Istanbul and Cappadocia 8 day Itinerary

Sallah was my favorite character from the Indiana Jones series. As a kid, I always thought he was Turkish because of the red fez and I dreamed of going to Turkey just to see everyone walking down the streets casually wearing that fez. It’s not until recently when I re-watched the series that I realized he was actually Egyptian with a red tarboosh. Nevertheless, my mistaken belief led us to the wonderful land that crosses two continents. We specifically designed our itinerary to be during the tulip blossom season and we weren’t disappointed. The tulips in bloom are breathtaking.

For our first day, we knew we wouldn’t want to do much and that the day will mostly be wasted due to jet lag. We made sure it was Sunday so we can attend the Ortaköy Sunday Market. After checking into our hotel in the Sultanahmet District, we purchased the 72hr Museum Pass from one these hotels here. We then hopped onto the T1 Tram to Kabataş Station and from there it is a leisurely 2-mile walk to Ortaköy. Alternatively, you can take bus #22, 22RE or 25E. However, the Istanbul traffic was so bad, we were walking faster than all the cars.

At Ortaköy, we visited the following:

  • Admired Dolmabahçe Mosque
  • Admired Dolmabahçe Palace (Since we’ve seen so many over the top Neoclassical, Baroque and Rococo European style palaces, we skipped going inside.)
  • Admired Çırağan Palace Hotel
  • Büyük Mecidiye Cami (Ortaköy Mosque)
  • Got lost in the Ortaköy Sunday Market

We enjoyed the rest of the night in Ortaköy and had dinner from various street venders around the area.

We woke up early on this day. After breakfast, we waited in line at the Official Şehir Hatları Bosphorus Ferry ticket counter before opening. With our Museum Pass, we were supposed to receive 20% off of the ferry tickets. That, however, didn’t happen and the cashier kind of just waved off the line when people asked about it. Anyway, it was a lovely hour and 40 minute ride up the Bosphorus from Eminönü to Anadolu Kavaği by the Black Sea.

After arriving at Anadolu Kavaği, we realized there isn’t much to do in the small fishing town. We had about 3.5 hours before the return ferry so we moved in a turtle’s pace and visited the following:

  • Old Town
  • Picked up some fish sandwiches
  • Yoros Castle
  • Admired the grand view where the Bosphorus meets the Black Sea
  • Lunch picnic with a view

After we got back to Eminönü, we hopped onto another ferry that took us to the Asian side of Istanbul. With a relaxing stroll along the water front, we rested on one of the cushions provided from the waterfront cafe. Then we romantically spent the late afternoon sipping on salep and watching the sunset with Maiden’s Tower to our side.

Our goal for the day is to explore the Sultanahmet District and activate our 72hr Museum Pass. After seeing how all the lines wrapped around itself and around the building, we were glad we did the necessary research and bought the pass at a nearby hotel on our first day. After breakfast, we started the day again back at Eminönü area and visited the following:

  • Yeni cami (New Mosque)
  • Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar)
  • Yerebatan Sarayı (Basilica Cistern)
  • Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia)
  • Sultanahmet Cami (Blue Mosque)
  • Hipodrom (Hippodrome)
  • The Museum Of Turkish And Islamic Arts
  • Mozaik Müzesi (Great Palace Mosaic Museum)
  • Arasta Bazaar
  • Walked along the tram tracks from Sultanahmet to Beyazıt and explored the area
  • Büyük Çarşı (The Grand Bazaar)
  • Süleymaniye Cami (Süleymaniye Mosque)

At the end of our adventure we were back at Eminönü and continued our 1.7 mile stroll back to the hotel via all the small alley ways with interesting merchants and food shops.

After a delicious breakfast consisting of different kinds of simit, we visited the following:

  • Topkapı Sarayı (Topkapi Palace)
  • Topkapi Palace Harem Apartments
  • Istanbul Archaeological Museums
  • Gülhane Park

We took the tram and subway towards north Istanbul and did some shopping in Kanyon Shopping Mall and MetroCity AVM. On the basement of MetroCity, we discovered a high calorie, but super delicious dish called iskender.

Head west on this day and utilize public transport for the following:

  • Kariye Müzesi (Chora Museum)
  • Edirnekapı Mezarlığı (Edirnekapi Martyr’s Cemetery)
  • Bus by the cemetery to subway Şişli station
  • Taksim Meydanı (Taksim Square)
  • Kızılkayalar’s Wet Burger
  • İstiklâl Caddesi (Istiklal Street)
  • Galata Kulesi (Galata Tower)
  • Galata Köprüsü (Galata Bridge)

We went back to Gülhane Park and walked around it about 10 times to burn some calories (because, you know, that Turkish delight is one minute on the eyes forever on the thighs.) We then wrapped up our day with some street food to-go and relaxed at the roof top terrace in our hotel preparing for our early departure the next day.

On this day we flew from SAW – ASR, after checking into our wonderful cave hotel in Çavusin, we visited the following:

  • Göreme Açık Hava Müzesi (Goreme Open Air Museum)
  • Göreme Sunset Point
Getting around Cappadocia is simple on foot and by public transport. On this day after breakfast, we visited the following on-foot and by public buses:

  • Kaymaklı Underground City
  • walked around the city of Nevşehir
  • exploered the city of Uçhisar
  • Uçhisar Castle
  • Hiked Love Valley from Uçhisar back to our cave in Çavuşin
On this active day we hiked two valleys and relaxed in the town of Göreme before heading back to Istanbul at night.

  • Church Of St. John The Baptist
  • Çavusin Castle
  • Rose Valley
  • Red Valley I
  • Red Valley II
We arrived back to Istanbul from Cappadocia around 11pm on day 8. After a Havataş bus from SAW to Taksim, we had to change onto another Havataş bus to IST. By the time we checked into our hotel in the airport it was about 2am. We said goodbye to Istanbul and hopped on a flight back home at 7am.

Hagia Sophia Hagia Sophia

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