White Travertine Thermal Pools with Blue Water – Pamukkale, Turkey
Turkey’s unique location attracts millions of tourists each year. No matter the season, you can do many fun activities here. Moreover, you can experience countless cultural trips, including wandering around ancient ruins that are also listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites.
So, whether you are a passionate photographer, a gourmet, an adventure lover, or just a professional sunbather, you can have the holiday of your dreams in Turkey. If you are interested, here is everything you need to know before visiting Turkey from a born and raised Turkish expat. Here are my top Turkey travel tips for you.
Travel Tips for Turkey
Turkey Weather and When to Visit
This adorable dog is surely enjoying the snow
No, Turkey isn’t just a summer destination like many places in Europe. Depending on what you want to do, you can visit Turkey during every season. Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara region gets very warmer in summer and it can sometimes rain too. This area gets colder than many other parts of Turkey during winter and it can snow too (but not often).
Most of the coastal of Turkey have a typical warm Mediterranean weather (think of Italy, Greece, etc.) with warm and dry summers and mild winters. The middle part of the country (like Central Anatolia) gets warmer summer days but chilly nights and mornings.
During spring, summer and winter, not only you can enjoy many breathtakingly beautiful beaches, but also you can do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, and even canoeing in the ancient lands of Turkey. And starting from Winter, here is a winter wonderland. Over the years, Turkey became a hot spot for ski lovers with its excellent ski resorts, splendid hotels, and amazing nature.
Visa for Turkey
Some nationalities do not need a visa to enter Turkey, that includes some European countries a few Asian countries and also a few South American countries. They can enter visa free for 90 days.
Many other nationalities can enter with an eVisa and some with a conditional eVisa. Passport holders of Australia, UK, USA need to apply for an Electronic Visa (e-Visa). Indian travelers can get a conditional e-Visa if they already have an active visa from US, UK, Ireland or the Schengen countries.
As the name suggests, the e-Visa Application System allows travelers to apply their e-Visas online. You just have to fill the online form and pay the visa fee, and within 3 minutes, you will receive your visa! Just don’t forget to apply for your visa between three months to 48 hours before your travel date.
Is it safe to travel to Turkey?
The answer to this question is yes, but just like anywhere in the world, you should be cautious about your surroundings. Thankfully, Turkey’s name is coming clean after several terror attacks that happened in the past, and today, it is declared as safe from many governments.
Just be careful around the crowds, and if you are too anxious, try not to visit Turkey around religious and public holidays. Keep in mind that the coasts are safe, and big cities like Istanbul are always surrounded by policemen. Unless you are visiting the cities close to the Syrian border, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.
In any case, you should make it a point to read the travel advisory before you plan your trip and once again before you visit.
Currency in Turkey and managing Money
Turkish Lira notes of 10s and 20s – Currency in Turkey [CC0] via Pixabay
The local currency in Turkey is Turkish Lira. Although most places would prefer cash, you can also pay with VISA and Mastercard.
Try to carry a smaller amount of money for smaller purchases. Turkey has banknotes for 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 lira. So carrying two 50 liras instead of one 100 lira might be better. Haggling is also very common in local shops. You might get up to 50% off from bigger purchases.
Which SIM Card to get?
Due to the legal restrictions, it might be complicated to get a local SIM Card if you’re traveling here for a longer period of time. Generally, you can get a SIM card by showing your passport at one of the shops in the airport or in a store in the city.
There are three network operators in Turkey: Turkcell, Vodafone, and Türk Telekom. They have official stores everywhere around the country.
Turkcell is known for its good connection, but it is the most expensive one. Vodafone is also fairly good and Türk Telekom is the cheapest one. Although Türk Telekom is good, if you are planning to visit locations with high altitude, I would stick with Vodafone or Turkcell according to my budget.
Also, all mobile devices purchased outside Turkey that use a Turkish SIM must be registered with the government after 120 days. If not, you will end up with a phone that doesn’t work.
Scams in Istanbul
Outside the Blue Mosque at night, Istanbul – Turkey Travel Tips
Istanbul is one of the most visited cities in Turkey due to its historic beauty. And just like every other tourist city, here also has typical tourist scams. Although the Turkish people are very helpful, it is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to scams. The most known ones are taxi scams, pickpockets, and paying more because you are a tourist.
Taxis usually take a longer road to get you to your final destination to make you pay more money. To prevent that you can use public transportation, or if you have to use a taxi, you can ask the reception of your hotel or hostel to call a cab for you.
To avoid pickpockets, you have to be careful about your belongings. If you are around a crowd, keep your bag in front of you or somewhere you can see it.
And last but not least, sellers might charge you more money because they think that you don’t know the actual price of their products or services. To prevent that, do your research! Thanks to the internet, you are one click away from knowing all the best and the worst shops all around the World.
Overall Istanbul is a majestic city, but keep in mind that Turkey offers more incredible cities. So, if you have enough time, try to spend less time in Istanbul, and explore other cities in Turkey.
Getting around in Turkey
You can get around in Turkey by internal flights, renting a car, using a coach, and depending on the location – even a ferry.
With its bunch of airlines that fits your budget, Turkey can be easily explored by a plane. Due to the competition, you can book a cheap flight and fly to almost every city in Turkey.
One of the low cost carriers in Turkey is Pegasus Airlines, that’s what the Drifter Planet team used in Turkey twice. Although it is not the most environmentally-friend option, if you have a tight schedule, you can always get to your destination very quickly via planes.
Although renting a car is always an option, I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are aiming for a heart attack, then renting a car might be the one for you. Having one of the most expensive gas in the entire World, constant traffic, and of course so many angry drivers that ignore most of the traffic signs, you can easily rent a car in Turkey with your passport or driving license. Just make sure to rent your car from a reliable agency, like Europcar, or Avis, and get insurance for the car.
Most Turkish people use the coach, especially the night coach, as a more budget-friendly option. The buses in Turkey for longer destinations are very luxurious and shockingly affordable. Every Turkish town and city have a bus station, called otogar. From there you can buy your bus ticket, which is called bilet in Turkish.
Buses in Turkey – Metro turizm bus
If you are a solo traveler, depending on your gender, you can book a seat next to your own gender to ensure safety as well. During your trip, you will be served a cake or sandwich, and a bottle of water for free. Most of the bus companies also provide wireless Internet, and a film to watch. Buses will stop in many resting places for you to use the toilet, stretch your legs, and eat in restaurants.
Metro Turizm bus ticket – Turkey travel tips
It isn’t easy to prebook the buses online without a Turkish card or phone number but it can be done if you really try your best. We were able to book a bus with “MetroTurizm“, but only after translating the entire website in English. Somehow their English version of the website wasn’t allowing bus bookings at that time.
Ferries are also a great option for traveling in and around Istanbul, Izmir, and from incredible cities like Bodrum and Marmaris to the Greek islands.
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Turkey
Sunrise view – Sultan Cave Suites, Cappadocia, Turkey
There are fairy chimneys and caves everywhere in Cappadocia. People still live in these caves and many have been transformed into spectacular hotels. Right here, you can enjoy a hot air balloon ride to experience the most magical sunrise.
It is no secret that there are lots of places to visit, lots of things to do and lots of things to eat in Turkey! If you want to visit this glorious country, but don’t know where to start, there is a great 10-day itinerary on this website, which covers the most attractive places you can visit in Turkey. However, if you want to spend more time in Turkey to understand the culture better and explore all around it quickly, here is a two-week itinerary of Turkey!
Day 1 and 2 – Istanbul
Sunset cruise over Bosphorous, Istanbul itinerary
Istanbul is mostly famous for its bridge that brings together Asia and Europe, mosques, tulips, seagulls, and Turkish bagels. But the city also has a great history dating back to 660 before Christ, Roman empire, Byzantine, and Ottoman empire. If you want to check out the historical monuments on your first day, you can start exploring Istanbul from Sultanahmet Square, where you can find Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque, and Basilica Cistern.
On your second day, you can shop at the Spice Bazaar aka Mısır Çarşısı, which is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul. Here, you can buy spices, Turkish delights, jewelry, souvenirs, dried fruits, and nuts. The Grand Bazaar, on the other hand, is the oldest and largest bazaar in the world with 4,000 shops and 350,000 visitors a day!
Day 3 and 4 – Bursa
Bursa was the first capital city of the Ottoman Empire. But here is not only known for its history, but also its silk, ski resorts, and thermal baths made here a must-visit city. Due to located near an extinct volcano called Uludağ mountain, Bursa has thermal baths with mineral-rich waters.
If you are visiting Bursa, you should experience the traditional thermal Turkish bath, since it is one of kind! The mineral water boils up from below to comfort you and nurture your skin! As a tradition, you should get the best rubdown (kese) to get rid of the dead skin cells and a massage just to relax your muscles.
Day 5 – Izmir and Ephesus (Efes)
Izmir is blessed with amazing beaches, gorgeous nature, and of course, ancient places like Unesco World Heritage Site listed Efes!
Celsus Library, Ephesus – Turkey Itinerary
While in Ephesus, you can check out many historic gates and temples, but the most impressive ones are definitely the Temple of Artemis and the Library of Celsus. But if you enter Ephesus from the south entrance, you will see its world-famous theatre. This theatre not only witnessed the history but also hosted many amazing performances by Elton John, Ray Charles, Jethro Tull and many more!
Day 6 and 7 – Bodrum
With its pure white buildings with Saxon blue doors, its amazing seacoast, and gorgeous bougainvillea flowers, Bodrum is definitely a must-visit city! This old fishing town is located on the coast of the astoundingly clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea and also hosts the ancient city of Halicarnassus, which is said to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World!
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus has an ancient tomb, which was built between 353 and 350 BC! In here, you can also check out the Myndos Gate, which was built under the reign of King Mausolus. This gate witnessed the greatest battles during the siege of the city by Alexander the Great.
Day 8 and 9 – Fethiye
Oludeniz Beach, Fethiye, Turkey Travel Tips
With its breathtaking marina, amazing night-life, and otherworldly sea, Fethiye is the only city in the world, where you’ll find sarcophaguses on the streets! In here, you can swim in the Dead Sea/Blue Lagoon, and also do lounging, parasailing, paragliding, canoeing and many more! The world-famous beach of Fethiye and its blue lagoon, Ölüdeniz, is known for its shades of turquoise and aquamarine, and it is officially awarded as a Blue Flag beach.
On your second day, you can hike the ancient Lycian Way to check out the amazing views of the sea and the mountains. You also have to check out the gorgeous Butterfly Valley! This valley’s name comes from the endemic butterflies that live near the waterfalls on the canyon wall. From the top of this valley, the view of the bay is just breathtaking.
Day 10 and 11 – Antalya
When you first hear Antalya, you might think of beautiful beaches, a bright sun, and 5-star hotels. But Antalya also offers gorgeous ancient cities and sights! On your first day, you have to check out Aspendos, which is an ancient Greco-Roman city in Serik. Aspendos has huge fame with its breathtaking Roman theatre, the best-preserved theatre in Turkey. The theater has a seating capacity of 20,000 people, and it is still used for concerts.
For your second day, you can visit the Konyaaltı, which has a pebble beach with amazing turquoise waters. Here you can also paraglide and enjoy many water sports. Or around 60 km away, you can visit the sandy Lara Beach, which is known for its curative sands for the ones with rheumatism problems!
Day 12 and 13 – Pamukkale
Early Morning in Pamukkale, Turkey
With its mineral-rich hot springs and its ancient Greco-Roman city, Pamukkale is a natural site, located in Denizli. Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish, which suits its amazing calcium-rich springs that shaped its snow-white limestones over the centuries perfectly. But this Unesco World Heritage site is not only popular for its natural pools but also its holy ancient city of Hierapolis!
Cleopatra Pools in Pamukkale, Turkey
On your second day, you have to check out this Greco-Roman city. Hierapolis was founded as a thermal spa early in the 2nd century BCE. After the archeological diggings, many significant structures like gorgeous Byzantine gates, a theatre, temples, thermal baths, and an extensive necropolis came to light.
Day 14 and 15 – Cappadocia
Cappadocia’s unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations
With its fairy chimneys, amazing nature, and fun hot air balloon activities, Cappadocia offers a great time for its visitors. Being on the Unesco World Heritage List, with its fairytale looking landscapes with fairy chimneys, pigeon houses, orchards, and vineyards, it is surreal to fly over the beautiful valley and have the most romantic time while gazing the sunset!
On your second day, you should visit the Ihlara Valley, which is a 16 km long valley that is a home for 105 ancient churches! This unique valley’s honeycombed churches were built by Cappadocian Greeks. It is truly a magical place to wander around while listening to the peaceful river sounds.
What to Eat in Turkey?
Shish Kebab with Naan – my food in Istanbul
Turkish cuisine is one of the most diverse and famous cuisines in the entire World. You may have eaten Turkish dishes before, but there are some must-taste dishes that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Turkey!
As the main dish, you can have Iskender Kebab, Şiş (Shish) Kebab, Mantı, EtliEkmek, or if you are vegetarian, you can have Meze or street food like Kumpir.
Iskender Kebab is a traditional Döner kebab which is served with yogurt and a warm tomato sauce and melted butter over pieces of thinly sliced lamb meat and pide.
Turkish food menu – Turkey travel tips
Şiş (Shish) Kebab, on the other hand, is grilled chicken, beef, or lamb on a skewer, served with rice, salad, and fries.
If you crave carbs, you should try Mantı aka Turkish Ravioli! Mantı is little a handmade dumplings are filled with ground lamb or beef, which topped with creamy yogurt and melted butter tomato paste sauce. Or Etli Ekmek, which is a long and thin piece of flatbread, topped with meat and cheese.
If you are a vegetarian, you will love Etli Ekme because you can choose your own toppings to “vegan-ise” it.
As a lighter dinner option, you can have Meze, which actually consists of a small selection of dishes commonly served with drinks or before a meal. You can either just eat Meze, or you can also order a main dish with them. Turkish people love eating Meze while drinking Rakı, which is a traditional alcoholic beverage.
Traditional Turkish Mezes are Cacık, which is yogurt with herbs and cucumber, hummus, butter, Dolma, which is rice-stuffed vine leaves, eggplant salad, Feta cheese and all served with a warm pide. Pide is a flatbread which is kind of like a pizza, but is much better. It is a typical Turkish comfort food.
Eating Pide – Experiencing Turkish Food
And lastly, Kumpir is actually a giant baked potato, which is cut down the middle and served with butter, cheese and various toppings that you choose. As a dessert, you can have World-famous Baklava, and of course Turkish delight.
Turkish cuisine is very flavourful and best complemented with local alcoholic beverages. You can have some Turkish wines include Kavaklidere Yakut (Bogazkere – Okuzgozu), Merlot, and Vinkara.
The national drink, Rakı, is a must if you want to have an authentic Turkish food experience. It is a spirit, distilled from grapes and made with aniseed. When Rakı is mixed with water and ice, its color changes from transparent to white, which is why it is also called lions milk.
Ramadan in Turkey
Ramadan is called Ramazan in Turkey. It is important to know about this because it is a month long of fasting time, that ends with Eid ul-Fitr . During this time, the locals do not eat or even drink anything from the time sun rises and to the time it sets; they only eat after the sunset.
If you’re in a smaller part of Turkey during Ramadan, you should know that some restaurants will be shut during the day, and it is considered inappropriate if you eat in front of those who are fasting. Although in touristy places like Istanbul’s Sultanahmet square, you will easily find a bite to eat.
The dates for Ramazan are for this year are 24 April 2020 to 23 May 2020.
What to Wear in Turkey?
Trying to bathe in Pamukkale’s Thermal Pools without taking off my clothes
No, all Turkish people don’t dress conservatively. Somehow the country is split where one half of the people wear conservative attire while the other half wear whatever they want and don’t mind showing some skin. Don’t stand out as a tourist, but try to blend in.
You can wear pretty much anything you want in Turkey, depending on the weather. During summer, light cotton pants, T-shirts and flip-flops are the most common clothes to wear. Depending on the location, you can also wear shorts.
During Spring and Fall, you should bring a warm jacket/windbreaker because the weather is rainy, and it is chilly at night. And during winter, better pack your sweaters because it snows almost everywhere in Turkey. For the beach, you can basically wear anything you want. Most Turkish women love sunbathing in their bikinis.
If you are planning to visit mosques and churches, you should not wear any shorts or sleeveless tops. Women should also cover their hair. And don’t forget to bring socks since most of the mosques have carpet floors, and walking with your shoes on a carpet (or inside the house) is not acceptable for Turkish people. Overall, modesty is very appreciated in Turkey. If you want to avoid some looks while walking in the city, try to dress up on the conservative side.
About Turkish Hamams
Turkish Hamams – Turkey travel tips
Turkey might be known for its amazing beaches, and historical places, but this country is also blessed with more than 1,000 thermal springs. These mineral-rich springs have also healing properties, which is the reason why they attract many tourists throughout the year.
You will find lots of Traditional Turkish Bath places which are called Hamam anywhere you visit in Turkey. If you want to get rid of all the dead skin cells from your body, you can visit the Hamam of your choice. But there are a couple of things to know!
For example, every Hamam has two sections, one for women and one for men. This means that at most of the Hamams, you can’t get scubbed down with your significant other.
Keep in mind that, Hamams are HOT. If you have any lung or heart problems, ask your doctors for permission beforehand.
If you are visiting a Hamam, don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and some clean sandals.
When you enter the Hamam, you will see an amazing interior and five to six taps of water with beautiful sinks underneath. In the middle, there will be a big stone which is called göbektaşı.
If you want to be rubbed down by a professional, he or she (depending on your gender) will come and rub you there. Before the rubbing, you need to be inside of the Hamam for at least 15 minutes. Afterward, they will first soak your body with warm water, otherwise, the dirt won’t come off.
After the washing up, you will receive a massage, and later you will get rubbed with an oriental washcloth, which is called kese. Finally, you will receive another soapy wash, followed by a rinsing session with cold water.
After the whole experience, don’t forget to tip your attendant. PS. You need to wash your private parts yourself. Most of the Hamams, people are inside are butt naked, but it doesn’t mean that you also have to be. Also, bring your own soap and shampoo if you are allergic, and don’t forget to remove your makeup because it will get ruined.
Etiquette for Visiting Mosques
Inside the Blue Mosque, Istanbul – Turkey Travel Tips
One of the most beautiful experience in Turkey is listening to the unmissable call of prayer 5 times a day from a nearby mosque. There’s something calming and soothing about this sound. Of course, you should try to expand this experience by visiting a mosque. Please don’t be stupid enough to mimic this sound of prayer, even if you’re in a hostel and are sitting with backpackers.
Mosque Etiquette – what to wear – Turkey travel tips
Dress conservatively if you’re visiting a mosque. Cover your legs, arms and shoulders – this is for both men and women. In most of the mosques, you will be able to pick up scarf to cover your head on your way in. Photograph the architecture by all means, but look out for “photography allowed” signs before you do. Do not take the liberty of photographing the locals in prayer without their permission.
Just like many places of worship all over the world, you will need to remove your shoes at the entry point so wear something that can be easily removed.
Quick Tips for Solo Women Travelers
Traveling to any new country as a solo woman traveler can be overwhelming but at the same time, liberating. Turkey is an amazing country and is an excellent destination for a solo woman traveler.
We have mentioned this before in this article, but it is time to reiterate – try to blend in. Dress like locals and don’t let your outfit or actions scream “tourist”. Be careful of your surroundings at all time and listen to your gut. If a place or a situation doesn’t feel safe for any reason, then get out. Make friends with other women travelers that you meet, share stories and stay connected.
My name is Alara Benlier, and I am a passionate traveler who is in a constant search for delicious foods and historical places. Currently living in Germany, I visited many places in Europe and met lots of lovely people from different cultures. Before Germany, I lived in Rotterdam for a year and traveled all around the Netherlands. I am excited to share all my experiences in Drifter Planet.
PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
The ultimate 10 day Turkey itinerary for first timers
Is it Asia or Europe? Turkey is both – the best of two continents in just one country.
At first, it may appear that Turkey mostly suits cultural travelers. After all, it sits on the cusp of both Europe and Asia, so it’s no wonder that the Turkish heritage is a fascinating fusion of various cultures.
By finely balancing age-old traditions with modern influences, Turkey promises travelers an unforgettable experience.
Here’s the thing – Turkey is an amazing destination for literally every kind of traveler. Adventure seekers, backpackers, families, fantasy landscape chasers, pilgrims, and party travelers – all will love Turkey for the same as well as different reasons.
I’m not much of a cultural traveler but I’m always in search of fantastic landscapes. I traveled to Turkey mainly because I had seen photos of Cappadocia‘s surreal structures that looked something like a fantasy movie. Moreover, I really wanted to sit in Pamukkale‘s blue and white natural pools.
Yes, I did everything that I wanted to do, and even more. Believe it or not, I fell in love with the culture in Turkey despite claiming not to be a cultural traveler.
If you’re looking for a destination with fantasy-movie like strange beauty, rich history, amazing culture, insane bazaars, and good food then you really have to visit Turkey. The best part – Turkey is affordable. After all, Turkish Airlines runs promos for cheap flights to Turkey from many places in the world.
Alright, now that I have sold Turkey as a travel destination for you, I’d like to share my highly researched itinerary for Turkey that I personally made for myself. It includes Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, and Ephesus.
There is a lot to see and do in Istanbul and Cappadocia, so you will spend most of your time there if you follow my itinerary. Pamukkale and Ephesus can be covered in a short time but can get extremely crowded during the mid-day because most of the people head there for a day trip. No, as per my itinerary, you will visit these places early enough and stay the night nearby for a more relaxing experience.
Rather than searching through various Turkey itineraries to find the one that best suits your interests, I will share golden nuggets on how to spend 10 days in Turkey. From information about how to move from point A to B and where to see the best sunsets, our Turkey trip planner has you covered.
Planning a last-minute trip to Turkey? I’ve got you covered with my recommendations to help you book quickly.
Start off your trip to Turkey by arriving in the bustling city of Istanbul. Your first day of Istanbul itinerary will be light and relaxed and yet will highlight the captivating history and culture of the city. You will return to Istanbul towards the end of your trip and that’s when you will visit the majority of important landmarks.
Hippodrome of Constantinople [Sultan Ahmet Square]
The best place to start off after touchdown is Sultanahmet Square. Today, Sultanahmet Square is a historical area that is filled with various iconic attractions, and within close walking distance to other major landmarks such as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. In the past, the square was the Hippodrome of Constantinople, the social and sporting center of the Byzantine Empire.
Take your time to discover the Serpent Column, the Obelisk of Thutmose, the Walled Obelisk, and the German Fountain before making your way to Gulhane Park. It is nice to walk around here in the evenings and see the colorful fountain. The minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia look spectacular when they’re lit up.
Gulhane Park is a short 10-minute walk from Sultanahmet Square and offers a relaxing, tranquil escape from the busyness of Istanbul’s tourist center. The historical, urban park stretches alongside the famous Topkapi Palace, and even extends to its grounds.
Your first day in Istanbul serves as an introduction to the rich history that resonates across the whole country. Take the time to soak it in and prepare for the rest of your Turkey itinerary.
Day 2: Istanbul to Cappadocia, Spend the night in Goreme
Waking up early enough to make the most of your day, prepare to have your mind blown as you leave Istanbul. Cappadocia awaits!
How to Reach Cappadocia from Istanbul?
It is easy to reach Cappadocia from Istanbul. The simplest way is by catching a flight. Cappadocia has two airports – Kayseri Erkilet Airport (ASR) in Kayseri and Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport (NAV). The flights are usually not expensive if you book in advance. However, if you’re traveling on a budget, then you may want to get on an overnight bus from Istanbul to Cappadocia. Look for a ticket on Metro Turizm’s website.
After an easy one-and-a-half-hour flight, you’ll arrive in Cappadocia, the breathtaking semi-arid region known best for its honeycombed hills. Cappadocia has a reputation as a fairytale destination, whimsical in nature and magnificent in beauty. We recommend that you make sure that your camera (or phone) is fully charged before arriving.
Head to Goreme
Cappadocia is unreal – you will see caves, fairy chimneys, weird formations, and giant mushrooms. The best part – you can stay in a cave too! Cappadocia is massive and has around 10 towns (or villages) but I recommend you stay in Goreme. It is super lively and you can walk to the main town center from most parts.
Prepare to spend the night at one of the cave hotels in Goreme. While Gerome has several amazing accommodation options to choose from, we’d definitely recommend the Sultan Cave Suites. The unique hotel offers cave rooms perched on top of Aydinli Hill.
Derinkuyu underground city, Ihlara Valley, Pigeon Valley
Now that you’ve found your nest, it’s time to explore the wonder of Cappadocia. There are many different tours that are available in Cappadocia because there’s so much to see. However, I joined the Green Tour with New Goreme Tours. The reason why I picked this tour was because it includes places that I knew I definitely wanted to see, but couldn’t reach myself by walking. The Green Tour takes you to explore Derinkuyu underground city, marvel at the view from Ugrup Panorama Point, and includes a traditional Turkish lunch.
Sunset Point in Goreme
After going back to the comfort of the Sultan Cave Suites for a well-deserved rest, you’ll go for an evening stroll to Goreme Sunset Point before bed. The insurmountable beauty of this view is sure to stay with you for a lifetime.
Day 3: Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia + Göreme Exploration
Let’s face it – people visit Cappadocia from all over the world to experience the famous hot air balloon ride over the fairy chimneys. This is how you will start your day today.
After a restful night in the Sultan Cave Suites, you’ll get picked up around 4:30 a.m. by the balloon company.
Prepare yourself for the magical experience that is to come as you watch the incredible sunrise while climbing 3000 feet above the ground. Ready yourself to take pictures of the fairy chimneys, volcanic spires, and unique architecture of the buildings below.
You’ll get dropped off at your hotel in the mid-morning, giving you enough time to catch a nap and relax before grabbing lunch.
Göreme Open Air Museum
Once your belly is satisfied by the tasty flavors of Turkey, head over to Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It includes the most magnificent rock-cut churches, beautiful frescoes, and rock-formed architecture.
Zemi Valley, a.k.a., Love Valley
If you still have energy, make your way to the nearby Zemi Valley for a hike. It is very close to the Goreme Open Air Museum. It is also known as Love Valley because of it’s penis-shaped structures – or more politely called the fairy chimneys. The route is advertised to cover a distance of 3.3 miles and is easy enough to be able to enjoy the surrounding view.
Sunset in Red Valley, Cappadocia
Finally, end your day by catching the sunset in Red Valley, which also happens to be our top choice for Instagram-worthy spots in Cappadocia. This promises to be the perfect way to end your day before returning to sleep in Ottoman Cave.
Day 4: Breakfast with a view of balloons + Night in Uchisar
You will hate me for including another early morning activity in your Cappadocia itinerary, but you will totally thank me when you see the view.
The thing is, Cappadocia isn’t the place for a late-night, late-morning kind of trip. The nightlife is pretty nonexistent, thanks to the early morning hot air balloon rides. Cappadocia’s sunrises and sunsets are epic, so make sure you wake up early every day.
Breakfast with a view of Balloons at Sultan Cave Suites
Day 4 of your Turkey 10-day itinerary starts off brightly by catching the sunrise and enjoying a hearty breakfast at Sultan Cave Suites before heading to Uchisar.
This particular spot is the most Instagrammed place in Cappadocia, thanks to the Do You Travel and Gypsy Lust duo. The location is perfect because of the nearby fairy chimneys. Moreover, the sky looks amazing as it gets flooded with hundreds of hot air balloons while the sun rises.
From here, make your way to Gumusler Monastery. Turkey was the center of the Byzantine Empire, and the Gumusler Monastery is a cave monastery that reflects this history. It is carved out of a large rock and is considered one of the best-preserved in the region.
Sunset at Uchisar Castle
Next, head to Uchisar Castle. The castle is a fascinating rock citadel that is perched on a rock spur. The views from the top are out of this world. We’d recommend that you get there around 5:30 pm or 6 pm so that you can explore before watching the sun dip behind the fascinating rock formations.
While you are in the area, choose from the many wonderful Turkish restaurants and enjoy dinner before heading back for the night at Kale Konak Cave Hotel.
So you think three days are too much for Cappadocia? Not at all. Cappadocia is massive and has so much to see that even three days are not enough. There are at least 10 villages and so many valleys and they’re all different. I spent 4 days here but I was literally crying while leaving because I did not want to leave such a pretty place.
Day 5: Cappadocia to Denizli, Pamukkale
How to Reach Pamukkale from Cappadocia
Having wrung every ounce of goodness from Cappadocia, it’s time to fly to Denizli. You can choose to fly to Denizli from either Kayseri or Nevsehir Airport. If you’re lucky to find a direct flight, it shouldn’t take you longer than an hour and 15 minutes. As of 2020, there aren’t any direct flights from any of the Cappadocia airports to Denzili. You will have to book a flight that makes a stop in Istanbul.
Denizli city is slightly more industrial but is surrounded by beautiful valleys and natural sites. When you arrive in Denzili by flight, it is very easy to reach Pamukkale because there are shuttles from the airport after every flight. These shuttles typically cost 13 TLs. The trip is short and shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes to half an hour. Pamukkale village will be your home for the night.
Arrive in Pamukkale, Check in at Ozbay Hotel.
Directly translated, Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. It is a mineral-rich natural site that boasts thermal waters that flow over white calcite travertines (terraces). The area is regularly frequented by day travelers who travel to dip into the pools, but we would definitely recommend that you spend the night here, explore the small village, and visit the thermal pools in the morning without crowds like I did.
I highly recommend booking a room in Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale. It is literally 1-minute walk from the calcium pools. It is a pretty hotel and absolutely loved their breakfast. Yum! Staying the night will also allow you to enjoy the rest of the village, further exploring the ancient ruins in the area.
Explore Pamukkale Village and Market
The white travertine pools are the main highlight of Pamukkale but we will leave that for tomorrow morning. Today is the day to walk around and explore Pamukkale’s little market. This market is a good place to buy handmade souvenirs because it is much cheaper as compared to other places in Turkey.
A shuttle to Pamukkale should cost you around 13 Turkish Lira (TL).
Day 6: Explore Pamukkale
Pamukkale Thermal Pools
Having spent a large portion of the day before traveling, your sixth day in Turkey is dedicated to exploring the surreal environment and travertine thermal pools of Pamukkale. Start your day early and reach Pamukkale’s travertine pools by 8 am to avoid crowds.
The beautiful, white, terraced waters invite travelers to indulge in the offerings of the ‘spa town’. The pools offer a great way to unwind and relax while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings.
Walk around Pamukkale’s mineral-rich formations, sit inside one of the pools, and make dozens of pretty photos. Spend enough time here so that you can check out the other attractions within this complex.
While you’re exploring Pamukkale’s travertine complex, there’s another famous pool that you can enjoy here – the Cleopatra’s Pools, also known as the Antique Pool.
Unlike the other pools in the area, Cleopatra’s pool is privately owned and a cost of 30 – 35 TL is required upon entry.
As tempting as it is to wallow in the ‘healing waters’ of the hot springs all day, you also need to visit Hierapolis, the ancient Roman city. Don’t worry – everything is right next to each other in the same complex. The settlement boasts a fascinating history, and iconic attractions such as the Hierapolis Theatre, Necropolis, and Museum.
Lunch in Pamukkale
Get out of the Travertine complex and check out of your hotel. Leave your luggage there or carry it with you to the market where you can spend some time in a restaurant. Enjoy a nice Turkish lunch in Pamukkale before you head to Ephesus. Actually, you won’t be staying in Ephesus but in the nearby town Selçuk.
Pamukkale to Selcuk
Pamukkale and Selçuk are just 2.5 hours away from each other by road, so this journey is very easy if you do it in a rental car or entirely on a taxi. If you’re two or more in number, then a taxi makes sense and the cost isn’t so high when you split it up. The taxi journey will cost you around $60.
Another way of reaching Selcuk from Pamukkale is by hopping on a bus from Denzili. By now you surely know that Denzili town isn’t far from Pamukkale, so you can get here on taxi. From Denzili, get on a Kamil Koc bus to Selçuk.
Day 7: Explore Ephesus
Selçuk to Ephesus
Having spent one week in Turkey, Ephesus introduces a new and exciting adventure to your trip. Depending on where your hotel is in Selcuk, you can choose to bicycle or walk to Ephesus over a distance of roughly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles).
Explore Ephesus – the Walled Ruins
If you want to make the most of your Turkey itinerary 7 days in, then we suggest you get an early start. The lost city of Ephesus has a lot to explore, and you want to get the most out of it before all of the day-trippers arrive.
Alternatively, you can visit it right before the complex closes when it isn’t so crowded. The complex closes at 7 p.m. during summer months and 5:00 p.m. during winter months. You may want to check the official website for more information.
Enter Ephesus at the lower gate, which is closer to Selcuk town. The entire city of Ephesus is a World Heritage Center and a shining example of Greek and Roman architecture and history. Whether or not you are a history-lover, Ephesus is sure to leave you in awe at the marvelous ruins that tell stories of centuries gone by in the ancient port city.
Some key sights to include on your agenda are the Library of Celsus and Ephesus Amphitheater – arrive at these places early to avoid the queues.
Ephesus Outside the Walled Ruins
There are things to see outside the walled ruins too. These attractions are close to the Lower Gate. The Temple of Artemis, Basilica of St. John, Isa Bey Mosque, Ayasoluk Castle, and Ephesus Archaeological Museum among many others.
Evening in Selçuk
After soaking up as much history and culture as you possibly can, spend a relaxing evening with a beer and cool off at Denis Bar or Dplphin Bar. Both these bars are in the main town center.
Prepare to leave the next day for Istanbul on a flight. Alternatively, you can also catch an overnight bus to Istanbul from Selçuk by Varan Bus lines.
Day 8: Arrive in Istanbul, Cruise over Bosphorus
If you chose to spend the previous night resting in Selcuk, then the morning of your eighth day in Turkey will start off with a morning flight from Izmir to Istanbul. If you took the bus, you’ll also arrive sometime in the morning. Check into your Istanbul hotel of choice, and head straight to a Turkish hamam for a relaxing massage.
These hammams are all over the city and offer a variety of services. You can choose from a self-service option, a traditional hammam that offers the real Turkish bath experience, or other styles which include aromatherapy massages, reflexology, and facial clay masks.
Sunset cruise over Bosphorous River
After your hammam experience, you should feel rested and revived. Make your way to the Bosphorus River, the notorious river that separates the continents of Europe and Asia.
Kick back, relax and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Bosphorus River, taking in the unique perspective of the city.
Nightlife in Istanbul – Bosphorus Area
Unlike most of the trip – you won’t need to wake up early for the next 2 – 3 days so take time to explore Istanbul’s party scene.
One of the most popular and scenic spots for nightlife in Istanbul is the Bosphorus area. Here you will find many places where you can enjoy your food and drinks with a view of the Bosphorus Sea.
Head to Beer Point or Taps Bebek for good beer. If you want to get fancy, head to Sortie – the most lively (and expensive) place to party in Istanbul.
Day 9: Explore Historical Istanbul (and Dan Brown’s Istanbul)
Istanbul has got so much to offer, and as your trip draws to a close, it’s time to put on your comfortable walking shoes and prepare to explore the historical Istanbul. If you are a fan of Dan Brown’s Inferno, you’ll recognize a lot of these attractions from the adventures of Robert Langdon.
There are a few must-see attractions that can’t be missed and need to be added to your Istanbul itinerary. These are all located near one another and can be explored in one go.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque [the Blue Mosque]
It is commonly known as the Blue Mosque, The Sultan Ahmed Mosque is one of the most visited mosques by travelers. It has six minarets that you can spot from a distance. The interiors look spectacular with ceramic tiles, blue paint, and stained glass windows that let the natural light in. To make things even more awesome, there are 100s of chandeliers inside.
The Blue Mosque has no entry fee because it is a place of worship. When entering the Mosque, please make sure that you are dressed modestly as a sign of respect for the culture.
Many first time visitors are surprised to know that Hagia Sophia was once a Greek orthodox church, was later also a mosque but is now a museum. As of now, it is one of the greatest surviving architectural example of the Byzantine empire. It has been restored a few times and new structures have been added. The minarets were added during the Ottoman time.
The entry fee for Hagia Sophia is 72 Turkish Liras.
The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Hippodrome, and Basilica Cistern are a stone’s throw away from one another, each offering a uniquely special and touching experience. The Galata Bridge and Tower is slightly further away, but still walkable and definitely worth a visit.
Sunset at Galata Bridge and Tower
Walk over the Galata bridge and get on top of the tower to enjoy the sunset. The tower has 9 floors but the lift will only take you till the 7th – so wear comfortable shoes. There is a 360-degree observation deck on top which will give you breathtaking views of Istanbul city.
Drinks and Dinner in Galata District
Galata District is a good spot to enjoy the nightlife in Istanbul. You have had to wake up early on many mornings but the next will start late. Head to Riddim or Mojo in the Galata district to enjoy good music.
Day 10: Bazaars of Istanbul
While Istanbul is rich in history, it is also buzzing with a lively atmosphere. At the center of this culture are a large number of bazaars and markets that can be found in the city. From the sharp and sultry aromas of the Spice Bazaar to the Turkish lanterns and carpets at the Grand Bazaar, the hustle and bustle of the city is unrelenting.
Spice Bazaar (Misir Carsisi)
Spice Bazaar is one of the largest bazaars in Istanbul and is in the Faith District. It has 85 shops that sell spices, tea, dry fruits, nuts and more. It is not to be confused with the Grand Bazaar, which you will visit right after this.
Grand Bazaar is the grandest of all bazaars in Istanbul. It is a covered market with 41 streets. It is the largest and the oldest covered market in the world. You can maybe skip the Spice Bazaar but do not miss the Grand Bazaar because it will offer you the most memorable sights.
The Grand Bazaar is also located in the Faith district and is easy to reach from the Spice Bazaar
The most visited Mosque in Istanbul is the Blue Mosque but it is the Süleymaniye Mosque that’s the grandest. When you are not snacking on the Turkish delight treats or bargaining the price of a golden trinket, make sure that you visit Süleymaniye Mosque, an iconic landmark in Istanbul.
The Ottoman imperial mosque is staggering in size and quite a sight to behold. It is Istanbul’s second largest mosque – you will see it from your Bosphorus cruise and maybe even from the airplane when you land.
Turkey Itinerary, 10 Days Gone
After a whirlwind adventure through Turkey, enjoying the taste of the intricate culture, your Turkish trip has come to an end. From the fascinating, sweeping views of Cappadocia, the ethereal hot springs of Pamukkale, the ancient ruins of Ephesus, and vibrant culture of Istanbul – what more could you ask for? You can now enjoy one of the best Turkey itineraries 10 days long, and full of adventure.
Flying out of Istanbul on day 11 will leave you with a light heart and a mind full of memories. No amount of Turkey travel blogs can fully describe the magnificence of this country, you simply have to go on this adventure and experience it yourself.
Is Turkey Safe to Travel?
Many people warned me before I traveled solo to Turkey and said it wasn’t safe. They also said I should be careful of unwanted male attention. Honestly, I did not face any issues with “unwanted male attention” because many Turkish men helped me.
I still remember how a stranger helped me find my shuttle from Denzili to Pamukkale. On a hot afternoon in Istanbul, a shopkeeper gave me free bottles of cold water while I was hunting for my hostel.
Just when I was about to leave Turkey, I was stranded in Istanbul during the military coup. Bad timing! During this time, a lot of strangers helped me with information, support, and more. My suggestion to you – please read the latest travel advisory before traveling to Turkey.
Epic sunsets, distant sounds of Namaaz, spectacular minarets, and adorable cats – this is Istanbul, one of the most exotic cities in Europe or Asia.
East meets West is such a cliché but no other destination fits this description as perfectly as Istanbul. There is an Asian side and a European side that’s divided by the Bosphorous.
If I start writing an introduction about this historically, culturally, and artistically rich city, I’d never be able to stop typing. Super quick history: Istanbul was once the ancient Roman colony of Byzantium. It was the imperial city of Constantinople in the early ages. The middle age of history started here when the Ottoman Empire took over this city in 1453.
I won’t go deeper into the history here in the introduction but of course, I will mention a bit of it in the itinerary for most of the Istanbul attractions. This will help you get a deeper perspective of the place that you’re visiting.
Oh and if you think Istanbul is the capital city of Turkey, you’re wrong. It is Ankara. Haha, gotcha!
Istanbul is built over hills, just like many other prominent cities like Rome and Lisbon. There are a total of 7 hills in Istanbul. Many of those who visit Turkey just use Istanbul as a quick base before heading off to Cappadocia, Pamukkale, or Ephesus. We recommend at least 3 days. Check our detailed itinerary for spending 10 days in Turkey too!
To explore this city of Seven Hills within 72 hours is a formidable task, and those who love this city will shake their heads in disapproval. Still this awesome 3 days in Istanbul itinerary has been carefully designed so that you can get a taste of many different aspects of this city.
Istanbul 3 Day Itinerary
Planning a last-minute trip to Istanbul? I’ve got you covered with my recommendations to help you book quickly.
Istanbul Itinerary Day 1 – Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula and Vibrant Nightlife
1) Walk around Sultanahmet Square
Walking around Sultanahmet Square is perhaps one of the first things a traveler does when they visit Istanbul. This area has some popular tourist spots, all within a walkable distance from each other.
Moreover, just like any other “touristy” area, Sultanahmet Square also has a lot of cafes and restaurants – most of which I’d recommend you avoid.
Once upon a time, Sultanahmet Square was the hippodrome of Constantinople – the social center of Constantinople. During that time, this area also featured horse racing.
Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are of course the most obvious attractions here, but you should go look for the Serpent Column, the Obelisk of Thutmose III, the Walled Obelisk, and the German fountain. Most people who can spare just a day in Istanbul end up visiting Sultanahmet Square.
Suggested: Two days in Amsterdam – things to do and places to see that will make you fall in love with Amsterdam
2) Visit the Blue Mosque a.k.a. Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Sultan Ahmet Mosque is spectacular from the inside and it is also free. This iconic building of Turkey is definitely one of the most popular European landmarks.
Sultan Ahmet Mosque has been nicknamed “the blue mosque” because the inside features blue hand-painted tiles. You will see them on the walls and the ceiling.
The blue interiors look spectacular with a lush red carpet. The low-hanging lamps and many windows cast an amazing light and the result is spectacular.
The Blue Mosque has six minarets and 5 main domes and 8 secondary domes. Fitting everything in one picture is impossible but you can move to the middle of the garden or the courtyard with a wide-angle lens to capture the visible minarets and domes.
The construction of this historical mosque ended in 1616. The best light for photographing the Blue Mosque from the courtyard is sometime around sunset. But hey, I recommend many other places for sunset photography in this article so decide accordingly.
The mosque has a very big courtyard and as you enter, you worshippers at their midday prayers. There is a separate section inside for tourists and another one for Islamic worshippers.
You’d need to cover your legs, shoulders, and your head when you’re inside so please respect and dress accordingly. I do remember seeing a sarong rental area at the entry point.
Hagia Sophia is right next to the Sultan Ahmed Mosque but it is not free to visit. Moreover, it was once a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal basilica, then it was turned into a mosque and is now a museum.
If you love admiring historical architecture, you’d love to know that Hagia Sophia is believed to have changed the history of architecture in the world.
Constructed in 537 AD, Hagia Sophia has orange-colored exterior walls. It was a prominent landmark for Byzantine imperial ceremonies.
From 1453 to 1931, Hagia Sophia served as an imperial Ottoman mosque, and in 1935 it opened as a museum. It was named after Sophia the Martyr. If you’re interested to know more about the history of this place, I highly recommend you check out the timeline of Hagia Sophia here.
The entry fee for Hagia Sophia is 20 TL and it is closed on Mondays.
If you’d like to skip the lines and get an entry ticket from before for Hagia Sophia, then I have handpicked the below options for you.
There’s not much different between what both the tour guides are offering but it is always a good idea to read the latest reviews before booking your tour or experience.
4) See Topkapi Palace (Optional)
Topkapı Palace was once the main residence for the Ottoman Sultans and administrative headquarters for the Ottoman Empire but is now a large museum.
This palace displays visions of true Turkish royalty. It is rather expansive and can take up to a few hours to explore in depth.
It features a stunning imperial gate, four massive courtyards at different levels that have their own set of sections inside, a harem, an outer garden, and many smaller courtyards. The harem also features a courtyard of the Eunuchs.
Some of the things that will stun you inside are the baths of the Sultans with golden grills, the imperial throne, the fruit room, and many stained glass windows.
You will also get an opportunity to see the panoramic view of the Marmara Sea from the palace. The garden area in the second courtyard has some really interesting trees, a few of them are hollow from the inside because of fungus.
The entry fee for Topkapı Palace is 25 TL per person.
If you’d like to skip the lines and get an entry ticket from before for Topkapi Palace, then check out this tour that also includes a tour guide.
5) Galata Tower for Sunset Panoramic View / Dinner
Cross the Galata Tower from Topkapi Palace and you will see your next stop from far. If you’re a sucker for viewpoints, then you will love this place because it is the best location for a great view of Istanbul from up above.
Galata Tower is one of Istanbul’s most prominent landmarks because it stands proudly at a height of 16.5 meters (54 feet). It is a stone tower that was completed in 1348 A.D.
The tower has 9 floors and two lifts that can take you to the 7th floor and from there you have to climb up two floors yourself.
Please keep in mind that the queues outside Galata Tower at sunset time are very long, so keep a time buffer. Most of the time the queues move very fast even when they’re long.
There is a viewing deck on the top from where you can see a 360-degree view of Istanbul city, the Bosphorus Sea, the Golden Horn, the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and many other landmarks. The viewing platform is very narrow and is just like a ring around the tower.
The viewing platform on top of Galata Tower gets very crowded so you may not be able to stay for long, but there are two restaurants on lower floors where you can sit and chill for long and admire Istanbul’s skyline.
There is also a flight stimulator – 3D Skyride which costs 25 Liras extra and is 10 minutes long.
Galata Tower closes at 8 pm, but the restaurants may remain open for longer.
The entry fee for Galata Tower is 25 Liras per person.
Nightlife in Istanbul – Galata District
After you’ve spent enough time at Galata Tower, you can enjoy this neighborhood’s vibrant nightlife. You can eat dinner in one of the restaurants that are under the Galata Bridge and then check out some clubs or bars.
Head to Beyoğlu or Istiklal Caddesi or Taksim Square – you’re sure to find a lot of bars with outdoor seating and live music. You can also find clubs here. In Beyoglu, go to Baraka for live music on the weekends. You can also check out Bizz Jazz Bar for Jass muic, Riddim for alternative, rock or hip hop, or Mojo for strictly rock music.
Istanbul Itinerary Day 2
1) Grand Bazaar
Istanbul’s legendary Grand Bazaar is a place that should definitely not be missed. It is a covered market area and that’s why it is mentioned as the first item for the day so that you can escape the heat.
Believe it or not, the Grand Bazaar is one of the oldest covered markets in the world with more than 4000 stalls and 61 streets. It also has 18 different entry points and was kind of like the “first shopping mall” of the world. The construction began as early as 1455/56.
The bazaar is so big that it may overwhelm you! But it may end up being one of the best places that you’ll visit in Istanbul because of the interesting sights, people, and things. Not only does it have historical significance, but it also will give you a lovely taste of Turkish culture.
The grand bazaar is in Istanbul’s Fatih neighborhood and is between the Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit Mosques. Walk around and explore as many streets here as you can and even eat some lunch here. Post that, leave for your relaxing hammam.
2) Turkish Hamam and Massage
A hamam is a traditional Turkish bath house, which features usually a sauna, a scrub, and sometimes also a massage. A few years back I read a hilarious article about someone’s first hamam experience and that made me very curious to try it out. Of course, my experience was very different than hers
You will see many hammams near touristy areas and some of them are as expensive as 50 Euros. Keep in mind that literally all areas have at least one historical hamam and the ones where locals go can be as low as 30 liras. Some of the cheaper hammams may not look very clean but there are no germs because of the heat and the marble.
The traditional Turkish hamam or bath house date back to the Ottoman era. These were established for cultural, religious, and commercial purposes.
Head to Cemberlitas Hamami that’s close to the Grand Bazaar (Çemberlitaş Hamamı) – it is a little high-end as compared to many. You can spend a few hours in an elegant steam room and soak in the hamam after the initial thirty minutes of scrub and massage. Like most of the hammams, there are different sections for males and females, but the bathing rituals are almost similar for both sexes.
Affordable and Traditional Hamams
If you’re looking for something a little affordable and less touristy, try Çemberlitaş Hamamı in Fatih where the entrance is 25 Liras and the scrub is 10 liras. Alternatively, you can also try Büyük Hamam in Kasımpaşa or Gedik Ahmet Paşa Hamamı in Gedikpasa or Aziziye Hamam which is towards Istanbul’s Asian side.
3) Sunset Cruise over Bosporus
Yes, Bosporus Cruise is a little touristy but it is a very good way to see some very interesting parts of Istanbul that you won’t be able to see in just three days. The several towering minarets of the mosques look spectacular from a distance and you will get many good photo opportunities.
You’ll see many places to buy tickets for the Bosporus cruise all around Istanbul’s touristy areas, but not all are good. I did an overpriced 2-hour cruise because I decided last minute to go for it while I was walking around Sultanahmet Square.
As per my research, it costs just 10 Liras for 2 hours if you go through the state-run company called Sehir Hatlari, their cruise departs from Eski Kadıköy Pier. They also have a 3-hour option but in my opinion, that’s a little too much. Two hours are more than enough. Do check their website before going because they sometimes run sunset cruises only on Saturdays.
Honestly, my overpriced cruise experience wasn’t bad at all and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though I was all by myself. I didn’t need to go anywhere special but was just in Sultanahmet Square and their office was right there. Right before the cruise, their staff member took all of us to the pier that was just 5 minutes walking distance away.
Luckily I was carrying my own water because the one on the boat was super expensive.
When you buy your ticket, keep in mind that there is no use in paying extra for a special seat. No matter where you’ll sit, people will stand in front of you and block your view.
Spend two hours in the evening enjoying the sunset cruise on the Bosphorus straits. Opt for the small wooden boats as the guide can better explain the facts as you head to the Bosphorus Bridge and back to the Asian side.
If you’d like to check the details of your Bosphorus cruise for better options than I did, check out the below tours and tickets that I have handpicked for you:
All of the above tours are different in their own way. I did not have so many options to choose from while I was in Istanbul but I would have definitely picked a smaller boat or a yacht because mine was a little too full.
Istanbul Itinerary Day 3
1) Princes’ Islands Day Trip
Many people incorrectly call them Princess Islands or Princess’ Islands but these are “Princes’ Islands” and are a group of 9 islands in the Asian side of Istanbul. They’re named so because, during the Byzantine and the early Ottoman times, the exiled princes and monks were sent here.
Don’t imagine these islands to be “resort-esque” and expect to sit on a beach here. Instead, these islands will give you a cultural or historical experience. You’ll feel that time stood still some decades back here and never moved ahead.
A very interesting part about visiting the Princes’ Islands is that motorized vehicles are banned here. Because of this, these islands are a good escape from Istanbul’s hectic life and sounds of the automobiles. Instead, you will see horse carts and Victorian bungalows.
In order to reach here, you will need to take a fast ferry operated by IDO or look for Istanbul Liners. These ferries depart from Kabatas or Eminönü near the Galata Bridge. You can book your ferry tickets for the Princess Islands and back here. Alternatively, you can book a tour that will pick you up from your hotel in Istanbul (if centrally located), take you to the Princess Islands and back, including lunch, and sightseeing. The most popular island here is Büyükada, and the other major ones are Kınalıada, Burgaz, and Heybeliada.
Tip: Make sure you find the timetable so that you don’t miss the last ferry out of the islands.
In case you’re not in the mood to spend your entire day on Princess Islands, you can head to the below-mentioned places to explore Istanbul a little further.
2) Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern that’s beneath Istanbul city. It features in the famous old-school James Bond movie – From Russia with Love. If you’re a Dan Brown fan, you’d have surely read about this cistern in the book Inferno.
The entry point for Basilica Cistern is in Sultanahmet Square, close to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
Basilica Cistern has a very interesting history – I won’t tell you all of it but only the most interesting part as per me. It was built in the 6th century but was closed when the Byzantine emperors relocated but after that, it was completely forgotten.
It was rediscovered in 1545 when a scholar was researching Byzantine antiquities in Istanbul and the locals told him that they were able to obtain water by lowering their buckets in the dark space beneath their basements. The scholar – Petrus Gyllius eventually found it through one of the basements!
3) Çamlıca Hil for a Sunset Panoramic View and Dinner
Camilca Hill is the highest hill and it is on the Asian side of Istanbul. From here, you can enjoy a panoramic view of Istanbul and see the Golden Horn and Bosphorus.
There are two Camilca Hills – Little Camilca Hill and Big Camilca Hill. This point is about Big Camilca Hill, which is in Üsküdar.
In order to reach the Çamlıca Hill from Sultanahmet Square, take a tram to Eminonu docks. From here, get on a boat to Uskudar and then take the 9U bus to Camlica Hill. Of course, you can do the full or a part of this journey by taxi too.
Apart from just enjoying the panoramic view, you can also visit one of the cafes or restaurants here. They are not as expensive as the ones in the Sultanahmet area.
After spending the last two sunsets in comparatively crowded (yet lovely) spots – Galata Tower and Bosphorus Cruise, the sunset experience at Camilca Hill will be a refreshing change. Many visitors say that this is the best sunset experience in Istanbul, but I’d let you decide.
Istanbul Hotel Information
During my stay in Istanbul, I stayed in the Sultanahmet area and I was pretty happy with the location because I was in the heart of the city (that hotel no longer exists). If you want more information that what I have specified, check out this post with information about places to stay in Istanbul. Here are some of my recommendations for different budgets:
My visit to Cappadocia was in 2016 and till this day when people ask me what’s the most beautiful place that I’ve ever seen, I always think of this place.
Cappadocia has an otherwordly landscape with weird formations, fairy chimneys and hundreds of hot air balloons in the sky. My website has a lot of posts about Cappadocia, so head over the to main Turkey page to see all the posts.
Istanbul to Pamukkale
Pamukkale has been a spa destination since the ancient roman times because of it’s stunning limestone thermal pools. This destination is very blue and white and you’ll fall in love with it for sure. For information about how to reach, where to stay and more, check my detailed guide to Pamukkale.
If you’ve been to Istanbul already and have tips to share, comment below and let us know.
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The first time I came across a picture of Pamukkale was when I was in college. I remember staring at this picture for a long time because I had never seen anything like it.
There were enormous white formations and blue thermal pools with people in them – wow! I instantly fell in love with Pamukkale at first sight. Little did I know that I was looking at pictures of a city that has been a ‘spa town’ even in ancient times!
Years after that, the images of Pamukkale [and Cappadocia] teased my senses and became a part of my wish list. I knew I was going to visit this place and sit on one of those thermal pools for sure.
So one special summer, I finally decided to travel to Turkey on my own to fulfill my wishes. Of course, Pamukkale and Cappadocia were a part of my epic 10 day Turkish itinerary.
Introducing Pamukkale in Turkey – the land of Thermal Pools
Pamukkale means, “cotton castle” in Turkish and it’s a natural site that’s located near Denizli in Turkey.
Pamukkale was the first place that I visited in Turkey even before Istanbul. I arrived in Turkey from India and directly went from Istanbul Atatürk Airport to Sabiha Gokcen Airport to eventually reach Pamukkale.
Planning a last-minute trip to Pamukkale? I’ve got you covered with my recommendations to help you book quickly.
Too lazy to read the entire post? Here’s a quick one-minute video about Pamukkale which will give you a glimpse. Of course, the post has more information and pictures but I recommend you watch this video if you get a chance.
Pamukkale Thermal Pools [+ Hierapolis] in Turkey
Table of Contents
How to Reach Pamukkale from Istanbul or Cappadocia
Reaching Pamukkale from Istanbul was so much easier than I thought it would be. For this journey, I caught a shuttle from Istanbul Atatürk Airport (the international airport) to Sabiha Gokcen Airport (the domestic airport) from where I flew to Denizli.
Denizli is the closest town to Pamukkale which has an airport. It’s around 18-20 KMs away from Pamukkale village.
From Denizli Airport, there are many shuttles and mini buses that one can catch to reach Pamukkale and they even operate in the middle of the night.
Please note – these shuttles operate based on the flight landing timings. If there is no flight that’s landing in Denizli at night, then you may not find a shuttle. Click here to prebook your shuttle from Denizli Airport to Pamukkale Village.
You can also reach Pamukkale on a bus from Istanbul or Cappadocia. My next stop in Turkey after Pamukkale was Cappadocia, for which I traveled on an overnight bus from Denizli to Goreme.
If you’re traveling to Pamukkale, keep in mind that you can fly directly to the nearby town Denizli or you can even take an overnight bus. – Istanbul to Pamukkale / Pamukkale to Istanbul / Cappadocia to Pamukkale
In order to help get a general idea about Pamukkale, I have created a map for you. If you’d like to save this map for later, then you may want to pin it on your Travel Board on Pinterest.
Pamukkale Weather and Best Time to Visit
Pamukkale is a yearlong travel destination but summertime is obviously better. During the summer months, the temperature stays between 20 – 35 degrees Celsius.
The temperature can drop to 8 degrees Celsius or even lower in the winter months. I did visit Pamukkale on a hot summer afternoon but I’m curious to visit it in colder weather.
There are just a few things to do in Pamukkale and they’re all at exactly the same place. This is the reason why most of the people prefer visiting Pamukkale on a day trip. I was an exception because I stayed here overnight.
1) See Pamukkale’s White and Blue Travertine Pools
Miles and miles of white calcium cliffs with multi-level pools as if Mother Nature had created them for her children to bathe in! Pamukkale’s thermal pools and travertines are surely a bizarre sight.
If you are in Pamukkale, then for sure your main purpose is to visit this spot.
The most obvious thing to do in Pamukkale is check out the travertines that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The access to both the travertines and Hierapolis is through the same gate and the ticket price includes both.
Travertines Opening Times
The travertine pools are open every day at all hours but certain areas are closed. However, the main entry to the entire complex opens from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with a lunch break from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Admission Ticket Cost
It costs 50 TL to enter the travertine terraces and the ruins. The time that I visited Pamukkale, the entry to this complex was 35 TL. This ticket allows single entry.
Plan your visit in such a way that you can include either early morning to avoid the crowds OR late evening for the sunset.
For more information about Pamukkale’s travertine thermal pools, click here.
2) Visit Hierapolis – a beautifully preserved ancient Roman site
As mentioned in Pamukkale’s introduction, Hierapolis is an ancient city located on the top of the travertine pools. Some of the structures here are around 2200 years old and are still standing with their unique story to tell.
The entry to Hierapolis is included in your ticket for the travertine terraces. While the travertine pools are a natural wonder, the adjoining Hierapolis ruins are a historical gem.
A visit to this ancient village will inspire you to imagine how it would have been when it was occupied in the early years. It surely would have looked so much different without any tourists but buzzing with the life of the local people.
Remember the scene from the Game of Thrones where Khaleesi arrives in the dragon pit with her dragons? Well, the amphitheatre in Hierapolis looks like that.
This ancient amphitheater is a part of Hierapolis ruins and the sheer magnitude of its size will simply amaze you. It is on top of a hill, so be prepared to climb (a little) for a good view. From the distance, it doesn’t look very appealing but is magnificent when you’re closer.
Please note that the last entry to this pool closes at 6:15 pm. For more information about this beautifully [preserved ancient amphitheatre, click here.
4) Swim in the Cleopatra Pools
As you cross all the travertines and reach the top, you will reach Cleopatra Pools. It is believed that Cleopatra swam here as a part of her daily beauty regime because the water is mineral-rich.
If you’re in the mood for a swim, the Cleopatra Pools are better as compared to the travertines.
The mineral-rich swimming pool is large and has many shady areas where one can sit.
A swim here with Roman ruins costs around 30 TL and is not included in the ticket price. In this price, you also get your own locker and towel.
This area also has a restaurant, toilets, a bar, and souvenir shops so you can come here to cool off after you’re done enjoying the travertines.
05) Check Out the Colorful Local Market
Just parallel to the travertine terraces on the other side of the street, there is a little market where you’ll find locals as well as tourists.
You can find many locally made knick-knacks, carpets, and a few restaurants that overlook the travertines.
It’s a good idea to stop in this market to eat lunch. Moreover, if you want to buy typical Turkish handicrafts like hand-painted bowls, etc., this local market is perfect for finding a good bargain.
I was informed that they are made here and then sold all over the country and that’s why the prices are lower than most places.
If you want to stay near the travertines in the village like I did, then I highly recommend my hotel. I stayed in a place called Ozbay Hotel, Pamukkale that was literally a minute away from the travertines.
Even though I booked a dorm bed, it was more like a private room because I was the only one. Nothing in this hotel looked like it was a hostel.
The hotel area is beautiful and I was delighted to find a charming little outdoor restaurant here. The interiors are very interesting and kind of reminded me of the Art Deco movement.
The breakfast was massive and it kept me full for most of the day. My breakfast at Ozbay Hotel included fresh fruits, eggs, salami, sausages, bread, cheese, and a few more things to put on the bread such as Turkish Nutella equivalent.
Ozbay Hotel appeared to be a family-run hotel and the owners were nice enough to let me stay there for a few more hours after my check-out time.
Should you visit the travertines in Pamukkale for just a day trip?
Most people visit Pamukkale on a day trip from Bodrum or Istanbul but I’d recommend you stay in the village for a night.
This way, you can get to enjoy the beauty of the travertine pools super early before they start getting crowded.
If you stay in the village, you can also watch the sunset from the pools and notice the change in color.
Practical Information + Tips for Visiting Pamukkale’s Thermal Pools
Visit Pamukkale before you visit Cappadocia. This is because Pamukkale’s travertine terraces are in a smaller area whereas Cappadocia’s moonscape stretches for literally 10 villages.
If Cappadocia was my first destination in Turkey, perhaps Pamukkale would not have impressed me as much.
It can get really sunny there and the sunlight gets reflected back thanks to all that water, so be prepared. Did you notice how I’m squinting in most of my pictures? Well, it’s because it gets really sunny so be sure to carry a hat, sunglasses and loads of sunscreen.
Carry a bathing suit and a sarong to fully utilize Pamukkale’s mineral-rich thermal pools. Wear sandals or shoes that you can easily remove because you can’t wear your shoes on the travertines.
I also thankfully carried a little bag for my shoes that came in handy. I wore flip-flops that were quite all right but it wasn’t comfortable to climb to see the amphitheater in them.
Yes, you should dress sensibly when you’re traveling in Turkey but I saw a few travelers in Pamukkale that wore swimsuits in the pools but many others did not.
We hope this detailed post has answered every question that you have about visiting Pamukkale.
Feel free to let me know in the comments below if you need more information and we’ll be happy to help you out. if you like this travel guide for Pamukkale, be sure to share it with a friend who’s thinking of traveling to Turkey.
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“Can you tell me the EXACT location of this photo?”
Yup, that’s the most frequently asked question when people see my Cappadocia pictures. In fact, this question comes to me so often that I decided the easiest thing to do would be to just write a post about my favorite Instagram spots of Cappadocia. Also, the fact that I’m still obsessing over this place helps.
Anyway, if you’re new here and have not been following me on social media, I must confess that my visit to Cappadocia got me a lot of attention on Instagram. Suddenly I had a lot of new followers and they wanted to see more pictures of Cappadocia. Some of them even booked their tickets and are in touch with me about booking a hot air balloon ride, hotel and what not.
If you’re heading to Cappadocia as well [you should], and want to know some of the best photography spots, then you’re going to probably bookmark this post. Be sure to read our travel tips for Turkey and this travel guide, which will help you plan your trip. This part of Turkey is really pretty and there are definitely way more than ten beautiful spots in Cappadocia. It was very difficult just to choose 10 spots, but here you go.
Instagram Spots in Cappadocia
01 | Sunset Point in Red Valley, Near Ortahisar
If red valley wasn’t red enough, things get a little crazy as the sunsets. There are no typical fairy chimneys here but you will get to witness a sight so epic that it will spoil your future sunset experiences. Don’t just leave this spot after the sunset; it gets even better after it because it gets a little empty.
Red valley’s sunset point overlooks the entire valley and you can find your own spot up on the rocks. It is is near Ortahisar and is famous – but you can’t really reach here on public transport. Get yourself a rental car or hire a taxi to reach here.
As much as I hate putting a hotel’s balcony so high on my list, I have to admit Sultan Cave Suites deserves this mention because it’s too darn gorgeous. This spot became one of the most popular locations in Cappadocia after Instagram superstars – DoYouTravel and Gypsy_lust did a photo shoot here.
If it wasn’t for my friend Eva (who is an amazing photographer), I was not going to make an effort to wake up at 4 am and walk to Sultan Cave Suites for a few sunrise photos. I had to gather a lot of courage for these pictures because I’m very shy when it comes to posing. Oh, you must know that I did not stay in this hotel and neither do I know if it is a good place to stay, but it sure is pretty. Due to the extreme popularity, I think they now only allow guests to this spot for photos. Here is an epic sunrise shot with balloons all around. This was at Sultan Caves Suites. That is my friend Eva and me. Here are some of our best photos:
Yep, that’s exactly what I said when I reached the famous sunset point in Göreme. I sat next to the edge and stared at the distant caves that were carved inside the fairy chimneys. It felt that at any moment, little Anakin Skywalker was going to appear out of nowhere before he became a Jedi.
As much as this looks like Tatooine, I hate to tell you that Star Wars was not shot here. Some say that George Lucas wanted Göreme as the shooting location but it was never approved because of fairy chimneys (they look like penises). But hey, this could all be a made up story but who cares when it looks as pretty as this.
There is not just one place where you can see these Fairy Chimneys because they are all over Goreme. If you’re looking at some of the best places to photograph the Fairy Chimneys, I’d recommend you go to is Zemi Valley, which is smaller than the bigger and more popular Bagli Dere Love Valley. In fact, the locals say that even a part of Zemi valey is also called Love Valley.
Zemi valley is very close to Goreme open-air museum and Bagli Dere is 6-ish KMs away. By the way, I have been told that Love Vallay has been named so because of the abundance of penis shaped formations.
If Cappadocia’s landscape couldn’t get weirder, Uchisar Castle is the cherry on the icing. This castle is on the highest point in Uchisar and overlooks the nearby towns. Uchisar castle looks like the aliens hurriedly created it and did not pay attention to the symmetry.
The entrance fee to Uchisar castle is 5 TL and it is easy to explore everything inside this castle in less than 30 minutes. The best part according to me is the view from the top, which is obviously better around the sunset.
How can I not put this spot on this list when the pool from the view looks like THAT. I’d love to go back to Cappadocia, just to take an early morning dip in this swimming pool. Museum Hotel, Uchisar is a boutique hotel where the room prices generally shoot up to $300 per night. This hotel is perfect for those who are looking for the ultimate luxury experience in Cappadocia. This hotel was built out of thousand-year-old cave houses.
08 | Üçgüzeller or Three Sister Rocks Panorama Point near Ürgüp
Three Sister Rocks in Ürgüp is actually a free place to visit that’s along the road. There is a panorama viewpoint here, which is free to visit. There are three giant rocks that are cone shaped with smaller rocks on each tip. This spot is also called Peri Bacalari and there are a few stories associated with these three rocks.
Some say that these rocks can be imagined as a family – mother, father and a child. Others say that there is a legend that is associated with a father trying to marry off his three daughters, who later turned to rocks. Here’s a picture from Mesut from New Goreme tours, who was our tour guide and took us to this place along with many other places in Cappadocia.
Kale Konak Hotel in Uchisar is not as popular on social media as many other hotels are, but it doesn’t mean it is not better. This hotel has Uchisar castle on one side and lower level scenery the other, resulting in stunning views. I stayed in two different hotels while I was in Cappadocia and Kale Konak absolutely took my breath away.
I had a cave suite to myself while I was here, and it was more like a cave house because it had two bedrooms, one toilet, one sitting room, two levels of private terraces and what not. I had the luxury of watching the sunrise [and sunset] in my own private terrace.
The sunrise here looks amazing because in the distance you can see the lone Mt. Erciyes and on the other side there is the strange Uchisar castle. Here’s a picture that will tell you how close Uchisar castle is from here.
One of the first places that I visited in Cappadocia was Soganli Valley, which has abandoned churches and monasteries inside caves. There are little pigeon windows that are carved on these caves as well, that adds to the mystery.
Even though the structures here were really interesting, I was surprised to see that there was no one around except for our group. Yes, Sognali valley is indeed gorgeous but I loved learning about its history as well. Some of the cave churches date back to the 9th centaury and you can even see some intricate paintings inside them. Sadly, some of these frescos were damaged.
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Beautiful Spots in Cappadocia, Turkey – that are Instagram Worthy
Swimming pool with a view of hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey
Swimming pool with a view of hot air balloons in Uchisar, Cappadocia, Turkey
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Once upon a time (in a galaxy far, far away), I visited a place called Cappadocia in Turkey. This place is so mystical and full of magic, that words are not enough to describe the beauty.
Yes, that’s one of the reasons why I never ended up writing about Cappadocia, but I have finally decided to give it a try.
Of course, I had seen pictures of Cappadocia before I arrived in Turkey, but I was not prepared for the magnitude of it all. (We all have seen Cappadocia now on Instagram)
I mean, when you visit a destination that is famous for its landscape, it is usually limited to a part of the city, or maximum the full city itself. But this is WAY more than that. It is more than 10 towns (or villages)!
I arrived here on an overnight bus from Pamukkaleand boy, I was really sleep-deprived. I remember waking up when the bus had already entered the Cappadocia region but was 15 minutes away from my destination – Göreme.
It may sound funny but my jaw actually dropped lower than usual as soon as I saw outside the window. My mouth stayed open in a weird way even when I got off the bus and sat in a car to my hotel. Yes, it is safe to say that I fell in love at first sight with Cappadocia.
Alright, I have spent enough energy trying to tell you how I felt while I was there, but here’s now it’s time to tell you why Cappadocia is the most magical place on Earth. But first, let’s answer a few questions.
Where is Cappadocia in Turkey on the Map?
If you see the map of Turkey, Cappadocia is in the middle, just a little East of the middle. Here’s a map so that you get an idea:
Yes, Cappadocia is far away from Istanbul and other famous destinations in Turkey but I just had to include it in my 10-day itinerary for Turkey.
I mean, just look at the pictures, if you had the chance to see it then why would you ever miss it?
Turkey is usually a safe destination, but the time I was there was perhaps not the best. I would totally blame myself if you plan your Turkey trip because of my blog and get in trouble. Read my Turkey travel tips for more information.
Planning a last-minute trip to Cappadocia in Turkey? I’ve got you covered with my recommendations to help you book quickly.
Sometimes weird can be truly beautiful. Cappadocia’s weird landscape is what makes it magical.
Its strange beauty is unique and I doubt if you will ever see a place like this anywhere else on the planet. Perhaps Mother Nature was on psychedelics when she created Cappadocia.
The correct way to describe Cappadocia’s landscape is actually “Moonscape” because it looks otherworldly. You may not ever get a chance to visit another planet, but a visit to Cappadocia will make you forget you’re on Earth.
Just look at this picture – how can this be real? (but it is!). As for me, this is truly magical.
Remember Planet Tatooine from Star Wars? The landscape of Cappadocia is strikingly similar.
My recommendation: pick the tour that has attractions that aren’t close to where you will stay. If you’re staying in Uchisar, then you don’t need to do a tour that includes Uchisar Castle because you can do it on your own.
Or if you’re staying in Goreme, pick a tour that doesn’t have the Goreme open-air museum. I was staying in Goreme so I walked to the open-air museum and saw it on my own.
But again, in a place like Goreme Open Air Museum had so much to see. I wished I had a guide to give me details but I didn’t. I have just mentioned the highlights, you should read all the details of what’s included before booking. Not every tour on the list includes the entrance fee.
2) Cappadocia has Fairy Chimneys!
As if the name wasn’t magical enough, these fairy chimneys are dreamlike structures that are all over Cappadocia. I will be honest, to me they look like magic mushrooms.. or penises but I will let you decide for yourself.
In case you’re curious, these strange formations exist because of volcanic eruptions and were carved beautifully by the wind. Yes, erosion can be pretty too.
They are technically known as “hoodoos” but that’s such a boring name. I like how the natives refer to them as “fairy chimneys.” Some of them stretch for as far as 130 feet into the sky!
Yes, nature has formed the fairy chimneys but the network of caves is manmade and was created during the Roman period when the persecuted Christians ran off to Cappadocia.
3) Magic Carpet Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia is INSANE
One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Cappadocia’s moonscape is by flying over it. Yes, it’s expensive but Cappadocia is one of the cheapest locations in the world to experience a hot air balloon ride. It may be cheaper than the most but it is definitely the most beautiful one.
A hot air balloon ride experience is a must-do in every single Turkey itinerary. It normally costs around $250-$300, which includes a pickup, breakfast, the ride itself, champagne and a drop back to the hotel. There are many tour operators that offer this but since it can be risky, I’d suggest you pick the best.
Here are a few Hot Air Balloon Ride tours that I have handpicked for you:
After weeks of research, I picked Turkiye Balloons and I was very happy with their service. Thankfully, they don’t overstuff their balloon baskets and I was able to capture the moment without other people in them. Oh, and they have some of the most experienced pilots.
If Cappadocia wasn’t magical enough, things get better because there are caves everywhere, even inside the weird rock formations.
These caves were built many centuries ago and some are still inhabited. Of course, most of them have turned into hotels, so if you can have your own cave when you visit Cappadocia.
Thankfully, these cave hotels are not just for the rich travelers and are for literally every budget. Even some hostels are built inside them! The best thing is that the interiors stay cool and it feels like a natural air conditioner.
They are both equally good but the only thing that makes a difference is the location as they are in different cities. Goreme is in the middle of it all and has fun vibes where as Uçhisar is more fancy and high end.
If I go back to Cappadocia, I’d pick Goreme as my base again because there’s more to do and see here.
To know more about where to stay in Cappadocia, scroll till the end of this article.
5) Cappadocia’s Epic Sunrises and Sunsets Will Spoil You For Life
Waking up early is something I do rarely, but you will be surprised to know that I woke at 4 am every morning while I was in Cappadocia. The sun rises here at 4:30 am in summers and the view is worth a million dollars.
It’s beautiful to see how the colors change from orange to beige and the sky gets bejeweled by hundreds of hot air balloons! This sight is magical enough to make anyone forget the real world.
If you want to click pretty photos of yourself in Cappadocia, then here are a few dresses that I have handpicked for you from Amazon: (these are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase what I recommend without any additional cost to you)
6) Cappadocia’s Derinkuyu Underground City
Cappadocia is stunning not just above the surface, but also beneath the ground. There are underground cities that were created many centuries ago and some of them are more than ten levels deep. And no, these were not just used as temporary places of shelter but people lived here permanently. Wow!
It gets even stranger – more than 40 underground cities have been discovered in Cappadocia and some of them are connected to each other via tunnels. These were hidden for many years and one of the biggest was discovered in 2014. As per some archeologists, they were created in the 1200s BC. Whoa!
I visited Derinkuyu underground city and I was shocked to see the remains of schools, chapels, stables, and storage cellars that were many levels beneath the ground.
If you suffer from claustrophobia (like I do), you can still visit them because they are surprisingly airy.
No matter what you do to miss but try to visit the underground city because that’s something you may never see in any other part of the world.
7) Cappadocia Has Some Seriously Spectacular Viewpoints
If you’re a sucker for viewpoints, then Cappadocia will not disappoint you. Its landscape is hilly, which makes it easy to find elevated areas where you can chill for hours and enjoy the view.
I normally research about such viewpoints from before but in the case of Cappadocia, I didn’t have to hunt for a viewpoint while I was there. I found a few while exploring on my own because there are so many.
I was lucky that some of the locals that I had met in Cappadocia took me to those viewpoints without me even asking.
I mention many of the viewpoints in my Cappadocia Instagram Spots post but I’d like to mention a few here. Some of the most popular viewpoints are Goreme’s Sunset Point, Uchisar Castle, Three Sister Rock Panorama Point, and Red Valley Sunset Point.
In fact, the last one is so magical, that people actually come here for wedding shoots. I saw three newly married couples and I couldn’t help clicking them.
8) Cappadocia Looks Like THIS Under Snow
Cappadocia is not just a summer destination but it can be enjoyed throughout the year. It came to me as a surprise that it snows in Cappadocia in the winter.
Cappadocia’s weather is unpredictable and it has been known to snow in March too! Here’s another picture that will surely steal your heart.
I visited Cappadocia in the summer months but I’d go back in a heartbeat to see how it looks under snow. I can’t decide if it looks more beautiful with or without snow. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
9) There is a LOT to explore in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is massive and even if you spend a week here, you will barely just touch the surface. There is a Love Valley (Zemi Valley), Red Valley, Rose Valley, Ihlara Valley, Pigeon Valley, and many other valleys.
You can go hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, historical tours, culture tours, ATV tours and what not. The list just goes on.
Yes, there are many things to do in Cappadocia so you will definitely not be bored when you visit it. Honestly, you don’t really have to do everything here but you can just chill and explore your surroundings at your own pace.
You can also explore Cappadocia’s stunning art shops, cave monasteries, Uchisar palace, – seriously, there is so much to do in Cappadocia that I will write a separate post about it.
BONUS: Cappadocia will make you an Instagram superstar.
Haha – this point is especially relevant for new bloggers because it is difficult to take a bad photo in Cappadocia.
Super simple! There are flights and buses in and out of Cappadocia and I have experienced both.
The nearest airports to Cappadocia are Kayseri (Kayseri Erkilet Airport – ASR) and Nevsehir (Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport – NAV). If you want to reach Cappadocia on a flight, then you need to look for the ones that are servicing these airports.
Turkish Airlines and AnaduloJet fly to Nevşehir Kapadokya Airport from Istanbul, Ankara, and Antalya. Kayseri Erkilet Airport is serviced by a lot more carriers as well as the previous two – such as Pegasus, Eurowings, and TUI Fly.
If you live in Germany, then you can get to Cappadocia on a direct flight from Cologne / Bonn to Cappadocia with Eurowings. Turkish Airlines also runs seasonal flights from many German cities to Kayseri.
If you’re backpacking on a budget and are wondering how to get to Cappadocia from Istanbul in the most affordable way, then I’d recommend an overnight bus. Mine was super comfortable and I slept all night. Yes, I traveled solo and felt safe on an overnight bus in Turkey.
There are many bus companies but I was only able to use my non-Turkish card to book a seat on a bus company called “Metro Turizm”. My ticket was for 60 TL, which is less than 10 Euros.
I booked in advance and I was able to select my seat next to another girl. Metro Turizm runs buses from many parts of Turkey to Cappadocia. I arrived in Cappadocia on an overnight bus from Pamukkale. In fact, the bus was from Denzili, which is the nearest city to Pamukkale.
I used this website for my bus ticket and it is the only website that accepted my international card. At my time, many pages were not in English and I copied and pasted everything on Google Translate to figure things out.
Where to stay in Cappadocia, Turkey?
If you’re visiting Cappadocia for more than 4 days, I’d suggest you stay in both – Göreme and Uçhisar. They are both beautiful but different and you should try to enjoy sunrise views at both locations.
Here are a places that I recommend you book yourself a cave to make the most out of your visit to Cappadocia –
1) Kale Konak Cave Hotel, Uchisar, Cappadocia
This hotel is super fancy and pretty. The views from the balcony are amazing and you will have a lot of fun exploring this hotel. This place is more suited for couples or families, not solo travelers.
This place has massive suites that are inside caves. These suites are very big in size and so are the bathrooms. The hotel is very pretty and I loved their breakfast. The location is amazing and most of the famous attractions are within walking range.
Location: 2 minutes walk from Goreme town center, Goreme bus stop
This place is really famous on Instagram because of its stunning rooftop and is therefore expensive. Keep in mind that famous doesn’t always mean the best. Personally, I loved Ottoman cave suites but you can have a look at Sultan Cave suites too.
Location: This hotel is on an elevated part of main Goreme town center, so wear comfortable shoes.
If you want to lose touch with reality in a fairy tale destination, then Cappadocia is definitely for you. Which point about Cappadocia did you like the most? I’d love to know, so let me know in the comments. Please do me a favor, if you enjoyed this article, then please share it and spread the love.
I’m yet to see a place as lovely as Cappadocia. Every corner here is picture perfect and will transport to another world. Let this part of the world charm you as well and sweep you off your feet on a magic carpet [balloon] ride.
What is Cappadocia in Turkey famous for?
Cappadocia in Turkey is famous for its otherworldly landscape that was formed over years of erosion of volcanic eruption deposits. As a result, there are caves, fairy chimneys, and a lot of other interesting rock formations.
Cappadocia is also famous for its several man-made underground cities with many levels. Interestingly enough, these underground cities were hidden for centuries but were discovered only a few decades back
When should I go to Cappadocia Turkey?
You can visit Cappadocia any time of the year, but I personally prefer the warm summer months. It is hard to believe but the temperature drops drastically during the winter months in Cappadocia, which brings me to the next question.
Does Cappadocia Turkey have snow?
Yes, it does snow in Cappadocia in winter sometimes. Scroll up and see pictures of fairy chimneys under snow, it is a unique sight.
Is Cappadocia a city in Turkey?
No, Cappadocia is a vast region in Turkey’s Central Anatolia. It includes easily 6 provinces, and each of those provinces further includes many villages. Some of the provinces include as many as 20 villages.
How many days do you need in Cappadocia Turkey?
As mentioned before, Cappadocia is massive and you need a minimum 3 days here. Anything less than this will leave you hungry like a person who’s looking for dinner but just gets a small snack.
Is it safe to go to Cappadocia Turkey?
I traveled to Cappadocia alone. As a solo female traveler, I found Cappadocia to be absolutely safe, and I saw many other solo female travelers too.
Cappadocia is a touristy destination that’s massive and far from Istanbul, so even in 2016 during the military coup, while I was in the capital city, my friends in Cappadocia told me that everything was exactly the same (and safe) during that time.
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Namaste, Guten Tag!
I'm Sonal from India, living in Germany and exploring Europe. I've been writing about my travel adventures since 2015. I often travel alone (and sometimes with my husband & our toddler).
I love nature, adventure, hiking to viewpoints, Yoga, and road trips. I love creating itineraries and in-depth travel guides which will help you make the most of your trip.