Turkey has varied climates and seasons, from hot coastal summers to snowy winters. Even in the summer when temperatures soar, it may be quite cool at night in some parts. So the key is to dress in layers! Below you’ll find our packing list for two weeks spent in Istanbul, Kusadasi, and Cappadocia during August/September. Iylana’s list for the ladies is first, followed by a few notes from Shane on a good men’s wardrobe, and lastly the gear and other items we share. Remember, virtually any place you stay will be able to provide laundry services for you, so you can keep from overpacking by planning to recycle your outfits a few times.
HERSPack for a trip to Turkey the way you would pack for a trip to any European country—but with a little extra modesty. If you plan on visiting mosques one day, wear a long skirt or baggy pants and bring a light cardigan and scarf in your day bag to cover your arms and head. And if you’re visiting in the summer, expect it to be hot!
1) Shorts x 2 My favorite are from Patagonia and Toad & Co because they’re lightweight and just the right length—conservative without looking like a grandma.
2) Pants x 2 I took a pair of Columbia hiking pants and a lightweight pair of jeans my first trip (and was miserably hot). So the next go round I took a pair of baggy linen pants and some cotton elastic waist pants. Much better for summer!
3) Basic Tee x 5 Simple solid or striped tees will go a long way in creating multiple outfits.
4) Shirts x 2 I also like to bring something a little nicer than a tshirt, usually my favorite lightweight, long sleeve, embroidered top (similar here).
5) Dresses x 3 After sweating all day sightseeing, it’s nice to clean up for dinner! I rotated three simple dresses every night.
6) Leggings and a tunic On travel days especially, I like to be very comfortable with a long tunic over leggings.
7) Light Jacket or Cardigan Because even in the dead of summer, the mornings and nights can get cool. I was glad I had this on our 5am balloon ride in Cappadocia. Also came in handy for covering my arms when visiting the mosques. It was light enough to carry in my daypack so I could wear sleeveless the rest of the day.
8) Big Pashmina Scarf For covering your head when you visit the mosques. Also comes in handy at night when the weather turns cooler. Of course, a scarf also makes a good souvenir, if you want to wait til you get there to buy one.
9) Comfortable Walking Shoes Sanuks are my go-to sandal for everyday vacation wear. I have worn them on three trips now and am very happy with how well they have held up and how comfortable they are for all day walking!
10) Hiking Shoes Cappadocia’s rocky terrain can be quite slippery, so I was glad I took some heftier sandals when we went hiking in Goreme. Tennis shoes would work fine, too, anything that has good grip. I prefer sandals as they aren’t so bulky.
11) Purse I hate wearing backpacks, so I usually take a small purse to carry my cash, phone and room key. I have never worried about theft in Turkey, but of course it is always a possibility no matter where you go. The metros can get very crowded in Istanbul, so only having a small purse relieves any worry as I can wear it cross body and keep one hand on it at all times.
12) Swimsuit You may want a swimsuit if any of your hotels have swimming pools, or if you’re visiting the coast.
13) The Essentials ExOfficio underwear, bras, a couple pair of socks… you know what you need. Also don’t forget sleepwear! I like to take something that can be worn as an outfit if needed, like an extra simple tee and running shorts that I could wear on a travel day.
If you are visiting Turkey in the summer months, expect sweltering hot weather. Pack cool, lightweight clothes, while also accounting for potentially cooler nights in Cappadocia. Like other European countries, shorts aren’t exactly en vogue, but still pack a few pair when visiting outdoor attractions or for hiking activities in Cappadocia. You’ll definitely need pants for visiting mosques and the relics room at Topkapi palace, and tank tops won’t be allowed.
Shirts x 4: I like taking lightweight roll sleeve shirts. They provide a dressier option for evenings out or unexpected cool weather, but are also cool enough to wear during hot days with the sleeves rolled up. Toad & Co has a nice lightweight cotton option.
Tees x 4: Tees are essential for hot days and outdoor activities. I take a mix of active tees and a henley or two.
Shorts x 2: These Marmot shorts are versatile with lots of pockets without being excessively bulky.
Swimsuit: Take a hybrid short that works as a swimsuit as well as a hiking/travel short.
Jeans x 1: These can easily be trimmed from your list if you’re looking to save space. But they’re also nice to have for nightlife, so I recommend something with some stretch for comfort, such as these Toad & Co’s.
Underwear x 7: ExOfficio Give N Go boxer briefs are always my go-to undergarment, especially for travel. Can’t sing their praises enough.
Socks x 8: My socks for travel are a good mix of athletic ankle, no-shows, as well as a pair or two for hiking. Smartwool makes the best when it comes to performance and comfort.
Shoes x 2: I typically take one shoe suitable for hiking such as the Patagonia Activist, which is lightweight and easy to pack. I also like to take a pair of Sanuk’s which can easily go from day touring to evenings out. Since we only spent one day at the beach and weren’t staying at accommodations with shared bathrooms, I stuck with my Sanuks and didn’t bother taking flip flops.
Rain Jacket: A necessity on any trip, for when unexpected weather threatens to ruin the day. One that’s lightweight and foldable is perfect for stuffing in to your day bag. Outdoor Research and Patagonia make great options.
1) Luggage Our Osprey Sojourn Convertible Wheeled Backpacks were perfect for Turkey as we could wheel the luggage through airports and then convert to backpacks on the cobblestone streets. The 60 liter capacity was more than enough to pack everything we took with enough extra space for the stuff we picked up along the way so that we only had to maneuver one bag each on travel days.
3) Packable Duffel These are a great solution to bring souvenirs home if you think you may run out of space.
4) Packing Cubes These allow you to roll your clothes and save tons of space.
5) Cameras I use my iPhone for photos when traveling, and Shane uses a Sony A7s. Remember to pack your camera battery, charger, and memory card. Shane carries a 256GB memory card and that’s usually more than enough for a two week trip.
6) Universal Power Adaptor This is the one we use because it has usb ports.
7) Flat Iron This isn’t for everyone, but the humid air in Istanbul makes it an essential for my frizzy mane. If you’re going to take one, just be sure you have the right voltage. This is the one I took.
8) Headphones Shane always carries these noise-canceling headphones for plane rides.
9) Passport and Travel Documents I print out receipts of everything we booked in advance—airline tickets, hotels, airport transfers, tours, everything. US citizens will need a tourist visa, which you can get at the airport when you arrive, or you can get it in advance online here. And if you need something to hold your passport and documents together, get one of these travel wallets that have RFID blocking.
10) Debit Card ATMs were easy to find to get cash. You may want to check with your bank before you leave to make sure they don’t charge international ATM fees. You’ll also want to inform them of your travel plans so they don’t block access to your account.
11) Essentials Chapstick, toothbrush, deodorant… you know what you need. All of the hotels we stayed at provided shampoo, conditioner and soap, so you can save some room by not packing those. I always carry ibuprofen, but you won’t have any trouble finding pharmacies if you need to pick up anything on the way. Pictured is my favorite shower bag by REI, but you can find a similar version here.