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Straddling Asia and Europe, Turkey attracts travelers from all corners of the earth thanks to its vibrant culture, sun-soaked Mediterranean beaches, and dazzling display of ancient monuments. While outdoor enthusiasts can trek the highlands of central Turkey or take a hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia, foodies can embark on culinary tours of Istanbul and culture-vultures can explore the mysterious Lucian ruins found on the country’s Mediterranean beaches or perhaps admire the opulent Topkapi Palace. When it comes to planning a vacation to this fascinating country, you can find several Turkey itineraries to suit all time frames from five-day vacations to three-week adventures.
Although there’s plenty to do in Turkey to fill an entire month or more, we suggest Turkey itineraries that are between five to ten days, with a week-long holiday being the best for most travelers. Seven days in Turkey is the perfect amount of time to delve into the delights of Istanbul and still have time to take a day trip to a nearby town such as Troy or Canakkale on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
Istanbul is certainly worth a full two days of exploring, and it makes a great starting off point before exploring the wider country including Cappadocia in Central Turkey, Pamukkale in the west, and Bodrum in the south. Depending on your preferences, your Turkey vacation itinerary can concentrate solely on one area and make the most of it, or move from city to town quite quickly to get an overview of the whole country.
Those with only five days in Turkey could consider a Turkey travel itinerary that focuses solely on Istanbul. Home to intriguing history, hipster cafes, and trendy rooftop bars, Istanbul has a lot to offer and you can split your time amongst the neighborhood of Karakoy, archaeological museums, spice markets and the beautiful Topkapi Palace. Don’t forget to fully immerse yourself in the city’s Grand Bazaar; one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.
Those who aren’t restricted to a tight budget, and are set on squeezing as much into their itinerary as possible, should consider spending two days in Istanbul before flying to Izmir and then on to Cappadocia. In Izmir, you can visit the Roman city of Ephesus where you’ll find several UNESCO World Heritage sites and historical monuments including the Temple of Hadrian, the Library of Celsus, and the Temple of Artemis. In Cappadocia, soak up Goreme National Park and the rock-cut underground villages that make up this magical landscape. From here, fly to Ankara, Turkey’s modern capital for a day in the cosmopolitan city before departing for home. Ankara Castle, the War of Independence Museum, and the Museum of Anatolian Civilization should all be on your Ankara to-do list.
If you can lend seven days to a Turkey trip, then your travel options just expanded considerably. Opt for a circular sightseeing tour of Istanbul, the Gallipoli Peninsula, and the Aegean Coast on the Aegean Explorer tour, or focus solely on Cappadocia and spend a week cycling through the heart of Kapadokya amidst ancient ruins and spectacular plateaus on the Cappadocia trail.
Alternatively, explore Istanbul, Eskisehir, Cappadocia, Antalya, and Fethiye on a seven-day whirlwind adventure that covers the Blue Mosque, Salt Lake, and the Love Valley. Other seven-day itinerary highlights include Ephesus, the ancient city that thrived during the Roman era and Pamukkale, a town famous for its mineral-rich thermal waters. We recommend spending a day exploring Pamukkale’s highlights including the travertines, Roman ruins of Hierapolis, and the Pamukkale Antique Pool.
10-day Turkey itineraries can easily be expansions of the five and seven-day itineraries mentioned above, giving you more time to scratch beneath the surface of each destination you visit. Alternatively, why not travel further and see more new destinations that take you to the west coast where you can enjoy a tour of the Old City, calling in at the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace, and the Hagia Sophia Museum. From here you can head to the shores of Gallipoli and visit the beach and cemetery at Anzac Cove before arriving in the City of Troy.
10 days is also the perfect amount of time to spend the majority of your trip on a boat, cruising around the Turkish coast. You’ll visit ten destinations across the country and soak up the beautiful coastline and surrounding islands. From exploring abandoned ghost towns to swimming in the clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, a cruise tour is for those seeking a little adventure and looking to switch off from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.
Those with two weeks in Turkey can really cover the highlights and an itinerary will likely include time in Istanbul, Ankara, Goreme, Konya, Izmir, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Fethiye, Alacati, and Bursa. Expect to be flying high above Cappadocia in a hot air balloon, explore archeological ruins in Ephesus, and sunbathe on the pristine beaches of Fethiye. A two-week itinerary also poses the chance to dedicate an entire day to just one activity, like climbing Mount Nemrut in the southeast, or hiking a portion of the Lycian Way on the south coast.
If you’re particularly interested in local history, take a look at the Treasures of Ancient Turkey tour. On a 14-day itinerary like this, you can start and end your circular tour of the country in Istanbul and cover the delights of central turkey Including the towns of Gallipoli, Kusadasi, and Cappadocia.
Travelling to Turkey? Chat with a local travel specialist in Turkey who can help organize your trip.