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Help with an 18 nights Fall itinerary, please

I'm planning for a Fall trip for next year (2016). We will be arriving midweek in Istanbul at the end of September, flying into and out of IST. How would you structure an ideal itinerary for 8 friends (40-70 years old, relatively fit)? We will have our own transportation (with driver), staying in small hotels and pensions. Rock Valley Travel, in Urgup, will be handling the logistics and I hope to have the rough itinerary worked out in the next week or two - once I've made the 'big picture' decisions. ;-)

We're interested in visiting some archeological sites, including Greco-Roman and early Christian sites. I would also love to include sites dating to earlier than these and one caravanserai enroute. We'd like to do a nice hammam experience, but not in Istanbul. We're foodies; so we'd like at least a couple of seaside meals and a couple of memorable lunch or dinner experiences.

Here is what I have, out of the 18 nights:

  • 7 nights are set already = 2 nights in Istanbul at the start (a repeat visit), the next 4 nights in Cappadocia + the last night back in Istanbul (there will be more time than this in Istanbul before or after for some of us).

  • 6 nights are 'musts' for us = 1 night in Konya, 2 nights in Selçuk (or Şirince), 2 nights in Bodrum and 1 in Pamukkale.

  • 2 nights in the Kekova Island region (Lycian Coast).

This would leave 3 nights. I'd like to work Pergamum into the mix, as well.

I'm not keen on spending a couple of nights in Antalya, so I'd like to include the Kekova Island region instead. The opportunity to chill a bit mid-trip in this area really appeals, combined with a visit to Lydian rock tombs and a boat trip to underwater ruins. Maybe somewhere between Demre and Kaş?

How can I best structure an itinerary that links where we want to go? Any interestings stops that can be fit into this itinerary? We'll have our driver either starting from Istanbul (driving via Ankarra to Cappadocia) or starting in Cappadocia, ending back in Istanbul. In Ankarra, only the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations would be a 'must-see' for us... is it worth driving from Istanbul to Cappadocia just for that? Or should I just plan on skipping that drive and fly directly from Istanbul to Cappadocia's airport in Kayseri?

If we need to add an overnight stop to break up distances anywhere along, where should it be and would there be an added value to the stop (such as thermal springs, etc.)?

Any additions that you would consider worthwhile? For half our group, this will be a 'once in a lifetime' trip. Your thoughts, input and suggestions would be very much appreciated - thanks!

Posted by
6714 posts

Why don't you look at the Rick Steves Turkey tour itinerary? It may give you some ideas (you'll also be able to see how long it takes from point A to point B by bus so you can gauge roughly how long by car). Also, I found the Lonely Planet Turkey book to be very helpful in planning and getting ideas.

Posted by
1437 posts

Thank you Agnes. A lot of work has already been done into the planning for this trip. The problem with the standard tour is two-fold: a shorter time frame and most will not include places like the Lycian Coast, Bodrum or Pergamum.

Travel times are easy to figure for the more traveled routes: Istanbul-Ankarra, Ankarra-Ürgüp, Ürgüp-Konya, Konya-Antalya. However, that's not so easy to figure out for routes not usually done with tours. Many guidebooks, LP and RS included, don't always 'line up the dots' in the same way or more heavily provide public transpo options.

For example, how/when do I fit in Pergamum and Pamukkale? Some back-tracking will have to be done. That's why I'm asking for advice from the RS community.

Posted by
60 posts

You can fit in Pamukkale by visiting on the way from the south coast.From there head down to Bodrum(this is a scenic drive for you).From Bodrum head up to Selçuk,only a c.2 hour drive but you could break it up with a stop off Iasos,then Didem for Apollo Temple.Actually there are several nice sites along there depending on how quickly you want to move.
You could use Selçuk as a base to take a day visit to Bergama.It is c.3 hour(maybe slightly less depending on traffic) drive,so it would be quite a long day but defo doable.
You can then fly back to Istanbul from Izmir airport.

An after thought.If you drive from the coast from Kaş area north through Elamlı and Korkuteli you could make a visit to Sagalassos, a superb,extensive and little visited mountain site in Burdur province at Ağlasun.
http://interactive.archaeology.org/sagalassos/
From there it is only a short drive to Pamukkale,maybe 90 minutes.I'm sorry,I'm adding yet more to your itinery here but if you can fit it in then you'll find the visit well worth it.If you need to stay the night there then Sagalassos Lodge Hotel is lovely.

For your coastal stop Demre or Kaş are ideal spots to stay but for your group you'll find more accomodation choices in Kaş,they are rather limited in Demre.