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Turkey Travel Guide: 9 days 8 nights backpacking – Istanbul, Ephesus, Pamukkale and Cappadocia

We just spent a month in Istanbul (detailed guide here for digital nomads) with 2 long weekends in Cappadocia, Ephesus and Pamukkale.
We are aware that a month is a very long period and most holidaymakers only spend one long weekend in Istanbul, or 10 days in Turkey.

Therefore, we have prepared this itinerary for you. The links available in the article refer to the corresponding travel diaries. Have a nice trip!

Day 1 :

Basilica Tank
  • Arrival in Istanbul
  • Airport Taxi => Downtown (about 60TL)
  • Purchase of a transport pass: Istanbulkart at 6TL (+ 24 TL recharge recommended)
  • Visit from Saint Sophia (40TL/person) (2h on site)
  • Visit of the Basilica Tank (20TL/person) 30mn to 1h on site)
  • Visit of the Blue Mosque (free, 20-30mn on site)
  • Optional: free visit of the tombs of the sultans just next to Saint Sophia
  • Dinner at the edge of the Bosphorus (grilled fish sandwich)
  • Night in the Sultanahmet district

Check the travel diaries to Istanbul here

The hotels we recommend in Istanbul, in the old city (Sultanahmet district) :

  • Eternity Hotel (64€ per night), link Booking
  • Hotel Ibrahim Pasha (99€ per night), Booking link with a breathtaking view of the city and the Blue Mosque
Photo de cet établissement dans la galerie

Day 2 :

  • Visit the Grand Bazaar (free) and the Egyptian Bazaar (free)
  • Optional: when it is no longer under renovation (2019), visit the Yeni Cami Mosque (New Mosque)
  • Cross the Galata Bridge on foot (free)
  • Brunch in the Tophane district with view on the Bosphorus (75TL/person) at the 5. Kat restaurant
  • Ferry to the Asian shore (3TL/person)
  • Sunset on üsküdar
  • A little higher up(Camlica Hill, not at all touristy) to have the view of the city with all the lights while eating a cheese, spinach or potato pancake
  • Night in the Sultanahmet neighborhood

Day 3 :

  • Visit of the topaki Museum (2h to 3h on site), attention closing on Tuesday (60TL entrance, 35TL extra for the harem)
  • Lunch at the restaurant of the famous Turkish butcher Nusr-et Steakhouse (go there by cab or subway)
  • Subway to Taksim Square, stroll onIstiklal Avenue (very typical of istanbul with its red tramway)
  • Discovery of a traditional Turkish bath (2h maxi on site) at Aga Hamami for example (count 120 to 200TL/person)
  • Visit the Galata Tower
  • Night in the Sultanahmet neighborhood

Day 4 :

  • Departure early in the morning to take a flight to Izmir (take-off at 8 am, arrival at 9:15 am)
  • 10:00 am: Havas shuttle bus in front of the airport to downtown Selçuk (30TL, direction Söke)
  • 11am : arrival in Selçuk, take a cab to the archaeological site of Ephesus (3km for 15TL) or a dolmus (public bus) for 3TL/person.
  • Visit of the site of Ephesus : Church of the Virgin Mary, Celsus library, theater
  • Optional: take a cab to the House of the Virgin Mary, where she would have spent her last days. Then walk down to the church of the Virgin Mary.
  • Return to the city center (on foot or by cab or dolmus): visit the Temple of Artemis (one of the 7 ancient wonders), and the Archaeological Museum of Ephesus (15TL/person)
  • 4:30 pm: bus with the Pamukkale Turizm company to Pamukkale
  • 7:40 p.m. : arrival in Pamukkale
  • Overnight in Pamukkale

Note: for Ephesus, we wrote two practical guides here and here

Day 5 :

  • Morning wake up (6am) to take the pictures of Pamukkale
  • Optional: Breakfast and departure for Aphrodisias at 9:30 am with an agency (organized tour with transportation) 11H: arrival at Aphrodisias, walking tour of the stadium, the Aphrodisias museum

    • 1:30 pm: Return to Pamukkale

    • 3pm: Arrival in Pamukkale. A well-deserved nap

  • 4pm : re-visit of the Pamukkale site, visit of the ancient city ofHierapolis, bathing at the Cleopatra baths (paying) (50TL + 5TL for the locker). Taking pictures of the sunset on the site
  • Dolmus (local mini-bus) or cab to Denizli bus station (4,5TL/person)
  • 23h: direct bus with the Metro bus company to Göreme (90TL/person)

Note: for Pamukkale, we have written a practical guide here

Day 6 :

  • 9:30 am : Arrival at Göreme
  • Rest, quiet walk in Göreme
  • Overnight in Göreme, go to bed early

Note: for Göreme and surroundings, we have written two practical guides here and here

Day 7 :

  • 5am : watch the hot-air balloon show on the hotel terrace
  • Or: 5am: departure for a hot air balloon ride (150€ – 170€/person), return to the hotel at 7:30-8am.
  • 10am : Rent a car to visit the surroundings : Ihlara Valley, underground city (160TL car rental/day)
  • or : 9h-18h : Visit of the surroundings of Gorëme in an organized tour (65€/person)
  • Overnight in Göreme, go to bed early

Day 8 :

  • Optional: 5am: watch the hot air balloon shows on the hotel terrace
  • Going back to bed
  • 9h-18h : Visit of the surroundings of Gorëme in an organized tour (65€/person)
  • If you are tired, opt for private half-day tours (65€/person)
  • Shuttle to Kayseri airport: 1h (30 to 50TL/person)
  • Plane to return to Istanbul
  • Night near Istanbul airport

Day 9 :

Return by plane to France

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