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!