parts of Turkey. If you are going to a risk area, fill your malaria prescription before you leave, and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the pills; some need to be started before you leave.

Select safe transportation

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.

In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.

Be smart when you are traveling on foot.

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
  • Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.


Choose a safe vehicle.

  • Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
  • Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
  • Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
  • Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
  • Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.

Think about the driver.

  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
  • Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
  • Arrange payment before departing.

Follow basic safety tips.

  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
  • When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
  • Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of Turkey may be poor.
  • Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
  • Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
  • If you choose to drive a vehicle in Turkey, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
  • Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver's license at all times.
  • Check with your auto insurance policy's international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.
  • Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
  • If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
  • Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.

Helpful Resources

Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources.

The Association for International Road Travel has country-specific Road Travel Reports available for most countries for a minimal fee.

For information traffic safety and road conditions in Turkey, see Travel and Transportation on US Department of State's country-specific information for Turkey .

Maintain personal security

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Before you leave

  • Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
  • Monitor travel advisories and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) .
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
  • Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.

While at your destination(s)

  • Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate .
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
  • Follow all local laws and social customs.
  • Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
  • Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
  • If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.

Healthy Travel Packing List

Use the Healthy Travel Packing List for Turkey for a list of health-related items to consider packing for your trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.

Why does CDC recommend packing these health-related items?

It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries. Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.

If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic . Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.

For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel .

Map Disclaimer - The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on maps do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Approximate border lines for which there may not yet be full agreement are generally marked.

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  • A Solo Travelers Guide To...

A Solo Traveller’s Guide to Turkey

The diverse landscape of Turkey offers adventures for every type of solo traveller

Cheap, cheerful and deeply cultural, Turkey may well be the best place in the region for your dream summer holiday. It’s got the beaches, the transparent sea, the extraordinary sights (architectural and natural), the cuisine (filling, appetising and diverse) and – most importantly – people who truly care that you’re there. Beyond the hot months Turkey has plenty to seduce you, from big-city exhilaration to otherworldly landscapes. Ready to plan your solo adventure? Read on.

What’s the vibe.

In a nutshell: welcoming. Maybe it’s something they tip in the water, but Turks are hospitable, friendly and helpful to a fault. Whether you need directions or help with a menu, you’re bound to find someone willing to use their English, however limited, to assist. Yes, this is a Muslim country, and therefore traditions often dictate modesty over excess – certainly beyond the big cities and beach resorts. But you won’t feel repressed, only surprised and delighted at discovering such a special country.

A Turkey solo trip overview

This is a wildly diverse country, stretching from the Aegean in the west – with its international resorts and luxury holiday living – hundreds of miles across to its eastern borders with Armenia, Iran and Syria. In between lie Anatolian expanses where life is simple and agrarian. In all honesty, it’s the former (western part) you’re likely to want to experience, although the Black Sea coast to the north is untamed, untouristed and utterly bewitching for a coach trip ending in Trabzon.

Aim for at least four days if visiting Istanbul for a city break, and a week to a fortnight if chasing summer sun on the Aegean and/or Mediterranean shores.

With TRIPS by Culture Trip’s 12-day small-group adventure From Istanbul to Antalya: the Ultimate Turkey Itinerary you can see all this and squeeze in the lunar landscapes of Cappadocia, further east.

A trip to Trabzon offers the chance to visit the Sumela Monastery

Where to stay in Turkey as a solo traveller

Luxury, local, boutique, budget – it’s all here. In big cities, such as Istanbul, hotels range from five-star-international to funky-designer to simple B&Bs and self-catering apartments in cool neighbourhoods. Whatever your budget, you’re sorted. On the coast, you’ll easily find uncomplicated pansiyons at affordable rates, serving lavish breakfasts of cheese, bread, honey and ripe tomatoes. And, of course, the boutique hotels and slinky resorts are booming, from Bodrum to Antalya.

For an indispensable accommodation steer, take a look at our round up of the best hotels in Turkey .

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What to do in Turkey as a solo traveller

City nights, sunseeking or remote exploration (with a hot-air balloon ride thrown in)… Turkey keeps you sated. But the following should definitely be on your to-do list.

Istanbul by ferry

The city born Byzantium later rechristened Constantinople and now known as Istanbul has had a love affair with the sea since it was founded. Water defines the place – from the broad blue (or iron-grey in winter) Bosphorus strait, which the city clusters either side of, to the Golden Horn creek that flows in from the west, to the vast Sea of Marmara to the south, sprinkled with islands. So public transport is crucially about ferries, which are elegant, often old-fashioned (despite some modern closed-in versions) and beautiful to sit on, tea in hand, taking in the city as it unspools before you. Whether you want to cross from Europe to Asia, head north to the Black Sea, or venture out to Buyukada island, with its tiny Byzantine church at the summit, you need a ferry.

Spend an afternoon exploring the Bosphorus on an old-fashioned ferry while in Istanbul

The Datca Peninsula

Stretching west into the Aegean Sea, almost interlocking with various Greek islands, the peninsulas of Turkey’s western and southwestern coast make for ethereal summer holidays. Most famous is probably the Bodrum peninsula, since the resort of the same name has attracted superstars of the Mick Jagger order for decades. We like the slower pace of Datca, to the south. Luxury resorts with infinity pools and cocktail specialists are decidedly thin on the ground, but its coves and white-pebble beaches are blissful and timewarped, set against backdrops of pines and craggy heights. Highlights include swimming at Palamutbuku (with a seabass and wine lunch afterwards), visiting the ancient Greek ruins of Knidos, and drinking in the atmosphere of Datca town by night, with happy crowds and black moonlit port waters.

Next stop: east-central Anatolia, and the natural wonder that is the Hobbity landscape of the Cappadocia region. You’ll have seen it on posters – extraordinary volcanic conical-rock formations rising from the harsh plateau, among time- and weather-eroded valleys. The best way to take it all in is by hot-air balloon, at dawn or dusk, when the area is at its quietest and most numinous. At ground level (and below) there’s further beauty – discover rock-cut churches from Byzantine and early-Islamic times before checking in at your (probably also) cave-enclosed hotel.

Visit Cappadocia with a small group on our 12-day From Istanbul to Antalya: the Ultimate Turkey Itinerary

See romantic Cappadocia from up high with a hot-air balloon ride

Eating and drinking in Turkey

You won’t go hungry – Turkish cuisine is surely the ultimate comfort food. Think puffy bread, creamy dips (cacik, like Greek tzatziki), crisp-fried pockets of cheese (borek), and honey-soaked pancakes (gozleme) to mop up the hangover at breakfast.

You can go high-brow with food cultivated for sultans in Ottoman times – think grilled meats with savoury rice (try hunkar begendi: lamb stewed with tomato sauce then laced with aubergine puree); or low-brow – you’ll fill up on the simplest simit (sesame-coated bread ring) or balik ekmek (freshly caught fish in a hunk of bread).

There are five-star city restaurants with spectacular wine lists and views. And there are lazy coastal fish restaurants doing grilled levrek (sea bass) with a bottle of rosé. In essence, Turkey is tastebud heaven – and the prices are great too. To drink? Turkish wine has come a long way thanks to the emergence of boutique vineyards. Look out for okuzgozu red from Anatolia and rosé from Cappadocia-grown narince grapes.

Stay safe, stay happy in Turkey

Don’t come to Turkey fretting – you’re in safe hands, Turks being among the most accommodating, friendly people on earth. To be 100 percent relaxed (or as near as dammit) just use the common sense you would anywhere else – no drinks from strangers, no dodgy-looking taxis after dark, no walking around rough areas on your own, and no getting plastered then trying in vain to find your hotel.

Stick to the travel basics and you should be fine going solo in Turkey

Getting around in Turkey as a solo traveller

Taxis are plentiful in cities and coastal resorts. They’re cheap too. For longer distances, buses, such as those from Kamil Koc , are the obvious option (driving is not the most relaxing way to spend a holiday, and road accidents are rife). Explore the rail-travel options – after all, you can journey easily by train between the big cities, such as Istanbul and Ankara.

Cultural need-to-knows in Turkey

Bear in mind that Turkey, for all its 21st-century modernity and beach-holiday liberal living, is a Muslim nation, and decorum in dress sense as well as comportment must be observed when not on the sands or in the nightclubs. Modesty applies particularly when visiting religious sites. On which note, always be aware of Ramadan dates – when the faithful are fasting in daylight hours, show respect and refrain from consuming in public places.

Be considerate when visiting religious sites, such as the Yeni Cami in Istanbul

Fancy exploring Turkey as part of a small group of like-minded travellers? Sign up for TRIPS by Culture Trip’s 12-day small-group adventure From Istanbul to Antalya: the Ultimate Turkey Itinerary . You’ll witness highlights including Istanbul, Cappadocia and the coast at Antalya. This is a rewrite of an article originally by Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

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The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking Turkey

Never did I imagine that backpacking in Turkey would be so much fun! From balloon-filled skies in Cappadocia, sailing along the Turquoise coast and playing numerous games of Tavla  (backgammon) with the welcoming Turkish people, Turkey exceeded all my expectations. I solo backpacked in Turkey for almost 6 weeks, traversing the country from west to east. Here’s my ultimate guide to backpacking Turkey!

Updated: January 2023

Backpacking Turkey 

Why should you go backpacking turkey.

  • Be amazed by the absurd landscapes of Capadoccia from your hot air balloon, bathe in the blue waters of Pamukkale and relax on the beautiful Turkish beaches.
  • Enjoy amazing Turkish hospitality and get invited for cup of chai or a game of Tavla (backgammon)
  • Visit a traditional hamman
  • Many places in Turkey are still relatively ‘undiscovered’ by the tourist crowds.
  • Enjoy a Turkish breakfast (the best breakfast in the world?) on a daily basis.

I originally planned to backpack Turkey for about 3-4 weeks, but ended up staying almost 6 weeks, just because I loved it so much!

Backpacking Turkey was part of my Silk Road adventure.

My 6-week Turkey travel itinerary (from west to east)

Istanbul – Selchuk – Pamukkale – Fethiye – Faralya – Butterfly Valley – Kabak – Saklikent Gorge – Kas – Ocagiz – Olympos – Goreme – Ankara – Trabzon – Ankara – Kars/Ani –->  IRAN

6-week backpacking Turkey itinerary

Backpacking Istanbul

  • Highlights: Visit the Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia and the cisterns. Enjoy a traditional hamman (we went to Aga hamami, the oldest hamman in Istanbul). Go shopping at Taksim
  • Accommodation: The World House hostel

Backpacking Izmir / Selchuk

  • Highlights: Temple of Artemis and Library of Ephesus
  • Accommodation: Boomerang hostel

Ephesus Library - Turkey Backpacking.

Backpacking Pamukkale

  • Highlights:  White calcium carbonate terraces and paragliding!
  • Accommodation:  Kale hostel

Backpacking Fethiye, Faralya, Butterfly Valley and Kabak

  • Highlights: Hiking parts of the famous hiking route ‘the Lycian Way’. You will probably meet (Turkish) hikers along the way. Hiking to and camping at the Butterfly Valley (a secluded piece of beach that can only be reached by boat or by a very difficult hiking route). Chilling and relaxing along the coast.
  • Accommodation: Pension Yilderim, George House, Camping at the Butterfly Valley, Mama’s hostel

Cute, colorful mama hostel in Kabak, Turkey

Backpacking Sahlikent George

  • Highlights:  Staying in a (swaying) treehouse, exploring the gorge
  • Accommodation: Sahlikent George

Backpacking Kas, Kekova, Ocagiz

  • Highlights:  Stunning beaches and turquoise waters, kayaking and swimming with turtles. Boat trip to the gorgeous Greek island of Meis (colorful houses and cats). Kayaking at Kekova above the sunken Lycian city! Hiking more parts of the Lycian way
  • Accommodation:  Ani Guesthouse, Lykya Guesthouse (best breakfast in Turkey)

Amazing beaches in Turkey's turquoise coast. Backpacking Turkey.

Backpacking Olympos

  • Highlights:  Backpackers mecca. Staying in a treehouse, evening bon fires, beach walks, rock climbing, sailing and snorkeling and ‘clubbing’. Friendly dogs.
  • Accommodation:  Bayrams

Backpacking Goreme / Capadoccia / Mustafapasa

  • Highlights:  Balloon flight at sunrise. Champagne. Hiking. Green Tour with Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley hike, Selime Monastery, Pigeon Valley, Göreme Panorama. Urgup Saturday market. Stay in a cave house.
  • Accommodation:  Yasim’s, Terra Vista

Goreme and Cappadocia. Backpacking Turkey.

Backpacking Ankara

  • Highlights:  Lots of embassy visits for the visa game in Iran and Central Asia. Ulus area. Visit Ankara castle. Museum of Ancient Civilizations. Couch surfing meet-ups. City life. Kocateppe Camii. Ataturk mausoleum.
  • Accommodation:  Deep Hostel

Backpacking Trabzon (one of my favorite places in Turkey!) 

  • Highlights:  Trabzon museum, Aya Sophia, Sumela monastery, Hamsikoy village, Karaca caves (recommended)
  • Accommodation:  Efe Hotel

Backpacking Kars, Ani and Dogubayazit

  • Highlights:  Lots of Kurdish people. Visiting Ani, the ruins of the old Armenian City. Off-the-beaten-track. Mount Ararat. Smuggling wear. Ishak Paca (palace-mosque)
  • Accommodation:  Hotel Temel

The ancient city of Ani - Backpacking Turkey. Copyright Bunch of Backpackers

Suggested 3-week Turkey travel itinerary 

If you ‘only’ have three weeks in Turkey I would suggest the following three-week Turkey travel itinerary. Start off with a few days in Istanbul, then take a flight to Izmir and Selchuk to visit Ephesus and Artemis. From there, board a bus to Pamukkale to witness the white terraces. After that, head to the coast and visit Fethiye and a bit more off-the-beaten-track Faralya and Kabak. You can hike parts of the Lycian way (famous hiking trail) in this region. Head to Olympos and finish your trip with a hot air balloon ride in Capadoccia.

Hiking parts of the Lycian Way was one my favorite things to do in Turkey!

How to prepare for your backpacking trip to Turkey?

Backpacking in Turkey is easy and safe, but you may want to pack and check some things before you go.

Specific things to pack and do before traveling to Turkey

  • Modest clothing. The large majority of people in Turkey is Muslim. Bring a head scarf!
  • Learn some Turkish. Obviously, you will learn some Turkish on the road, but you may consider learning some basics while you’re still at home. It’s easy and useful!
  • Check the latest Turkish travel advice from your government. (Personally, in most cases I won’t let this affect my travels). At the moment of writing (2018), the border area’s in the south are marked as unsafe. For Dutch travelers check out the ‘Nederland Wereldwijd’ Turkey section.
  • Download a VPN. I don’t remember Turkey had any restrictions, but a VPN is always useful to have on your phone.
  • Download the Telegram app. Turkish people mostly use Telegram (and no Whatsapp)
  • Download the maps.me application. The Turkey map has useful information.
  • Arrange your Turkish visa. Turkey has the possibility of an e-visa for many countries costing just 20 USD
  • You may want to get travel insurance and some immunizations (check with your local tropical healthcare clinic).
  • Please find my full packing list for long backpacking trips here. 

What is the best time to travel to Turkey? 

The best time to travel to Turkey is in spring (March-June) or autumn (Sept-Okt). I visited Turkey in April. I enjoyed perfect Turkish spring weather: warm and dry. This time is also perfect for hiking in Turkey.

Stunning, sunny Kas

How to get around in Turkey?

Turkey is huge, but fortunately it is very easy to get around by public transportation. You can use trains, big buses and dolmus. Most places in Turkey have a bus station, called the otogar ,  garaj  or  terminal.  Here you can find all buses.

  • Big intercity buses are very comfortable, reliable and fast. You often get drinks and food (lemoncake!).
  • Trains are also very comfortable and cheap!
  • Dolmuses sometimes stop often, but are also easy and cheap to get around. You will need a dolmus for all short-distance travel. Dolmuses are a great way to meet Turkish people.
  • Domestic flight are also a good option considering the size of the country. Flights are affordable. I only took one domestic flight from Istanbul to Izmir, which cost approximately 35 euro.

Backpacking Turkey budget and costs

Like always, I kept track of my expenses on paper. In Turkey, I spent roughly 30 euro or 35 USD’s per day. This included relatively expensive activities such as paragliding above Pamukkale and ballooning in Cappadocia. I mostly slept in dormitories in hostels or in my tent and ate at small local places, which kept my Turkey backpacking costs low.

Most dormitories are about 8-9 euro per night. A single budget room is about 18 euro per night. These prices often include breakfast. Food is between 2-4 euro per meal. A large heap of your Turkey backpacking budget will go to entrance fees. The entrance fee for Ephesus library and Aya Sophia is for example 10 euro.

Example of prices in Turkey

  • Paragliding Pamukkale = 50 euro
  • Balloon flight Cappadocia = 110 euro
  • Full day tour Cappadocia = 25 euro

Dormitory Turkey

Is it safe to travel to Turkey?

Due to frequent terrorist attacks throughout the country, tourism in Turkey has been low. When I was in Turkey in 2016, most places were quiet and empty. Sometimes I was the only backpacker around. However, these days (2023), Turkey is marked (largely) safe by the UK Department of Foreign Affairs , and fortunately more tourists visit Turkey again! In my opinion, traveling in Turkey is safe. The government advices to avoid the border area with Syria and Iraq.

Here you can find some of my useful general safety tips for traveling .

Solo female travel in Turkey

As a ‘solo female traveler in Turkey, I haven’t really felt unsafe while backpacking in Turkey. I had one incident in a hotel in Eastern Turkey (Kars) with a hotel receptionist, who came to my room in the evening to ask for a kiss. I blocked my hotel door and called a friend. This was the only case of sexual harassment I encountered.

I did a few hikes alone in Turkey. However, in general, it’s recommended to avoid hiking by yourself, especially in Cappadocia. I did hear about some cases of sexual harassment in that area. Also, the general rules for safe solo female travel apply: don’t go out by yourself after 22.00. Stick to women in public transportation.

Enjoy amazing hospitality while backpacking in Turkey.

Solo backpacking Turkey

During my weeks in Turkey, I only met a few other solo backpackers. Many of them were actually backpacking the Silk Road like me! There are only a few typical backpacker hostels in Turkey. In most places, you will stay in a guesthouse. You can meet other solo travelers at your guesthouse or during tours. Most backpackers are found in places like Istanbul, Goreme, Olympos and Ankara.

Fire place at Olympos. A great place to meet other backpackers!

Communication in Turkey

The main language is Turkish, but I found many people also speak English!

Internet / telephone connection in Turkey

I usually buy a sim card directly upon arrival. In Turkey, I used Turk Telecom. I had decent 3G almost everywhere. Wifi is also pretty solid.

Best hostels in Turkey 

There are still not many ‘typical’ hostels in Turkey. Often, it’s more like a guesthouse. I camped in Butterfly Valley and Faralya. My favorite hostels for backpackers in Turkey are marked with a * star in front! Good places in general (for all types of travelers are marked with a #)

  • Istanbul – World House
  • * Selchuk – Boomerang Guesthouse
  • Pamukkale – Kale Guesthouse
  • Fetiye – Yildirim Guesthouse
  • # Faralya – George House camping
  • * Butterfly Valley – Butterfly camping
  • * Kabak – Mama Hostel
  • Saklikent George – Saklikent George Club
  • # Kas – Ani Guesthouse
  • * Ocagiz – Lykya Guesthouse
  • * Olympos – Bayrams Tree Houses
  • * Goreme – Terra Vista Hostel
  • Goreme – Yasim Hostel
  • * Ankara – Deep Hostel
  • Trabzon – Efe Otel
  • Kars – Hotel Temel

What to eat in Turkey?

  • Kebab  – Charcoal-grilled meat and chestnuts
  • Baklava – Sweet Turkish desert
  • Pide – Turkish pizza
  • Dolma  – rice and meat stuffed into hollowed-out peppers and tomatoes
  • Simit – bread rings

Simit Turkey

Border crossing from Turkey to Iran  

The border crossing from Turkey to Iran was definitely an interesting one. I took a bus around 08.30 in the morning form Dogubayazit to the border. At the border, there was an extensive and thorough check at the ‘Maku industrial zone’. Also, I witnessed a few fights (?!). From the border, I took a bus to Bajarat. Here I exchanged some money. After that, I was lucky enough to meet two Iranian men who offered me a ride all the way to Tabriz. Please note that when I was there (2016), you could not get a Iranian visa on arrival at this border. Please check the latest information online.

Getting insured for backpacking in Turkey

Always get travel insurance! Personally, I have a year-round Dutch travel insurance for which I only pay a few euro’s per month via my bank. However, during my travels I often take extra travel insurance, which covers specific sports and also travel in regions which are marked as unsafe by my government. For this trip, I used ‘Special Isis by Joho’ (only for Dutch people).

Backpacking Turkey

Bonus: Fourteen Turkey experiences you don’t want to miss! 

  • Dip in a shiny blue hot spring in white Pamukkale.
  • Board a hot-air balloon and flow over Cappadocia.
  • Visit a traditional hamman.
  • Behold the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the Library of Ephusus (beautiful!).
  • Hike parts of the Lycian Way, one of the most famous hiking routes of Turkey.
  • Chill at pretty, small Limoncino beach near Kas.
  • Take a boat to the small, gorgeous Greek island Meis from Kas (a fun day trip).
  • Kayak over the sunken city in Kekova.
  • Climb rocks in Olympos.
  • Sail in Olympos over turquoise water.
  • Enter the Karaka caves and Sumela hanging monastery (from Trabzon).
  • Play Tavla (backgammon) with a cup of chai.
  • Be amazed by the ancient Armenian capital city of Ani.
  • Camp at the Butterfly Valley.

The Greek city of Meis is only a 25-minute ferry ride away from Kas.


travelling in turkey reddit

Sleep less, dream more – Under a canopy in Hasankeyf

Yess! Super useful, I will be going later this year and will 100% use this info.

Turkey has always been a transit stop! Never got round visiting it and this is pretty comprehensive and useful. Thanks so much!

So brave of you going on your own! We have been a little concerned about the safety of this area, but this article may have convinced me to put it back on my list. Thanks so much!

Hey, you have inspired me. Turkey sounds quality. Quick Q………when backpacking around, are there enough hostels or places to stay overnight without having to book in advance? I will just go from place to place and will be hoping to find a bed…..

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Turkey travel tips — 13+ dos and don’ts & what to know before visiting turkey.

travelling in turkey reddit

Turkey is one of the most popular destinations for tourists today. Your trip will be perfect if you avoid doing the following 13+ things while traveling to Turkey. So, what to know before visiting Turkey, what not to do in Turkey and what to know before traveling to Turkey? Let’s check out our Turkey travel tips, Turkey travel etiquette and Turkey travel advice with 14 things to know before traveling to Turkey, things to know before visiting Turkey including dos and don’ts in Turkey in general as well as dos and don’ts in Istanbul in particular! Okay, let’s get started! We’ll find these things out together!

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travelling in turkey reddit

What to know before visiting Turkey: Wear shoes when entering the mosque

travelling in turkey reddit

If you visit a mosque, remember to take off your shoes before entering the building. Also note that you shouldn’t wear shorts, as this is thought to be inappropriate. If you are lucky enough to visit a Turkish house, check the entrance for shoe storage and then put your shoes in the right place.

travelling in turkey reddit

Dos and don’ts in Turkey: Consume food and drink in public places when traveling during Ramadan

travelling in turkey reddit

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday that lasts about a month. During this time, people usually go on a vegetarian diet every day for 30 days. Muslims aren’t supposed to eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset.

travelling in turkey reddit

If you travel to Turkey during the month of Ramadan, you shouldn’t eat or drink in public or offer anything to a Muslim during the day.

travelling in turkey reddit

Turkey travel advice: Walk in front of a praying person

travelling in turkey reddit

According to the traditional conception of Muslims, if you precede a person who is praying, their prayers will not be counted. This becomes even more true when you visit a mosque. Therefore, be extremely cautious when walking in these places.

travelling in turkey reddit

Turkey travel tips: Wear inappropriate costumes

travelling in turkey reddit

When you travel to Turkey, remember to bring some discreet clothes. Both men and women should consider leaving their shorts at home. As you get away from big cities, you will likely see Muslims looking at you strangely if you’re wearing unusual attire.

travelling in turkey reddit

What not to do in Turkey: Forget to learn a few Turkish words before traveling

travelling in turkey reddit

Most people living in Turkey do not speak English (like many people in the United States do not speak Turkish). So if you’re going to visit this country, learn a few basic words and phrases to communicate more effectively.

travelling in turkey reddit

What to know before traveling to Turkey: Practice body language when visiting Turkey

travelling in turkey reddit

In Turkey, your nod will be meaningless or confusing. If you want to signal “yes” or “agree” to someone, only nod once. Otherwise, if you want to say “no” or “disagree,” lift your chin, raise your eyebrows and press your tongue slightly.

travelling in turkey reddit

Things to know before traveling to Turkey: Fail to be concerned with your behaviors in all circumstances

Galata Tower

One of the things not to do in Turkey is failing to pay attention to one’s behavior. Not only because it’s a cultural norm of the Turks but remember that you represent your country, so be careful in all actions. You’d better learn some Turkish such as “please” and “thank you” before traveling to Turkey!

travelling in turkey reddit

Be offended when the Turks only talk to your companions who are male

travelling in turkey reddit

If you are a woman visiting Turkey with your significant other or friends, you will find that Turkish men only speak to your male companion.

travelling in turkey reddit

This is something that happens very commonly in the countryside. You shouldn’t be offended or have bad feelings for them. The reason is they’re trying to protect your virtue politely in their traditional style.

travelling in turkey reddit

Things to know before visiting Turkey: Enter a mosque dressed in sexy outfits

travelling in turkey reddit

The historic mosques of Turkey, such as the Blue Mosque or Yeni Cami, are not only tourist attractions but also places where devotees come to pray. To show your respect in these sacred locations, say no to wearing sexy clothes.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul,Turkey-8

Indeed, you should prepare a sweater to cover your shoulders or arms. At the same time, you should avoid wearing miniskirts and shorts. You will feel comfortable when mingling yourself into the surrounding with discreet and respectful outfits.

travelling in turkey reddit

Dos and don’ts in Istanbul: Get on a taxi without a logo

travelling in turkey reddit

Turkish taxi drivers are pretty fond of separating tourists by taking detour routes or using a faulty meter for extra fares. To keep yourself from this kind of situation, you should choose taxis that offer a certain price.

travelling in turkey reddit

You can distinguish between trustworthy and rogue taxis by the logos on the doors. This will show you that the cab is working under a certain brand instead of a fishy business. The advice is to download the BiTaksi app to book a reliable ride from anywhere.

travelling in turkey reddit

What to know before visiting Turkey: Only go shopping at shopping malls

travelling in turkey reddit

Going to shopping malls is quite a waste when traveling to Turkey. You can go to the markets to discover great things, from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul to the Kemeraltı Market in Izmir.

travelling in turkey reddit

You’ll find more unique handmade products, clothing, and accessories than any of the brand stores located at shopping malls.

travelling in turkey reddit

Dos and don’ts in Turkey: Focus only on tourist areas

travelling in turkey reddit

It would be regrettable to travel to Turkey and only visit the central tourist areas. While many people only visit Istanbul, locals usually recommend going to other unpopular places in the city.

travelling in turkey reddit

Take a day or two to visit the main attractions, then spend your time researching and exploring the surrounding local areas. There are a lot of exciting things here, which will let you have an awesome experience of Turkey.

travelling in turkey reddit

Show off your wealth

travelling in turkey reddit

There are only a few areas in Turkey where you can comfortably show off your wealth. For example, wealthy neighborhoods in big cities like Istanbul or Ankara. However, it’s better to avoid flaunting your money in smaller cities or rural areas because this will easily make you a target for scams.

travelling in turkey reddit

Though Turkish tourism has experienced a sharp decline in sales in recent years, the beautiful country situated across two continents still has new features that attract tourists globally. The historical sites, enchanting sceneries, delicious food, and cultural festivals imbued with national identity will give visitors the most beautiful memories in Turkey.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul,Turkey-9

If you consider Turkey as your next vacation, schedule your trip now! This country won’t let you down. Above are a few things not to do when traveling to Turkey for your reference. Hopefully, these tips will help you have a wonderful and memorable journey.

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Blue Mosque in Istanbul, architectural masterpieces

Are you looking for more top things to do in Istanbul : Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here . And Istanbul travel guide and Turkey travel guide 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 Booking.com 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 Booking.com (or Hotels.com) 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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The Best Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: A Detailed Itinerary for Turkey

turkey itinerary

Looking for a Turkey Itinerary 10 days long?

Turkey is a true land of wonder. With highlights like the bustling streets of Istanbul , the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia , the white terraced Pamukkale thermal pools , the turquoise coastline and the ruins of several ancient cities like Ephesus , Turkey has so much to offer. 

This 10 days Turkey itinerary is the perfect first experience of the country. Taking you through top attractions, historic sites, culture steeped moments, jaw-dropping scenery and scrumptious cuisine, you won’t want to leave. 

itinerary for turkey

* This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my  full disclosure  for further information.

Every itinerary for Turkey should follow a logical loop and make transportation and accommodation easy to plan. This Turkey itinerary for 10 days starts in Istanbul , where the majority of people land in the country and makes a straightforward journey around Turkey, by plane, car, or bus .

I’ve also included a two week Turkey itinerary and 7 day Turkey itinerary options if that’s more suitable to your timeline.

In this Turkey trip planner, you will find a destination breakdown, like things to do and where to stay , and the best way to get from place to place . If you plan to take a Turkey road trip by car, I’ve got you covered there, too.

Turkey Itinerary Essentials

TURKEY TRAVEL INSURANCE Check Prices of HeyMondo Insurance

TURKEY BUS TICKETS Check Bus Prices on 12Go

TURKEY ACCOMMODATION Check Hotel Prices on Booking.com

SHORT HAUL TURKEY FLIGHTS Check Flight Prices on Skyscanner

TURKEY CAR RENTAL Check Car Rental Prices on Discover Cars

TURKEY GUIDED TOURS Check Day Tours on Get Your Guide

10 day Turkey Itinerary: Overview

Day 1: Istanbul – Sultanahmet + Balat Day 2: Istanbul – Kadikoy, Galata + Besiktas Day 3: Istanbul – Food Tour + Asian Side Day 4: Cappadocia Day 5: Hot Air Balloon + Cappadocia Red Tour Day 6: Cappadocia Blue Tour Day 7: Antalya Old Town Day 8: Antalya Beach Day Day 9: Pamukkale Thermal Pools Day 10: Ephesus Ancient Ruins

10 Day Itinerary for Turkey: Route Map

10 days turkey itinerary

Driving in Turkey

Renting a car in turkey.

Looking to take a Turkey road trip? You can find a few different rental car companies located at the Istanbul international airport. But, due to the popularity of the region, I’d highly suggest booking your rental car before you arrive , and at least a couple of weeks in advance if possible. 

DiscoverCars is a great way to find the best cost and type of car that suits you and your Turkey travel itinerary. 

Check out this detailed guide on renting a car in Turkey (plus tips!)

turkey trip planner

Since your 10 day Turkey itinerary starts in Istanbul, I’d suggest heading into the Istanbul centre first by airport transfer , spending a few days exploring the sights and then picking up your car afterwards. I’ve heard from other travellers that driving in the city limits of the metropolis of Istanbul can be chaotic and stressful. So it’s best to avoid this on your trip.

NOTE | Depending on your nationality, you may require an International Drivers Permit AND a valid national drivers license in Turkey to rent a car . You also need to be over 21 years of age.

Book a Rental Car for your Turkey Itinerary

Tolls While Driving in Turkey

You will likely hit a few toll highways on your Turkey itinerary, but don’t worry, you don’t need to keep cash on hand to pay these tolls. Turkey has an HGS system that charges the toll electronically through a device set in your rental car. Simply slow down to 30km/h and it will register the toll on your car.

Once you’ve returned your Turkey car rental, you will be provided with a bill of tolls you accumulated during your trip. Each toll can be upwards of 30TL ($2.25USD).

Parking in Turkey

Parking in Turkey is straightforward. Except for a few larger cities, you can find free and ample street parking. If you are parking at an attraction, prices may be upwards of 5-10TL which is only $0.75USD). Rural parking is a breeze. This Turkey 10 days itinerary will have plenty of parking available to you via the street, so no worries there.

NOTE | Make sure to contact your hotel before booking to ensure they have parking available for you.

turkey itinerary 10 days

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days : Days 1, 2 + 3

Day 1-3 Emphasis: Culture, Food, Historic Buildings

travelling in turkey reddit

Day 0: Arrive in Istanbul (evening)

I’ve made the assumption and exclusion of your travel day to Turkey for purposes of streamlining this 10 days in Turkey itinerary. 

Since you may be arriving by a hopper flight from Greece, or far-off places like New York or Vancouver, I am excluding that time from the Turkey itinerary. The itinerary for Turkey’s 10 days starts bright and early in Istanbul’s historic centre . 

10 days turkey itinerary

Airport Transfer

If you are landing at the Istanbul International Airport or Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, I recommend scheduling an airport transfer to get you from the arrivals gate to your hotel in no time. Plus, it’s relatively economical !

Book an IST Airport Transfer

Book a SAW Airport Transfer

About Istanbul

Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey but can be considered the cultural capital of the country . The metropolis of 15.5 million people is split across two continents: Europe and Asia . The only city in the world to don this title. 

Istanbul Guide: Best Areas to Stay + Things to Do

From the bustling alleyways of historic Sultanahmet to the awe-inspiring architecture of the Hagia Sophia and Dolmabahce Palace , to the spice-heavy local food , Istanbul is a traveller’s dream.

The city can be explored on foot with a good pair of comfy walking shoes and a centrally located boutique hotel in Istanbul . Or, you can take the much accessible city transportation to get to all Istanbul’s attractions. 

Istanbul Hotels

Sultanahmet | Hotel Miniature (my fave!) Eminonu | Regie Ottoman Istanbul Hotel Karakoy | Hotel Sub Karakoy Galata | Galata Times Boutique Hotel

Best Istanbul Tours

Experience the top activities in Istanbul Istanbul Highlights: 1 or 2 Day Private Tour Istanbul Food + Culture Tour: 2 Continents Bosphorus Sunset Cruise

Day 1: Historic Istanbul (Sultanahmet + Balat)

Morning in sultanahmet district.

turkey itinerary for 10 days

Rich culture seeps into every nook and cranny of Istanbul’s historic district of Sultanahmet . Iconic buildings like the Hagia Sophia Mosque , the Blue Mosque , and the Grand Bazaar attract millions of tourists every year. 

This district also includes highlights like the underground Basilica Cistern , the expansive grounds of the Topkapi Palace , and the mouth-watering Spice Market . Start day one of your Turkey itinerary in Sultanahmet and explore the neighbourhood on foot . 

The Sultanahmet district is also a great place to base yourself during this leg of your travel itinerary for Turkey. The central location of Sulahanmet (historic district) means transportation to other districts in Istanbul is close and convenient. 

Afternoon in Balat District

turkey travel itinerary

Next, make your way to the colourful district of Balat and Fener via the bus stop at Eminonu . The 48E, 99, 99Y, 99A, 36CE and 44B bus routes all journey past the Balat/Fener neighbourhood. The bus trip should take less than 10 minutes depending on traffic. Get off at the ‘ Fener ’ bus stop . You can purchase tickets from the ticket machines located near all major bus, tram and ferry stops in the city.

This area graces the shoreline of the Golden Horn and is chock full of cute cafes and local shops . A few alleyways here are known for picture-perfect rainbow rowhouses and scenic views of the bay. A great neighbourhood to sit and people watch on this itinerary for Turkey 10 days.

End the first day of your epic Turkey itinerary with a good night’s sleep, because day 2 brings more adventures on foot across the Golden Horn!

travelling in turkey reddit

Tips for Day 1 of your Turkey Travel Itinerary

  • Remember a headscarf for visiting mosques today
  • If you are limited on time, I recommend visiting the Spice Market over the Grand Bazaar for a more authentic experience
  • Save your appetite for Balat’s many quality cafes as Sultanahmet offers inauthentic food catered to tourists

Day 1 Turkey Itinerary Top Attractions:

  • Hagia Sophia Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Spice Market 
  • Balat’s Colourful Houses

Day 2: European Istanbul (Karakoy, Galata, Besiktas)

On day two of this Turkey travel itinerary, you’ll spend time in the Beyoglu region of Istanbul . Neighbourhoods like Karakoy, Galata, Taksim and Besiktas are included in the Beyoglu area. This side of the Golden Horn is considered New Istanbul . 

If you are staying in the Sultanahmet district , make your way to the Eminonu tram station . Take the T1 tram to the Kabatas stop near the Dolmabahce Palace . This will be your first Istanbul highlight of the day.

Dolmabahce Palace in the Besiktas District

turkey 10 days itinerary

As one of the highlights of my week spent in Istanbul, I highly recommend adding a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace to your Turkey itinerary.

Make sure to get there early , by opening time if possible. The Dolmabahce Palace opens at 9AM. Note, there are no photos or videos allowed in the palace at any time. I rented out an audio tour of the palace and can say it was worth the extra dollars. 

Lunch in Karakoy District

10 day itinerary turkey

Jump back on the T1 tram and get off at the Karakoy stop.

Located at the mouth of the Golden Horn where the bay meets the Bosphorus Strait means Karakoy was once a busy port district. While that’s no longer the case, Karakoy has grown into a hipster paradise , full of utterly cool Istanbul boutique hotels .

Quaint cafes and lively main streets make this a great spot to spend your midday and lunch hour. Converted historic buildings now toting trendy digs make Karakoy the newest up-and-coming neighbourhood in Istanbul. 

I wandered around the alleyways and found myself on a self-guided food tour of the neighbourhood. Stopping at hole-in-the-walls along the way for fresh koftas and a small bowl of local soup (amongst other local delicacies).

travel itinerary for turkey

I think this is a great way to experience Karakoy since it’s considered a foodie hotspot. Make sure to peruse the seaside promenade and do some people-watching.

Optional Karakoy Activity: Have a traditional hammam experience at the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam , considered one of the top spas in the city. Ladies only during 8am-4:30pm and gentlemen only between 4:30pm-11:30pm. Alternatively, you can check out these top spa hotels in Istanbul and partake in a traditional treatment from the comfort of your accommodation.

Optional Next Stop: Head up to the Taksim district , considered the modern shopping district of Istanbul for your fill of all the big brands and to see the historic tram and peruse the lively Istiklal Street.

Afternoon in Galata District

travel itinerary turkey

Head uphill from the Karakoy district towards the Galata Tower. The shining beacon of the Galata neighbourhood as it sweeps the skyline. Along the way duck inside the local shops as you slowly meander the cobbled alleyways . 

Make sure to climb the Galata Tower for unparalleled views of the Golden Horn, the city of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Straight beyond. 

Have early dinner here and then spend sunset on the Galata Bridge with scenic views of the Golden Horn and Galata district. Watch the fishermen take in their evening’s catch. 

turkey trip itinerary

Tips for Day 2 of your Travel Turkey Itinerary

  • Visit the Dolmabahce Palace early (at opening time – 9AM)
  • Schedule your hammam experience a few days beforehand – Kilic Ali Pasa is popular! And wear a bathing suit under your clothes
  • Skip Taksim district if shopping isn’t a priority

Day 2 Travel Itinerary Turkey – Top Attractions:

  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam
  • Taksim historic tram
  • Istiklal Street
  • Galata Tower
  • Galata Bridge

turkey road trip itinerary

Day 3: Food Tour + Asian Istanbul (Kadikoy + Moda)

On the Asian side of Istanbul, you’ll find a more authentic look at life in a metropolitan Turkish city. This is also where long-term expats and digital nomads tend to stay in Istanbul, away from the touristic centre and where apartments are offered at a more economical price.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of a Turkey trip itinerary for 10 days, this will be the core of day 3. I’ve opted to add a food tour to your time spent in Istanbul because I believe a food tour is the best way to start your time in this country . 

A food culture speaks volumes about whatever country you choose to visit, and Turkey is no exception. With small share plates and quick street foods eaten by hand, you can already tell that the Turkish people prioritize family, community and fast solutions to busy city life. 

turkey tour itinerary

You can either choose a daytime food tour or an evening food tour. Each tour will start in the historic centre of Sultanahmet and include a ferry ride across the Bosphorus to the Asian neighbourhoods of Kadikoy and Moda. 

NOTE | If requested beforehand , your food tour guide can arrange a fully vegetarian experience for you, but unfortunately vegan is not possible .

travelling in turkey reddit

Book an Evening Istanbul Food Tour

Book a Daytime Istanbul Food Tour

Tips for Day 3 of your Turkey Trip Itinerary

  • If you opt for an evening food tour, spend the day in Moda and Kadikoy and request your tour guide meet you there
  • Wear good walking shoes because you will be on your feet a lot on your food tour
  • Try to eat conservatively before your food tour . You will be stuffed by the end!

Day 3 Turkey Tour Itinerary – Top Attractions:

  • Ferry Ride on the Bosphorus
  • Tasting traditional Turkish food
  • Discovering less-visited districts of Moda and Kadikoy

best turkey itinerary

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days : Days 4, 5 + 6

Day 4-6 Emphasis: Adventure, Bucket List Experiences, History

turkey 10 day trip cost

Day 4: Arrive in Cappadocia

How to get to cappadocia from istanbul .

The fastest way to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia is by plane . And since there are plenty of flights departing the IST and SAW airport in Istanbul daily, it’s also the most convenient. Prices start at $27 USD so it’s also really affordable . 

I use Skyscanner to book short-haul flights globally.

Book a Flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia

turkey itinerary

For other options like train and bus , check out my complete guide on how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia .

How to Get from Istanbul to Cappadocia: Ultimate Guide

If you are following a Turkey road trip itinerary , head back to the IST airport and pick up your car rental for driving to Cappadocia .

Book a Rental Car for your 10 Days in Turkey

Cappadocia Airport Transfer

If you are arriving by plane, you will land in either the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport or Kayseri Erkilet Airport. No matter what airport you arrive at, you can schedule a shared Cappadocia airport transfer that will bring you to your hotel in Goreme (the main tourist town).

Book Cappadocia Airport Transfer

10 days turkey itinerary

About Cappadocia 

The region of Cappadocia is probably the most popular tourist destination in Turkey , and there’s no wondering why. This area of Turkey is full of scenic landscapes, unique rock formations, picturesque valleys and bucket list experiences. 

Gaining popularity on Instagram with sunrise images of hot air balloon rides and novelty cave hotels , Cappadocia is a once-in-a-life-time spot.

You can read all about the history of Cappadocia, the best places to stay, how to get around and top things to do (plus much more) in my complete Cappadocia travel guide .

The best Turkey itinerary will always include a stop in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Guide: Where to Stay + Things to Do

How to Get Around Cappadocia

Cappadocia isn’t one town, it’s an entire region comprised of 5 main towns and a few smaller villages. Given that, the area’s attractions are quite distant from each other and cannot be visited on foot . 

turkey itinerary 10 days

If you are staying in Goreme, the central tourist town of Cappadocia, you can reach the central attractions like Pigeon, Rose and Love Valley by hiking, but if you are looking to see all the region has to offer, including the fairy chimneys, underground cities and open-air museums, I’d suggest either a guided day tour or rental car in Cappadocia .

You can have a rental car waiting for you at either Cappadocia airport by booking ahead. Since Cappadocia is a popular region, I suggest booking your rental car at least 2 weeks out . >>>> CHECK PRICES + AVAILABILITY OF RENTAL CARS IN TURKEY

Cappadocia Hotels

Top Pick | Sultan Cave Suites (my fave!) Cave Hotel | Koza Cave Hotel Cave Hotel | Mithra Cave Hotel Budget Hotel | Antique Terrace Suites

Best Cappadocia Tours

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride Cappadocia Red Tour Cappadocia Blue Tour Private Cappadocia Custom Tour (my fave!)

Pigeon Valley Walk + Red Valley Sunset Viewpoint

If you’ve arrived in Cappadocia midday, venture out to Pigeon Valley and stroll through the picturesque canyon. Here you will see small pigeon caves carved into the rock face, which once housed thousands of pigeons.

Next, grab your rental car or hop in a taxi and enjoy the sunset from the scenic Red Valley Cappadocia sunset spot .

itinerary for turkey

Day 5: Hot Air Balloon Ride + Cappadocia Red Tour

Sunrise hot air balloon ride.

Today brings an early wake-up call , so make sure to get to bed early on your arrival day. Depending on the time of year, a sunrise hot air balloon tour can start anywhere between 4:30 and 7:30AM. It’s time to tick off this bucket list experience !

travelling in turkey reddit

All sunrise hot air balloon tours start by picking you up at your hotel within central Cappadocia (Goreme and Uchisar). Enjoy a light breakfast and then head to the balloon launching site and watch the pilot and crew ready your epic flight. 

You can opt for a private, semi-private, or group balloon tour, but nevertheless, it will end with a champagne toast and certificate of completion. This is an absolute must on your 10 days Turkey itinerary.

If your time is truly limited in Cappadocia, opt to stay at a hotel in Cappadocia with a view of the balloons at sunrise .

Book a Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

Red Tour of North Cappadocia

Generally speaking, all tours either cover the red, blue or green sections of the Cappadocia region. The Cappadocia Red Tour will explore the attractions that are located at the north end of Cappadocia . 

Highlights of the Cappadocia Red Tour include:

  • Devrent Valley (Imagination Valley)
  • Pasabagi Valley (Fairy Chimneys)
  • Goreme Open Air Museum
  • Uchisar Castle

Book the Cappadocia Red Tour

The red tour is a great addition to your itinerary for Turkey because it i ncludes transportation, lunch and a knowledgeable guide to teach you about Cappadocia history and attraction-specific information. It also departs at 10AM which gives you ample time to return from your morning’s hot air balloon adventure.

End your day having dinner on the panoramic patio of Seten Restaurant located in the iconic Sultan Cave Suites (easily one of my favourite Cappadocia hotels). Or enjoy a traditional home-cooked 3 course meal cozied up inside Pumpkin restaurant .

turkey travel itinerary

Day 6: Sunrise + Cappadocia Blue Tour 

Watching hot air balloons at sunrise.

I highly recommend booking a Goreme hotel that comes with a panoramic veranda to watch the hot air balloons fly at sunrise.

If you are feeling more adventurous, make your way to this Love Valley Cappadocia sunrise spot to watch the hot air balloons float by , easily one of my favourite experiences while in Cappadocia.

Blue Tour of Central + Southern Cappadocia

Your guided Cappadocia Blue Tour will depart at 10AM. After enjoying a traditional Turkish breakfast spread at your hotel, your tour guide will pick you up for day 6 of your Turkey itinerary 10 days. Today you will be exploring the central and southern attractions of the Cappadocia region . 

turkey itinerary for 10 days

Highlights of the Cappadocia blue tour include :

  • Red and Rose Valley Hike
  • Cavusin Cave Village (Old Greek Rock Houses)
  • Underground City
  • Pigeon Valley
  • Ortahisar Castle

Book the Cappadocia Blue Tour

10 day turkey tour

Opting for a Private Cappadocia Tour

I f you’d prefer a more exclusive private experience, I’d recommend booking this private Cappadocia day tour . I can highly recommend it since it’s the tour I took and was super pleased with . 

I ended up paying more because I wanted to start my tour at sunrise at the Love Valley viewpoint and end at sunset at Red Valley. Usually, tours start at 10 AM . It was well worth it, in my opinion. You can also customize it to visit only the Cappadocia attractions you are interested in, which I found very appealing.

Book the Cappadocia Private Tour

End your third day in Cappadocia at Turkish Ravioli restaurant indulging in the local ravioli meal called manti with a glass of Anatolian wine in hand.

turkey 10 days itinerary

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days : Day 7 + 8

Day 7-8 Emphasis: Relaxation

10 day itinerary turkey

Day 7: Arrive in Antalya + Antalya Old Town

Arriving in antalya.

The best way to get from Cappadocia to Antalya is by plane . You can book a flight through the Kayseri Airport through Turkish Airlines or Pegasus (the low-budget airline in Turkey). Flights are direct and take just over an hour.

Flights from Cappadocia to Antalya start at $40USD, so it also makes it a really economical option .

>>> Check Skyscanner for Flights to Antalya

10 days itinerary turkey

Remember to book your Kayseri airport transfer . The journey from Goreme town to Kayseri should take just over an hour.

You can also get from Cappadocia to Antalya along your Turkey travel itinerary by boarding the bus . The bus departs from the Goreme bus station and reaches the Antalya bus station in approximately 10-11 hours (including rest stops) and bus ticket prices start at $8USD .

>>> Check Bus Prices + Schedule for Antalya on 12Go

Of course, you can also make the journey via rental car . I’d recommend a stop in Konya halfway through your drive for a good night’s sleep if you have the time. The journey should take 8 hours and is easily navigated through Google Maps .

>>> Check Prices + Availability of Rental Cars in Turkey

Only have 7 days? Head straight from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

turkey 10 day itinerary

How to Get Around Antalya

The city of Antalya is sprawled across the coastline of Turkey with the old town located on the far east and the famous Konyaalti Beach situated on the west. 

If you base yourself on the outskirts of the old town (which is where I stayed) you can easily meander the alleyways of the old town when you arrive on foot . 

The next morning will be a beach day, so you can either take the 45-minute walk along the coastline to the beach or grab the city bus . I opted to walk.

Since it was a hot day even in late October, we took a taxi back to Antalya’s old town after the beach. You can find them waiting in this area .

turkey vacation itinerary

About Antalya

Antalya, (known as the Turkish Riviera), the crowning jewel of Turkey’s turquoise coast is a busy and relaxed metropolis (almost 1.5 million people call Antalya home). 

With the backdrop of the Taurus mountains and the large stretch of sand gracing the shoreline, Antalya attracts tourists from near and far for a Mediterranean beach vacation. Antalya was one of the first cities to introduce mass tourism in Turkey in the 1980s and has become popular ever since. Originally settled by the Greeks in 200 BC and quickly taken over by the Romans, Antalya has been a thriving coastal city and port for centuries and boasts a quaint and lively old town to prove it.

Antalya Hotels

Top Pick | Sibel Pension (my fave!) Apartment | Mavi Avlu Old Town Midrange Hotel | Mai Inci Hotel

Best Antalya Tours

Koprulu Ziplining + Rafting Tour Perge, Aspendoes + Waterfall Tour Taurus Mountain Jeep Safari Tour

Exploring Antalya Old Town

Nestled on the clifftop of eastern Antalya is the lively and charming old town district , also known as Kaleici (‘within the castle’ in Turkish ) . Once you’ve arrived in Antalya, make your way to the winding enchanting streets of old town.

You can spend the afternoon ducking into shops, people watching while sipping Turkish coffee, purchasing souvenirs and walking the scenic coastline promenade over the Roman Harbour . 

The architecture in old town is a mix of well preserved Ottoman mansions and Roman ruins like Hadrian’s Gate .

travelling in turkey reddit

I particularly loved the trendy coffee spot called The Sudd , so if you are a coffee person make sure to grab a cappuccino there. If night life is your goal, there are many pubs in the area that offer late night entertainment and beer drinking culture . 

Or, for something quieter , grab a glass of wine at Karaf Bistro and sit by the window.

NOTE | If you’d like to stay in Antalya old town like me, make sure to book a place on the outskirts . The centre of old town can get quite loud and stay loud until very late at night.

Day 8: Antalya Beach Day + Evening Bus to Pamukkale

Spend the day at konyaalti beach.

Since day 8 of your Turkey itinerary for 10 days is prioritizing relaxation, you can lie in as late as you want. Today you will be heading to the famous Konyaalti Beach , the main attraction for holiday goers in Antalya. 

This pebble beach is 7kms long with many amenities. If you are staying in old town, you can reach the eastern most point of Konyaalti beach in a 45 minute walk. If walking that far in the heat isn’t your cup of tea, grab the city bus . 

Looking for more adventure? Try this Antalya ancient ruins and waterfall day tour

Evening Bus to Pamukkale

After a day of frolicking in the waves and catching some sun, its time to move on to the Pamukkale thermal pools, a unique highlight of Turkey.

travelling in turkey reddit

How to Get from Antalya to Pamukkale

Catch the afternoon or evening bus from Antalya bus station to the town of Denizli , just outside of Pamukkale. You can use 12Go to book your bus tickets. The bus journey on this leg of your Turkey 10 days itinerary will take approximately 4 hours with ticket prices starting at $6USD. 

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule for Pamukkale on 12Go

NOTE | The bus will not take you directly to the town of Pamukkale, so you will need to catch the minibus from platform 76 at the Denizli bus station to make the 30 minute journey to Pamukkale. The flight itinerary from Antalya to Pamukkale is indirect (transferring in Istanbul or Izmir) and more hassle than it’s worth . Taking the bus is the best way to get from Antalya to Pamukkale if you aren’t renting a car.

turkey turquoise coast itinerary

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days : Day 9

Day 9 Emphasis: Natural Wonder, Ancient Ruins + Relaxation

10 day trip to turkey itinerary

Day 9: Pamukkale Thermal Pools + Evening Bus to Ephesus (Selcuk)

How to get around pamukkale.

Make sure to book a hotel in the centre of Pamukkale town. That way you can reach the Pamukkale main gates within a 10-15 minute walk (maximum). You can always get your hotel reception to call you a taxi, too.

About Pamukkale

Pamukkale hot springs has become a medicinal destination known the world over. Mineral rich water is pushed from deep down under the earth and cascades over the hill above Pamukkale. Once the calcium hardens, it creates small tiered pools . 

The water has been known to treat chronic disorders like skin, eyes and digestive issues. Right behind the pools are the ancient ruins of Hierapolis . Make sure to spend an hour or two exploring the property.

guided tours of turkey

Visiting Pamukkale Thermal Pools

Since you only have one morning at the Pamukkale hot springs in this 10 day itinerary Turkey, I suggest you get an early start. The main gate to Pamukkale doesn’t open until 8AM, causing most people to miss sunrise atop the pools.

If you grab a quick 5 minute taxi to the south entrance , you can enter the Pamukkale grounds at 6AM. Well worth the early wake up call. Make your way toward the hilltop and watch the hot air balloons fly over the unique landscape. 

Pamukkale Guide: Where to Stay + Things to Do

Before wading through the natural pools, visit the Hierapolis ancient ruins . The most famous ruins is the Roman amphitheatre , which is still well preserved today. 

Next, take an hour and soak in Cleopatra’s Pool (at a small extra cost). Finally, make your way to the top of the white terraces, remove your shoes and wade through the pools and exit through the main gate. 

Pamukkale Hotels

Top Pick | Pamukkale Whiteheaven Hotel Apartment | Venus Suite Hotel Midrange Hotel | Bellamaritimo Hotel

Best Pamukkale Tours

Pamukkale Hot Air Balloon Ride

Evening Bus to Ephesus (Selcuk)

Once you enjoy a leisurely traditional lunch at Hiera Coffee + Tea House , hop in a taxi or arrange a shuttle from your hotel to the Denizli bus station. From here, you can board a comfortable bus to the town of Selcuk, just outside the ruins of Ephesus. 

As always, I book my bus tickets through 12Go . The trip takes a scenic 4 hours and costs $6USD to start .

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule for Ephesus on 12Go

best itinerary for turkey

How to Get from Pamukkale to Ephesus (Selcuk)

Like the Antalya to Pamukkale trip, flying from Pamukkale to Ephesus is a bit of a hassle . You will have a long layover in Istanbul from Denizli to Izmir. And then you’ll have to take a bus from Izmir to Selcuk. The direct bus is a lot more efficient and cost-effective.

If you are renting a car for your Turkey vacation itinerary, the drive will be pleasant and last about 3 hours.

Skipping Ephesus? Find out how to get from Pamukkale to Istanbul

turkey honeymoon itinerary

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Day 10

Day 10 Emphasis: History

turkey itinerary 14 days

Day 10: Ephesus + Evening Flight to Istanbul/Home

Arriving in selcuk.

The bus will drop you at the Selcuk central bus station. From here, most hotels in Selcuk are within walking distance (10 minutes max). 

After you check in, head into the old town of Selcuk and enjoy a meal at Artemis Koftecisi Ali Usta . They specialize in traditional Turkish koftas but also have some great vegetarian sides that can be eaten as a meal. Make sure to indulge in a pint of Ephesus beer.

turkey west coast itinerary

How to Get to the Ephesus Ruins from Selcuk

Either arrange a complimentary shuttle with your hotel, like I had at Nilya Hotel , or grab a taxi on the main street to reach the Ephesus ruins. The drive is only 10 minutes, and you will arrive at the upper gate of Ephesus. 

About Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus can be dated back as far as the 11th century BC. Originally established by the Greeks (with worship to the goddess Artemis), the Romans ruled over Ephesus for centuries and introduced Christianity to the region. 

Visiting Ephesus: Where to Stay + Things to See

istanbul trip itinerary

The city of Ephesus was a thriving Mediterranean port for a significant amount of time, with its decline occurring during the 3rd century AD by the goths.

Major sites here include the Library of Celsus, the Great Amphitheatre and the terrace houses. You can read all about what to see at Ephesus in my complete Ephesus guide .

Ephesus Hotels

Top Pick | Nilya Hotel (where I stayed) Luxury Hotel | Livia Hotel Ephesus Midrange Hotel | Ayasoluk Hotel

Evening Flight from Izmir to Istanbul/Home

Once you’ve had your fill of the ancient ruins of Ephesus, it’s time to go home. I know, its sad but true. 

You can head to the Selcuk bus station and hop on one of the minibusses heading to Izmir. It should take 1.5 hours to reach the airport. From Izmir, you can either transfer via Istanbul or fly out to an international destination.

Alternatively, you can grab a ticket at the Selcuk train station and take the frequent trip to the Izmir Basmane train station . From here, grab a taxi to the airport. Train tickets will start at 7.5TL ($0.50USD) and will take 80 minutes.

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule on 12Go

>>> Check Flight Price + Schedule on Skyscanner

travelling in turkey reddit

Two Week Turkey Itinerary Option

If you have more time to spend in this beautiful country, I’ve put together a 2 week Turkey itinerary for you. Generally speaking, the difference between the Turkey 2 week itinerary and the Turkey itinerary 10 days is the addition of a road trip along the turquoise coast. 

Between Antalya and Pamukkale, take a road trip along the turquoise coast . Rent a car at the Antalya airport and make your way along the scenic coastal road towards the small town of Kas . Stay a night here and then move on to Fethiye for two nights, stopping in Oludeniz on the way. 

Return your rental car to the Dalaman Airport and grab the bus to Pamukkale.

  • Day 1-3: Istanbul 
  • Day 4-6: Cappadocia 
  • Day 7-9: Antalya 
  • Day 10-12: Road trip from Antalya to Fethiye with a stop in Kas 
  • Day 13:Pamukkale  
  • Day 14: Ephesus 

10 days in turkey

7 Days Turkey Itinerary Option

If you only have a week in Turkey, I recommend skipping Antalya and the Turkish Riviera all together and spending one less day in Cappadocia. Or opt to include Antalya instead of Pamukkale or Ephesus. 

Don’t subtract time spent in Istanbul as it requires at least 3 days (ideally more!) to properly explore. 

Spend less time in Cappadocia + Cut Antalya altogether

  • Day 1-3: Istanbul
  • Day 4-5: Cappadocia

Head straight from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

  • Day 6: Pamukkale
  • Day 7: Ephesus

10 days trip to turkey

Get your FREE Turkey Trip Planner

Plan and book your trip to Turkey with this simple checklist.

Turkey Travel Planning Guide

► what is the best way to book my turkey accommodation.

I always use booking.com for all my accommodations worldwide, and Turkey is no exception. I stayed in some really epic places on my adventure around this beautiful country.

For more cozy apartment-style accommodation try VRBO (better and safer than Airbnb).

► What are the best day tours in Turkey?

Taking a day tour in Turkey, whether in Istanbul, Cappadocia or elsewhere is a great way to experience the top attractions and learn from a knowledgeable guide.

I highly recommend these Turkey tours:

  • Istanbul : Bosphorus Sunset Cruise
  • Istanbul: Hagia Sophia Guided Tour
  • Istanbul: Whirling Dervishes Show
  • Cappadocia: Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Flight
  • Cappadocia: Highlights Red Tour

► Should I rent a car in Turkey?

If you are flying in and out of Istanbul and don’t plan to leave the city, I don’t recommend renting a car . You can quickly get around Istanbul by walking or taking public transportation.

If you plan to visit Cappadocia I highly recommend renting a car . The region’s highlights are spread apart and transportation options are limited and infrequent.

The best way to see the country is by renting a car in Turkey for an epic road trip!

► What is the best site to buy flights to Turkey?

For finding cheap flights to Turkey and within the country, I recommend booking through Skyscanner .

► Can you drink tap water in Turkey?

Yes! You can drink straight from the tap in Turkey. Although most foreigners are not accustomed to the taste of tap water in Turkey and choose to drink bottled water. Since plastic waste has a negative impact on our environment, I recommend not choosing this option when the water is safe to drink.

If you plan to do a lot of walking or hiking in Turkey, I recommend bringing my favourite self-filtering water bottle with you, just in case.

More Turkey Travel Guides

  • Tips for Renting a Car in Turkey
  • Where to Stay in Istanbul for First Timers
  • Best Spa Hotels in Istanbul
  • Top Istanbul Boutique Hotels
  • Detailed Guide to Visiting Cappadocia
  • Best Cappadocia Hotels with a View of Balloons
  • Top Luxury Hotels in Cappadocia for an Unforgettable Trip
  • Pamukkale Thermal Pools Complete Guide
  • Visiting the Ephesus Ancient Ruins

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Haley is the founder of the global travel blog, Haley Blackall Travel. She has travelled to 40+ countries across 5 continents over the last 15 years and is considered an expert in her field.

She loves to share honest first hand experience from her travels. Her goal is to help readers planning their next trip by providing in-depth travel guides and recommendations for her favourite boutique hotels, things to do and travel itineraries.

Haley focuses her expertise on countries such as Greece, Turkey, Italy, Costa Rica, Australia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

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This is amazing, thank you for the details, I’m visiting turkey for the 3rd time this September, and I’m definitely following your guide

Thanks, Tarik,

I’m so glad that this guide will be helpful for you. September is such an amazing time to visit Turkey.

I am going in about a week and so excited with the help of your blog. I am looking forward to seeing Turkey through your eyes 🙂

I am so happy for you, Turkey is one of my favourite countries! Such rich diversity, culture and natural beauty. And the food is so incredible! If you have time, definitely rent a car and check out the coastline between Antalya and Fethiye, including a stop in Kas. Otherwise, this 10 day Turkey itinerary should cover all the highlights for you.

I hope you enjoy your trip! Let me know how it goes.

AMAZING Agenda! Thank you.

Thanks, Cathy!

Turkey is such an amazing country. I hope you have the chance to visit soon.

Happy travels, Haley

What a great itinerary. This is so helpful. I am curious did you do all this in 2022? Just making sure the different types of buses you mentioned and flights are still a “normal ” thing. I am looking to do this late September 2022 and would love to just “cut/paste” this itinerary. Thanks for all the info and any extra advice. Solo traveler so doing it all myself and generally have not done “city to city” so pretty excited.

So excited to hear about your trip to Turkey. It is honestly one of my favourite countries in the world. I completed my trip in the Fall of 2021, but I don’t think you’ll find a big change in bus and flight options even now in 2022. I’ve included the best way to get from each city in the blog.

From Istanbul to Cappadocia, most definitely an economical flight is the way to go. If you are travelling from Cappadocia to Antalya or Pamukkale, also a flight is a good option. Throughout the rest of the itinerary, I would recommend taking the bus as the best option to get from A to B. Alternatively, exploring the country by car is a beautiful way to see all the in-between destinations not many other visitors see, and the flexibility is great.

I hope this helps, and happy travels!

Amazing itinerary, I am following this when I visit in October 2022 and I am so excited!

Would you recommend hiring a car for the time in Cappadocia? We can’t decide whether to hire a car and visit the sites ourselves or go on the tours you have suggested. If we went on the tours then I think a car wouldn’t be needed?

Also we are visiting similar time I think you did 2021, so tips on clothes to pack would be amazing.

Many thanks!

That’s so exciting that you will be visiting Turkey in October, I think it’s a lovely time to go.

In regards to your question about Cappadocia, there are, of course, pros and cons to renting a car or taking a tour. But I can give you my two cents based on my personal experience. We took a Cappadocia Private Customizable Tour (the one mentioned in this blog) and I can highly recommend it. The company that offers this is absolutely amazing and I really appreciated having a knowledgeable guide to give me insight into the region that I wouldn’t be able to get if I visited on my own.

This is generally what I requested of our guide for our full-day tour: -Sunrise at Love Valley to see the hot air balloons flying -Uchisar Castle -Kaymalki Underground City -Ortahisar Castle -Goreme Open Air Museum -Pasabag Valley Fairy Chimneys -Zelve Open Air Museum -Pigeon Valley -Red Valley Viewpoint for sunset and wine

Then you can leave it in the guide’s hands to schedule the ideal stops and timing for each. Combine this with a hot air balloon ride one morning, and you will experience most of the highlights in Cappadocia.

It wasn’t difficult to find good restaurants around Goreme in the evenings, so it’s not like you will feel super stuck without a rental car.

In regards to your question about what to pack, I would suggest layers. The weather in Cappadocia in mid-October is warm and sunny in the daytime (22 degrees C) and cold in the evenings and mornings (like 4 degrees C). I wore my athletic leggings, runners with socks, long sleeve shirt or t-shirt and sweater for the entire trip to Cappadocia. Combined with my light puffer jacket and a blanket scarf (that I was frequently taking off and putting back on), it was the perfect outfit.

I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any other questions.

Happy travels! Haley

Amazing itinerary.. I am planning to visit March end with my husband and 8 month old Do you think for travel within city we could use the public transportation?? We are on a tight budget trip so just figuring out alternatives as car rental and guide would get expensive.

Thank you Ekta

Absolutely, you can utilize public transportation in any of the larger cities on this itinerary. I used the bus and tram system in Istanbul to get everywhere and it was super convenient. Just note that you will have to purchase a loadable transit card (in Istanbul it is called the Istanbul Kart). These can be purchased at select kiosks and stations and cost ~25TL (just under $1.50USD). Then you will need to load it with funds before boarding. I think its a really great way to get around the cities. Antalya was super easy to navigate on bus, too.

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Enjoy your trip.

Hello! Thank you for documenting with so many details! I was searching for the part where you have the cost break down and over all cost for the trip. I will be flying from USA if that helps. Can you please point me to that detail.

Hi Saranya,

Thanks for the question.

Unfortunately, there are so many factors that go into budgeting for a trip to Turkey like your style of travel, what type of accommodations you like and if you will be renting a car or taking day tours, etc.

But, good news – since a major devaluation of the Turkish Lira a couple of years back, your US dollar will stretch quite significantly when planning your travels to Turkey. For an average traveller, I would assume roughly $60-100USD for a nightly stay, $2-10USD for a meal and $25USD a day for a car rental.

I hope this helps! And happy travels.

Hi, We are planning our first trip to Turkey in March and your blog is very helpful in planning our trip. We would also like to go to Bursa (Uludag ski resort), as kids want to enjoy snow. Could you please guide us where to fix it in your itinerary. We can reduce one day in istanbul and don’t mind making it a 12-14 days trip. Please guide.

Thanks in advance Subha

So glad to hear you are visiting Turkey in March, should be a great trip!

I recommend fixing Bursa (the Uludag ski resort) as your last stop before returning to Istanbul or flying out of Turkey, right after Ephesus.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Amazing itinerary! My friends and i are hoping to visit early Oct 2023. We are torn between visiting Antalya or Bodrum.

What are your thoughts on Bodrum?

So happy you decided to visit Turkey! I absolutely loved my trip in October. Unfortunately, I have not been to Bodrum, but from what I have heard it’s more quaint, has a higher-end feeling (similar to the French Riviera) and has sandy beaches outside of town. You can explore Bodrum’s attractions in about a day. Antayla, on the other hand, is much bigger, with a large and lively old town, and expansive central beach (pebbles).

It really depends on what you are looking for from your holiday, but I definitely loved my stay in Antalya.

Let me know if you have any other questions and happy travels!

I am visiting Turkey in April for 8 plays; planning to spend 2.5 days in Istanbul, then 2 in capa and 2 atleast in Antalya, Have one extra day and debating if i should spend that extra day in Antalya or go somewhere else. Any recommendation

April in Antalya will be pleasant exploring weather, but not necessarily beach-going weather (about 21 degrees Celsius), depending on what you’re used to. I’d recommend spending the 2 days checking out the old town and then making your way inland to Pammukale to see the thermal pools and ancient ruins of Hieropolis. You can easily see these sites in one day.

Alternatively, if you want to explore more of the Turquoise Coast (Turkish Riviera) and have a rental car at your disposal, you can take the coastal road from Antalya to Fethiye, stopping briefly in Kas and Oludeniz before flying out of Fethiye (about a 4.5 hour drive).

Lastly, you could always allocate that additional day to exploring more of Istanbul or Cappadocia, both have a ton to see!

Safe and happy travels, Haley

Very informative and detailed. I will follow your 10-day itinerary. Thank you for blogging about this. Helpful!

My pleasure, Clint. Enjoy your trip to Turkey!

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Is it safe to travel to Türkiye right now? Latest travel advice

Here is everything we know about travelling to Türkiye amidst the conflict in Israel

Liv Kelly

Türkiye’s abundance of cultural heritage, fascinating historical sites, great architecture, food and people have made it a go-to holiday destination for decades. Istanbul is an incredibly vibrant city, which straddles two continents, but the country is also known for its beautiful landscape and coastlines. 

However, its proximity to the continuing conflict in Israel , which erupted on Saturday October 7, is causing concern about how safe it is to travel to this region of the world. Here is everything we know about travelling to Türkiye amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Is it safe to travel to Türkiye at the moment? 

Türkiye  has not been impacted by the conflict in Israel.  It depends on where in the country you’re travelling, but the majority of destinations in Türkiye are safe and tourist-friendly. Certain areas have experienced wildfires over the summer, and the UK Foreign Office estimates that the terrorist threat is ‘very high’. However, travelling to Türkiye is not advised against. 

How about Antalya? 

A city with gorgeous beaches which is full of ancient Greek and Roman remnants, Antalya is one of Türkiye’s fastest-growing tourist destinations.  

The province experienced wildfires earlier this year, which began in the forests of Kemer. However, the region has been considered a safe place to travel since the fires were brought under control. 

Is it safe to travel to Istanbul?

There is currently no official advice stating that it is unsafe to travel to Istanbul.

What is the UK Foreign Office saying? 

The UK Foreign Office advises against all travel to anywhere within 10km of the border with Syria. It also advises against all but essential travel with Sirnak (city) and Hakkari (province). 

Travellers are free to visit the rest of Türkiye, but the advice is to remain vigilant. Political protests can break out unexpectedly and the country is considered to have a ‘very high’ threat of terrorist attacks. The webpage also states that Türkiye is prone to experiencing wildfires during the summer, and recommends taking care when driving through woodland areas. 

What about the Turkey Travel Advisory? 

The advice from the Turkey Travel Advisory is similar to that of the UK Foreign Office. It marks Sirnak, Hakkari and anywhere within 10 km of the Syrian Border as a level four, which means ‘do not travel’. 

Advice about the rest of Türkiye encourages travellers to stay alert, avoid demonstrations and crowds, and to monitor local media for up-to-date information. You can read more about the Turkey Travel Advisory’s recommendations on their webpage. 

How far is Türkiye from Israel? 

Türkiye is 879 km from Israel, or about an hour and a half flight. Türkiye is north of Israel, and the two countries do not share a border. 

Is travel to other countries near Israel safe?

The Foreign Office does not currently advise against travelling to countries bordering Israel, but advice may change quickly as the violence escalates. 

Read more about the latest  travel advice for Israel and Egypt  and Jordan . 

For more information on how to help those affected by the conflict, you can read our guide on where to donate here . 

Stay in the loop: sign up to our free Time Out Travel newsletter for all the latest travel news.

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The 8 most incredible road trips in Türkiye

Jennifer Hattam

Jul 9, 2024 • 8 min read

travelling in turkey reddit

Road tripping through Cappadocia means dramatic scenes around every turn Anastasiia Shavshyna / Getty Images

With an expansive landscape that encompasses a rich heritage, the beauty of Türkiye is perfectly poised to explore on a road trip. From towering mountains to perfect beaches scattered along nearly 8000km (5000 miles) of coastline, you're spoilt for choice.

The country is latticed with well-maintained roads and highways but it's worth making some detours off the beaten track to discover the wealth of archaeological sites on offer. Not to mention the delightful local restaurants serving up delicious fare and a warm welcome every time.

Türkiye has many small regional airports, so most road trips can be driven point-to-point by rental car, connecting back to Istanbul by air when you're ready for your flight home. These are the eight best road trips that will guarantee the journey of a lifetime.

1. Thrace and the North Aegean

Best road trip for wining and dining Istanbul-İzmir; 880km (547 miles)

You could barrel through this drive in a few days to hit the historic highlights – the battlefields of Gallipoli , the ruins of Troy and its impressive museum , the ancient acropolis of Bergama (Pergamum), and the grand classical city of Ephesus . But it’s better to take your time, savoring relaxed seaside towns, Aegean cuisine and local wineries along the way.

Break the long drive out of Istanbul with an overnight stop at the Barbare winery near Tekirdağ, which offers boutique accommodations amidst sprawling vineyards. Continuing west, most of the Gallipoli Peninsula is a national park, with lush forests and secluded beaches to explore, while Çanakkale across the water is a pleasantly vibrant city and the gateway to Troy.

South of Troy, board the car ferry to the idyllic island of Bozcaada, with its old Greek houses, gourmet restaurants, beaches and wineries. Heading on to Bergama, stop in the pretty towns of Foça or Ayvalık , then make for İzmir . As well as being the closest hub to Ephesus, Türkiye's third-largest city is a worthy destination in its own right, with a layered, Greek-influenced culture and cuisine.

Woman admiring the ruins of Ephesus on a sunny winter day, Izmir

2. The Lycian Coast

Best road trip for stunning sea views Dalaman-Antalya; 337km (209 miles)

Despite the short distances, this Mediterranean journey is meant to be taken slowly, and the winding coastal road between Patara and Antalya will see to it that you don't rush past the sights. If the pretty beaches and coves along the route don’t tempt you into frequent stops and detours, the area’s many fascinating archeological ruins certainly will. 

Leaving Dalaman, take a lunch stop by the harbor in Göcek , then it’s onward to Fethiye , where you can book a day cruise on the sparkling bay, visit the ancient rock tombs towering above the city or hike to the abandoned Greek village of Kayaköy . Moving southeast, the drive to the long sandy beach at Patara is dotted with ancient sites, including hilltop Tlos , the ancient Lycian capital of Xanthos , the temples of Letoon , and the isolated mountain splendor of tomb-studded Pinara .

Moving east, laidback Kaş is the kind of place you may never want to leave, with its sublime sea views and hip cafes, restaurants and cocktail bars. The rock tombs of Myra , the dramatic ruins and beach at Olympos, and romantic Phaselis are just a few of the reasons to linger en route to lively Antalya.

3. Historic Anatolia

Best road trip for ancient history Ankara-Konya; 692km (430 miles)

A visit to the fascinating Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara will set the stage for this journey into the past. After stops at the Turkish capital’s old citadel and the mausoleum of the country’s revered founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it’s time to head out to Hattuşa , the capital of the ancient Hittite kingdom.

You could spend a few days or a week exploring the Cappadocia region to the south, famous for its fairy chimney rock formations, cave churches and underground cities, and the colorful hot-air balloons that take visitors soaring above it all. The towns of Göreme and Ürgüp both make for good bases, with plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from.

Before reaching Konya , known for its Seljuk-era relics and Sufi heritage, stop at Çatalhöyük – excavations at this globally significant Neolithic settlement are providing insights into Türkiye's earliest civilizations.

Whirling dervish under beams of sunlight in Konya

4. Southeastern Anatolia

Best road trip for bazaars and museums Gaziantep-Gaziantep; 832km (517 miles)

The historic southeast of Anatolia is tangibly different from other parts of Türkiye, with its culture and cuisine influenced by the region’s Kurdish and Arab populations. Start your explorations in famous Gaziantep , known for its kebabs and baklava, and for the beautifully displayed collection of Roman mosaics in the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum .

Rolling east, Şanlıurfa has its own fine archaeology museum and mosaics , as well as a colorful bazaar district and the nearby ruins of Göbeklitepe , one of the world’s most important Neolithic sites. Further east, by the Syrian border, picturesque Mardin has a museum-like old town, an atmospheric bazaar, ancient Roman ruins , and a Syrian Orthodox monastery .

Turning north, fascinating and sometimes troubled Diyarbakır is the most important Kurdish city in Türkiye. From here, take the more northern route back to Gaziantep so you can overnight at one of the simple pansiyons (guesthouses) near the summit of Nemrut Dağı , topped by giant statues of ancient gods and heroes.

5. The Eastern Mountains

Best road trip for wild nature Trabzon-Kars; 640km (398 miles)

This rugged journey requires good mountain-driving skills and shouldn’t be attempted in winter, but it rewards the adventurous traveler with dramatic landscapes, isolated villages and some truly unique sights. Starting from the vibrant coastal city of Trabzon , head into the mountains to reach the 4th-century Sumela Monastery , a reminder of the region’s rich Greek Orthodox heritage.

Old Armenian churches can be found around Gümüşhane, and farther on in Bayburt is the remote, one-of-a-kind Baksi Museum , devoted to contemporary and traditional arts. From underrated Erzurum, you can continue by car to Kars , a former Russian outpost with distinctive architecture. The nearby ruins of Ani , an ancient capital of Armenia before modern borders were drawn, have one of the most picturesque settings in Türkiye.

As an interesting alternative to driving this last leg, return your hire car in Erzurum and buy a train ticket on the famous Doğu Ekspresi (Eastern Express) train to Kars, one of Türkiye's most rewarding rail journeys. 

Women sunbathing on a seabed on the Turkish coast

6. Three Peninsulas

Best road trip for leisurely seaside meandering Bodrum-Dalaman; 655km (407 miles)

The winding roads, scenic views and relaxed vibe of the three peninsulas that jut out from the Turkish coast where the Aegean meets the Mediterranean Sea – Bodrum, Datça, and Bozburun – encourage leisurely dawdling. The Bodrum peninsula is the most popular destination, with resort towns ranging from the glamorous to the bohemian.

Datça and Bozburun (near Marmaris ) are quieter, but both are drawing ever-larger numbers of city-weary Istanbulites. You may find that you fall in love with one peninsula and want to spend all of your time exploring its many coves and villages instead of making the full tour of all three. Riverfront Dalyan , which boasts one of the best beaches in Türkiye , makes for a pleasant stopover before heading to the airport in Dalaman.

7. Phrygia and the Lake District

Best road trip for off-the-beaten-path sights Eskişehir-Antalya; 556km (345 miles)

You could start this drive from Istanbul, but it’s more pleasant to take the fast train to Eskişehir , a pleasantly green riverfront city with many interesting things to do – be sure to visit the city's notable modern art museum before you hit the road. 

The ancient Phrygian civilization spread southwest from here through rock-carved valleys that you can explore today via the Phrygian Way trekking route. Continue through Kütahya, known for its Ottoman ceramics, to reach the stark hilltop castle for which the town of Afyonkarahisar is named.

South of the town of Afyon is Türkiye's forested Lake District, where you can eat fish by the water in Eğirdir or take a hike in the green surroundings of Lake Kovada National Park . After visiting the spectacular ruins of ancient Sagalassos , see some of the artifacts found at the site in the museum in Burdur, then cap off your trip with some beach time in Antalya.

8. Western Black Sea

Best road trip for quaint Ottoman villages Istanbul-Samsun; 1516km (942 miles)

This long journey will give you a taste of the rugged western Black Sea coastline as well as the green, rural areas inland. Start by stretching your legs with a walk around Lake Sapanca and then tour through the charming small villages of Taraklı, Göynük and Mudurnu. Each has historic Ottoman homes in various states of repair, and Mudurnu has the best options for an overnight stay.

Lake Abant and the Yenice Forest are two beautiful natural spots en route to the pretty coastal resort of Amasra and its historic citadel . The lovingly restored Ottoman mansions of Safranbolu are another top attraction in this region, and the mighty rock fortress of Kastamonu is worth a stop on the way to the port town of Sinop. From here, dip back inland to mosque-studded Amasya and Tokat before ending your trip in coastal Samsun.

This article was first published Jan 27, 2022 and updated Jul 9, 2024.

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Borders Of Adventure

Borders Of Adventure

Leading Culture and Adventure Travel Blog by Becki Enright. Looking at the world with a different angle to change perceptions of misunderstood places, for the best in travel.

travelling in turkey reddit

Cultural Travel , Turkey

Travel to Turkey Guide – The Reality of Modern-Day Tourism

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to handpicked partners, including tours, gear and booking sites. If you click through or buy something via one of them, I may receive a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and allows this site to keep running.

Lured by the untouched east and the trek north, travelling in Turkey for three months was harder than I thought. Here are some top tips on how to travel to Turkey and some of the best places to visit.

With Turkey one of the greatest Empires of all time, a ‘cradle of civilisation’ and whose history of Ottoman rule spans centuries, its resulting meld of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures is a huge attraction for any curious traveller. Being the largest landmass in the entire region, located right in the middle of Europe and Asia, travel in Turkey would be no easy or rapid feat, and I knew that from the onset.

Not one to reside in Turkey resort towns, choosing a relaxing beach break on the West coast wasn’t on my agenda, nor was I going to end it at the central area of Cappadocia. A considerable part of what makes up Turkey also lies in the Kurdistan region – which to locals is also referred to as South Turkey, Southern Anatolia or, “why do you want to go there?” – and the mountainous North.

It was the lure of the untouched eastern plains and the off-beat valleys of the north that kept me in the country for nearly three months.

Yet leaving Turkey was like finally breaking up with someone you’ve had long-standing emotional issues with. Being able to articulate my thoughts after visiting Turkey hasn’t been an easy task. Nothing extreme or life-threatening happened; instead, I was hit by a multitude of cultural setbacks that came in waves.

Catching my breath momentarily, I would then be swept right back into the current that somehow keeps people in the country, before the next onslaught of mixed thoughts began. 

View of Istanbul from the river

Travel to Turkey: A Guide to the Reality of Modern-Day Tourism

Travel to Turkey – How to Solve the Problem of Westernisation 

Travelling turkey – the west, turkey travel – the south, travelling in eastern turkey, will i return to turkey, planning a turkey trip, public transport in turkey, don’t want to travel turkey solo.

Turkey first lures you with its rich history, from tales of Biblical times to the arrival of the Romans and the Byzantine Empire to the dominance and enormous growth of the Ottomans. It’s always been a place of takeover, turbulence and significant change.

You’ll find it in ancient ruins, churches and opulent mosques. You’ll feel it within the walls of the magnificent structures and wrapped in the bustle of cultural custom. Turkey tourism puts these wonders on a grand show. 

Ampitheatre ruins in Southern Turkey

Its more recent power struggle, which saw the formation of a ‘modern republic’ after WW1 under the revolutionary Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, marked Turkey as different from its emerging Arab nation peers. It became a fast-modernising and more secular Muslim country.

Turkey became a more conservative and relaxed hub of Islam than anywhere else in the Middle East. Because of this, Turkey is safe to travel to and considered the safest country in the region. 

Red tram on Istiklal Street in Istanbul

Yet, my issue as a westerner travelling in Turkey is not about safety (because I never, ever felt that threatened) but about outlook and perception.

The East/West tug of war here is apparent, making the country a mish-mash of ideals – where the West coast emits a European sheen and the East shifts to a more conservative society.

I spent a month living in Istanbul – a city that should be visited. There are beautiful, fun and cultural things to see and do in Istanbul , like the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern underground water system, and simple pleasures like visiting a Turkish Hamam or crossing the Bosphorus on a ferry to reach the more local and vibrant ‘Asia Side’.

The shoreline of Istanbul, Turkey's capital city

The shoreline of Istanbul, Turkey’s capital city, seen from the Bosporus River

A fellow blogger and migrant showed me the ropes, the great places to eat breakfast, and the cool bars to hang out in at night where obscure bands would play. Some days were glorious, indulgent and bewildering. 

Istanbul was a city of juxtapositions, of Middle Eastern exquisiteness and edgy modernity. 

Outside the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, Turkey

Visit Turkey for cultural highlights, including the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul

Inside the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul

Inside the Hagia Sophia

People visiting the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Visiting the Sultanahmet Blue Mosque in Istanbul

Eating a street food fish sandwich in Istanbul

Eating a street food fish sandwich – a famous snack in Istanbul

Local living in Istanbul when travelling to Turkey

Local living in Istanbul when travelling to Turkey

Yet, an undercurrent runs parallel to its charm, its buzzing local life and the infectious nature of its people who show you the community spirit and the city’s hidden beauty and rich history.

When spending a long time in Istanbul, you begin to get sucked into its complicated persona. The political hotbed of unrest like the Istanbul May Day riots  I got caught up in, the (now annual) Gezi protests or the fight against any form of tragedy, such as the SOMA mining deaths.

Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey

Taksim Square, Istanbul

Istanbul May Day Riots

Getting caught up in the annual May Day Riots in Istanbul

Beyond a short travel spell in Turkey, you’ll soon see the other side of people not getting their way when all you once saw was the consistent hospitality the Turks pride themselves on. Cheeky hassle no longer becomes a joke, the emergence of a political protest becomes a part of your planning, and you feel more distant to locals than you did when you first arrived.

“You can’t learn to love Istanbul until you have learnt to hate it,” said my friend with honesty. 

I headed South to Gallipoli and the ruins of Troy, using Çanakkale as my base. It was a sweet little town without much to do except wander, shop and eat (as in the case with many Turkish towns).  Yet it’s so small that out of the high season of Anzac Day, any foreign woman stands out. 

Anzac Cove in Gallipoli Turkey

Anzac Cove in Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula

My friend and I were photographed on mobile phones, with stares and giggles and catcalls, and when alone, I was followed to my guesthouse in a one-hour strategic operation that started when I was eating lunch at a family-run café.  It was horrifically scary, and my guesthouse owner said it was ‘normal’.

Staying in Gallipoli in Turkey

Çanakkale town

Is Turkey safe to travel to? As a solo female? Someone else living there also said that being watched and followed was a ‘rite of passage’ most foreign women go through in Turkey. I was left outraged and vulnerable, wary of any local who chose to follow me around when in my next stops of Selcuk and Ephesus.

The Library of Celsus, ancient Roman building, Ephesus, Turkey

The ancient Roman Library of Celsus at Ephesus

In Antalya, a female friend joined me since when you are in a pair, it makes things easier. Hassle becomes more light-hearted, although it still exists, yet we continued to face local men growing seemingly angry if we didn’t want to go with them to a club or engage in a lengthy conversation.

The Antalya coastline in Southern Turkey

The Antalya coastline of Southern Turkey

In the hippy chill-out of Olympus, where we met two young and westernised Turks, it soon turned sour when one realised he wasn’t going to get his way that night. Aside from that, we enjoyed the ruins of Termessos and met plenty of locals who wanted nothing more than to engage in smiles and conversation.

Termessos Ruins near Olympia in Southern Turkey

Exploring the Termessos Ruins near Olympia in Southern Turkey

The presence of western women complicates things. The influence of European trends complicates things.

In ‘westernised’ areas of Turkey, people are freed of age-old customs and traditions that might typically hold them back, and formality is easily washed over in the hope that something more will come of it. If it doesn’t, it can create tension.

On the other end of the scale, some western women come here and misbehave, even in those small moments like when the ice cream vendor tells you he will drop the price if you kiss him.

Progressive secular Turkey is growing, yet it still grates with underlining Islamic traditions.

Westernisation of Travel to Turkey

The east-west pull of modern-day Turkey travel

It’s a vicious cycle that perpetuates a cycle of harassment and accepts terrible behaviour. While not on any level of sexual assault (a severe crime here), it is incredibly frustrating and off-putting.

Many female friends have told me they would never return to Turkey without a male companion. For the very first time in all of my travels as an independent, strong-willed and confident female, I felt the same.

But I wasn’t going to give up. Turkey has positive attributes.

Cappadocia was the cure, a hiking haven in a sea of marshmallow hills and fairy chimney valleys. The vibe was relaxed, the people more relaxed in their interaction and the landscape more varied.

Hiking in Cappadocia Turkey

Hiking one of many rocky valleys in Cappadocia Turkey

Morning balloon flight in Cappadocia, Turkey

An early morning balloon flight is a rite of passage in Cappadocia

I then hopped to Gaziantep to begin a 10-day stint through the Kurdistan region. It involved watching an incredible sunrise from Mount Nemrut, experiencing a homestay in Urfa (Sanliurfa), strolling the narrow streets of Mardin overlooking the plains of Syria, and giving support to the small yet historic town Hasenkayf soon to be flooded for the purpose of a dam before visiting the contested ground of Ani, the former ancient capital of Armenia.

Giant stone heads at Mount Nemrut, Turkey

The giant stone heads at Mount Nemrut after a sunrise hike

Holy fish lake in Urfa, Turkey

The beautiful Holy fish lake in Urfa 

The streets of Urfa, Turkey

Living locally in Urfa in Eastern Turkey

View to Syria from Mardin, Turkey

The view of Syria from Mardin

Ruins of Ani in Eastern Turkey

Visiting the Ruins in Ani in far Eastern Turkey on the border with Armenia

Choosing to end the core part of my trip by hiding away in a wooden hut in the village of Ayder off the Black Sea coast was a soothing but symbolic end, remembering the quote: “Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”

Village in the Kackar Mountains, Black Sea, Turkey

The village where I stayed in the Kackar Mountains, Black Sea area of Turkey

Hiking in the Kackar Mountains Turkey

Hiking in the Kackar Mountains

I guess that’s how I feel about travel in Turkey. It was a destination I tried to enjoy deeply with all my might, reaching its highest points in elevation and beauty, yet I still found it completely out of reach.

With fond memories, it is not somewhere I would completely give up on or shy people away from visiting. Just know that the reality when you visit Turkey might not live up to the sand-coated dreams of a part of the Middle East whose arms are wider open. 

Keep your guard while you keep an open mind. 

Things To Know About Travel to Turkey:

Despite my frustrations with other aspects of life, travelling around Turkey is not difficult, given its excellent transport infrastructure. My main go-to sites were Omio  and Rome to Rio from which to map out the cheapest and quickest flight routes.

My best source of information in more obscure and remote towns was Wikitravel which gave honest accounts and highlighted the best places for solo female travellers.

I organised my trek in the Kackar mountains through Natura Lodge guesthouse in the Ayder Valley region of Northern Turkey. Prices are negotiable depending on the number of people and the exact route of trekking preferred.

I ended up using buses in Turkey to make my way around the entire country using local bus operators and taking one internal flight. 

Every town has a bus ticket office, and the leading bus company is called Metro. The majority of tickets cost around 50 Lire ($25). Most ticket offices will organise a transfer to the main bus stations, which takes the hassle out of getting there.

CheckMyBus is also a great planning resource for buses in Turkey .

Not everyone wants to deal with the hassles and micro-planning of solo travelling, making small adventure group travel an ideal option. Culture-packed, sight-laden and multi-destination G Adventures Turkey tours are plentiful, with various options. As an ambassador who travels with them every few months, I highly recommend them alongside their ethical outlook and responsible travel practices. 

Choose from an extensive two-week tour of Turkey that loops around the entire country, or choose the ‘best of’ Turkey highlights tour , which you can squeeze into just one week.

Pin showing the exterior facade of the pink toned Hagia Sofia Mosque in Istanbul

About Becki

Becki Enright is a British Travel Press Award-winning writer whose work focuses on changing perceptions about misunderstood aspects of destinations. Her writing combines storytelling with insight into the social, historical, political and economic factors that shape the country or place in relation to tourism. Becki has appeared live on Sky News and CNN and has contributed to high profile media including National Geographic, Time.com, Guardian online, New York Times, Grazia and Buzzfeed.

4 March 2019 at 3:33 pm

She is not rude. I am a Muslim. So I do understand the culture in Turkey. It’s rude to harass women in every culture.

25 March 2016 at 5:38 pm

Becki, I appreciate your post and want to validate your experience. ; I recently spent time in Istanbul and also experienced harassment as a solo female traveler. . Like you, I’m an experienced solo traveler, I dressed conservatively and did nothing to provoke the attention., but was verbally harassed relentlessly. I didn’t feel unsafe, but it did sap me of a certain amount of energy. I didn’t read this as a bashing of Turkey, but rather a helpful FYI for female travelers and a commentary on cultural differences and how each culture perceives the other.

25 March 2016 at 9:24 pm

Thank you, Debra. That was exactly my intention. I’m sorry to hear that you too experienced harassment, and I agree it takes the zing out of a very interesting and culturally rich place. With good friends in Istanbul, I am actually planning to return soon for a few short days to rekindle the things I did like about the city. I feel I also need to do that.

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12 Travel Mistakes to Avoid Making if You’re Visiting Turkey For the First Time

Hot air balloon flying over Goreme in Cappadocia, Turkey with text overlay

Are you a first time visitor to Turkey? Read on for what not to do in Turkey and essential travel tips!

Turkey is an underrated tourist destination that has so much to offer, from archaeological ruins and cities to a spectacular aquamarine coastline. For most people planning a trip to Turkey , there’s not much information out there about dos and don’ts in Turkey, and what to expect.

Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul Turkiye

Much of what you read about Turkey ( now officially known as Türkiye ) comes from major news headlines (and is unfortunately, more often than not, negative), so it’s not surprising that tourism plummeted in the past few years – the country that straddles 2 continents has experienced significant political unrest. Though it is starting to regain its footing, tourism in Turkey is still largely misunderstood and many people still find themselves umming and ahing about whether or not to travel to Turkey.

Alacati main street in Turkey

When we were planning our trip, all we knew was that the Cappadocia region is a must-do for hot air balloons , Istanbul is a haven for foodies , and that Ephesus is one of the best preserved archaeological sites in the world.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus Turkiye

But after spending 2 weeks in Turkey , I can honestly say that the country blew my mind in terms of what it has to offer and the hospitality of its people. Considering it was our first time to Turkey and we didn’t have any major mishaps, I would give us a solid B+ for Turkey travel planning (* high fives self *).

Coffee shop in Alacati in Turkey

We learned a lot on the fly and had to change up our Turkey itinerary last-minute – we made some of these Turkey travel mistakes so that you don’t have to! Visiting Turkey for the first time? Read on for some essential Turkey travel tips and dos and don’ts for your perfect, fuss-free Turkey trip.

1. Don’t assume that Turkey is what you see in the press

Istanbul on Food Food Tour Turkey

First of all, let me preface this with the following: this is exactly what we did in 2016. We had planned to travel to Turkey in 2016, and cancelled the trip after reading about the suicide bombing on Istiklal Street, the Atatürk Airport attack and attempted coup. Tourism numbers plummeted , and I don’t blame them – would 2016 have been the best time to visit Turkey? Probably not.

Egyptian Bazaar Istanbul Turkey

A few years on, visitor numbers are creeping back up yet multiple governments still have travel advisories telling its citizens to reconsider traveling to Turkey. Should you cancel your travel plans? It depends. My only goal is to present you with my personal unabbreviated impression of traveling to Turkey and ask that you do your due diligence, weigh up whether you personally feel that the positives outweigh the risk, and make a decision that you’re comfortable with. I do however, encourage you to keep an open mind.

Selfie with shopkeeper in Istanbul

We visited Turkey in September 2018 and experienced nothing but warm hospitality, gorgeous landscapes and crowd-free heritage sites. The value for money that you get is unbelievable, and you don’t need to try to stretch your dollar in Turkey as the current exchange rate is extremely favorable for visitors. After visiting Turkey, I feel like my eyes have been opened to what the country has to offer, and wouldn’t hesitate recommending Turkey as a travel destination to friends, families and readers.

Sultanahmet Mosque in Istanbul Turkey

That being said, you should still be aware and cautious, just as you would at home or abroad in any other country. Here are a few precautions to take according to the U.S. Department of State and British FCDO:

  • Be alert to your surroundings and remain vigilant in crowded places popular with foreign nationals, including during festival periods
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds
  • Stay at hotels with identifiable security measures
  • Monitor local media and adjust your plans based on new information
  • You can contact the emergency services by calling 112. Alternatively, you can call emergency services directly by calling 155 (police), 112 (ambulance) and 110 (fire)

Most governments also agree that you should avoid traveling to the border region with Syria .

2. Don’t underestimate how big Turkey truly is

Driving through Cappadocia drone shot

Turkey is a massive, sprawling country, and one of the biggest travel mistakes you can make is underestimating how long it takes to drive between places. To give you a sense of scale, Turkey is about 6 times as big as Greece in terms of land mass! Don’t expect to cover much ground in a week in Turkey by bus or rental car – it simply takes too dang long to drive.

Turkish Airways Turkey

Personally, if it is your first time to Turkey I would not recommend spending less than 10 days to 2 weeks in the country. To get between cities, it’s often just easier and much quicker to fly. Domestic flights within Turkey are cheap and fly multiple times throughout the day; for example, it takes nearly 8 hours to drive from Istanbul to Cappadocia, but the flight takes just 1 hour.

3. Don’t leave it until the last minute to book a hotel

Pera Neuf Istanbul Turkey

We made this Turkey travel mistake and had to scramble when our travel plans changed in Pamukkale . When I tried to look up hotels on Booking.com the page just wouldn’t load – I thought it was an issue with my Internet connection but Google seemed to be working. Then I found out that Booking.com has been blocked by the Turkish government and they are looking to extend the ban to other websites as well .

Yacht Boheme Hotel in Fethiye Turkey

In 2017, Booking.com began to halt selling rooms in Turkey to users in Turkey. However, the website and app can be used from other countries to make reservations for hotels in Turkey – which means you need to book hotels in Turkey before you arrive in Turkey.

Akanthus Hotel in Selcuk Turkey

For the time being, Hotels.com appears to still work within Turkey and that’s what we ended up using to book our stay in Alacati , but I would still recommend that you book ahead, especially if you are visiting Turkey during its peak travel season from May to about September.

Click here to book your Turkey accommodation in advance , and head on over here to book your rental car – bookings can be cancelled if your plans change!

4. Don’t stay more than 2 nights in Pamukkale

Pamukkale Travertines in Turkey

When I was researching our trip, I didn’t see any Turkey travel advice concerning how long to spend in Pamukkale. We originally planned on spending 3 nights in Pamukkale. That was way too long and we left after just 1 night in the tiny town.

Travertines at Pamukkale in Turkiye

There’s no denying that Pamukkale is one of the most wondrous natural landscapes in the world, but it is overrun with tourists and the tourism infrastructure is not yet quite up to standard – the hotels and restaurants are run-down and falls seriously short of what we experienced elsewhere in Turkey.

Tourists at Pamukkale Travertines in Turkey

Most tourists visiting Pamukkale are day trippers from Ephesus , Alacati or Izmir, and don’t stay overnight in Pamukkale anyway. However, without investment into local businesses and infrastructure the quality of offerings will never improve, so I encourage you to ensure that your tourism dollars benefit the local community in Pamukkale.

Hieropolis Theatre in Pamukkale Turkey

Stay at least 1 night in Pamukkale to see the frozen waterfall and travertines, or stay an additional night to venture out to Aphrodisias, another UNESCO-listed archaeological ruin. The Pamukkale travertines and ruins of Hieropolis can easily be explored within 1 morning, so you’ll find that anything more than 2 nights in Pamukkale will be too long.

5. Don’t forget to get your e-visa

Turkey e-visa confirmation

You may need an e-Visa to enter Turkey. Check if you are eligible for visa exemption here . Rates vary depending on nationality and you can apply for your visa ahead of time on the official Turkish government e-visa website here .

We nearly forgot and applied fairly last minute – luckily, the approval was almost immediate! You will need to download and print out a copy of the visa.

6. Don’t skip the Museum Pass

Derinkuyu Underground City in Cappadocia Turkey

I love the Museum Pass and I want to shout it from the rooftops. If you are visiting Turkey and are headed to multiple cities, invest in the Museum Pass ! The Turkey Museum Pass currently costs 3500 TL as of September 2023 (approximately 120 US Dollars/Euros – the price continues to go up year-on-year), is valid for 15 days and is accepted at most museums and archaeological sites including ones in Istanbul , Ephesus , Pamukkale and Fethiye .

Queue at Sofia Hagia in Istanbul Turkey

The best thing about the Museum Pass is that it allows you to skip-the-queue – all you need to do is swipe or present the card at the entrance and you can sail right in. You end up saving a lot in entrance fees (and time) if you put it to good use, and it can be purchased at pretty much any landmark that accepts it.

Museum Pass Istanbul Fast Track

There are also cheaper region-specific passes if you don’t want to buy a Turkey-wide pass – Istanbul, Aegean, Mediterranean and Cappadocia.

7. Don’t limit your time in Turkey to 2 weeks

Delikli Koy near Alacati in western Turkey

Only spending 2 weeks in Turkey was one of our biggest Turkey travel mistakes because there is SO much to see. It is a huge regret of mine, because we only saw a fraction of the archaeological sites and ruins that Turkey has to offer, not to mention the beaches, waterfalls, cities and towns. Some people only ever visit Istanbul or Cappadocia, and think that they’ve “covered” what Turkey has to offer – wrong!

Tlos Ancient City near Fethiye in Turkey

If I had a do-over, I would have budgeted at least 3 to 4 weeks in Turkey and explored Kaş, Apollo’s Temple in Didim, Mount Nemrut in eastern Turkey, Pergamon and Troy. Keep reading if you want to learn more about what not to do in Turkey.

Drone photo of Oludeniz Beach in Turkiye

However, not everyone wants to or can afford to ( in terms of time or money ) jet off for weeks on end. If you are short on time but still want to experience the highlights of Turkey, head on over here to read my recommended 2 week Turkey itinerary!

8. Don’t miss out on what Cappadocia has to offer beyond the hot air balloons

Uchisar Castle in Cappadocia Turkey

We spent 3 days in Cappadocia and our days were packed to the brim with things to see and places to visit…but we might not have explored it properly if our hot air balloon ride wasn’t cancelled on the first morning.

Drone photo of Uchisar town in Cappadocia Turkiye

If you’re visiting Cappadocia and only set aside 1 night, you might be sorely disappointed as hot air balloon rides can be cancelled by the Civil Aviation Authority due to bad weather.

Related article: 10 things you need to know before hot air ballooning in Cappadocia

Hot air balloons filling up in the morning in Cappadocia

On average, hot air balloons in Cappadocia fly on approximately 250 out of 365 days of the year, but we were one of the unlucky ones and ended up having to scramble to try to get on another flight. Many of our other fellow passengers weren’t so fortunate as several were only staying for 1 day in Cappadocia and never imagined that they wouldn’t actually be able to go on a hot air balloon ride.

Cappadocia rooftop photoshoots

Because our hot air balloon ride was cancelled, we were, in a sense, forced to look for alternatives. And boy oh boy did we explore. Beyond the hot air balloons in Cappadocia, the region is also home to sprawling underground cities, a plethora of viewpoints, open air museums and archaeological sites.

Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia Turkiye

You will be doing the region a disservice if you only go on a hot air balloon, snap an Instagram shot on a rooftop and take a photo in a carpet shop! Click here for incredible things to do in Cappadocia.

9. Don’t skip Turkey’s Turquoise Coast

Oludeniz beach in Fethiye Turkey

In my humble opinion, Turkey’s Turquoise Coast is one of the most underrated beach destinations in the world. It blew my mind, and absolutely needs to be everyone’s Turkey itinerary.

Ultra Blue Bays boat trip around Fethiye Turkey

The entire stretch of the coastline in the Aegean region in southwest Turkey is full of pristine beaches, perfectly translucent water and a plethora of beautiful boutique hotels.

Blue Lagoon in Oludeniz Turkey

When you think of Turkey, most people think of Istanbul , Cappadocia , and Pamukkale . Rarely do you hear about Turkey’s stunning beaches – but sometimes our best travel experiences are from destinations we hadn’t heard much about in the past, and places where we don’t already have a rigid set of expectations.

Ultra Blue Bays boat trip in Fethiye Turkey

When we were putting together our 2 week Turkey itinerary , we decided that we needed some time by the ocean after time in the landlocked region of Cappadocia and ancient city of Ephesus. So we pulled up Google Maps and had a look at where we could veg out for a few nights and maybe go for a dip in the ocean. We weren’t particularly drawn to the glitzy resort-filled Bodrum and Fethiye looked alright, so off we went without knowing much about the area.

Swimming at Butterfly Valley in Oludeniz Turkey

Guess what? Fethiye and Oludeniz ended up being one of our favorite destinations in Turkey and I could have easily spent a few more days in the area. I can’t wait to go back and venture further east towards Antalya to check out other destinations along the Turquoise Coast like Kas. Make sure you venture to this part of Turkey for sun, sea and sites ( archaeological sites, that is ).

10. Don’t underestimate how many UNESCO World Heritage Sites there are in Turkey

Goreme Open Air Museum in Cappadocia Turkey

There are 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey , all scattered around the country, not to mention the 80+ sites that are on the Tentative List for World Heritage status! Turkey is incredibly rich in culture and history, and it would be a mistake to not make the most of the uncrowded archaeological and historic sites.

Library of Celsus in the morning at Ephesus in Turkey

In Ephesus, we arrived at opening time and were the only people at the Library of Celsus for a good 30-40 minutes: there aren’t many places in the world where you get treasures like this all to yourself without hordes of people!

Kaunos rock tombs in Dalyan Turkiye

When you’re visiting Turkey, do go out of your way and get off the typical tourist trail to admire what history has left behind for us.

11. Don’t forget to learn a few Turkish phrases

Turkish simit in Istanbul

Hospitality is a cornerstone of Turkish culture, and most Turkish people believe that visitors should be treated as guests sent by God – we experienced this firsthand, and most Turks welcome the opportunity to meet foreign visitors, learn about different cultures and practice their language skills. Though we couldn’t speak a lick of Turkish, our attempts at butchering their language were always warmly welcomed.

Istanbul on Food Food Tour Turkey

Before traveling to Turkey, I knew almost nothing about the Turkish language. In fact, my Turkish is still fairly non-existent, and I regret not learning a few basic phrases before our trip. Trying to read Turkish and figure out how to say certain phrases can be extremely intimidating, but there are some tricks you can use to remember Turkish phrases – for example, say “tea, sugar and a dream” quickly and it will sound like you’re saying “teşekkür ederim”, or “thank you” in Turkish!

12. Do be mindful of what you wear

Wall tiles at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul Turkey

Look, though most people in Turkey are Muslim, Turkey as a whole is not extremely conservative, especially in the coastal areas and beach destinations. You will see young Turkish women and men dressed fairly liberally in cities like Istanbul, and Turkish people are mostly accustomed to seeing international tourists and Western-style clothing. In Turkey, you can largely walk around with sleeveless tops and shorts, and female tourists are not required to wear headscarves.

Dress code in Istanbul Turkey

That being said, you should be respectful and mindful of how you dress – would I recommend that you walk around Istanbul in a crop top and hot pants? Probably not, as you’re likely to be visiting a mosque where you need to cover your legs, shoulders and head, or crossing paths with people who have just left daily prayers.

Dress code at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul Turkiye

Modesty is, more often than not, appreciated and you might not want to draw any additional attention to yourself as a tourist (same as in any other travel destination!). Read some additional guides on what to wear in Turkey here , here and here .

Walking through Imagination Valley in Cappadocia

I hope this gives you an idea of things not to do in Turkey, and is helpful when you do your Turkey travel planning! For even more Turkey travel tips and guides head on over here.

You might also find these guides helpful:

  • Only have 2 weeks in Turkey? Check out this Turkey itinerary for some inspiration and help with your planning
  • Most people begin or end their Turkey trip in Istanbul – here is my guide to spending 3 days in Istanbul
  • Head to this charming coastal town near Izmir – read on for the top things to do in Alaçati in Turkey
  • History lovers can’t skip the UNESCO-listed ruins of Ephesus. Head here for my guide to exploring Ephesus
  • Cappadocia is famous for its dreamy landscape and hot air balloons, but there’s so much more to see and do in this region. Here are the top things to do in Cappadocia
  • And here are all my best tips for booking a hot air balloon experience in Cappadocia
  • Wondering if it’s worth visiting Turkey’s cotton castle? Read this for my thoughts on visiting Pamukkale
  • You’ll love Turkey’s Turquoise Coast: read my guide to Fethiye and Oludeniz

Pin this for later!

Ephesus Library of Celsus in Turkey with text overlay

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I appreciate your Travel Tips for Turkey article post, Flo. I look forward to your new informative travel blog posts.

I thought I was the only one who didn’t enjoy Pamukkale! Other than that like you we had an amazing time in Turkey that was also too short. Thanks for such a great and honest article.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I have a feeling that there aren’t as many tourists now given the current circumstances, and hope we are able to strike some sort of balance without resorting back to uncontrolled overtourism!

Hope you’re well – take care.

Thank you so much for your post, it was very interesting and useful to decide whether to visit Turkey or not. You convinced me and as soon as the Covid-19 pandemia allows we will certainly travel to this beautiful country. Thanks again. Adelita

Hi Adelita,

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article! If and when you decide to venture to Turkey you might also find these guides helpful: https://www.yogawinetravel.com/travel/turkey-travel-guides-tips/

Thanks for the great post. We are going to Turkey next week despite the US State Dept. warning, and I was a bit apprehensive. But, with your recommendations, I am confident that we will have a great trip. I look forward to reading your other travel tips to places yet to be visited! Have safe and fun travels!

Hi Randolph,

I am so thrilled to hear that you found this post helpful in planning your travels. Have a safe and incredible trip to Turkey – I have a few more recommendations and tips here that you might find useful: https://www.yogawinetravel.com/travel/turkey-travel-guides-tips/

Happy travels!

Wow! Really interesting post. I was count turkey as an unsafe place to travel but after reading this post, my perception towards Turkey is changed.

I hope you get to visit and see Turkey with your own eyes! I was blown away by the beauty and culture of this amazing country.

Very useful information! Turkey is on my list. I did not know about booking.com being baned or of Pamukkale (which looks beautiful). I’m excited for the day I visit this beautiful country!

Hi Alexandra, thanks so much for reading this! Glad to hear that you found it helpful, and I hope you make it to Turkey one day soon!

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Is Turkey safe for LGBTQIA+ travellers?

Travellers siting on colourful stairs in Istanbul, Turkey

LGBTQIA+ travellers are those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, plus queer or questioning, intersex or asexual individuals. It also includes those who identify beyond these commonly used sexualities and gender expressions. Everyone has the right to feel safe, so we’ve put together a quick guide to safety for LGBTQIA+ folks travelling in Turkey .

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

LGBTQIA+ travellers should be aware that while Turkey is nominally secular, it can also be very conservative and negative attitudes towards queer individuals are common, particularly outside major cities in more remote towns. Gay couples are advised to use discretion and avoid public displays of affection. That said, same-sex couples in Turkey are also unlikely to engage in PDAs such as kissing as it’s often frowned upon in Turkish society.

Transgender travellers should also be aware that trans people in Turkey report being the targets of violence and overt discrimination.

The queer scene in Turkey is small compared to more liberal countries in Europe , but big cities like Istanbul (specifically the Beyoğlu, Kadıköy and Beşiktaş neighbourhoods), Izmir and Ankara have growing queer scenes with lively bars, clubs and galleries. That said, the venues can often be primarily oriented around cisgender gay men, and to a lesser extent, cisgender gay women.

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

If you are travelling solo on an Intrepid tour, you will share accommodation with a traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let our friendly adventure consultants know at the time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming accordingly. Most of our tours also have the option to pay for an individual room for travellers who do not wish to share.

Let's create an exclusive trip for your group.

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Why are Barcelona residents protesting against tourists?

Thousands of people joined an anti-tourism protest in Barcelona amid rising housing costs.

travelling in turkey reddit

Videos of Barcelona residents shooting water pistols at tourists at a city restaurant have been widely shared on social media. And it was not fake news. Residents in Spain’s most visited city did not mean to harm tourists, but they are conveying a message: “Tourists, go home.”

It was the latest in the series of protests against mass tourism in the country, which attracted 85 million visitors in 2023.

Barcelona , home to beautiful beaches and the world-famous Barcelona football club, attracts millions of tourists every year. But the record flow of visitors has impacted the housing sector, pushing rental prices higher and out of reach for some city residents.

Here’s more about Barcelona’s anti-tourism protests.

What happened?

  • Around 2,800 anti-tourism protesters marched in Barcelona on Saturday, July 6, according to the police.
  • Videos making the rounds on social media showed protesters carrying banners with slogans including “Tourists go home”, and “Barcelona is not for sale”.
  • They were also seen using colourful plastic water pistols to spray water on the visitors in the tourist district of Las Ramblas.
  • Protesters additionally cordoned off restaurants and hotels in the northeastern coastal city using red tape.

Why are there anti-tourism protests in Barcelona?

  • Soaring housing costs are at the heart of the protesters’ concerns. According to property website Idealista, rent prices in Barcelona have increased by 18 percent over the past year.
  • Over the past decade, rent rose by 68 percent and the cost of buying a house increased by 38 percent, making the city unliveable for locals. Apartments for tourists, including online rental sites, have strained the local housing market.
  • To combat this, Barcelona’s Mayor Jaume Collboni, a Socialist, announced on June 21 that more than 10,000 tourist apartment rentals will be banned by 2028.
  • This was not the first time a Barcelona mayor took such action. In 2017, former Mayor Ada Colau also introduced “anti-tourism policies” .
  • Protesters are also opposed to a tourism-based economy, which they argue is making them poorer and also reliant on visitors.
  • This is not the first time tourism has been highlighted as a problem in Spain. In April, 57,000 demonstrators marched in protest against tourism in the Canary Islands , the Spanish archipelago around 2,200km (1,370 miles) southwest of Barcelona, off the west coast of Africa.
  • Spain’s Palma de Mallorca and Malaga also saw anti-tourism protests in May and June, respectively.

Who is protesting in Barcelona?

  • 180 local organisations have come together to plan the protests.
  • They are spearheaded by Assemblea de Barris pel Decreixement Turistic (ABDT), or the Neighborhood Assembly for Tourism Degrowth.
  • “The demonstration was the product of years of grassroots work, progressively in alliance with more and more organisations,” ABDT told Al Jazeera in a written statement.
  • ABDT said that it has not had communication with Barcelona authorities since the protest, and is awaiting a response.

What are the demands of Barcelona’s anti-tourism protest?

ABDT’s website set forth 13 proposals on Saturday, including:

  • Withdrawal of plans to expand infrastructure in the airport alongside a progressive reduction of the number of cruise terminals in the Port of Barcelona until their elimination.
  • Elimination of licensed and illegal tourist apartments and reduction of accommodation in the city.
  • Decommodification of public space and limits on large events.
  • Protection of local commerce, improvement of work and wage conditions for tourism sector workers and stopping public funding of tourism.
  • Making the tourism industry pay for its exploitation of public services.
  • Transformation of part of the remaining tourism sector, but oriented to the necessary leisure of the population.

How many tourists visit Barcelona?

  • Around 12 million tourists visited Barcelona in 2023, according to local authorities.
  • After France, Spain received the second-highest number of tourists in 2024, with 85 million foreigners visiting the country, according to the National Statistics Institute.
  • The most visited region was Catalonia, which attracted 18 million tourists last year. The population of Catalonia is 7.6 million, with 1.6 million of the residents living in Barcelona.
  • What brings tourists to Barcelona are the totems of Catalan culture, ranging from architectural attractions such as cathedrals and basilicas to parks, beaches and markets.

In which other countries have residents discouraged tourism?

  • ‘Don’t come to Paris’:  Ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics set to start in late July, locals from the French city are taking to social media to dissuade tourists from visiting during the sporting event. The reasons they cited included hotel price hikes, tourist scams, pickpocketing and the fact that the fares to ride the Paris Metro are nearly doubling during Olympic season.
  • Athens anti-tourism graffiti: In May 2024, residents in Athens joined other European countries in protest of over-tourism, causing graffiti to spread across the Greek capital with slogans such as “No tourists, no hipsters”.
  • Venice anti-tourism protests:  In July 2017, around 2,000 protesters in Italy’s Venice took to the streets in protest against tourism, saying it has eroded their quality of life and the environment.
  • Curbs on tourists in Kyoto: In December, a group of residents from Gion in Japan’s city of Kyoto requested council to take action against tourists, resulting in Kyoto’s authorities barring foreign visitors from entering the narrow alleyways of Gion’s geisha district.


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