The Only Turkey Itinerary You Need!

By on Published: July 9, 2018 | Last Updated: November 25, 2021 in Budget Travel Ideas, Middle East, TURKEY with 4 Comments

The Only Turkey Itinerary You’ll Need on a Budget

If you haven’t yet heard the news, let me fill you in.

There’s never been a cheaper or better time to visit Turkey… FACT!

Ok, well maybe that’s a subjective fact, but honestly having just spent a month in the country, I can most certainly attest to its excellent value for money, incredible range of things to do, vibrant culture and warm hospitality.

And please don’t let safety put you off, I travelled Turkey as a solo female backpacker and couldn’t have felt safer.

So if that hasn’t swayed you yet, perhaps this will – the only Turkey itinerary you’ll ever need as a budget traveller…

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Day 1-4: Istanbul

Stay: Moda Hostel, Kadikoy

Begin your time in Turkey in the nation’s most famous city.

If you’re flying into the country or travelling overland from Europe, Istanbul is likely to be your point of entry and straddling the border (quite literally) between Asia and Europe, it’s the perfect place to begin your Turkey itinerary.

I’d highly recommend staying in Kadikoy on the eastern side of the Bosphorus. With a great local feel, more cafes than you can imagine and few other tourists, this is fun, young, vibrant neighbourhood that deserves a least a day’s worth of exploring.

With your other days in Istanbul, I’d highly recommend catching the ferry over to the Western side of the city to explore the areas of Galata, Beşiktaş, and Balat, as well as the iconic sites of the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace and Aya Sofya.

Find out more about the best things to do in Istanbul on a budget here.



Day 5-9: Cappadocia

Turkey, Cappadocia, Sunrise

Stay: Saksagan Cave Hotel, Goreme

After the hustle and bustle of Istanbul, the area of Cappadocia will come as a welcome relief on your Turkey itinerary with its breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous rural towns and excellent hiking opportunities.

Basing yourself in the town of Goreme is a great option if you’re on a budget, as there’s many activities, lookouts and trails available in walking distance from the town.

Top hikes include Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, Rose Valley and Monks Valley, which won’t cost you a penny.

And you can’t miss the free sunset views from the Goreme Lookout either.

If you can stretch to a splurge, then hot ballooning over the bonkers landscape here really does take me some beating and I can personally recommend Cappadocia Balloon Flights, whose professionalism, customer service and safety was impeccable.

To get to Cappadocia from Istanbul you can either take an overnight bus ride or, if you book early, find some super cheap flights from as low as $20 USD with one of Turkey’s many budget airlines. Check out Skyscanner for some great deals.

Otherwise, if you wish to take a tour to this amazing destination, you can take one of these great Turkey vacation packages care of One Nation Travel. Check deals on

LEARN MORE: The Most Unbelievable Things to Do in Cappadocia on a Budget + Itinerary


Day 10-13: Selçuk and Pamukkale

Turkey, Selcuk, Castle

Stay: ANZ Guesthouse, Selçuk

From Cappadocia either fly via Istanbul to the city of Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast, or catch the overnight bus straight to Selçuk, a gorgeous country town ideal for budget travellers.

Despite its size, there’s plenty to do in this very local spot, but sitting in at least one café, enjoying a tea and watching the world go by is a very important way to get into the Turkish spirit!

Aside from wandering the town, Selçuk also has a range of attractions including Isa Bey Camil Mosque, St John’s Basilica, Ayasuluk Castle and the Temple of Artemis to explore.

Day trips to the nearby coast at Pamucak, or for wine tasting in Sirince are also popular activities.

But the one you can’t miss is an afternoon at Ephesus, one of Turkey’s most important Roman sites, which lies just 3km from Selçuk.

After your trip to the ruins, popping into the excellent Ephesus Museum back in town is then a must.

And after you’ve got your fill of Selçuk, heading to the amazing landscape of Pamukkale is an absolute no-brainer on your Turkey itinerary.

I almost missed it out, but thank goodness I didn’t as it definitely formed a highlight of my Turkey travels.

If you want to see this dramatic and bizarre calcite formation in its best light, then don’t just opt for a day trip from Selçuk like everyone else.

Instead, I’d highly recommend staying a night at Pamukkale in the well-priced Bellamaritimo Hotel, so you can enjoy the stellar sunset after the crowds have gone.

READ MORE: The Backpackers Guide to Selçuk, Turkey


Day 14-19: Turquoise Coast

And now for the fun part of your Turkey itinerary!

Yes after all that sightseeing, you’re likely to be more than ready for some chillout time and if you’re anything like me, there’s few places you find more relaxing than the beach.

It’s just as well then that Turkey has a ton of stunning coastline to enjoy and top of the list has to be the amazing Mediterranean shore which sweeps along the south of the country.

Avoid the resort madness and lobster package tourists however and head for the budget travel mecca of Kabak.

This hippie-haven is about as off the beaten track as it gets in Turkey, with no paved road, phone signal, banks or shops, and can only be reached by a public minivan shuttle from Fethiye followed by a downhill walk along a dirt track!

Sea, sand and sun dominate the daily schedule in Kabak, along with some beautiful hiking opportunities care of the amazing Lycian Way – one of the world’s best long distance hiking trails, which threads its way along the coast here.

Accommodation in Kabak is all in little wooden bungalows (because it’s a protected nature reserve) and if you’re looking for cheap, cheerful rooms and the chance to meet other backpackers, Reflections Camp is definitely the way to go.

Just be aware that there are very few supplies available in Kabak, so while all accommodation providers include breakfast and dinner in their pricing, bringing some snacks for lunch and anything else you might need with you is a good idea to keep costs down.

DISCOVER MORE: Why Kabak is Turkey’s Most Guarded Travel Secret

Otherwise, if you want a bit more action going on around you, the coastal town of Kaş is another great budget traveller spot on the Turkish coast that offers activities such as diving, paragliding and even day tripping to Greece!

And when it comes to accommodation in Kaş, Can Mocamp repeatedly gets rave reviews.


Day 20-21: Antayla

Turkey, Antayla, Harbour

Stay: Erkal Pansion, Old Town

The old walled city of Antayla is one of Turkey’s most beautiful in my opinion.

Set on the water and sensitively lit at night, it’s a delightful place to finish up your time in this spell-binding country.

From carpet shops to waterfront restaurants, just strolling around and enjoying the sights and sounds of these ancient, cobbled streets is a great way to soak up and savour the last few days of your Turkey itinerary.


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More Time for your Turkey Itinerary?

Turkey, Cappadocia, Lamps

If you have extra time for your Turkey itinerary, then why not also consider the following destinations:


5 Essentials to Pack for Turkey

Turkey, Pamukkale, Sunset 2

#1 Turkey Lonely Planet – Still my go-to when it comes to guidebooks, the Turkey Lonely Planet packs in a huge amount of information and will likely save you the cost of a guide in many of this country’s fabulous historical attractions and rich cultural cities.

#2 Good Camera – From the lunar landscape of Cappadocia to the azure turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, the bustling bazaars of Istanbul to the ancient ruins of Ephesus, you’ll need a good travel camera for Turkey and the Sony A6000 mirrorless ticks my box everytime!

#3 Headscarf – If you’re heading to see any mosques in Turkey, ladies will need to come prepared with a headscarf to enter, as well as a long skirt or pair of pants and long-sleeved top.

#4 Beach Gear – A lovely bikini and gorgeous sun hat are essential for looking the part on Turkey’s Mediterranean coastline.

#5 Rain Jacket – I visited Turkey in May, technically the start of summer and the high season, but was amazed how chilly and wet it was when in some parts of the country like Istanbul and Cappadocia. Having my North Face lightweight, windproof and waterproof jacket with me therefore saved my life!


Best Travel Insurance for Turkey

Turkey, Cappadocia, Uchisar Castle

I would never think of travelling to Turkey without proper coverage and always recommend travel insurance from World Nomads which I’ve used during my time in this country and throughout the Middle East.

I love their great coverage of hiking activities – crucial for travel in a country like Turkey – as well as their excellent customer service and ability to claim online, which is very handy if you’re travelling in remote places for a long time.

Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker looking for travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, then look no further than Safetywing’s great Nomad Insurance policies.

These guys will cover you at some seriously great prices, including if you have to quarantine!




So, what do you think of my Turkey itinerary for those on a budget?

Does it include all your top spots?

Did I miss any out?

Would love to hear any more top Turkey suggestions you may have…


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About the Author

About the Author: Creator of Big World Small Pockets, Stephanie Parker is a budget travel addict! Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, Stephanie backpacks the world collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile .

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There Are 4 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Sapa Oanh says:

    What a beautiful place. If I have an opportunity, I will get to Turkey for sure. Thank you a lot. I think I will get several unforgettable memories.

  2. Mukta says:

    What was the budget for the trip? Since I come from India, I will have a different range. Please let me know, would be grateful.

    • Steph says:

      Hi Mukta budget will depend hugely on how long you stay in the country, how you travel Turkey (flights or bus) and where you stay / eat (hostels / hotels / markets / restaurants) etc. I’ll need a few more parameters in order to give you a budget. Best, Steph

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