Turkey itinerary - is this crazy?

Old Apr 14th, 2024, 05:40 PM
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Turkey itinerary - is this crazy?

I am very interested in ancient and Byzantine history and wanted to do a very detailed tour of a part of Turkey over the 2 weeks I would be there. I have no idea how long some of these ancient sites take to tour - 1 hr? 3 hrs? 5 hrs?

I am willing to get up at 5 AM and leave at 6 or so and arrive at hotels at 8 PM or so, so definitely willing to put in 14 hr days to see as much as possible in western Turkey

I drafted a brief itinerary and wanted to see if anyone here has had experience with visiting these sites and what is realistic or not. What would you recommend skipping? Any tips on how much time to allocate or expect to allocate to different things?

Day 1-3: Istanbul
Day 4: drive to Hellespont/Gallipoli, Kilitbahir Castle, Alcitepe view, war memorial, drive back up and stay overnight in Canakkale hotel - 243 miles driving
Day 5: Canakkale, Troy, Troy museum, Alexandria/Troas, Assos, drive to Bergama, see Bergama sites - 168 miles driving
Day 6: Drive to Akhisar/Thyatira, then go to Alasehir/Philadelphia, then drive to Sardis, then back to Manisa/Magnesia and down to Izmir/Smyrna - 217 miles driving
Day 7: Izmir sites, drive down to Ephesus/Selcuk and see sites, drive to ruins of Tralles/Aydin and see sites, drive back to Kusadasi, see castle, Kaleicii mosque - 138 miles driving
Day 8: Drive to Kursunlu monastery, then to Priene, then to Miletos, then to Didyma, then to Labraunda ruins, then to Milas, then to Bodrum/Halicarnassus - 139 miles driving
Day 9: Bodrum sites, drive to Kaunos, Kaunos rock tombs/Dalyan, Amyntas tomb, Oludeniz beach and vista, back to Fethiye - 211 miles
Day 10: Drive to Tlos ruins, then Sidyma ruins, then Xanthos, then Letoon, then Patara, then Demre Lycian toms and stay at Demre - 129 miles
Day 11: Drive from Demre to Termessos ruins, then Perga ruins, then Antalya Museum, Hadrian's gate, Kesik Minare Mosque, Clock Tower, Konyaalti Beach, Antalya Hotel - 161 miles
Day 12: Drive to Sagalassos, then Salda Lake, then Aphrodisias ruins, then Laodicea, then Colossae, then Hierapolis ruins, then Pamukkale hotel - 295 miles
Day 13: Pamukkale travertine, drive to temple of Zeus Aizanoi, then to Midas Sehri, then Eskisehir hotel - 276 miles
Day 14: Drive to Bursa, Great Mosque of Bursa, Green Mosque, then drive to Iznik and see Hagia Sophia Iznik, city walls of Iznik, southern gate of Iznik, drive to Istanbul - 227 miles
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 08:56 PM
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Too ambitious! This sounds like a check off list rather than an enjoyable visit delighting in visiting interesting sights. You will need to research how much each location takes to reasonably visit and each place's visiting hours, days of closure, etc.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 09:16 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. Unfortunately, with this plan, several days you will spend more time in the car and checking in/out of hotels then actually seeing/doing things.
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Old Apr 14th, 2024, 11:58 PM
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I think things will start to blur together and half way through you will not remember much of what you see. Are you doing this solo?
Turkey is a wonderful and interesting country. I urge you to take some time to enjoy their great food and experience and appreciate some of the culture.
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Old Apr 15th, 2024, 12:30 PM
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I know all the historical places you mention. A somewhat serious visit of them takes a lot of time, even if you want to see only the most important buildings.
The problem is not the time you spend on highways or intervillage roads, but the last mile to the sights and the time you will spend there.It doesn't make sense to run through huge fields of ruins without having visited the local museum before and reading a guidebook or explanation panels or hiring a guide. All that takes time

Days 1-6, 9-10 and 13.14 are possible if you don't want to relax in restaurants or on a beach (you mention Olu Deniz). The program of the other days is frarnkly impossible.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 01:30 PM
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I just got back from the trip to Turkey and wanted to update with the itinerary which I think was realistic - obviously missed some details but can always check those things out another time. I'm putting it here so people can get a sense of what is realistic if perhaps a bit of a grueling paced trip. I didn't feel that any particular place was rushed while I was there and had time to read/skim through the placards and see everything I found of interest at a particular monument.

Cost was around $6500 for 1 person, which I think was reasonable all things considered

Day 1
Flew into Istanbul

Day 2
Went to Fener Greek Orthodox Church of St. George for Divine Liturgy (Palm Sunday)
Went to Fener Greek Orthodox College
Chora Church/Kariye Camii outside
Theodosian walls - walked along these all the way from North to South
Tekfur Palace/Palace of Porphrogenitos
Mihrimah Sultan Mosque
Wall gates: Silivri -> Belgrad -> Golden
Yedikule Castle

Day 3
Forum of Theodosius
Hagia Sophia
German Fountain
Hippodrome - Obelisk of Theodosius, Bronze Snake, Obelisk of Porphyrogenitos
Museum of the Great Palace (closed for renovation)
Hagia Irene
Topkapi Palace and Harem
Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Day 4
Grand Bazaar (brief visit)
Nurosmaniye Mosque
Theodosian Cistern
Little Hagia Sophia/Kucuk Ayasofya
Boukoleon Palace (closed for renovation)
Ahirkapi lighthouse
Viewed Bosphorus from waterfront
Crossed bridge across Golden Horn to Beyoglu
Galata tower outside (interior closed for renovation)
Dolmabahce Mosque
Dolmabahce clock tower
Dolmabahce palace and harem
Ortakoy Mosque
Uber to Rumelihisar Fortress (closed for renovation)
Uber to Kadikoy/Chalcedon
Agia Efimia Church (4th ecumenical council)

Day 5
Drove towards Dardanelles
Kilitbahir Castle
Alcitepe baki terasi - view/lookout of the Dardanelles
Anzac memorial
Turkish war memorial
Drove up to Canakkale across bridge (couldn't make it to ferries, which would have been faster)
Stayed in Canakkale

Day 6
Canakkale waterfront
Trojan Horse model
Old clock tower
Castle (outside, closed for renovation)
Drove to Troy area
Troya museum
Troy ruins
Drove to Alexandria Troas ruins and viewed
Drove to Apollon Smintheion ruins and viewed
Drove to Assos ruins and viewed
Drove down to Assos harbor and viewed
Drove to Bergama/Pergamos
Red Basilica and Pergamon Bridge
Stayed in Bergama

Day 7
Gondala ride up to Bergama acropolis
Bergama acropolis - Temple of Zeus, Athena, Trajan, library, agora, heroon, sanctuary of Demeter, theater
Gondola ride back down
Drove to Asklpeion ruins and viewed
Drove to Akhisar/Thyateira ruins and viewed
Drove to Sardis - Gymnasium, synagogue, church, temple of Artemis
Drove to Alasehir/Philadelphia ruins and viewed, St. John's church
Drove to Manisa/Magnesia (didn't stop)
Drove to Izmir/Smyrna
Good Friday service in Smyrna Orthodox church
Stayed in Izmir

Day 8
Izmir waterfront
Smyrna agora, viewed ruins
Drove to Selcuk
Selcuk castle, St. John's church and St. John's tomb
Temple of Artemis
Drove to Grotto of the Seven Sleepers (closed for renovation)
Drove to Ephesus ruins and viewed, library of Celsus, Temple of Trajan, baths of Scholastica, Harbor, stoa, amphitheater
Church of Mary (3rd ecumenical council)
House of Mary
Ephesus museum
Drove to Kusadasi
Kusadasi Castle
Stayed in Kusadasi

Day 9
Drove to Priene and viewed ruins
Viewed Meander river (Buyuk Menderes)
Drove to Miletos and viewed ruins, stoa, baths, amphitheater
Miletos museum
Drove to Didyma, viewed temple of Apollo
Drove to Euromos, viewed temple of Zeus
Drove to Bodrum
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Myndos Gate
Bodrum Castle
Stayed in Bodrum
Note: everything is closed in Bodrum on Mondays, so avoid being there that day

Day 10
Drove to Labraunda ruins and viewed
Drove to Dalyan, crossed river with ferry
Viewed Lycian tomb ruins of Dalyan, walked to Kaunos
Kaunos ruins viewed
Drove to Fethiye
Fethiye museum (closed for renovation)
Telmessos (closed for renovation)
Amintas tomb
Fethiye castle (outside)
Drove to Oludeniz - couldn't find the lagoon
Stayed in Fethiye
Note: would try to see Kayakoy and Lagoon in future, and closed things as well if there again. Needed better GPS directions for Lagoon (Tabiat Parki)

Day 11
Drove to Tlos ruins and viewed
Drove to Letoon ruins and viewed
Drove to Xanthos ruins and viewed
Drove to Patara ruins and viewed
Drove to Kas, viewed amphitheater
Drove to Demre and Myra ruins and rock tombs and viewed
Drove to St. Nicholas church museum complex, viewed church, tomb
Drove to Antalya
Stayed in Antalya
Note: drove long distance at night to Antalya not by choice but because of hotel problems in Demre - not a good place to stay overnight

Day 12
Toured Antalya harbor, Hadrian arch, old city walls, Kesik Minare Mosque, Yivli Minare Mosque
Drove to Sagalassos ruins and viewed
Drove to Burdur, viewed museum
Drove to Lake Salda, viewed
Drove to Perge ruins and viewed
Stayed in Antalya
Note: main thing I skipped here was Termessos and Phaselis, would try to see these if I were there another time

Day 13
Antalya museum
Viewed Konyaalti beach overlook
Drove to Afrodisias ruins and viewed, temple of Aphrodite, stadium
Drove to Hierapolis/Pamukkale ruins and viewed, rock tombs/necropolis, museum, amphitheater, Arch of Frontinus
Martyrion and Tomb of St. Phillip
Pamukkale travertine
Stayed in Pamukkale
Note: Hierapolis and Pamukkale are 1 big complex which I didn't realize so you have to view in one block

Day 14
Drove to Laodicea ruins and viewed, church, amphitheater, Nymphaeum of Trajan
Drove to Colossae, viewed
Drove to Phrygia/Midas ancient site ruins and viewed (multiple tombs especially the one called Midas' tomb, one you have to drive down a road to get to)
Drove to Aizanos ruins (closed before my arrival so couldn't enter temple of Zeus)
Drove to and stayed in Eskisehir
Note: Colossae is basically just a hill, if not interested in it for the Biblical history can skip - no real ruins to see; Aizanos site may close earlier in summer than some others

Day 15
Eskisehir archaeology museum
Drove to Iznik/Nicae
Hagia Sophia Iznik (1st and 7th ecumenical councils)
Green Mosque/Yesil Camii
Lefke Gate
Drove to Istanbul and returned car
Uber to near Grand Bazaar, shopping
Stayed in Istanbul

Day 16
Blue Mosque/Sultan Ahmet Camii
Basilica Cistern
Went to Kalenderhane Camii/Kyriotissa (closed with no attendant there, no obvious renovation)
Uber to Chora Church/Kariye Camii
Viewed Chora Church mosaics and frescoes
Uber to Taksim Square, viewed
Walked down Istiklal street to Galatasary
Uber back to central Istanbul
Uber to airport
Flew out of Istanbul
Note: thankfully Chora Church reopened when I was in Turkey so I was able to see the amazing mosaics and frescos.

Overall I was very happy with the trip tempo, variety, and costs. I got a bit saturated by the ruins but would eagerly view more and different sites if I had time. I'm not a beach person so I did not take time to enjoy that aspect of the Aegean/Mediterranean. I think I saw 70% of the things to see in Istanbul (would see more mosques and explore more of the Asian side next time) and most of the things to see in this western corner of Turkey. Istanbul was surprisingly cloudy/foggy/chilly. May was a great time both in terms of weather and not too many things closed for renovation, as apparently that happens a bit later in the spring/summer. Strong recommendation: buy the museum pass card for 15 days coverage of most museums/sites for 165 Euro - I did not until about day 5 (in Bergama) and would have saved easily $100+ if I had bought and used it earlier.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 03:18 PM
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I am glad you enjoyed your trip.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 05:10 PM
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Thanks for reporting back

" . . . if perhaps a bit of a grueling paced trip"

It was a bit grueling to even read

In your OP you said " . . . wanted to do a very detailed tour of a part of Turkey".

This does seem more 'drive-by' than detailed. But glad your enjoyed yourself.

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Old May 19th, 2024, 11:45 AM
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You visited almost everything along your itinerary, except
Kinidos (Datca)
sunken city of Kekova (boat trip)
Andriake ancient site and Lycian Civilisation Museum
aantic theatree of Finike
(as well as Ermesso snd Phaselis that you mentioned).

BTW: Demre has an excellent Hotel (Andriake Beach Club)
The offer at Adrasan, Olympos and Cirali isn't bad too.

May be next time you will proceed up to the cstles of Alanya and Anamurion
..... or include Cyprus thanks to the Tasucu - Kyrenia ferry..
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