Totally agree— whenever you can take the train- do it! The trains are as comfortable as European trains and the 3- hour train from Selcuk to Pamukkale by way of Denizli was $2! You will want to stay in Selcuk, a pleasant town of 20K residents, that is the base town for seeing Ephesus which is 3 miles away, Selcuk itself has a castle, ruins of a Roman Aquaduct, centuries-old Mosques, and the outstanding Ephesus Archaeological Museum. The people of Selcuk are among the friendliest and best hosts we came across in Turkey. For your coastal visit, I would opt for the beaches of Kusadasi because it’s only 12 miles from Selcuk. Bodrum is four hours away and, sadly, has in recent years become an international jetset resort with matching prices. So much so, in fact, that my Turkish friends tell me Turks, for the most part, no longer visit Bodrum. I would recommend that when you first arrive in Turkey at IST airport in Istanbul, that you fly immediately to Izmir and then continue to Selcuk by train or taxi in a little more than one hour. Save Istanbul for the end of your trip because that saves several hours getting into the city and then getting back out to the airport. With a metropolitan population of 16 million residents, traffic jams in central Istanbul make the journey something best done only once during your visit.
If you are going to Cappadocia after Selcuk, flights from Izmir (ADB) to the small snd convenient Nevsehir Airport ( NAV) will connect through Istanbul. The smaller and more pleasant of Istanbul’s two airports to connect through is Sabihah Gokcen Airport ( SAW) Airport. The airport is named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s adopted daughter, who became the world’s first female Air Force Pilot at the age of 23.
www.Skyscanner.com shows flight schedules and fares.
Have a great Trip!