Turkey Travel Itinerary for 7 Days: Istanbul, Ankara, and Cappadocia

7D6N Turkey Itinerary: Istanbul, Cappadocia, and Ankara

Conquer Turkey in one week!

Situated at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, Turkey is a destination like no other. As the birthplace of great empires, it boasts a wealth of cultural gems that even seasoned travellers would struggle to fit into an itinerary. If you dream of embarking on a Turkish adventure, don’t fret. Check out our seven-day Turkey travel plan to see the best of what this enchanting country has to offer! Our itinerary will cover the key sights of Istanbul, Ankara, and Cappadocia

Summary of this Turkey itinerary for 7 days


1st day: Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Gulhane Park 

2nd day: Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern


3rd day: Göreme Open Air Museum

4th day: Hot air balloon ride, Uchisar Castle

5th day: Pigeon Valley, Zelve Open Air Museum


6th day: Ankara Castle, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

7th day: Atatürk Mausoleum, Haci Bayram Mosque, Roman Bath

A comprehensive Turkey one-week itinerary

Day 1 – Istanbul


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The first two days of our Turkey one-week itinerary will be spent in Istanbul: the country’s largest city and financial centre. This thriving city on the Bosphorus was the cradle of great civilisations. Its breathtaking art and architecture will take you back to the glory days of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. 

French statesman and poet Alphonse de Lamartine once said: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul.” Count yourself lucky: In this two-day Istanbul itinerary, you’ll get to take in countless views of this wondrous metropolis.   

Also read: 12 Airbnbs in Istanbul That Are Even Better Than Hotels

1. Hagia Sophia

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Your Turkey travel adventure should start at the Hagia Sophia. This Byzantine beauty has been an Orthodox cathedral, a Catholic cathedral, a museum, and a mosque throughout its history. It is now a mosque and has free entrance. 

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Come in to see exquisite gold-plated, silver-plated, glass, terracotta, and coloured stone mosaics. Some of the mosaics have geometric designs while others depict figures such as Isa, Mother Mary, and John the Baptist. 

2. Topkapi Palace

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Experience the splendour of the Ottoman Empire at Topkapi Palace, an essential addition to any Istanbul itinerary. Here, you can walk through opulent pavilions, chambers, and courts to imagine the tangled intrigues which used to take place there. 


Topkapi Harem (left) and Throne of Ahmed I (right) | Image credit (L-R): Patrick G; Museum With No Frontiers Official Website

Visitors are allowed to enter the Harem, where aspiring concubines were trained in arts, Islam, music, and writing. Following the Harem, drop by the Imperial Treasury to see an awe-inspiring collection of rubies, jade, pearls, and diamonds. Famous artefacts in the treasury include the sword of Suleyman the Magnificent, the Throne of Sultan Ahmed I, and the emerald-encrusted Topkapi Dagger. 

3. Gulhane Park

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Gulhane Park is next to Topkapi Palace and used to be the outer garden of the palace. After being opened to the public in 1912, it has become a lush green space where everyone can unwind and smell the roses. 

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If you arrive in April, the park will be blanketed with tulips of rainbow hues. Istanbul celebrates its renowned Tulip Festival throughout the month, which is marked by millions of tulips planted in parks, gardens, roundabouts, and other public spaces. The park is adorned with roses in summer and blue forget-me-nots in winter. No matter the season, Gulhane Park is a vital addition to a Turkey itinerary for 7 days. 

Also read: 12 Spring Destinations to Spot Lovely Flowers in Bloom

Day 2 – Istanbul

4. Blue Mosque

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Istanbul’s Blue Mosque is so named because of the 20,000 blue ceramic tiles on its interior walls. These handmade Iznik tiles decorated with designs of tulips, cypresses, and fruits are guaranteed to take your breath away. 

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Apart from its intricate tiles, the Blue Mosque has 200 stained glass windows and six gorgeous minarets. No Turkey travel plan should exclude this stunning mosque, which was built to rival the Hagia Sophia. 

5. Grand Bazaar

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Put your bargaining hat on at the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest markets in the world. Get a taste of Istanbul’s silk road history by shopping for jewellery, carpets, clothing, handicrafts, and more in this sprawling marketplace that looks like something out of One Thousand and One Nights

Shopkeepers sometimes offer customers tea and chat with them about their products inside the shop. This age-old tradition will add a splash of local colour to your Turkey travel experience. 

Also read: From Tokyo to Istanbul, These Are the Public Markets Around the World That Deserve Your Attention

6. Basilica Cistern

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Descend into the Basilica Cistern to marvel at the genius of the Byzantines. This underground water reservoir was built in 532 A.D. by Emperor Justinian to deliver water to the Grand Palace. The roof is held up by hundreds of marble columns recycled from ancient temples. 

Walk to the leftmost edge of the cistern to see two Medusa heads used as column bases. One of the heads is upside down and the other is tilted. Their odd positioning remains a mystery until today. 

Also read: 24 Hours in Istanbul: What to Do & Where to Go

Day 3 – Cappadocia 


Göreme before sunrise | Image credit: Moyan Brenn

The next stop in our Turkey itinerary for 7 days is Cappadocia, a vast and historically rich region.

To get from Istanbul to Cappadocia, you can take a domestic flight from Sabiha Gökçen International Airport to Nevsehir Airport. From Nevsehir Airport, a taxi or shuttle bus can transport you to Göreme, the main tourist centre of the region. Alternatively, you may book a Cappadocia tour from Istanbul. This is a convenient option that will take the hotel booking and planning out of your hands. 

Lava and ash eroding over millions of years gave rise to the fairytale tunnels the region is famous for. The Hittites were the first people to inhabit these lands. Their thriving trade colonies turned Cappadocia into an important node in the Silk Road. After the Hittites, Iranian settlers established an independent Kingdom of Cappadocia. In 17 A.D., the Roman Empire absorbed the Kingdom of Cappadocia. Later inhabitants of Cappadocia include Christians fleeing the Roman Empire and Seljuk Turks. 

Each society left behind impressive architecture and art across Cappadocia which continue to fascinate people today. Let’s delve into the cultural treasures you can see here on a Turkey one-week itinerary. 

Also read: 10 Gorgeous Airbnbs in Cappadocia You Won’t Want to Leave

7. Göreme Open Air Museum


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If you’ve only got time for one attraction on a Cappadocia tour from Istanbul, then make it this site.

The Göreme Open Air Museum was one of the first two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Turkey and it’s easy to see why. This museum is a complex of cave monasteries dating back to the Middle Ages, each with a church carved out of rock. 


Buckle Church | Image credit: Dan

The churches in this complex are known for their beautifully preserved wall paintings (frescoes) depicting scenes from the Bible. Must-see churches here include the Buckle Church, Apple Church, and Dark Church. Museum tickets come with an audio guide which will tell you everything you need to know about the people who lived in these passages. 

Day 4 – Cappadocia

8. Hot air balloon ride


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What Cappadocian trip would be complete without a hot air balloon ride? The sight of dozens of multi-coloured balloons floating above a lunar landscape is definitely bucket list material. A hot air balloon ride costs about S$300-500. If you’re planning a Turkey itinerary for 7 days on a budget, book at least a month in advance. This will help you secure a better deal. 

The cost will also be lower if you pick a ride with more passengers in the basket and travel to Cappadocia in the winter. Note that the chance of your ride being cancelled due to strong winds is higher in winter. Summer brings more stable weather for flying; however, expect higher prices. 


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Rides hold 20 to 28 people per basket and may include breakfast and champagne. The balloons usually go up before sunrise. Seeing whimsical spires and rock chimneys under the glow of the rising sun will surely make the cost worthwhile. 

9. Uchisar Castle

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Uchisar Castle is in the town of Uchisar, which you can reach from Göreme by taking a 10-minute bus ride from Göreme Bus Station. A ticket costs only ₺3 (S$0.20). The castle is a rock citadel built on the highest point of Cappadocia. During the Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman eras, it was a fortress where soldiers could survey the surroundings for invaders. 

From the castle top, you can enjoy sweeping views of the area’s numerous cave dwellings, fairy chimneys, and valleys. There are cafes leading up to the castle where you can chill out over Turkish coffee and tea. Admiring the Cappadocian landscape over tea break is an experience you don’t want to miss on your Turkey travel adventure. 

Also read: 12 Fun Things to Do in Cappadocia on Your First Trip

Day 5 – Cappadocia

10. Pigeon Valley

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A popular trekking route, Pigeon Valley is a six-kilometre valley between Göreme and Uchisar. The valley is named after the many pigeon nests carved into the rock formations. Some local farmers collect pigeon dung from these holes to fertilise their crops. However, the use of pigeon dung has declined due to the advent of chemical fertilisers. 

TripZilla Tip: If walking six kilometres sounds too much, you can rent a scooter to explore Pigeon Valley as well as the other valleys in the area. 

11. Zelve Open Air Museum


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Zelve Open-Air Museum is a UNESCO-listed complex of cave dwellings and monasteries located eight kilometres from Göreme. To get there, you need to rent a car or take a taxi. Public transport is hard to navigate as it involves taking a bus to Avanos and transferring there. People have lived in Zelve since Byzantine times. After the Byzantine era, it became a Turkish village. The Muslim villagers in Zelve built a rare rock-cut mosque. 

Compared to the Göreme Open Air Museum, the frescoes in Zelve are not as well-preserved. However, the smaller crowds here may make your visit more pleasant. You can take your time exploring the cave dwellings without feeling rushed. Zelve will be the perfect ending to the Cappadocian leg of this Turkey itinerary for 7 days. 

Day 6 – Ankara


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From Nevsehir Airport, you can take a domestic flight to Ankara: the last stop on our Turkey itinerary for 7 days. The flight takes slightly under four hours. 

Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country’s second-largest city. The city’s history goes back to pre-Roman times, when it was the capital of the Celtic state, Galatia. Steeped in Roman, Greek, Byzantine, and Ottoman heritage, Ankara will be an eye-opening segment of our Turkey travel experience. 

12. Ankara Castle


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Ankara Castle is a hill fortress which was used by the Roman, Seljuk, and Ottoman Empires.  The castle’s origins are uncertain; some believe the Hittites were the first people to inhabit it. Extensive walls and 20 guard towers surround the castle. 

Walking along the walls, you will enjoy panoramic views of the city. People still live in traditional wood and mud brick houses within the castle, giving it the feel of an ancient town transported to the present. 

13. Museum of Anatolian Civilizations

Located a 10-minute walk away from the castle, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is an ideal second stop on your Ankara tour. The museum displays artefacts ranging from Palaeolithic times to the Ottoman Empire. It occupies two Ottoman-era buildings, a bazaar storage house and an inn. In the museum, you can see Bronze Age solar discs, Neolithic mother-goddess statues, and Roman marble figures. 

Day 7 – Ankara

14. Atatürk Mausoleum


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Atatürk Mausoleum is a monument dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and founding President of the Republic of Turkey. Leading up to the monument is a 262-metre-long walkway called the Road of Lions. There are 12 pairs of lions lining the walkway which represent the 24 Oghuz Turkic tribes. The monument’s Hall of Honor houses Atatürk’s sarcophagus. The leader’s tomb is under the sarcophagus in the basement. 

After visiting the monument, you can take a stroll in the surrounding Peace Park. The park has over 100 varieties of plants and holds a giant Turkish flag formed from flowers.

15. Haci Bayram Mosque


Haci Bayram Mosque (left) and Temple of Augustus (right) | Image credit (L-R): Ahmetan; sk

Haci Bayram Mosque was built in the 15th century and is an important site for the Bayram Sufi sect. This mosque was named after Hacı Bayram-i Veli: the founder of the Bayram sect who is also a Sufi poet and composer of hymns. Inside, you’ll find Haci Bayram-i Veli’s mausoleum, Arabic calligraphy on the walls, and painted engravings. 

The Roman temple of Augustus is located a stone’s throw from the mosque. This temple dates back to 25-20 B.C. and bears inscriptions in Latin and Greek. 

16. Roman Baths

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Ankara’s Roman Baths are the remains of an ancient bath complex. These baths were built from 198 to 217 A.D. by the Roman Emperor Caracalla. In their heyday, bathers could soak in three rooms: the caldarium (hot bath), the tepidarium (warm bath) and the frigidarium (cold bath). 

Unfortunately, a fire destroyed the building in the eighth century. What remains are atmospheric ruins of the basement and first floor. Drop by to take some photos and fantasise about the past splendour of the Roman Empire. 

Also read: 12 Best Graduation Trip Destinations Around the World

That’s all for our one-week Turkey travel plan for Istanbul, Ankara, and Cappadocia. While there’s a lot to see in each place, travellers strapped for time can use this guide to know which ones to prioritise. If you have any suggestions for a Turkey itinerary for 7 days, why not share them on our Facebook page

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About Author

Joyce Lee
Joyce Lee

Joyce is an aspiring writer who lives on black coffee and Netflix. In her free time, she reads, goes for long walks at sunset, and dreams of faraway places.