The Best Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: A Detailed Itinerary for Turkey

turkey itinerary
Watching Hot Air Balloons in Cappadocia

Looking for a Turkey Itinerary 10 days long?

Turkey is a true land of wonder. With highlights like the bustling streets of Istanbul, the otherworldly landscapes of Cappadocia, the white terraced Pamukkale thermal pools, the turquoise coastline and the ruins of several ancient cities like Ephesus, Turkey has so much to offer. 

This 10 days Turkey itinerary is the perfect first experience of the country. Taking you through top attractions, historic sites, culture steeped moments, jaw-dropping scenery and scrumptious cuisine, you won’t want to leave. 

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Balat District in Istanbul

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Every itinerary for Turkey should follow a logical loop and make transportation and accommodation easy to plan. This Turkey itinerary for 10 days starts in Istanbul, where the majority of people land in the country and makes a straightforward journey around Turkey, by plane, car, or bus.

I’ve also included a two week Turkey itinerary and 7 day Turkey itinerary options if that’s more suitable to your timeline.

In this Turkey trip planner, you will find a destination breakdown, like things to do and where to stay, and the best way to get from place to place. If you plan to take a Turkey road trip by car, I’ve got you covered there, too.

Turkey Itinerary Essentials

10 day Turkey Itinerary: Overview

Day 1: Istanbul – Sultanahmet + Balat
Day 2: Istanbul – Kadikoy, Galata + Besiktas
Day 3: Istanbul – Food Tour + Asian Side
Day 4: Cappadocia
Day 5: Hot Air Balloon + Cappadocia Red Tour
Day 6: Cappadocia Blue Tour
Day 7: Antalya Old Town
Day 8: Antalya Beach Day
Day 9: Pamukkale Thermal Pools
Day 10: Ephesus Ancient Ruins

10 Day Itinerary for Turkey: Route Map

10 days turkey itinerary
Click on the image above to interact with Google Maps

Driving in Turkey

Renting a Car in Turkey

Looking to take a Turkey road trip? You can find a few different rental car companies located at the Istanbul international airport. But, due to the popularity of the region, I’d highly suggest booking your rental car before you arrive, and at least a couple of weeks in advance if possible. 

DiscoverCars is a great way to find the best cost and type of car that suits you and your Turkey travel itinerary. 

Check out this detailed guide on renting a car in Turkey (plus tips!)

turkey trip planner
Love Valley Cappadocia

Since your 10 day Turkey itinerary starts in Istanbul, I’d suggest heading into the Istanbul centre first by airport transfer, spending a few days exploring the sights and then picking up your car afterwards. I’ve heard from other travellers that driving in the city limits of the metropolis of Istanbul can be chaotic and stressful. So it’s best to avoid this on your trip.

NOTE | Depending on your nationality, you may require an International Drivers Permit AND a valid national drivers license in Turkey to rent a car. You also need to be over 21 years of age.

Tolls While Driving in Turkey

You will likely hit a few toll highways on your Turkey itinerary, but don’t worry, you don’t need to keep cash on hand to pay these tolls. Turkey has an HGS system that charges the toll electronically through a device set in your rental car. Simply slow down to 30km/h and it will register the toll on your car.

Once you’ve returned your Turkey car rental, you will be provided with a bill of tolls you accumulated during your trip. Each toll can be upwards of 30TL ($2.25USD).

Parking in Turkey

Parking in Turkey is straightforward. Except for a few larger cities, you can find free and ample street parking. If you are parking at an attraction, prices may be upwards of 5-10TL which is only $0.75USD). Rural parking is a breeze. This Turkey 10 days itinerary will have plenty of parking available to you via the street, so no worries there.

NOTE | Make sure to contact your hotel before booking to ensure they have parking available for you.

turkey itinerary 10 days
Fethiye

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Days 1, 2 + 3

Day 1-3 Emphasis: Culture, Food, Historic Buildings

Hagia Sophia Mosque

Day 0: Arrive in Istanbul (evening)

I’ve made the assumption and exclusion of your travel day to Turkey for purposes of streamlining this 10 days in Turkey itinerary. 

Since you may be arriving by a hopper flight from Greece, or far-off places like New York or Vancouver, I am excluding that time from the Turkey itinerary. The itinerary for Turkey’s 10 days starts bright and early in Istanbul’s historic centre

10 days turkey itinerary
Istanbul

Airport Transfer

If you are landing at the Istanbul International Airport or Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, I recommend scheduling an airport transfer to get you from the arrivals gate to your hotel in no time. Plus, it’s relatively economical!

About Istanbul

Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey but can be considered the cultural capital of the country. The metropolis of 15.5 million people is split across two continents: Europe and Asia. The only city in the world to don this title. 

Istanbul Guide: Best Areas to Stay + Things to Do

From the bustling alleyways of historic Sultanahmet to the awe-inspiring architecture of the Hagia Sophia and Dolmabahce Palace, to the spice-heavy local food, Istanbul is a traveller’s dream.

The city can be explored on foot with a good pair of comfy walking shoes, or you can take the much accessible city transportation to get to all Istanbul’s attractions. 

Istanbul Hotels

Sultanahmet | Hotel Miniature (my fave!)
Eminonu | Regie Ottoman Istanbul Hotel
Karakoy | Hotel Sub Karakoy
Galata | Galata Times Boutique Hotel

Day 1: Historic Istanbul (Sultanahmet + Balat)

Morning in Sultanahmet District

turkey itinerary for 10 days
Sultanahmet District in Istanbul

Rich culture seeps into every nook and cranny of Istanbul’s historic district of Sultanahmet. Iconic buildings like the Hagia Sophia Mosque, the Blue Mosque, and the Grand Bazaar attract millions of tourists every year. 

This district also includes highlights like the underground Basilica Cistern, the expansive grounds of the Topkapi Palace, and the mouth-watering Spice Market. Start day one of your Turkey itinerary in Sultanahmet and explore the neighbourhood on foot

The Sultanahmet district is also a great place to base yourself during this leg of your travel itinerary for Turkey. The central location of Sulahanmet (historic district) means transportation to other districts in Istanbul is close and convenient. 

Afternoon in Balat District

turkey travel itinerary
Balat District

Next, make your way to the colourful district of Balat and Fener via the bus stop at Eminonu.

The 48E, 99, 99Y, 99A, 36CE and 44B bus routes all journey past the Balat/Fener neighbourhood. The bus trip should take less than 10 minutes depending on traffic. Get off at the ‘Fener’ bus stop. You can purchase tickets from the ticket machines located near all major bus, tram and ferry stops in the city.

This area graces the shoreline of the Golden Horn and is chock full of cute cafes and local shops. A few alleyways here are known for picture-perfect rainbow rowhouses and scenic views of the bay. A great neighbourhood to sit and people watch on this itinerary for Turkey 10 days.

End the first day of your epic Turkey itinerary with a good night’s sleep, because day 2 brings more adventures on foot across the Golden Horn!

Tips for Day 1 of your Turkey Travel Itinerary

  • Remember a headscarf for visiting mosques today
  • If you are limited on time, I recommend visiting the Spice Market over the Grand Bazaar for a more authentic experience
  • Save your appetite for Balat’s many quality cafes as Sultanahmet offers inauthentic food catered to tourists

Day 1 Turkey Itinerary Top Attractions:

  • Hagia Sophia Mosque
  • Blue Mosque
  • Basilica Cistern
  • Topkapi Palace
  • Grand Bazaar
  • Spice Market 
  • Balat’s Colourful Houses

Day 2: European Istanbul (Karakoy, Galata, Besiktas)

On day two of this Turkey travel itinerary, you’ll spend time in the Beyoglu region of Istanbul. Neighbourhoods like Karakoy, Galata, Taksim and Besiktas are included in the Beyoglu area. This side of the Golden Horn is considered New Istanbul

If you are staying in the Sultanahmet district, make your way to the Eminonu tram station. Take the T1 tram to the Kabatas stop near the Dolmabahce Palace. This will be your first Istanbul highlight of the day.

Dolmabahce Palace in the Besiktas District

turkey 10 days itinerary
Dolmabahce Palace in Besiktas District

As one of the highlights of my week spent in Istanbul, I highly recommend adding a visit to the Dolmabahce Palace to your Turkey itinerary.

Make sure to get there early, by opening time if possible. The Dolmabahce Palace opens at 9AM. Note, there are no photos or videos allowed in the palace at any time. I rented out an audio tour of the palace and can say it was worth the extra dollars. 

Lunch in Karakoy District

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Karakoy District in Istanbul

Jump back on the T1 tram and get off at the Karakoy stop.

Located at the mouth of the Golden Horn where the bay meets the Bosphorus Strait means Karakoy was once a busy port district. While that’s no longer the case, Karakoy has grown into a hipster paradise.

Quaint cafes and lively main streets make this a great spot to spend your midday and lunch hour. Converted historic buildings now toting trendy digs make Karakoy the newest up-and-coming neighbourhood in Istanbul. 

I wandered around the alleyways and found myself on a self-guided food tour of the neighbourhood. Stopping at hole-in-the-walls along the way for fresh koftas and a small bowl of local soup (amongst other local delicacies).

travel itinerary for turkey

I think this is a great way to experience Karakoy since it’s considered a foodie hotspot. Make sure to peruse the seaside promenade and do some people-watching.

Optional Karakoy Activity: Have a traditional hammam experience at the Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam, considered one of the top spas in the city. Ladies only during 8am-4:30pm and gentlemen only between 4:30pm-11:30pm.

Optional Next Stop: Head up to the Taksim district, considered the modern shopping district of Istanbul for your fill of all the big brands and to see the historic tram and peruse the lively Istiklal Street.

Afternoon in Galata District

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Galata Skyline from the Golden Horn

Head uphill from the Karakoy district towards the Galata Tower. The shining beacon of the Galata neighbourhood as it sweeps the skyline. Along the way duck inside the local shops as you slowly meander the cobbled alleyways

Make sure to climb the Galata Tower for unparalleled views of the Golden Horn, the city of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Straight beyond. 

Have early dinner here and then spend sunset on the Galata Bridge with scenic views of the Golden Horn and Galata district. Watch the fishermen take in their evening’s catch. 

turkey trip itinerary
Galata Tower

Tips for Day 2 of your Travel Turkey Itinerary

  • Visit the Dolmabahce Palace early (at opening time – 9AM)
  • Schedule your hammam experience a few days beforehand – Kilic Ali Pasa is popular! And wear a bathing suit under your clothes
  • Skip Taksim district if shopping isn’t a priority

Day 2 Travel Itinerary Turkey – Top Attractions:

  • Dolmabahce Palace
  • Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam
  • Taksim historic tram
  • Istiklal Street
  • Galata Tower
  • Galata Bridge
turkey road trip itinerary

Day 3: Food Tour + Asian Istanbul (Kadikoy + Moda)

On the Asian side of Istanbul, you’ll find a more authentic look at life in a metropolitan Turkish city. This is also where long-term expats and digital nomads tend to stay in Istanbul, away from the touristic centre and where apartments are offered at a more economical price.

Nevertheless, for the purposes of a Turkey trip itinerary for 10 days, this will be the core of day 3. I’ve opted to add a food tour to your time spent in Istanbul because I believe a food tour is the best way to start your time in this country

A food culture speaks volumes about whatever country you choose to visit, and Turkey is no exception. With small share plates and quick street foods eaten by hand, you can already tell that the Turkish people prioritize family, community and fast solutions to busy city life. 

turkey tour itinerary

You can either choose a daytime food tour or an evening food tour. Each tour will start in the historic centre of Sultanahmet and include a ferry ride across the Bosphorus to the Asian neighbourhoods of Kadikoy and Moda. 

NOTE | If requested beforehand, your food tour guide can arrange a fully vegetarian experience for you, but unfortunately vegan is not possible.

Tips for Day 3 of your Turkey Trip Itinerary

  • If you opt for an evening food tour, spend the day in Moda and Kadikoy and request your tour guide meet you there
  • Wear good walking shoes because you will be on your feet a lot on your food tour
  • Try to eat conservatively before your food tour. You will be stuffed by the end!

Day 3 Turkey Tour Itinerary – Top Attractions:

  • Ferry Ride on the Bosphorus
  • Tasting traditional Turkish food
  • Discovering less-visited districts of Moda and Kadikoy
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Trendy Moda Neighbourhood in Asian Istanbul

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Days 4, 5 + 6

Day 4-6 Emphasis: Adventure, Bucket List Experiences, History

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Part of Uchisar Castle

Day 4: Arrive in Cappadocia

How to Get to Cappadocia from Istanbul 

The fastest way to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia is by plane. And since there are plenty of flights departing the IST and SAW airport in Istanbul daily, it’s also the most convenient. Prices start at $27 USD so it’s also really affordable

I use Skyscanner to book short-haul flights globally.

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For other options like train and bus, check out my complete guide on how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia.

How to Get from Istanbul to Cappadocia: Ultimate Guide

If you are following a Turkey road trip itinerary, head back to the IST airport and pick up your car rental.

Cappadocia Airport Transfer

If you are arriving by plane, you will land in either the Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport or Kayseri Erkilet Airport. No matter what airport you arrive at, you can schedule a shared Cappadocia airport transfer that will bring you to your hotel in Goreme (the main tourist town).

10 days turkey itinerary
Pasabag Valley Fairy Chimneys

About Cappadocia 

The region of Cappadocia is probably the most popular tourist destination in Turkey, and there’s no wondering why. This area of Turkey is full of scenic landscapes, unique rock formations, picturesque valleys and bucket list experiences. 

Gaining popularity on Instagram with sunrise images of hot air balloon rides and novelty cave hotels, Cappadocia is a once-in-a-life-time spot.

You can read all about the history of Cappadocia, the best places to stay, how to get around and top things to do (plus much more) in my complete Cappadocia travel guide.

The best Turkey itinerary will always include a stop in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Guide: Where to Stay + Things to Do

How to Get Around Cappadocia

Cappadocia isn’t one town, it’s an entire region comprised of 5 main towns and a few smaller villages. Given that, the area’s attractions are quite distant from each other and cannot be visited on foot

turkey itinerary 10 days
Ortahisar Castle

If you are staying in Goreme, the central tourist town of Cappadocia, you can reach the central attractions like Pigeon, Rose and Love Valley by hiking, but if you are looking to see all the region has to offer, including the fairy chimneys, underground cities and open-air museums, I’d suggest either a guided day tour or rental car.

You can have a rental car waiting for you at either Cappadocia airport by booking ahead. Since Cappadocia is a popular region, I suggest booking your rental car at least 2 weeks out.

>>>> CHECK PRICES + AVAILABILITY OF RENTAL CARS IN TURKEY

Cappadocia Hotels

Top Pick | Sultan Cave Suites (my fave!)
Cave Hotel | Koza Cave Hotel
Cave Hotel | Mithra Cave Hotel
Budget Hotel | Antique Terrace Suites

Pigeon Valley Walk + Red Valley Sunset Viewpoint

If you’ve arrived in Cappadocia midday, venture out to Pigeon Valley and stroll through the picturesque canyon. Here you will see small pigeon caves carved into the rock face, which once housed thousands of pigeons.

Next, grab your rental car or hop in a taxi and enjoy the sunset from the scenic Red Valley Cappadocia sunset spot.

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Red + Rose Valley

Day 5: Hot Air Balloon Ride + Cappadocia Red Tour

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

Today brings an early wake-up call, so make sure to get to bed early on your arrival day. Depending on the time of year, a sunrise hot air balloon tour can start anywhere between 4:30 and 7:30AM. It’s time to tick off this bucket list experience!

All sunrise hot air balloon tours start by picking you up at your hotel within central Cappadocia (Goreme and Uchisar). Enjoy a light breakfast and then head to the balloon launching site and watch the pilot and crew ready your epic flight. 

You can opt for a private, semi-private, or group balloon tour, but nevertheless, it will end with a champagne toast and certificate of completion. This is an absolute must on your 10 days Turkey itinerary.

Red Tour of North Cappadocia

Generally speaking, all tours either cover the red, blue or green sections of the Cappadocia region. The Cappadocia Red Tour will explore the attractions that are located at the north end of Cappadocia

Highlights of the Cappadocia Red Tour include:

  • Devrent Valley (Imagination Valley)
  • Pasabagi Valley (Fairy Chimneys)
  • Goreme Open Air Museum
  • Uchisar Castle

The red tour is a great addition to your itinerary for Turkey because it includes transportation, lunch and a knowledgeable guide to teach you about Cappadocia history and attraction-specific information. It also departs at 10AM which gives you ample time to return from your morning’s hot air balloon adventure.

End your day having dinner on the panoramic patio of Seten Restaurant located in the iconic Sultan Cave Suites (easily one of my favourite Cappadocia hotels). Or enjoy a traditional home-cooked 3 course meal cozied up inside Pumpkin restaurant.

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Zelve Open Air Museum

Day 6: Sunrise + Cappadocia Blue Tour 

Watching Hot Air Balloons at Sunrise

I highly recommend booking a Goreme hotel that comes with a panoramic veranda to watch the hot air balloons fly at sunrise.

If you are feeling more adventurous, make your way to this Love Valley Cappadocia sunrise spot to watch the hot air balloons float by, easily one of my favourite experiences while in Cappadocia.

Blue Tour of Central + Southern Cappadocia

Your guided Cappadocia Blue Tour will depart at 10AM. After enjoying a traditional Turkish breakfast spread at your hotel, your tour guide will pick you up for day 6 of your Turkey itinerary 10 days. Today you will be exploring the central and southern attractions of the Cappadocia region

turkey itinerary for 10 days
Rose Valley Hike

Highlights of the Cappadocia blue tour include:

  • Red and Rose Valley Hike
  • Cavusin Cave Village (Old Greek Rock Houses)
  • Underground City
  • Pigeon Valley
  • Ortahisar Castle
10 day turkey tour
Uchisar Castle

Opting for a Private Cappadocia Tour

If you’d prefer a more exclusive private experience, I’d recommend booking this private Cappadocia day tour. I can highly recommend it since it’s the tour I took and was super pleased with

I ended up paying more because I wanted to start my tour at sunrise at the Love Valley viewpoint and end at sunset at Red Valley. Usually, tours start at 10 AM. It was well worth it, in my opinion. You can also customize it to visit only the Cappadocia attractions you are interested in, which I found very appealing.

End your third day in Cappadocia at Turkish Ravioli restaurant indulging in the local ravioli meal called manti with a glass of Anatolian wine in hand.

turkey 10 days itinerary
Pigeon Valley

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Day 7 + 8

Day 7-8 Emphasis: Relaxation

10 day itinerary turkey
Antalya

Day 7: Arrive in Antalya + Antalya Old Town

Arriving in Antalya

The best way to get from Cappadocia to Antalya is by plane. You can book a flight through the Kayseri Airport through Turkish Airlines or Pegasus (the low-budget airline in Turkey). Flights are direct and take just over an hour.

Flights from Cappadocia to Antalya start at $40USD, so it also makes it a really economical option.

>>> Check Skyscanner for Flights to Antalya

10 days itinerary turkey
Roman Harbour in Antalya

Remember to book your Kayseri airport transfer. The journey from Goreme town to Kayseri should take just over an hour.

You can also get from Cappadocia to Antalya along your Turkey travel itinerary by boarding the bus. The bus departs from the Goreme bus station and reaches the Antalya bus station in approximately 10-11 hours (including rest stops) and bus ticket prices start at $8USD.

>>> Check Bus Prices + Schedule for Antalya on 12Go

Of course, you can also make the journey via rental car. I’d recommend a stop in Konya halfway through your drive for a good night’s sleep if you have the time. The journey should take 8 hours and is easily navigated through Google Maps.

>>> Check Prices + Availability of Rental Cars in Turkey

Only have 7 days? Head straight from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

turkey 10 day itinerary

How to Get Around Antalya

The city of Antalya is sprawled across the coastline of Turkey with the old town located on the far east and the famous Konyaalti Beach situated on the west. 

If you base yourself on the outskirts of the old town (which is where I stayed) you can easily meander the alleyways of the old town when you arrive on foot

The next morning will be a beach day, so you can either take the 45-minute walk along the coastline to the beach or grab the city bus. I opted to walk.

Since it was a hot day even in late October, we took a taxi back to Antalya’s old town after the beach. You can find them waiting in this area.

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Streets of Old Town Antalya

About Antalya

Antalya, (known as the Turkish Riviera), the crowning jewel of Turkey’s turquoise coast is a busy and relaxed metropolis (almost 1.5 million people call Antalya home). 

With the backdrop of the Taurus mountains and the large stretch of sand gracing the shoreline, Antalya attracts tourists from near and far for a Mediterranean beach vacation. Antalya was one of the first cities to introduce mass tourism in Turkey in the 1980s and has become popular ever since.

Originally settled by the Greeks in 200 BC and quickly taken over by the Romans, Antalya has been a thriving coastal city and port for centuries and boasts a quaint and lively old town to prove it.

Exploring Antalya Old Town

Nestled on the clifftop of eastern Antalya is the lively and charming old town district, also known as Kaleici (‘within the castle’ in Turkish). Once you’ve arrived in Antalya, make your way to the winding enchanting streets of old town.

You can spend the afternoon ducking into shops, people watching while sipping Turkish coffee, purchasing souvenirs and walking the scenic coastline promenade over the Roman Harbour

The architecture in old town is a mix of well preserved Ottoman mansions and Roman ruins like Hadrian’s Gate.

I particularly loved the trendy coffee spot called The Sudd, so if you are a coffee person make sure to grab a cappuccino there. If night life is your goal, there are many pubs in the area that offer late night entertainment and beer drinking culture

Or, for something quieter, grab a glass of wine at Karaf Bistro and sit by the window.

NOTE | If you’d like to stay in Antalya old town like me, make sure to book a place on the outskirts. The centre of old town can get quite loud and stay loud until very late at night.

Day 8: Antalya Beach Day + Evening Bus to Pamukkale

Spend the Day at Konyaalti Beach

Since day 8 of your Turkey itinerary for 10 days is prioritizing relaxation, you can lie in as late as you want. Today you will be heading to the famous Konyaalti Beach, the main attraction for holiday goers in Antalya. 

This pebble beach is 7kms long with many amenities. If you are staying in old town, you can reach the eastern most point of Konyaalti beach in a 45 minute walk. If walking that far in the heat isn’t your cup of tea, grab the city bus

Looking for more adventure? Try this Antalya ancient ruins and waterfall day tour

Evening Bus to Pamukkale

After a day of frolicking in the waves and catching some sun, its time to move on to the Pamukkale thermal pools, a unique highlight of Turkey.

How to Get from Antalya to Pamukkale

Catch the afternoon or evening bus from Antalya bus station to the town of Denizli, just outside of Pamukkale. You can use 12Go to book your bus tickets. The bus journey on this leg of your Turkey 10 days itinerary will take approximately 4 hours with ticket prices starting at $6USD. 

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule for Pamukkale on 12Go

NOTE | The bus will not take you directly to the town of Pamukkale, so you will need to catch the minibus from platform 76 at the Denizli bus station to make the 30 minute journey to Pamukkale.

The flight itinerary from Antalya to Pamukkale is indirect (transferring in Istanbul or Izmir) and more hassle than it’s worth. Taking the bus is the best way to get from Antalya to Pamukkale if you aren’t renting a car.

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Old Town Antalya

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Day 9

Day 9 Emphasis: Natural Wonder, Ancient Ruins + Relaxation

10 day trip to turkey itinerary

Day 9: Pamukkale Thermal Pools +
Evening Bus to Ephesus (Selcuk)

How to Get Around Pamukkale

Make sure to book a hotel in the centre of Pamukkale town. That way you can reach the Pamukkale main gates within a 10-15 minute walk (maximum). You can always get your hotel reception to call you a taxi, too.

About Pamukkale

Pamukkale hot springs has become a medicinal destination known the world over. Mineral rich water is pushed from deep down under the earth and cascades over the hill above Pamukkale. Once the calcium hardens, it creates small tiered pools

The water has been known to treat chronic disorders like skin, eyes and digestive issues. Right behind the pools are the ancient ruins of Hierapolis. Make sure to spend an hour or two exploring the property.

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Pamukkale Hot Springs

Visiting Pamukkale Thermal Pools

Since you only have one morning at the Pamukkale hot springs in this 10 day itinerary Turkey, I suggest you get an early start. The main gate to Pamukkale doesn’t open until 8AM, causing most people to miss sunrise atop the pools.

If you grab a quick 5 minute taxi to the south entrance, you can enter the Pamukkale grounds at 6AM. Well worth the early wake up call. Make your way toward the hilltop and watch the hot air balloons fly over the unique landscape. 

Pamukkale Guide: Where to Stay + Things to Do

Before wading through the natural pools, visit the Hierapolis ancient ruins. The most famous ruins is the Roman amphitheatre, which is still well preserved today. 

Next, take an hour and soak in Cleopatra’s Pool (at a small extra cost). Finally, make your way to the top of the white terraces, remove your shoes and wade through the pools and exit through the main gate. 

Pamukkale Hotels

Top Pick | Pamukkale Whiteheaven Hotel
Apartment | Venus Suite Hotel
Midrange Hotel | Bellamaritimo Hotel

Best Pamukkale Tours

Pamukkale Hot Air Balloon Ride

Evening Bus to Ephesus (Selcuk)

Once you enjoy a leisurely traditional lunch at Hiera Coffee + Tea House, hop in a taxi or arrange a shuttle from your hotel to the Denizli bus station. From here, you can board a comfortable bus to the town of Selcuk, just outside the ruins of Ephesus. 

As always, I book my bus tickets through 12Go. The trip takes a scenic 4 hours and costs $6USD to start.

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule for Ephesus on 12Go

best itinerary for turkey
Amphitheatre at Hierapolis Ruins

How to Get from Pamukkale to Ephesus (Selcuk)

Like the Antalya to Pamukkale trip, flying from Pamukkale to Ephesus is a bit of a hassle. You will have a long layover in Istanbul from Denizli to Izmir. And then you’ll have to take a bus from Izmir to Selcuk. The direct bus is a lot more efficient and cost-effective.

If you are renting a car for your Turkey vacation itinerary, the drive will be pleasant and last about 3 hours.

Skipping Ephesus? Find out how to get from Pamukkale to Istanbul

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Sunrise over Pamukkale

Turkey Itinerary 10 Days: Day 10

Day 10 Emphasis: History

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Day 10: Ephesus + Evening Flight to Istanbul/Home

Arriving in Selcuk

The bus will drop you at the Selcuk central bus station. From here, most hotels in Selcuk are within walking distance (10 minutes max). 

After you check in, head into the old town of Selcuk and enjoy a meal at Artemis Koftecisi Ali Usta. They specialize in traditional Turkish koftas but also have some great vegetarian sides that can be eaten as a meal. Make sure to indulge in a pint of Ephesus beer.

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View from the Selcuk Castle

How to Get to the Ephesus Ruins from Selcuk

Either arrange a complimentary shuttle with your hotel, like I had at Nilya Hotel, or grab a taxi on the main street to reach the Ephesus ruins. The drive is only 10 minutes, and you will arrive at the upper gate of Ephesus. 

About Ephesus

The ancient city of Ephesus can be dated back as far as the 11th century BC. Originally established by the Greeks (with worship to the goddess Artemis), the Romans ruled over Ephesus for centuries and introduced Christianity to the region. 

Visiting Ephesus: Where to Stay + Things to See

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Library of Celsus at Ephesus

The city of Ephesus was a thriving Mediterranean port for a significant amount of time, with its decline occurring during the 3rd century AD by the goths.

Major sites here include the Library of Celsus, the Great Amphitheatre and the terrace houses. You can read all about what to see at Ephesus in my complete Ephesus guide.

Ephesus Hotels

Top Pick | Nilya Hotel (where I stayed)
Luxury Hotel | Livia Hotel Ephesus
Midrange Hotel | Ayasoluk Hotel

Evening Flight from Izmir to Istanbul/Home

Once you’ve had your fill of the ancient ruins of Ephesus, it’s time to go home. I know, its sad but true. 

You can head to the Selcuk bus station and hop on one of the minibusses heading to Izmir. It should take 1.5 hours to reach the airport. From Izmir, you can either transfer via Istanbul or fly out to an international destination.

Alternatively, you can grab a ticket at the Selcuk train station and take the frequent trip to the Izmir Basmane train station. From here, grab a taxi to the airport. Train tickets will start at 7.5TL ($0.50USD) and will take 80 minutes.

>>> Check Bus Price + Schedule on 12Go

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Two Week Turkey Itinerary Option

If you have more time to spend in this beautiful country, I’ve put together a 2 week Turkey itinerary for you. Generally speaking, the difference between the Turkey 2 week itinerary and the Turkey itinerary 10 days is the addition of a road trip along the turquoise coast. 

Between Antalya and Pamukkale, take a road trip along the turquoise coast. Rent a car at the Antalya airport and make your way along the scenic coastal road towards the small town of Kas. Stay a night here and then move on to Fethiye for two nights, stopping in Oludeniz on the way. 

Return your rental car to the Dalaman Airport and grab the bus to Pamukkale.

  • Day 1-3: Istanbul 
  • Day 4-6: Cappadocia 
  • Day 7-9: Antalya 
  • Day 10-12: Road trip from Antalya to Fethiye with a stop in Kas 
  • Day 13:Pamukkale  
  • Day 14: Ephesus 
10 days in turkey
Amyntas Tombs in Fethiye

7 Days Turkey Itinerary Option

If you only have a week in Turkey, I recommend skipping Antalya and the Turkish Riviera all together and spending one less day in Cappadocia. Or opt to include Antalya instead of Pamukkale or Ephesus. 

Don’t subtract time spent in Istanbul as it requires at least 3 days (ideally more!) to properly explore. 

Spend less time in Cappadocia + Cut Antalya altogether

  • Day 1-3: Istanbul
  • Day 4-5: Cappadocia

Head straight from Cappadocia to Pamukkale

  • Day 6: Pamukkale
  • Day 7: Ephesus
10 days trip to turkey
Exploring Heirapolis Ruins at Pamukkale

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8 Comments

  1. This is amazing, thank you for the details, I’m visiting turkey for the 3rd time this September, and I’m definitely following your guide

  2. I am going in about a week and so excited with the help of your blog. I am looking forward to seeing Turkey through your eyes 🙂

    1. Hi Sonia,

      I am so happy for you, Turkey is one of my favourite countries! Such rich diversity, culture and natural beauty. And the food is so incredible! If you have time, definitely rent a car and check out the coastline between Antalya and Fethiye, including a stop in Kas. Otherwise, this 10 day Turkey itinerary should cover all the highlights for you.

      I hope you enjoy your trip! Let me know how it goes.

      Haley

  3. What a great itinerary. This is so helpful. I am curious did you do all this in 2022? Just making sure the different types of buses you mentioned and flights are still a “normal ” thing. I am looking to do this late September 2022 and would love to just “cut/paste” this itinerary. Thanks for all the info and any extra advice. Solo traveler so doing it all myself and generally have not done “city to city” so pretty excited.

    1. Hi Don,

      So excited to hear about your trip to Turkey. It is honestly one of my favourite countries in the world. I completed my trip in the Fall of 2021, but I don’t think you’ll find a big change in bus and flight options even now in 2022. I’ve included the best way to get from each city in the blog.

      From Istanbul to Cappadocia, most definitely an economical flight is the way to go. If you are travelling from Cappadocia to Antalya or Pamukkale, also a flight is a good option. Throughout the rest of the itinerary, I would recommend taking the bus as the best option to get from A to B. Alternatively, exploring the country by car is a beautiful way to see all the in-between destinations not many other visitors see, and the flexibility is great.

      I hope this helps, and happy travels!

      Haley

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