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Been to Turkey?? Cappadocia or Mediteranean?

Help please - I am travelling from Istanbul down toward Troy, Pergamon, Ephesus, etc.

My next decision is this - do we travel on to the Mediterranean and experience Faralya, Feithe, Demre, Patara, Myra, and the beaches and sites there, or do I go to Cappodocia? Wherever I head, I will be flying back to Istanbul afterwards.

Altogether I have 7 or 8 nights to work with (this is leftover after Istanbul is counted in).

I will be flying either from Antalya to Istanbul (if I do the coast) or Nevsehir/Kayseri to Istanbul from Cappadocia. Wherever I go, I'll probably drop my car from self-driving around Ephesus etc. and catch a quick flight (if affordable) to the next area.

My interests are: landscapes/scenery, culture, history and archaeology - I am looking for a traditional feeling Turkish holiday rather than Glitzen American or British style resorts - boutique hotels, nice views and great walking for photography etc. is great!

Never been to Turkey and it is unlikely that I will be able to return so I have to touch down on the best spots possible.

Hope you can help with your suggestions and comments on the best place out of these two great areas to visit for a first, and perhaps only visit to Turkey - I'm completely overwhelmed by everything it seems to have to offer.


Posted by
338 posts

I strongly suggest that you go to Cappadocia. There is nowhere else like it in the world. You’ll get interesting geology, fascinating historical sites, and cool cultural experiences.

If you decide to go, here are some recommendations. These will let you see some of the best of what I consider the five main types of sites in Cappadocia (underground cities, Byzantine-era churches, ruined villages/castles, caravansaries, and fairy chimneys). These are close enough together that you can base camp in one of the villages in the area and rent a car to explore.

Underground cities - I like Derikyu and Kamakli (pick one). If you're in good enough shape and want a quicker experience without any other tourists there is a nice underground village near Guzelyurt.

Churches - Goreme is the best place to see churches. You have the open air museum, the buckle church and church of the evil eye (El Nazar). The second best place to see churches is the Ilhara Valley. This is a nice river valley hike with churches built up along the cliff walls. There are lots of other stand-alone churches I really like. My top two are the Church of St. John in Gulsehir and the Eski Gumusler monastery near Nigde. Both are outstanding and thinly visited.

Ruined villages/Castles - Uchisar castle is worth a quick visit for the nice views from the top. The old Zelve village is interesting, but don’t prioritize it.

Caravansaries - Sarihan near Avanos is the easiest caravansary to visit and has been fully reconstructed. It's a nice setting for an afternoon tea break. I believe that there is a Dervish ceremony there in the evenings. Avanos is also a nice village nearby to stop in for a meal and to shop for pottery.

Fairy chimneys - Some good fairy chimneys are near Uchisar, Goreme, and the Deverent Valley (Zelve). There are plenty of pull-offs along the road near these.

You'll have fun with whichever option you choose.

Posted by
1194 posts

Agree Cappadocia is a great choice and something you should not miss. Rob's suggestions are all great. We would recommend the underground city of Derinkuyu. We spent 4 nights there and rented a car for 3 days to see all the sights on our own schedule. From there we took the overnight bus to Antalya. There we rented another car and took the coast route, visiting Demre, Patara, Myra, Cirali, Pamukkale among others before going to Selcuk to visit Ephesus. We flew to Istanbul from Izmir. We spent 9 days on this part of our trip. If the number of days you have allocated to Ephesus area are not included in your 7 or 8 nights, you could visit both Cappadocia and the coast. Both are very worthwhile.

Posted by
31 posts

These are wonderful replies from you both - thank you for helping with this dilemma.

Carol I was going to ask you specifically - you covered all three areas that I was hoping to cover (Ephesus and area in the west, southern areas Patara, Demre etc. and Cappadocia)....

How many days did it take to do this and did you include Troy (I can't see back to your message right now so apologize if you already mentioned this). Also is there one area in there that you feel you could have "easily" given up? If you were to go back in time and plan the trip knowing what you know now, what areas would you absolutely HAVE to see, and which would you drop off the list if you had only 10 nights to do it all in (including Istanbul). Hope you can let me know.

The tips on Cappadocia are wonderful - just trying to find a hotel at last minute which is tough (trying for the cave hotels) as so much is booked up! Any ideas for good companies that do 1) horseback riding through the best scenery - private or small group, and 2) hot air balloon, small group so a smaller basket compared to the massive ones you sometimes see.

Did either of you use any tour guides in Istanbul that you would strongly recommend? I'd found someone wonderful but looks like she has had a loss in the family and won't be able to do a tour after all.

Many thanks!

Posted by
1194 posts

We were there in 2011 and returned in 2013 to visit places we didn't get to before. We felt we made a mistake in 2011 by starting in Istanbul. Since we had to spend the last night there to get to the airport the next day, we actually lost a day of sightseeing time. In 2013 we spent our last 5 days in Istanbul and that worked better. So in in 09/2011 we first spent 7 nights in Istanbul; 4 - Goreme; 1 on the overnight bus; 2 - Antalya; 2 - Cirali; 1 - Patara; 1 - Pamukkale; 3 - Selcuk; 1 - Istanbul airport. We flew from Istanbul to Kayseri and took a pre-arranged van to Goreme, got a rental car the next day which we kept for 3 days. Then we took the overnight bus to Antalya. We saw pretty much everything on Rob's list and also Soganli, Ihlara Gorge, and Zelve. We got a car the second day in Antalya and visited Side and Aspendos. In Cirali we visitedOlympos and Chimera enjoying the beach. On the way to Patara we stopped at Myra (Demre) visited the Patara ruins on the same day. From there we drove to Pamukkale. We visited the pools and Hierapolis in the late afternoon. The sun was going down as we left making the travertine appear red - great pics both in the light and as the sun was going down! From there we drove to Selcuk where we visited Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, cave of the Seven Sleepers, Sirince, Milli Park, as well as sights in Selcuk. The next day we drove to Izmir where we turned in our car and flew to Istanbul.

No we did not get to Troy and didn't even get there the 2nd time we went to Turkey. There were some day trips advertised in Istanbul travel agents but they left too early am for us! Maybe next time? We did not use any tour guides. Our hotel in Goreme recommended the hot air balloon company and it was a small to mid size basket. We spent 22 nights in Turkey on this trip and wish we could help as to something to cut out but as you said, Turkey has so much to offer and we really enjoyed and appreciated every place we stopped. But, with your limited time you could probably cut the town of Antalya and probably Cirali. We only spent a few hours at Pamukkale pools and Hierapolis but due to the distance to get there we had to spend the night. Probably 2.5 - 3 days is enough for Cappadocia. To save time and energy you could fly from Cappadocia to your next destination but it costs a lot more than the overnight bus. You could probably cut 1 or 2 nights from Selcuk, depending on your interests. And, as previously mentioned, you might save time by flying to Cappadocia as soon as you land in Istanbul, then spending your last days in Turkey in Istanbul.

Hope this is helpful. You will have to pick what interests you the most and figure out the distances and what will/will not fit into your schedule. Have fun planning!

Posted by
338 posts

Here are some thoughts. It’s tough to give up anything in Turkey. The country is dense with interesting sites and hardly anyone visits most of them. The idea is that you get a taste. The 10 days you mentioned will give you that. For 10 days, I’d make Istanbul and Cappadocia your top choices. Four days will give you a decent visit in Istanbul. As Carol noted, three days is good for Cappadocia. That gives you three days to see the western or southern coast. Both have a lot of similar types of sites (e.g. Greek and Roman era ruins, Byzantine castles). There are some regional differences in cuisine (more Ottoman influence in the west and more Middle Eastern influence in the south). I would probably favor the western coast just a bit over the southern, but you might want to let travel logistics or your own interests dictate. You mention Troy as a top spot. You could see that, Bergama, and Selcuk in three days and fly back out of Izmir when you were done.

I can’t help with hotels in Cappadocia too much. As I’m sure you’ve realized, the top tourist areas/lodging are centered around Goreme. I’d suggest that you pick up a few guidebooks for ideas. The Lonely Planet is always a good option. Draw a big box around the area and consider options in every direction. The main roads are pretty good to help you move around, so you could look as far west as Aksaray along the 300, for example.

I don’t have any recommendations for horseback or balloons. You might want to post that as a separate question. I suspect that you’ll get some responses.

I did not use any guides in Istanbul. The guidebooks and signage are pretty good for most of the sites, if you can’t find anyone. Many tourist sites outside of Istanbul will have guides selling services at the entrance. You can negotiate price and hire them on the spot if you’d like. Ephesus, the underground cities in Cappadocia, and Anavarza come to mind. I do think they are useful for the underground cities.

Good Luck!

Posted by
10 posts

If you are still looking for a hotel suggestion in Cappadocia my husband and I stayed at Melekler Evi Cave Hotel in Urgup from Sept 19-23 this year. Lovely 8 room cave hotel designed, built and lovingly run by an Architect couple over the last 20 years. Muammar & Arzu will spoil you for anywhere else you go. The Turkish breakfast amazing and the best of our 32 days in Turkey. Countless cheeses Muammar travels to source, something home baked every morning with an offer of tea and a home made treat upon your return from the day that Muammar planned for us. The hotel is tranquil and Muammar was always available and helpful with suggestions. He does not want or receive kickbacks from retailers or restaurants. His goal was to ensure we enjoyed our stay in Cappadocia and that we were happy. He sensed after we took a bus tour for one day that we wished to go beyond the regular tourist experience. For the next two days he sent us on hikes with his hand drawn maps and his walking poles detailing special stops and points of interest for us. Our experience here was outstanding and our time at this hotel probably our favourite memory of our time in Turkey. This from a country that offers so many incredible experiences. You can find the hotel on the usual booking sites or call them directly.