I was contacted by a reader this morning who is heading to Turkey for twelve days with her husband and two teenage children. She wanted to know what I recommend. I took a little time to put together a program for her and figured I would share it with you as well. If you would like me to make some travel suggestions for your trip to Turkey, just use the contact form at the bottom of this page to let me know. As always, I’m happy to help and my travel advice is free of charge.
It’s impossible to see all of Turkey in twelve days or even in twelve months. In fact, you would be hard pressed to see it all in twelve years, but you can see enough in twelve days to whet your appetite.
For a 12 Day Classic Turkey Tour, I recommend you visit the cities of Istanbul, Bursa, Ephesus, Bodrum, Dalyan, Kas, Konya and of course Cappadocia. I realize it sounds like a lot (and it is) but it is manageable as long as you make arrangements in advance.
DAY 1 Istanbul
Early Morning . Depart your hotel and take a ferry across the Sea of Marmara to Bursa where you will take a tour of this former capital of the Ottoman Empire. Often referred to as Green Bursa because of its many parks and gardens. Mt Uludag towers behind the city. You should visit Ulucamii (Big Mosque) and the Yesil Camii (Green Mosque) complex, the Silk Bazaar, take a cable car to Mt Uludag and enjoy a lunch of Iskender Kebab – a specialty in Bursa.
In the late afternoon, you should check into your Thermal Hotel where you can relax –take a hamam or spa and then in the evening enjoy the less hectic than Istanbul atmosphere of this amazing city.
DAY 2 You will head to Selcuk and the magnificent ruins of Ephesus by car. En route you will visit the stone village of Odemis – enjoy lunch at an Old Ottoman House and perhaps visit a village market
You will arrive in Selcuk in the late afternoon and can enjoy this scenic and friendly little city.
DAY 3 Selcuk and Ephesus
I recommend a full day guided tour of Ephesus area including the ancient city of Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, Ephesus Museum, St John Basilica, and visit to the old Greek Wine Village of Sirince
DAY 4 Bodrum
This is another day of travel. The drive to Bodrum is beautiful and en route you can visit the ancient sites of Didyma and Milas
DAY 5 Bodrum
A tour of Bodrum including the Castle of St Peter, Mausoleum of Halikarnassos and then a short trip to Akyaka, a small seaside village on the Gulf of Gokova. From Akyaka you will go to your hotel in Dalyan
DAY 6 Dalyan
This could be the unexpected highlight of your trip. A Boat Cruise along the Dalyan River followed by a mud bath, a visit the ancient city of Kaunos, and cruise through the reeds where the African Queen was filmed. After a BBQ lunch on board visit Turtle Beach for a swim where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet.
A the end of the day you will drive to Cirali – the other side of Kas.
I recommend garden house accommodation and spending some time at Cirali Beach.
DAY 7 Kas and Mt. Olympos
Easy touring around Kas, the Lycean Way, and Mt. Olympus. A private vehicle is recommended for exploration of the ancient sites of Myra and Termessos. Kekova is another option with a short boat trip out to the Sunken City or just stay back and enjoy the beach!
DAY 8 Konya
You will head to Konya. Konya is a conservative city and home to the Whirling Dervishes. A visit to the Mevlani Museum and the Shrine of Master Rumi is a must.
DAY 9 Cappadocia
From Konya, it’s not too far to Cappadocia where you will stay in a Cave Hotel and explore the fairy chimneys and underground cities for which the region is famous.
DAY 10 Cappadocia
I recommend starting the day with a hot air balloon sunrise ride.
A full day private tour of Cappadocia is recommended as you can see the Underground City of Derinkuyu, Nar Lake, Pigeon Valley and Uchisar. At Ihlara Valley you have a short hike, followed by a visit to Guzelyurt, a lovely stone village.
DAY 11 – More Cappadocia
On your second full day in Cappadocia, I recommend another tour: visit the Open Air Museum and the villages of Avanos and Urgup. Rose and Devrent Valleys give wonderful panoramas of the fairy chimneys. Return to your Cave House to freshen up and then take in a Turkish Folk Dancing Show – with Dinner
DAY 12 Back to Istanbul
From Cappadocia you can fly back to Istanbul in the early morning. This leaves you some time to explore the Sultanahmet area, the Grand Bazaar, and to have a final Hammam before you head home. In fact, you might want to schedule an extra day or two to enjoy Istanbul. It’s magnificent all on it’s own.