Turkey is a very large country, and it is therefore impossible to visit it all in 10-14 days. The itinerary that I have done is the itinerary that can be considered classic because it includes the most iconic places in the country, namely Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Ephesus and Istanbul. To do a few days at sea, however, instead of going to Bodrum (another "super classic" destination) I chose Alacaty, a gem in my opinion, which is located on the peninsula in front of Izmir. This 10 days itinerary it can be extended to make more days at sea and / or more days in Istanbul (which is a city where you can stay even a month without getting bored).
Documents required to enter Turkey
Entry into Turkey for tourist reasons is allowed for a maximum period of 90 days over 180 days. In this case it is sufficient to have an identity card valid for expatriation, but this applies to those who enter the country through the borders by sea or air, or from the Greek and Bulgarian border by rail or by land. Instead, it is necessary to have a passport for those who enter by land and rail from the borders of the South-East and East of the country (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Georgia)
When to go to Turkey
Being a very large country, things don't change from region to region. For the itinerary that I have made and which I will talk about in this article, I would tell you about exclude only the winter, because in Cappadocia and throughout central Anatolia it can be very cold (even -20 °!) and snow. Summers can be very hot, but it is dry heat. Along the coast, temperatures are mild even in winter.
How to get to Turkey
Istanbul can be reached with many companies (, Turkish, etc.) arriving mainly in the brand new Istanbul Airport (IST). It officially opened on April 5, 2019 and replaced Ataturk Airport which will soon be decommissioned. It is the largest airport in the world and is located on the European side about 50 km from the center. The low-cost airlines, in principle, will instead land in theSabina Gokcen Airport (SAW), located on the Asian side of Istanbul, 50 km from the center. Find all the info on how to reach the center of Istanbul in the article A trip to Istanbul: where to sleep, where to eat and how to get around . From both airports you then have all connecting flights to Kayseri (Cappadocia), Izmir and many other places in Turkey.
How to get around: car or bus?
For the itinerary I followed (see below), I rented a car at Kayseri Airport and returned it to Izmir Airport (7 days for 360 euros with full insurance coverage and delivery to another location). I booked the car, as always, through the Rentalcars website. The roads are good, as are the signs, so you won't have any problems driving. Alternatively it is possible to do a good part of this itinerary also by bus; there is the (very long!) nocturnal route between Goreme and Pamukkale, and the one between Pamukkale and Ephesus, then up to Smyrna. However, if you want to reach Alacaty and move around to go to the various beaches, a car is a must.
In Turkey the Turkish Lira and the exchange rate with the Euro has been quite a dancer in recent years (April 2019 1 euro = 6,5 lire). You can withdraw almost anywhere with all credit cards and ATMs (VISA, Mastercard, Maestro, etc.) so you won't have any problems. Even for payments, credit cards are accepted by everyone, especially in tourist resorts (such as those I will talk about in this article).
Connectivity and the Internet: Turkey is out of roaming
If you have / plan to use your mobile phone during your stay in Istanbul, unless you have a contract that includes calls / data outside of Europe, you will necessarily have to buy a Turkish sim, otherwise you risk spending a fortune! Immediately outside the arrivals, at the airport, there are kiosks of the major telephony operators and the prices are all more or less similar. I bought one sim of TurkCell (the largest company in Turkey, which takes everywhere) and I spent 30 euros to get 6 Gb of data (no phone calls); this is the minimum contract! If you also want to make local phone calls or have more Gb, the prices go up a little (10Gb + tel 33 euros, 12Gb + tel 35 euros, and so on).
Health insurance is required
Not being part of Europe, in Turkey our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to take a classic medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online.
Is Turkey Safe?
This question has been asked to me several times lately so I thought I'd write a paragraph to reassure everyone a little. Turkey is no more dangerous than the rest of Europe, just use common sense (exactly as you should always do when traveling). Among other things, the Turks are an extremely kind and hospitable people and they are always ready to help anyone: impossible not to love them! The only area of Turkey where it is not recommended to go is the extreme south-east of the country due to ten-year tensions with the Kurds, the same as the border areas with Syria and Iran, in which there is no reason to go as a tourist. For the rest… feel safe and enjoy !!
- flight over spain - Istanbul - Kayseri (Cappadocia)
- Transfer to Egirdir lake (“technical” stage) -440 km
- Pammukale – 207 km
- Ephesus and transfer to Alacaty (here you can add 2-3 days of sea) - 338 km
- Alacaty + Izmir (flight to Istanbul)
- Return flight
Where to sleep in Turkey
- ISTANBUL (The Loft Istanbul ): this small hotel is located in a very nice location in Beyoğlu (more specifically in Cihangir), in a small pedestrian street of Cezayir Sk, a staircase full of very nice bars. It has few rooms but they are huge and well equipped and a nice roof terrace.
- GOREME (The Dorm Cave by Travellers): I slept in this small hotel which has both double rooms with private bathroom (large and super comfortable!), and dorms with shared bathroom. It is located in the center of Goreme, the rooms are nice and it is really good value for money.
- EGIRDIR (Nis Hotel): this stage is a “technical stop” let's say, so as not to drive too many kilometers. However, Egirdir lake is not bad at all and this hotel is really nice and comfortable. It is located in a period building with a magnificent terrace and they give a spatial breakfast. Super recommended!
- PAMUKKALE (Thermal Ece Hotel): all the hotels are located in the new city (which is nothing special) built a few kilometers from the pools. This hotel is normal, nice, with large and clean rooms, swimming pool and spa. Let's say it does its duty.
- ALACATY (Beauty Hotel): this hotel is brand new and is located just outside the center of Alacaty, in a quiet area with no parking problems. The construction is traditional, has a swimming pool and a beautiful garden and the managers are incredibly kind. Breakfast is almost a lunch: more than recommended !!!!
What to see in Turkey
I wrote all about this amazing region of Turkey in the article Cappadocia (Turkey): what to see in 3 days . There you will find all kinds of useful information.
Together with Cappadocia, Pamukkale is the most photographed and instagrammed place in all of Turkey and its splendid travertine tubs are famous all over the world! On the other hand, hardly anyone knows that there are also over the tubs the remains of the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis (which in my opinion deserve more than the tubs!). The Romans, as always, knew a lot and did not miss this incredible location which had hot springs (between 35 and 55 °) and built a city around it. The archaeological site is immense and really beautiful, I liked it more than the tanks which, honestly, I was a little disappointed. To enter the archaeological site and also see the basins I recommend you to enter from the north entrance and walk the approximately 2 km that cross theancient necropolis (magnificent) before arriving in the former city center where it is located the via Colonnata, the beautiful (and intact) theater, etc. This entrance is less popular and you will avoid, at least in part, the trainloads of Chinese and Russian tourists. Among the Roman remains there are also the ancient thermal baths and it is possible (for a fee) to bathe in it. The pools themselves are very beautiful (you swim between pieces of Roman columns and capitals), but the structure they built around them is quite obscene and super touristy (to me it made me pass the poetry .. and I did not enter). With regard to the tubs, to protect them, access is allowed only along a kind of walkway that goes up / down from the south entrance. Needless to say, the accessible pools are stormed (ditto as above, they let you pass the poem). However, there is a more hidden point, along the path that then returns to the necropolis, where there are few people and where the pools are magnificent (but you cannot enter them). If you want to take some decent photos, especially at sunset, that is the best point. In general, as I said before, in my opinion the archaeological site deserves more (it's crazy and there is a magical atmosphere) than the tanks; do not start with very high expectations, otherwise you risk being disappointed! For the visit, calculate at least 3-4 hours.
The archaeological site of Ephesus is another very famous place and you cannot go to Turkey without visiting it. Built in the XNUMXrd century BC, Ephesus became one of the most important Roman ports together with Rome and Alexandria in Egypt. It was a huge city and the remains that you visit today date back to the XNUMXst century BC, at the time of its heyday. Like Heraclion, Ephesus also left me speechless for its beauty! Unfortunately it is overrun by tourists but the remains that can be seen are still worth the trip, obviously the famous one Celsus Library, the Teatro Grande, the Via dei Cureti and the terraced houses (you pay a separate ticket to see them and they deserve it). Here, too, calculate at least 3 hours.
This name will be unknown to everyone and it was also unknown to me until recently. I had seen some photos on Instagram following the profile of a Turkish photographer and it had intrigued me; when I discovered that it was not far from Smyrna I decided to go there and never was a better choice !! This little town it is located at the tip of the peninsula in front of Izmir, near the town of Cesme (famous for surfing). For about ten years, a restoration operation has been underway on the old Greek houses of the town that it is now transforming into a village of boutique hotels, restaurants and chic clubs, very popular with the rich Turkish bourgeoisie. The town is a real gem and is very lively; immediately out then there are several white sand beaches and turquoise water which are not bad at all. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded stopping here for a few days to go to the beach and enjoy the nightlife .. I'll have to come back !! If you go there, definitely book a lunch or dinner at the restaurant (with garden, see photo below) Asma Yapragi: it's beautiful and yummy !! If you can't find a place .. try Babushka.
Find all the info on Istanbul in these 2 articles:
- A trip to Istanbul: where to sleep, where to eat and how to get around
- What to see in Istanbul in 3 days
You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Turkey
- Cappadocia (Turkey): what to see in 3 days
- What to see in Istanbul in 3 days
- A trip to Istanbul: where to sleep, where to eat and how to get around