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Bergama Theatre Bergama Trajan Temple Dalyan Lycian Tombs Kaprulu Kanyon Afrodisias Tetrapylon Demre Beach Ortahisar Volcanic Plug Goreme Sunset View Yoruk Turquoise Treasures and Volcanic Vistas draw Travellers to Turkey
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Saturday, 27 February 2016

Cappadocia Turkey Itinerary

Cappadocia Turkey | Best Itinerary | Terra Encounters in-depth

Central Turkey Itinerary
– from Antalya to Cappadocia to Istanbul


Goreme, Turkey
Golden Goreme
You should be very excited if you are planning a trip to Turkey.  It is easy to travel on your own. For advice on how to plan and travel in an economical way, see the TripAdvisor page Turkey: Planning a Self-Guided Turkey Trip.   Now comes the hard choice of deciding where to go.  Even if you have a whole month, you cannot see everything.  Turkey is the size of Great Britain and France combined!  

The following suggestions are based on an actual 31-day trip, which was split into two parts. Stay-overs are shown in capitals followed by the number of nights.  Each destination was assigned zero to three dots to give a sense of which sites are most worthwhile seeing.  Hyperlinks will bring you to posts with more details.  This itinerary gives the best places to go for a 14-day trip through Central Turkey from Antalya to Istanbul.
  

RECOMMENDED ITINERARY

See a map of Central Turkey Itinerary
      

ANTALYA 2 nights 


Antalya is dissed by many travellers as just a big city but staying in an old Ottoman house in Kaleiçi (the old city) is worthwhile and it makes a useful base for nearby sights.  Yes, Antalya is a big city but the old quarter, Kaleiçi, is a quiet oasis. 

Kaleiçi, Antalya
Ottoman Delight
Staying in an old Ottoman house is a beautiful introduction to Turkey.  It is a much easier way to start your trip than overpopulated Istanbul. 


Kaleiçi It is very touristy but there are not as many touts as in Istanbul.  The old town has a very clean, restored look but it is still pleasant walking, as there are few cars.  See the view of the sea framed by the snowy Taurus Mountains near the Hidirlik Tower, especially in early AM before breakfast – and few tourists wake up early so you'll have the park to yourself. 


Antalya Archaeological Museum ●●● is one of the best arranged museums anywhere.  Ancient Roman statues are set into Romanesque-style arches with romantic lighting (not good for photography)


Aspendos Theatre, Turkey
Stupendous Aspendos
Day Trips: 
Aspendos Theatre
is basically a large intact Ancient Roman theatre with lots of tourists.  Climb up to the acropolis (included in the price) for more dramatic views of the theatre and the very green countryside. 


Köprülü Canyon, Turkey
Colourful Köprülü


Köprülü Canyon
●● is a spectacular green river visible from the country road.  The Termessos ruins is another good place to go from Antalya.  On the way east from Antalya along the old highway(there will soon be a new expressway), stop along the road for...



Turquoise Coast near Antalya
Turquoise Treasure
Turquoise Coast ●●●
for perhaps the second most beautiful turquoise coastal views.


KIZKALESI  1 night 

  
Medieval Maiden Castle, on an offshore islet, seems to float just above the sea.  It's OK but not a must-see. The beach is very small but the sand is so soft.  Plus there were few tourists. It made for a pleasant stopover on the long drive to Cappadocia.  




Göreme Sunset View
Sensational Sunset

CAPPADOCIA ●●●●  4 nights 


The region of Cappadocia is probably the best must-see area for natural beauty in the country – so don’t miss it!!!  Göreme is just one of the towns in this region but it is still a wonderful base due to its central location.  

Göreme Sunset View ●●● is an easy walk up the hill to the east of the hotel area main drag for spectacular views at sunset of Rose Valley and Göreme.

Car or Dolmuş Trips: 


Love Valley, Goreme, Turkey
Not a Fairy Tale
Cappadocia Fairy Chimneys ●●●● are extraordinary even the touristy Paşabagh site.  There are too many hikes to list here. Most are fairly easy, at least at the beginning, or you could simple go for as long as you want and return when you feel like it.  the best hikes were are Love Valley, Zemi Valley, and... 


Goreme Kizilçukur Viewpoint
Kizilçukur
Rose Valley ●●●●
you could walk here on a car-less dirt road but you can drive on a parallel road.  This area has many side trails.  The best spot was the Kizilçukur Viewpoint, located between the "parking lot" and the dirt road below the hill. Again, it's best to come here for the late PM or sunset lighting


Çavuşin has a less touristy, old section of town at the end of the "parking lot" road to Rose Valley

Uchisar there is an excellent view of the volcanic plug/castle right from main highway into Göreme but this is a very touristy spot with stalls and even a camel.  There also is good viewpoint of Göreme on the right just a short way towards the town. 

Ortahisar Volcanic Plug
Ogling Ortahisar
Avanos – overpriced pottery

Ürgüp – good food at local prices, except for the excellent but pricey ice cream

Ortahisar ●●
there is a spectacular view of the volcanic plug in the middle of town. 


Day Trips: requires car or tour

   
Mustafapaşa ●● is an old Greek village with interesting architecture

Soganli Valley ●●
Soganli Valley
Soganli Surprise
is full of fairy chimneys, basalt columns, rock-cut churches and frescoes without the crowds in a country atmosphere. But the best part was getting there with spectacular wide open views of snow-capped mountains in early spring.  

Ihlara Valley – is another place with rock-cut churches 

SAFRANBOLU ●●●  2 nights


Safranbolu Çarşı
Super Safranbolu
Safranbolu Çarşı ●●
You can spend a day visiting and shopping in the old city with its restored Ottoman buildings.  But the views from the ring road high above the market area (çarşı) were very special. 


 
Yörük Ottoman House
Ottoman Yörük
Car Trips: 
Yörük ●● 
it’s 10 km away to a fairy tale village full of timber-framed Ottoman buildings that are far more nostalgic and run down than Safranbolu.  

İncekaya Aqueduct – 
is very high and in mint condition.   But it is Ottoman not ancient.  It comes with a walking trail into the countryside. 

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
Grand Fashion

ISTANBUL ●●●●  4 nights


 
Grand Bazaar
It is NOT the oldest bazaar as it was only built after the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans.  But it is probably the first covered shopping mall in the world. 




Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
Don't Look at Medusa
Basilica Cistern ●● 
is an underground forest of Byzantine columns surrounded by a pool of water.  Make sure that you do not look at the head of Medusa or you will also turn to stone!  The ancients were very superstitious.  For instance, getting up on the left (sinistra) side of your bed was a very bad omen.  This is very much part of Western culture – you don't believe it?  Guess where the English word sinister comes from?  

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia Dome-ination ●●
had the highest dome built since the Pantheon in Ancient Rome until the Duomo in Renaissance Florence. It was the model for most major mosques in the Ottoman Empire. 

Hippodrome – 
How did a horse race end with 30,000 dead? How is this related to Hagia Sophia?  That's your homework for tonight!  Hint: check the web sites below. 

Blue Mosque, Istanbul
the not so Blue Mosque

 Blue Mosque ●●●
is not really blue; it’s pastel patterns and graceful symmetry and definitely worth seeing. 





Kool Kadıköy
Music in Kadıköy

Kool Kadıköy ●●
is the real Istanbul where the locals work and play. It's a great place to hear Turkish folk music on the streets. 





Galata Tower, Istanbul
Bosphorus on a Budget
Bosphorus on a Budget
Choose the cruise or the non-cruise (i.e. use the cheap ferries) to see the Bosphorus

Spice Bazaar, Spicy Istanbul come here for the spices, the Turkish Delights, and buy the Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi kahve (coffee) beans.
  

RESEARCHING WHERE YOU WANT TO GO

   
There are many travel sites on the Web.  It is very useful to see what other tourists think are the best sites. Each city, region and country in TripAdvisor has a Things To Do section.  However, tourists have their own bias that may not match your interests.  Also many tourists have not travelled around the world to be able to compare places or know what is unique.  For more detailed information on each location, you can also review the Thorn Tree Turkey Forum, Turkey Travel Planner and Terra Encounters web sites.