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1 month Turkey itinerary suggestions

We are two young Danish students planning on doing a month long Western Turkey trip this summer somewhere in the period between the 2. July to 25. August. This is our first trip to a Middle Eastern country and we hope some of you, who have traveled some of the areas maybe can help us or have some good advice.

We have chosen Turkey(Anatolia) because of the incredible civilizations that have resided there in the history and since we already have visited Rome, this time we'll visit Constantinople(Istanbul), its eastern twin. We are going to use public transport and generally travel budget(lodging in double bed rooms and not taking taxis), but we don't want to skimp on admissions or local food.
We love history(pre 1900AD), local food, nature, culture and bathing such as hamams, beaches and Pamukkale. We won't go drinking or partying.

We are going to take the bus between the destinations.

This is what we have planned so far.

1 travel day: Fly from Copenhagen via Istanbul to Kayseri and go to Goreme.

Goreme 3 days including hiking on foot and a balloon ride.

Night bus to Pamukkale

Pamukkale 2 days including one day to Afrodisias

Izmir 2 days including one day to Bergama

Selcuk 4 days: including Ephesus, Artemis, Sirince, Priene, Milet and Didyma

Bodrum 2 days including a visit to the Bodrum peninsula and maybe also the Datca peninsula

Fethiye 3 days including Kayaköy, Ölüdeniz and a daytrip by boat on the Turkish Rivera.

Xanthos 1 day

Kas 2 days including visiting Kekova and its beaches

Cirali 2 days including climbing mount Chimaera and visiting the Olympos ruins.

Antalya 2 days including Kaleci in the city.

Fly from Antalya to Istanbul

Istanbul 7 days maybe including day trips to Bursa and/or Erdine.

1 day fly back from Istanbul to Copenhagen.

Total 31 days

Does this itinerary sound feasible or would you recommend relocating some of the days or adding/removing some of the destinations such as fx Xanthos?

  1. Any recommendation of whether visiting in July to the beginning of August or visiting from the end of July to the end of August? When is the weather most pleasant?

  2. Should we maybe spend more time in Bodrum to visit some Greek islands like Samos?

  3. Is 7 days sufficient for Istanbul if we want to see it all? Is Istanbul comparable to for example London where one can easily spend an entire week?

Posted by
1291 posts

This actually sounds good to me. This is similar to a three week road trip I did in Oct/Nov 2016 with a car. Which makes me a little worried you are biting off too much. Some random thoughts in no particular order:

You've come to the right place for history, there are some amazing places here.

You can spend a lot of time in Istanbul, but Istanbul is one of my least favorite places in Turkey. I think 4-5 days there is adequate the first time. I've been there a bunch of times and on the last trip, after having had an amazing time in the rest of Turkey, two nights was literally more than I could take.

Glad to see Edirne on the list, I think it is very overlooked compared to what it has to offer a tourist.

Bursa is kind of meh, see if Safronbolu looks better.

Izmir looked terrible when I drove through, by osmosis a lot of people seem to say that it is. We based out of Ayvalik to see Bergama, but that is probably too far north for you.

I liked Bodrum about 10x more than Fethiye. Bodrum is a great little town that I will definitely be back to, Fethiye not so much.

Good to see 4 days in Selcuk, you basically are doing exactly the things I did near there.

Consider continuing on from Antalya to Konya, to see the whirling dervishes in Rumi's birthplace. But be aware the performance is only on Saturday.

Either one of your time periods I think is equally bad. It's hot in Turkey in those months.

The food in Turkey is IMO incredible. The only place I had bad food was Istanbul, literally every single other meal was excellent, whether at a nice restaurant or on the side of the road:

  • fish fresh from the market in Bodrum prepared in one of the restaurants that line the market
  • being cooked for by a lady in her house in Safronbolu
  • incredible fresh salads everywhere
  • delicious kebaps, everywhere, especially in Selcuk
  • juicy kofte in Edirne with flatbread, mixed salad and ayran
  • borek in Edirne that will leave you speechless
  • lentil soup at a side of the road soup bar, served with sizzling clarified butter and a mound of crusty bread

Have fun, I am jealous.

Posted by
6136 posts

When in Bodrum, be sure to see the amazing Museum of Underwater Archeology and the Bodrum Castle. I spent a half day in Datca and it was very relaxing. Bodrum also provides easy accessibility to Rhodes, but it looks like if you add time there, you'll have to take away from somewhere else. Absolutely, you can easily spend weeks in Istanbul and not see it all....it's huge and there are many attractions spread throughout. Istanbul is an amazing city with lots and lots of layers - I think you have to spend a lot more time there to try to understand it all...it's fascinating. Seven days is actually short, but it's much better than 3-4 days. I really enjoyed Izmir as well, although it felt very different than Istanbul. Your trip sounds fantastic!

Sorry to be politically correct, but be careful calling Turkey a Middle Eastern country - I'm not sure they see themselves that way, especially since a part of Istanbul is in Europe and they are not Arabs. Definitely they would not like "Constantinople" - the former Byzantine name...remember they kicked the Greeks out in the 1920s and they remade Hagia Sophia from a church to a mosque and then to a museum (there are very few remnants of any groups that used to live there during the Ottoman times before Turkey became a republic). They are very proud people and there will be many sensitivities you should watch out for.

I would go as early in the year as possible - it will be hot no matter what, unfortunately. The heat makes is hard to dress conservatively, which I would also recommend, especially if you want to visit mosques and not draw too much attention. I wouldn't wear any revealing or overly tight clothes whatsoever since there are many parts of Istanbul and Turkey that are much more conservative than you may be used to (and looser clothing will help with the heat). Have a great trip!

Posted by
16761 posts

Of the likely border crossing points (Kusadasi-Samos, Bodrum-Kos, or Marmaris-Rhodes), Rhodes would be the more distinctive destination. But I still would not include Greece on this trip, since so many of the best ancient ruins and beaches are on the Turkish side.

An overnight bus is not much fun. I would break it up with a stop in Konya and probably take that time away from Istanbul day trips.

Posted by
1803 posts

We really enjoyed staying in Patara, which you might substitute for Xanthos. It's smaller but has an interesting archeological site, which you can walk through on your way to the wonderful 11-mile-long Patara beach. And you might enjoy a beach day at this point!

We too were traveling via public transportation, which was a bit tricky as Patara is not on the main highway. We had some excursions from Patara ... to Kas/Kekova and Saklikent gorge. The best thing about Patara was our hotel, Akay Pension. Very inexpensive, absolutely charming owner. They offer dinner to guests each night; they'll tell you the menu at breakfast and you tell them if you want to eat there or not. We had our best food in Turkey here. Would recommend a couple of nights.

We did not stay in Fethiye but were not impressed with it when we visited there. We stayed in nearby Dalyan, which we really liked. You can catch a river tour from there and also visit the sea turtle hospital at Iztuzu beach, which we found fascinating.

So much to see in Turkey! Glad you have a chance to visit.