From ancient civilizations, natural wonders to amazing cuisines, visit some of Turkey’s best places in one week! By Sharifah Nursyafiqah
Turkey is a fascinating country, home to countless of civilizations and relics from the ancient world, and brimming with impressive history from its glory days as a former world empire. One week is hardly enough to comprehensively discover this incredible place, but with this itinerary, you’ll definitely get to see the best this dream destination has to offer!
Start your trip in Cappadocia, a region renowned for its fairy chimneys and amazing geographical landscape. Take a full day tour around Cappadocia, starting with the Goreme Open Air Museum – a monument from the Byzantine era and one of Turkey’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. Take a hike over to Pasabag, also known as Monks Valley, named as such after the Christian hermits who chose to locate hermit cells and churches in these three-headed pinnacles. Visit the surreal uninhabited lands of Devrent Valley, also known as “Imagination Valley”, where you find small fairy chimneys forming lunar landscapes. Experience staying in a cave yourself by spending a night in Nostalji Cave Hotel.
Begin your day bright and early with breathtaking views from your morning hot-air balloon ride! Continue your tour of Cappadocia by visiting the Goreme Panorama Hill, where you will have a complete view of Goreme valley and Goreme village. Explore the incredible Kaymakli Underground City, one of the world’s best preserved and deepest underground cities. Take a hike in the Rose Valley, Çavuşin Village and Pigeon Valley (be sure to pack a bottle of water for the trip!). In the evening, try your hand at pottery-making in Avanos.
At night, travel by overnight bus or plane to your next stop – Istanbul!
Start your journey in the dynamic city of Istanbul! Head to Sultanahmet for a full day of sightseeing. Here is where you will find the Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque. Don’t miss out on the underground chambers of the Basillica Cistern just across the road! Break for lunch, before heading over to the Hippodrome and Topkapi Palace, the lavishly-decorated Eastern pleasure dome that served as the command center of the Ottoman empire for over three centuries. End your day with some shopping at the Grand Bazaar.
Begin your second day in Istanbul with a bath in a beautiful Turkish hammam, or sauna. The historic Çemberlitas Hamami dates back to 1584! After your bath, spend your day exploring modern Istanbul in the area around the tourism and leisure district of Taksim Square. This is the more European part of Turkey, something you will discover as you take a stroll through the neighbouring Cihangir. Stop for lunch at one of the neighborhood’s many eclectic street cafes. Get into the Turkish lifestyle by visiting a narghile (Turkish water pipe) cafe, relaxing while you sip on piping hot apple tea or a hot salep — a sweet delicious milky drink made of orchid flour. Spend the rest of the day wandering the streets of Galata, the neighborhood surrounding Galata Tower.
Set out early in the morning for a cruise up the Bosphorus. Be sure to make a stop at the Egyptian Spice Bazaar, and visit the fortress that is Rumeli Castle. Spend the remainder of the afternoon walking the length of Istiklal Avenue, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul (it can see nearly 3 million visitors in a day). There is plenty to see along this street – from boutiques, bookstores, art galleries, theatres, libraries, cafés, night clubs with live music, historical patisseries, and many more!
Take a domestic flight to Selcuk for the last leg of your journey.
One of the highlights of this trip will be a visit to the glorious ancient city of Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient Roman cities in the world. Be blown away by the ancient architectural splendors, including the Fountains of Trojan, The Temples of Hadrian and Domition, the Library of Celsius and the Great Theatre. Head over to Saint John’s Basilica, where his burial tomb is contained. Also along the hills of Selcuk is the house of Virgin Mary, rumoured to be her final resting place. Lastly, though there is only one column left of the Temple of Artemis, mythology buffs would love visiting the site of the temple dedicated to the Greek Goddess, incidentally one of seven wonders of the ancient world.
Finish your trip by winding through the Greek village of Sirince. Here, you can enjoy unique wine tasting (made from raspberry, peach, black mulberry and pomegranate) and Turkish cuisine. Explore the beautiful architecture of the place, including restored Ottoman-era stone-and-stucco homes and boutique hotels.
Take a bus back to Izmir Airport for your flight home.