[Updated 20 Jan 2020]
From picture-perfect landscapes to emerald thermal pools, ancient Greek ruins, and vibrant cosmopolitan cities, Turkey is one of the most diverse Muslim travel destinations in the world 😍
But if you’ve ever wondered, “How can I sample everything that Turkey has to offer in one trip?” Don’t worry, it IS possible! Prepare for a trip of a lifetime with this 6D5N Turkey itinerary and get ready to fall in love 😁
If you’re planning to spend a longer time in Turkey, consider going to Bursa, Izmir, or Konya too!
Note on travelling to Cappadocia
This itinerary begins in Cappadocia (with an overnight stay) before making your way Pamukkale, then onwards to Istanbul. The most common way to get to Cappadocia is by flight into either Nevsehir or Kayseri airports and taking a bus into Cappadocia. We recommend catching a domestic flight into Kayseri airport and then taking a shuttle bus into Cappadocia (~1h). For more tips on travelling to Cappadocia, check out our detailed guide for first-timers to the area
Bus fares vary from company to company, and you need to make reservations in advance.
#HHWT Tip: If it’s within your budget, you can try staying
in a cave hotel, which is pricier but definitely a novel experience! Try the famous Cappadocia Cave Suites
Check-in (1 hour)
After all of that travelling, you deserve some rest. Head over to your hotel to drop off your luggage, take a nap and freshen up!
Visit the Goreme Open Air Museum (2 – 3 hours)
- Be amazed by the carefully preserved thousand-year-old painted cave churches at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Admire the carefully preserved intricate Byzantine-era murals and frescoes inside every cave church in this huge open-air complex.
Opening hours vary depending on the time of year, so check before you go!
Lunch at a traditional Turkish restaurant (1 hour)
Credit: @dibekrestaurant on Instagram
- For the best testi kebab (Cappadocia’s specialty!) in town, head over to Dibek Restaurant, in central Goreme, located within a 475-year-old building.
Disclaimer: This restaurant is Muslim-owned and uses halal ingredients, but do note that alcoholic beverages are served. Do dine at your own discretion.
Hike through the pastel-hued Red & Rose Valleys (3 – 4 hours)
Credit: jy4032 on Flickr
Credit: Bill Wu on Flickr
- Wander around the red and pink-tinged rock formations for some of the best views and picture-perfect shots in the region 😍
- Find the hidden cave churches scattered all over the valleys!
- Go horse-riding or explore the valleys on an ATV for a taste of some Cappadocian adventure 😎
Wear a good pair of walking shoes and stay hydrated. Bring some snacks along with you to munch on along the way. Otherwise, there are several cafes along the trail where you can rest, eat, and sip on orange or pomegranate juice.
Try your hand at pottery-making in Avanos Pottery Village (2 hours)
Credit: Travel Turkey on Flickr
- Get your hands dirty and make your very own piece of red clay pottery 😃
- The town of Avanos is renowned for being full of pottery masters.
- Stroll along the picturesque Red River of Avanos, named because of the red clay all over the riverbanks.
- Catch the hourly bus leaving from Avanos back to Goreme.
Catch the Cappadocian sunrise from a hot air balloon (1 – 2 hours)
- Marvel at the sprawling multi-coloured landscape of fairy chimneys and rock formations below ☺️
- Hot-air ballooning is one of the most popular activities in Cappadocia so be sure to add this to your itinerary!
- Bask in the glow of the morning sun as it casts an orange tinge over the earth
Prices are on average EUR150 - 250 per person, but packages differ from company to company on things like breakfast and flight duration. Don’t compromise on safety: be sure to choose well-established companies with experienced pilots 😊See more tips on planning your hot air balloon outing here,
or read a personal account (including useful tips) of this magical experience
Explore the ancient underground dwellings of Derinkuyu
- Climb down as far as 18 storeys underground as you explore the centuries-old underground homes at Derinkuyu Underground City.
- First built by Christians to hide from the brutal persecution of the Roman Empire.
- Wonder at the comprehensive underground facilities, from kitchens to cellars to chapels and even stables.
- Take a bus down from Goreme to Nevsehir, then another bus from Nevsehir from Derinkuyu.
Book your tickets for the overnight bus to your next city on the itinerary at least a day in advance, especially during peak season. Only buses leaving at 8PM have Wi-Fi!
Take in the 360 views at Uchisar Castle (2 - 3 hours)
- Walk up to Uchisar Castle at the peak of Uchisar, the highest point in the region, for breathtaking 360 panoramic views of Cappadocia.
- Enjoy a traditional Turkish dinner at one of the restaurants surrounding Uchisar Castle while you take in the splendid views.
- Take a bus down from Goreme to Uchisar town.
Stick around till sunset, Uchisar Castle has one of the best sunset views in Cappadocia!
Arrive in Pamukkale & Check-in (1 hour) This is the perfect town to unwind and relax while soaking in the world-famous
powder-white Pamukkale thermal pools and do as the ancient Greeks did, swimming in the pools that still operate within the Greek ruins of Hierapolis!
- Make your way to your hotel for an early check-in to freshen up!
Most hotels in Pamukkale Town aren’t open 24 hours, so be sure to arrange for someone to be there when you arrive at the hotel. Otherwise, hotels mostly open at 7:30 AM.
Take a dip in the travertine terraces (1 – 2 hours)
- Soak in the cerulean blue waters of the thermal pools while you enjoy spectacular views of Pamukkale city below.
- Enter via the south entrance, take off your shoes and walk barefoot up the thermal pools to the top of the hill. There's an entrance fee of TRY60.
Come dressed in your swimwear and bring a plastic bag to carry your shoes in as you walk up the hill. The earlier you reach, the less crowded it is, especially during summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Reminisce in the lost majesty of the ruins of Hierapolis (2 – 3 hours)
- Explore the millennia-old ruins of Hierapolis that used to be renowned for its thermal pools when it was first built in the 2nd century BC
Channel your inner Cleopatra as you swim in Cleopatra’s pool
- Indulge in a leisurely and rejuvenating swim in Cleopatra’s pool, once said to have been the secret to her beauty.
Entrance to Cleopatra’s pool is an additional TRY33, but when else will you get to literally swim amidst the ruins of an ancient Greek city? 😉
Fly into Istanbul & Check-in (3 hours)
- Catch a bus from Pamukkale Town to Denizli Airport nearby (50 mins), and take a 1-hour flight into Istanbul Ataturk Airport.
Getting from Ataturk Airport to Sultanahmet (45 mins)
- Head to the Metro station at Ataturk Airport and purchase an Istanbulkart, which gives you access to all public transport in Istanbul.
- Take the metro down to Zeytinburnu station and transfer to the trams, then alight at Sultanahmet station.
We recommend staying at Sultanahmet while you’re in Istanbul—it’s extremely accessible, easy to get around, and there are lots of hotels and guesthouses in the area to suit every budget!
Be floored by the grandeur of Hagia Sophia (1.5h – 2h)
If Paris has the Eiffel Tower and Rome has the Colosseum, Istanbul has Hagia Sophia. Once hailed as the greatest building in the world, the architecture and interiors of Hagia Sophia will take your breath away with their sheer beauty 😍
Please note that both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia are currently under restorations, but you can still visit some parts of both compounds!
- See interfaith harmony in action as you look at the Islamic art standing side by side with Christian murals and frescoes.
- Admire the intricate Christian frescoes on the walls on the second floor of the complex.
- Head up to the second floor for the best photograph opportunities! The entrance fee for the Hagia Sophie is TRY72 per person.
Consider getting an Istanbul Museum Pass to skip the line, save money, and get access to other attractions in Istanbul, especially if you’re visiting in summer! For more info on this and other cost-saving tips when visiting Istanbul, check this guide out!
Feel the serenity of the ambience of the Blue Mosque (1 hour)
Turkey's second most visited site, The Blue Mosque is located right next to Hagia Sophia, and has been drawing visitors in drones for centuries. Because of its characteristic peacefulness, this is the perfect place for some quiet time and have some respite from the city buzz.
- Appreciate the extremely detailed gold-lettered Islamic calligraphy and art adorning the vast domes and walls of the Blue Mosque 😃
- Let the serene atmosphere of the mosque calm your mind as you perform your prayers here 😌There is no entrance fee for visitors, but do note that those who enter the mosque are required to dress appropriately, with head coverings for women (you can borrow coverings near the entrance if need be!).
Lunch at the best kofte restaurant in Sultanahmet
For the best kofte
(Turkish meatballs) in Istanbul, try Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi
– Selim Usta, located along the main road just opposite Hagia Sophia.
Wander around the sprawling grounds of the Topkapi Palace (2 – 3 hours)
- Relive the grandeur and majesty of the Ottoman Dynasty at the peak of its power as you wander from room to room within the palace compound.
- Experience the luxurious lifestyles of the Ottoman Sultanate and admire the various collections of artefacts housed within the palace. The entrance fee for Topkapi Palace is TRY72.
Topkapi Palace also houses the Sacred Relics, amongst which are Prophet Muhammad SAW’s sword and the Seal of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
- There are spectacular views of the Bosphorus Straits from the terrace at the end of the palace!
If it gets too crowded, there is a small musollah
nearby that no one really uses which has the same views as well, but without the crowds 😉
Bargain-hunt and lose yourself in the winding alleys of the Grand Bazaar (2 – 3 hours)
#HHWT Tip: The deeper into the belly of the Grand Bazaar you
- Satisfy all of your Turkish souvenir needs inside one of the largest covered markets of the world.
- Buy everything from Turkish carpets to Turkish lamps to Turkish plates, jewellery, antiques and textiles here.
wander, the higher the chances of coming across cheap finds. Always bargain! It is expected of you here, and shopkeepers will overcharge you by huge amounts if you don’t 😃
Day 5 (Eminonu, Galata Tower, Istiklal Avenue)
- Take the tram down from Sultanahmet to Eminonu.
Stock up on Turkish foodstuff from the Egyptian Bazaar (1 – 2 hours)
- Purchase all the Turkish foods you can imagine at the Egyptian Bazaar, also known as the Spice Bazaar!
- Stalls here sell everything from Turkish delight, to Turkish tea, Turkish coffee, nuts and spices!
Rather than having to sift through the mountains of Turkish delight on display, head for Malatya Pazari at the end of the main street of the Egyptian Baazar. Best Turkish delight ever! We're absolutely not kidding 😋
Cool down within the deep blue walls of the Rustem Pasha Mosque (30 mins – 1 hour)
- A hidden gem off the beaten tourist path, fall in love with the deep azure blue iznik tiles this mosque is renowned for 🤗
- Leave the Egyptian Bazaar by the main entrance and turn left, then find stairways leading up to the terrace surrounding the mosque and enter.
Have a sumptuous seafood lunch at one of Eminonu's seafood restaurants
Credit: Gurcan Ozsuyek on Flickr
- Treat yourself to a delectable classic balik ekmek (fish sandwich) at one of the floating boats docked under the Galata Bridge.
Take in the sights and sounds of both the European and Asian sides of Istanbul on a Bosphorus Cruise (1.5 – 2 hours)
- A trip to Istanbul wouldn’t be complete without going on a Bosphorus cruise!
- There are several companies operating Bosphorus cruises; we recommend TurYol for the cheapest and most comprehensive cruise itinerary. (12 TL per person for a round trip on the Bosphorus)
Check the TurYol sailing schedule via their website
and book your tickets online to avoid disappointment. Before boarding, buy some simit
bread to feed the seagulls while you’re on board! 😄
Admire the 360 panoramic views of Istanbul from Galata Tower
- An iconic medieval tower that has become one of the symbols of modern Istanbul and one of Istanbul’s most popular attractions.
- 15-20mins’ walk from Galata Bridge, TRY35 per person entrance fee.
Sunset views from the Galata Tower are some of the most beautiful in Istanbul, but queues at this hour may be very long, so use your own discretion 😊
- Explore the surrounding neighbourhood: it’s an artist/musician hotspot with lots of niche shops lining the streets!
Shop till you drop at Istiklal Avenue (3 hours)
Credit: Guillen Perez on Flickr
- Shop inside all of the trendy fashion boutiques and stores lining Istiklal Avenue from start to finish, like Mango, Zara, and Bershka. Shopping paradise much!?
- Walking from one end of the Istiklal to the other takes about 15-20 minutes without “pit stops.” 😉
- Enjoy spontaneous performances by musicians, buskers and bands all throughout the avenue at night.
- Take the classic red Istanbul tram that takes passengers up and down Istiklal Avenue if you’re too tired to walk from all that shopping!
For more unique dining options, explore the back alleys of Istiklal. 50s-style American diners, fusion food cafes and unassuming traditional Turkish family-run establishments co-exist side by side here! 😉
Day 6 (Dolmabahce Palace, Ortakoy)
Indulge in the opulence of Dolmabahce Palace
Have the best potatoes and waffles in town at Ortakoy
- Stroll through the endless rooms of the huge Dolmabahce Palace.
- Get a taste of the heavily Western-influenced Turkish lifestyles during the 20th century.
Ortakoy is one of Istanbul’s upscale districts, but you don’t need to empty your wallets to be able to enjoy what it has to offer. This neighbourhood is famous for having the best kumpir
(baked potatoes) and waffles in town! Seriously, they’re huge.
Credit: @amyvurucu on Instagram
With that, you’ve successfully gotten
- Head straight for the area around Ortakoy Mosque, where the best kumpir and waffles stalls line the promenade.
- Take your pick from the huge array of toppings on offer at every kumpir stall!
- Sit down by the Bosphorus and enjoy your meal with some amazing views
- Make your way to the airport and catch your flight back home!
a taste of all that Turkey has to offer! From the rich traditions of the Ottoman Empire to the eclectic modern mix of different tastes, dispositions and subcultures, to the unparalleled beauty of Mother Nature, Turkey will definitely leave you yearning for more 😍