Last summer, my three friends and I went on a 7-days trip backpacking across west Turkey.
Summers are the perfect time to explore the western coastal side of Turkey. Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea are the three coastal areas of Turkey, each with its distinct culture. The coastline of the Aegean, also known as the Turkish Riviera or the Turquoise Coast, has a chain of cities.
We travelled across these cities starting from the Aegean coast to the Mediterranean side. It is a must-have experience if you’re a beach baby or are craving the vitamin Sea.
Here is all that I learned on the way. I’ll share the details on how we planned the trip, from hunting tickets, modes of transport and staying at a comfortable and affordable hotel, doing activities and, most importantly, exploring the cities.
Before I lay out the 7-day itinerary, here are a few tips regarding the intercity commute and the accommodation possibilities.
For traveling intercity one can opt for two ways:
You can easily rent a car and enjoy the beautiful drive across the Aegean Sea. The car’s rent is quite affordable, and if you have a driving permit in your country, you can easily drive in Turkey for the first three months.
An intercity bus service. Which can be searched and booked through an online website www.obilet.com. If you have time on your hands, commuting through an inter-city bus service would probably be the most affordable option.
You can book an apartment through Airbnb. Check the reviews, and find a reasonable apartment according to your requirements and budget. Preferably, in walking distance vicinity to the inner-city transport services like the metro train, tram or bus stops.
Here’s a tip for a cheaper Airbnb booking: if somehow you can get the number of the apartment, hotel or the place, you can make a direct call and book it for a cheaper price.
How you may ask? Since through this channel, Airbnb is no longer involved, the place owners save up money on the website commission and hence book the place for a cheaper price. It’s a win-win situation. This trick works sometimes, but one has to be careful and negotiate their way through it.
The second way is to book a local affordable hotel. Googling hotels comes in handy when searching for hotels in any area. One can see the accommodation quality and services provided through the information provided online, compare the prices and make the reservation accordingly.
Savings tip: A lot of these hotels have deals, so you can find good prices by looking online. You can either make a reservation online or call the hotel to book the room.
1 Week in Turkey Itinerary.
Here’s the itinerary me and my friends followed to travel across most of the western Turkey in 7-days:
Day 1 – Izmir
While Izmir itself is an intriguing city, it can act as a centre point, and you can take the local buses called “Dolmus” to the nearby towns and historical sites.
The two famous tourist towns “Alaçatı” and “Çeşme” are one hour away from Izmir and a must-visit. Famous for their beaches, old painted white stone houses with pink bougainvillaea and blue coloured door and window frames, they can give you a glimpse of Santorini.
Moreover, these towns are known for winemaking traditions, historic castles and, of course, the nightlife where the towns come alive.
Day 2 – Izmir
The next day, you can take an hour's bus ride to another nearby town “Selcuk’, which is the gateway to Ephesus; where one of the seven wonders of the world ”Temple of Artemis” lies. A vast ancient city with the remains of a large theatre and the iconic Library of Celsius is a sight for sore eyes. After you’re done witnessing the wonder, you can take the bus back to Izmir city and enjoy the breathtaking sunset by its marina.
İzmir itself has a lively ”Merkez” i.e., the city centre. Locals mostly get takeout and enjoy their dinners on the green belt next to the marina and witness the city fall into sunset hues.
Day 3 – Pamukkale
Pamukkale is a natural site in Denizli Province, a 3-hrs bus or car ride away from Izmir. You could either stay the night at Denizli or just visit the site while driving through it.
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, like its name, is famous for its minerals left by the flowing of thermal spring water. These white mountain-like structures take you through a magical journey. You could take a warm soak in the thermal springs, use the minerals as a healing body mask or climb up to witness the magnificent Theatre of Hierapolis. If you get lucky, the sunset sight is a view not to be missed.
Day 4 – Fethiye
Fethiye, a 3-hrs drive from Denizli, is another one of the port cities with a harbour that can be a viewpoint for yet another breathtaking sunset. There are multiple booths by the harbour where you could rent equipment and boats if you feel like going for a cruise.
Other activities like safari, scuba diving, snorkeling or paragliding could also be booked there. But you should book them a day before, so plan accordingly. These activities should surely be one’s bucketlist and can not be missed. As an alternative, one can just roam around the city centre, have lunch, and visit the local shops.
In the evening, you can rent a bicycle or an ATV bike, from any of the shops in Merkez and enjoy a 45-min cycling session by the harbour. This sunset ride would be a 5-star rating, and an unforgettable one.
Day 5 – Fethiye
The second day in Fethiye can be utilized to visit the famous butterfly valley and the Ölüdeniz beach. You can take Dolmus from the city-center which can be used to commute, this is very affordable compared to the taxi rides which you might be tricked into by the local drivers. You could enjoy a sweet swim here or on several other beaches that would come on the drive towards your next destination “Kaş”.
A 2-hr drive to Kaş goes next to the coast of Aegean Sea and is a one-of-a-kind experience whether you’re going by bus or car. Kaş is one of those hidden small towns which gives you the vibe of the warmest hug.
The town is filled with small shops, stone-clad streets and yet another breathtaking harbour. You could enjoy the vibe while listening to live street music, or sipping a cup of coffee while you pet the fluffiest dogs lazy-ing around the streets. By the evening, you can either catch the last bus back to Fethiye by booking it through Obilet or stay the night there.
Day 6- Antalya
New day, a new beach city. Antalya is 3-ish hrs drive away from Fethiye. Commuting in the city is easy through the tram and metro bus services.
The first must-visit place here is Hadrian’s gate, which is also one of the iconic and most photographed spots. Walking through the Hadrian gate will lead you to the old town of Antalya which is filled with local shops and old houses turned into restaurants.
Walking through these cobblestone streets leads you to Marina Bay where you could book a boat cruise to the famous Duden waterfalls. These waterfalls can also be reached through an hour-long drive where you can visit the upper and lower Duden waterfall.
At night, you can have dinner at one of the restaurants in the old town and experience the nightlife full of different music genres. Be it a weekday or a weekend, the streets through Hadrian gate are always lit at night.
Day 7- Antalya
On the second day in Antalya, you could check out the Antalya Teleferik, which is a mountain gondola ride overlooking the Gulf of Antalya, the city skyline and the Taurus Mountain ranges. After the cable car ride, you can just walk to the beach next to it for another swim day or take a ride to the famous Konyaalti beach and enjoy the beach vibes as your trip reaches its end. Spend the rest of your day enjoying the beach and ending the day by having dinner at one of the beachside restaurants.
A bit about me
Hi! I’m Shomaila aka Milo. I'm from Pakistan, currently doing my graduate studies in Turkey and enjoying every bit of it. Ever since moving here, my passion for travelling, photography, and sharing experiences has increased. I frequently share my travel content through stories and posts on my Instagram page “@Milesawaymilo”. My goal is to capture my travel experiences in a way which is entertaining and helpful for my audience.