Turkey is an amazing country, and has so many attractions you probably need a month to do it justice. But not all of us are lucky enough to have a month to spare! We only had 10 days during our visit in 2012 to cram in as much sightseeing as possible. Here is a snapshot of our 10-day itinerary:
Istanbul (4 days)
The food, friendly people, huge bazaars and stunning history in this incredible city means you really need at least 4 days for your visit. Here were our must-see attractions for our stay:
- Hagia Sofia
- Blue Mosque
- Topkapi Palace
- Grand Bazaar
- Suleymaniye Mosque
- Basilica Cistern
- Galata Tower
- Spice Bazaar
- Eat a delicious cag kebab – marinated lamb cooked over a wood fire then delicately sliced to make the most perfect kebab you will ever eat. Go to Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebab for some of the best.
- Head into a Turkish sweet shop to try the infinite varieties of the famous Turkish delight and baklava. You will get more free samples than you can eat! But always buy a couple of squares to return the generosity.
Canakkale/Gallipoli (2 days)
During our stay in Istanbul we went on a mammoth day trip to Canakkale, the closest town to the Gallipoli beaches. For Australians and New Zealanders, this is a pretty special place of remembrance as it is where our ANZAC soldiers landed during WWI. We had a Turkish tour guide that ensured that we heard both sides of the story and dispelled a few myths we had learned at school about the landing. It was a very long day though, so consider staying overnight in Canakkale if you can. You can also visit Troy and Canakkale Naval Museum if you have spare time.
Cappadocia (4 days)
We stayed in the heart of Cappadocia in a small town called Goreme. The main attraction is the breathtakingly beautiful sunrise hot air balloon rides. There are dozens of flight operators in the area, some with better safety records than others. In our opinion, it is worth the extra money to fly with a professional operator. TripAdvisor has plenty of recent reviews to help you choose a company.
For your remaining days, be sure to schedule a hike through Pigeon Valley and Love Valley. Spend some time admiring the fairy chimneys and antique stores in Goreme. Hop on a cheap day tour of the region too, which will include a fascinating visit to the Derinkuyu Underground City. We also highly recommend a half day horse trek through the surrounding valleys, and a trip to a traditional hamam. The scrub down you receive will be one you won’t forget!
From Istanbul, the trip to Cappadocia is a long 12 hour bus ride or a 90 minute flight to Kayseri (one hour drive from Goreme). We have factored in some travel and rest time into the itinerary.