top of page

A Complete Guide to Planning the Perfect Three-Week Itinerary in Turkey

Updated: Feb 26

Turkey had been on our bucket list for a very long time, so when we got the opportunity to travel there, we immediately seized it. After looking at numerous blog articles about travelling around Turkey and its must-see places, I drew a map of a three-week itinerary and figured that it would be sufficient to cover everything. It turns out I was wrong. I completely underestimated how big Turkey is and we quickly had to make some adjustments. To be fair, the changes weren’t entirely due to my ignorance, they were also influenced by the opinions of the locals with whom we were able to exchange along our trip.

Out of the seven places we initially wanted to visit, we ended up doing four but it was much better that way. Why? As I said, Turkey is huge and the distances between cities are big, so much so that after 12 hours in overnight (or day) buses and only three days in each place we probably would have died from exhaustion.

We therefore, made some slight changes and decided to skip Ankara, Pamukkale and Bodrum. Why again you may ask? Well, we mainly based our decisions on how the locals reacted when we presented them our three-week itinerary, reactions such as “But why go there?”, “I would avoid it if I were you” or “There’s not much to see there” whilst laughing, highly influenced us 😂. We obviously did our own research and these are the reasons that persuaded us to skip these three places :

  • Ankara

Aside from being the country’s capital, I believe many people stop in Ankara on their way to Cappadocia in order to split the 12-hour bus journey but it just didn’t seem worth the time and effort. Don’t get me wrong, there probably are some sites to see but we preferred to save on the money and time to enjoy Cappadocia a little more.

  • Pamukkale

We’ve all seen the amazing blue pools of Pamukkale on a bed of white cotton-like stone (in fact Pamukkale means cotton in Turkish!) but don’t let yourself be fooled! Most of those pictures date back to 2010 when influencers and Instagram still weren’t a thing meaning that the site was rather unknown and untouched.

Unfortunately, an increase in popularity and crowds have led to the deterioration of the place, many of the pools have dried up, the area is often crowded and there are limitations regarding where you can bathe. Not to mention that it's pretty expensive, and there’s nothing else to do in the area aside from the ancient city Hierapolis. It takes 4 hours from Antalya to get there and in one day you’ve pretty much seen the sites. It just seemed like a bit of a tourist trap. Unfortunately, the natural beauty of the place has been destroyed by mass tourism and we didn’t particularly want to take part in it.

  • Bodrum

Bodrum is the last city we decided to skip because blogs and locals made it clear that the place is mainly a beach resort, good in summer if you want a Turkish Benidorm but not so interesting in Autumn.

So here’s what the final three-week itinerary in Turkey looked like :

Accommodation in Turkey

As always, we were travelling on a budget, so we had to adapt depending on how much we were willing to spend. Bare in mind that some places will be more expensive than others, Istanbul and Cappadocia for example are pricier than Antalya and Izmir as they are the biggest tourist destinations. Aside from our stay in Cappadocia where we stayed in a hotel/hostel, we opted for private rooms on Airbnb. If you don’t fancy spending three weeks in hostels, then this is a really good option to save money. It’s also a great way to meet locals, we met so many kind and interesting people and these encounters made the trip even more memorable.

The Turks are famous for their warm hospitality and they didn’t disappoint, honestly, we sometimes felt like we were staying in a hotel! That being said, it is important not to take advantage of people's kindness. Turkish people tend to prepare food for you and make small purchases without asking for anything in return so we always made sure to give something back like cooking a meal for them or something!

Getting around Turkey

The most popular means of transport for long journeys in Turkey is the bus. There are very few railways so the only way to travel such long distances is by bus or plane, however, we did not opt for the latter for environmental reasons.

The bus network is very reliable and well-connected. You can travel anywhere in Turkey and most cities have bus stations. There are many companies such as Metro and Kamilkoc that serve the whole country. Recently it has become possible to book buses via the Flixbus app, which makes things much easier as it’s easy to use and you can pay in euros! It is also possible to book your tickets on the Obilet website or directly at the station. Beware though, the Flixbuses in Turkey are not like the ones in Europe! We almost missed ours to Cappadocia because we were looking for a neon green bus but in fact, it was a Kamilkoc one, so unless you want to board with a bunch on angry stares because you delayed the departure like us 😅, don't hesitate to ask the driver to be sure!

Turkish buses are comfortable and spacious. It is possible to charge your phone on board and recline the seat. I advise you to take a plug on board because sometimes the screens with USB sockets are turned off (learn from my mistakes🤪).

During the trip, a host comes by to serve free drinks and snacks. The buses stop frequently for breaks of varying lengths (between 5 and 30 minutes). The 30-minute break takes place at a big petrol station where you can eat and have tea (and especially pee!!). I say that because there are no toilets on board, which is enough to make those who have to pee every 10 minutes panic (hello 👋).

Other means of transport:

  • Plane If you don’t fancy long bus journeys, you can always take an internal flight with Pegasus Airlines for example. We preferred to avoid this option because of the unnecessary carbon footprint it entails but it can always be a plan B.

  • Car rental

If we ever get the chance to go back to Turkey, we will definitely rent a car. The bus system is very good but it does limit your movement. When we were in Antalya, we wanted to visit many small fishing villages, but a car was necessary. I didn't really look up car rental options because from the start we had planned to travel by bus but there are obviously many options available online.

Turkish Currency

The currency in Turkey is the Turkish Lira (1 ₺ = 0,05€). Everything was really cheap despite the high inflation that has hit the country. We exchanged a lot with locals who were saying that everyday life has become so expensive. It was a luxury for us but we felt sorry for the Turks who are suffering from the current situation first-hand. Payments are usually made in cash. Many places accept credit cards, but always have some on you in case!

Language barriers in Turkey

We didn't know what to expect in terms of language barriers in Turkey. Of course, in touristic areas like Istanbul and Cappadocia, most people speak English (even if it's only a few words) but don't expect everyone to understand you. I say this every time, but it is important to learn basic words like hello and thank you when travelling to a new country. Our last Airbnb host in Istanbul didn't speak a word of English so we briefly exchanged thanks to Google Translate. Language barriers can be intimidating but if you smile and are friendly then everything will be fine!

Here are a few words to start with:

  • Merhaba = Hello

  • Güle Güle = Goodbye

  • Teşekkürler (Teh-sheh-kull-erh-ler) = Thank you

Now that you have the three-week itinerary set, you're ready to see the mosques of Istanbul, hike the valleys of Cappadocia, stroll through the old town of Antalya and take in the views of Izmir!

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Katholiko monastery
bottom of page