How to plan your trip to Turkey? Here's what you need to know to do it yourself or take a guided tour, or a mixture of both.
Turkey's top destinations for first-time visitors are Istanbul, Cappadocia, the Ephesus area south of İzmir on the Aegean coast including Pamukkale, and the western Mediterranean coast, including Antalya).
You can visit the top destinations in as little as 8 days on a tour, or on your own if you get the transport just right. Of course, 9 or 10 days is better, and 2 weeks is comfortable.
On Your Own
Experienced travelers and small groups may want to make their own travel arrangements and design their own trips. My TripKits ™ are sample self-guided itineraries of various lengths that can help you to plan your own Turkey experience.
You should consider having one of my recommended Turkish travel agencies help you to make your travel reservations. I do. It may cost no more than doing it yourself, and when you work with an agency you'll always have a support team of local experts to help whenever changes are necessary, or unexpected events occur.
Not only that, a good agency will suggest possibilities that you wouldn't know about and can influence travel service providers on your behalf.
Especially on the first trip to Turkey, and especially if your travel time is only around 6 to 10 days, it makes sense to consider joining a guided tour. All the tedious travel arrangements (flights, airport transfers, local transport, hotels, guides, admissions, meals) are taken care of, and you have the opportunity to share your travel experiences with like-minded travelers who are also visiting Turkey for the first time.
In many cases, an escorted tour costs no more than making your own arrangements. Tour companies buy travel services wholesale. You buy them retail.
Even if you don't plan to join a guided tour, I suggest that you look at some of the tours described here to learn about Turkey's top sights and how the professional's design visits to them.
Best Guided Tours by Pupa Travel
You can hire a professional, licensed private guide to show you around a city, a region, or all of Turkey. My recommended guides are among the best in the country. Note that a private guide is required to work through a travel agency, and cannot be a driver as well. Driver and guide are two different professions in Turkey.
1 to 5 Days
From a single day in Istanbul to a five-day Turkish adventure, here are the TripKits™ you need.
6 to 10 Days
You can see all of Turkey's top sights and enjoy its pleasures, too—even a yacht cruise or hot-air balloon flight—in six to 10 days.
11 to 15 Days
More time means more depth and more fun: sidewalk cafes, beaches, ancient ruins, and more.
16 to 23 Days
This is time enough for a Grand Tour, including sights off the beaten path.
24 to 30+ Days
The whole country is yours, even the adventurous East! Here's how to make the best of this generous amount of time.
Turkey & Greece
Everybody's doing it: including both Turkey and Greece in the same trip. It's an excellent idea, but transportation is tricky! If you don't get it right, you'll spend too much time on the road and not enough enjoying these two wonderful destinations.
Turkey & Egypt
Istanbul and Cairo are only two hours apart by air, so it's easy to see both of these top-ten destinations on the same trip. Have lunch on the Bosphorus, and dinner on the Nile!
Stories from the Road
Want to know what it's like to travel to Turkey? Read my humorous travel memoir, Bright Sun, Strong Tea.
—by Tom Brosnahan