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Turkey Itinerary 7 Days I Istanbul and Cappadocia

Turkey has so much to explore. For me, the two places in Turkey that are completely unlike anywhere else are its capital Istanbul and the magical Cappadocia.

It isn’t possible to see all of this country in a Turkey Itinerary 7 days but you can absolutely get a good sense of both in my Istanbul and Cappadocia itinerary – and develop an appetite to come back and see more of this beautiful country.

Use my Istanbul and Cappadocia in 7 days itinerary to plan your dream trip.

Things to Book Before You Leave Home
Few things are more frustrating on vacation than missing out on that amazing hotel or tour because it is sold out. Here are our top things to book before your vacation.

🕌 Most Popular Tours in Turkey:
1. Skip the line ticket for Hagia Sophia -my top pick
2. Skip the line tickets for Topkapi PalaceInstagram heaven
3. Gallipoli Day Trip from Istanbul – an unforgettable and moving day
4. Cappadocia Balloon Ride – Do not miss this!!!

🛏️Where to Stay in Turkey:
1. Empress Zoe – stylish boutique hotel in the heart of Istanbul & where I stayed
2. Four Seasons Sultanahmet – super luxurious in a former prison
3. Argos in Cappadocia – super stylish boutique cave hotel & where I stayed

Stunning tiles at Topkapi Palace

Turkey Itinerary 7 Days: How to get to Turkey and how to get Around

Direct flights from London to Istanbul take just around four hours. I have flown with Turkish Airlines several times and I am a big fan. Lovey planes and good service.

British Airways and Air France both fly from London to Istanbul.

Flights to Istanbul

Istanbul is definitely a public transport and walking place. Don’t hire a car. Istanbul has a metro and best of all it has a tram system which I found very useful – there are trams in the key tourist areas.

There are buses but I prefer a tram or metro as I find it easier to work out where I am and when to get off. And Istanbul has ferries to take you across and around its main river the Bosphorus.

Golden mosaics in Hagia Sofya

To get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, the closest airport to Cappadocia is Kayseri. Most likely you will need to fly into Istanbul and then take an internal flight which takes about 90 minutes.

Flights to Kayseri

It takes just over one hour in a car from the airport to get to Cappadocia. Take a private transfer or join a group shuttle to get from the airport to Cappadocia. Cappadocia is a big area.

One option is to buy a ticket on the Cappadocia hop on hop off bus. It is possible to buy a 1, 2 and 3-day ticket. The easiest way to get around Cappadocia is to hire a car from Kayseri Airport.

It is quite easy to get taxis around Capadoccia but the costs do add up.

A statue of two soldiers on the Gallipoli Peninsula

7 Day Turkey Itinerary: Days 1 and 2 Istanbul

The key places to see in Istanbul

If you’re planning on hitting lots of sights in Istanbul in two days then make sure you order an Istanbul City Tourist Pass.

This fantastic pass covers virtually every activity listed below and includes lots of options for skipping the queue. Plus public transport and 4G wifi whilst you’re in Istanbul.

1. The Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque is possibly Istanbul’s most famous attraction and a must-see in this Turkey Itinerary 7 Days. The mosque has six minarets or towers and several domes.

It isn’t actually blue – it was named the Blue Mosque because of its beautiful interior tiles – but it is absolutely stunning. The Blue Mosque was built between 1603 and 1617 and is still a working mosque today.

The Blue Mosque in the late afternoon, a highlight of a week in Turkey

➡️ Book Your Tour of the Blue Mosque

2. Hagia Sofya

Two of the top places to visit in Istanbul – The Blue Mosque and Hagia or Aya Sofya – are located on the same main square in the Istanbul neighborhood of Sultanahmet – very convenient.

Hagia Sofya has had several lives. It began as an Orthodox Cathedral and was turned into a mosque. In 1935, Ataturk proclaimed it a museum – although many still consider it the second biggest cathedral in the world.

Hagia Sofia

Both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofya are particularly stunning at sunset. I suggest gaining access to one of Istanbul’s many bars and restaurants with a terrace and a view and settling in for sunset.

➡️ Book Your Skip the line ticket for Hagia Sophia

3. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is one of my favorite Istanbul tourist attractions. This palace was used between the 15th and 19th centuries and apparently was a hot place to go during the Ottoman Empire.

Topkapi Palace Istanbul is stunning and filled with lots of fantastic Instagram opportunities – particularly the colorful tiles.

➡️ Book Your Skip the line tickets for Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

4. The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar or Kapali Carsi is the largest covered market in Turkey with over 4,000 shops. This market contains everything you could ever imagine needing.

From, of course, carpets to jewelry to lanterns to pajamas. It can be quite overwhelming. The market is 30,700 square meters and has 60 streets and is a must in any Istanbul itinerary.

The Fes Cafe in the Grand Bazaar

My favorite shop in the Grand Bazaar is Jennifers’ Hamam. This beautiful store is filled with beautiful hammam towels, blankets, rugs, throws and all other soft items in soft colors. (One challenge of the Grand Bazaar Istanbul is finding some simpler designs to suit Western tastes).

All of their products are made in Turkey according to traditional techniques but the designs themselves tend to favour Western tastes.

➡️ Book Your Half Day Grand Bazaar Shopping Tour

5. Take a cruise on the Bosphorus

Take a Bosphoros Cruise during the day or enjoy the Bosphoros at night with dinner.

The Bosphorus

➡️ Book Your Bosphorus Cruise

6. The Basilica Cistern

This underground cistern was built in 532 to bring drinking water to Istanbul. There are hundreds of them underneath Istanbul but the Basilica Cistern (named because it lay underneath the Stoa Basilica square) covers nearly 9800 square metres and has 336 marble columns.

No wonder it is called the Sunken Palace Cistern. Walkways and lights were installed in the 1990s and there is even a small cafe down in the cistern.

➡️ Book Your Skip the line ticket for Basilica Cistern

⇒ Turkey is a fascinating blend of East and West. Check out my Istanbul 3 day itinerary, Gallipoli tours from Istanbul and my Cappadocia Itinerary.

7. Gulhane Park

Gulhane Park was once the private garden of Topkapi Palace. It is now a beautiful public park open to all – and, of course, it is located next to Topkapi Palace.

The park is most beautiful in the springtime when it explodes into color. Gulhane Park Istanbul contains several fountains, a couple of museums and a cafe with great views of the Bosphorus.

Turkish delight

8. Spice Bazaar

Located at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, the Spice Bazaar re-opened after major renovations in 2018.

It is filled with spices, dried fruit, cheese, seeds, and all things tasty. Hasirilar Cadesi is the main street of the Spice Bazaar and possibly the most photogenic.


9. Enjoy some seafood in the Arnavutkoy Neighborhood.

Seafood didn’t really pop into my mind when I thought of what to do in Istanbul. I was so wrong. There is fabulous seafood galore here and so many seafood restaurants.

But the best thing to do is to head to the super cute Arnavutkoy area on the European side of the Bosphorus. This area is filled with wooden ottoman houses and seafood restaurants.

Fish on fire!

10. Explore Istanbul’s hippest neighborhood Kadikoy-Moda

Moda is part of the Kadikoy district and is located on the Asian side of Istanbul. It is filled with bars, cafes, cute shops, and quirky restaurants.

The best way to experience this neighbourhood is to just wander around. Pop into Ciya Sofrasi for a meal while you’re there. And take the ferry over and back to get some great views of the Bosphorous.

Here’s how to fit all ten of the above into two days in Istanbul:

Day One

On your first day in Istanbul, visit the Grand Bazaar in the morning and have lunch at the Fez Cafe. After lunch head for the Basilica Cistern.

Come back above ground and take in both the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia. Take a dinner cruise on the Bosphorus.

Inside the stunning Blue Mosque

Day Two

Spend the morning in Topkapi Palace. This is when I would then divide up what to see in Istanbul.

If you’re more into outdoor attractions head to Gulane Park and then over to the Spice Bazaar. If you’re more interested in exploring neighborhoods head to Kadikoy-Moda.

Then head to the Arnavutkoy neighborhood for a seafood dinner – it can take a little while to get there.

⇒ Wondering if you should spend more time in Istanbul? Check out my post on the Perfect Istanbul 3 Day Itinerary

The Blue Mosque

Where to stay in Istanbul – Boutique Hotels

Empress Zoe

Empress Zoe is a lovely little boutique hotel in the heart of the historic district of Sultanahmet in Istanbul. There are several reasons to stay here.

empress zoe
empress zoe

First is a fabulous location. When it comes to what to do in Istanbul they are all an easy walk from Hotel Empress Zoe –  the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya and the Grand Bazaar.

Second is it is a lovely stylish boutique hotel at a very reasonable price. The third is the incredibly lovely staff.

And the fourth is breakfast. Fabulous fresh treats and make sure you’re there when the warm savoury pastries come out. Finally, it is also fantastic value with rooms starting at just 60 pounds.

Book Empress Zoe Now

Colourful shawls for sale

Hotel Ibrahim Pasha

Another lovely boutique option in Sultanahmet is Hotel Ibrahim Pasha. This small hotel has only 24 rooms and features a great balcony with a view of the Blue Mosque.

ibrahim pasha hotel
Ibrahim pasha hotel

Prices from 100 pounds a night.

Book Ibrahim Pasha Now

7 Days in Turkey: Day 3: Gallipoli

The battle at Gallipoli took place in 1915 and is a story known by all Australians and New Zealanders. Today there are memorials and cemeteries in the area that allow visitors to pay tribute to the many young men who lost their lives.

Gallipoli can be visited on one long day trip from Istanbul and it is well worth making an effort when you have one week in Turkey.

the sign for anzac beach gallipoli turkey
Looking onto Anzac beach

A classic one-day visit to the Gallipoli Peninsula will include key sites such as Lone Pine and ANZAC Cove. If you’re feeling particularly keen you can also add in nearby Troy to your day trip.

Touching war memorials

For most tours, the day’s first stop will be the town of Eceabat and lunch. It is a small town. Nice enough but nothing special.

Most of the day is spent driving around the Gallipoli Peninsula and getting out at key sights such as ANZAC Cove, Lone Pine (the Australian War Memorial), the New Zealand war memorial, several memorials featuring moving words and the ANZAC commemorative site (this is where the dawn memorial service is held on Anzac day).

Book your Gallipoli full-day tour from Istanbul

⇒ Read my complete post on How to choose the best Gallipoli Tour from Istanbul

The trenches

One Week in Turkey: Days 4-7 Cappadocia

Cappadocia is a magical place that you will never forget. This national park is filled with fairy chimneys, rocks that change color, some rather ahem interestingly shaped rocks and best of all hot air balloons stud the skyline as the sunrises. There is so much to see and do.

1. The Pigeon Valley Walk

I suggest starting with the Pigeon Valley walk. This works if you are staying in Goreme or Uchisar (although I do recommend staying in Uchisar so I will assume that you did).

The Pigeon Valley walk was definitely the easiest of all the walks that I did in Cappadocia and it is lovely.

If you are joining the walk from Uchisar, the pictures below of sticks with pigeons on the top let you know that you’re at its beginning.

Ihlara Valley view
View over the Ilhara Valley

2. Uchisar Castle

Best seen as the sun sets, there are lovely views along the way up to the top of Uchisar Castle, but it’s all about the top and the 360-degree view of Cappadocia Turkey.

The castle itself is also very photogenic. I would advise taking your pics of the castle from the bottom just before the entry point and after the markets.

3. Take a Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Ride

I loved everything I did in stunning Cappadocia but when it comes to what to do in Cappadocia the highlight was the hot air balloon ride.

I would suggest looking to book your Cappadocia hot air balloon ride before you leave home for the first morning of your trip to Cappadocia.

Good weather conditions are necessary for flights to go ahead. I was only able to go out on my last morning in Cappadocia. The more days you have, the more likely that you will make it up into the skies.

hot air balloons over cappadocia turkey
One of the 300 photos I think I took in one hour on the hot air balloon ride!

Most hot air companies will pick guests up at their hotels around 4 am (ugh!). Guests are then taken to a central area for a buffet breakfast before taking the one-hour hot air balloon ride.

Depending on the package you have purchased, your flight may finish with champagne in the middle of Capadoccia.

➡️ Book Your Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon

4. Ihlara Valley Walk

The Ihlara Valley is a 16km long gorge formed thousands of years ago. It is reputed to have been home to at least 80,000 people at one point – and a lot more pigeons. I learned a lot about pigeons and the value of their poo on this walk.

In addition to being absolutely stunning, the Ihlara Valley was also the home to a hundred cave churches which were decorated with frescos – some of which can still be seen.

Cappadocia hot air balloon turkey activities attractions
Hot air balloons

It is easiest to take a guided tour of the Ihlara Valley as it is about 75km from Goreme.

➡️ Book Your Guided Tour of the Ihlara Valley

Most of the tours include visits to the Derinkuyu Underground City and Selime Monastery which are both well worth seeing.

5. The Love Valley

The Love Valley is a relatively easy trek close to Goreme. It is not particularly steep, although it is twisty terrain. The highlight of this walk is the rather phallic section at the end as you will see graphically in the photos. This is, of course, where it gained the name The Love Valley.

6. The Red and Rose Valleys

The Red and Rose Valleys were both major highlights of Cappadocia for me. As you might expect, the rocks of these valleys tend towards the pinks and reds.

However, the colors change massively throughout the day depending on the light and these valleys are best visited towards sunset.

the rose valley in cappadocia turkey
The Rose Valley – a highlight of this Turkey 7 days itinerary

Again I went with a guide and I am very glad that I did. I never would have figured out how to get around the Red and Rose Valleys without him. This was the most strenuous of the hikes that I did in Cappadocia.

There was a lot of uphill and downhill and climbing through and around tricky spots. Solid walking shoes ideally with ankle support are a must for this trek.

7. Have a Hammam

I do love traditional Turkish Baths. Sure the cleaning is usually a bit on the rough side and I’ve had some interesting experiences when I’ve been using fake tan (well I have large Moroccan women laugh out loud at the fake tan coming off my skin) but you feel SO clean after having one.

If you have had enough of walking – or can fit this in with more walking on your third day – Cappadocia has lots of options for a cleansing Hammam.

➡️ Book Your Cappadocia Hammam

Fairy Castles in the Pigeon Valley
Fairy Castles in the Pigeon Valley

Here’s how to fit all of this into 3 days in Cappadocia:

Day One

Ideally, you’ll have pre-booked your hot air balloon flight and this is how you will start your visit to Cappadocia. If not, book in now for the following morning so you have the buffer of another day in case of bad weather.

After you are returned to your hotel, head off to the Pigeon Valley walk from Uchisar to Goreme. Explore Goreme and head to the Open Air Museum.

Return to Uchisar Castle to watch the sunset and then collapse after a 4 am start.

Uchisar Castle
Uchisar Castle

Day Two

Take a full-day trip to the Ihlara Valley including the underground museum and the monastery

Day Three

If you have the energy explore all of the Love, Red and Rose Valleys. If you’re flagging, explore the Red and Rose Valleys and have a hammam.

⇒ For more detail check out my Cappadocia Itinerary post.

If you are looking for a Turkey Itinerary 6 days then I would drop the day trip to Gallipoli on day 3.

Or if you’re interested in heading to the south of turkey drop Cappadocia and head somewhere like Kas where even in winter there are loads of things to do.

stickes with birds marking the entrance to the pigeon valley walk cappadocia turkey
Entrance to the Pigeon Valley

Where to stay in Cappadocia – Boutique Hotels

There are several towns in Cappadocia with accommodation. Goreme is the largest of all the towns in Cappadocia and has the most restaurants, facilities etc.

Urgup sounded very cute but a little too small. I decided to stay in Uchisar as it sounded a little more boutique hotel-y to me, whereas Goreme felt a little too much like a backpacker town.

Cappadocia Cave Suites – Goreme

Cappadocia Cave Suites
Cappadocia Cave Suites

If you’d like to stay in Goreme and enjoy a boutique-style cave hotel check out the lovely Cappadocia Cave Suites.

Book Cappadocia Cave Suites Now

Argos in Cappadocia – Uchisar

However, I did love little Uchisar and found that it had more than enough to keep me entertained.  So I stayed at the Argos in Cappadocia cave hotel which I loved – such a stunning hotel.

Exterior of Argos in Cappadocia Hotel
This is the stunning Argos Hotel in Uchisar!

Uchisar is at the top of a hill and Argos is right near the top over several kinds of “levels”. As you can see from the photos, Argos in Cappadocia doesn’t look like a hotel – it does look like it has been carved into the earth.

It is quite a big hotel but it sort of meanders around so it feels very boutiquey (not sure that’s a word but I think I’m going to make it one).

Book Argos in Cappadocia Now

Museum Hotel – Uchisar

Museum Hotel
Museum Hotel

Another stunning property in Uchisar is the beautiful Museum Hotel, literally built from the restored ruins of an ancient village

Book the Museum Hotel Now

Door shaped view from Argos in Cappadocia over the countryside
A doorway with a view at Argos Cappadocia

⇒ If you’re planning on spending longer in Turkey check out this fantastic Two Week Turkey Itinerary by High Heels and a Backpack

Things to Know Before You Go to Turkey

⇒ Turkey operates on a 220V two-point prong system eg European style plugs

⇒ Wifi is very common in Istanbul and almost always free when available. Only luxury hotels charge for wifi. In Cappadocia wifi is freely available in hotels and restaurants. However, as you head out trekking the signal will be patchy.

⇒ The Istanbul City Tourist Pass is fantastic value for money and covers many of the attractions I have listed above. And it includes lots of skip the line options within the pass. Plus public transport and 4G wifi whilst you’re in Istanbul.

⇒ If you’re not keen to hire a car Cappadocia has a hop on hop off bus that works really well as a way to get around the area at a very reasonable cost.

Book your Cappadocia hot air balloon trip before you go and book it for your first morning. When it comes to things to do in Cappadocia this is a must-do!

Taking a hot air balloon trip in Capadoccia is weather dependent. Give yourself every chance of having this amazing experience by booking it for your first morning.

If conditions mean the balloons won’t fly you will be given first preference for the next morning etc.

⇒ Although it is safe to drink tap water in Capadoccia it may taste a little different from what you’re used to. Most people in Turkey use bottled water so grab this for your treks but don’t worry about brushing your teeth etc in your hotel with tap water.

Sunset from the top of Uchisar Castle
Sunset from the top of Uchisar Castle


The currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. Most large places in Cappadocia and Istanbul take credit cards but you will need cash for taxis, public transport, street vendors, bottles of water etc.

And you may be able to negotiate a discount if you can pay in cash. There are ATMs all over Istanbul and in pretty much every town in Capadoccia so it isn’t hard to get cash.

When to go to Turkey

Summer in Istanbul is hot and generally quite muggy. Surprisingly winter can get very cold and the temperature often drops to low single degrees. Grab a forecast for your visit here.

Spring (April to May) and Autumn (September to mid-November) are generally the nicest times to visit Istanbul. The temperature is still warm but not too hot and the skies tend to be clear.

Fishermen in Istanbul

Cappadocia has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. Snow falls during winter in Cappadocia.

The area is 1000m above sea level so there is usually a significant variation in day and night temperatures.

May and June are terrific months to visit the region as are September and October. Click here for a current weather forecast. 

What to Pack for a trip to Turkey

Turkey is a conservative country but Istanbul, Gallipoli, and Cappadocia are three of the most relaxed areas due to the high levels of tourism.

For women, do ensure you bring some type of scarf that can be used to visit anywhere religious. And of course, it is good manners to cover your shoulders and knees in this type of country.

As this is quite a busy itinerary, I would recommend packing layers and more layers. The temperature can vary quite a bit between day and night in Turkey.

And without question, you will be doing a lot of walking so make sure to bring strong and sturdy shoes and a good daypack.


Travelling Solo to Turkey

I visited Turkey on my own and felt very safe. However, as always, when I travel on my own I avoid being out late at night and generally take a taxi home from dinner or eat near my hotel.

If you are travelling solo it is a good idea to dress a bit more conservatively to avoid any discomfort. If you would prefer to travel as part of an organised trip there are loads of options:

TourRadar offers a number of different tours that can work for solo travellers which cover a similar itinerary as well as trips dedicated to Cappadocia

Solos Holidays has also had a very similar itinerary to the one in this post that is designed for solo travellers

Just You has a range of trips to Turkey for solo travellers

So that’s the end of my Istanbul and Cappadocia Itinerary 7 days article. I hope it helps you to plan an amazing trip to this beautiful country.

Topkapi Palace

Who Paid for What in this Turkey 7 Day Itinerary

I covered all of the costs associated with this trip myself. However, this Turkey itinerary 7 days post does contain affiliate links. That means if you click through on them and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this!


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Looking for a Turkey Itinerary 7 days? Starting an ending in Istanbul this one week in Turkey itinerary includes several days in stunning Cappadocia & a day trip to Gallipoli #turkey

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Tuesday 7th of February 2017

QF32 is an excellent read. Apparently, the writer is a bit of a show-off, but he and his colleagues are the reason I fly Qantas when possible. They are reliable, and they put safety first.

Must head over to your Gallipoli report. I hired a car at Ataturk and spent two nights at the Gallipoli House. I could have spent a week. Barely scratched the surface.

The Boutique Adventurer

Wednesday 8th of February 2017

i agree on qantas - and he was a bit of a show off but i would be very happy to see him being the pilot of any plane I was on!

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