Get ready to sample delicious Turkish food and drink across the country on this 15-day itinerary. Start in the bustling streets of Istanbul to dine at Michelin-star restaurants and explore its many markets. Then, fly to Cappadocia, where you can learn how to bake Turkish treats and watch a whirling dervish show. You'll also sample wine in Izmir, explore Greco-Roman ruins, choose the freshest dinner at Kusadasi Fish Market, and dine with farmers at Selia Artisanal Farm before ending your trip back to Istanbul.


  • Cruise the Bosphorus Strait and take a guided tour of Istanbul's historic district
  • Explore the underground world of Cappadocia at the Kaymakli Underground City
  • Sample delicious Turkish food in some of the finest restaurants across the country
  • Taste wines at Urlice Vineyard and have supper at the Selia Artisanal Farm

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra Restaurant İstanbul
Day 2 Visit Topkapı Palace, Cruise Down the Bosphorus Strait, Dinner at Mikla İstanbul
Day 3 Guided Tour of Sultanahmet & the Grand Bazaar İstanbul
Day 4 Street Food Tour of Eminönü & Kadıköy İstanbul
Day 5 Fly to Cappadocia, Lunch & Cooking Class, Whirling Dervish Show Cappadocia
Day 6 Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Guided Tour, Dinner at Seki Restaurant Cappadocia
Day 7 Kaymaklı Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Dinner at Lil'a Restaurant Cappadocia
Day 8 Fly to İzmir, Visit Urlice Vineyards, Transfer to Alaçatı Alaçatı
Day 9 Visit Can Carpets, Explore Ephesus, Transfer to Şirince Şirince
Day 10 Visit Pamukkale, Choose Your Dinner at Kuşadası Fish Market Şirince
Day 11 Transfer to Bodrum via Lake Bafa & Kapıkırı Village, Dinner at Orfoz Restaurant Bodrum
Day 12 Explore Bodrum at Your Own Pace Bodrum
Day 13 Bodrum City Tour, Dining Experience at Selia Artisanal Farm Bodrum
Day 14 Fly to İstanbul, Join a Walking Tour, Visit Hürrem Sultan Hammam İstanbul
Day 15 Depart İstanbul  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in İstanbul, Dinner at Tuğra Restaurant

End your first night in Turkey with a sweet treat of baklava

Welcome to Turkey and the vibrant city of İstanbul! This iconic destination is known as "the Bridge between Europe and Asia," as it's the only city in the world that straddles two continents. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel, where you can settle in and relax before getting ready for dinner at Çırağan Palace Kempinski. This historic Ottoman palace houses one of the city's most famous restaurants, Tuğra Restaurant and Lounge (Tuğra meaning "Signature of the Sultan").

Enjoy incredible views over the Bosphorus Strait from the opulent dining room adorned with intricate Ottoman-era decor. Choose from an array of dishes crafted from centuries-old recipes with a modern twist, from delectable appetizers or mezes to succulent kebabs. No meal is complete without dessert; try a homemade baklava or a warm halva paired with Turkish coffee. Continue the night with drinks along the glittering strait, or return to the hotel to rest for tomorrow's tour of the city. 

Day 2: Visit Topkapı Palace, Cruise Down the Bosphorus Strait, Dinner at Mikla

Admire the intricate details inside Topkapı Palace

Start your day with a sweet treat at Karaköy Güllüoğlu, an iconic baklava shop that has been making this delicacy since 1843. Learn how to make this traditional Turkish dessert and sample different flavors before continuing to Topkapı Palace, the former imperial Ottoman court from 1478 to 1856, now an extensive museum. Wander through the ornate courtyards, lush gardens, and impressive chambers until you come across the Harem, a secluded section of the palace where the imperial family resided. After exploring the palace grounds and browsing the exhibits, sit down for a quick lunch at an esnaf lokantası.

This type of local restaurant sells a variety of premade meals to choose from, such as tavuklu kapama, a baked chicken dish with rice. After refueling, hop on a luxury yacht to cruise down the Bosphorus Strait. Sit back, relax, and admire popular landmarks like the Golden Horn and Ortaköy Mosque from the water. Enjoy afternoon drinks and nibbles as you cruise down the waterway, then disembark and return to your hotel to rest. End your night with dinner at Mikla, a Michelin-starred restaurant that innovatively combines dishes and ingredients from the chef's Turkish-Scandinavian background. 

Day 3: Guided Tour of Sultanahmet & the Grand Bazaar

Sample this classic bean dish at Suleymaniye Kurufasulyecisi

Today you get a closer look at İstanbul's historic district, Sultanahmet, home to many important buildings and sites from the Byzantine era. Follow your guide to one of the city's most famous sites, the Blue Mosque. Enter this historic landmark from the 17th century to see the interior lined with intricate blue tiles that lent the mosque its name. Head outside to the Hippodrome of Constantinople, now known as Sultanahmet Square. Admire the square's fountain with the mosque as a backdrop, and check out the towering Obelisk of Theodosius, imported directly from Egypt.

Sit down for lunch at Suleymaniye Kurufasulyecisi to try fasulye, a classic Turkish dish of white beans cooked in tomato sauce with rice. Explore other UNESCO World Heritage sites in the area, such as the Hagia Sophia mosque, to see the blend of Byzantine grandeur and Ottoman magnificence in its architecture before heading to the Grand Bazaar in the afternoon. Stay close to your guide as you walk down the winding streets and alleys covered by over 4,000 stalls. End the night with kebabs at Samatya Develi, which has been serving this beloved local dish since 1966.

Day 4: Street Food Tour of Eminönü & Kadıköy

Smell the fragrant spices at the Spice Bazaar

You might want to forgo breakfast this morning, as you're going to eat your way across the city. Start with the European side at the commercial waterfront area of Eminönü. As you weave through the colorful backstreets, learn about and try different traditional dishes and ingredients, like local cheeses, pickles, puddings, and Turkish delight. Surround yourself with mouthwatering aromas at the Spice Bazaar, with over 85 shops selling local snacks, spices, and sweets for you to try. Grab a dürüm, a delectable wrap filled with tender meat, to keep you going.

In the afternoon, take a short ferry ride across the strait to the Asian side of the city, Kadıköy. Walk along the narrow, pedestrian-only streets, entering local shops and restaurants. Explore one of the many markets in the area; from fresh fruit to seafood to spices, they sell it all. This is the best area to try the favorite local dish of midye dolma, stuffed mussels with rice, and kokoreç, lamb intestines seasoned with traditional spices wrapped in bread. End the street food tour with a restorative glass of Turkish tea called çay in one of the traditional tea gardens overlooking the Sea of Marmara.

Day 5: Fly to Cappadocia, Lunch & Cooking Class, Whirling Dervish Show

Watch a traditional whirling dervish dance this evening

Leave the bustling city behind, as you fly one hour to the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia in central Turkey this morning. Upon arrival, your driver will be waiting outside the airport to transfer to your hotel. Take some time to refresh after your flight, then head to a village house to learn about the secrets of baking bread and cooking local dishes in a stone oven from the owner of the house. Sit down with your hosts in the garden afterward to enjoy the food you made.

In the evening, your driver will take you to the nearby town of Avanos to watch a whirling dervish ritual dance, called a sema, performed by members of the Sufi Muslim sect. You'll watch this meditative and entrancing performance amid the atmospheric and beautifully preserved halls of the historic Sarihan Caravanserai—a grand roadside inn dating from the 13th century. After the performance, enjoy a traditional Ottoman sherbet drink, tea, or coffee before returning to your hotel for the night. 

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

Day 6: Hot-Air Balloon Ride, Guided Tour, Dinner at Seki Restaurant

Float over Cappadocia's lunar-like landscape in a hot-air balloon 

Wake up before dawn this morning for a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia at sunrise. Watch as the crew inflates the massive balloons, then hop into the basket. Hold on tight as you ascend into the air, looking out over the valleys as the sun paints the sky with hues of pink and orange. When you land, continue to explore the area by visiting the Göreme Open-Air Museum, with its dozens of painted cave churches. After admiring these rock-cut structures, head to the Devrent and Paşabağı valleys to see the famous "fairy chimneys," towering erosion-shaped structures only found in this region.

The adventure continues after an authentic Cappadocian lunch as you visit Uçhisar Castle, built in the fourth century. Climb to the top for a panoramic view of the entire valley. Return to Avanos to watch a pottery demonstration, as the nearby Kızılırmak River gives residents plenty of red clay to work with. End this action-packed day with dinner at Seki, a restaurant that uses fresh, local ingredients paired with contemporary cooking techniques to produce unique flavors. Try dishes like firik, a rich pilaf dish with fresh garden herbs, and a traditional candied quince for dessert, all paired with delicious Turkish wines.

Day 7: Kaymaklı Underground City, Ihlara Valley, Dinner at Lil'a Restaurant

Have a picnic in one of the largest valleys in the world, Ihlara Valley

Cappadocia has over 36 underground cities, and this morning, you get to explore one, the Kaymaklı Underground City, which used to house over 3,500 people fleeing religious persecution in the seventh and eighth centuries. Today, the ancient city has eight floors, but only the first four are open to visitors. Navigate the labyrinth tunnels, chambers, and living spaces so you can imagine how residents used to live. Once you're back above ground, continue to the Ihlara Valley, one of the largest valleys in the world, for a picnic lunch with regional delicacies and local wine.

After refueling, trek through the valley, surrounded by sheer canyon walls that create a shaded oasis, and admire the rock-cut churches and dwellings from the Byzantine era dotting the landscape. End the day in the Museum Hotel at Lil'a Restaurant, which pairs traditional recipes with the almost-forgotten tastes of Anatolia and Cappadocia. Chef Saygın Sesli's philosophy is, "from farm to table," so you'll enjoy the freshest ingredients in dishes like tandoor ribs or partridge manti, large ravioli-like dumplings filled with slow-cooked partridge meat.

Day 8: Fly to İzmir, Visit Urlice Vineyards, Transfer to Alaçatı

Enjoy homemade pizza paired with a delicious wine at Urlice Vineyards

Say goodbye to the lunar-like landscapes of Cappadocia as you fly 1.5 hours to the Aegean Coast this morning to visit İzmir, the third most populated city in Turkey, after İstanbul and the capital, Ankara. Meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to Urlice Vineyards, a family-owned and operated boutique winery. Embark on a tour of the vineyard and discover how the family continues to use ancient viticultural techniques, keeping their wine free of chemicals. Sample some of their delicious wines, such as a shiraz or cabernet sauvignon, paired with a homemade pizza for lunch.

Continue to Alaçatı, a historic old town known for its distinctive architecture and vibrant culture. Settle into your hotel, then head out to explore the area on your own. Walk down the cobblestone streets lined with restored stone houses painted in various shades of white and adorned with colorful bougainvillea flowers. Visit the town center to try delectable Aegean cuisine, like muska börek, a layered pastry typically filled with cheese, meat, or potatoes. If you visit on a Saturday, you can visit the bustling market, a labyrinth of fresh produce, spices, and nuts.

Day 9: Visit Can Carpets, Explore Ephesus, Transfer to Şirince

Explore the ruins of Ephesus, especially the facade of Celsus Library 

After just one night in Alaçatı, transfer 1.5 hours west to the village of Şirince this morning. Along the way, stop at Can Carpets, a small atelier that still uses a traditional dye extraction method from plants to create their textiles. After sharing a traditional lunch with the employees, learn about the dying process, and observe the women making traditional one-of-a-kind carpets you can purchase and take home with you to remember your trip. Say goodbye to the team and head to the ruins of Ephesus. This ancient city was established by the Greeks in the 11th century BCE before it fell under Roman rule in 129 BCE.

You can see the influence of both empires as you explore the remnants of buildings like the Celsus Library, the Great Theater, and the Trajan Fountain. Visit the House of the Virgin Mary next, believed to be the final residence of the Virgin Mary and St. John. Tour the house and stop at the nearby sacred spring that's said to have healing properties. End the night with a gourmet dinner at Nisanyan House, one of the finest hotels in Turkey. Try dishes characteristic of the Aegean region, like ciğ balık—fish carpaccio with fresh ginger before settling into your hotel in Şirince for the night.

Day 10: Visit Pamukkale, Choose Your Dinner at Kuşadası Fish Market

Pamukkale Water Terraces
Swim in the mineral-rich waters of Pamukkale

Pack your bags as you head out on a three-hour drive east to the town of Pamukkale in southwestern Turkey. This hidden gem, often referred to as the "Cotton Castle," is renowned for its terraces of white and baby blue, mineral-rich thermal waters cascading down the mountainside. Not only are these terraces, formed over millenniums, visually stunning, but they also offer the opportunity to take a dip in the soothing, warm waters acclaimed for their therapeutic properties.

After relaxing in the hot springs, visit the nearby ruins of the ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis. Wander through the well-preserved archaeological site and discover the historic Roman baths, the theater, and the Temple of Apollo. Transfer to Kuşadası next, a beach resort town on the western Aegean coast. Visit the Kuşadası Fish Market to choose from a selection of fresh fish and seafood. Your guide will take your picks to a restaurant to be cooked and served with an array of salads and mezes.

Day 11: Transfer to Bodrum via Lake Bafa & Kapıkırı Village, Dinner at Orfoz Restaurant

Discover the ruins of Herakleia spread out across Lake Bafa and Kapıkırı village

Set off after breakfast to Bodrum, a city on the Turquoise Coast. To break up the three-hour transfer, you'll stop at Lake Bafa Nature Park along the way, one of the most important bird sanctuaries in the country. Keep an eye on the trees to see birds like herons, pelicans, and fish eagles. Continue to Kapıkırı village to discover the ruins of Herakleia. Walk through the village to see the remnants of theaters, temples, and ancient streets. End your quick tour of the ruins at the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the tomb of Mausolus, a ruler of ancient Caria, and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

After exploring the ruins, head to Agora Pension for a homemade lunch, then settle in at your hotel in Bodrum. Stay in to relax or walk to Yahşi Beach to sunbathe and swim in the Aegean Sea. In the evening, return to your hotel to get ready for dinner at the taverna-style Orfoz Restaurant. This gastronomic haven offers a delightful blend of fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients, and innovative dishes. Enjoy views of the sea and the towering Bodrum Castle while you work your way through delectable mezes, seafood specialties with an Aegean twist, and a special dessert.

Day 12: Explore Bodrum at Your Own Pace

Relax on one of Bodrum's many beautiful beaches
The day is yours to spend as you wish, and there's plenty to do in Bodrum. The city is known for its pristine coastline, so you can spend an entire day soaking up the sun, swimming, and enjoying water sports at popular beaches like Bodrum Beach, Bitez Beach, or Camel Beach. If you want to see more of the coastline, take a boat trip to Black Island to dip in the hot springs or cruise to the nearby Meteor Hole, the site of a meteor crash, now the perfect swimming spot. Depending on the boat tour you choose, you may also visit Aquarius Bay, Rabbit Bay, and Red Bay to swim in the crystal-clear waters.

Day 13: Bodrum City Tour, Dining Experience at Selia Artisanal Farm

Explore Bodrum Castle and enjoy panoramic views of the Aegean Sea

Today you get to visit the landmark you saw at dinner last night, Bodrum Castle, a medieval fortress that has been overlooking the Aegean coastline since 1402. Admire the stone walls, ancient watchtowers, and picturesque courtyards, then head inside the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, the largest of its kind in the world. Learn about the region's maritime history and browse the impressive collection of ancient shipwrecks, artifacts, and treasures.

Enjoy panoramic views of the sea, then leave the city behind as you venture into the countryside to Selia Artisinal Farm in the afternoon. Learn about how the farm produces wine, olives, goat cheese, jams, and bread using traditional methods. Take a trip around the grounds, visit the cellars, and enjoy an afternoon cocktail before a leisurely supper with the farm's owners to end the day.

Day 14: Fly to İstanbul, Join a Walking Tour, Visit Hürrem Sultan Hammam

End your final night in Turkey with a glass of rakı

Bid farewell to the Turquoise Coast as you fly back to İstanbul to finish the trip. After the 1.5-hour flight, meet your driver outside the airport and transfer to your hotel. Leave your bags and venture back out for a guided tour along the Bosphorus Strait. Start at Dolmabahçe Palace, an opulent landmark, built in 1843. Admire the majestic clock tower before stepping through the gates to discover the golden hallways, expansive gardens, and crystal chandeliers. Continue your stroll down the strait, stopping at Büyük Mecidiye Mosque, also known as Ortaköy Mosque, built in 1855.

As you approach the mosque, you'll be captivated by its delicate minarets, ornate domes, and intricate details that seamlessly blend Ottoman and Baroque styles. Inside, you can enjoy panoramic views of the Bosphorus Bridge and the waters beyond. Take a break from walking to enjoy a Turkish coffee overlooking the Sea of Marmara before continuing to Rumeli Hisarı, a fortress strategically constructed in the mid-15th century. Enter the grounds to explore the imposing stone walls and watchtowers, then hop on a sea taxi to get to another iconic fortress, this one built in 1395, Anadolu Hisari

After all that walking, head to Hürrem Sultan Bath, a Turkish spa called a hammam, to relax. Start your visit with a steam bath to open your pores and cleanse your skin in preparation for a body scrub to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells and impurities. After rinsing off, lay down for a full-body massage with essential oils to ease any tension you may be feeling. End the night with dinner at a meyhane, a Turkish tavern, called Sofyalı 9, which sells Anatolian classics, such as lamb stew with tomato sauce and fried liver, paired with Turkey's most famous alcoholic drink, rakı.

Day 15: Depart İstanbul

Walk along the covered alleyways of the Grand Bazaar for some last-minute souvenirs

Now that you've eaten your way across Turkey, it's time to head home. If you have a later flight, you can continue to explore İstanbul on your own or revisit the Grand Bazaar to pick up some last-minute souvenirs. Keep an eye on the clock, though, as a driver will be picking you up at your hotel to transfer you to the airport. Have a safe flight home!

More Great Turkey Itineraries


Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Turkey? Check out these other Turkey itineraries, explore different ways to spend 15 days in Turkey, or discover the best time to visit Turkey.


A note on diacritical and retroflex markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour - 15 Days
Map of Turkish Food & Culture Tour - 15 Days