From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures 

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With its grand bazaars, stunning beaches, hot air balloon clad landscapes, intricate architecture, opulent history, and elaborate cuisine, travelling to Turkey is one of the most blissful experiences one can ever have.

Once, the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires flourished here and brought great prosperity with a splendour that is still visible in modern Anatolia.

While free speech in the country is still a contested idea and the grave threat of terrorism might be a deterrent, the freedom to appreciate this Mediterranean beauty and its charm is never a problem!

Owing to the fact that it is an amalgamation of Europe and Asia, Turkey is home to the most diverse and profound cultures, from the continents and savouring the same is worth every penny. The fact that a vast church now houses a mosque (Hagia Sophia) is pretty much enough to enthral travellers.

The minarets of Istanbul almost speak to you in a language of their own, the azure waters of Antalya gloriously sparkle and shimmer, Cappadocia stands smugly with its pink skies and fairy chimneys, the tanburs play in the distance and men sip on the traditional Turkish coffee while sporting their fez with all the grace in the world.

The country is a little bit of sugar, a dash of spice and everything nice and here is a 7 day itinerary to help you witness the real Turkish delight.

Credits: Guido Menato

Photo of Turkey by Tripoto

Credits: Dennis Jarvis

Photo of Turkey by Tripoto

How To Reach Turkey

Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul is the most well connected airport in Turkey. Other major airports include Esenboga International Airport in Antalya, and the Adnan Menderes Airport in Izmir.

You can take a direct flight to Istanbul; the base for your vacation, and fly to the other major airports according to your travel plans.

Visa Requirements For Visiting Turkey

The visa policy of Turkey is fairly simple. You can either opt for an E-Visa or a VOA (visa on arrival).

In case you haven't received your E-Visa before arriving in Turkey, you can visit the interactive kiosks placed in Turkish airports.

Note: An E-Visa is valid only when the purpose of the visitor is travel or commerce. The cost of visa for different countries can be seen here.

Indians need to pay close to ₹2,800 (US$43) for their Turkish visa. There are some countries, whose nationals can enter Turkey on their national ID, you can see the list of these countries here.

A tourist visa is valid for 60 days from the date of your arrival in the country. To know more about visa requirements, visit Turkey's Ministry Of Foreign Affair's website.

Getting Around in Turkey

Getting around this mystifying country is relatively easy owing to its efficient network of public transport. Buses are regular, fairly priced and connect major cities and so do high-speed trains. There are a huge number of domestic flights that one can take, however, tickets need to be booked in advance. Ferries on the other hand link the coastal areas. If in case you are an efficient driver, you can also rent a car to explore this beautiful country.

Turkish cities have public buses and minibuses (dolmuses), the tickets for which should be bought in advance at the terminals. There is also an option of sharing a taxi if in case you do not want to take the regular metered cabs (drivers often cheat foreigners and it is therefore imperative to be wary). Underground metro and tramways are also a great option when it comes to exploring.

Day 1

The glittering city of Istanbul has two major international airports and flights from important cities around the world arrive into the same. Taxis, trams, buses and the metro will then take you to the town centre.

Credits: Pedro Szekely

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Credits: Moyan Brenn

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Amazing Things to Do in Istanbul

1. Visit Hagia Sophia

Holidays in Turkey are incomplete without a visit to the Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) in Istanbul. This museum, which was formerly a church and a mosque, is extraordinarily beautiful and is of immense religious value in the country. The dome with its gold mosaics is absolutely breathtaking.

Hagia Sofia, Istanbul | Credits: Christopher Chan

Photo of Hagia Sophia Church, ulitsa Paris, Sofia, Bulgaria by Tripoto

2. Get your shopping fix at Grand Bazaar

If in case you are travelling to Turkey and miss out on the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, your trip is as good as wasted. With a plethora of colours and all the chaos in the world, the largest covered market is home to local spices, ceramics, jewellery and carpets. Make sure you put all your bargaining skills to use.

Day 2

3. Visit Topkapi Palace

Another important element of all Turkey destinations, the Topkapi Palace is a historical goldmine, especially for those who want a quick peek into what the Ottoman empire used to be.

Credits: Wikimedia

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4. Seek blessings at Suleymaniye Mosque

The largest mosque in Istanbul, the Suleymaniye Mosque is pretty much the drawcard of all holidays in Turkey. The interiors are as magnificent and intricate as they could possibly be and the facade is equally remarkable.

Credits: Wikimedia

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Places to Eat in Istanbul

1. Sans Restaurant - This elegant little restaurant serves Mediterranean, Contemporary and (of course) Turkish cuisine with all the flair in the world. The food is delicious and reservations are essential.

Where: Levent Mahallesi, Hacı Adil Caddesi, Palmiye Sokak, No 1, Besiktas, Istanbul

2. El Pescador Fish Restaurant - An absolute paradise for seafood lovers, El Pescador is popular with both locals and tourists. The chef will prepare your fish dish exactly the way you want it to be and you will, no matter what, love it.

Where: Sehsuvar Bey Mahallesi, 34126 Fatih, Istanbul

Suggested Stay:

Elite World Business Hotel

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Day 3

Take a ten hour bus from a reliable local company in order to get to the magical village of Pamukkale from Istanbul. While a lot of people hire a car of their own, it an be an extremely expensive option.

Amazing Things to Do in Pamukkale

1. Visit picturesque travertine formations

The natural wonder of Pamukkale, the most popular mineral-bath spa in Turkey, is a sight to behold. Holidays in Turkey will be memorable for all the right reasons courtesy of this 'cotton fortress'. The calcite-laden waters make the landscape almost surreal.

Credits: Wikimedia

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2. Visit Hierapolis – Adjacent to Pamukkale

Adjacent to Pamukkale, Hierapolis is a brilliant UNESCO World Heritage Site and possibly the most photographed of all Turkey destinations. The sacred city boasts of some wonderfully intriguing ruins and a thermal pool.

Credits: Wikimedia

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Day 4

You should ideally take a minibus from Pamukkale to the Denizli bus station and then take a bus to the pretty city of Antalya. The journey should be around four hours long and you can buy your tickets from the Pamukkale bus company.

Credits: Elena Pleskevich

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Credits: zolakoma

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Amazing Things to Do in Antalya

1. Get drenched at the Duden Waterfalls.

Make the most of your holidays in Turkey by soaking in the beauty of the Duden Waterfalls. Roughly ten kilometres from Antalya, the falls are perfect for a quick swim and all pictures taken here come out great.

Credits: zolakoma

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2. Relax on the beaches

Unwind with a good book on beaches of Antalya such as Patara and Konyaalti. This is one of the most relaxing things you could do while travelling to Turkey.

Credits: Melissa Maples

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3. Visit the Hadrian's Gate

Built by and named after the Roman emperor Hadrian, the Hadrian's Gate, with its corinthian columns, is an indomitable structure and elegant at the same time. This monument should ideally find a place in your list of Turkey destinations.

Credits: Stu Rapley

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Places to Eat in Antalya

1. Vanilla Lounge - A cosy restaurant that serves brilliant Turkish, European and Fusion cuisine, Vanilla Lounge has friendly staff and a nice atmosphere.

Where: Hesapcı Sok. 33, Kaleici (Old Town), Antalya

2. Seraser Fine Dining Restaurant - As the name suggests, this place is fancy to the core and the ambience is spectacular. You will have to reserve a table in order to sample their wonderful French and European fare.

Where: Selcuk Mahallesi, Pasa Cami Sk. No:14, Muratpasa, Antalya

Suggested Stay:

Akra Barut Hotel

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Day 5

A direct night bus runs from Antalya to the mystical Goreme (Cappadocia) and you can book your tickets in advance from the Metro Turizm website.

Credits: Moyan Brenn

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Credits: Moyan Brenn

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Amazing Things to Do in Cappadocia

1. Go up in the air in order to witness the natural spectacle that is Cappadocia. Hot-air ballooning over this otherworldly region replete with its 'fairy chimneys' and honeycombed hillocks is one of the most popular things to do while travelling to Turkey.

Credits: Clark & Kim Kays

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2. The Goreme Open-Air Museum will add more spark to your holidays in Turkey owing to the fact that it is a splendid agglomeration of rock-cut chapels and churches that capture the essence of the Byzantine empire. The Karanlik Church is a major highlight of the museum.

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Cappadocia

1. Seyyah Han - Seyyah Han is essentially Turkish cuisine at its best and the wines served here are equally great. The waiting staff is extremely hospitable.

Where: Kume mahallesi Maltepe Sokağı, no 144, Avanos/Nevşehir, Turkey

2. Sakli Konak Restaurant - If in case you are looking for delicious local food in Cappadocia, reserve a table at Sakli Konak. The prices are pretty reasonable.

Where: Tekelli Mahallesi, 50240 Uçhisar Belediyesi/Nevşehir Merkez/Nevşehir, Turkey

Day 6

Some 300 kilometres away from Cappadocia, the dynamic capital of Turkey, Ankara, is best accessed by bus. The journey should be around five hours long.

Credits: Asim Bharwani

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Credits: Jorge Franganillo

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Amazing Things to Do in Ankara

1. Relish the finest views of the city of Ankara at the Ankara Castle, one of the most important historical sites in Turkey. It serves as a symbol for the city and is easily the most enriching of all Turkey destinations.

Credits: osman sözer

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2. The largest mosque in Ankara, the Kocatepe Mosque is massive and so much so that it reminds you of a giant. With its many magnificent domes and minarets, it always paints a pretty picture

Credits: Asim Bharwani

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Day 7

3. When you are travelling to Turkey, it is imperative for you to visit Ankara's Anitkabir mausoleum and pay homage to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence.

Credits: Jean & Nathalie

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

Best Rated Places to Eat in Ankara

1. Trilye Restaurant - Trilye serves gourmet cuisine and the seafood available here is excellent. The portions are generous and the location is perfect.

Where: Kazım Ozalp Mah. Kuleli Sok. No: 32, 06680 Çankaya/Ankara, Turkey

2. Goksu Restaurant - This restaurant is a Turkish delight for all intents and purposes. It is old and traditional and the food is divine.

Where: Mithatpasa Mahallesi, Bayındır Sokak, No 22/A, Cankaya, Ankara

Suggested Stay:

Ankara HiltonSA

Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto
Photo of From Istanbul to Cappadocia: How To Experience Turkey's Balloon-Filled Skies And Artistic Treasures by Tripoto

As you stroll down the cobbled streets of Istanbul, history greets you at every step and culture is a constant companion. The palaces, mosques and churches of the city are artistic goldmines in their own right and the bazaars exude this infectious energy. The mezes are unending, the kebaps are always tender and the coffee is the most addictive of the lot. Entrenched in its prosperous heritage, Istanbul defines vibrance in a way no other place does.

Turkey's beloved cotton castle, Pamukkale has lured many travellers by virtue of its breath-taking hot springs and calcite travertines. Bathe in its glorious pools and make the most of all those photo ops. Additionally, do not forget to visit its UNESCO World Heritage awarded neighbour, Hierapolis, the ancient spa city. Nature possibly functions with the help of a magic wand and Pamukkale is shining proof of the same.

Antalya is a Mediterranean delight and a wonderful combination of vintage and modern. The mountains are close enough to feast your eyes on while the blue waters flow peacefully. The city is home to some glorious Ottoman architecture and Kaleici, its historic centre only helps in amplifying Antalya's charm.

Cappadocia is a fairytale; it is surreal and overwhelming. It is a geographical marvel that perhaps does not even belong to this planet because its beauty is absolutely unparalleled. With its fairy chimneys (tall and thin spires of rocks) and tangerine skies dotted with hot air balloons, visiting Cappadocia is a lot like being on drugs. Hike for as long as you can in order to savour its exceptional moonlike landscape and let it tingle your senses.

While the Turkish capital is inherently modest, it greatly survives on intellect and vigour. Its streets dotted with the most charming cafes and restaurants will transport you into a different era altogether and get your creative juices flowing. This economic giant also boasts of some exceptional museums and monuments and is therefore an integral part of every Turkey itinerary.

If you have already travelled the lengths and breadths of Turkey or discovered a hidden gem in this gorgeous country, then do share your travelogue on Tripoto, the world's largest community of travellers.

3 Comment(s)
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guys please check visa rules very carefully...most people conveniently tell that Indians can get evisa or voa! it's not so for Indian unless you hold a valid Europe or USA visa! so just get urself a sticker...
Sun 02 17 19, 16:10 · Reply · Report
Can Indians get a direct e-visa without any schengen or similar visa ??
Mon 10 30 17, 21:51 · Reply · Report
Can you please help me confirm with the visa policies . I am 19 looking forward for a solo trip. As to what i know one needs a schengen visa , UK or either Ireland visa to get the e-visa for turkey ??
Mon 10 30 17, 21:45 · Reply · Report
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