Istanbul – Çannakale – Izmir – Pamukkale – Bursa – Istanbul
Each region of Turkey has its own particular charm and personality, but a road trip on western Turkey that starts from Istanbul and takes you to Çannakale (a town near Troy), Izmir (a metropolis near Ephesus), Pamukkale and Bursa, is truly unique.
In fact, in this road trip there are some destinations with a great historical and tourist appeal. But at the same time you can admire some beautiful little known places.
I remind you that we wrote a very interesting article on “Car & rental”
First stop: Eceabat
After hiring a car in Istanbul, following our tips, you can start the road trip to Western Turkey.
Our advice is to always have a good amount of data to be connected to the Internet and therefore to Google Maps which, in addition to indicating the roads, tells you about any police checkpoints, accidents or speed limits.
The first stop on this road trip is Eceabat, a small town far 4 hours from Istanbul.
Why go from Istanbul to Eceabat?
Because it is the nearest town to the World War I Gallipoli Campaign battlefields of 1915, cemeteries and memorials to the more than 120,000 soldiers fallen from Turkey, the United Kingdom, France, Australia and New Zealand. Then because there is a small port that allows you to take a ferry that will take you to Çannakale and then to Troy.
If you stay at least one night we recommend a visit to Kilitbahir Castle and the Dardanelles Strait. To eat, choose the restaurants along the sea. Good and cheap.
Second stop: Troy
The second stop on the Western Turkey road trip is Troy, the ancient city known as the setting for the Greek myth of the Trojan War. To get to the old city of Troy you have to take the ferry from Eceabat to Çannakale, a beautiful and tidy town where you can also admire the Trojan horse used in the famous 2004 film. The ferry schedules are frequent and you can see them here. The Turkish government created the Historical National Park at Troy on September 30, 1996. It contains 136 square kilometres (53 sq mi) to include Troy and its vicinity, centered on Troy. The purpose of the park is to protect the historical sites and monuments within it, as well as the environment of the region. In 1998 the park was accepted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The archaeological site of Troy consists of nine major layers, the earliest dating from the Early Bronze Age, the latest from the Byzantine era. The mythic city is typically identified with one of the Late Bronze Age layers, such as Troy VI, Troy VIIa, or Troy VIIb. If you love the poem of the Iliad you cannot miss this destination.
Third stop: Izmir
The ruins of Troy and the town of Çannakale can be visited in a few hours, then for the night we recommend that you continue the road trip to Izmir.
The path leading to the third largest city in Turkey is very fascinating. Along the way you will find some very beautiful viewpoints on the sea.
Izmir is an ancient trade hub, with a fiercely liberal tradition, and is a convenient base for those wishing to visit the western part of the country. In what was once the famous Greek city of Smyrna, life unfolds along the kordon (seafront) which, especially near the green neighborhood of Alsancak, is as charming and lively as that of any large seaside city.
With its Levantine and Jewish cultural heritage, İzmir proudly stands out from the rest of the nation.
Izmir’s good reputation is linked to its foresight in the cultural sphere and in terms of city politics. The International Arts Festival, held in June, has a rich and daring program, and many dilapidated industrial buildings are returning to activity in the form of spaces available to the community and artists.
Fourth stop: Ephesus
In the road trip to western Turkey, Izmir is a strategic stop due to its proximity to several beautiful destinations. For this reason, we advise you to consider staying in the area for a few days and enjoying the whole region calmly. Among these destinations there is certainly Ephesus, a beautiful and thriving city of ancient Greece
The city was famous in its day for the nearby Temple of Artemis (completed around 550 BC), which has been designated one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Its many monumental buildings included the Library of Celsus and a theatre capable of holding 24,000 spectators.
Ephesus, in addition to being a very special archaeological site, is also a very important pilgrimage destination for Christians.
In Ephesus there is the house of Mary. Based on the descriptions of the German mystic Anna Katharina Emmerick, the house where the Virgin lived after the death of Jesus was found in Ephesus. In 1967 Pope Paul VI and in 1979 Pope John Paul II went to Ephesus and prayed in Mary’s house, making sure that the whole world was now in agreement in considering it as such.
Fifth stop: Pamukkale
Among the destinations close to Izmir there is also Pamukkale, the most beautiful natural spa in the world.
Pamukkale in Turkish means “cotton castle”. The natural pools of the Pamukkale thermal baths each look like a cotton staple in fact.
The walls of Pamukkale’s thermal pools are white and glistening, smoothed by the flow of water over the centuries.
The beneficial waters gush out at a temperature of 35 ° and through long channels pours onto the sloping terraces where they form the pools. The water is rich in calcium hydrocarbonate which in contact with the air is the protagonist of the sedimentation of calcium carbonate which contributes to the creation of the spectacular pools.
In Pamukkale the climate is temperate throughout the year. In winter, however, some pools are cold and walking barefoot to reach the pools is not ideal. In summer, however, when it is very hot, the reflection of the sun on the shining white of the swimming pools can be annoying. Autumn and spring are the perfect seasons to visit Pamukkale.
Sixth stop: Bursa
After having calmly visited the Pamukkale area you can think of returning north, towards Istanbul and concluding a wonderful road trip. In order not to tire too much, we recommend that you stop for one or two nights in Bursa.
Bursa is a modern and industrial city that revolves all around mosques, mausoleums and other buildings born at the time when it was the first capital of the Ottoman Empire. If after a long walk in the old city you want to regenerate yourself with some fresh air, the towering peaks of Mount Uludağ (Turkey’s main ski resort) are 22 km away.
The locals are very proud of their contribution to Turkish cuisine: İskender kebap, a giant bowl of moderately spicy meat cooked in its own gravy, was invented here in the 19th century, and is known throughout the country as “Bursa kebap”. The city is also famous for the kestane şekeri (caramelized chestnuts) and for its silk, both products that can be purchased in the numerous shops present.
After seeing Bursa as well, your road trip comes to an end, but don’t be sad. You will be in Istanbul. In about 2 hours by car you will be back in the most beautiful city in the world.