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2 Weeks in Turkey Plan - Need advice please

Hi all! We are planning a trip to Turkey this September and are thinking about the following plan. We are looking for a less-rushed trip where we can slow down and really enjoy the towns/cities over several days vs. trying to cram everything in. That said, I'm not sure if I have the most effective routing:

  1. Fly overnight USA to Istanbul
  2. Istanbul
  3. Istanbul
  4. Istanbul
  5. Istanbul
  6. Istanbul
  7. Istanbul
  8. Fly to Cappadocia
  9. Cappadocia (Hot Air Balloon)
  10. Fly to Izmir (get rental car and go to Kusadasi)
  11. Kusadasi (Ephesus)
  12. Kusadasi (Pamukkale)
  13. Drive to Bodrum (return car)
  14. Bodrum
  15. Bodrum
  16. Bodrum
  17. Fly back to USA via Istanbul

I appreciate any advice! Many thanks!

Posted by
700 posts

IMO a person needs more time in Cappadocia--underground cities, Goreme Open Air Museum, and more. I'd probably steal a day from Istanbul or Bodrum. Have a great trip.

Posted by
7046 posts

I would take a day away from Bodrum and put it toward Cappadocia, since that part of your trip seems really compressed. I think you have a good number of days for Istanbul - I spent a few weeks there and never got bored (I also took a ferry down to the Princes Islands one day).

Posted by
6113 posts

I also would take a day off Bodrum and add it to Cappadocia. Check that your insurance covers you for hot air ballooning - mine excludes it, as it’s categorised as a “dangerous sporting activity”.

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you all so much! We will take a day away from Bodrum and add it to Cappadocia as advised.

Also, thank you for the good advice re: the Hot Air Balloons. I'll check our coverage to be sure (though I still think I'd go even if not) :)

Posted by
202 posts

The hot air balloon rides can be cancelled due to uncertain weather. That's a good reason to be there for more than a couple days. Our tour had the ride cancelled and our guide got one for the morning of our departure, even though it was previously booked. It was good to have a guide who had connections.

Posted by
90 posts

2 days off from Istanbul would be better. 4 days enough to see if you are very organized.

Posted by
177 posts

I agree with others who said take one day off Bodrum and add it to Cappadocia. Cappadocia needs at least 2 full days (no travel to/from Cappadocia on those two days). You do need the number of days you planned in Istanbul. In Cappadocia you can join one day established tours: the Red Tour one day, and the Green Tour another day. I highly recommend both. Most hotels can book you on these one day tours.

I also suggest having a Tour Guide for Istanbul. I am a frequent traveler to Turkey (pre-Covid) and usually hire a tour guide to take my visiting friends around. Good tour guides tell you all the history of the sights, which is why I hire them. A few years ago I met a fantastic tour guide in Istanbul and have hired him a few times since then. I also recommend him to tourists, who agree he is excellent. The tour guide’s name is Metin. His email address is: You will be so glad you hired him. Metin’s English is excellent, he is very honest, and funny.

Pamukkale is also gorgeous. One day is good for Pamukkale.

Posted by
4 posts

Has anyone taken a ferry (boat) from Turkey to Greece? I am visiting Turkey in June, and now that Greece has announced that they are open to Americans after May 15, I am very tempted.


Posted by
97 posts

I would offer up the following advice (having never been to Turkey, but having planned and done a ton of research recently on planning our own trip, and getting advice from guides/Tripadvisor etc). So take it for what it is worth (but this is what my wife and I are about to be doing in a bit over a month from now): (1) When flying into IST from USA, I found it much easier (and more efficient) to just immediately fly to Cappadocia from there. That way you get all the flying part over and done with (and don't have to come back and forth to IST more than necessary). Just seems more efficient (and there are flights that probably match up pretty well to do it all one day) (2) As others have mentioned, I think you need more days in Cappadocia to really see it. (3) We also are flying direct from Cappadocia to Izmir, renting a car, and driving to Kusadasi (but just note there aren't many "direct" flights and you need to be careful how you plan that part to catch one of those very few direct flights (4) This is just my personal view (but seems to be shared with others I have talked to online) that having more days in Ephesus/Kusadasi area is worth it, as there is a lot to see, and if you really are trying to drive back and forth to Pamukkale in one day, that I think is way rushed and will be a very long day (and you wouldn't get to see Hierapolis next door. So the way we have planned it, we are spending more days in Ephesus/Kusadasi area, then driving to Pamukkale (and staying overnight there) so that part isn't as rushed. (5) After that we are driving to Antalya (I considered Bodrum and the west coast "resort" areas, but based on many folks opinions, it seemed much more "real" Turkey and other stuff to see (specific to Turkey vs resorts that look like many other resorts in other parts of the world) to go to Antalya. It seems like going there, you can have more options to do "resort" style hotels (if that is what you like) and/or lots of history all around. Then we are flying to IST from there From everything I have seen, there is plenty to do in IST city so any day there I don't think you would miss. So my 2 cents is skip Bodrum totally and consider switching to Antalya (but again that is just what we are doing).

Posted by
177 posts

I have taken ferries from Turkey. Took a ferry from Kusadasi to the Greek Island of Samos. Also took a ferry from Marmaris to the Greek Island of Rhodes. Both were great experiences!

Posted by
56 posts

Leonard2002 Thank you! I am traveling in September and only gave myself one full day in Cappadocia but after reading your post, I pushed it to two full days in case my hot air balloon ride got canceled.
Michelle Traveler Thank you! I have been going round and round with my itinerary and your advice is interesting. I was thinking of taking a ferry to Rhodes but was curious about Samos.
Thanks everyone for your input, I've been doing research and planning my trip for September and I am so excited!! My rough itinerary is:
Sunday fly Athens to Istanbul
Thursday fly to Cappadocia
Sunday fly to Izmir and rent a car
road trip all week
Saturday fly to Rome

It's the road trip part I was struggling with but I know now to overnight in Pammukale and skip Bodrum and that coast for the Turquoise coast :)
Any input would be appreciated!