Tours & Itineraries Turkey

A Beginner's Guide To Turkey: The Country Not The Bird - Updated 2020

A Beginner's Guide To Turkey: The Country Not The Bird
Lynn
Lynn
Updated

Turkey’s unique geographical location, straddled between Europe and Asia, almost guarantees its cosmopolitan and diverse nature. Its rich history charms and excites while its modernity ensures utmost comfort. Once a part of the Silk Road, the mercantile character of the country remains. However, the stunning landscapes of the countryside also beckon. So, imagine yourself as a Ottoman trader as you meander through the streets of bustling Istanbul. Be transported to an alien landscape as you traverse Cappadocia, travel back in time to the ancient cities of Ephesus or take a stroll along the turquoise coast of Antalya.

Nights 1–3 Istanbul (from USD 58)

Start your journey in Istanbul. As a bustling transportation hub, you should have no problems getting an international flight!

Here, don’t forget to check out the world-famous Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia (also known as the Aya Sofya) and the Grand Bazaar.

You can choose to buy an Istanbul tourist pass, which includes the admission tickets for all of the attractions in Istanbul. It also comes with complimentary airport transfer, free Wi-Fi (through a portable router) and other great deals. However, it is a little pricey (609 TRY/150 EUR/160 USD for a 3 day pass for adults and 304 TRY/75 EUR/80 USD for children), so if time is not in your favour, feel free to explore on your own.

My personal favourite was the Basilica Cistern, which was recently made famous by Dan Brown’s Inferno. The spectacular views from the Galata Tower are not to be missed.

I would recommend a stay in the Sultanahmet, a neighbourhood near the old square of Istanbul, as it is within walking distance to most of the cultural and historical sites, which makes public transport unnecessary. It’s always fun to explore the city by foot as well!


Esans Hotel - Special Category

Address: Ishakpasa Cad. Yenisarachane Sok. No:4 Sultanahmet
Price: from 58 USD

Fax/photocopying Process in place to check health of guests Fishing Luggage storage Breakfast in the room Bike tours Walking tours Designated smoking area

Nights 4–6 Cappadocia (from USD 28)

After 3 (hopefully) eventful days in Istanbul, hop on a flight to Cappadocia. Home of the famous love valley (for its phallic “fairy-chimneys”) as well as other picturesque sites, Cappadocia is a haven for nature lovers. You may want to explore the various valleys by foot or by bike. For those who seek adventure, why not gallop through Cappadocia on horseback or on a gas guzzling ATV?

While here, don’t forget to take a hot-air balloon ride and watch the sunrise over Cappadocia. While understandably “mainstream”, hot-air ballooning is definitely not overrated. It’s on most people’s bucket-list for a reason — it’s a simply stunning experience like no other. Hot-air ballooning is the only way to catch a panoramic view of the entire valley (which valley depends on wind direction on the day you are flying) and unimaginable views. Of course, it comes with a hefty price tag with prices ranging from 711 TRY/175 EUR/~185 USD (for 60 mins) to 975 TRY/240 EUR/~255 USD (for 90 mins) per person but I guarantee it’s worth it! Most flights also come with a buffet breakfast and a glass of champagne too!

Other experiences to check out are the Ilhara Valley (also one of my favourites), Uchisar castle and the underground caves. If you’re a history buff, the open-air museum of Goreme, which chronicles the early churches in Cappadocia, may be a must-do for you too. Its open from 8 am until 7 pm and will set you back 25 TRY (6.15 EUR/~6.50 USD)

Here, I would recommend finding accommodation in the small town of Goreme, which is centrally located and easy to get around. Don’t forget to stay in the magical cave houses!


Chelebi Cave House Hotel

Address: Aydinli Mah. Aydinli sok.no/6
Price: from 28 USD

Garden Process in place to check health of guests Room service Airport shuttle Safety deposit box Shops (on site) All plates, cutlery, glasses and other tableware have been sanitized Walking tours

Nights 6–9 Izmir

The white travertines of Pamukkale

Now that you’ve seen some ridiculous scenery in Cappadocia and experienced the bustle of Istanbul, let’s go to the Mediterranean town of Izmir. Home of various Greek and Roman ruins, you can find famous relics such as the Temple of Artemis (although it’s really, barely there), the House of Virgin Mary and the Basilica of St. John.

The white travertines of Pamukkale are a 3-hour ride away, which makes Izmir a great hub for some day-trips as well. Fair warning though, you will not be the only one trying to snap a new profile picture with the white backdrop, and the hot springs are only lukewarm at best.

The accommodation options in Izmir are lacklustre because of its relatively recent development as a tourist attraction, so don’t expect excellent service.


Cella Boutique Hotel & SPA

Address: Ataturk Mah.1079.Sok. No 21

So there you have it!

Turkey is a wonderful place to visit and explore. It is culturally rich and diverse, which makes it an experience like no other. Cappadocia was certainly my favourite part of the trip and I know I will be back someday! I hope this itinerary and guide was useful to you and gave you some ideas for you to plan an amazing trip!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Still Need Travel Insurance?

You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

*5% off when you book with our promo code: TRIP101

*For our Canadian and US travellers, unfortunately due to financial services laws, we cannot provide a discount. This promotional code cannot be used with any other discount offer, including World Nomads Members’ discount for travel insurance policy holders.

Hi I'm Lynn, I'm a travel addict. I have a penchant for luxury travel, photographing animals and ticking off adventures from my ever-growing bucket-list even though I hope not to die so soon. Come...Read more

Have a question? Ask fellow travellers and travel experts here.
 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Turkey
Good things are meant to be shared!