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 Turkish constitution provides freedom on the religion choice, more than 80% of the population are Muslims. I’d say to women who wants 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 with 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, I’d say you can count 50€ a day par 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
So I hope you took notes to prepare your perfect road trip, for now it’s time to go!
First stop : Cappadocia
The land of the fairy chimneys seems like the perfect spot to start our Turkey Road Trip. This region is perfect for trekking, sightseeing and visiting the amazing cultural attractions. I wrote a complete Cappadocia Travel Guide. So having to pick my very favourite from Cappadocia, I’d say :
Go trekking in one of the fairy chimneys valley
You have the choice among Red and Rose valley, Imagination valley and Pigeon’s valley. All of them are worth it and offers amazing views. To help you choose If you’re looking for romantic landscapes go for the Red and Rose valley and admire the sunset from the scenic sunset point. If you’re looking 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 the 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.
Visit Derikuyu, the underground city
You can visit one of the many underground cities around the region. This is as well a MUST while visiting Cappadocia. The biggest underground cities could host up to 50.000 inhabitants and ran for many kilometres. The network was very complex and linked many cities between them. My advise is go big and visit the largest underground city nearby Goreme : Derinkuyu. Deryunkuyu reaches depths of over 85 metres and spans on 8 identified floors. The entrance fee is 3 €. Don’t forget comfortable shoes while visiting!
Go on the ancient silk road path at Saruhan Caravanserai
Turkey was anciently crossed by the Silk road. The caravans travelled for many months, with all weathers and temperatures. Caravanserai were their “inn” along their journey. Saruhan is a magnificent caravanserai that rises in the middle of Turkish desert. You can visit without no 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 colours are very rich and intricate, creating an unique work of art. You would be surprised by the number of people that come in 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 centre of Goreme there are many different shops you can get lost into.
Before to leave 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. I wrote a lot about this already. Long story short : 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 is and abandoned church nearby Guzelyurt, a small village in the Aksaray province. The red church is one of the oldest shrines in Cappadocia. It’s probably erected in the sixth century. It has recently been restored and you can now visit it. It 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 of human history
Çatalhöyük is the most ancient village in the human history! The archaeological site run on a hill a few kilometres outside Konia. The visit is very interesting you walk among the excavations with a guide that explains you how people lived. Fun fact, the houses didn’t had doors. 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 house and used it as foundation for the new one. That’s why the city is stratified.
Have a walk in Konia’s cemetery
It may sound creepy, but 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 centre. The gravestones are decorated with a stone cockade on top. Also the dates are surprising. Some takes into account the Islamic year (1443) some the Gregorian calendar (2022). And there are a few that mixes both. Also the cemetery is full of lovely cats that are waiting for you to cuddle them. That’s a lovely furry moment.
End you journey in Pamukkale
Enjoy the thermal springs
Pamukkale literally means cotton castle in Turkish. This beautiful place got his name by the snow-white limestone, that shaped the basins over millennia by calcite-rich springs. Today the site hosts a thousand of tourists every year that comes to enjoy the thermal waters. The famous travertine terraces that were anciently accessible are closed today to preserve the structure which risk to be damaged by mass tourism. But you can quietly enjoy the thermal waters from the hotels around that have access to the springs as well.
Only be careful while bathing to your body temperature and blood pressure. You can’t stay too long or your could faint. Explication panels are everywhere indicating the optimal duration of your thermal experience.
The ancient site of Hierapolis is adjacent to Pamukkale. In fact Hierapolis was a city built nearby the thermal spring for people to enjoy the spa. The ruins are very well preserved. The main street, the front gates, you can still observe the city plant. But the most impressive construction is the ancient theatre. Its capacity is esteemed to 15.000 people and the front facade was 91 metres long. The visit of the city ends in a panoramic view of the travertine terrace. And to a recent built series of thermal pools you can relax in for a small fee.
End your Turkey Road Trip with a sweet ice cream.
In Pamukkale there are some vendors that walk into the streets while rotating a stick. If you look closely you’ll see there’s some kind if paste stick to it. That’s Turkish ice cream. Do yourself a little treat and buy a cup. The flavour is surprising and really unique. Like many Turkish cakes and desserts it has a fair amount of sugar but that’s ok 😉