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Turkey 3 week self drive trip

Good day Turkey lovers. My husband and I are so excited for our first trip to Turkey (age 33 and 34). Travelling from South Africa. Travel dates: 27 May - 18 June 2022. Our idea as follow:

• Istanbul (3 nights) Collect car on last morning (not sure where yet, but on Asian side of City)

• 1 night (around mid-way between Istanbul and Cappadocia)

• Cappadocia (3 nights) Hot air Balloon and explore the Valleys

• Egirdir Lake (1 Night) – on our way to Antalya or should we skip?

• Antalya (2 nights) – Not sure if 2 nights is enough?

• Kas (2 nights)

• Fethiye (3 nights)

• Bodrum (3 nights)

• Alacati (1 night)

• Somewhere around Canakkale (1 night)

• Istanbul (1 night)

• Fly out …

We want to relax and enjoy the beaches, views, restaurants and have a good memorable time. We like history but that’s not so important to us.
Would appreciate comments / tips / suggestions and thoughts.
Thanks in advance, Regards Natalie x

Posted by
83 posts

From Cappadocia, take the route Konya-Akseki-Alanya-Side-Antalya-Kemer-Demre-Kas-Fethiye..

Or Konya( rumi museum)- Isparta( rose capital of world) -Pamukkale- Antalya..
Make Bodrum 2 nights and Antalya 3 nights..

Posted by
97 posts

Hi Natalie,
What a fabulous trip you have planned! Turkey is such a cornucopia of treasures. A year ago, I did a 3 week solo trip bumping around the country with no pre planned itinerary on a similar route as yours.

May I offer a suggestion? Fly from Istanbul to Capadoccia and Capadoccia to Antalya. Pick up your rental car in Antalya and drop it off in Izmir or Deniliz and fly back to Istanbul. Hear me out. Istanbul has some of the worst, nail biting traffic I’ve ever seen. I’d hate to navigate it as a driver. I love a good road trip but the scenery to and from Capadoccia is pretty desolate.. Flights from IST to either Kayseri or Nevsehir (Capadoccia) on Turkish Airlines or Pegasus Air run about $25 one way. I bought my tickets the day before flying on both these legs and it was under 30 with an upgrade. Ditto from there to Antalya. This will save you frustration, a couple days of driving and a hotel room or two enroute.

Your hotel in Capadoccia can arrange cheap airport transfers, ground tours and or balloon rides while there. I stayed at the Stone House Cave Hotel in Goreme. They arranged all three for me for less than I could arrange on my own. I would recommend them as well as Pumpkin restaurant in Goreme. From there, I flew to Antalya on an evening flight, giving me an extra full day in Goreme.

I really like Antalya, extending my time there a few days. When traveling in Turkey, I found the app Moovit much better than google maps or Citymapper. Antalya has great public transit and taxis are cheap. Pick up your rental when you leave.

Your itinerary leaves off Pammukkale outside Denizli. I’d take it well before Canakkale. You could hit it after Bodrum before Alicati in route then fly back to Istanbul from Izmir. Or do it after Alicati and fly home from Denizli. (Warning Denizli airport is waaaay out of town in the middle of nowhere.)

Have you looked at flying open jaws into Istanbul and back home from Izmir or Denizli? That would save you another travel day. Feel free to shoot me any questions you might have. I hope you have a fabulous trip!

Posted by
52 posts

Thanks so much for your comment and tips, much appreciated. We did consider flying from Istanbul to Cappadocia but overall the costs will be much less if we rent a car and travel by road for 3 weeks (Istanbul to Istanbul). The plan is to pick up the rental at SAW Airport.

Thanks for the recommendation in Cappadocia, we are so excited about our time there! Struggling to decide on a hotel, so many good ones ... want to have the cave experience as well and see the balloons from a beautiful terrace.
Many people say to spend more time in Antalya, but no one say why? We will be there a total of 2 days before heading to Kas.

Will look at the other app options, we only use Google maps in SA. The other thing I still need to do research on is the toll roads and how it works. Can you guide possibly guide me on this?

We did make some small changes to our itinerary and will include 1 night is Pammukkale. Would love to see at sunrise!

We love road trips, distance is not a issue for us, last year we did 2 self-drive trip, 3 weeks Namibia and 3 weeks Botswana (7000km each) and personally I think it’s better to self-drive the whole trip to minimize the possible covid exposure.

Thanks again :)


Posted by
5432 posts

Natalie - I strongly agree with thenosbigs above. In fact, we did almost exactly as thenosbigs suggested, except in reverse. We arrivd in Istanbul, connected to a domestic flight to Izmir, and started our trip there. Picked up a car, spent about 2 weeks working our way south and east (counter-clockwise) ending up in Antalya. We dropped our car there in Antalya, flew to Kayseri (Cappadocia), picked up a car for a few days there, after Cappadocia, we flew back to Istanbul for the conclusion of our trip.

I'm very skeptical that your plan -- to drive all that way -- would be cheaper than flying the long, empty legs. Have you looked at the cost of domestic flights in Turkey? They're crazy US$20 (we splurged for flights under US$30 because they came with goodies like seat selection and more checked baggage). I would urge you to price the fights and look at car hire costs. While I am sure there are things to see along the way, those are long, long drives between Istanbul and Cappadocia, and between Cappadocia and Antalya; I suspect you could make much better use of that time (save several days by flying and spend those days along the south/southwest coasts and other more fruitful areas).

Personally, I didn't find Antalya itself particularly appealing (someone here called it "Cancun for Russians" and that seemed about right). But there is good stuff within day-trip distance of Antalya.

Will send you a PM with some more info in case you're interested.

Posted by
97 posts

Antalya is Cancun for Russians! David, you cracked me up! Yes, I can totally see where one might see it in that light. The whole Lara Beach / Duden Falls area of Antalya could be called Cancun for Russians. The area of Antalya I fell for is the old town area of Kaleici. I stayed at Hotel 1207 near Hadrian’s gate within the rabbit warren of streets and alleys surrounding the beautiful small harbor of old town. I could wander the streets without being bombarded by people trying to pull me into their shops constantly like in Istanbul. Hotel 1207 is an old Ottoman era house turned into a lovely hotel although street noise can be a problem. In the Kaleici area, I would highly recommend the 600 year old Sefa Hamani for a traditional hamam experience. It was my first hamam experience and they took the best care of me. I went back the day after. I thought Antalya’s Museum was exceptional. Antayla made a good springboard for day trips to Side and Aspendos. I really wanted to see the eternal flames burning in nearby Olympos but didn’t quite make it there. Another nearby spot I missed was Kursunlu Falls with its beautiful blue pool. I was traveling off season or it would have been a high priority for me.
Traveling in Turkey, I would recommend using the app Whatsapp as most businesses and individuals use it rather than traditional phones for communication.
Glad you’ve included Pammukkale! May I recommend The Cotton House hotel? It’s a small family run place that takes wonderful care of their guests. They even met me at the bus stop when I got to town and helped arrange my ride to the airport. The rooms are clean, new and very inexpensive with lovely balconies with views of The travertines.
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
14 posts

Here is your best itinerary ;
-- Arrival to Istanbul Stay at a hotel on Old city,nearby Sultanahmet area,so all places of interest will be in walking distance and public transportations.
– Istanbul
29 May– Istanbul,at this date old city may be crowded because it is conquer date of Istanbul.
– Departure from Istanbul.. Do not get rent a car from Asia side,Get where you will depart. And get it a night before you depart. (29 May evening)
– Depart from Istanbul to Canakkale.(so,you will escape morning traffic of bridges to pass Asia,you drive opposite direction) 5 hours drive , you will be lucky by the arrival of you , the bridge of Dardanelles will be open,(18 March 2022) . So you will not have to wait for ferryboats to pass Asia. Depending on your departure from Istanbul , you may have time to visit Troy ancient city.Overnight at Canakkale city centre. Overnight at Canakkale.
– Departure from Canakkale drive to Pergamum and stay overnight at Izmir. Instead of staying overnight at Alacati, keep staying at Izmir because it is just an hour drive from Izmir. On the way to Alacati take a visit to Seferihisar and Urla.
-- From Izmir drive to Ephesus and around. Stay overnight at Kusadasi.
--From Kusadasi to Pamukkale stay overnight there.
--From Pamukkale to Bodrum.
--From Bodrum to Fethiye.
-- From Fethiye to Kaş.
--Kaş to Antalya
--Antalya to Konya – Cappadocia
--Cappadocia to Ankara visit Mouseleum of Ataturk.
--From Ankara to Istanbul. Try to pass from Istanbul Bridges before 04,00 pm .. So there will be less traffic.

Forget Egirdir lake. İt is just waste of time.

If you need furher question write here

Have a great trip !!!

Posted by
1885 posts

It sounds like a wonderful trip. There’s so much to see in Turkey! My strongest suggestion is that instead of Fethiye you stay at Patara Beach, specifically at Akay Pension. It’s a wonderful little place with gracious hosts and the absolute best food we had in Turkey. Spend a couple of days here enjoying the gorgeous beach and the remarkable archeological site. It’s been a few years but when we were there we had the whole site almost to ourselves.