As a country, Turkey has more sights to see than just about any other country in the world. The Black Sea coast is famously green and has incredible hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter. The southeast and Mesopotamia features the remains of countless civilizations. The Turquoise Riviera is one of the most stunning strips of coastline in the world. And so much more, but if you only have 10 days in Turkey, what are you gonna go out and see?
Most places are so rich, could you spend 10 days in Istanbul? Easily! 10 days in the Aegean? You could spend twice that and not see everything!
But mostly you want to see as much as possible, get some variety, and get a sense of the country during your ten days. Here's your path.
3 Days: İstanbul
Istanbul is one of the world's great cities. It was the capital of three different empires, with the breathtaking remains to prove it! Its natural setting right on the Bosphorus Strait between the Marmara Sea and Black Sea (with the Golden Horn shooting off) is maybe the most incredible location for any major global city. Any trip to Turkey is incomplete without a trip through Istanbul.
Is 3 days enough to see all of Istanbul? Not even close! But that's fine, 3 weeks isn't enough to see all the sights in Istanbul!
In 3 days you've got enough time to see a lot of the beauty of the city and to enjoy 3 days of great food and great fun. See the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Blue Mosque. Make time for a nice stroll along Istiklal and the vibrant life of Beyoğlu. And of course make sure you have a meal or two looking out over the Bosphorus blue, tasting fresh delights and enjoying every second of your experience in the city.
If you miss something you REALLY wanted to see (maybe the Princes Islands? Maybe the Black Sea coast? Maybe a Bosphorus Tour? Maybe the lifestyle of the city's Asian side? Maybe the calm beauty of Ortakoy? Maybe a trip up the Galata Tower? Maybe a Turkish tea at the Maiden's Tower? Maybe a Turkish bath? Maybe the rest of the Historic Peninsula, with its plethora of mosques, museums and churches and historic sites? Maybe the green parks dotted all around the city?) don't worry – it'll be there next time you come and there really is SO much to see that it's impossible to see everything. See what you can and make sure to enjoy yourself while you're there rather than worrying about fitting everything in.
3 Days: Cappadocia
Some places in the world are unlike anywhere else, and the only way to truly understand them is to visit yourself. That's Cappadocia in a nutshell! You've seen those breathtaking shots of the fairy chimneys from up on high, but of course it doesn't compare to seeing it in person.
To see everything in Cappadocia, 5 days is probably ideal but 3 days allows you to see the open-air museum of Goreme, to take that magical hot air balloon, to visit the underground city of Derinkuyu and maybe leave you enough time to maybe hike, bike, or RV around the incredible landscape.
3 Days: Ephesus & Kuşadası
No trip to Turkey is complete without at least a little sun, sand, and sea – so you might as well see one of the greatest UNESCO World Heritage Sites to boot: the ancient city of Ephesus!
Ephesus is massive, and if you include the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Church of John the Baptist, it takes a minimum of a day to see it all and probably more like 2 days. Kusadasi is set on the shores of the Aegean, with a national park full of wildlife and rare birds you'll see just about nowhere else in the world, let alone Turkey. A day on the beach swimming in the Aegean after a picnic in the forest is the perfect way to end your whirlwind tour of Turkey.
1 Day: Travel
There are flights, buses and renta-car companies that travel between all three of these spots. Planes are your best bet, and domestic flights in Turkey tend to be relatively cheap. In ten days if you're going to see 3 different locations and fly in and fly out, you'll obviously need to spend some of that time just getting around, so save yourself a day to handle everything.