A beginner's Guide and Itinerary to Turkey

9 Nights of old Turkish charm and spectacular views 

Turkey— the county, not the bird, is a place of rich histories and stunning architecture. Bordering 8 countries, it’s a melting pot of cultures and people. Turkey is one of the main stops of the silk road, making it an important trading destination. Till today, the mercantile character of the country remains, manifesting itself through the various markets and bazaars that are bustling with traders who insist that he is giving you a good deal. It is also a place of spectacular landscapes, from the alien landscapes of Cappadocia to the ruins of Ephesus, Turkey is certainly a very diverse and interesting country.  Here’s my guide and itinerary on what to see and where to stay in Turkey. 

Nights 1-3: Istanbul


We start off in Istanbul, where part of the city lies in continental Europe and the other in Asia. Here, you can haggle your way through bazaars and relish in the beauty of ancient temples. Things you might want to check out include: Blue Mosque, Fatih, Aya Sofya, Basilica Cistern (recently made famous by Dan Brown’s Inferno), Taksim, Topkapi Palace, Golden Horn, Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Spice Market.

For a more detailed guide, check out my post “48 hours in Istanbul” here. I would recommend staying in the Sultanahmet area because its walking distance to most of the major attractions.

Hagia Sophia ceiling

Nights 4-6: Cappadocia

cappadocia balloon

After 3 nights in busy Istanbul, you might want to relax in Cappadocia. Here, you may want to explore the various valleys, famous for its phallic “fairy-chimneys” either or foot or by bicycle. Don’t forget to check out Ucishar caste and Ilhara valley as well, two of my favourite experiences in Turkey (Check out my "top 10 things to do in Cappadocia" here). I would recommend staying in the town of Goreme where there are accommodation options aplenty. Hot-air ballooning is also a must! If you need more photos to convince you of why Cappadocia is amazing: look here.

Hot air balloon cappadocia

Nights 6-9: Izmir 

aphrodisias temple of aphrodite

In the Mediterranean town of Izmir, you can find various Greek and Roman ruins. The more well-known ones include Bascilica of St. John, House of Virgin Mary and the Temple of Artemis. You may even want to check out the hot springs of Pamukkale which is a 3-hour ride away. Click here to read my honest review and guide on the various attractions in Izmir. If you are short on time, or ruins aren’t your cup of tea, you may want to skip this completely. There is also a lack of accommodation options in Izmir. We stayed in Cella Boutique hotel and spa but I felt that it wasn’t worth the money. For one, service was poor and lacklustre.    

Pamukkale wallpaper
Izmir Celcius library ruins

So, there you have it! A sample itinerary and guide for Turkey. Turkey is a relatively safe place to go to as long as you use your common-sense—don’t leave valuables in plain sight, don’t go down dark alleys etc. The haggling practices can be a little off-putting if you’re not used to it. Leery men sometimes appear, so dress conservatively as well. Nothing too extreme. I hope this guide and sample itinerary is useful for you, let me know how you might do in differently in the comments below!