This itinerary is a good way to see lots of Turkey outside of Istanbul—Cappadocia, the Silk Road, Konya, Beyşehir, Lake Eğirdir, Pamukkale, Aphrodisias and Ephesus—flying from Istanbul to Cappadocia, then driving from Cappadocia to Ephesus, and flying from İzmir back to Istanbul, all in five days.
You can also do this tour in the opposite direction, from Ephesus to Cappadocia. 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…)
It is a very full, tightly-packed itinerary, with some long days, but it’s possible. Also note that if you rent a car in Cappadocia and return it near Ephesus, your rental will be subject to a hefty return fee which may add a substantial amount to your car rental bill. More…
Add three full days in Istanbul to this 5-day drive itinerary and you’ll have an excellent first-visit-to-Turkey trip in the shortest practical amount of time. If you can afford 9 or 10 days, all the better.
Fly Istanbul—>Cappadocia, Tour Göreme, Zelve, Uçhisar
You could rent a car at the airport and drive to your Cappadocia hotel, saving yourself the small cost of the shuttle bus, but the expense of a rental car and especially the fuel cost will probably be more than the shuttle, and I don’t recommend driving from the airport. You’ll take the chance of getting lost (the route can be confusing), and have to deal with Turkish city traffic. Better to take the shuttle, believe me. You can arrange for a rental car to be brought to your hotel after you check in. More…
Hot Air Balloon Flight, Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Silk Road & Konya
Check out of your hotel after breakfast, drive to Nevşehir, then south to Kaymaklı or Derinkuyu to visit its Underground City. Cross the mountains via Güzelyurt to the Ihlara (Peristrema) Valley for a short visit, then continue through Aksaray and along the ancient Silk Road, stopping at the Sultanhanı and, if you wish, more of the Seljuk Turkish caravanserais along this route. Finally, arrive in Konya and settle in at your hotel. Here areKonya hotels.
If it’s still open, visit the whirling dervish Mevlana Museumtoday.
Konya, Beyşehir, Lake Eğirdir & Pamukkale
The drive from Konya to Pamukkale is 450 km (280 miles), about 7 hours. Drive west to Beyşehir for a peek at the Eşrefoğlu Mosque, then continue to Eğirdir on the lake of the same name—a good place to stop for lunch or a snack.
Pamukkale, Hierapolis, Aphrodisias & Ephesus
In the morning, explore the ruins of the Roman spa city of Hierapolis, swim in ancient Sacred Pool, then drive west along the Meander River valley, making the detour to Aphrodisias (123 km/76 miles, 1-1/2 hours) for a visit (1-1/2 to 2 hours) and lunch. Return to the main road and continue west to Selçuk (143 km/89 miles, 2 hours), to Kuşadası, or to Şirince, and your hotel.
Ephesus & Fly to Istanbul
Visit the Ephesus archeological site (2 to 3 hours), and in the town of Selçuk the Ephesus Museum, Saint John Basilica and İsa Bey Mosque. In the afternoon, drive from Selçuk to İzmir’sAdnan Menderes Airport (ADB; 62 km/39 miles, 1 hour). Turn in your rental car and catch an evening flight to Istanbul.
If this seems like too much driving, look at my 5-Day Fly-Drive Itinerary.
Make reservations as early as possible for the services you’ll need for this itinerary. (Here are good Turkish travel agentswho can make all the arrangements for you if you’d rather not worry about them, and here’s my list of recommended private guides.)
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:
—Argeus Tourism & Travel, an official ticket agency for Turkish Airlines as well as for other airlines, and they operates the Turkish Airlines shuttle 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…
—by Tom Brosnahan
|5-Day Drive Ephesus—>Cappadocia|