Your journey starts in the unofficial capital of Turkey, Istanbul. The city on the Bosporus is the link between Europe and Asia and is therefore a melting pot of cultures. The city has a lot to offer, so it is a must on any trip to Turkey.
The first stop in the city is the Hagia Sophia, the city’s main mosque, which is over 1,500 years old. It is THE landmark of the city and has seen a lot of changes. First it was a Christian cathedral, then it became a mosque and finally a museum. In 2020, the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque again.
The next sight on your list is the Grand Bazaar. With more than 4,000 shops and traders and more than 50,000 visitors every day, you might not only run the risk of forgetting the time but also of getting lost. The Bazaar is also the perfect place to practice your negotiation skills, so that you don’t pay the tourist price for your souvenirs. The first nights of your trip will be spent at one of the city’s many hostels. A night in a 6-bed dorm is about €20 per person.
As you continue to explore Istanbul, you’ll come across the Galata Bridge, from where you can take a boat trip around the Bosporus. Seeing the city from the water will give you an entirely different perspective!
On your last night in Istanbul, take the night bus to Göreme. With tickets starting at around €19, this is an inexpensive but comfortable way of traveling around quickly.
After an eight-hour bus ride (and hopefully a good night's sleep), you’ll wake up in the Asian part of Turkey in the municipality of Cappadocia.
But the long bus ride is definitely worth it, because this is where you can find the incredible Rock towns of Göreme, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The rock formations in the Göreme Historical National Park were formed over millions of years by natural forces, before early Christians settled here. Take as much time as you need to explore the elaborate temples and dwellings in the rock, some of which were even built underground.
To get the best view of the breathtaking landscape, you need to go up high. Luckily, Cappadocia is a hotspot for hot air balloons. Are you read for take off?
There are several hostels available in Göreme. A bed in a dorm will cost you around €9 per night.
The easiest way to get to Mersin, a city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is by bus. The trip takes about four hours and costs €15.
In Mersin, you’ve finally reached the beach! But the city also has a lot of culture to offer. One of its most exciting sights is the Roman hammam. You can also find remains of temples, theaters, and graveyards all over the place.
As one of the largest port cities in southern Turkey, Mersin is also an important commercial center. It’s furthermore a university city, and you’ll therefore see a lot of young people around. The city is fully committed to its own development and to becoming more than just a port city.
Spending the night in a hotel here will cost about €16. On your last night in Mersin, take the night bus to Pamukkale for €24.
As you wake up, you’ll be greeted by the gently rolling landscape that surrounds Pamukkale. The biggest highlight here is also just outside the city. The white limestone terraces with countless naturally formed pools are the only ones of their kind. The terraced pools have developed over thousands of years. Due to the evaporation of the water in the thermal springs below, the limestone remains intact and forms deposits. It also means that the water is pleasantly warm and perfect for you to relax in. This is a great place to recover from the first half of your trip.
Of course, Pamukkale has a lot more to offer, which is why you’ll sadly have to get out of the water eventually. The restored amphitheater, the Temple of Apollo, and the City Gate will make you feel like you're in the movie Gladiator. You can also find a place for the night in Pamukkale, where a double room usually is around €19 per night.
Continue your journey to the east coast of the country. A bus (€14) will take you to Ephesus, one of the most important cities in antiquity.
You simply cannot miss this city while you’re in Turkey. After all, the ruins of the Temple of Artemis are the last remaining ancient Wonder of the World. We recommend taking the whole day to visit the many ruins. Historians estimate that the temple originally consisted of around 117 columns.
Equally impressive is the Temple of Hadrian, which was built in honor of its namesake, the Roman emperor. Save some of your energy to reach the top of the ancient theater of Ephesus. From there you’ll have a magnificent view over the ruins and the Mediterranean Sea.
After a day full of impressive experiences, you can get some rest in one of the nearby hostels. A night in an 8-bed dorm will cost you around €12.
From Ephesus, a bus will take south to the city of Bodrum, which is located on the Aegean Sea. Here, you’ll find everything that usually comes to mind when you think of Turkey: clear, deep blue water, white sand, and a charming little town. Bodrum’s nickname as the “White City” is no accident, as the bright buildings immediately stand out from the rocky coast of the peninsula.
After working on your tan on one of the nearby beaches, it’s time to discover everything Bodrum has to offer. The landmark of the city is the castle St. Peter. You cannot miss it on your walk across the marina, as it towers above the boats in the harbor.
In Bodrum, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best food in Turkey. Don’t miss the city’s nightlife either! Enjoy the live music in the bars along the marina and have a drink in a relaxed atmosphere to round off your trip. Once you’re tired, catch some sleep in one of Bodrum’s hostels. A night in a 6-bed dorm is only about €8 here.