Turkey is a beautiful, transcontinental nation that is naturally rich in history. From conquering Anatolia and becoming a part of the Ottoman Empire to establishing itself as an independent country in 1923, this destination is a cultural and historical gem that is well worth visiting. When planning your trip here, the first thing to note is that you’ll finally be able to say that you’ve traveled from Europe to Asia and back in a single day. Cruise through the waters of the Bosphorus Strait. Feast on doner kebab, pide, köfte, and baklava. Haggle with street vendors selling authentic Turkish rugs and vintage items. See Christian, Greek Orthodox, and Muslim influences merge inside the beautiful Hagia Sophia. Shop for souvenirs, try some Turkish delight, and enjoy Turkish coffee at a local restaurant in Sultanahmet District. Marvel at the incredible natural wonders of Cappadocia. With this amazing tour from Pupa Travel, you can do all these in just five days. Before you start planning, check out this 5-day Turkey itinerary for a fantastic adventure in the Land of the Turks.
5 Days Istanbul & Cappadocia Tour
Day 1 - Cappadocia
Welcome to Turkey! Your adventure begins in the historical region of Cappadocia. This is a place known for its quirky and stunning landscapes. Historically, people who have made their homes here in years past have found them underground and in caves. Your tour with Pupa Travel comes with a booking at a top cave hotel, so you’ll be able to experience it from the first!
Tour the fascinating Kaymakli Underground City. This historic attraction is less than 30 minutes away from Göreme. Though it is said to be eight levels deep, only four levels can be accessed by the public, and the fourth level is 65 feet (20 meters) underground. Make your way through narrow tunnels and explore the houses, storage spaces, and cellars of the city. Eerie though it may seem, stepping into the footsteps of the people who once dwelled here to escape raiders and persecution is a fascinating and thrilling experience.
End the day at downtown Göreme to hit the shops! Spend some of your lira and purchase a Turkish rug at one of the stalls - there are many sellers here offering traditional carpets and handcrafted wares, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can also join a pottery workshop, a locally practiced craft that goes all the way back to 2000 BC. You’ll notice that their wares are typically made of red clay sourced from the Red River, and this art form can take the shape of anything from usual household items to more decorative pieces.
Day 2 - Cappadocia
The first stop is Uchisar Castle, followed by Pigeon Valley. If you want to catch a stunning view of Cappadocia then head up to this ancient citadel, which is the highest point in the region. From here, you can easily find Pigeon Valley, an area that features pigeon houses carved on the rocks.
Lunch is a delicious fare of authentic Turkish cuisine at one of the local restaurants. From Uchisar, head to Devrent Valley to see stunning rock features shaped like domes, animals, and hands. It’s no wonder this spot is also called Imagination Valley because you’ll have to use yours to figure out why some of these rocks look so familiar!
By now you’ve realized that Cappadocia is full of natural wonders - but there’s still more to discover at Pasabag Valley. If you’ve seen these iconic fairy chimneys on Instagram before, the sight of them in person will render you speechless. It’s also called Monks Valley, for the people who once took refuge here. As evidenced by previous sites, ancient Turks were no strangers to (literally) carving a living out of rocks.
Close to the village center lies Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that houses ancient churches, each featuring unique frescoes and motifs. The most popular ones include Tokali Church and Elmali Church, but there are plenty more inside.
Day 3 - Cappadocia
Start your day off at Red Valley, another surreal location with glowing, pink-hued rock formations that seem to change color in the sun. You can rent an ATV or hike - either way, you’ll have an adventure and a great view to boot. From here, you’ll be able to catch sight of hundreds of colorful hot air balloons floating in the air.
Before the sky is bathed in pastel, head to Love Valley to catch a view of the sunset. These natural rock pillars are a result of volcanic ash, and since it’s fairly close to Göreme there’s no reason to miss it. This is actually one of the most popular places in Cappadocia, greeting over a million visitors each year.
Before sitting down to enjoy a delicious lunch at a local establishment, be sure to take plenty of photos from the hike, as this your last day in this beautiful region. Not to worry - more adventure awaits in the historic city of Istanbul!
Day 4 - Cappadocia/Istanbul
The blow of leaving Cappadocia will be softened by what lies in store when you arrive at Istanbul. You’ll be checking into a hotel in a great location: Sultanahmet District. This historic neighborhood is one of the best in the city, as it’s close to so many incredible attractions. You might be able to spot the obelisk that marks the Hippodrome of Constantinople at Sultanahmet Square, a landmark that goes as far back as the third century.
From your hotel, you can also walk to Blue Mosque, one of the top tourist attractions in the city. From the outside, you can admire the tall minarets that call Muslims to prayer. Inside, you’ll see the blue tiles for which it was named. Be sure to wear clothes that cover your head, shoulders, and legs, as this is still a functioning mosque.
Hagia Sophia, also known as Ayasofiya or Great Church, was once a Greek Orthodox church and later a mosque. Looking at it from the outside, you might find it hard to believe that it initially only took six years to build this place, though it has undergone a number of restorations since then due to partial collapses. While here, look out for the Wishing Column - apparently, if you can get your thumb to rotate all the way around and it gets wet, your wish will come true. Legend of a healing liquid seeping from the hole has tourists flocking to this otherwise unremarkable feature.
A two-minute walk away from here is Topkapi Palace, a museum that once housed the Ottoman sultans from the 15th to the 19th centuries. There are many interesting places of note here, including harems, chambers, and courtyards that come with fascinating stories befitting a former court.
If you’re in the mood for more shopping and you’ve got a black belt in haggling, you’ll love Grand Bazaar. As one of the oldest markets in Istanbul, you’ll find everything here from carpets and textiles to mosaic lamps and ceramic bowls. The merchants are friendly and they know how to negotiate so be sure to get the best bargain.
Day 5 - Istanbul
There’s no better way to cap off your Istanbul adventure than by starting the day with a Bosphorus Cruise. The Bosphorus Strait is a narrow channel that divides Asia and Europe. You can easily cross to the other side in about 20 minutes by ferry. Pick up some freshly baked simit - Turkish bagels with sesame seeds - from one of the street vendors before you go.
After having lunch at a local restaurant, the final stop is the impressive Dolmabahçe Palace - you’ll surely pass by it on the cruise, as it directly faces the water. Its opulent appearance on the outside is reflected inside, with gold and crystal decorations, chandeliers, Turkish rugs, and over 200 oil paintings from foreign and local masters. This was home to six sultans and Atatürk, the first president of the Republic of Turkey.
A woe shared by every traveler is that the last day is always the hardest. With that in mind, try not to fall asleep on the way to the airport so you can take in every last bit of Turkey before you board your flight home.
Turkey is a beautiful, historic destination with plenty to offer. From the stunning natural rock formations in Cappadocia to the ancient structures at Sultanahmet District, the wonders never cease. Five days may not seem like a lot but you can make the most out of it with this tour package from Pupa Travel. This includes luxury accommodation in Cappadocia and Istanbul, admission to all the amazing places mentioned in this itinerary, return flights, and even an English-speaking guide. At the end of the trip, you’ll surely have hundreds of photos and stories to share. Don’t forget to practice saying “merhaba” and “selam” and have an amazing adventure in Turkey!
5 Days Istanbul & Cappadocia Tour
This post is sponsored by Pupa Travel
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