Highlights of Turkey: A 12-Day DIY Travel Itinerary and Expenses | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Apr 16, 2016

Highlights of Turkey: A 12-Day DIY Travel Itinerary and Expenses


Because YOU asked for it, here is a summary of our #SweetEscapesInTurkey series along with our complete travel itinerary and expenses. :) 

We are very happy to share this article as a guide, but please remember that we are not the best DIY travel planners, not experts in budget trips either. Our itinerary had loopholes and we had misadventures. So I would suggest that you take all the tips you can get from here and build an itinerary based on your own interests. 

Grab your pen and travel journal. Ready? Here we go. :)    

Turkey Travel Itinerary and Expenses
#SweetEscapesInTurkey Travel Itinerary and Expenses

Budget Flights
Ed and I are big fans of budget airlines. We have survived nine hours without the fancy inflight dining and entertainment during our trip to the Philippines. So we thought, why can't we do the same for our trip to Istanbul which is only less than 5 hours. 

Currently, there are three budget airlines with direct flights between UAE and Turkey; Fly Dubai, Pegasus and Air Arabia. Two-way ticket prices are almost on the same range (1,000 to 1,500 AED/person). We chose to fly with Air Arabia, although its hub is in Sharjah, as it has the perfect flight schedule for our itinerary. 

For our domestic flights in Turkey, we opted to fly with Pegasus as it is a well-recommended Turkish budget airline and prices are super cheap. We only paid 71 TL/ person for our flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia and 49 TL/ person for Izmir to Istanbul! 1 Turkish Lira = 1.29 UAE Dirham = 0.35 US Dollar


Accommodation
In terms of a place to stay, Turkey has a lot of options for budget-savvy travelers - from a bed in a mixed-dormitory to a private room with an ensuite bathroom in a boutique hotel. We directly booked our stay in Cappadocia and Selcuk in the hotel website. While for Pamukkale and Istanbul, we booked through the ever-trusted Booking.com. A deluxe room in a boutique hotel with breakfast for two people costs 100 - 300 TL/ night.


Food
Our daily budget for food was 50 TL/person. That is without breakfast since we're having it in the hotel. There were days when we overspend, but most of the time it was just right. A meal for two in a small restaurant ranges from 20 - 50 TL. 


How much did I spend in total?
Ed and I have a common travel fund, so we usually don't calculate how much each one of us has spent. But to give you an overview on the amount you have to prepare if you're traveling alone or with a group, I did a simple math and divided our total expenses into two. Hahah! 

Turkey DIY trip expenses
Turkey DIY trip expenses/ person 

So, it's 5625 AED or 4300 TL or 1500 USD for one person. All prices stated in this blog post were as of November 2015. 


The Itinerary
12 days are never enough in Turkey. So for this trip, we focused on the highlights, the major attractions, and the ones in our 20 before 2020 list. Here is our DIY itinerary. For more details, please click on the links (words in pink will lead you my previous posts).


Day 0: From Dubai to Istanbul 

20:50 - Flight from Dubai to Istanbul via Air Arabia


Day 1: From Istanbul to Cappadocia


00:15 - Arrival in Sabiha Gokcen Airport

01:00 - Midnight snacks at Sbarro inside the airport: 11 TL for two

06:10 - Flight from Istanbul to Kayseri via Pegasus Airlines

07:40 - Arrival in Kayseri Airport

08:30 - Take the airport shuttle of Turkish Heritage Travel (complimentary when we booked our Cappadocia Tour and Hot Air Balloon)

09:30 - Drop off and check in at Kelebek Special Cave Hotel

10:00 - Breakfast and Power Nap

15:00 - Late lunch at Cappadocia Pide House: 26 TL for two

16:00 - Hike to Sunset Point and beyond

19:00 -  Souvenir shopping in Goreme Town Center: Fridge magnet: 3 TL/piece

20:00 - Dinner at Cafe Keyif: 50 TL for two


Cappadocia Day 1
Goreme Town | Kelebek Hotel | Sunset Point | Doner Kebab


Day 2: Magical Cappadocia


Hot Air Balloon ride via Butterfly Balloons: 140 Euro / 450 TL / 585 AED per person

5:00 - Pick up in the hotel

5:30 - Free Breakfast at Butterfly Balloons office

7:00 - Hot Air Balloon ride

8:00 - Champagne and Nibbles

8:30 - Drop off in the hotel


Undiscovered Tour via Turkish Heritage Travel: 55 Euro / 176 TL / 230 AED per person

09:45 - Pick up in the hotel

10:30 - Mustafapasa Village

11;30 - Keslik Monastery

12:30 - Sobessos Excavation Site

13:30 - Lunch in Soganli Valley

14:30 - Soganli Valley

15:30 - Derinkuyu Underground City

17:00 - Drop off in the hotel

20:00 -  Dinner at Kelebek Special Cave Hotel restaurant: 40 TL for two


Cappadocia Day 2
Butterfly Balloons | Hot Air Balloons | Soganli Valley | Derinkuyu Underground City


Day 3: DIY Cappadocia Walking Tour + Night Bus to Pamukkale

05:30 - Sunrise in Sunset Point

08:00 - Breakfast at Kings Valley (complimentary for guests of Kelebek Special Cave Hotel)

11:00 - Drop off at the hotel / Check out and store luggage in the hotel reception

12:00 - purchase night bus tickets to Pamukkale

13:00 - Goreme Open Air Museum: 25 TL/person

14:00 - Light snacks in the market near Open Air Museum: 7 TL for two

15:00 - Evil Eye Tree

15:30 - Love Valley

17:30 - Early dinner at Top Deck Cave Restaurant: 70 TL for two

20:00 - Night Bus to Pamukkale via Suha Turizm: 50 TL/person

Cappadocia Day 3
King's Valley | Goreme Open Air Museum | Evil Eye | Love Valley


Day 4: Hello Pamukkale!

05:00 - Arrival in Pamukkale Town

07:00 - Check in at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel

08:00 - Breakfast at Melrose Viewpont: 15 TL/person (extra charge as only two breakfasts are complimentary for our 2 nights stay)

13:00 - Paraglide: 140 TL + Photos and Video: 120 TL

15:00 - Lunch in Lamuko's Lokanta: 50 TL for two

17:00 - Coffee and Kunefe at Pamukkale Natural Park: 24 TL

20:00 - Dinner at White House: 53 TL for two

Pamukkale Day 1
Melrose Viewpoint | Paragliding | Lamuko's Lokanta | Pamukkale Natural Park


Day 5: Pamukkale - Hierapolis DIY Tour

 07:00 - Complimentary breakfast at Melrose Viewpoint

09:00 - walk to Pamukkale entrance gate (Pamukkale and Hierapolis Entrance Fee: 25 TL/person)

09:30 - The Cotton Caste / Pamukkale

11:00 - explore Hierapolis

13:00 - Lunch in Hierapolis (restaurant beside the Antique pool): 37 TL for two

15:00 - swim in Antique Pool / Cleopatra's Pool: 32 TL/person

17:00 - sunset-watching at the travertines near the south gate

19:00 - Dinner at Kaya's: 48 TL for two

Pamukkale Day 2
Pamukkale | Hierapolis | Antique Pool | Sunset


Day 6: From Pamukkale to Selcuk to Sirince

07:00 - breakfast and check-out at Melrose Viewpoint Hotel

09:00 - take Pamukkale Turizm bus from Pamukkale Town to Selcuk: 30 TL/person

12:00 - arrival in Selcuk bus station

13:00 - check in at Ayasoluk Hotel

14:00 - Lunch in Ayasoluk Restaurant: 100 TL for two

16:00 - take the Dolmus from Selcuk bus station to Sirince: 3 TL one way/person

16:30 - explore Sirince
* Turkish Ice Cream: 5 TL
* glass of Sirince fruit wine: 10 TL
* Olive soap and lotion: 10 TL
* Dinner at Le Jardin: 33 TL for two

19:30 - back to the hotel

To Selcuk | Ayasoluk Hotel | Sirince | Fruit Wine


Day 7: The Wonders of Ephesus

08:00 - complimentary breakfast at Ayasoluk Hotel

10:00 - walk to Basilica of St. John: 10 TL/person

11:00 - Isabey Mosque

12:00 - Temple of Artemis

13:00 - Lunch at St. John's Cafe: 40 TL for two

14:00 - Taxi to Ephesus and House of the Virgin Mary - taxi rental: 100 TL

14:30 - Ephesus: 30 TL/person

16:30 - House of the Virgin Mary: 20 TL/person
* Rosary: 32 TL

17:30 - Selcuk market and train station

19:00 - dinner at Selcuk Pidecesi: 10 TL for two

Selcuk Day 2
Basilica of St. John | Roman Bath | Ephesus | Selcuk Pidecesi


Day 8: From Selcuk to Istanbul

5:30 - check out at Ayasoluk Hotel

6:00 - taxi from hotel to train station: 10 TL

6:30 - train ride to Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport: 5 TL/person
* Simit: 3 TL

7:30 - arrival at the airport

8:00 - breakfast in a cafe with wifi: 30 TL for two

11:15 - flight to Istanbul via Pegasus Airlines

12:10 - arrival in Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen Airport

13:00 - Lunch in Simit Sayari in the airport Arrival Terminal: 28 TL for two

14:00 - take the Havatas Bus to Taksim: 14 TL/person

15:30 - arrival in Taksim (walk to the metro station)
* Simit: 1 TL

16:00 - purchase Istanbulkart in the metro station: 10 TL for the card + 90 TL load

16:30 - take the funicular and tram to Nowy Efendi Hotel in Sultanahmet

17:30 - check-in at Nowy Efendi Hotel
     
19:00 - Anatolian dinner in a restaurant nearby: 70 TL for two

20:00 - Desserts at Hafiz Mustafa 1864: 15 TL for two

Hello Istanbul
Havatas Bus | Nowy Efendi Hotel | Kunefe


Day 9: Old City DIY Walking Tour

08:00 - complimentary breakfast at Nowy Efendi Hotel

09:30 - walk to Topkapi Palace

10:00 - Topkapi Palace      
* purchase Museum Pass: 85 TL/person

11:00 - the Harem at Topkapi

12:00 - lunch at Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecesi: 40 TL for two

13:00 - Sultanahmet Square (German Fountain/Serpentine Column/Egyptian Obelisk/Walled Obelisk)

13:30 - The Blue Mosque

14:30 - Coffee and Baklava at Dervish Cafe: 26 TL for two

15:00 - Hagia Sophia

16:30 - Basilica Cistern: 20 TL/person
* Photo Op in Turkish Costume: 20 TL

18:00 - walk to Eminonu

19:00 - dinner at the Fish Sandwich Boat
* Balik Ekmek 8 TL
* Pickle Juice 2 TL
* Lokma: 3 TL

20:00 - take the tram from Eminonu to Sultanahmet

20:30 - Kesme and Salep at Mado Cafe in Sultanahmet: 26 TL

21:30 - back to the hotel

Istanbul Old City Tour
Topkapi Palace | Blue Mosque | Hagia Sophia | Basilica Cistern


Day 10: Golden Horn and Galata

08:00 - complimentary breakfast at Nowy Efendi Hotel

09:00 - from Eminonu to Chora Church
* from Eminonu bus station (located after the fish sandwich boats), take the bus which will pass through Edirnekapi
* Hop off at Edirnikapi Bus Stop and walk to Chora Church. (Don't forget to bring a MAP! I highly recommend the walking directions in Google Maps. Print or screen shot if you're not on roaming data.)

10:00 - Chora Church (use your Istanbul Museum Pass)

11:00 - walk to Balat and Fener
* Now, this is the part where we got lost. Bring your map and ask around!

11:30 - Meandering from Balat Ladder Street and to the colorful Fener neighborhood

12:30 - from Fener to Pierre Loti
* from Fener, cross the road and look for the bus stop. Take bus 99 to Pierre Loti Teleferik
* Ride the Gondola (cable car) to Pierre Loti
* Light Lunch in Pierre Loti: 14 TL for two

14:00 - from Pierre Loti to Istiklal Caddesi
* Take Bus 55T to Beyoglu
* Ride the Tunel
* explore Istiklal Caddesi

17:00  - from Istiklal Caddesi, walk towards Galata Tower

17:15 - QUEUE! in Galata Tower

17:30 - Sunset in Galata Tower (entrance fee: 25TL/person)

19:00 - Dinner in Karakoy Lokantasi: 100 TL for two

20:00 - Baklava and Tea in Karakoy Gulluoglu: 30 TL for two

21:00 - back to the hotel

Golden Horn and Galata
Fener | Pierre Loti | Istiklal Caddesi | Galata Tower


Day 11: from Europe to Asia and back

08:00 - complimentary breakfast at Nowy Efendi Hotel

09:00 - Relax at Sultanahmet Square

10:00 - explore Grand Bazaar

12:00 - Istiklal Caddesi (Again!)
* eat wet burgers at Taksim Square: 15 TL for two

13:30 - take the Funicular from Taksim to Kabatas

14:00 - take the Sehir Haltari ferry from Kabatas to Kadikoy

14:30 - explore and have coffee at Kadikoy Market

15:30 - Back to the European Side
* Ride the Marmaray Line from Uskudar in the Asian Side to Sirkeci
* Walk to the closest T1 station  and take tram to Cemberlitas

16:30 - Hammam at Cemberlitas Hamami: 115 TL for a Traditional Turkish Hammam

18:00 - Sunset in Sultanahmet Square
* Turkish Ice Cream: 8 TL

19:30 - Dinner at Sultanahmet Gulhane Kebab House: 86 TL for two

21:00 - back to the hotel

Istanbul Day 4
Grand Bazaar | Wet Burgers | Kadikoy | Turkish bath


Day 12: Last Full Day in Istanbul

08:00 - complimentary breakfast at Nowy Efendi Hotel

10:00 - back to Hafiz Mustafa to buy Turkish Delights

11:30 - lunch in a restaurant under Galata Bridge: 35 TL for two

13:00 - TurYol Short Bosphorus Cruise: 12 TL/person

15:00 - Egyptian Bazaar
* Buy souvenirs (Plate: 25 TL) and another dose of Turkish Ice Cream: 10 TL

17:00 - Sultanahmet Square for the last time

18:00 - Kumpir for early dinner in a restaurant near Sultanahmet tram station: 37 TL for two

19:00 - off to Sabiha Gokcen via public transport
* From Sultanahmet, ride the tram to Kabatas
* From Kabatas, ride the Funicular to Taksim
* walk from Taksim Square to Havatas Bus Stop
* take the Havatas Bus to Sabiha Gokcen Airport

Last day in Istanbul
Hafiz Mustafa | Bosphorus Cruise | Bosphorus Bridge| Egyptian Bazaar

Until then, Turkiye! ;)


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