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Two itinerary options for Turkey

I'm planning about 2 weeks in Turkey for late February/early March 2022. I would spend about a week in Istanbul on my own, and then I have two proposals for itineraries for seeing some other places. I wonder if anyone with experience visiting Turkey can advise me on the pros and cons of each.

Itinerary One
Day 1: afternoon flight from istanbul to Izmir, transfer to Kusadasi, overnight in Kusadasi
Day 2: full day tour to Pamukkale, overnight in Kusadasi
Day 3: full day tour to Ephesus, then evening flight from Izmir to Antalya, overnight in Antalya
Day 4: full day tour to Perga and Side, overnight in Antalya
Day 5: morning flight to Cappadocia, rest of the day free, overnight in Cappadocia
Day 6: Northern Cappadocia tour, overnight in Cappadocia
Day 7: Southern Cappadocia tour, return flight to Istanbul

Itinerary Two
Day 1: afternoon flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia, overnight in Cappadocia
Day 2: Northern Cappadocia tour, overnight in Cappadocia
Day 3: Southern Cappadocia tour, flight to Izmir, transfer to Kusadasi, overnight in Kusadasi
Day 4: free day in Kusadasi
Day 5: full day tour to Pamukkale, overnight in Kusadasi
Day 6: full day tour to Ephesus, then evening flight from Izmir to Istanbul

I guess I lean toward Itinerary One, but is it too much moving around? Is it worth the extra day and extra flight to visit Antalya and Perga and Side? Or will I get enough ancient ruins between Ephesus and Pamukkale? Itinerary Two has the free day in Kusadasi -- will that be a nice and needed break? Granted it won't be beach weather in early March, but I'm not so much into lying on the beach. Just wondering what I'll do with an entire day free there.

Is there anything not covered in either of these itineraries that you would consider worth including in a 2 week visit to Turkey?

I also think it would be great to visit some kind of village or town where tourists don't usually go, at least not in large numbers. Could I do something like that on my own as a day trip from Istanbul?

I'm mid-60s, solo traveler, reasonably fit. I love history and culture. This will be my first visit to Turkey or to anywhere with a significant amount of ancient ruins.

Thanks for your insights!

Posted by
163 posts

Cappadocia and Pamukkale will be rather cold in February and early March. Also, the hot air balloons don’t fly if it’s too cold (Cappadocia). Either itinerary is very fast paced. If you have a few more days, can you slow it down so you’re not rushing from place to place? The drive from Pamukkale to Kusadasi is about three hours, just for info.

Posted by
16883 posts

I haven’t been to Perga and Side but would suggest that you skip them, too, for the reasons already mentioned. I would rather have another day in Cappadocia, among those villages, than in the city of Kusadasi.

While flights can be cheap and fast, you’re doing a lot of ground transport for day trips. Instead of daytripping to Pamukkale, one-way ground transport could connect Kusadasi-Pamukkale-Konya-Cappadocia without backtracking.