Visiting Turkey or Türkiye has always been a dream. A country filled with history and sights to see, it’s hard to decide where to begin, what to see and how to do it.
My family and I made the decision to visit Türkiye after much discussion and we decided to proceed on our trip with the help of a tour guide. Having an experienced tour guide really elevated our trip with the storytelling to the history behind the places. In this post, I would like to share my itinerary that could help you kick-start your planning for that trip to Türkiye.
To get to Cappadocia, we took a flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, it’s a short 1.5 hours flight. From the airport, you can arrange for a transport to Cappadocia, which will take about an hour.
Kick start the day by exploring Göreme Open Air Museum, one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Türkiye. At the Goreme Open Air Museum, there is a combination of religious art history for different races and languages under one roof. The whole trail is a relatively short one but do note that there are inclinations around the area. Personally, I enjoyed the history of the place and the paintings within the spaces were in great condition for viewing although photography isn’t allowed.
Address: 50180 Göreme/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 08:00AM - 05:00PM (Daily)
Entry fee: 40 Turkish Lira
Located between Göreme Open Air Museum and Uchisar Castle, is Pigeon Valley (also known as Guvercinlik Valley). We drove to Pigeon Valley for a short stop to snap a few photos and the place lives up to its name with the overwhelming number of pigeons in the area (I wouldn’t recommend this stop if you’re largely terrified of them). The street vendors that sell bird feed probably contribute to why so many pigeons are here but nevertheless, the view at Pigeon Valley is worth the stop.
If you’re into walking, you can also choose to go on the hiking trail that stretches between Goreme to Uchisar.
Address: Göreme No:24, 50180 Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Lastly, catch the amazing sight of Uchisar Castle, built on a hilltop overlooking the town.
Address: Tekelli, 50240 Uçhisar/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 05:00AM – 09:00PM (Daily - Summer), 05:00AM - 07:00PM (Daily - Winter)
Entry Fee: 50 Turkish Lira
If you’ve searched up for things to do in Cappadocia, you will see that hot air ballooning is one of the most popular activities to do. As with outdoor activities, always be ready for the changes in the weather that may result in the cancellation of the hot air balloon ride. The good thing is that, Cappadocia is not the only spot to try it!
For accommodations, I would recommend staying at a cave hotel that is unique to Cappadocia. However, as we visited Türkiye during winter, the rooms did feel extremely cold but it was worth the try.
Before making our way out of Cappadocia, we visited the Kaymakli Underground City. The Kaymakli Underground City, is one of two underground cities that is open to the public. It’s older than Derinkuyu Underground City but its also the less crowded option. Exploring Kaymakli was interesting as our guide explained the functions of every room, how they lived and how the mechanisms within the city was used to protect themselves against intruders.
Address: Cami Kebir Mahallesi yeraltı şehri Belediye Caddesi, 50760 Nevşehir, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 08:00AM – 06:15PM (Daily)
Entrance Fee: 250 Turkish Lira
Afterwards, we started our long 3 hour drive to Konya. Despite the long drive, the roads were extremely scenic and watching the passing mountains and pastures made the drive a lot more bearable.
Once in Konya, our first stop was to Selimiye Mosque to do our prayers. The men’s prayer section can be accessed from the main entrance whereas the female’s prayer section is accessed on the left side of the building (facing the main entrance).
Address: Meydan, Mimar Sinan Cd., 22020 Edirne Merkez/Edirne, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 06:30AM - 08:30PM (Daily)
From Selimiye Mosque, we went on a relatively short walk to the Mevlana Museum. The Mevlana Museum was pretty crowded but somehow, the space still felt serene. Be whisked away by the museum’s artifacts and history. At the museum entrance, you are required to wear shoe covers.
Address: Aziziye Mah, Mevlana Cd. No:1, 42030 Karatay/Konya, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 10:00AM - 06:30PM (Mon), 09:00AM - 6.30PM (Tues - Sun)
We started off day 3 relatively early for our 5 hours drive to Antalya. This meant that most of our daylight time was spent on traveling. Upon our arrival in Antalya, we had our lunch at one of the restaurants in Kaleiçi: Old Town of Antalya.
As the restaurant was located near the port, we went on a short walk to the broadwalk and enjoyed the Mediterranean coast.
Address: Tuzcular, 2. İnönü Sk. No: 26/A, 07100 Muratpaşa/Antalya, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 11:00AM - 12:00AM (Daily)
Afterwards, we headed to Duden Waterfalls. We opted to just take in the waterfalls from the top however, should you like, you can also do a boat tour or dine at the cafes on the observation deck.
Address: Varsak Mahallesi Düden Şelalesi Parkı içi, Kepez/Antalya, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 08:30AM - 07:30PM (Daily)
Our next destination, Pamukkale! This once again meant another long drive, the duration of the drive was roughly 4 hours long. We headed straight to the Cotton Castle and Ruins of Hierapolis once we reached Pamukkale. We made our entrance from the South gate as it’s the closest entrance.
The Hierapolis-Pamukkale is undoubtedly the most popular spot for travelers and prior to the trip, I read multiple mixed reviews on people’s experience. Personally for me, I had zero expectations but perhaps because we went late in the afternoon, the view at Cotton Castle was definitely worthwhile. Here, our family split into two groups, one to soak in the water of the travertine terraces and the other to explore the Hierapolis Theater and Cleopatra’s pool.
Address: Güney Kapı, 20280 Pamukkale/Denizli, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 06:30AM - 08:00PM (Spring), 06:30AM - 08:30PM (Summer), 06:30AM - 06:00PM (Winter)
Entrance Fee: 400 Turkish Liras
Day 5, it was finally time! After days of poor weather, the morning weather was finally in our favor, we got to go on the sunrise hot air balloon while in Pamukkale. We headed out from our hotel at 7.20AM, transportation was arranged for us to be picked-up to the takeoff location. The bus then headed to another hotel to pick up another group. By the time we arrived at the takeoff location, the sky had already started to become brighter.
I would say, this was probably the highlight of the trip. We were able to catch the sun rise softly and light up the scene. The wind direction was also on our side, we got to see the cotton castle from a different view as we passed over it.
Upon our descent, we were given a certificate as well as a glass of non-alcoholic champagne to celebrate the flight. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and prepared for our 3 hours drive to Kusadasi.
Before heading to Ephesus, we made a short stop to İsa Bey Mosque for our prayers. (At the time this article was written, the mosque was temporarily closed for renovations). One of the oldest mosques from Anatolian beyliks. The mosque is located in a small village and the architecture was amazing.
Address: İsa Bey, 2040. Sk. no:2, 35920 Selçuk/İzmir, Türkiye
Our next stop was Ephesus : Temple of Artemis. I would recommend visiting the Ephesus with a guide. As someone who is terrible with history, having explanations made the time at Ephesus a lot more memorable and enjoyable.
Address: Adnan Menderes Bul, Selcuk 35920, Turkey
Opening Hours: 08:00AM - 06:30PM (Daily - Winter), 08:00AM - 08:00PM (Daily - Summer)
Entry Fee: 200 Turkish Lira (Entrance ONLY)
Our second last long drive, driving for almost 5 hours, we headed to Bursa. For our prayers, we headed to the Green Mosque & Tomb. The Green Mosque boasts beautiful architecture that’s a mix of Persian & Ottoman architecture. Located near the premises of Green Mosque, is the Green Tomb, where the tomb of the fifth Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed I is.
Next stop, the Grand Mosque of Bursa. I was absolutely blown away by the mosque’s interior which was decorated with writings by famous calligraphers. This included Asma-ul Husna, the 99 names of Allah. We entered the mosque during prayer time but were allowed to stand in the corner.
Address: Yeşil Mh., 16360 Yıldırım/Bursa, Turkey
We also got to take a look around the bustling streets of one of the oldest shopping centers, located close to the Grand Mosque of Bursa, the Grand Bazaar. There were many shops and we got various items at great bargains. We bought prayer mats, scarves and perfumes here. So if you’re looking for a spot to get souvenirs, this is a great place.
Address: Nalbantoğlu, Ulucami Cd. No:2, 16010 Osmangazi/Bursa, Türkiye
For day 7, we had a full day in Bursa so we visited Uludağ Teleferik, also known as Bursa Teleferik. The cable car ride is 9km long and is the longest cable car line in Türkiye and the world. As you go higher up the mountains, you can see the trees go from green luscious leaves to snow-covered trees.
We were blessed with a fresh coat of snow as it actually snowed the previous night. Hearing the crunch of fresh snow with your every step was a sensory experience that I cannot forget. There are shops and cafes located at the top of the mountain that are the perfect spots for you to warm up from the cold air of the mountains.
Address: Piremir Mah. Teferrüç İstasyonu No: 88 Yıldırım / BURSA
Opening Hours: 10:00AM - 08:00PM (Daily)
Entrance Fee: 180 Turkish Lira (Same day, roundtrip)
We set out for our final 3 hour long drive to Istanbul. Our very first stop, Camlica Hill. At Camlica Hill, we could enjoy panoramic views over the city as well as the Marmara Sea and Bosphorus Strait.
Address: Kısıklı, Çamlıca Tepesi yl No:25/10, 34692 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Türkiye
The next stop was Taksim Mosque & Taksim Square. Located in Taksim Square is Taksim Mosque, one of the newer mosques in Istanbul, having been built during the pandemic. The mosque had a beautiful interior decorated in shades of brown and beige. Compared to the older mosques, Taksim Mosque has a private ablution space for the females, located on the same floor as the prayer space.
Address: 2 B Taksim Cd., Istanbul, 34437, Turkey
Right outside the mosque, is Taksim Square, the heart of Istanbul’s European side. You will also be able to find the monument to the formation of the Turkish republic, in the heart of the square. At Taksim Square, you will be able to spot the heritage tram lines that run along Istiklal Street.
Address: Şehit Muhtar, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye
We took our time admiring the shops and other monumental buildings such as the Saint Antuan Church and embassies located along the streets. We walked to the end of Istiklal Street, where we saw the Galata Tower. The tower looked magnificent but we didn’t have time to go up the watchtower and the entrance queue was snaking around the building.
Address: Bereketzade, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 08:30AM - 10:00PM (Daily)
We continued our walk towards Galata Bridge. The Galata Bridge looked glorious close to sunset with the moving waters reflecting bright rays of the setting sun and onto the bridge.
Address: Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa, Galata Köprüsü, 34425 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye
We started our full day of walking in Istanbul by visiting the Roman Hippodrome. The Roman Hippodrome is an open-air park with three important monuments you can see: The Egyptian Obelisk, The Serpentine’s Column, and The Column of Constantine.
Address: Binbirdirek, At Meydanı Cd No:53 D:68, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
From the Roman Hippodrome, we walked to Topkapi Palace. The Topkapi Palace is home to all the Ottoman Sultans for nearly four centuries. Consisting of four courts, in the past, each court represented a different class of people that were allowed entry. Despite how large the Topkapi Palace was, each court offered different stories and I enjoyed exploring each of them.
Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
Opening Hours: 09:00AM - 06:00PM (Daily, closed on Tuesdays)
Entrance Fee: 750 Turkish Lira
Afterwards, we went to the Blue Mosque also known as the Sultanahmet Mosque. The mosque looked magnificent on both the outside and inside. Unfortunately during our visit, the interior was currently under restoration works so we were unable to view the minarets in their full glory.
Address: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey
Up next, on our list was The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque. Undoubtedly a spot of major cultural and historical site, there was a long queue to enter the mosque. Entering the mosque, there is a large number of doors to enter the prayer space. The female prayer space is located at the end of the corridor, on the side, away from the male prayer space.
As we entered close to prayer time, visitors and ladies were not allowed to enter beyond a certain point. Thankfully, about 30 minutes after prayer time, we were allowed to enter the full space. Being able to see parts of history from the building was truly a sight to behold.
Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı No:1, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
To end off the day, we visited the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in Istanbul. Being one of the biggest markets, be sure to note which gate you enter from because it is really easy to get lost.
Address: Beyazıt, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
We enjoyed a slightly slower pace for our final day in Istanbul. Our first stop of the day was the Suleymaniye Mosque. Another beautiful mosque with an elegantly decorated interior, the mosque is built on top of the third hill of historical Istanbul. Outside of the mosque, is a beautiful courtyard that gives you a beautiful view of Istanbul’s skyline.
Address: Süleymaniye, Prof. Sıddık Sami Onar Cd. No:1, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
Next, we visited the Eyüp Sultan Camii (Eyüp Sultan Mosque). Located in the vicinity of the mosque, is the tomb of Eyüp, which is open from 09:30AM to 04:30PM on Tuesdays to Sundays.
Address: Eyüp Merkez, Kalenderhane Cd. No:12, 34050 Eyüpsultan/İstanbul, Türkiye
Afterwards, we made a short stop to Pierre Loti Hill, named after the French writer. We took in the view from the hilltop and enjoyed a packed of fresh roasted chestnuts from the vendors there.
Address: Eyüp Merkez, Karyağdı Sk. No:20, 34050 Eyüpsultan/İstanbul, Türkiye
In order to take the sights along the Bosphorus river, we went on a private Bosphorus Cruise. We enjoyed the ride as we got to see all the different places we’ve visited while on the cruise.
To end off the day, we visited the New Mosque, Yeni Camii, the last mosque that was built by Ottoman Sultans. We chose not to enter the mosque and simply took a few pictures from the outside. Right nearby is the Spice Bazaar. We also did not spend much time here and simply explored the alley, soaking in the atmosphere.
Address: Rüstem Paşa, Yeni Cami Cd. No:3, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye
A few things I would note upon our trip to Türkiye:
And that is all the places we went to in 10 days. The itinerary only covers a small portion of Türkiye and there is still much more to be explored but I hope this helps in your planning for your trip!