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Iconic Turkey Itinerary for 7-10 Days

Iconic Turkey Itinerary for 7-10 Days

Turkey has been one of the most popular options 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 by creating your own Turkey itinerary.

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. I’ve done it a few times and let me tell you that it’s perfectly safe:

When booking your flights to Turkey you might consider getting to Cappadocia first and returning from Istanbul, instead of getting a return flight to Istanbul (alternatively booking a domestic flight separately). Arranging your trip this way can save you a lot of time on driving.

Turkey Itinerary Highlights

  • Take a hot balloon ride over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia
  • Relax in the famous thermal pools where Cleopatra once swam
  • Enjoy luxury beach resorts at reasonable prices
  • Dive into ancient history
  • Learn about the Trojan War
  • Dive into Turkish culture

Ultimate Turkey Itinerary for 10 Days

10 days is the perfect amount of time to visit all the highlights of Turkey without being too rushed.

Of course, you can always spend a few more days taking a slower pace on the same route, so I have included some extra recommendations for those of you who want to add a couple more day trips or stops along the way

Day 1: Fly into Kayseri Airport and transfer to Goreme 

Day 2: Ride a hot air balloon over Cappadocia 

Day 3 – 4: Enjoy the coast in Antalya 

Day 5: Relax in the thermal pools of Pamukkale

Day 6: Visit the historic Pergamum

Day 7: See the trojan horse in Troy (Hisarlik)

Day 8-10: Explore Istanbul


How to Get Around Turkey

For the following itinerary, the best way to get around is by rental car. Although it’s possible to follow the same route using public transport, this will take a lot of extra time as the country is quite vast and there are not always direct busses. 

Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace as well as allowing you to take side trips to visit some of the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Turkey. 

Can You Visit Turkey without a Car? 

Yes, you can visit Turkey without a car by using public transport such as busses and flights, however, the distances can be long and there are not always direct connections. 

While it’s possible to travel around Turkey by public transport, it’s much more convenient to drive. 


When to Visit Turkey

Spring (April – May) and fall (September – October) are the best times to visit Turkey as the weather is warm but not too hot. 

As much of the itinerary below is inland, it can be far too hot to explore all the ancient sites in the middle of summer. However, if you are visiting for a simple beach vacation, this can be manageable. 

In winter the climate is vastly different throughout the country with snow in some parts and pleasant summer weather in others making it not ideal for traveling around the country. 


Complete 10 Day Turkey Itinerary

Days 1 – 2: Fly into Kayseri Airport (Cappadocia)

Cappadocia cannot be missed on your Turkey itinerary 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.

Depending on what time you arrive, you can spend the afternoon relaxing and soaking up the atmosphere or jump straight on a tour of the Zelve Valley. 10 km from Goreme, Zelve Valley is an open-air museum that is home to a surreal monastery complex cut into the rocks where the earliest priests were trained. The area was inhabited until 1952 when the locals moved away and the site became a museum.

On your second day in Cappadocia, a great option here would be to take a balloon flight over the Goleme Valley. This is one of the most iconic things to do here and so you need to book in advance.

These tours happen before sunrise which is why you need to wait for your second day in Turkey to experience the magic of hundreds of hot air balloons floating above this amazing landscape. It is absolutely worth it! 

Afterward, you should also check out the fairy chimneys and some underground cities shaped in the soft volcanic rock of the valley. Derinkuyu and Kaymakli are two underground cities that are open to the public and It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you’ll never forget.

turkey in 10 days
Important info:
  • Goreme is the main town where to stay in the Cappadocia region
  • International flights are available to Kayseri Airport which is close to Goreme
  • Hot air balloon tours leave before sunrise and need to be booked in advance 
  • The best way to see the sites of Cappadocia is on tours to the various attractions as most are not directly in town
  • Staying in a cave hotel here is a unique experience not to be missed
  • Volcanic erosion formed the landscape of Cappadocia

Where to stay in Cappadocia

Divan Cave House – An amazing 4-star cave hotel with a picturesque rooftop for sunrise photos. 

Traveller’s Cave Hotel – Another beautiful cave hotel with countless terraces providing a view over Cappadocia and an outdoor hot tub 

Roc Of Cappadocia – A family-run hotel with beautiful amenities, a balloon-watching patio, and unique room designs. 

Balloon Cave Hotel – For those looking for luxury on a budget, this hotel features a pool, a traditional design, and a great location. 


Days 3 – 4: Antalya via Konya 

Next, we set off to Antalya. If you are renting a car, the trip will take around 6.5 hours of driving so a large portion of day 3 will be consumed by this. But don’t worry, that’s why we are stopping here for 2 days! 

Along the way, you can also stop at Konya to see the traditional whirling dervish or the amazing entrance gate to the Sultanhani Caravanserai.

This will be the longest travel day of your trip so if you wish to save a little time you can also fly direct from Cappadocia to Antalya

But once you arrive in Antalya you will see just how worth the trip this city is. Located on the Mediterranean coast, here you will be treated to a high-class resort town with all the luxuries you could dream of for a quick beach break before continuing on to inland Turkey. 

While relaxing in Antalya, you can also catch a show at one of the best-preserved theatres in Turkey – Aspendos Theatre, visit the ancient mountain city of Termessos, go to Suluada Island, and visit the multiple waterfalls surrounding the city. 

Important info
  • Antalya is located on the “turquoise coast” of Turkey, known for its beautiful water
  • There are lots of affordable luxury beach resorts to stay at in Antalya
  • Here you can find the world’s biggest tunnel aquarium 
  • There are 5 different national parks in the area to explore

Where to stay in Antalya

Akra Hotel – An incredible 5-start beachfront hotel with multiple onsite restaurants and bars. Sauna, Turkish Baths, and massages are also available. 

Eski Masal Hotel – A beautiful hotel with Ottoman decor centered around a secluded swimming pool courtyard in a historic district. 

Nox Suite – Modern aparthotel with great options for families and a rooftop pool to enjoy 

Villa Citronella Boutique Hotel – Offers very affordable rooms with a beachfront location and a lot of character. 


Day 5: Pamukkale

Pamukkale, also known as the Cotton Castle of Turkey was one of my top things to see and you absolutely shouldn’t skip it. The drive from Antalya to Pamukkale takes just 3.5 hours so one night is enough to see the sites.

What exactly is Pamukkale? There are white travertine terraces filled with warm mineral water creating a bunch of mini pools hanging from the mountain.

Turkey itinerary

At the top of the mountain, you can also see the ruins of Hierapolis. This thermal spa city provides amazing panoramic views and features an amphitheater amongst the ancient ruins. 

But the main thing to do here is to relax in the hot springs. This is the most visited attraction in all of Turkey so as you can imagine, it’s quite crowded so I recommend spending a night in the village nearby before your morning visit in order to escape the crowds.

If you want an even more magical experience, take a hot air balloon flight over the pools at sunrise!

pamukkale
Important info
  • This is the most visited attraction in Turkey so can be very crowded
  • Stay nearby so you can visit in the morning when it’s less busy 
  • Some pools may be cornered off for rehabilitation after being degraded by mass tourism
  • You can bath in the pool where Cleopatra once swam

Where to stay in Pamukkale

Pam Thermal Hotel Clinic & Spa – Although some of the rooms look a little dated, this resort features private thermal pools onsite, a spa center, and even spa baths with thermal water in each room. 

Pamukkale Whiteheaven Suite Hotel – Located just 500m from the springs, this hotel provides a free shuttle service and features a nice pool and gardens on site. 

Anya Resort Hotel – A large, modern resort with a beautiful pool and rooms for all budgets

The Cotton House – Located very close to the hot springs, this bed, and breakfast has everything you need for a budget stay and a very helpful owner.


Day 6: Pergamum (Bergama)

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.

Getting here will take you around 3.5 hours by car and you will arrive at an incredible UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most important cities in the ancient world. 

Around Pergamum, you should make sure to visit the Acropolis which features a seriously steep theater, Pergamon’s ancient spa, and the Red Basilica. If you have a little more time you can also check out the Bergama Archaeological Museum which will give you even more info about the sights surrounding the city. 

When in Bergama you should also try my favorite Turkish food – kumpir, also known as a loaded baked potato with butter and cheese. You can choose your favorite toppings such as olives, peas, corn, or a very traditional dish – bulgur.

Important info
  • Pergamum is the UNESCO World Heritage site located inside the city of Bergama 
  • Pergamum can also be called Pergamon
  • You can drive or take the cable car from Bergama to Pergamum

Where to stay in Bergama

Hera Hotel – Panoramic views of the Acropolis with Mediterranean-themed rooms and cute courtyards 

Akropolis Guest House – Enjoy the beautiful pool and terrace in the center of this classic Turkish hotel

Elaia Hotel – Great for families, this hotel has a playground, restaurant, and bar onsite

Anil Hotel – Modern hotel with great prices for the amenities in central Bergama


Day 7: Troy

The mythological city of Troy made famous by Homer’s Iliad can actually be visited today and it’s definitely worth your time!

Driving from Pergamum to the Ancient City of Troy takes around 3 hours and from here you can also take a trip to visit Gallipoli if you have extra time in your trip.

Located on the site of the Trojan War, this archaeological site has a lot to explore for history lovers as the city was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times throughout the years. 

Here you can see the replica of the famous Trojan horse and stroll around the ruins of the city alone, however, I recommend joining a tour so you can benefit from having a guide explain 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 wandering around the area. Turkey is definitely one of the best places for cat lovers.

troy
Important info
  • The city of Troy has been destroyed and rebuilt twice throughout history 
  • This is the site of the Trojan War
  • A replica of the Trojan Horse stands in the city 
  • The city is an important archaeological site
  • You can take a day trip to Gallipoli if time permits
  • There are few good hotels in Troy itself but you can stay in Canakkale just 25 mins drive away 

Where to stay near Troy

Doubletree By Hilton Canakkale – A modern hotel that overlooks a beautiful beach 

K Bozcaada Revma – Located outside Bozcaada, this hotel has incredible decore surrounded b a lush garden

Sunsan Hotel – Beachfront hotel in Canakkale with 2 large swimming pools and reasonable prices

Troia Pension – Located very close to Troy, this hotel has all the basic necessities for a budget stay


Istanbul

Day 8 – 10: Istanbul

Your last stop in Turkey should be its biggest city – 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 with 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.

Since this is the biggest city in Turkey, there is so much for you to explore so I decided to list the main attractions that you shouldn’t miss below. But check out my more detailed guide to Istanbul if you are looking for a full list of things to do

Top Things to do in Istanbul

Topkapi – The palace of Topkapi, literally meaning the Palace of the Cannon Gate, was the home of the Ottomans for almost four hundred years. Its hundreds of rooms are decorated with art, gem, and even gold and it accommodated the sultans’ concubines, their children, as well as slaves.

Blue Mosque – Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see the Blue Mosque as when I visited the front door fell 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.

My last visit to Istambul - 2006
My first visit to Istanbul – 2006

Grand Bazaar – 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!

Grand-Bazaar-Kapal-Ar-40855

Hagia Sophia – At the end of the day head to Hagia Sophia, probably the most famous landmark of Turkey. Built by Emperor Justinian in 537, it 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.

hagia sophia

Rooftop Bars – A trip to Istanbul cannot be complete without a visit to one of the rooftop bars. There are plenty of them in the city offering panoramas with minarets enlightened by the city lights.

Important info:
  • Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey but is not the capital (that’s Ankara)
  • The city straddles two continents – Europe and Asia – with the Bosphorus River forming the border
  • Most tourists stay on the west side of the river (European side) as this is where the most popular attractions are
  • If you are short on time, taking a city tour is the best way to visit all the attractions without missing any context

Where to Stay in Istanbul

Cronton Design Hotel – End your trip with a bang in this incredible 5-star hotel bursting with elegance

Blue Mosque Suites – Beautiful rooms and suites featuring incredible views and patios

Cihangir Residences – Modern apartments in a great location with a restaurant and 24 front desk

Archeo – Modern and clean budget hotel with dorm and private rooms


JasChen

Tuesday 15th of December 2015

Pamukkale looks absolutely beautiful! Great advice, great photos, I think I just found new destinations to add onto my travelling bucket list!!

Ewa | gonimyslonce

Friday 11th of December 2015

So amazing places! I hope to see them soon,... Turkey is on my top list places to visit ;) can't wait for it!! Thanks for the tips ;)

Oliwia | The Ollie

Thursday 10th of December 2015

Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Istanbul are my favourites and I want to visit Turkey to see them. I also saw few photos with balloons in Cappadocia and I fell in love with this idea :)

Anna

Friday 11th of December 2015

Did you jump right on it? :D

Monika

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

There seem to be very few tourists in your photos, yet, you write about very touristy areas - what was it like in reality?

Anna

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

If you go early it's not that crowded :) I mean VERY early.

Michał - Podróże Reportera

Wednesday 9th of December 2015

I love Cappadocia, I have to go back there soon.

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