This 5-day Fly-Drive Turkish itinerary takes you from Istanbul to İzmir and Ephesus, then Cappadocia, then back to Istanbul. Add your Istanbul days for the total length of the trip. (So if you add 3 Istanbul days, you have an 8-day trip to Turkey).
This is an alternative to my 5-Day Driving Itinerary from Ephesus to Cappadocia, which may be more driving than you want to do.
(You can also follow this itinerary in the opposite direction, starting in Cappadocia, flying to İzmir, driving to Ephesus, then returning by air to Istanbul. 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 my driving tour and shows you everything in only 5 days. More...
With fly-drive, you fly from İzmir to Kayseri (for Cappadocia), you don't have the long drive from Pamukkale to Cappadocia, and you have more time to see the sights in Cappadocia; but you miss Konya, the Silk Road, and Turkey's lake country around Eğirdir.
Day 1 - Fly Istanbul-İzmir, Drive to Ephesus
Morning flight from Istanbul to İzmir (ADB), arrive by noon or earlier; lunch snack at the airport, or carry a picnic lunch, or stave off hunger until you arrive in Selçuk. 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 to the lovely mountain village of Şirince.
Arrive in Selçuk or Şirince by 14:30 or 15:00 (2:30 or 3 pm), check in at your hotel. Visit Ephesus Museum, St. John Basilica, Isa Bey Mosque (you can walk to them all from the hotel). Dinner and overnight.
Day 2 - Ephesus, Aphrodisias & Pamukkale
In 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 Selcuk 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. More...
Day 3 - Pamukkale, Fly İzmir-Kayseri
Enjoy a swim in the mineral waters of Pamukkale (2 hours), and tour the ruins of the Roman spa of Hierapolis(1 hour). There are no convenient flights from nearby Denizli to Cappadocia, so after lunch, drive to İzmir's Adnan Menderes Airport (252 km, 157 miles, 4 hours), turn in your rental car, and fly to Kayseri, arriving late in the evening. Take a shuttle bus to your hotel in Ürgüp,Göreme or Uçhisar.
Recommended hotel in Ürgüp: Esbelli Evi, a charming "cave inn," and my favorite inn in all of Turkey; in Göreme, Hotel Kelebek.
Day 4 - Göreme, Cappadocia
Rise 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.
For your sightseeing in Cappadocia, you can rent a car, but an air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven luxury minivan from Argeus costs little more (when you count the cost of insurance and fuel—expensive!—for a rental car), and since your time is precious on this efficient itinerary, you may decide it's the best way to go. You may get lost, but your local driver won't; and there'll be no parking hassles: your driver drops you at the entrance to a site, picks you up there when you're finished, and takes you right to the next site by the fastest route.
Unfortunately, public transportation among the sites of Cappadocia is virtually non-existent, so it's really not an alternative on a tightly-packed itinerary such as this. You really need your own private transportation to make the best use of your precious time.
Visit the Göreme Open Air Museum in the morning (no guide necessary; 2 to 3 hours). Have your guide-driver meet you at a certain time at Göreme, go to lunch, discuss your sightseeing plan for the rest of today and tomorrow.
Suggestions: Avanos, Uçhisar, Underground Cities and Ihlara Valley. More...
Day 5 - Cappadocia, Fly Kayseri-Istanbul
Spend the morning and afternoon visiting the sites you didn't see on Day 4. In the late afternoon or early evening, take the airport shuttle minibus to Kayseri's Erkilet Airport for your flight to Istanbul.
Day 6 - More Cappadocia?
If you have another day, spend it in Cappadocia. There's lots more to see. More...
For the fly-drive itinerary, make reservations as early as possible for the 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 are my recommended licensed private guides.)
Using a good travel agency to make your reservations (see below) offers important advantages. Read this.
If you'd like help for your reservations, these excellent Cappadocia-based travel agencies, all TurkeyTravelPlanner.com partners, 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...
—Turkish Heritage Travel, a full travel agency in Göreme with its own Cappadocia tours and hot-air balloon flights by Butterfly Balloons. More...
1. Flights on Day 1 from Istanbul to İzmir, on Day 3from İzmir to Kayseri, and on Day 5 from Kayseri to Istanbul.
2. Rental car on Day 1 from İzmir's Adnan Menderes Airport, to be returned to that same airport on Day 3; and another rental car, or car-and-driver, on Day 4 and perhaps Day 5 in Cappadocia.
3. Hotels for Days 1 through 4 (Ephesus area, Pamukkale, Cappadocia.)
4. Hot-air balloon flight reservation in Cappadocia (if you're interested). Reserve your places for the morning of Day 4 so that you'll have Day 5 as a back-up in case the balloons can't fly on Day 4. More...
5. Airline shuttle bus reservations from Kayseri's Erkilet Airport to Cappadocia on Day 3, and from Cappadocia back to the airport for your flight to Istanbul on Day 5. (Contact your Cappadocia travel agency.)
—by Tom Brosnahan
|5-Day Drive Ephesus—>Cappadocia
5-Day Drive Cappadocia—>Ephesus