Are you planning a vacation to Turkey but are not sure where to start by designing your Turkey itinerary? Do you want to know if you should remain in Turkey for 5 or 10 days? We can certainly declare that Turkey is well definitely worth a visit for at least 10 days! This transcontinental destination has a lot to offer in terms of activities and sights. The finest destinations to visit in an ideal 10-day Turkey itinerary for first-time visitors are listed below. And a couple more to add if you have more time in Turkey!
How to Travel in Turkey
- It is simple to navigate Turkey. If you have a restricted budget yet have plenty of time, you can ride buses for approximately $10-$20 each trip.
- If you plan a little ahead of time, you may get flights within Turkey for around $20 to $60 (last-minute bookings). This is most certainly the most efficient mode of transportation since it saves time and energy.
- Many tourists accounted that their nighttime bus ride had been unpleasant and that they could not sleep. So, is it worth $10-$30 to lose hours and a full night’s sleep? Most likely not. Airport shuttles may also be readily arranged through your hotel/homestay for roughly USD 12 each trip.
- Within cities, buses, trams, and metro systems provide efficient public transit. Long-distance buses are also available for travel between cities. However, trains such as the Dogu Express Train pass through various sections of the nation.
- Flights start at $20 one way.
- Trains between cities – Prices start at $1 per trip.
- Long-distance buses cost around $10 and higher.
Overview of a 10-Day Trip to Turkey
- 1st Day – Cappadocia
- 2nd Day – Cappadocia
- 3rd Day – Cappadocia
- 4th Day – Izmir
- 5th Day – Ephesus
- 6th Day – Cesme and Alacati
- 7th Day – Istanbul
- 8th Day – Istanbul
- 9th Day – Istanbul
- 10th Day – Departure from Istanbul
TURKEY ITINERARY – DAYS ONE, TWO, AND THREE
Day 1 of your Turkey Itinerary: Cappadocia
Understanding the Region of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a huge region in central Turkey that has a variety of towns, valleys, and natural and historical features. Excursions here include hot air balloon flights, wandering through outdoor museums, and descending through underground tunnels to explore ancient towns erected hundreds of meters below the earth.
Arrival in Cappadocia- Goreme
After landing at Istanbul International Airport, take a connecting flight (beginning at USD 20) to one of the Cappadocia region’s main airports: Kayseri or Nevsehir. Take a shuttle bus or a private cab from one of the other airports to the town of Goreme.
Goreme is the best place to start your Cappadocia adventure, especially if it is your first visit, you are traveling alone, and/or you do not have a car. This adorable hamlet is at a short distance from the most magnificent treks, restaurants, and stores.
Riding a Horse at Sunset
Choose a sunset horse-riding excursion as your exposure to the valleys if you reach Goreme before 3 p.m. Prices begin at USD 40. As you ride the silk road past rock formations and across huge desert valleys, you will feel like you are in West World.
Spend the remainder of the evening exploring Goreme Village, buying Turkish local artisanry crafts (such as carpets and handcrafted jewelry), and dining at one of the many wonderful restaurants.
Day 2: Ballons of Cappadocia & Green Tour
Hot Air Balloon Ride in the Morning
Flying a hot air balloon above the arid valleys of Cappadocia is a must-do adventure for many visitors to Turkey. However, there are 2 things that you have to consider when riding these heated balloons.
To begin, costs range from at least $120 (if you’re lucky) to an aggregate of $250 and above. If this is beyond your price range (or you are afraid of heights), consider getting up early to catch a peek of them over a wonderful Turkish breakfast instead!
Second, whether or not hot air balloons can fly depends on the climate. This implies that these expeditions are frequently canceled. So, plan to spend the everyday morning in Cappadocia riding/sightseeing in a hot air balloon. Simply in case.
The Green Tour of Cappadocia
When you arrive in Cappadocia, you will most certainly be assaulted with various trips that are color-coded. But, of all the trips, the Green tour is by far the most satisfying and all-encompassing. You will explore the Derinkuyu Underground City, stroll through the lush and verdant Ihlara Valley, visit the perched Selim Monastery, view the Pigeon Valley, and stop by a jewelry factory.
Day 3: Cappadocia’s Red Tour
The red tour is a very well and famous route for seeing Cappadocia’s stunning environment and history. It sprawls through deep valleys resembling scenes from a West World episode, open-air museums, fairy chimneys, rock cut-out old religious structures, and much more.
The red tour includes the following activities:
- View stunning rock formations
- Visit the Open Air Museum complex of cave-carved monasteries.
- Devrent Valley Walkthrough (aka Pink Valley)
- Visit Uchisar Castle.
- Visit a pottery business.
- Investigate Pasabag
- Visit a nearby winery (depending on the tour operator)
The red tour may be done with a business ($30-45 USD) or on your own as a walk beginning at Goreme Village (free). Besides, travelers may also rent a car ($50/day), but they must locate their parking.
Accommodation in Cappadocia
- Airbnb ($) – For a low cost, consider staying with a local. This way, you may connect with a fellow Turk while also receiving fantastic (non-hotel) discounts and individual service.
- Carus Hotel ($$) – A beautiful cave hotel with a beautiful restaurant and shop down below. Because this is a newer hotel, the costs are now inexpensive! This is also a short distance from everything in town.
- Mithra Cave Hotel ($$$) – One of the more traditional cave hotels. You may get the breakfast overlook of the balloons if you are a visitor here.
- Museum Hotel ($$$$$) – A lavish and elegant hotel resembling a museum built out of a towering rock cave.
TURKEY ITINERARY – DAYS FOUR, FIVE & SIX
Arrival in Izmir on Day 4
Fly a one-hour flight via Kayseri Airport to Izmir (fares begin at USD 20).
An Overview of Izmir
Izmir is Turkey’s Los Angeles: stylish, liberal, on the seaside, full of wonderful restaurants, huge parks, and boutique shops. Despite being the third-largest town in the country, you would not see many tourists here. What makes Izmir much more appealing to visitors is that it serves as an excellent starting point for excursions to the historic city of Ephesus as well as the beautiful beach villages of Cesme and Alacati.
Downtown Izmir Walking Tour
Izmir is a delightful city to explore on your own while finding its nooks and crannies. Stay in the downtown area to enjoy the beautiful parks, the weekend street markets, the many boutique stores, and the stylish restaurants.
Ancient Agora – Ancient ruins in the city center
Kemaralti Market – A tangle of local marketplaces and stores
Run, walk, or even ride your bike along the Kordon Waterfront.
Day 5: Izmir to Ephesus Day Trip
For history aficionados, the old city of Ephesus (Efes) is a must-see. Ephesus (10th century BC) is one of the most important Greco-Roman historical sites. You may travel back in time and explore one of the most significant towns of the Roman Empire. Visit the Library of Celsus to experience Rome’s splendor. Do not forget to download Rick Steve’s audio guide to enhance your experience. If you are short on time, take this exclusive VIP Ephesus journey that skips the queues!
Did you know that? By train, you can go to Ephesus in 90 minutes and for $1 from Izmir. This is how you can go to Ephesus on your own.
Hotel prices in Izmir are significantly lower than in Istanbul and Cappadocia.
- Airbnb ($) – For a low cost, consider staying with a local.
- Hotel Graymark ($$) – Affordably priced, but provides a great quality stay in an ideal location.
- Spil Suites ($) – Do you miss cooking? Rent out a full apartment in Izmir!
- Renaissance Izmir ($$$$$) Is a GORGEOUS five-star accommodation in the city center featuring cutting-edge amenities.
Day 6: Izmir to Cesme & Alacati Day Trip
Cesme and Alacati are coastal communities about an hour west of Izmir. They are worth a visit for a nice day spent at the beach or strolling around the cobblestone alleys of these charming villages.
You may get there by renting a day driver who will transport you to each location. You can utilize a mix of local transportation, but it is time-consuming and difficult to use.
Accommodation in Cesme/Alacati
If you have extra time on your schedule, I strongly advise you to spend some time at Alacati. The boutique hotels are fantastic! This is where the wealthy Turkish people come to enjoy their vacations, it will be costlier during the summertime high season. But look out for these places!
- GAIA Hotel – for its amazing interior design, lovely cuisine, and chic boho vibe.
- The Stay Warehouse – A contemporary, large, creative, and elegant stay on a private beach! Avoid crowded resorts in favor of something more intimate and with artisanal touches.
TURKEY ITINERARY – DAYS SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE & TEN
Day 7: Istanbul – Hamman Relaxation & Epic Rooftops
Last but not least, travel to Istanbul! Fly from Izmir to Istanbul in the morning for less than $20. Alternatively, you may hire a car operator for less than $10 for a 5-hour journey!
Hello and welcome to Istanbul!
No vacation to Turkey is complete without a stop in Istanbul, originally known as Byzantium, and then Constantinople which served as the capital of the strong Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. It still has a strong cross-cultural impact, a rich history, and attractive antique architecture. There are so many special things to do in Istanbul that we devoted a whole guide to the top attractions and activities to do in Istanbul for the first visitors.
Experience with Hamman
After traveling across Turkey for a week, treat yourself to some R&R by reserving a Hamman (Turkish Bath) Session at Kilic Ali Pasa.
Feel exceptional in this 16th-century Turkish Hamam in the lovely Karakoy area. This opulent treatment includes a hot marble steam room, massage, body scrub, and Turkish tea relaxation. You will experience squeaky clean, calm, and nourished from head to foot when you leave!
Cooking Class in Turkey
Food is an excellent method to learn about the local culture. And what better thing to immerse oneself in Turkish culture (while eating excellent Turkish food) than through a cooking class?
The program begins with a little tour of their area, followed by visits to various and distinct marketplaces to obtain specific ingredients. The class menu/meals change seasonally, but it is normally roughly a 7-course dinner with foods that are more often produced at home and would not be found at any restaurant!
Day 8: Sultanahmet District of Istanbul
Wear your best comfortable walking sneakers and get up early. Today, you will see some of Istanbul’s most well-known landmarks:
- Must-sees in Sultanahmet (The Old Quarter):
- Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
- The Hagia Sofia
- Spice Market
- Rooftops (restaurants, bars, and viewing points)
The Spice Market
One of Istanbul’s largest, most historic, fragrant, and attractive bazaars is the Spice Bazaar. The Spice Bazzar, which dates back to 1660, was and still is the hub of Istanbul’s spice trade. It is positioned right adjacent to the Bosphorus Strait, making it an ideal layover between your other activities in Istanbu
Although it is a key tourist destination, it also attracts a large number of residents. There are also additional sellers outside and around the Spice Bazaar building where you can observe other local shoppers – a terrific opportunity to fully immerse yourself in Istanbul’s unique preferences.
If you must pick between both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, I believe the latter is far superior.
The Hagia Sofia
The Hagia Sofia is also one of those tourist destinations that you realize will be busy, but it is worth the wait because of its special historical value. This architectural masterpiece, which was once a Greek Christian church turned Ottoman Mosque, is now a museum showcasing the growth of two of Turkey’s most prominent religions. In one hall, you can observe Christian figure peelings and Arabic writing. It is one of the greatest methods to learn about the history of ancient Constantinople.
Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum
Originally a palace, this was transformed into a museum during the Ottoman Empire’s reign in the twentieth century. Discover further about Islamic Art, the past and cross-cultural impacts of modern-day Turkey, and enjoy Islamic calligraphy, tiles, carpets, and other one-of-a-kind items.
Rooftops in Istanbul
Some of the most famous views in Istanbul may be seen from a rooftop or patio overlooking the city’s most recognizable aspects, like the Blue Mosque or the Bosphorus Strait. If you are not looking for an awesome photo opportunity or a place to eat, pick a rooftop and sit down with a book or some pals to enjoy the views over tea and snacks.
Day 9: $1 Bosphorus Ferry to Kadikoy and Moda
Did you know you can travel between Europe to Asia in twenty minutes? Because Istanbul is positioned at the crossroads of these two continents, you may enjoy your day in Europe and your afternoon in Asia!
Various firms provide Bosphorus Boat trips, but you may just traverse the Bosphorus on the local public boat for roughly $1. These commuter boats are clean, pleasant, and provide a smooth voyage away from Istanbul’s more congested and popular areas.
Neighborhoods of Kadikoy and Moda (Asian Side of Istanbul)
Consider stopping in Kadikoy, Istanbul’s hip new area, for antique shopping, dining, and exploring the local art scene. Then go to Moda, which is known as Istanbul’s Brooklyn. Moda, with its charming, spacious, green, and socially enlightened attitudes, is one of Istanbul’s underappreciated beauties. You may stroll from Kadikoy to Moda and end up at the Moda Sahili Park to people-watch, sample the native rice-stuffed mussels, or simply rest in this gorgeous park overlooking the Bosphorus Strait!
Crossing over to Istanbul’s European side is a must-do activity for experiencing the city’s more local side.
Day 10: Balat and Fener visits/departure from Istanbul
If your departure is late at night, you can still squeeze in a few more sights in Istanbul.
Fener and Balat (Off-the-beaten-path)
Visit this beautiful, attractive, fashionable area of Istanbul filled with stores and eateries. This area doesn’t have one big feature, but rather a slew of lovely sights and charming shops.
Accommodation in Istanbul
- Juliet Rooms & Kitchen- It is a hotel, hostel, and restaurant all in one. They provide wonderful meals and offer clean amenities and nice accommodations on a beautiful street in Moda.
- MGallery Galata – Beautiful hotel with great accommodations, restaurants, and spa in a fantastic location.
- Four Seasons Sultanahmet – Ideally positioned in the city’s oldest quarter yet on a quiet street, with a beautiful restaurant and a soothing spa.
Additional Places to Visit in Turkey
- Fethiye has spectacular beaches and coasts.
- Marmaris has beautiful beaches and coastlines.
- Pammukale: Natural lakes with the appearance of a cotton candle palace. This site is near to Ephesus/Izmir, or you may fly in from Cappadocia to Denizli-Cardak Airport (Kayseri).