Hello, I am trying to finalize our itinerary for a trip next month. Here's what I'm thinking and would love some feedback.
Thinking three full days in IST, three days in Cappadocia, and I'd like to go to Trabzon, Atvin area, Kars, Van and then ??? (this part has been the most illusive). Do we do one day or two days in Trabzon and Atvin areas? The posts here on Eastern Turkey are quite dated. I've seen two days for Van or three days. We like history, experiencing local culture (meeting local artisans, families, food, etc), hiking and biking. I'm all about the food and will want time to do some runs in the various locations.
Looked at continuing on towards Mesopotamian Valley but decided against that as it is too much driving. Ideally we'd drive ourselves with select days with guides but seems like the agencies are pushing guide and car as a package. We've never done a full guided tour for days so I'm reluctant to go that route. We tend to be more independent. I don't want days of driving either or the constant one night in a hotel, that's far too tiring for me.
The last few days are flex - I can add days to the previous stops if warranted, or add one more area. Deciding between Antalya and the ruins and maybe a day trip on a gulet - appreciate recommendations on best ones or heading up to Selcuk/Cesme area and hitting those sites. I don't think it is practical to do both. Antalya seems overly developed but seems like the ruins nearby are better? I'd love a quiet small town with great restaurants and sites.
Day 1, arrive IST at 7pm (hotel 1 - 4 nights)
Day 2 and Day 3, various sites in IST
Day 4 - Bosphorus cruise (all the way up and return))
Day 5 - Fly to Cappadocia - Goreme Open Air, want to do lunch in a home if possible (hotel 2 - 3 nights)
Day 6 - Balloon, hopefully tour that highlights village life and arts, and hike
Day 7 - Underground city, maybe carpet making and hike
Day 8 - Fly to Trabzon, visit Sumela Monastery (hotel 3 - 1 night? 2 nights?)
Day 9 - Drive to Macahel/Atvin via Rize and tea factory/plantation tour (hotel 4 - 1 night, 2 nights?); i think there should be a second day here to visit the villages.
Day 10 - Drive to Kars - see castle? (hotel 5 - 2 nights)
Day 11 - Ani - maybe some sort of village life tour around Kars? see canvanserai
Day 12 - Drive to Van via Mt Ararat and Dogubayezit (need to make sure we leave early enough to avoid night travel) (hotel 6 - 2 nights)
Day 13 - Lake Van - see island and church; maybe cheese making? - seems like 2 nights is sufficient for Van
Day 14 ?
Day 15 ?
Day 16 ?
Day 17 ?
Day 18 - fly back to IST (leave the next morning)