This two-week Turkey itinerary enables you to see the cultural and historical highlights of this vast and beautiful country in a short space of time. It leads you through the bustling souks of Istanbul, among the ethereal landscapes and fairy towers of Cappadocia, and to less-frequented towns and villages way off the beaten path.
All of these things combine to provide the perfect insight into local life in Turkey. This route is perfect for first-timers and it starts and ends in Istanbul. This is a good starting point considering the vast amount of international flights that fly into Istanbul Airport.
- 1 Turkey Itinerary Highlights
- 2 2 Week Turkey Itinerary
- 3 2 Week Turkey Itinerary Days 1-3:Istanbul
- 4 Things to Do in Istanbul
- 4.1 Get a Birdseye view from Galata tower
- 4.2 Explore the Wider Galata Area
- 4.3 Explore Ortakoy
- 4.4 Experiment with Turkish street food
- 4.5 Hang out with Hipsters in Beşiktaş
- 4.6 Practice Haggling at the Grand Bazaar
- 4.7 Take a Bosphorus Tour
- 4.8 Visit Dolmabahce and Topkapi Palaces
- 4.9 Recommended Istanbul Tours
- 5 Where to Stay in Istanbul
- 6 Turkey Itinerary Day 4:Ankara
- 7 Turkey Itinerary Days 5-7:Cappadocia
- 8 Turkey Itinerary Days 8 and 9:Konya
- 9 Turkey Itinerary Day 10:Pamukkale
- 10 Turkey Itinerary Day 11:Ephesus
- 11 Turkey Itinerary Days 12 and 13:Izmir
- 12 Turkey Itinerary Day 14:Departure
- 13 Possible Extensions
- 14 Getting Around Turkey
- 15 When to Travel to Turkey
- 16 Getting a Visa for Turkey
- 17 2 Week Turkey Itinerary: Is it Safe?
- 18 Travel Insurance for Turkey
- 19 Turkey Itinerary: Solo Travel
- 20 Useful Additional Considerations
Turkey Itinerary Highlights
This Turkey itinerary is perfect for culture vultures, history buffs, and those that like to really get under the skin of the places that they visit in order to see them like a local. The highlights of this Turkey itinerary include:
- Watching mystical whirling dervishes in beautiful Konya
- Trekking through the most unique landscapes in the world in Cappadocia
- Hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
- Marveling at the Hagia Sophia and other gems of Istanbul
- Going back in time to quaint traditional Turkish villages
- Discovering entire cities built underground in Derinkuyu
- Falling in love with Turkey’s food culture – from sumptuous marinated meats to sweet loukoumi
- Encountering and befriending wonderful local people
- Navigating through the Serpentine souks of Izmir
- Marveling at the well-preserved ruins of Ephesus
2 Week Turkey Itinerary
2 Week Turkey Itinerary Days 1-3:
Start your 14-day Turkey itinerary by flying into Istanbul, the country’s largest city. There is a distance of approximately 50km between the “new” Istanbul airport and the city centre.
However, fortunately, it is cheap and easy to take either an airport taxi or a bus. A private transfer or airport taxi should cost you no more than approximately €30 (200lira) with the journey taking around 50 minutes.
The bus costs just €4, with concessions available for children and the elderly. Since it makes a number of stops en route to Istanbul city centre, the journey takes around 100 minutes by bus.
Istanbul is one of the only places in the world that is spread across two continents. It straddles Asia and Europe and boasts cultural, archaeological, and gastronomic influences from the two regions.
The city’s various neighbourhoods are like little towns in themselves, each with its own unique personality. As you meander through them, you will see a mishmash of contemporary, Byzantium, and Ottoman architecture.
Things to Do in Istanbul
Sultanahmet district is where you can find the majority of the tourist attractions in Istanbul (the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, and the Hagia Sophia). Unfortunately, it is also where you will constantly be exposed to tourist prices in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants that are several times thel ocal price.
You can explore this area in full in just one day so if you are interested in trying more authentic restaurants and seeing Istanbul like a local then I would recommend staying in an alternate district and taking the tram into Sultanahmet during your Istanbul itinerary.
Get a Birdseye view from Galata tower
Galata tower awaits just north of the Golden Horn in the namesake Galata Square. It can be seen from various points around the city and it looks particularly beautiful at night when it is illuminated by hundreds of twinkling lights.
Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) is one of the oldest towers in the world. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Temporary List in 2013.
The original structure dates back to 507-508 AD when it was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinianos. It has been rebuilt and repaired several times throughout the centuries, affected by fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
Expect queues if you go up at weekends but it is worth the effort. The breathtaking panoramas from the top of the tower are unparalleled.
Explore the Wider Galata Area
At the base of Galata tower, there are lots of cute traditional coffee shops and tea rooms. Here, you can drink Kücük cay with a piece of Turkish delight.
Some of the establishments here have even been featured in Turkish movies and TV series. Federal Galata (Şahkulu, Küçük Hendek Cd. No:7, 34421) is a nice choice.
So too is Velvet Cafe (Bereketzade, kule Çukmazı S, Büyük Hendek Cd. D:7a, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul). If you have time to indulge in a little retail therapy, there are lots of charming vintage thrift shops in the area. These are great for picking up one-of-a-kind items.
Ortakoy is the port area from which you can take connecting ferries to other parts of Turkey. This was once a thriving fishing village and the area has maintained its traditional routes to this day.
As you walk along the seafront or the bridge that connects Ortakoy to Galata, you will notice many optimistic fishermen setting up camping chairs along the waterfront. The area is popular for hosting what are deemed to be the very best seafood restaurants in town.
By night, some of Istanbul’s chicest bars and nightlife spots can be found here. Treat yourself to dinner with a Bosphorus view at Epope Cafe & Restaurant (Ortaköy, Değirmen Sok, Muallim Naci Cd. D:No:5, 34418 Beşiktaş/İstanbul).
Alternatively, House Cafe Ortakoy (Yıldız, Ortaköy Salhanesi Sk. No:1, 34349) is a favourite brunch spot among locals. Expect to find a blend of quintessential Turkish dishes and international classics like eggs benedict and eggs florentine.
Look out for the gorgeous Ortakoy Mosque while you are in the area. This is one of the most beautiful mosques in Istanbul, and arguably all of Turkey. It was built by Sultan Abdülmecit in the 19th century and its appearance looks almost as though it has been built on the water.
Experiment with Turkish street food
Turkish food is far more than just kebabs and moussaka. You could spend a month in Turkey and still find yourself perpetually discovering new dishes.
You will find many vendors selling local delicacies all over the city. However, they are particularly abundant around Taksim Square and Istiklal Avenue. For an “only in Istanbul” eating experience, try the Islak burgers!
Islak burgers are known as “wet hamburgers”. They can only be found in Istanbul and there are only 2-3 stores that sell them.
You won’t even see them in other parts of Turkey! They are much more appetizing than they sound and are made by soaking hamburger patties and buns in a rich, herb-infused tomato sauce. The burgers are small and bite-sized so you can indulge and treat yourself to a couple.
Hang out with Hipsters in Beşiktaş
If Beşiktaş sounds familiar, it is because the area is home to Istanbul’s beloved Beşiktaş football team. If you’re young and trendy, this is the area to see and be seen on a Friday or Saturday night in Istanbul.
Joker No.19 (Sinanpaşa, Beşiktaş Cd. No:19, 34353) is a great place to meet and mingle with locals. The bar’s expert mixologists serve up a vast array of classic and eccentric cocktails.
Practice Haggling at the Grand Bazaar
Navigating your way through the incense-filled passageways of the Grand Bazaar is a must while in Istanbul. It is touristy, sure, but you must pass through it at least once.
This is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It is made up of 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops selling everything from Turkish delight, homemade candies, spices, and nuts, to perfumes and fabrics.
The Grand Bazaar was constructed in 1455 by Mehmet II, almost immediately after the Ottoman acquisition of Istanbul. Be prepared to haggle on anything you buy here.
You will generally find that prices for items across the board are significantly cheaper at other less touristic markets. As a rule of thumb, try to start your price negotiations at around 40% of the vendor’s asking price and you can haggle from there.
Take a Bosphorus Tour
Dozens of boats depart daily from Ortakoy giving you beautiful views of Istanbul’s most notable architecture from the water. You can also opt for the night version of the tour if you are interested to watch the sunset.
Most tours take around 90 minutes – ample time to capture countless unforgettable photo memories. You will also find some tours that offer dinner and drinks on a Bosphorus cruise.
A number of reputable Bosphorus tour options are detailed below for your consideration.
- Istanbul: Bosphorus music and dinner cruise with a private table
- Bosphorus sunset cruise on a luxurious yacht
- Istanbul Bosphorus night dinner cruise
- Bosphorus cruise with audio app
Visit Dolmabahce and Topkapi Palaces
The Topkapi Palace is a must-visit during your 2 week Turkey itinerary. This was the former court of the Ottoman Empire and the site of many weird and wonderful stories and events.
The palace was first constructed in the late 1450s on the order of Mehmet II. During the Ottomans 600 year reign, it housed approximately 30 Sultans.
The palace has been open to the public as a museum since 1924. While the well-preserved rooms and living quarters are opulent and impressive, it is the tales of scheming eunuchs, beautiful concubines, and lustful Sultans that will leave you fascinated.
Topkapi palace is typically always packed full of tourists. If you want to avoid the crowds, Dolmabahce palace makes a nice alternative.
It is lesser-known, yet just as rewarding to uncover. At Dolmabahce, you can also enjoy a free tour of the harem.
Recommended Istanbul Tours
Exploring Istanbul independently during your 2 week Turkey itinerary is a wonderful experience. Part of the charm of exploring former Constantinople is found in simply taking the time to get lost among the narrow streets.
However, you may also enjoy doing a guided walking tour with the aid of a local. You will obtain more context to the things that you see and discover places that you would not otherwise find independently.
Better yet, exploring with a local means that you have a local expert to ask for recommendations on the best places to eat, drink and hang out in Istanbul. A selection of the best Istanbul day tours is detailed below for your consideration.
- Istanbul Food and culture tour: a taste of two continents
- Galata and Taksim walking tour
- Istanbul: two sides of the city half-day bike tour
- Istanbul: 4-hour evening walk and light food tasting tour
- Full-day Istanbul highlights tour
- Full-day Princes islands tour with lunch
- Hagia Sophia, Tokpaki, and Basilica Combo ticket
Where to Stay in Istanbul
Istanbul offers accommodation options to suit every budget and travel style. The best area to stay in varies depending on your personal preference. The Sultanahmet district is touristy, but it places you right on the doorstep of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the other most notable things to do in Istanbul.
If you want to stay somewhere away from the crowds, consider trendy Karakoy. Kabataş, Beşiktaş and Sirkeci are all good options.
Turkey Itinerary Day 4:
Ankara is the capital of Turkey. It is well worth a flying visit as part of your Turkey itinerary, if only for a day or so.
The city is home to many sites of historical and political importance. This makes the perfect place for gaining an understanding of Turkey’s past and present situation.
Visit Ankara Castle
The Turks love their former leader Atattürk and here in Ankara, you can visit his tomb at Anitkabir. For a 360-degree view of the city, hike up to Ankara Castle in the city’s Ulus district.
Ankara Castle is free to enter and is one of the oldest structures in the city. Nobody knows exactly when it was built, however, records indicate that it existed around the second century BC.
It was repaired many times by the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks, and Ottomans. Just wandering the streets, stopping here and there for a Turkish coffee or a burek is a nice way to explore Ankara.
The Old Quarter can be found near the Ankara Citadel. It is characterised by its cobbled streets and ramshackle red Ottoman houses and takes you on a journey back in time.
In the evening, head over to trendy Kizilay. This is the beating heart of Ankara’s social scene. The streets here are laden with Designer boutiques, chic restaurants, and colourful outdoor markets.
Recommended Ankara Tours
Getting to Ankara from Istanbul
Long-distance buses and rickety train services run along the route from Istanbul to Ankara. However, you can expect the journey to take up to around 6 or 7 hours.
Turkey is a vast country and there is a whopping 443.9 km distance between the two cities. Arguably the best and most convenient option is to fly from Istanbul to Ankara.
Plane tickets can be purchased at a relatively low cost if they are bought in advance. Turkish Airlines and Pegasus service this route.
You can find flights for as little as $25-30 each way if booked in advance. Ankara Esenboğa Airport is just 45 minutes away from the city centre and regular, low-cost buses service the route.
Where to Stay in Ankara
Despite the fact that Ankara is the capital of Turkey, the city centre itself is quite compact. Ankara does not make it into a lot of tourists’ Turkey itineraries and remains relatively off the beaten path.
Many of the boutique hotels that you will find here are very affordable. A handful of reputable options in Ankara are detailed below for your consideration.
Turkey Itinerary Days 5-7:
Cappadocia is a highlight of any 2 week Turkey itinerary. The rugged landscape here looks almost ethereal and other-worldly. It takes your breath away at every turn.
Taking a Cappadocia hot air balloon flight is the raison d’être that many people head to Cappadocia in the first place. However, there is far more to do in the area than just taking a balloon ride and photographing the balloon-filled skies.
Some of the best hiking trails in Turkey can be found in Cappadocia. You will also find mysterious underground cities and forgotten donkey trails that lead you to ancient Byzantine churches carved into caves.
Getting to Cappadocia from Ankara
You can take the bus from Ankara to Cappadocia and it will get you to Nevsehir in approximately four hours. Be prepared that you may need to change buses towards the end of the journey and get onboard a smaller bus.
For example, if you are staying in Goreme, you will need to leave the bus at the Cappadocia stop and change. The Driver and Stewards on board will help you to make the transfer.
Buses in Turkey are really pleasant and comfortable. So, you can enjoy the journey with an in-seat TV, music, and free refreshments.
Recommended Cappadocia Tours
- Cappadocia: Sunrise hot air balloon flight with champagne
- Cappadocia hot air balloon tour
- Sunset quad safari in Cappadocia
- Full-day Cappadocia blue zone hiking tour with lunch
- Göreme: South Cappadocia highlights tour with lunch
- Göreme: Small group full-day Cappadocia red tour
- Full-day Cappadocia blue tour with a small group
Where to Stay in Cappadocia
Contrary to what you may think, “Cappadocia” is not a town in itself. It is actually a sprawling region made up of lots of different towns and areas.
Goreme is a good place to base yourself. It is here where the hot air balloon tours depart and the area is home to many of Cappadocia’s main attractions. For instance, the open-air museum, the red Cappadocia hiking trail, etc.
For a completely unique “only in Cappadocia” experience, consider staying in a Cave Hotel. I stayed at the Guzide Cave Hotel in Goreme and it was the best hotel experience I had in Turkey. The hotel serves a lavish Turkish breakfast and the owner, Murat, goes out of his way to help his guests make the most of their trips.
Turkey Itinerary Days 8 and 9:
The Central Anatolian city of Konya is a conservative Muslim city that remains unknown to most international visitors. It provides a stark contrast to Turkey, arriving in Konya felt like a stark contrast to the other cities on this 2 week Turkey itinerary.
At first glance, it can seem like a city of tight headscarves and high necklines. However, once you scratch beneath the surface, you will realise that Konya has so much to offer.
Even the most well seasoned travellers will fall in love with Konya. There is just something about the city that feels so magical, authentic and unspoiled.
Konya is far away from the typical tourist trail. It is a popular pilgrimage destination for followers of Sufism and Mevlana (aka the Poet Rumi).
Get Lost Among the Tapestries of the Bazaars
The bazaars of Konya are much more authentic than those in Istanbul. Konya locals will tell you that Turkish bazaars sell “everything from string to furniture” and that couldn’t be more true than in the souks and bazaars here.
Try a hot cup of salep – warm, creamy drink made from orchids and cinnamon. The items sold at the markets here are far more local and interesting than anything that could be found in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Fall in Love with the Poet Rumi
The Mevlana Museum is the poet Rumi’s final resting place. Here, you can learn about Rumi’s life and works.
However, even if you are not familiar with Rumi’s works, the museum is worth a visit. One notable thing about Sufism is that they are the creators of the whirling dervishes.
In case you don’t know, whirling dervishes are those traditional Turkish dancers that spin round and round and have us all wondering about how they are not sick! In Istanbul, you can pay a small fortune to see a touristic whirling dervishes dance.
However, in Konya, you can watch this for free. The dance is performed each Saturday afternoon outside the Mevlana Museum.
Discover Ancient Civilisations
From Konya, you can take a short day trip to the Neolithic town of Çatalhöyük. This is one of the oldest human civilisations in the world and dates all the way back to 7,500 BC.
The settlement was inscribed as a UNESCO-protected site in 2012. It features a unique streetless settlement of houses clustered back to back with roof access into the buildings.
Getting to Konya from Cappadocia
You can take the bus from Cappadocia to Konya and the journey should take around 6 hours. If you prefer to have more of a full first day in Konya, you can also take a night bus from Cappadocia.
Konya’s bus station is quite far out of the city. So, you can either take a cab, or a tram that runs from the bus station to the centre of the city.
Where to Stay in Konya
The main points of interest in Konya are centered around the Mevlana Museum. Try to opt for a hotel in this area so that you are within walking distance of everything.
A selection of reputable Konya hotels and accommodation options are detailed below for your consideration.
- Araf hotel – a quirky boutique hotel that was decorated with vibrant colours and eccentric furnishings.
Turkey Itinerary Day 10:
Pamukkale is a surreal place that has become social media famous in recent years. The word “Pamukkale” means “Cotton Candy” in Turkish.
The site consists of miles and miles of rippling Travertine terraces. At first glance, Pamukkale looks as though it is made from snow or from clouds that have fallen from the sky.
In actual fact, it is made from sediment that has overflowed from the nearby natural thermal pools. At the top of the travertines is the Roman spa city of Hierapolis.
It is said that these ancient pools were a gift from Marc Anthony to Cleopatra. Legend has it that she was incredibly ugly before visiting Pamukkale and after swimming in the pools, she was breathtakingly beautiful.
Getting to Pamukkale from Konya
It’s another relatively long bus journey from Cappadocia to Pamukkale which again can be done on a night bus if you prefer. First, you need to take a bus from Konya to the city of Denizli.
This leg of the journey takes around 6 hours. From Denizli, the bus to Pamukkale takes around 30 minutes.
When you arrive in Denizli, you should go down to the lower level of the station to find the Pamukkale bus. The buses are small shared taxis that depart when full.
Recommended Pamukkale Tours
- From Selcuk/Kusadasi/Izmir: Pamukkale full-day tour
- Antalya: Full-Day Pamukkale and Hierapolis tour & lunch
- Pamukkale and Hierapolis full day tour from Bodrum
- Ephesus and Pamukkale: day trip by plane from Istanbul
- From Kusadasi: Guided Pamukkale tour
Turkey Itinerary Day 11:
Ephesus is Europe’s most impressive and intact Greek-Roman ruin. It is estimated that even after over 150 years’ worth of excavations, only around 20% of Ephesus has been unearthed!
Here, you will find temples and marketplaces that still boast their original marble columns, as well as theatres and colosseums. Ephesus is a highlight of any 2 week Turkey itinerary.
One full day is plenty of time for a thorough exploration at a relaxed pace. Many local tour companies offer day trips and excursions to Ephesus and nearby points of interest.
There are hotels situated close to the archaeological site. However, you can also opt to stay in nearby Izmir and take a day trip to Ephesus if you prefer.
Getting to Ephesus from Pamukkale
It takes approximately three hours from Pamukkale to Ephesus. Once again you need to change in Denizli and take the small shared bus there. From Denizli, you will board a coach to Pamukkale.
Buy your ticket from the bus station at Denizli rather than one of the travel agencies in Pamukkale as they add an unnecessary premium. Buses depart from Denizli to Ephesus hourly.
Recommended Ephesus Tours
- Ephesus, House of Virgin Mary & Artemis Temple group tour
- Private Ephesus and House of Virgin Mary tour
- Ephesus entry ticket with mobile phone audio tour
- Ephesus day tour with return flights from Istanbul
Turkey Itinerary Days 12 and 13:
Izmir is a highlight of any 2 week Turkey itinerary. The area around the Kemeralti bazaar is particularly charming.
The bazaar is made up of countless narrow, winding, labyrinth-like alleyways. As you wander around them, you are greeted with cute tea rooms, artisanal stores, and local vendors selling all manner of street food eats.
You could while away many hours outside these tea rooms people watching and sipping a cup of Kucuk cay. Izmir is a perfect city to enjoy with a more slow-paced, relaxed approach. Traveling here is not about hurriedly seeing the sights, but soaking in the atmosphere around you.
Enjoy the Turkish Coastline
Besides browsing through the bazaars and drinking Turkish tea, you can also enjoy people-watching and live musical performances at the Konak clock tower. Izmir is a coastal city and so it makes sense that there are several gorgeous beaches nearby. A short journey will bring you to the towns of Çeşme, Dikili, and Pamucak.
Go Back in Time in Sirince
Sirince is a quaint and charming little village just a short journey away from Izmir. If you want the perfect example of a traditional and unspoiled village, this is it.
Sirince is famed for its wine production and you can enjoy a tasting, or pick up some unusual tipples here. The name Sirince means “pretty” and the quaint little whitewashed buildings and twisting alleyways certainly help it live up to its name.
Here, elderly ladies in traditional dress bake bread over open ancient stoves. The entire experience of traveling here makes you feel as though you have been transported back in time.
Visit the Ancient Agora
The Agora of Smyrna in Izmir was once an important trading point on the old Silk Road trade route. Merchants from far and wide would come here to sell and exchange their wares.
It was originally built by the Greeks in the 4th century BC. However, the original marketplace was ruined by an earthquake in 178 AD.
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius ordered its reconstruction. Centuries ago, agoras were an important rendezvous point for the Greeks. You could compare the Agora of Smyrna to the Ancient Agora in Athens, Greece.
It takes just one hour from Ephesus to Izmir and vice versa.
Where to Stay in Izmir
The L’Agora Old Town Hotel & Bazaar is a stylish, centrally located boutique hotel in downtown Izmir. The hotel encircles a central courtyard and resembles an ancient Caravanserai. Rooms are stylish and elegant and start from just $45 a night.
Recommended Izmir Tours
Turkey Itinerary Day 14:
Your two-week Turkey itinerary is coming to an end! It’s time to cry into your box of Turkish delight and scour around frantically for a stall where you can buy one last islak burger.
Depending on where you are traveling, you may be able to take a flight from Izmir airport. Alternatively, you can fly from Izmir to Istanbul for a low cost and it prevents you from having to take any more long journeys via public transport!
Mount Nemrut is a fascinating place well suited for travelers that love hiking and adventure. It is situated in the Eastern part of Turkey close to the Syrian border.
Mount Nemrut is known as being the “Easter Island of Turkey”. The mountain is filled with the severed heads of gigantic stone-like statues.
It is thought that the statues were built by an egoistic king who wanted to build sculptures of himself and his family. However, after his death, the heads were removed from the statues and nobody knows exactly how or why. Fascinating, eh?
Visiting Nemrut Dag also enables you to visit many traditional towns and villages. The culture in Eastern Turkey is altogether different from that in central Anatolia or in the West.
Mount Nemrut is in a remote area and it is not so easy to access. However, many companies offer 2-3 day tours from Cappadocia.
If you are interested in history, from Izmir you could take a trip to Troy for a day. Troy, as you may have guessed, is the site of the apparent battle of troy and where the Trojan horse was used.
Bursa is a city that is locally as “Green Bursa on account of its stunning natural scenery. If you have a little extra time, you could stop in Bursa for a day or two on your return journey back to Istanbul.
You can get between Bursa and Istanbul by a short, scenic ferry ride. Bursa is filled with temples and outdoor hiking routes.
This 2 week Turkey itinerary focuses on immersing yourself in the rich culture of Turkey and exploring notable historical sites in the process. Let’s not forget though, Turkey’s pristine coastlines and warm summer climate also make it the perfect destination for a little rest and relaxation.
If you want to unwind after travelling across this vast country, you can consider spending a few days in a coastal area like Bodrum or Antalya. Here you can enjoy everything from idyllic beaches, scuba diving, and snorkeling, to exploring off-the-beaten-path Ancient Greek ruins.
Getting Around Turkey
Public transport links in Turkey are excellent, making this vast country a very easy place to get around. If you prefer a little more freedom and flexibility, you can also rent a car.
I got around by bus throughout my entire Turkey itinerary. This was convenient, comfortable, and affordable.
Travel Turkey by Bus
Opting to do tour entire 2 week Turkey itinerary by bus is actually a pleasant experience. This rings true even if you are someone who usually hates long bus journeys!
Buses in Turkey are very modern and offer airline-style services. Complimentary tea and snacks are served during the journeys, and the chairs often have inbuilt music/entertainment systems.
Bus fares in Turkey are very affordable. This is one of the cheapest ways of getting around.
You can purchase your ticket at the offices of the various bus stations. It can be confusing, as there are several different bus companies.
Most bus companies in Turkey are reliable and comfortable. There are none that you need to try and avoid. British National Express and American Greyhound buses pale in comparison to Turkish buses!
Travel Turkey by Rail
Turkey has a very well-developed rail network. Train services run to all corners of the country, making this a very convenient way to get around.
For longer distances, you can opt to take night trains or board the Turkish high-speed rail. The Turkish high-speed rail network (Turkey’s bullet train?) currently runs between Ankara, Konya, Eskisehir, and Istanbul.
Travel Turkey by Domestic Flights
Don’t underestimate how vast Turkey is. Some journeys between destinations can take as long as 8-9 hours.
If you are limited on time, you may prefer to take domestic flights. Several low-cost airlines operate on routes between Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, and Cappadocia, including Pegasus Air.
If you book your flights in advance, you can secure tickets for as little as $20 each way. Of course, additional fees are incurred for traveling with luggage.
Travel Turkey by Rental Car
If you want more flexibility and independence during your Turkey itinerary, you can consider renting a car. Car rentals in Turkey are very affordable and there are virtually no tolls. Renting a car enables you to access sites and ruins that are not easily accessible via public transport.
You can rent a car in Turkey if you are over 21 and have had your license for more than a year. Driving in Turkey is done on the right-hand side of the road. Many reputable international rental firms operate in Turkey and allow pickup from international airports.
When to Travel to Turkey
Many people associate Turkey with being a “hot country”. Not so fast though.
Turkey is a huge country that straddles both Asia and Europe. Its temperatures vary significantly depending on the season during which you intend to travel to Turkey and the specific region you venture to. Plan wisely depending on the activities you hope to enjoy during your 2 week Turkey itinerary.
Spring (March to May):
Spring is one of the best times to visit Turkey. This is especially the case if you plan on embarking on a cross-country Turkey itinerary like the one included here.
The days are warm and sunny and the temperatures are pleasant. The range from the late teens to the early twenties in terms of degrees celsius.
Summer (June to August):
Temperatures are hot and sunny during the summer months in Turkey. In degrees Celsius, you can expect temperatures ranging from the late twenties to the early forties depending on where exactly you are.
This is perfect weather for relaxing on Mediterranean-style beaches in Bodrum and Antalya. However, is a little hot if you plan to do any hiking during your Turkey itinerary.
Autumn (September to November):
Autumn in Turkey sees similar temperatures and climates to spring. This makes it an equally perfect time to plan your Turkey itinerary.
Winter (December to February):
In Eastern Turkey and across the Anatolian plains, it gets very cold during the winter months. Snowfall is common – often to the extent that roads are blocked and hiking trails are rendered inaccessible.
The fairy-tale landscapes of Cappadocia look almost magical under a blanket of snow. This is seemingly perfect for photos during this time but be warned: balloon rides see more cancellations here than during any other time of year due to adverse weather.
Cappadocia air balloon flights are managed by the Turkish air force. If they decide that the weather conditions are too bad to fly, your tour company cannot do anything about it.
In Western Turkey (Istanbul, Izmir, Ephesus), temperatures are much more pleasant, even in the middle of winter. It is warm enough to walk around with just a sweater even and around 14-16 degrees Celsius in the day time.
Getting a Visa for Turkey
Visa processes for Turkey were recently updated. Now, citizens of most countries (including British citizens) should obtain a visa online prior to travelling. This process is very straightforward.
You ought to receive an email confirmation with your visa attached within a matter of minutes, all being well. Once granted, the standard visa is valid for three months and allows multiple entries into Turkey. You can find the visa application here.
2 Week Turkey Itinerary:
Is it Safe?
Turkey is generally a safe country to travel to. It is unfortunate that a few recent incidents have made people apprehensive about visiting. If you are afraid, you are missing out on one of the most beautiful and culturally rich countries on our planet.
Turkey’s proximity to Syria concerns some people. However, terrorists are just as likely to carry out attacks in European cities (and they have done).
By all means, check the political situation and your local government’s travel advice prior to departure, but don’t be scared out of planning your Turkey itinerary. Turkey is not its neighbors.
In recent years, checkpoints have been established around the country to check the ID/travel documents of people traveling along certain roads. Similarly, additional security exists outside tourist sites like Pamukkale.
This is nothing to be intimidated about. It exists for your protection.
Travel Insurance for Turkey
Travelling to Turkey is a safe and enjoyable experience for most people. That said, you should always ensure that you have comprehensive travel insurance coverage, wherever you go in the world.
World Nomads are a good choice for adventure travel. Not only do they provide you with medical insurance coverage up to £5 million, but they also cover you for countless additional extras.
For instance, repatriation, cancellation, and baggage loss/theft. Unfortunately, no matter how well you prepare for a trip, you never know what may happen.
It is better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to write down/print out your insurance policy number. Should you need assistance overseas, this is the first thing that you will be asked for.
Turkey may not seem like your usual solo travel destination but it can be a great choice. I have travelled to Turkey five times over the last five years, often for weeks at a time.
After travelling to over 51 countries, I would consider this one of my best trips so far. I have written a comprehensive guide to solo female travel in Turkey.
I came away from Turkey having made wonderful new Turkish friends, and a deeper understanding of this beautiful country and culture. Don’t let unfair media representations deter you from traveling anywhere you want to go.
Useful Additional Considerations
Common FAQs and general things to consider before embarking on your 2 week Turkey itinerary are detailed below.
The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. Of course, as with all currencies, this is subjected to constant fluctuations. As of May 2022, 1 GBP is equivalent to 18.51 Turkish Lira.
1 USD is equivalent to 14.82 Turkish Lira. Turkish ATMs generally always charge for withdrawals.
Try to purchase a small amount of Lira before coming into the country. When you make a withdrawal, take enough so that you don’t have to keep going back to the ATMs and paying more fees.
It is a good idea to open a borderless bank account before leaving your home country. Otherwise, international transaction fees on foreign accounts can quickly add up.
What to Wear
Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country. Istanbul is quite progressive and liberal, but other areas of the country are quite conservative.
You should err on the side of conservative dress, especially if you are a solo female traveller. The precise “dress code” in Turkey varies depending on which area of the country you will be visiting, and during which season. For more detailed advice, I have written this guide on what to wear in Turkey.
Turkish is the national language of Turkey. You will find that Turkey is something of a “mixed bag” in terms of people’s language abilities. In Istanbul, you will find many people speak excellent English, yet in other areas, they do not speak a word.
Download Google Translate App on your phone to make communicating with locals easier. You should also consider carrying a Turkish phrasebook “just in case”.
I hope that my two week Turkey itinerary has come in useful for helping you plan your exciting Turkish adventures! Have any questions about this Turkey itinerary or about traveling to Turkey in general?
Feel free to comment and let me know! Safe travels! Melissa xo