Turkey is enormous so if you think you can visit it once and see all of it, forget about it. This 10 days Turkey travel itinerary shows you only a small part of the country, but still takes you to some of the most popular sights.
10 days Turkey travel itinerary
Day 1: Istanbul – Ankara (450 km)
You will start your journey in Istanbul, but I would definitely keep it as completely individual travel. Istanbul has so much to offer you can easily stay there for a week and even more (check out 4 days Istanbul travel itinerary here).
Pick-up your rented car (we have always been happy with Econmy Car Rentals) at the airport and head straight to Ankara – the capital of Turkey.
Hotel recommendation: Find your hotel in Ankara – we like the Hotel Cinnah or Hotel Bera Ankara. They are both close to the city center, including breakfast and free private parking in the room price.
If you are landing in Istanbul in the afternoon, you might want to stay the night there and leave to Ankara early in the morning to avoid the traffic jam. You will have your rented car with you, so find a hotel with parking and close by the main Istanbul tourist attractions in Sultanahmet district. Check out the Hotel Florenta or Alpeka Hotel – both in walking distance to all the main tourist attractions in Sultanahmet.
Day 2: Ankara – Salt Lake (Tuz Gölü) – Cappadocia / Göreme (300 km)
Use the afternoon to explore Ankara. You can visit the Anitkalir (Ataturk mausoleum), walk around the city castle, learn about Anatolian civilization in its museum or just enjoy some local vibes getting lost at the market /bazaar in the old city center Ulus.
Continue your day towards Cappadocia and stop along the salt lake Tuz Gölü. Walk on the shiny white surface and before you end your day in Göreme, Cappadocia, enjoy Turkish tea with the view in its cafe.
Hotel recommendation: Cappadocia is well known for its unique cave hotels and staying in one was my long time wish too. The cave hotels are not the cheapest option, but definitely worth spending some extra money for the unique experience. You can find the cave hotels in Göreme (like Charming Cave Hotel), but having your own car, you can also choose the hotels outside of the town. We stayed at the amazing Gamirasu Cave Hotel in a small traditional village.
Day 3: Cappadocia
The best option would be to spend two or even three days in Cappadocia, but having only 10 days for your Turkey travel itinerary, one day is better than none. Start your day early in the morning (you might want to take the hot-air balloon flights before sunrise – amazing experience). Explore Cappadocia by your car and find out how amazing this landscape is – from the view points to the underground cities. You can find more about best Cappadocia experiences here.
Day 4: Cappadocia – Konya (240 km)
Say goodbye to amazing Cappadocia after breakfast and head straight to Konya. The city of Konya is very traditional and religious, what you can also notice while wandering around it. Use your free time to learn more about the city, visit the mausoleum of Melvana – founder of dervishes, poet and pioneer of the Islamic mysticism.
Hotel recommendation: Find a hotel with parking, but still located close to the city center to be able to see it by foot. Our recommendation is the Araf Hotel, close by the mausoleum and bazaar. You will get breakfast and secure private parking in the price. The Araf Hotel also has a nice traditional Turkish terrace, not to mention the good price. Check out the hotel here.
Day 5: Konya – Eğirdir – Pamukkale (440 km)
The final destination in today’s Turkey travel itinerary is the famous sight Pamukkale, but you might want to stop for lunch in Eğirdir and its lake. The town is sleepy, but good to observe local Turkish daily life. You can also hike up to its fort.
You will reach Pamukkale in the afternoon and because the town mostly get daily visitors only, you will find great prices of hotels here.
Hotel recommendation: We were very happy with the Bellamaritimo hotel. Great breakfast, private parking, friendly staff. The rooms are clean but modest and the price is amazing too. Find out more about the hotel here.
Day 6: Pamukkale – Selçuk / Efez (200 km)
Get up early to visit Pamukkale and be at the entrance as soon as it opens to avoid the crowds and the heat. Pamukkale are amazing if you can have them all to yourself.
Find out more practical tips for Pamukkale and Hierapolis in a special blog post here.
After seeing Pamukkale and Hierapolis drive to Selçuk town – small and almost forgotten by tourists. We really enjoyed it, as we like less known and visted places best.
Selçuk does not get many visitors as most people stop near it only to see the Ephesus ancient ruins. That is also the reason you will find many good budget hotel options here. Check out practical travel tips to visit Ephesus here.
Hotel recommendation: We recommend the Urkmez Hotel with its clean rooms and almost central location. You will get breakfast and private parking in the room rate. Having time, you can also visit a nearby beach.
Day 7: Selçuk – Ayvalık (230 km)
Drive to a coastal town of Ayvalık after breakfast, where you will also stay the night. The town is charming for its narrow, old and cobbled streets. You will also be able to find beaches here and good food – Ayvalık is known after some best olive oils in Turkey.
Climb on top of the Devil’s table (Şeytan Sofrası) for the sunset.
Hotel recommendation: Not far from the town’s center lies the Bacacan Otel. The location is great for sea lovers, as you will find hotel at the beach, including its own private pier. You will be able to enjoy breakfast with the view and hotel also has a private parking. If you don’t need a central location, you will also find another amazing hotel a little bit outside of the city – check Cunda Battalos Kucuk Hotel.
Day 8: Ayvalık – Troya – Çanakkale (190 km)
Start your day after breakfast to reach Troya before the heat. Walk around the famous ancient ruins and find the Troyan horse before driving to Çanakkale.
You will find good options for lunch in many restaurants along the road to Çanakkale – we stopped at one too and there are many. Spend the afternoon in Çanakkale, which we really enjoyed. There are many shops, cafes, restaurants, so you will not be bored. You can even find the Troyan horse on the coastal promenade, which was made for the Troya movie.
Hotel recommendation: If you want to be in the town’s center and almost right at the Ferry port, go for the Kule Hotel. The parking is free, but public, without possibility to book it up front. Other good options are also Anzac Hotel and Hotel Limani.
Day 9: Çanakkale – Galipoli – Istanbul (350 km)
Embark the ferry early in the morning, which will take you to the Galipoli peninsula, known for the Galipoli battle during the WW1. I really recommend you to visit some of the war memorials, which are done amazing – more about them here.
Your arrival in Istanbul depends how long will you spend at the Galipoli peninsula, but Istanbul is not that far anymore and you will reach it before dinner.
Hotel recommendation: You will probably return the rented car at the airport, so try to find a hotel with parking. But the best option to get a glimpse of Istanbul is to stay the night at the Sultanahmet area. Heck out the Hotel Florenta or Alpek Hotel.
Day 10: Departing home
If you will be returning home in the afternoon, you are lucky, as you will still be able to enjoy Istanbul for few hours. Concentrate on some of the most amazing Istanbul tourist attractions like the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Bazaar/market, Water cistern Basilica, Hippodrome…
End your 10 days Turkey travel itinerary at the airport, returning your car, and leave home full of new experiences and memories.
This 10 days Turkey travel itinerary is not the easiest one, so it is not really recommend for families with small children. The travel itinerary is best for everyone in good driving condition and wanting to see as much as possible in little time they have available for Turkey. But if you can afford few more days, you can always stay more nights in one place or you can join our second 9 days Turkey travel itinerary too, covering some of the Black Sea area.