If you can spend about three weeks (16 to 23 days)in Turkey, you can see quite a lot.
Days 1 to 4
Arrive in Istanbul. Consider flying right through to your next destination, because you’ll probably have to be back in Istanbul at the end of your trip to fly home, so plan to save Istanbul for the end of your trip.
If you’re coming from a long distance (say, California or Australia), you may want to stay a few days in the city to regain your land legs.
Days 5 to 7
Drive along the ancient Silk Road from Cappadocia to Konya, admiring the Seljuk Turkish caravansarays along the way. Stop at the Sultan Hanı for tea or a meal, and to see the grandest caravanserai of them all.
Drive from Konya to the Mediterranean coast, perhaps stopping in Beyşehir to see the unusual Eşrefoğlu Mosque and to have a lunch of lake fish. The drive is through dramatic mountains, ending on the coastal highway. Choose your beach destination: go east to Alanya, west and south to Side, or west to Antalya. More…
Days 10 & 11
Stay at least two nights on the coast here, more if you want time at the beach and/or to take excursions to Termessos and Karain; Perge, Side and Aspendos; Köprülü Kanyon for rafting; or Phaselis and Olimpos. More…
(For a shorter trip, spend all your “Mediterranean days” here, then drive northwest to Denizli and Pamukkale, stay there one night, then continue west along the Meander River valley via Aphrodisias to Ephesus.)
Days 12 to 14
Days 15 & 16
If you don’t want to miss Aphrodisias & Pamukkale you can head west, then north from Dalyan to Muğla, then northeast to Pamukkale. Or if the siren call of Bodrum, Turkey’s most chic resort, beckons to you, go west to Bodrum. More…
Days 17 to 19
Depending on how you’ve planned your time, you can easily fly from İzmir‘s Adnan Menderes Airport back to Istanbul, or continue your journey north along the Aegean coast to Foça, Dikili, Bergama (Pergamum), Ayvalık, Mount Ida, Assos, Troy, Çanakkale, Gallipoli, and Edirne. More…
Days 20 & 21
You should be back in Istanbul the day before your flight, just to be sure. Now’s the time to do the shopping you didn’t do before because you didn’t want to carry your purchases all the way through Turkey.
—by Tom Brosnahan