With a surface of almost 800.000 km², Turkey road trip options are countless. This large country is the answer to every kind of adventure you’re looking for. From exploring Istanbul’s wonders to the idyllic Aegean coast. From Cappadocia’s extraordinary valleys to Pamukkale’s hot springs. For our road trip, we chose a one-week itinerary from Cappadocia to Pamukkale. Come join us!
When It’s the best time to plan your Turkey Road Trip?
The best time to plan a road trip and mostly in general to visit Turkey is from May to September. July and August are the most touristy months. My advice is to visit in May or June. The days are longer and the temperature isn’t too warm yet. We visited in September and It was great as well. Although air starts to get crispier in the evening and days are slightly shorter.
Prepare your Turkey road trip: culture
While packing and once arrived, don’t forget the history and culture of the country you’re visiting. Even though the Turkish constitution provides freedom of religion choice, more than 80% of the population are Muslims. For this reason, women who want to visit, should prefer longer skirts and pants over short ones.
Also, don’t forget a scarf to cover your head while visiting Mosques. If you’re only visiting touristy places, you probably won’t be bothered. But on a road trip, you may end up in more rural places which are less used to tourists and are more conservative. Please don’t get me wrong: the locals are very nice and willing to help even when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Just be respectful of their costumes and traditions.
It’s their country you’re visiting after all!
Turkish currency and how much money should I bring?
It depends. Have you already booked all your stays in advance? If yes, you won’t need a lot. Eating in Turkey isn’t really expensive also comparing to other European countries. You can easily eat a VERY good meal for less than 10 euros. The entry fees to the main landmarks and museums are around 5 € and often even less. Many are also free, especially if I think of Cappadocia’s valleys. Also, the cost of gasoline is lower than in Europe.
When it comes to planning your budget, you can consider having 50€ a day per person without accommodations. That’s the average you’ll spend. Of course, there are some expensive activities like Hot Air Balloon riding in Cappadocia, that will explode your daily budget. But if you know them in advance you can easily prepare your daily budget.
Turkey Road Trip: The ideal itinerary from Cappadocia to Pamukkale
With no further ado, let’s dive into preparing for the perfect road trip!
First stop : Cappadocia
The land of the fairy chimneys seems like the perfect spot to start your Turkey Road Trip. This region is perfect for trekking, sightseeing, and visiting the amazing cultural attractions. For an in-depth guide on Cappadocia, make sure to check my blog post.
So having to pick my very favorite from Cappadocia, I’d say:
Go trekking in one of the fairy chimneys valleys
You have the choice among Red and Rose valley, Imagination valley, and Pigeon’s valley. All of them are worth it and have amazing viewpoints along the track.
How can I help you choose? Keep in mind these things:
For romantic landscapes go for the Red and Rose valley and admire the sunset from the scenic sunset point. Otherwise, for a fun trek, go and unleash your mind in the Imagination valley. Every rock formation is different and it’s fun to guess the shapes rising.
Are you looking for a “cultural” trekking? In Cappadocia It’s possible. While visiting Pigeon valley, you can spot the ancient caves that were once inhabited. Fun fact the name Pigeon Valley comes from the tiny pigeon houses that have been carved into the tuff over the years.
Explore Derikuyu, the underground city
Along with the hot air balloon ride, this is a MUST activity in Cappadocia. There are many underground cities around the region. Surprisingly the biggest underground cities could host up to 50.000 inhabitants and run for many kilometers. The network was very complex and linked many cities between them.
My advice is to visit the largest underground city nearby Goreme, Derinkuyu. Deryunkuyu reaches depths of over 85 meters and extends over 8 identified floors. The entrance fee is 3 €.
Importantly, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes while visiting!
Go on the ancient silk road path at Saruhan Caravanserai
Turkey was anciently crossed by the Silk Road. The caravans traveled for many months, in all types of weather and temperatures. For this reason, Caravanserai were built along the road, a sort of ancient inns. Saruhan is a magnificent caravanserai that rises in the middle of the Turkish desert. You can visit without an extra fee.
Saruhan also hosts Dervish sacred ceremonies, It’s an interesting experience to see. If you have the chance, buy a ticket!
Enjoy shopping in Goreme
Turkish pottery and tapestry are absolutely delightful! The patterns and colors are very rich and intricate, creating a unique work of art. You would be surprised by the number of people that come to Turkey just for shopping some pieces.
Although it may be quite difficult to pack a Turkish carpet in your plane luggage, you can always pick a piece or two of pottery. The package is always well done. If you’re careful, you’ll bring it back home in one piece. In the center of Goreme, there are many different shops you can get lost in.
Before leaving Cappadocia go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride
I may sound like a broken record, but you HAVE TO go on a hot air balloon ride! Seriously no excuse. To keep it short (I wrote a lot about this already), it’s a lifetime experience you won’t regret. Just don’t forget to save between 150 and 250 € for the experience.
Head over Konia
Have a stop at the abandoned red church of Guzeliyurt
The Kizil Kilise (Red Church) is an abandoned church nearby Guzelyurt, a small village in the Aksaray province. It is one of the oldest shrines in Cappadocia and was probably built in the sixth century. Recently, it has been restored and you can now visit it. The Red Church has a cross plan which was typical of the 5th – 6th century in Cappadocia. The place is fascinating, offering a window on the ancient Pilgrims Road to Jerusalem.
Visit the most ancient village in human history
Çatalhöyük is the most ancient village in human history!
The archaeological site run on a hill a few kilometers outside Konia. Unquestionably the visit is very interesting, the guide explains in a very detailed way how people used to live.
Fun fact, the houses didn’t have doors.
In fact, to enter their houses the villagers climbed on the roofs and slipped in a window. When the villagers wanted to “renew” their houses they demolished their old ones and used them as the foundation for the new ones. That’s why the city is stratified.
For more information, you can check Çatalhöyük official website.
Have a walk in Konia’s cemetery
It may sound creepy, but most cemeteries have a fascinating atmosphere. If I have the chance when visiting a city I like to get lost among the graveyards. Think about all the stories and people that are peacefully resting.
Konya’s cemetery is nearby the city center. The gravestones are decorated with a stone cockade on top. Also, the dates are surprising. Some take into account the Islamic year (1443) some the Gregorian calendar (2022). And there are a few that mix both. In addition to this, the cemetery is full of lovely cats that are waiting for you to cuddle them.
If you want to spend a furry moment, that’s your go-to place!
End your journey in Pamukkale
Enjoy the thermal springs
Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish. This beautiful place got its name from the snow-white limestone, that shaped the basins over millennia through calcite-rich springs. Today the site hosts a thousand tourists every year that comes to enjoy the thermal waters.
Previously open to tourists, the famous travertine terraces are nowadays closed to preserve them from the ravages of mass tourism. Even so, you can still bathe in the basins that are on the way to reach the top. Or you can quietly enjoy the thermal waters if you booked one of the hotels that have access to the springs as well.
Only be careful to your body temperature and blood pressure while bathing. Speaking from experience, it isn’t safe to stay for too long, you could risk fainting from low blood pressure. Explication panels are everywhere indicating the optimal duration of your thermal experience.
The ancient site of Hierapolis is adjacent to Pamukkale. In fact, it was built nearby the thermal spring for people to enjoy the spa.
The ruins are very well preserved. On the main street, the front gates, you can still observe the city plant. Although the most impressive construction is the ancient theatre. Its capacity is esteemed to 15.000 people and the front facade was 91 meters long. The visit to the city ends with a panoramic view of the travertine terrace. And to a recently built series of thermal pools you can relax in for a small fee.
Treat yourself during your Turkey Road Trip with a sweet ice cream
In Pamukkale, some vendors walk into the streets while rotating a stick with some kind of rubber on it. That’s Turkish ice cream. Do yourself a little treat and buy a cup, you will thank me later. Indeed, the flavor is surprising and really unique. Like many Turkish cakes and desserts, it has a fair amount of sugar but that’s ok. Hey, you are on vacation! 😉
In conclusion, why you should plan a road trip to Turkey
With a large variety of different landscapes, Turkey is absolutely worth visiting. However, given the many options, it may be difficult to choose the ideal itinerary. That’s why I selected for you the very best Turkey road trip from Cappadocia to Pamukkale, in an ideal 7 days itinerary (4 days in Cappadocia, 1 day from Cappadocia to Konya, 2 days in Pamukkale).
Are you planning a trip in the Middle East? You may be interested in our Jordan Road Trip. Otherwise, you can find inspiration from all around the world among our destinations.
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10 thoughts on “How to plan the perfect Turkey Road Trip: Cappadocia to Pamukkale”
I have never even thought about doing a road trip of Turkey! Definitely one to add to the bucket list.
Yes I guess you would love it! Turkey is magical!
On the travel wish list! Would love to visit Turkey and head out for a road trip. Good advice to stay away from the busy summer months. I must admit that starting in Cappadocia might spoil it for other stops as that has been on my travel wish list for a long time. But there sure looks like there is lots to see along the route.
Yes there are so many things to see indeed! And Cappadocia is magical that’s why I wanted to start my Turkey Road Trip from there also, because I had many expectations. While I almost never heard about Pamukkale (a 100% worth it too!) before traveling there.
I’ve been to Turkey once for a week when I went for ANZAC Day. Your road trip takes you to places I haven’t been so I am looking forward to getting back to Turkey and spending more time discovering it on a road trip. Thanks for the inspiration.
I have never heard of ANZAC day, but I’ll look into it! So glad my Turkey Road Trip was able to inspire you!
Just returned from a 5 week trip around Turkey and I’m definitely in love with the country. Although both Cappadocia and Pamukkale are very touristy we really enjoyed our stay and can understand the hype.
I couldn’t agree anymore! Both Cappadocia and Pamukkale are touristy indeed, but still absolutely worth it!
This road trip sounds fantastic. It would be so cool to visit one of the underground cities as we don’t have them here in Canada. Great tip on respecting the culture, especially the religious beliefs.
Thank you, Kelly! Yes, the underground cities are very exciting to explore, it’s truly surprising to imagine that people used to live like that!