This is a fascinating question - as should be, because Turkey is a
It is also a very big country; you'll not see much in just four or
five days, unless you spend all your time travelling - in which case
you might get to a lot of places but you won't see anything! My
advice is to choose just one or two areas, and explore these
I will make four suggestions, but suggest you choose no more than two:
Cappadocia in the center of the country, Lycia (as was) in the south,
the north-eastern Black Sea area round Trazon and the Mardin area in
the south-east. You will find some guidance as what is to be found in
these areas in the guidebook: "The Undiscovered Places of Turkey" by
Sevan and Mujde Nisanyan - full details below.
Cappadocia is a must-see region, totally unique. The area IS in the
standard guide books, but it is large enough that there are relatively
unknown areas and sites within the larger area. It is a geologically
unique area, the result of erosion of volcanic rock and ash, sometimes
used as the set for sci-fi movies. I would particularly recommend the
Soganli Valley and the Mustafapasa area and road to Soganli. (You
asked for relatively unknown areas: I visited Soganli two years ago,
and saw just one other tourist. This was the day after I visited the
Ihlara valley, and could barely move for coaches and cars and hordes
of tourists and trippers.)
You may want to visit the accessible open-air museum just outside
Goreme, because it is so complete, but Zelve is not too far away and
again a lot quieter, a lot less explored.
The Nisanyans particularly recommend the Underground Church in
Ortahisar, the Church of St Basil in Mustafapasa, the Gumusler
Monastery near Nigde, and Gesi.
The Lycian peninsula
This is the area round Fethiye and eastwards. It is a holiday area,
though not as well frequented as Marmaris and Antalya, and there are
plenty of get-away undiscovered areas here. My particular
recommendations (again personally visited, this year) include Xanthos
and Tlos. I give a warm recommendation for Tlos and suggest you stay
at the Mountain Lodge. The owners (Mick Scarsbrook, an Englishman,
and his Turkish wife, Mel) know the area very well, and will give you
walks / rides / bird and animal advice. (You will find more details
at the small hotels guide, <http://www.nisanyan.net/>. This is a very
comfortable place to stay, warmly recommended. Lots of hills, lots of
The Nisanyans also recommend as undiscovered : Kayakoy, Kadyanda,
Kekova, Arkanda and Olympos in this region.
These next two regions are on my to-visit-lists for the coming years.
I haven't visited them yet, but going by the Nisanyans' book there is
much to see in relatively small areas.
In the Black Sea area they list the Peristera Monastery near Trabzon,
Santa near Yagmurdere, the Soganli Pass, the Simsirli Mosque, the
Makrevis Quarter and Zilkale, both near Camlihemsin, Dortkilise near
Tekkale, the Ishan Church, and Haho and Oskvank, near Uzundere. It is
a huge area, and might be difficult in November - but certainly looks
worth getting to.
The Mardin area
This is not quite the extreme south-east - but it is as far as you
might want to go alone and without a guide: check for current travel
advisories if you do venture this far - it is close to the Syrian and
The Nisanyans again: they recommend Midyat, the Mar Gabriel Moastery,
Tur Abdin, and the Sacred Pool of Abraham in Urfa. It's also a
relatively unvisited area, so although there may be much in the
standard guide books you won't find many tourists here.
A few other pointers
You will be travelling in November. Take warm clothing! It can be
very cold in Turkey in November, especially at night, but even in the
day and especially in the mountains.
Don't buy your lira in advance, wait until you arrive.
Don't try to do too much - choose just two of the above. Don't forget
to leave time for Istanbul itself.
If you are hiring a car, you'll find that driving outside Istanbul is
a dream: the roads are generally good and there is little traffic. In
Istanbul (and other large cities), the rule of the road is "There are
no rules, expect the unexpected".
And do buy the Nisanyans' book, "The Undiscovered Places of Turkey".
It is published by the Boyut Yayin Group, and can be ordered online at
<http://www.nisanyan.net/book/list.asp?lang=_en>. They write in their
foreword that many of the undiscovered places they write about are
disappearing, often because nobody realises their interest or
importance, they are that unknown. The Nisanyans also produce an
annual Little Hotel Book, and I have found their recommendations spot
on. (Take care to ask about hotel prices before you commit yourself
to staying; many of the hotels and pensions listed seem to raise
their charges as they get better known, thanks to the guide!)
Based largely on personal experience, plus knowledge of the guides
I hope you enjoy your travels, and hope this answer gives you lots of
ideas. If you need more information, please ask for clarification.
Best wishes, r2l