Turkey itinerary

10 Days in Terrific Turkey – A Perfect Itinerary for first timers.

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As passionate travelers, we always try to find unique places to visit on a holiday and Turkey was our first choice when we were planning for a trip . Our 10 days trip in Terrific Turkey was exquisite from its unique landscape of Cappadocia to the city where two continents meet to the ancient ruins of Ephesus to its beautiful coastal shores.

Sultanhamet Mosque
Beautiful view of Blue Mosque

In recent years, Turkey has emerged as one of the top travel destinations in the world and why not, this is the land of world history with a fascinating mix of modern and ancient culture, one which connects two continents (Asia and Europe).

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Inside view of Hagia Sophia

We went to Turkey in October and with the skies being vibrant and temperatures hovering at a pleasant degree, the month of October has proven to be a spectacular time to witness the country at its best. We were fascinated by the diversity of sights and scenery throughout our journey.

If this dream destination is on your bucket list, here’s how you can explore the best of Turkey in 10 days.

Turkey Visa for Indians:

Most types of Visas for Turkey fall under three main categories, i.e. the e-Visa, Sticker Visa and Work Visa to Turkey. If you are going to Turkey for travel purpose, it is easier to get a Turkish e-Visa if you have a valid US, UK or Schengen Visa.

Turkey Visa for Indians
All set to fly

We filled the online e-Visa form here since both of us have a valid US Visa. e-Visa fee is around INR 5000 per person. It is quick and easy process to obtain the e-Visa. Once you are done with the payment, the e-Visa will be emailed to you within an hours’ time.

Incase, you do not have a valid US/UK or Schengen visa, you will need to download the form from one of the approved visa center’s websites. Fill up the form online, take a print, sign it and then submit the form at the centre.VFS centers can help in obtaining the Turkish visa.

How to reach Turkey:

When travelling to Turkey from India, Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport also called as New Istanbul Airport will be your landing plug when you fly from Indian cities like Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore.

How to reach Turkey

Istanbul has two airports, Ataturk Airport which is a hub of major international flights and the other one is Sahiba Gokcen Airport. We flew to Istanbul from Bangalore through Oman Air with a layover at Muscat. Major airlines flying to Turkey from India are Air India, Indigo, Oman Air, Turkish Airlines etc

Route Summary:

  • Day 1 – Landed in Istanbul in the evening and checked into hotel
  • Day 2&3 : Istanbul
  • Day 4&5: Cappadocia
  • Day 6: Izmir to Ephesus
  • Day 7: Izmir to Pammukale
  • Day 8 & 9: Fethiye & Oludeniz
  • Day 10: Antalya & Return to India

Transportation between the cities in Turkey

Flights:

  • Day 3 : Early morning from Istanbul to Cappadocia (Nevsheir) -Turkish Airlines
  • Day 5: Morning flight from Cappadocia (Kayseri) to Izmir – Pegasus Airline
  • Day 10: Antalya to Istanbul (Late night flight) – Atlas Global Airline

Road Trips :

  • Izmir to Ephesus (Group Tour)
  • Izmir to Pammukale (Group Tour)
  • Izmir to Oludeniz (Taxi)
  • Fethiye to Antalya ( City bus)

Hotels we stayed in :

Essential Tips to know before you travel to Turkey:

  • Buy Istanbul Tourist Pass: One of the most important thing to do before you travel to Istanbul is to buy online Istanbul Tourist pass which give access to 30+ attractions in Istanbul, free guided tours, hop on hop off bus access , to book Bosphorus cruise and skip the line tickets at the prime attractions.
  • You can easily order the Istanbul Tourist Pass online: just choose the amount of days (3, 5 or 7) that you want to use the pass. it’s best to order your pass a few weeks before the start of your trip, certainly during high season. We bought Istanbul tourist pass for two days which costs around Euro 95 per person.
  • Buy Istanbulkart: Istanbul Kart (Istanbul Card) is an essential card all-round public transportation in Istanbul. It is worth getting one if you plan to use public transportation multiple times during your stay in Istanbul. 
Istanbul Kart
Istanbulkart card. (c) – Package tours
  • This Single card (like oyster card or Metro card) is used to pay for all types of intercity transportation within Istanbul such as buses, ferries, tramways etc. It is a Prepaid card which you can then refill as n when you use it. We bought Istanbulkart at the airport   by paying 10 Turkish Lira which was non- refundable, and the 20 Lira reload amount.
  • Use Bitaksi App: Bitaksi is an Instant booking app like Uber widely used in Istanbul and Antalya. If you are someone who would want to explore neighbor hoods of Istanbul by taxi, this is the best app to book the instant cabs. Just download the app and you can book the cab from choosing your pickup destination to drop destination and it will show the fare to you before confirming the trip.
  • Carry some local (Lira) currency : We decided to load our Multi currency card with Euros and carried few Lira’s to pay for some local shopping. Do not exchange the currency at the airport, as you will get better rates in the city. Best place to exchange the currency is Grand Bazar or Sultanhamet area.
  • Carry Comfortable Footwear: There’s lot of walking in Istanbul and much of hiking in Cappadocia (if you choose to visit the fairy chimneys) , so it is best bet to avoid heels and carry good gripped shoes.
  • Fly in the 1st Hot air balloon ride: Always choose to fly in the first hot air balloon ride before the sunrise time as this is the time when hundreds of balloons fly together, and the sky turns into a magical view. It is always preferable to book Hot air balloon ride in advance with your hotel .  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Landed in Istanbul late evening and went straight to hotel.

Day 2 &3 : Indulging in Istanbul

Istanbul is one of the Turkey’s most populated city and its cultural and financial hub. Located on both sides of the Bosporus, the narrow strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bonds Asia and Europe both physically and culturally. It is the only city which is spread over two continents!

Day 2

Started our day with the Sultanhamet square which is a start point for all the famous attractions. Visited early Blue mosque (known for its magnificent interiors with blue Iznik tiles) to start with followed by Hagia Sophia ( former church, then mosque and now active Museum)  which is exactly opposite to Blue Mosque.

blue mosque istanbul
Blue mosque

Later in the Noon , We visited Topkapi palace, which is a great palace of the Ottoman Sultans and their families. which is located behind the Hagia Sophia and then Basilica Cistern ( An underground cistern) once used to store water which lies around  150 m south west to Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia
Aya sofia view
Basilica Cistern
Coloumns of Basilicia Cistern

In the evening, We went to see the Sulemaniye Mosque, the second largest imperial mosque complex in the city, built during the reign of Sultan Süleyman . Also, this is one of the best place to watch the Turkish sun down. After this we ended our day with a visit to Famous Grand Bazar, the labyrinth of streets and passages with more than 4000 shops.

Grand bazar istanbul
Enchanting lanterns at Grand Bazar

In the Night, we took the Bosphorus cruise. A Bosphorus cruise provides the best way to see Istanbul’s epic architecture along the European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus Strait. We took a two-hour continuous cruise from the Golden Horn up to the Bosphorus Bridge and back.

Day 3

After a sumptuous Turkish breakfast, we were all set to explore the neighbor hoods of Istanbul and a visit to Taksim square. Started with an early morning visit to Ortakoy Mosque , a Great Mecidiye mosque” you will find it on the maps under its Turkish name Büyük Mecidiye Camii.

Ortakoy Mosque, Istanbul
Beautiful Ortakoy mosque

After that, we took taxi and went to the Balat , which is one of the oldest districts and the best-hidden gems of Istanbul. It’s Colorful houses, quiet sloping streets with old beautiful wooden houses and rainbow stairs are the highlights of Balat.

Balat, Istanbul
Colourful houses of Balat

From Balat, we took bus to Taksim square and explored the famous Galata tower ,one of Istanbul’s most iconic visuals, overlooking Beyoğlu and Karaköy from its perched position.

Galata Tower
Galata tower, Istanbul

From there , took a walk to Karakoy to visit the umbrella street, Hoca Tahsin Street, which is the beauty of Karaköy, is just like other Karaköy streets where we can see the real face of Istanbul.

Umbrella street karakoy

In the evening, we went to see the whirling dervishes show you can sense  the mystical ritual of the Mevlevi Order, whose whirling dance has been declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity.

Day 4 & 5: Captivating Cappadocia

Took an early morning flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia(Nevsheir) on our Day 4 . With its imaginative landscape, enthralling beauty and balloon-filled sky Cappadocia was highlight of our trip. This region is home to one of the most unreal and spectacular landscapes in the world.

Red Valley , Cappadocia
Landscape of Cappadocia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cappadocia is especially known for the group of tunnels and caves carved into the rocks. The Cappadocia region consists of various towns out of which Goreme is the prime area which is home to many cave hotels and city center. The other ancient towns in this region are as Urgup and Uchisar are equally worth exploring if you have time.

Milat Cave hotel, Cappadocia
View from our hotel terrace – Milat Cave hotel

After looking at many stay options , we finalized our stay at Milat Cave hotel in Goreme. We highly recommend this hotel if you are planning to visit in Cappadocia for its hospitality and amazing photo op on the terrace overlooking hundreds of balloons flying.  We booked our hot air balloon ride with Voyager Balloons.

Day 4Red Tour of Cappadocia

Uchisar Castle
View from Uchisar Castle

We took Red tour on our Day 3 which includes which visit to Attractions like Goreme Open Air Museum, Cavusin Old Cave Village, & Pasabag and Photo Ops  at Uchisar Castle, Devrent Valley, Urgup 3 Beauties Fairy Chimneys 7 Love Valley.

Day 5 – Green Tour of Cappadocia

Early morning 3.30am, we started for the most exciting part of our trip – Hot Air Balloon ride. Our balloon agency picked us from the hotel and took us to the take off area. As we reached at the takeoff place, we were mesmerized to see hundreds’s of balloons igniting to take off.

Cappadocia hot air balloon ride
Hot air balloon view

As time passed by, we could see our balloon was up above the valley and the view of other hundred’s of balloons with us was one of the enchanting experience of our trip.

Hot Air Balloon , Cappadocia
Sunrise view with Balloons

After an hour’s ride, our agency dropped us back to hotel and later at 9am, We took the green tour which takes us to attractions like Derinkuyu Underground City, Ihlara Valley hike, Selime Monastery and Photo Ops to Pigeon Valley, Göreme Panorama

Day 6 : The Ancient ruins of Ephesus

On Day 6, We flew from Cappadocia in the morning and landed in Izmir around 11am. We had booked a private tour to Ephesus with Transbalkan Tours directly from Izmir Airport. It took us 3 hours drive to reach the Ephesus.

Ephesus
House of Mary, Ephesus

Our first stop at Ephesus was House of Mary, Meryemana, The House of the Virgin Mary , is a pilgrimage site close to the ancient ruins of Ephesus . From there we visited the ancient city of Ephesus , which is a major Turkey tourist attraction and high on every traveler’s things to do list.

Ancient City, Ephesus
Ruins of The Ancient City

This vast and beautiful Greece-Roman city was once home to 250,000 people, and the glorious monuments that remain point to it being a vibrant and rich metropolis.

Ephesus ancient city
Amphitheatre at Ancient city

After visiting the ancient ruins, we went to see Basilica of St John, the once magnificent 6th Century Basilica is now in ruins having suffered at the hands of attackers, succumbed to pillaging and withstood earthquakes but its significance remains great. In the evening we drove back to our Hotel in Izmir.

Ephesus, Turkey
Ruins of Ephesus

Pro tip: We learnt during from our guide that Secluk or Kusadasi is the best place to stay if you plan to visit Ephesus and Pammukale.

Day 7: Terrace Travertine of Pammukale

In the morning at 7, We were picked up by our tour operator to head towards Pammukale. We booked our day trip online with Pammuakle Tours. It took approx. 3-4 hours from Izmir to reach Pammukale.

Pammukale
Thermal Travertines of Pammukale

Pamukkale (meaning Cotton Castle in Turkish) is famous for its beautiful white travertine terraces and antique city of Hierapolis.

Also, with its thermal water springs, Pamukkale and Karahayit are two important health tourism centers. In Hierapolis antique city, there’s a lot history to see and appreciate. Amphitheater, Necropolis, The Apollon Temple and The Martyrium of Apostle Philip are some the highlights of Hierapolis.

Cotton Castle – Pammukale

In the evening, reached back to Izmir and explored the streets of Izmir.

Day 8 & 9 : Road trip to Fabulous Fethiye

Day 8

We wanted to explore the Turkish coastline by road and hence decided to do a road trip from Izmir to Fethiye, which was our next stop. Left early in the morning at 7 am from Izmir and driving through stretch of coastline that lies alongside the Mediterranean and Aegean seas was another great experience.

Road trip to Fethiye
Beautiful Marmara sea view

We reached Oludeniz at round 12pm. Checked into hotel and then the original plan was to take a ferry and visit Butterfly valley, the well-known landmark , a large canyon that is considered to be one of the most picturesque and amazing places in Turkey. But unfortunately, as it rained in the morning heavily and the due to the rustic weather all the taxi boats were cancelled.

Oludeniz beach
Sunset scene at Oludeniz beach

Then we decided to chill relax and enjoy at the Oludeniz beach for some time and visited blue lagoon which is at the end of the beach. After a quick Swim at the lagoon, we returned back to the beach and saw this stunning sunset by the beach which is one of our favorite things to do on our vacations.

Fethiye Paragliding
Paragliding over blue lagoon. Pic (c) : Fethiye tours

Tip: The famous adventurous paragliding over blue lagoon takes off from the Oludeniz beach.

Day 9

We went to visit Saklikent George, Saklikent, meaning “hidden city” in Turkish, is around 50km from Fethiye in the Mugla province, and just a 20-30 minute drive from Kalkan. It is 18km long and 300m deep; one of the deepest canyons in the world. We booked a day trip to include a visit to the ancient ruins of Tlos , so hopped on a open jeep safari with Zuma Safari and what a fun ride it was.

Saklikent George

In the evening , we caught the bus from Fethiye Bus station to Antalya. The buses run frequently between the two cities, so you can directly go there and book your tickets.

Day 10: Astonishing Antalya

Our last stop of the this terrific turkey trip was Antalya. We reached Antalya at 11PM in the night .Checked in our hotel and slept off.

Manavgat waterfalls, Antalya

From ancient ruins to beach side retreats, there are many best things to do in Antalya.

Day 10

Next day morning, we left from hotel to wander on the streets of Kaleici was our favorite things to do. Kaleiçi or Antalya Old Town is unquestionably one of the must-see things in Antalya.

Streets of Kaleici, Antalya

It is captivating, picturesque, vibrant, and it shows you a completely unique Antalya than its modern counterpart. The old city is like a cosmos on its own, with plenty of restored old houses, boutique hotels, cafes, and very narrow streets.

Hadrians Gate, Antalya

There are several access points to Antalya old town. We’took a walk from Antalya harbor to the modern glass lift, offering  a superb overview from its viewpoint at the top.

From there, walked towards the clock tower , which also has a tram stop. Next was a pass through via Hadrian gate , which is a stunning historic ruin that dates back to 130 Ad and probably an entry to the beautiful streets of Kaleici.

Antalya
View of Aegean sea

In the afternoon, we left to chase numerous waterfalls in Antalya, starting from Lower Duden Waterfalls, Upper Duden waterfalls , Kursunlu Waterfalls and Manavgat Waterfalls.

Duden Waterfalls
Lower Duden Waterfalls

In the evening, last stop in Antalya was Lara beach. With over 8 kilometers of sandy beach and quiet waves Lara beach is without a doubt Must see place in this area.  Don’t miss the sunset at this stunning beach.

Lara Beach

Day 10

In the late evening , We caught the flight from Antalya & returned back to India with loads and tons of wonderful memories from Turkey.

Hope our detailed guide will help you in planning your dream trip to Turkey. With its majestic grand bazaars, dazzling beaches, hot air balloon dressed landscapes, knotty architecture, luxurious history, and elegant cuisine, travelling to Turkey is one of the most blissful experiences one can ever have.

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