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 – my top 10 day Turkey itinerary.
It’s the perfect guide to seeing this country’s top spots and diversity in under 2 weeks.
Let’s get stuck in…
- 10 Awesome Things To Do in Turkey You Can’t Miss
- 18 Things You Should Know Before Travelling Turkey
- 23 Amazing Things to Do in the Middle East
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When to Visit Turkey?
Before we launch into this Turkey itinerary, I thought it might be useful to give you a few handy Turkey travel tips first, then will make planning your trip even easier.
So first up, it’s the question of when to visit Turkey.
Well, in my opinion, there’s no better time to visit this country than the shoulder months of May and September.
Essentially straddling the peak summer season (when things can get extremely hot), Turkey makes the perfect spring or autumn holiday as the weather during these months is ideal.
How to Get to Turkey?
Unless you’re travelling overland from a country like Bulgaria or Greece – which can be reached by bus or ferry (check out Omio for routes and prices), the easiest option is to fly into Turkey.
Most routes arrive into Istanbul’s international airport, which is why I’ve chosen to begin this 10 day itinerary in the capital.
You can then either fly back to Istanbul to catch your return flight, or perhaps take a flight from the Mediterranean coast direct, as there are many international routes servicing this part of the country too.
Day 1-2: Istanbul
Stay: Moda Hostel, Kadikoy
Begin your time on your Turkish travel itinerary 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.
I’d highly recommend staying in Kadikoy on the eastern side of the Bosphorus if you can.
With a great local feel, more cafes than you can imagine and few other tourists, this is a 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.
Day 3-4: Cappadocia
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, as there’s many activities, lookouts and trails available within 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 which I thoroughly enjoyed.
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 were 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 of this amazing destination, you can take one of these great Turkey vacation packages care of One Nation Travel. Check deals on www.onenationtravel.com
Get more tips about your travel to Cappadocia in this post I wrote all about the area.
Day 5-6: Selçuk and Pamukkale
Stay: ANZ Guesthouse, Selçuk
From Cappadocia, you can 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 which is the perfect base from which to explore the famous ruins of Ephesus and the stunning natural spectacle of Pamukkale.
Selçuk also has a range of attractions in its own right, including Isa Bey Camil Mosque, St John’s Basilica, Ayasuluk Castle and the Temple of Artemis to explore.
Yes, 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!
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 10 day 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.
Learn more about visiting Selçuk, Ephesus & Pamukkale in this article I wrote.
Day 7-9: Turquoise Coast
And now for the fun part of your 10 day 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 in the post I wrote about 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 10: Antayla
Stay: Erkal Pansion, Old Town
And finally, on day 10 of your Turkish itinerary, it’s time to head to the old walled city of Antayla – 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.
More Time for your Turkey Itinerary?
If you have extra time for your Turkey itinerary, then why not also consider the following destinations:
Recommended Turkey Tours
If you’d rather not travel to Turkey independently, but still want to see the best of this amazing country, then why not check out these top Turkey tours.
Covering a huge range of destinations in the country, and varying in length from 1-3 weeks, there’s loads of choice here, meaning you’re bound to find your perfect trip!
4 Essentials to Pack for Turkey
#1 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!
#2 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 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!
Travel Insurance for Turkey
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
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So, what do you think of my 10 day Turkey itinerary?
Does it include all your top spots?
Did I miss any out?
Would love to hear any more top Turkey suggestions you may have…