I'm planning a trip to Turkey on March 2013 with my friend,here's our plan:
Istanbul--->Ephesus--- Pamukkale--- Kusadasi--->Cappadocia--->Safranbolu--->Istanbul
would you please let us know the fastest and shortest route to connect each place and the name of the airport, we don't want to travel by overnight bus, it's a hard task to us, thank you.

ANSWER: Dear Tang,
thanks for writing.  I hope you have a great trip. Your itinerary looks great.
I am not sure if your plan is flexible but I'll assume it is not. What you are asking is not easy.
First, let me say I understand your aversion to the night buses. I hate them.

I'll give some details and hopefully it will help you.

I think the nearest airport to Ephesus/Pamukkale/Kusadasi is Izmir.  One problem with flying in Turkey is that they work on a hub and spoke system so flying from city to city almost always means flying through Istanbul or Ankara which often means what would be a 1-2 hour flight is 6-7 hours.

If you fly into Izmir from Istanbul then you get transport to Kusadasi. I would recommend staying in Kusadasi as it is on the beach. In March it should be warm but not sure if it will be hot enough to get in the sea. From Kusadasi you can do a day trip to Ephesus easily. The other option is to stay in Seljuk which is a few minutes from Ephesus.

Pamukkale is a few of hours away and you can't fly. You will need to take a bus. You will not need to stay in Pamukkale for more than a day in my opinion. I would try to get a bus as early in the morning as possible. I do not know when the earliest bus is, but if you could leave by 7-8, then you would have most of the day to spend in Pamukkale.

Now from Pamukkale you have a couple of options. You can take a bus to Denizli or Izmir and then fly to Cappadocia (I think Denizli is closer but there are probably more flights from Izmir and there may be a direct flight but not sure). You can easily figure that out online. Look at Anadolu Jet, Turkish Air, and Pegasus.

For Cappadocia you will fly into either Kayseri or Nevsehir. Nevsehir airport is about 15 minutes closer than Kayseri but has far fewer flights. Work airport transportation out with your hotel as there is not a normal shuttle from either airport and taxis are outrageously expensive. Depending on how long you stay many hotels offer free shuttle. For Cappadocia you can check out my website: www.captivatingcappadocia.com and get all the information you need.

Now, getting from Cappadocia to Safranbolu is not going to be fun for you. As far as I know the nearest airport is Ankara which is 2-3 hours away. I think the bus from Capp to Saf takes about the same amount of time as a plane and bus, but I may be missing an airport somewhere closer?  Again, you are in the same boat going from Saf to Istanbul. You can take a bus to Ankara and fly or just take the bus to Istanbul. You'll have to decide what is best for you.

I'm sorry I cannot be of more help. I have been to most of these places but we have a car so we drive generally.

If you have other questions, please ask them.
Have a great trip,
Duke Dillard

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you very much for your precious information, we'll probably start our journey on 23/3/2012, one of our consideration is that hotels and transport may be rare as hot season starts from April, so, may I take this chance to ask some more quesions.

We'll stay at Instanbul for 1 night, then fly to Izmir, we want to stay in Seljuk as it will be cheaper and there are not so many tourists, we are not going into the sea. What's the transport from Izmir to Seljuk?

We'll spend 3 days to visit Kusadasi, Ephesus and Pamukkale, then fly into Kayseri via Instanbul. Again we'll spend 2-3 days at Cappacocia, then spend 1 night at Ankara to avoid long term bus. Is it possible to buy bus-ticket to Safranbolu for the following day once we arrived Ankara?
We'll spend 2 nights at Saf, would it be easy to buy bus-ticket back to Istanbul? How long is the bus trip? Then we'll spend the last 2 days at Istanbul.

Thank very much for your kindly assistance.
Best regard.

Dear Tang,

I have to admit that this is not my area of expertise but I will tell you what I know.

To get from Izmir to Seljuk, you have a few options.
1. Your hotel may offer a shuttle. You will have to ask them.
2. You can rent a car at the Izmir airport. Assuming you are flying out of the Izmir airport after your stay in Seljuk, this may be your best option as it will allow you to travel to the Ephesus, Kusadasi and Pamukkale as well. Just make sure to have a GPS system or a good map. I don't know how much rentals are from Izmir but here in Cappadocia you can rent a car for 80-100TL per day for a basic car. Gasoline is expensive in Turkey.
3. It should be easy to take a bus from Izmir to Seljuk. I expect there is some kind of transport from the airport to the bus station. I have not done this so don't know.
4. Taxi- this will be terribly expensive.
Note: if you don't rent a car, you should ask your hotel ahead of time how to get to the different places you want to go.

Make sure your hotel in Cappadocia works out your shuttle from Kayseri. Many hotels offer a free shuttle (it takes about an hour from the airport to the hotel).

The bus to Ankara takes 5 hours. Once you arrive at the bus station in Ankara (it is huge) be sure to buy your bus tickets to Saf and you can probably go ahead and get tickets to Istanbul from Saf but if you wait it should not be a problem. The problem at the Ankara bus station is that there are at least 50 bus companies and most of the people do not know English. Finding the right company is not easy. I have done it when I did not know Turkish so it is possible but it is a bit stressful. Just walk up to the different counters (on the upstairs level) and say "Safranbolu" with a questioning look until someone responds positively.

Another option is trying to buy all of your bus tickets in Cappadocia. Metro is the biggest bus company that comes to Cappadocia and they should go to Saf as well. You should be able to buy tickets from here but I can't guarantee that.

I don't know how long the bus is from Saf to Istanbul but I would expect 6 hours at most and probably less.

I'm sorry that I can't be of more help. Ask more questions if you have them.
Have a great trip,


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Duke Dillard


I can answer travel questions about Cappadocia and Ankara. I can also answer questions about living in Turkey as a foreigner.


I have lived in Turkey since 2007. In summer 2011 we moved to Cappadocia and as of September 2011 I have been writing for www.captivatingcappadocia.com I have visited many sites and have many friends in Cappadocia. Also, as part of my work I am reading every book I can find on the region and people.

B.A. Economics from Washington & Lee University (Lexington, VA, USA) MBA from Bilkent University (Ankara, Turkey)

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