Forgo the major cities and focus on Turkey's natural beauty and historic landmarks. This unforgettable 10-day adventure combines hikes along the famous Lycian Way with tours of ancient ruins and road trips to natural wonders like the thermal pools of Pamukkale and the lunar valleys of Cappadocia. It's an active adventure that showcases a side of Turkey most tourists never get to see.


  • Enjoy gorgeous coastal scenery as you hike the Lycian Way
  • Bathe in the thermal pools at Pamukkale & Hierapolis
  • Tour ancient Ephesus, which dates to the 10th century BCE
  • See ancient Byzantine cave dwellings in Cappadocia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Antalya, Transfer to Adrasan via Mount Chimaera Adrasan
Day 2 Cape Gelidonya Hike Adrasan
Day 3 Hike to Olympos Adrasan
Day 4 Adrasan to Pamukkale & Hierapolis Pamukkale
Day 5 Free Day in Pamukkale & Hierapolis Pamukkale
Day 6 Pamukkale to Şirince, Tour Ancient Ephesus Şirince
Day 7 Şirince to Cappadocia, Göreme Museum & Underground City Urgup
Day 8 Cooking Class & Valley Visits Urgup
Day 9 Cappadocia to Antalya Road Trip Antalya
Day 10 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Antalya, Transfer to Adrasan via Mount Chimaera

The harbor at Antalya
Welcome to Turkey! This historic nation is a geographic and cultural bridge between the Middle East and the West. Few cities in the world represent such a melting pot of cultures quite like Turkey's largest city, Istanbul. From the airport, you'll take a connecting flight to the southern coastal city of Antalya—gateway to the Turquoise Coast and famous for its golden beaches, seaside mountains, pine-fringed bays, and azure waters. Antalya is a premier holiday destination and a historic Mediterranean port, complete with a yacht-filled old harbor, stunning Roman ruins, and Ottoman-era houses.
Upon arrival, stretch your legs on a walking tour of the city's Kaleiçi (Old Town) district. Highlights include a stop at Hadrian's Gate, a well-preserved triumphal arch built for Roman emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century CE. There's also the Yivli Minaret Mosque, built by the Seljuk Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad I in the 13th century and whose 124-foot (38-m) fluted minaret is an icon of the city. After Kaleiçi, visit the Antalya Archaeological Museum. This adds perspective to the architectural marvels you've just seen by providing a timeline of Antalya's history from antiquity to today.
In the afternoon, you'll leave Antalya for the hour trip down the coast to the tranquil seaside town of Adrasan. On the way, stop at Mount Chimaera, known in Turkish as yanartaş, which translates to "burning rock." The mountain earned this name due to its many flaming gas vents burning for millennia and which were even once used as a navigational reference for ships at sea. Famously, this place is widely believed to be the origin of the mythical Chimaera monster. After witnessing the eternal flames of Chimaera, you'll continue to Adrasan and check into your hotel.

Day 2: Cape Gelidonya Hike

Cape Gelidonya Lighthouse
The lighthouse at Cape Gelidonya
Wake up early and lace up those hiking boots because today kicks off the trekking portion of this grand Turkey adventure. The couple of days you'll spend hiking in this area follow portions of a route known as the Lycian Way. This region, once controlled by the ancient Lycian League, includes the provinces of Antalya and Muğla, on the Tekke Peninsula, where the famed Turquoise Coast is located. In fact, all 335 miles (540 km) of the Lycian Way hiking route are located on this idyllic stretch of coastline.
You'll pick up the trail in Karaöz, a few minutes south of Adrasan. This tiny coastal village will be your starting point for a 6-7-hour hike along the Taurus Mountains. One of the day's highlights is a stop at Cape Gelidonya, a site most famously known for the Bronze Age shipwreck discovered here in the 1950s. You'll also pass the cape's lighthouse, which overlooks a collection of forested islets. After a scenic lunch near the lighthouse, you'll hop on the bus back to Adrasan.

Day 3: Hike to Olympos

Lycian Mount Olympus
Lycian Mount Olympus
Plan your trip to Turkey
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today's 6-7-hour hike will be a bit more strenuous, as most of the trail follows an uphill route. The path first takes you through groves of orange and pomegranate trees, then up the western slope of Musa Daglari Mountain. The trail here rises through a labyrinth of shady pine forests and sandstone gorges as you pass by quaint shepherd's huts.

Eventually, you'll take a water break on a high-altitude plateau that is dotted with colorful orchids in springtime. For lunch, stop at the foot of the adjacent Tahtalı Dağı, a mountain also known as Lycian Olympus. After an extensive rest, take on the steep and rocky descent to the ruins of Olympos, an ancient Lycian city. Meet the tour bus, which will take you back to Adrasan.

Day 4: Adrasan to Pamukkale & Hierapolis

The terraced pools at Pamukkale
Rise early and hop in the car for a 3.5-hour drive north to Pamukkale. This town in western Turkey is known for what might be the most stunning natural wonder in the entire country: its collection of terraced thermal springs. The name itself translates to "cotton castle," and on a day tour of this area, you'll understand why. 
The landscape here comprises mineral forests, petrified waterfalls, and terraced basins. These were formed by calcium waters that cascade down from a 656-foot (200-m) cliff overlooking the plain. Some of the terraced pools, with their baby-blue water, are even open for swimming. But the place you want to go for a soak is nearby Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded in 190 BCE. Take a dip in the Antique Pool, a thermal bath full of submerged marble columns from the nearby Temple of Apollo. Other landmarks at this site include various temple ruins, arches, a necropolis, and an amphitheater.
After touring Hierapolis and the nearby terraced pools, you'll go to your spa hotel in Pamukkale. Here you can spend the evening swimming in more thermal pools or enjoying a relaxing massage to take the edge off your long day.

Day 5: Free Day in Pamukkale & Hierapolis

The Antique Pool in Hierapolis
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then spend the day at the terraced pools of Pamukkale or bathing in the thermal waters at Hierapolis. You can also stay at your hotel and enjoy the spa services there. Whatever you decide, this is a day to relax and recharge your batteries amid sublime surroundings. 

Day 6: Pamukkale to Şirince, Tour Ancient Ephesus

The Ruins of Ephesus
Ruins of the Library of Celsus, in Ephesus
In the morning, a driver will take you on the 3-hour ride west from Pamukkale toward the coast and the charming hillside village of Şirince. Nowadays, it's a popular tourist destination famous for its well-preserved old houses, quaint cobblestone streets, and wine and olive oil production. After checking in to your hotel, you'll head a few minutes down the hill to the ruins of the ancient coastal city of Ephesus.
On a 4-hour tour of this 1,030-acre archeological site, you'll walk amid living history spanning various eras. This Unesco World Heritage Site is a well-preserved testimony to the Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Christian periods—one that attracts millions of tourists each year. Ephesus is home to many awe-inspiring monuments. The most famous is the Temple of Artemis, which dates to around 550 BCE and is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Other incredible ruins include a 24,000-seat amphitheater and the Library of Celsus, a grand funerary monument that dates to the 2nd-century CE.
Later in the afternoon, you'll walk in the footsteps of Ephesus' religious history when you visit the House of the Virgin Mary. Located atop the beautiful greenery of Bulbul Mountain, it's believed that this is where Mary came with St. John, who spent several years spreading Christianity in Ephesus. There's even reason to believe the gospel of St. John was written here. After touring Ephesus, you'll return to Şirince for a lovely dinner.

Day 7: Şirince to Cappadocia, Göreme Museum & Underground City

The Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia
The "fairy chimneys" of Cappadocia

In the morning, a driver will pick you up for the ride from Şirince to the airport in the nearby coastal city of İzmir. You'll fly 1.5 hours to Kayseri, located in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. This city is the gateway to the Cappadocia area, known for its towering geological formations and lunar valleys. Upon arrival at the airport, another driver will pick you up and transfer you to the ancient town of Ürgüp

Cappadocia is famous for its towering rock formations, nicknamed "fairy chimneys," because of their otherworldly shape. You'll witness these geological marvels on a 3-hour tour of the Göreme Open Air Museum. This cluster of rock-hewn churches and Byzantine landmarks is home to ancient art and beautiful frescoes. As you stroll the site, you'll learn about the techniques the residents used to create these structures and artworks. Note that most of the churches here date from the 10th-12th centuries.

You'll experience another type of local art form in the afternoon when you visit a pottery studio. Pottery craft has been a long-standing tradition in the region, probably since the Hittite civilization (2000-1500 BCE). That's because the nearby Kızılırmak River has supplied all the red clay used to produce these earthenware items since antiquity. The visit includes a live demonstration from a master ceramist, plus you'll get to try making some pottery yourself.

The last excursion of the day is a descent into Kaymaklı Underground City. This is one of the aforementioned underground havens built by the early Christians to protect themselves from religious persecution. It comprises an elaborate maze of nearly 100 tunnels and various caves, and it's one of the widest of the region's underground cities. Four levels of the city are open to the public, with the fourth level located 65 feet (20 m) underground. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Ürgüp.

Day 8: Cooking Class & Valley Visits

Hot air balloons over Cappadocia

Today you're in for a real treat, both literally and figuratively. In the morning, you'll visit a private home where a local family will teach you how to cook traditional delicacies in preparation for lunch. Learn how to make dishes such as savory borek pastries, stuffed eggplant, and delectable baklava. You'll sit down to a multi-course lunch with your new friends and enjoy your creation accompanied by rich Turkish coffee when you're done. 

After lunch, enjoy more panoramic views of Cappadocia from Avcilar Valley and Paşabağ Valley (Valley of Monks). These feature some of the most incredible fairy chimneys and cave dwellings, so you'll want to take plenty of photos. Then, in the early evening, return to your hotel for a little relaxation before heading into town for dinner.

Day 9: Cappadocia to Antalya Road Trip

Stop at the Aspendos Theater

In the morning, head out with your driver/guide on a full-day road trip, leaving the arid plateaus of Central Anatolia as you head southwest to Antalya. It's a long ride (around six hours), but you'll break up the drive with stops at a couple of the region's highlights. The first is at Sultanhani, a town known for its 13th-century caravanserai. These were roadside inns that traders and caravaners would overnight at during their travels on the old Silk Road. 

After touring the caravanserai, you'll continue the drive to Konya. This historic city is a famous pilgrimage destination for Sufis. It's home to the tomb of the Celaleddin Rumi, known as Mevlana, an important mystic and founder of the Mevlevi order. You'll visit the Mevlana Museum, which includes a 13th-century mausoleum housing Rumi's sarcophagus. Other exhibits include a collection of artifacts belonging to the Mevlevi Order, such as books, carpets, and artworks. Near the museum is the Mevlana Cultural Center, which stages whirling dervish ceremonies.

Then it will be time for lunch, after which you'll continue south. Before reaching Antalya, however, there is one more stop: the Aspendos Theater. Built in the 2nd century CE, Aspendos is regarded as the most well-preserved Roman amphitheater in all of Turkey. It's so sturdy that it's still used for performances today. You'll get to stroll around its some 7,000 seats on a tour. Then hit the road for the last leg of the trip, arriving in the evening at your hotel in Antalya's Old Town. 

Day 10: Depart

Sunset over the Turquoise Coast

No one likes to say goodbye, especially to a country as rich in history and culture as Turkey. In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Antalya, where you'll fly to Istanbul and then catch your connecting flight home. Farewell!

More Great Turkey Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Turkey? Check out these other Turkey itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights. 


Map of Turkey Off the Beaten Path: Adrasan, Pamukkale, Urgup & More - 10 Days
Map of Turkey Off the Beaten Path: Adrasan, Pamukkale, Urgup & More - 10 Days