Turkey 4-day itinerary – Cappadocia & Istanbul

5 min read…

4 days are never enough to explore a spellbinding country like Turkey but that’s all we had on our first visit to this transcontinental country located mainly on the Anatolian Peninsula in Western Asia, with a small portion on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.

OVERVIEW

We spent 2 days each in Cappadocia (famous for its hot air balloons) and Istanbul – the largest city in Turkey which is also the country’s cultural and economic hub.

  • Day 0: Flight from Dublin to Istanbul and then from Istanbul to Kayseri
  • Day 1: Cappadocia (Hot air balloon, ATV ride)
  • Day 2: Cappadocia (Highlights day tour)
  • Day 3: Istanbul (Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Bosphorous Cruise dinner)
  • Day 4: Istanbul (Grand Bazaar shopping)

ITINERARY

We spent the first day travelling from Dublin to Kayseri via Istanbul. The next two days were in Cappadocia, followed by two more days in Istanbul.

ALL-IN-ONE GUIDE TO TURKEY

While a trip to Turkey is pretty hassle-free, there are a few things you need to know to plan better.

1. E-Visa

Since we are a resident of Ireland, we were eligible for an E-Visa to Turkey. Check your eligibility and apply here. You get an instant visa confirmation upon application. It’d cost you €45.

2. Book your flights in advance

We booked two separate return flights – Dublin to Istanbul and Istanbul to Kayseri. The transit is pretty smooth in Istanbul airport, give yourself 2-3 hours to check out and check in your bags again.

3. Install Airalo for an E-Sim

Don’t spend your valuable time & money on internet roaming or buying a local sim card. Install Airalo and activate a basic pack for €4 (1GB data for 7 days).

4. Let your hotel plan your 2 days in Cappadocia

We stayed with Risus Cave Suites and will absolutely recommend them. Let them plan everything for you, including the hotel transfer. They’re efficient and extremely punctual. I’ll give the price breakdown of the whole trip in the next section.

5. Book your Istanbul stay near Sultanahmet

Everything in Istanbul is pretty much walkable if you stay in the Sultanahmet area. Again, let your hotel arrange for your airport pickup and drop-off.

6. Carry enough cash

Most vendors in Turkey accept major denominations (Euros, pounds, dollars) apart from their local LIRAs. However, to avoid being overcharged, always bargain or ask for prices in Liras before paying them in Euros. Avoid ATM withdrawals, they charge substantial fees.

7. Try all the Turkish foods you can

Turkish cuisine is more than just Kebab, Kunefe, Baklawa, and Ketmer/Katmer. Don’t miss their traditional vine rolls. A little research goes a long way!

PRICE BREAKDOWN

The prices are only an indication and are subject to change depending on the availability and tourist season. Also, all prices are per person.

TopicPrice (in EUR)Comments
E-VISA45Check eligibility and apply online. Instant confirmation
Flight350Approx. Book directly on Turkish Airlines
Airport transfer (Kayseri)20Return journey. Book with the hotel
Hotel in Kayseri110€55 per night (double room)
Hot Air Balloon150The price depends on the season
ATV Ride401 ATV would be sufficient for 2 unless both like to drive.
Highlights tour50This is a mix of green and red tours
Hotel in Istanbul80€40 per night, double room
Topkapi Palace25Approx. We paid in Liras.
Bosphorous Cruise35Free pickup/drop-off from the hotel, arranged by tour operators
Airport transfer (Istanbul)60Return journey. Book with the hotel
Turkish Hamam Bath45Book only here: https://alaturkahamam.com/services
Total1010Include misc charges like food, souvenirs etc.

DAY 0

Arrive in Kayseri via Istanbul

You’ll spend the whole day travelling and it’ll be around midnight when you reach your hotel in Cappadocia.

DAY 1

Cappadocia – Hot Air Balloon and ATV Ride

There’s no sleep for you as the balloon ride starts at 5 am, so you’ll be on the jeep as early as 4 am. But, it’s all worth it! Get a sound sleep after the ride, explore the streets of Cappadocia, have a ramble at one of the many restaurants, and get ready for your sunset ATV ride.

Warning: Wear sunglasses, a mask and a full-hand t-shirt. The ride will drown you in the dust. This is definitely not for people with dust allergies.

There’s no better way to see Cappadocia than from a hot air balloon. You’ll be amazed by the sheer efficiency and planning around the whole event. When you get to the top and witness the sunrise, it is magical.

The ATV ride is strictly not for people with dust allergies. It’s rough terrain and you’re driving on a dustbowl. If you’re a thrill-seeker, this one’s definitely for you!

How would you feel about living in a cave? A cave hotel is primal, authentic, and out worldly.It’s not just a hotel, it’s an experience in itself.

DAY 2

Cappadocia – Open Air Museum, Love Valley, Pigeon Valley, Pottery
Demo, and Underground City

On your last day in Cappadocia, choose one of the red, green, or highlights tours. They’re all similar and the hotel management would help you choose one. The tour also includes a buffet-style lunch.

We returned at 6pm from the tour and got ready for our overnight flight to Istanbul. The hotel had arranged the airport drop-off.

DAY 3

Istanbul – Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and Bosphorous Cruise Dinner

Hagia Sophia – also called the blue mosque – was originally a Greek orthodox church. The entry is FREE. It was being renovated when we visited, so there was nothing for the visitors.

Remember, you’ll have to take off your shoes before going inside, and girls must wear a shawl around their heads.

Topkapi Palace is a spectacle! The museum exhibits the imperial collections of the Ottoman Empire. There are 4 courtyards and a Harem. Aim to spend around 2-3 hours and admire its grandeur.

Bosphorous cruise dinner was clearly one of the highlights of our tour. Experience a lively cruise along the Bosphorus Strait. See the palaces of the Ottoman sultans after dark and soak up the views of the European and Asian coastlines. Dine on delicious Turkish cuisine while enjoying an enthralling live Turkish performance. The tour operators would arrange pickup and drop-off from your hotel for no additional cost.

DAY 4

Istanbul – Grand Bazaar Shopping & Turkish Hamam Bath

In the mood for a shopping spree? Spend your morning in a true shoppers’ paradise. The Grand Bazaar is the popular shopping street filled with a huge variety of shops selling everything ranging from souvenirs and clothes to bags and jewelry. It is a prime place for tourists to stroll around enjoying the local market and the eateries here. This is the right place to flex your bargaining skills!

What better way to unwind than getting a traditional Turkish Hamam massage and bath? It includes 60 minutes of washing; traditional body scrubbing with a handwoven washcloth (kese), a foam wash, and a massage. There’s also a swimming pool and sauna.

Only book with https://alaturkahamam.com/ well in advance because there are lots of fake services on offer.

WHAT ELSE?

If you have more time, explore places like Antalya and Pammukale. Antalya is a resort city with beautiful beaches, impressive hotels, historic sites, and a yacht-filled old Roman harbor; it’s a dream destination for adventure sports lovers.

Pamukkale – famous for its thermal pools – is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, attracting more than 2 million visitors each year.

Turkey’s wealth of historical sites, diverse landscapes, adventure activities, rich culture and delicious food make it an extremely rewarding place to explore. Go have fun, what are you waiting for?


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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Swapnali Mokashi says:

    Brilliant Niranjan!!
    Such a detailed review and Turkey is definately gorgeous!
    ATV ride seems fun and daring!
    How long is the Hot Air Balloon ride for and how long was your cruise trip for ??
    Kavi looks stunning as always !!
    Wishing you both many more memorable trips ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Niranjan says:

    Thanks a lot, Swaps 🙂 The hot-air ride is around 45mins. Overall experience (from hotel pickup to drop-off) is 2-2.5hrs. The cruise trip took us 3 hours—worth the price. We’ll visit you soon in Germany 😉

    Like

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