Whatever the destination, it is often said that getting there is the best part of the journey. Turkey (in its original language Türkiye) certainly offers the best of both experiences. Bordered by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, the country features breathtaking views and lush landscapes, historical treasures, culinary delicacies, and a “slow” approach to life that makes travel even more enjoyable. Whether traveling by car or RV, with friends or family, these five extraordinary travel itineraries in Turkey will make your summer spectacular.
Çanakkale 🡪 Ayvalık
With panoramic views of the Northern Aegean, the first itinerary of our Turkey on-the-road trip from Çanakkale to Ayvalık is a unique experience that highlights the region’s vast cultural heritage, extraordinary nature and pristine beaches. Gorgeous landscapes colored blue and deep green, ancient towns dotting the countryside, and fresh local produce are just some of the reasons why the area is a favorite among travelers by bicycle, motorcycle, car, or RV.
Çanakkale, the starting point of the itinerary, is a fascinating place of chronicles of the past, especially if you reach the city by crossing the historic forest-covered Gallipoli Peninsula. In ancient Çanakkale, where there are traces of Homer’s epics of the Iliad and Odyssey, visitors can get a taste of the region’s millennia of history. At the gates of the ancient city of Troy is the outstanding Troy Museum, winner of the “Special Appreciation Award for European Museum of the Year 2020” and the “Special Award of the Academy of European Museums 2020/2021.”
The ancient city of Troy is also the first stop on the Aeneas Route, the first and only cultural itinerary registered by the Council of Europe that starts in Turkey. The legendary Aeneas – ancestor of Remus and Romulus, founder of Rome – is said to have fled the burning city of Troy with his father and son, crossing Greece, Albania and Tunisia, finally arriving in Italy on ships built from the timbers of Mount Ida in the region of the ancient city of Antandros in the Edremit district. Antandros itself, the Turkish leg of the Aeneas Route, is particularly striking: the area brings together natural and archaeological sites and rural landscapes, some of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
South of Çanakkale, in Ayvacık, is the ancient town of Assos. After relaxing along the deserted bays and beaches of Assos, you can visit some of the villages in the area, with their picturesque stone houses. Then stop at Sivrice, the famous Assos Bay, for an unforgettable experience.
Surrounded by olive trees, the iconic Mount Ida from Homer’s poems is the perfect place for an evening in the company of nature. On the way to Ayvalık, the final stop, is the charming seaside town of Altınoluk in the Edremit district. These fertile lands are enriched by many natural wonders, including the
Mount Ida National Park, Sütüven Waterfall, Hasanboğdu Pond and Şahinderesi Canyon, and are also home to important spas. The Güre region, connected to Edremit, welcomes tourists from all over the world to its spas every year.
Ayvalık 🡪 Çeşme Route
Continuing our on-the-road travels in Turkey, after Ayvalık, we can follow the slopes of the Madra Mountains and the Bergama road and discover the ancient city of Pergamum. In İzmir, the heart of the Aegean, the itinerary to follow may be the historic seaside town of Foça. The city of Foça, with a historic area called Eski Foça, has winding, scenic streets and breathtaking scenery. The Foça region, also mentioned in Homer’s epic, is named after the Mediterranean monk seal, now an endangered species. Foça has remained a fishing place to this day and is famous for delicious fish dishes.
Other delightful stops on this itinerary are Urla, long renowned for its artichokes and recently famous for its gourmet restaurants; Seferihisar, the “slow city”; Kuşadası, a center of seaside tourism; and Şirince, a charming town with excellent local wines. And of course the ancient cities of Miletus, Priene and Ephesus, which attract visitors as well as the churches of the Seven Sleepers and the Virgin Mary.
A diverse offering that can offer beauty, history and cuisine.
The last stop on this itinerary are Çeşme, a popular seaside tourist destination near İzmir, and Alaçatı, a picturesque resort with windsurfing schools and stone houses.
Kalkan 🡪 Antalya
This route is an intriguing journey under the Mediterranean sun, where every bend in the road presents a new breathtaking view of clear waters, deserted bays and lush mountains. This unforgettable itinerary of unique landscapes and traces of ancient civilizations is a true Mediterranean dream, with the breathtaking beauty of Patara, Kalkan and Kaş, Olympos, Çıralı and Antalya.
With its ancient city and 12-kilometer-long beach, Patara is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular locations in the region. Considered one of the most important cities of ancient Lycia, it has preserved its ancient splendor, with structures such as the theater, parliament building, lighthouse, city arch, columned street, temples and churches. In addition, Patara is the birthplace of St. Nicholas, the saint who originated the character of Santa Claus.
Demre, where Nicholas served as bishop for many years and attained sainthood, is a historic stop on this famous itinerary. Demre is home to St. Nicholas’ tomb and historic church, a particularly illustrious place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. If you travel to Antalya, the pearl of the Mediterranean, even more extraordinary attractions await you in the tranquil Mediterranean town of Kaş; the tiny beach at the mouth of the canyon on the Kaş-Kalkan road, Kaputaş, the bohemian Olympos and Çıralı seaside villages, and other magical places you may encounter along this route.
You can explore the blue depths of Kaş, one of Turkey’s and the world’s most important centers of underwater tourism, or you can observe the traces of ancient Mediterranean civilizations beneath the waters on a day boat tour in Kekova. When you bid farewell to the crystal-clear waters of Kaş and get back on the road, your next stop might be Çıralı. A habitat for Caretta sea turtles, Çıralı, quiet and peaceful, is also located near the ruins of the ancient city of Olympos, an important Lycian port. You should definitely spend a few days in Antalya, the last stop on the itinerary. This city, where the sea, sand, and sun are in perfect harmony with nature and history, is also worth visiting for the Antalya Archaeological Museum, where the magnificent works of various Mediterranean civilizations are displayed.
Eskişehir 🡪 Isparta
This itinerary extends from Eskişehir, a dynamic city with a vibrant urban life, to Isparta, the city of roses, offering the natural and modern beauties of Anatolia. In Eskişehir, the starting point of the itinerary, visit the Odunpazarı Historical Center, which has been is included in the list of candidate sites for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and the Atlıhan Handicrafts Bazaar, where examples of the region’s traditional handicrafts can be seen. In addition, the Sepiolite Museum (Meerschaum) is the only one of its kind in the world.
The amazing OMM Modern Museum, which opened in Odunpazarı in 2019, is a must-see for contemporary art enthusiasts visiting Eskişehir. When you leave Eskişehir and turn toward Isparta, you will encounter unique nature. Among these natural beauties are Yalvaç and Eğirdir; Kovada Lake National Park, habitat for hundreds of bird species; Gölcük Nature Park, home to one of Turkey’s rare crater lakes; Eğirdir Lake, a natural wonder with Eğirdir with spectacular views to enjoy the sunset, and the village of Kuyucak, which dazzles with its lavender gardens. The area is also home to St. Paul’s Way, one of the routes that the first missionary in the history of Christianity traveled in search of believers. St. Paul’s itinerary, a pilgrimage destination for more than two thousand years, is quite challenging. Together with the Lycian Way, St. Paul’s Way is one of the best-known hiking routes in Anatolia.
Bolu 🡪 Çamlıhemşin
This itinerary starts in Bolu, famous for its beautiful lakes, and ends in Çamlıhemşin, the paradise of the Rize Highlands. The beautiful Black Sea coast includes majestic landscapes: beautiful green forests and azure waters. If you wish, you can start your itinerary from Yedigöller National Park, which provides a backdrop to Bolu’s picture-postcard landscape, and head to Safranbolu, characterized by narrow streets lined with wooden houses with bay windows. The verdant Kastamonu and the historic port towns of Sinop and Samsun, stunning in their natural beauty, are among the other stops on this enchanting itinerary.
The next stop on this famous route is Ordu, where there are the fresh, cool waters of the Black Sea and lush forests. The highlands of Perşembe and Çambaşı, the Çiseli and Uzundere waterfalls, and the Geçilmez canyon are just a few of the Ordu landscapes that can be admired as well as the village of Yeşilce, where modern life blends beautifully with simplicity. If you can get away from these wonders, the Sümela Monastery in Trabzon is waiting for you. This Orthodox monastery, with its theatrical cliffs, is listed as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site. If the final stop is in Çamlıhemşin, the highlands of Ayder, Pokut, Gito and Sal meanwhile offer a fairy-tale atmosphere. In addition, the Black Sea cuisine, enriched with many local and regional herbs and organic products, makes your trip even more extraordinary.