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Itinerary Help: 9 week trip

Greetings! I am working on an itinerary for a 9 week trip to Turkey Sept 9 - Nov 12, 2022 (with maybe 1 week of the 9 in Greece) and would love input from those who have already been to Turkey/Greece.

The only dates that are "set" are the arrival and departure dates, both from Istanbul. I'm not set on going to Greece (on this trip), so if there's a better alternative to eliminate the week on Rhodes and replace it with Turkey days, I'm very open to that!

It will be my husband and I, both in our early 60's and mostly fit. I have a bad knee, so can't do a zillion stairs, but can get around just fine. We love historical sites, food (I'm vegetarian), scenery, culture (museums), and are budget, slow-travel travelers! We don't like to be rushed so we can better get to know each place we visit. We want to use public transport - buses - as opposed to renting a car. We will likely do a few paid day tours too, since we won't have a car.

Here's my Itinerary Draft 1:

Istanbul, 3 nights, Sept 9-12
Fly to Keyseri Erkilit (Cappadocia) 2h 47m, then bus 1 hr to Mustafapaşa

Mustafapaşa, ~2 DAY TOURS TO: Cappadocia & Mustafapasa, 4 nights, Sept 12-16,
Bus to Konya 3h25 m

Konya, 7 nights, Sept 16-23,
Bus 3.49h to Side

Side, 4 nights, Sept 23-27,

Bus 1.23h to Antalya

Antalya, 7 nights, "DAY TRIP: Aspendos Roman Theatre, DAY TRIP: Perge Ruins", Sept 27-Oct 4,
Rideshare 3h $7 or Taxi 2.44h $50-65 to Kas

Kas, 7 nights, "Rock tombs of Myra, Letoon Sanctuary Place, Xanthos, Antiphellos Ancient City", Oct 4-11,
Bus 3h59m to Dalyan

Dalyan, 3 nights, "Lycian Rock Tombs, Turtle Beach", Oct 11-14,
Bus 3h59m to Fethiye

Fethiye, 3 nights, Oct 14-17,
Ferry to Rhodes, 1.5h

Rhodes, Greece, 8 nights, Oct 17-24,
Fly Rhodes to Izmir, 4h20m (Athens layover),
Bus or taxi 30 min to Izmir

Izmir, 4 nights, "DAY TRIP Kuşadası- Ephesus, DAY TRIP Bergama - Akropolis", Oct 24-28,
Fly Izmir to Istanbul, 1h10m

Istanbul, 14 nights, Oct 28-Nov 11

Nov 12 Fly Home

64 nights

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
32 posts

Im on a similar trip now. Waiting in the istanbul airport to go to Cappadocia. 6 weeks i did: all i needed to do in belguim, Amsterdam, 60% of what i wanted to see in Germany, prague 4 days, Paris 3 days, athens 3 days 2 days in meteora, Milo's 4 days and santorini 2 days, sw turkey and 2 days in istanbul.

Based on your plan:
- i think your time in each place might be too long, you might get board. I could be wrong.
- 2 days in istanbul is plenty... stay near the blue mosque. Seven hills restaurant has best views, I went to 5 hotels to get the best shots, photographer. Dont listen to anyone trying to talk to you in the street, they get a commision for bringing unwilling customers into their rug shops... very annoying, 50 times a day... must be rude to get them to leave you alone. Keep a close eye on your belongings and look mean, stay together, istanbul is pretty instense. Use uber to order taxis and pay credit, only way i found not to get ripped off. They sell very agressively, if they wont sell you one piece only 5, walk away and dont buy anything... they will learn eventually.
- turkey is much bigger than one thinks, fly more than drive... cheap airfare here, 30 to 100 euros can get you about anywhere in turkey domestically... 1 day before departure ticket seems to be 20% more...
- on a 6 week journey, dont plan too much... dont reserve hotels but maybe research where you wanna go.... I didn't... flight leaves for Cappadocia in 2 hours and arrives in 4, just booked hotel. Airport rentals their look expensive and suspect the cars will be cheaper in Cappadocia, if not i will scooter it... just showing how i travel here.
- the rock tombs may not be great, Konya may have a few things, whirling derviches come to mind... research the whirling derviches and arrange that cause i missed it... go to a real lounge not a touristy one... research turkish rugs and meerschaum pipes well before you buy, pottery too.
- check out Ephesus, aphrodisias and pummakale/heriapolis... I loved the last 2 and wish i hadnt been rushed... aphrodisias was deserted and great ruins... best greek/roman ruins are in turkey and Cecily not greece. Bodrum and kos looked à little interesting but didnt have time to stay.
- i wouldnt go in & out of turkey like you planned... not an eu country so could be tough... but might be fine. Do turkey, then greece, maybe even time for italy! 6 weeks in turkey and or greece would be too much for me, i am doing both in 3.hoping between islands was not tough but a little hectic... tough to decide which islands to see, but some are very touristy so i was very very happy i picked milos for 5 days to relax see nature and geology after 5 weeks of travel. Santorini was very touristy...

I would do turkey and then greece and i would add itally... already in the EU, might as well... itally can definitely keep you busy 2 months... turkey can be overpowering, my 10 days here are rushed but only because everything is so spread out.

After turkey i would ferry hop some islands to athens for 2 or 3 days... take a day trip to meteroa, I loved that. Stay in plaka district in athens, dont go too far from touristy areas.

I really want to see harran, mt nemrut & Göbeklitepe as a day and a half trip from cappadocia... but my schedule may not allow it.

It gets very hot here, pack technical shirts the hikers wear.

This restaurant was good in istanbul:
Vamos Estambul Restaurant & Cafe
+90 537 835 75 00

Dont rent a car in istanbul. I would be wary of busses anywhere in turkey, not worth the hassle IMHO... taxis are very cheap when they charge you right.

Let me know if you have any questions... watch the movie midnight express before coming, it will scare you into not getting into trouble, lol, true story of turkey tourist but things have gotten better.

Dont forget your turkish visa. Use the .gov site not à third party. 50% cheaper & visa was delivered in 5 seconds.

Posted by
145 posts

To add a completely different perspective...

I would extend your time in Istanbul. Go to some baths (is cembelitas srill an option?), take a river cruise, wander the spice and gold markets.

I'd also say it's not enough time in Cappadocia. You want to soak in that otherworldly area. The rose valley is awesome, and nevsehir. Allow time/afternoons to relax and drink tea overlooking the tufa formations.

Olympos was a great place to hang out for a few days, but not sure about the weather in october.

We also loved safranbolu. Don't miss Ephesus, and take your time. Bodrum was resorty but a nice change of pace. Pammukale - the travertines were cool but the real hit was the warm bubbly natural swimming pool at the top with Roman columns from the broken temple...

Fethiye was cool - the butterfly valley, the blue lagoon, a nice place to kick back, great food.

We didn't visit Konya or the other towns so can't comment on those.

We spent a month in turkiye and could have probably easily done two more weeks - though the touts can be exhausting. I do think you probsbly have time for a bit of Greece and Rhodes os really very cool. only 45 min hydrofoil from fethiye. You've also got kos, Samos, Chios etc right there. From rhodes you could fly to crete if desired - another fabulous location where I spent 2 full weeks and could easily have done moretrip!!

Look forward ro hearing about your trip!!

Posted by
101 posts

Hi MM in California,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses to my itinerary. I really appreciate the help!

Not sure if you noticed, but we have 14 days in Istanbul at the end of the trip - do you think we need more than that?

How much time do you think we need in Cappadocia? Maybe 5 nights or 6 (I have 4 planned)? Have you been to Mustafapaşa? Is it an interesting or charming village?

Olympos looks lovely - thank you for the suggestion. Just read a review that said it's warm during the day and cool at night in October!

Safranbolu looks good too - how did you get there? did you have a car or did you bus from Istanbul?

Did you take the hydrofoil from Fethiye to Rhodes? And back into Turkey? One responder said that might be difficult since Turkey's not an EU nation. Do you have any input on that point?

I'll keep plugging away....

Thank you again,

Posted by
690 posts

Ooh, I am envious.

Just a few random comments:

  • It's almost impossible to spend too much time in Istanbul. I was there for 5 nights in November, and felt that I had barely scratched the surface. I would love to spend 10 nights there. 14 + 3 nights might be a bit much, or maybe not.

  • I might add more time in Cappadocia.

  • 7 nights seems a bit much in Konya, but maybe I'm missing something.

  • 4 nights in Side and 7 nights in Antalya. Side and Antalya are fairly similar, and so I would consider them as one thing. You could probably shave some time off that stay. I just got back from 14 nights in Antalya, but I was there for dental work and so I wasn't sightseeing the whole time. I will say, however, that Antalya I grew to like Antalya more over time.

-- Perge and the Archeological Museum will each take half a day.
-- 4 hours at Aspendos is a gracious plenty. The theater, which is what most people want to see, is next to the parking lot, and you can see that quickly. In 4 hours you can hike the entire site. If you are going to hike, bring plenty of water. If you have bad knees, bring a trekking pole. Add an hour or so each way for transportation and traffic.
-- I also visited/hiked Termessos, an unexcavated ancient city, high up in the Taurus mountains. Although the theater is not as well preserved as at Aspendos, the views are absolutely stunning. I would visit Termessos again in a heartbeat. You can hire a taxi to Termessos out of Antalya. Getting there, hiking, and returning to Antalya will take up the better part of a day.
-- Upper Duden Falls -- If you are in Antalya for a week, it's worth a visit. Beautiful waterfalls and a nice park that seems to be popular with locals. Easily accessible by dolmus. A couple of hours there is plenty.
-- Of course, it's easy to spend a day or so wandering around old town Antalya.

  • Izmir. I didn't find Izmir especially interesting, but it's a good jumping off place for Ephesus and Pergamon. Both are must-see's.

Some other place to consider:

  • Pamukkale -- One night is probably fine, but I would spend the night instead trying to do it as a day trip.
  • Gobekli Tepe -- Don't know how to get there, but it's definitely on my bucket list.
  • Sagalassos --- Another ancient city that is in remarkably good condition. Several Turkish people recommended it to me while I was in Antalya. They still have sculptures and operating fountains. They only started excavating about 30 years ago, and so it's not on the tourist radar at all. They are uncovering more of it each year. You would probably also want to visit the Burdur Archaeological Museum, which houses many of the sculptures and artifacts that they have uncovered. I would probably do it as a multi-day excursion from Antalya.
Posted by
32 posts

A few other random thoughts now that im in gorem.
- cappadocia to mt. Nemrut area is a tough trip, only way i can do it is to fly back to istanbul at 6am then fly there... honestly though its 4 hours to do that and 8 hours to drive so i am still considering it... 80 euro plane ticket... I still might do it, just a bit travel fatigued in case no one noticed, lol.
- cappadocia is much more chill and nice than istanbul. Tougher to get around though... I am going to tour it here, i usually avoid tour groups cause im a photographer, but it seems best here.
- and it is true... one could spend many lifetimes in turkey and still not fully understand it, same is true for many countries. It is a complicated and varied place, swapped hands and culters and empires many many times.

Posted by
2122 posts

Hi Tracy —
What a great adventure this will be!

I suggest you take some time from Antalya/Konya/Side and spend 4-5 nights in Patara, a tiny town about halfway between Kas and Fethiye. Patara has Turkey’s longest sand beach, a chunk of the Lycean Way footpath, and some of the area’s finest ruins. But the biggest reason to stay there is Akay Pension — small, very inexpensive, clean, comfortable. Every day at breakfast the owner, Kazim, will tell you what they’re cooking for dinner and you can decide whether to eat there or not. The answer should always be yes; we had the best food here of anywhere in Turkey. And by this point in your trip you will welcome not having to look for restaurants every night! Kazim will also happily help you arrange day trips. Wonderful place.

When in Kas, I would suggest you include a day trip to the tiny Greek island of Kastellorizo. It has a gorgeous harbor lined with restaurants and shops, and a footpath leading to a Lycean tomb. If it’s a sunny day, find one of the tour operators in the harbor to take you to the lovely Blue Cave.

In Dalyan, I recommend the Kilim Hotel, right by the river with a view of the tombs. We also enjoyed the river cruise, ending at the mud baths. Be sure to see the sea turtle hospital.

I think you should keep Greece in your itinerary. But rather than 8 nights in Rhodes and then flying to Izmir via Athens, consider spending a couple of nights on Rhodes, then ferrying to the island of Samos (with overnight stops at another island or two along the way). Do a little research on the Dodecanese islands & see which sound appealing. You could wait til you’re in Rhodes to arrange this journey — just visit a travel agent for ferry tickets and suggestions. Then book hotels online. From Samos you can ferry to Kusadasi, again arranging this upon arrival in Samos.

Posted by
101 posts


Thank you so much for all your thoughtful responses! I especially love that you included specific names of hotels you recommend!!!

I'm wondering if you rented a car on your Turkey travels? or did you bus, private driver (occasionally when we have to), shared ride, etc, like we plan on doing? Really, one of the most challenging things about setting up this itinerary is just getting around! Reminds me of Morocco :) But all this is just part of the experience!

Do you know of any difficulty or hassles leaving Turkey (for Greece), then returning to Turkey a day or a week later? One responder said that it can be a problem. Seems that day trips are especially common, so I was surprised to hear that.

I love your suggestion to stay in Rhodes a couple of days, then ferry through some islands to Samos. I like the idea of being able to ferry back to Turkey.

Thanks again - the Akay Pension sounds amazing! I just love hearing of these types of places - thank you!


Posted by
101 posts


Have you been to Bodrum? Seems like we could skip this, as we'll be seeing so many beautiful places on the water. Thoughts? It's hard to keep it if we do a week island hopping from Rhodes to Samos.

Also, when you were in Patara at the Akay Pension, did you have a car (we wont'). Thoughts?

Thank you,

Posted by
101 posts


Thanks for all your input. Ironic that you are there right now! Hope you're having a great time!

How long do you think is optimal for Cappodocia area? We won't have a car, so will also opt for Day Tours to the different sites. The three we hope to include are: Göreme Open-Air Museum, Fairy Chimneys of Pasabag Valley, and the city of Avanos for their pottery. Not interested in the underground cities (sounds too claustrophobic for me).

Thanks for the restaurant recommendation in Istanbul - we'll check it out.

We plan on focusing on Turkey this trip (been to Italy already for a long trip a few years back). Probably will add a week or so in Greek Isles....still figuring that out. Do you have knowledge of someone having trouble leaving, then re-entering Turkey from Greece. I see so much evidence of Day trips from Turkey to the Greek Isles, seems like it shouldn't be a problem (I hope).

Thanks again and enjoy!


Posted by
2122 posts

Hi Tracy — We flew from Instanbul>Kayseri, then Kayseri>Istanbul>Antalya. From there we used buses & taxis etc. No rental cars. It was occasionally interesting but never an issue. And like you say, it’s part of the experience. We used our hotel staff in each town for advice on getting to the next one. It worked well.

No we didn’t go to Bodrum, and for the same reasoning you had.

I know you can make day trips to & from Greece & Turkey with no issues. Since you’ll have your Turkish visa, it shouldn’t be a problem going to Greece for a time & then back into Turkey, but you should probably check this.

I’m not familiar with Mustafapasa — in Cappadocia we stayed in Goreme, at the Kelebek Hotel. At the time they had a shuttle from the Kayseri airport. We stayed 3 nights and wished we had 4.

And I looked, and Akay Pension is still there! I am almost talking myself into going back to Turkey!

Posted by
101 posts

Super helpful - thanks.

I think Rick Steves talks about staying in Mustafapasa - but Goreme is way closer to all the action - seems to make more sense. Thanks for that info.

I'm wondering if you did the Balloon ride in Cappadocia? I'm talking myself out of it - mostly because it is so pricey and I've seen a few bad experiences - mostly weather related. But it is tempting....


Posted by
2122 posts

We did take the balloon ride. It was expensive, but it was one of the highlights of our trip.

If you decide you want to do it, sign up on your arrival day for the next morning. That way, if it’s cancelled due to weather, you can reschedule for the next day.

We found Goreme to be a very convenient location, with a good tourist infrastructure.

Posted by
101 posts

Do you think there's a big difference between Balloon companies? Rick Steves says it's ~$250pp, and I see many of those online, but I also see some around $150-200. I guess it's quibbling a bit - but just wondering if there's a significant difference between companies. Wouldn't want to skimp on safety! :0

What Balloon company did you use?


Posted by
2122 posts

I’m not sure if there’s a big difference between balloon companies. We used Butterfly Balloons and had a great experience. Hopefully others who used other companies might give their recommendations?

Posted by
690 posts

We used Royal Balloon -- -- and they were excellent. They picked us up at our hotel and fed us breakfast beforehand. The pilot was amazing, and we had an absolutely perfect landing on the bed of the truck. Afterwards, they served us champagne.

That was in 2015, and I think I paid somewhere around 110 - 125 Euros. I am sure it's more expensive now.

Posted by
101 posts

Thanks for the Balloon Ride info!

I'm getting things narrowed down. It's pretty complex mapping out a 9 week trip. But fun!


Posted by
101 posts

Hi all,

I've been working-away and have a revised trip plan. I really value all the great feedback I've received.

If anyone has any suggestions on how I could combine any of the shorter stays - we prefer to not pack up so often, and like real getting the feel of a location.

We have three flights in the itinerary. I'm inclined to secure those flights now - thoughts? I'm an organizer, so it makes me nervous to wing it.

We decided to include some Greek Isles too (thanks Charlene) - using the ferry system - and I've completely switched our itinerary so that the Greek Isles are in September, so we are more likely to have warm, beachy weather.

Itinerary (9 weeks, 64 nights)



*, arrive 4:30pm and stay 2 nights (I need a day to recover), Sept 9-11
>Flight to Edremit/Balikesir, Bus to Bergama


*, 3 nights, Sept 11-14:

Pergamum's Acropolis
>Bus to Cesme


*, 4 nights, Sept 14-18
Best blue waters, idyllic beaches, seaside villages
>Bus to Sulcuk


*, 3 nights, Sept 18-21
>Bus to Kusadasi (for Ferry)

Greek Isles

*, ferry & stay total of 12 nights, Sept 21-Oct 3
Samos, Patmos, Kos, Chalki, Rhodes
>Ferry from Rhodes to Fethiye, Bus to Dalyan


*, 4 nights, Oct 3-7
Dalyan River Boat Ride (Lycian Rock Tombs)
Kaunos Archeological Site
>Bus to Fethiye


*, 3 nights, Oct 7-10
Fethiye Castle
Tlos Ruins
Lycian Rock Tombs (Amyntas Kaya Mezarlari)
>Bus to Patara


*, 3 nights, Oct 10-13
Patara Beach
Xanthos Archeological Site
Seaside ruins of Ancient Patara
>Taxi to Kas


*, 6 nights, Oct 13-19
DAY TRIP: Kastellorizo Island
Ancient Theater of Kas
Lycian Sarcophagus
Myra roman theatre, etc.
St. Nicholas Basilica in Demre
Antiphellos Ancient City
DAY TRIP: Simena-Kalekaoy village
> Taxi to Olympos (Lycia)


** (Lycia), 3 nights, Oct 19-22
Olympos Ruins
Olympos Beach
> Taxi & Bus to Antalya


*, 6 nights, Oct 22-28
Aspendos Roman Ruins
Antalya Muzesi
Perge Ruins
>Flight to Kayseri Erkilet Airport, bus to Goreme

Goreme** (Cappadocia)

, 5 nights, Oct 28-Nov 2
All the Cappadocia sites
>Bus to Airport, Flight to Istanbul


**, 10 nights, Nov 2-12
All the Istanbul sites!

Sorry if the formatting is crazy....and thanks to you all!


Posted by
2122 posts

I think that sounds like an amazing trip. One more idea: when on Kos, spend one day taking a day trip to the nearby island of Nisyros. It has an active (but not erupting) volcano, and you can walk around inside it. You can see fumaroles with steam escaping, and the ground is soft and warm in places, so you need to watch where you walk. It was like walking on the moon! Absolutely fascinating. You could stay overnight on Nisyros but at this point you probably don’t want another stop.

Posted by
101 posts


Thanks for that suggestion while we’re in Kis! I’ll check into it.

Much appreciated,