I have a trip to Turkey coming up (in March), and I'm looking for input, specifically on one section of the trip: starting in Izmir and ending in Antalya.
We will have 5-6 full days to spend between Izmir and Antalya (not counting our arrival day in Izmir nor our departure day from Antalya). We will have a car. We already have 2 nights booked in Izmir and 2 nights booked in Antalya (we can see things in/near those places from those bases). Looking for 3 locations in between that make logical overnight stops, and tips on how to prioritize our sightseeing along this route.
This is a pretty large area with plenty of worthwhile things to see and do. I've got a long list of potential stops (including some fairly obvious "must see" items) that could easily fill many days - the challenge of course is to choose things along a logical route, allowing us to hit the highlights, without turning it into just a blurry fast drive-by. So I know we will need to prioritize (I suspect one could easily spend a couple months wandering this corner of Turkey).
For context: This is our first trip to Turkey. We are going in March (so not planning any beach time!). We will fly in to Istanbul, upon arrival we will push on (fly) to Izmir, our first base. I'm not planning much for our arrival day in Izmir as I expect we will be worn out after long flights. I plan to rent a car there (next day) explore around Izmir for our first full day, then work our way south and east, with 3 overnight stops, finally dropping the car in Antalya. We will fly from Antalya to Cappadocia. After a few days in Cappadocia we will fly to Istanbul, and have 4 nights there before flying home.
Our likes/dislikes: We love historic things, ruins, nice scenery, culture, taking photos (give me a pile of old rocks and I'm happy taking pictures all day), good food. We dislike: Crowds, manufactured-for-tourists experiences, package tourism, resorts that isolate you from the place you've gone to see, being hassled by touts, no interest in "night life" or partying. We prefer seeing places on our own rather than taking an organized tour.
I have a long list of potential stops (way, way longer than we could ever get to). I'll list some of those below, looking for input on the best of those (or anything critical that I've missed).
So…if you had 5-6 days to spend between Izmir and Antalya, with 3 overnight stops in between, where would you suggest? Thank you for your input!