Turkey has been one of the most popular option for a holiday package over the last few years. However, you might not want to buy an expensive holiday package and instead pursue a road trip around Turkey on your own. Don’t worry if you don’t have much time, as I’ve seen the most popular spots in the country in just 10 days. Here I can tell you how you can do it yourself.
When booking your flights to Turkey you might consider getting to Cappadocia first and return from Istambul, instead of getting a return flight to Istambul. Arranging your trip this way can save you a lot of time on driving.
Cappadocia cannot be missed on your trip to Turkey and should be the first stop on the road trip. After taking a flight to Kayseri Airport you can take a shuttle to Goreme, a picturesque town situated right next to the famous caves of Cappadocia.
A great option here would be a balloon flight over the Goleme valley which you should most likely book in advance. You can spend the rest of your day in the Zelve Valley which is about 10 km from Goreme and is home to a surreal monastery complex cut into the rocks where the earliest priests were trained. The area was inhabited in until 1952, when the locals moved away and the site became a museum.
When in Cappadocia you should also check out some underground cities shaped in a soft volcanic rock of the valley. It’s a one of a kind experience you’ll never forget.
Pamukkale, also knows as the Cotton Castle of Turkey was one of my top things to see and you absolutely shouldn’t skip it. What exactly is Pamukkale? There are white travertine terraces filled with warm mineral water creating a bunch of mini pools hanging from the mountain.
At the top of the mountain you can also see the amphitheater and some ancient ruins. You might consider spending a night in the village nearby before your visit in order to escape the afternoon crowds.
The mitological city of Troy made famous by Homer’s Iliad can be visited and its definitely worth your time. You can see the replica of the Troian horse and stroll around the ruins of the city while the guide can explain you the significance and history of the place.
If you’re a cat lover like me you can also have some fans with stray cats of Troy wondering around the area. Turkey is definitely one of the best places for cat lovers.
Pergamon, also known as Pergamum was an ancient city founded by colonists on the Aegean coast of Anatolia at the site of the present day city of Bergama. It was also numbered among the Seven Churches of Revelation.
When in Pergamum you should try my favorite Turkish food – a kumpir, also known as a loaded baked potato with butter and cheese. You can choose your favorite topping such as olives, peas, corn or a very traditional dish – bulgur.
You last stop in Turkey should be its capital – Istanbul. There are plenty of things to do and see in the city, so I recommend at least 2 days to explore it all. However, ideally you might want to stay there for a bit longer before you fly out.
I’d recommend starting off your sightseeing from a Bosphorus cruise as it can give you a nice overview of the city, both the European and Asian shores that have a lot to offer. You can see many old palaces and mansions galore, or the Crimean War hospital of Florence Nightingale.
The palace of Topkapi, literally meaning the Palace of the Cannon Gate, was the home of the Ottomans for almost four hundred years. With its hundreds rooms decorated with art, gems and even gold, it accommodated the sultans’ concubines and their children, as well as slaves.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the Blue Mosque, as when I visited the front door felt down during filming and the guards weren’t letting anyone in. However, it doesn’t mean you’d be as unlucky as I was. As you can probably assume from its name the interiors are blue and the whole cathedral is surrounded by six minarets.
You must explore the alleys and halls of the Grand Bazaar. It’s one of the largest covered markets in the world, and one of the most famous souks. You’ll be able to pick up spices, nuts, dried fruit, Turkish coffee, loose leaf tea, and even Turkish delight. Yum!
At the end of the day head to Hagia Sophia, probably the most famous landmark of Turkey. Built by Emperor Justinian in 537, was the world’s greatest cathedral for more than nine centuries. Standing in the middle of the staggering spacious nave under the 43 meter wide dome can surely impress you with its Byzantine mosaics. Climb up the spiral ramp to get to the gallery and gaze at them all, including Christ flanked by Emperor Constantine IX and his wife Empress Zoe.
A trip to Istambul cannot be complete without a visit at one of the rooftop bars. Want to see more attractions in Istanbul? Check out my guide to Istanbul. There are plenty of them in the city offering panoramas with minarets enlighten by the city-lights.