want to see Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia,
but we only have five days (after
attending a conference in Istanbul).
What's the best way to do it?" asked
two female travelers from California,
one of them in her 70s.
relatively adventurous travelers," they
said. "We don't do dangerous
things, but neither do we need hand-holding."
consultation, I proposed
a five-day driving itinerary:
fly from Istanbul to İzmir,
pick up a
car, see Ephesus, Aphrodisias and Pamukkale, then drive east through
Turkey's lake country to Konya and
Cappadocia, then fly back to Istanbul.
(You can also do this tour in the opposite direction from
Cappadocia via Pamukkale to Ephesus. More...)
(Want someone to do the driving and guiding for you? Here's a private tour by car with driver-guide from Cappadocia to Ephesus that follows the same route as the itinerary below and shows you everything in only 5 days. More...)
you don't want to make the long
drive on Day
3, you can fly from
İzmir to Kayseri (for Cappadocia),
but then you miss the lake country
you want to do the drive, make
reservations as early as possible
for the rental car, hotels and other services
you'll need. (Here are good
Turkish travel agents who
can make all the arrangements for
you if you'd rather not worry about
them, and here's my list of recommended licensed
1 - Monday
Drive to Selçuk/Ephesus
flight from Istanbul to İzmir (ADB),
arrive by noon or earlier; lunch
snack at the airport, or carry a
or stave off hunger until you arrive
Pick up your reserved rental
car at the airport
and drive to Selçuk (62
km/39 miles, 1-1/4 hours), the town
next to Ephesus, or
the beautiful hill village
how to do the drive.
in Selçuk or
14:30 or 15:00 (2:30 or 3 pm), check
in at your hotel
(here are suggestions).
John Basilica, İsa
Bey Mosque (all in the
center of Selçuk). Dinner and overnight.
2 - Tuesday
Ephesus, Drive to
Aphrodisias & Pamukkale
the morning, explore the ruins
of Ephesus (2 to 3 hours),
then drive to Aphrodisias (143
km/89 miles, 2 hours); lunch either
before leaving Selçuk or
at Aphrodisias. Tour the ruins of Aphrodisias (1-1/2
to 2 hours), drive to Pamukkale (123
km/76 miles, 1-1/2 hours), arriving
before dark. Settle in at a hotel
in Pamukkale Town or Karahayıt.
3 - Wednesday
lunch, drive from Pamukkale through Turkey's
lake country stopping at
Eğirdir for lunch,
and in Beyşehir to
see the Eşrefoğlu Mosque, then arriving
in Konya (450
km, 280 miles, 7 hours). Here
are Konya hotels.
4 - Thursday
Konya, Silk Road,
Ihlara Valley, Underground Cities, Cappadocia
the morning, visit the whirling dervish Mevlana
Turkish monuments (1200s) on
and around Konya's Alaettin
to 3 hours), then drive east along
the ancient Silk
Road to Sultanhanı (110
km, 68 miles, 1-1/2 hours) for a
brief look at the grandest of Seljuk
Turkish caravanserais (built
in 1229), and lunch.
through Aksaray (42
km, 26 miles, 40 minutes). If you
want to explore the Ihlara
turn right (south) 11 km east of
Aksaray for Selime, Belisırma and
Ihlara (23 km).
an hour or two at Ihlara,
then head east to Derinkuyu to
see its underground
city, though if you don't watch
your time carefully on this day you
may arrive after it is closed for
the day (17:00/5 pm).
Derinkuyu drive north to Nevşehir,
then east to Ürgüp,
Göreme or Uçhisar,
and your Cappadocia
5 - Friday
Cappadocia, Fly Kayseri-Istanbul
before dawn for your hot-air
balloon flight (if you've
reserved this thrill-of-a-lifetime
experience). You'll be back at your
hotel in time for breakfast.
Open Air Museum in the
to 3 hours).
Then drive to the nearby Zelve
exploring Cappadocia until it's
time to turn in your rental car.
could drive to the Kayseri
or Nevşehir airport and turn
in your rental car there, saving
yourself the cost of the airport
shuttle bus, but I don't recommend driving
to the airport.
You'll have to leave earlier, take
of getting lost (the route can be
confusing), and deal with Turkish
city traffic in Kayseri, probably
at rush hour, and maybe in the dark.
Better to turn in your rental car at your hotel and take the shuttle,
Fly to Istanbul and
settle in at your hotel there.
If this seems like too much driving,
look at my 5-Day
Using a good travel agency to make reservations offers important advantages. Read this.
If you'd like help for your reservations, these excellent travel agencies have partnered with TurkeyTravelPlanner.com to make them easily:
—Efendi Travel, an all-around good travel agency for all services, based in Istanbul with connections throughout Turkey and abroad. More...
Tourism & Travel, an official ticket agency for Turkish
Airlines as well as for other airlines, and they operates
buses between Cappadocia and Kayseri's
Erkilet Airport. More...
—Travel Atelier, specialists in Cappadocia weddings and honeymoons, as well as wine and culinary tours, not to mention all regular travel agency services such as hotels, rental/hire cars, guides, flights, etc. More...
—Rock Valley Travel, a full service agency with a good variety of guided tours of Cappadocia, as well as tours of Eastern and Southeastern Turkey. They're the official ticket agency for Turkish Statae Railways, also for Atlasjet, and they operate the AtlasJet airport shuttle vans. More...
—Turkish Heritage Travel, a full travel agency in Göreme with its own Cappadocia tours and hot-air balloon flights by Butterfly Balloons. More...
Flights on Day
1 from Istanbul to İzmir,
and on Day 5 from Kayseri to Istanbul.
car from İzmir's Adnan
on Day 1,
to be returned in Cappadocia,
in late afternoon on Day
Days 1 through 4 (Ephesus area, Pamukkale, Cappadocia.)
balloon flight reservation
in Cappadocia (if
you want this adventure). Reserve
your places for the morning
of Day 5. More...
Airline shuttle bus reservation from Cappadocia to Kayseri's Erkilet
Airport for your flight
to Istanbul. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan
Library of Celsus, Ephesus,
Below, tomb of Mevlana
Jelaleddin Rumi, founder
of the Whirling
Dervishes, in Konya.
Below, a cave
suite at Esbelli Evi Inn
Bottom, hot-air ballooning