The Ultimate 2 Week Turkey Itinerary

Planning a trip to Turkey? Here’s our guide to seeing as much of the country’s natural wonders, bustling cities, and fascinating culture as possible in just two weeks.
Istanbul. Photo: Engin Yapici | Unsplash

Editorial Note: Earth Curious contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

Located where Asia meets Europe, Turkey is an incredibly fascinating country. Thanks to centuries of rich history, this unique country has no shortage of monuments and cultural attractions. Turkey also has beautiful beaches, stunning geological formations, and exciting cities to explore. We’ve put together a 2 week Turkey itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Turkey.

Two weeks is barely enough time to see even a portion of what Turkey has to offer. Since the country is large, we recommend flying from one location to the next when direct flights are available to save time.

Your adventure in Turkey will start in Istanbul before heading off to other parts of the country. We’ve included a mix of days lounging on Turkey’s beaches among more active days exploring ancient sites, wandering city streets, and taking in Turkey’s countless natural wonders.

Day 1: Istanbul

Located at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, Istanbul is a fascinating city with a rich culture and history. The city is the largest in Turkey and was founded in the 7th century BCE. The city is full of centuries worth of beautiful architecture and art. On your first day in Istanbul, you’ll head to its most famous square to begin seeing just a few of the city’s most impressive attractions.

The Blue Mosque. Photo: Adli Wahid | Unsplash

What to do and see in Istanbul?

Most visitors head straight to Sultanahmet Square on their first day in Instanbul for good reason. The square, also known as the Hippodrome, is surrounded by the city’s famous mosques and museums. The square itself is home to three famous monuments the Egyptian Obelisk, the Serpentine Column, and the Colossus.

Here are a few of the sites you’ll want to check out.

  • Blue Mosque
  • Hagia Sophia Museum
  • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts
  • Topkapi Palace Museum

Where to eat in Istanbul?

Istanbul’s food scene is thriving thanks to the mix of cultural influences over the years. For food near Sultanahmet Square, try out Balıkçı Sabahattın for delicious, simple fish dishes, Matbah for Persian-inspired cuisine, or Giritli Restaurant for excellent meze dishes. For a sweet treat, head to Hafiz Mustafa to try out a variety of Turkish desserts.

Where to stay in Istanbul?

  • $$$ – Ajwa Sultanahmet
  • $$ – Tan Hotel
  • $ – Sultanahmet Hotel Han

Day 2: Istanbul

Chances are that you weren’t able to visit everything at Sultanahmet Square during your first day there. Today, you’ll head back to explore more and also do some shopping.

Hagia Sophia. Photo: Adli Wahid | Unsplash

What to do and see in Istanbul?

Start off the morning by returning to Sultanahmet Square to finish up any sites you weren’t able to make it to the previous day. Then, head to the Grand Bazaar nearby. The Grand Bazaar has more than 4000 shops selling almost everything you can imagine. If you want, you can take a guided tour to help you navigate the streets. There’s a lot going on in the area!

Afterward, take a 20-minute walk to the Spice Bazaar. While you’ll find a little overlap in some items, the Spice Bazaar is mainly spices and foods. It’s also not quite as crowded as the Grand Bazaar.

Where to eat in Istanbul?

While walking around the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar, you’ll probably see several options that look great. At the Grand Bazaar in particular, you’ll find amazing kabobs and seafood. For lunch, check out Donerci Sahin Usta, a great doner kebap shop that is right next to the Grand Bazaar. For a cheap meal with views of Sultanahmet Square, try out Donerci Sahin Usta.

Day 3: Istanbul

Istanbul is unique in that it’s located on two continents. Today, you’ll take the ferry across the Bosphorus to explore the Asian side of the city. This area tends to be less crowded and more residential. It’s a great way to get a more relaxed feel of this ancient city.

Kadikoy. Photo: Oguzhan Tasimaz | Unsplash

What to do and see in Istanbul?

Here are a few of the highlights in the Kadikoy district worth checking out.

  • Visit the Yeldeğirmeni neighborhood
  • Take a ride on the Kadikoy-Moda nostalgic tramway
  • Photograph the Kadikoy Bull Statue
  • Walk to the Kadikoy Lighthouse
  • Shop on Bahariye Street
  • Browse the books at Akmar Passage

Where to eat in Istanbul?

Try out a traditional Turkish breakfast while in Kadikoy. One of the best places to try out is the Kuff Cafe in the Yeldeğirmeni district. A few other great restaurants are Çiya Sofrası for traditional Turkish food, Ekspres İnegol Köftecisi for Turkish meatballs, or Halil Lahmacun for lahmacun.

Day 4: Istanbul

For your final day in Istanbul, you’ll spend some time admiring the different architectural styles represented in the city. With such a long and varied history, there’s a lot to see in this ancient city.

Balat. Photo: Yura Lytkin | Unsplash

What to do and see in Istanbul?

Start the morning exploring the Dolmabahce Palace, the first European-style palace built in the city. Get there early because only a certain number of visitors are allowed each day. Then, head to the Galata Tower, one of the tallest and oldest towers in the city.

Walk over to the Balat district on the Asian side of Istanbul to wander the small cobblestone streets and look at the colorful houses. This area is currently in the process of revitalizing, so you’ll find a bunch of fun bars and cafes popping up.

While still on the Asian side of Istanbul, head to the Suleymaniye Mosque. This mosque was built by architect Sinan for Suleyman in 1550 to recapture the grandeur of the Ottoman Empire.

Where to eat in Istanbul?

Try out a fresh simit, a sesame seed-encrusted baked good, from Galata Simiticisi in the morning. While exploring Balat, try out Balat Kapi for delicious cafe-style meals or Sahil to experience a Turkish tavern atmosphere.

Day 5: Cappadocia

Travel time: 1.5-hour flight

Located in central Turkey, Cappadocia looks like a place straight from a fairytale thanks to its stunning geographical features. The region is most well known for its cave hotels in the “fairy chimney” rock formations. To make the most of your time in Turkey, fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia because driving takes almost 8 hours.

Hot air balloons over Goreme at sunrise. Photo: Maria Darii | Unsplash

What to do and see in Cappadocia?

Cappadocia is the perfect place for hiking thanks to its beautiful scenery. The most impressive hike is the Red and Rose Valley trail, a 3-mile walk featuring the area’s unique pink-tinged rock formations. Another popular nearby hike is the Meskendir Valley past hermits’ caves and pigeon houses. If you want to take both hikes start with this one first and you’ll be able to connect with the trail for the Red and Rose Valley hike at the end.

After your hike, finish up the day shopping in Goreme Village where you can find items like rugs and handmade jewelry. You’ll need to be up early the next day, so make sure you get enough rest.

Where to eat in Cappadocia?

Cappadocia is the second most-visited destination in Turkey, so there are plenty of restaurants to try. For a good meal on a budget in Goreme, try Cafe Safak. For authentic regional cuisine, try out Inci Cave Restaurant. To eat at a family-run restaurant with a cozy, intimate atmosphere, head to Top Deck.

Where to stay in Cappadocia?

  • $$$ – Museum Hotel
  • $$ – Antalian Houses
  • $ – Cappadocia Caves Hotel

Day 6: Cappadocia

Today, you’ll be exploring the northern part of Cappadocia. If you choose to take a tour, this is usually called the “Red Tour.” Different companies offer a similar tour. If you don’t want to go with a tour group, you can visit the sites on your own instead.

Uchisar Panorama. Photo: Younho Choo | Unsplash

What to do and see in Cappadocia?

One of the best ways to see Cappadocia is by air. Each morning, visitors take hot air balloon rides to get the best views of the area. Wake up early to see hundreds of hot air balloons in flight or take a ride yourself. The balloons typically take off between 5:00 and 5:30 am. The hot air balloons are weather dependent. Plan to go today, so you can reschedule for the following day as a backup if needed.

You’ll have plenty of time to take the Red Tour after the hot air balloons have landed. Here are the standard attractions that you’ll find on most versions of the Red Tour.

  • Uchisar Panorama
  • Goreme Open Air Museum
  • Avanos
  • Pasabag Monks Valley
  • Devernt Valley
  • Love Valley

Day 7: Cappadocia

Today, it’s time for another tour of the region. You’ll be exploring the southwest part of Cappadocia. If you choose to take a tour, this is usually called the “Green Tour.”Of course, if you don’t want to go with a tour group, you can visit the sites on your own instead. Unlike with the Red Tour, you’ll need to rent a car to see most of these places.

Ihlara Valley. Photo: Ayşe Nur K. | Unsplash

What to do and see in Cappadocia?

If the hot air balloons were canceled the previous day due to the weather, you get to wake up early again to either be a spectator or a participant. Seeing the masses of hot air balloons rise over the landscape is a magical experience either way.

A little later in the morning, you’ll start the Green Tour. These are the attractions most Green Tours stop to see.

  • Derinkuyu Underground City
  • Ihlara Valley
  • Selime Monastery
  • Pigeon Valley

Day 8: Antalya

Travel time: 1 hour 15-minute flight

Located right on the Mediterranean coast, Antalya is one of Turkey’s most popular destinations. Around this breathtaking city, you’ll find historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and stunning waterfalls. You’ll spend your first day in Antalya exploring Kaleici Old Town.

Antalya’s Old Town. Photo: Igor Sporynin | Unsplash

What to do and see in Antalya?

Before Antalya became the resort town it is today, it was an ancient city founded in the Hellenistic period. Explore the Old Town to see the city’s centuries of history.

Stop to see Tekeli Mehmet Pasa Cami, an Ottoman mosque dating back to the 18th century. You’ll also pass by the ruin of Hadrian’s Gate which was built in 130 CE as well as the ruins of the Kesik Minare Cami a Roman temple dating back to the 2nd century. 

As you wander through the cobblestoned streets, you’ll see the Ottoman-era homes lining each side. You can shop for souvenirs at the different stores. Make sure to stop by the Suna-Inan Kirac Kaleici Museum as well.

Where to eat in Antalya?

For delicious seafood in the Old Town, go to Ayar Meyhanesi. If you’d like a vegetarian meal, try out Rokka Pizza Falafel. If you’re in the mood for kebab or lahmacun, one of the best places to go is Pasa Bey Kebap Restaurant.

Where to stay in Antalya?

  • $$$ – Casa Sur Antalya
  • $$ – Akra V Hotel
  • $ – Gold Coast Hotel

Day 9: Antalya

You can’t visit Antalya without visiting the beach. If your hotel or resort has a private beach, head there first. If not, don’t worry. You can spend the day at one of the city’s lovely public beaches.

View from the Tunektepe Telefreik cable car. Photo: Igor Sporynin | Unsplash

What to do and see in Antalya?

Konyaalti Beach is by far the most popular beach in Antalya. The beach is pebbled with some sand, and the water is beautifully clear and good for swimming. Once you’ve had enough of the water, you can go on the Ferris wheel in Aktur Park or explore the Antalya Aquarium. For more beautiful views, take the Tunektepe Telefreik cable car up the hill on the west end of the beach.

Another popular beach in the city is Lara Beach. The water is just as clear as at Konyaalti Beach, but the shore is sandy. This beach is perfect for activities like kitesurfing, windsurfing, jet skiing, and boat rides.

Where to eat in Antalya?

Enjoy views of Konyaalti Beach while sampling delicious mezzes at Lara Balikevi. Another restaurant with beautiful views is 7 Mehmet where you can take in the scenery while trying traditional recipes.

Day 10: Antalya

Beaches aren’t the only beautiful natural features in Antalya. You can also view two beautiful waterfalls nearby on the Duden River.

Lower Duden waterfall. Photo: Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz | Unsplash

What to do and see in Antalya?

The easiest way to get to the Upper Duden and Lower Duden falls is with a guided tour. At the Upper Duden falls, you can walk in the gorge and explore the cave hidden behind the falls. The Lower Duden falls is best viewed from Duden Park. It’s also possible to take a boat tour to see the falls up close.

If you have time after seeing the waterfalls, head to the bazaar in Antalya. You’ll find all kinds of unique items at the stalls.

Where to eat in Antalya?

Start your day off with a full breakfast at either Cankaya Simitcisi or Tarihi Ankara Simit Fırını. Have a fancy dinner in the evening at Gunaydin Kebap + Kesap Steakhouse. Also, don’t leave Antalya without trying the incredibly smooth ice cream at Akdeniz Dondurma.

Day 11: Pamukkale

Travel time: 4 hours by bus

Pamukkale is most recognizable for its white calcite travertines positioned on the mountain above the town. Right above these photogenic bluffs is the ancient city of Hierapolis which was once a spa city dating back to Roman times.

Pools at Pamukkale. Photo: Arnaud Civray | Unsplash

What to do and see in Pamukkale?

At this UNESCO World Heritage site, the main attraction is the white terraces filled with thermal waters. After exploring the hot springs, spend time visiting the Hierapolis Archeological site which also includes entrance to the Archeological Museum. If you’d like, you can also visit the Antique Pool, which is also called Cleopatra’s Swimming Pool, nearby.

Where to eat in Pamukkale?

For a simple cheap meal, try out Kayas Wine Houser. Another good place to eat is White House, a family-run restaurant serving home-cooked meals.

Where to stay in Pamukkale?

  • $$$ – Lycus River Thermal Hotel
  • $$ – The Cotton House
  • $ – Melrose House Hotel

Day 12: Bodrum

Travel time: 4 hours by bus

Turkey’s most elegant seaside getaway, Bodrum is filled with beautiful streets, welcoming cafes, and crowned with a castle. With an abundance of beaches, trendy restaurants, and vibrant nightlife, it’s no wonder visitors love this town.

Bodrum. Photo: Mert Kahveci | Unsplash

What to do and see in Bodrum?

Spend your first day in Bodrum visiting the Old Town, a neighborhood with narrow streets and stone houses. This area has fun boutiques to browse and cafes where you can relax. 

You’ll also want to visit St. Peter Castle, built by the Knight Hospitallers of Rhodes during the 15th century. While there you, should make sure to visit the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. You’ll get to see artifacts ranging from household items dating back to the Bronze age to pieces of sunken ships.

Where to eat in Bodrum?

Right in the city center of Bodrum, you can make reservations to enjoy the upscale cuisine at Avlu Bodrum Bistro & Bar. If you’re up for it, in the evening, try out Mabolla Bodrum Bar for excellent dishes and cocktails in a great atmosphere.

Where to stay in Bodrum?

  • $$$ – Platinum Otel & Restaurant Bodrum
  • $$ – Bodrium Otel & Spa
  • $ – Marina Hotel Bodrum

Day 13: Bodrum

You can’t visit Bodrum without spending some time on the beach. Today, you’ll see one of Bodrum’s most impressive historical sites in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day relaxing by the water.

Mausoleum of Mausolus. Photo: Carole Raddato | Flickr

What to do and see in Bodrum?

Start your day off with a visit to the Mausoleum of Mausolus. While there are only ruins left today, this structure was one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It’s definitely worth the visit.

The beach in Bodrum Town tends to get busy quickly, so take a taxi to Gumbet Beach just 15 minutes away. Besides relaxing on the golden shores, you can try out different water sports or go scuba diving to see the area’s tropical fish. If you want to spend the day at a beach club where you can enjoy the water along with music, food, and cocktails, try out Alora Beach Club.

Where to eat in Bodrum?

You’ll find plenty of places to eat along the beach. A few of the most popular restaurants to eat at are The Windy Bay, Ricks Place, and Mistral Bay Steak & Wine House.

Day 14: Bodrum and Departure

Travel time: 1.5 hour flight from Bodrum to Istanbul

Since Bodrum is one of Turkey’s biggest getaway destinations, there are multiple flights between Bodrum and Istanbul each day. If you have time, spend your morning doing one or two more activities in Bodrum.

Bodrum Ancient Theatre. Photo: JR Harris | Unsplash

What to do and see in Bodrum?

You may or may not have time to linger in Bodrum city before catching your flight back to Istanbul. If you do have a little extra time, here are a few interesting things to see on your last day in Bodrum.

  • Zeki Muren Museum of Art – a museum devoted to one of Turkey’s most famous artists
  • Bodrum Windmills – a location best enjoyed for the panoramic views of the area
  • Bodrum Bazaar – a busy Turkish market with a good range of stalls

Final thoughts:

Istanbul. Photo: Anna Berdnik | Unsplash

Hopefully, you’re now ready to begin your trip to Turkey. You’ll quickly see why this country is currently one of the hottest destinations for travelers.

Take a look at more of our guides to Turkey as you plan your trip. Looking to extend your travels? We have plenty of guides for destinations all over Europe and Asia.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts