Your basic itinerary will be the same as Turkey’s Top Sights in 6 Days, but you’ll have 1 to 4 extra days to see more sights:
You fly into Istanbul and immediately transfer to a domestic flight to İzmir, then drive from the airport to the Ephesus area (here’s how). Settle into your hotel and enjoy the rest of the day recovering from your flight(s).
DAY 2 – Ephesus
Get up early to visit the Ephesus archeological site. Then make your way into Selçuk to see the fine Ephesus Museum, the nearby Basilica of St. John, on Ayasoluk Hill, and the İsa Bey Mosque just down the hill; or take a taxi to Pamucak Beach. In the evening, have dinner at a pleasant restaurant, perhaps outdoors.
DAY 3 – Ephesus Region
With another day, explore the ancient cities of Priene, Miletus and Didyma, ending with a swim at Altınkum Beach; or take an excursion to Şirince, a traditional village up in the hills to the east; or have fun in the nearby resort of Kuşadası, with its beaches, boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs; or take a (long) day-trip to the hot springs at Pamukkale, stopping at Aphrodisiasalong the way.
DAY 4 – Fly to Cappadocia
Fly to Cappadocia and begin your sightseeing as soon as you settle in at your hotel. Note that non-stop flights do not operate every day of the week between İzmir and Kayseri (for Cappadocia). You may have to fly via Istanbul. More…)
Ankara on the Way: Instead of a flight from İzmir to Kayseri, fly in the morning from İzmir to Ankara, visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations and Atatürk‘s Mausoleum (Anıtkabir), then drive or take a bus to Cappadocia, or the high-speed train to Konya.
DAY 5 – Cappadocia
If you wish, rise before dawn for a hot-air balloon flight over Cappadocia. Otherwise, explore the “moonscape” of Cappadocia starting with the painted churches in the Göreme Open-Air Museum. Get to the museum at 09:00 am when it opens to get a jump on the crowds and the heat.
Spend the rest of the day in the Zelve Valley, and the pottery-making center of Avanos. After the heat abates, consider a walk in the country, perhaps in the Rose Valley. For dinner, choose a restaurant in Ürgüp or Göreme, or take a taxi to Mustafapaşa.
DAY 6 – Cappadocia
Tour the Soğanlı Valleys, or rent a car and explore some other traditional Cappadocian towns such as Uçhisar and Mustafapaşa; or take a day excursion to the dramatic Ihlara Valley near Aksaray; or look for Seljuk Turkish caravansarays along the ancient Silk Road between Sultanhan and Kayseri.
DAY 7 – Fly to Istanbul
Select the time of your flight to give you most of the day in Cappadocia, or in Istanbul, as you desire. If Istanbul, start your explorations with the Hippodrome which is open, for free, all the time.
DAY 8 – Istanbul
Visit Topkapı Palace when it opens at 09:00 am and go straight to the Harem to be first in line. Spend the rest of the morning in the palace. Then visit Hagia Sophia(Aya Sofya) before or after lunch. If you haven’t visited them yet do the Blue Mosque or another imperial mosque, the Hippodrome, and the Basilica Cistern. (Here are various ways to see the sights in Istanbul.)
Day 8 – More Istanbul
Take a short Bosphorus cruise (1-1/4 hour round-trip voyage). Spend the afternoon shopping in the Grand Bazaar (closed Sunday) or the Egyptian Market (open every day). In the evening, enjoy a Turkish bath, or go to Beyoğlu for dinner and perhaps an evening in one of the small cafés or music clubs.
Day 10 – Even More Istanbul
Spread your sightseeing over three days instead of two, giving you a more leisurely pace and more time at each site; or take a bus or taxi to the Kariye Museum (Chora Church) to see its glorious Byzantine mosaics, and to visit the mighty city walls, the splendid Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, and the Byzantine palace of Tekfur Sarayınearby; or take an excursion to the Princes’ Islands. You may also have time for a day-trip or overnight excursion to Edirne, İznik (Nicaea) and Bursa, or Gallipoli, Troy and the Dardanelles.
If all this is too much planning, let the experts make all the arrangements: join a small-group, high-quality 6- to 10-Day guided tour. More…
—by Tom Brosnahan
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