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14 days in Turkey, need help on the itinerary!

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This will be our first time in Turkey and we're backpacking unguided, would appreciate all the help we can get! :) Wondering if our plan is feasible, and any sage advice from the knowledgeable community on how to improve our itinerary?

Suggestions on any good cheap places to consider staying in our stops, and an estimate of the budget we would need on this trip would also be welcome.

26/9/2013 (Thurs)
6.30 pm Arrive Istanbul, check into the hotel/hostel
Night Walk around (dinner, maybe buy a sim-card, buy the museum pass, etc.), rest

27/9/2013 (Fri) (A few museums are closed on Friday)
8.00 am Breakfast
9.00 am Topkapi Palace 25 TL or plus an optional 15TL for women’s house Harem)
11.00 am Hagia Sophia 15 TL
1.00 pm Lunch and Zuhur
2.30 pm Sultanahmet Mosque Free
6.00 pm Go to Bursa
Option 1: Bus from Esenler terminal (2 hours)
Option 2: Ferry from Yenikapi (1.5 h) then 30 mins to Bursa
Night Stay a night in Bursa

28/9/2013 (Sat)
Great Mosque of Bursa
Green Tomb
Silk Shop
Walk around Bursa
Night Go to Selcuk by bus, sleep in the bus Checked: Available at 11.00 pm, (7 hours)

29/9/2013 (Sun)
Arrive Selcuk, check into the hotel (KIV)
Go to Ephesus and walk around
Temple of Artemis 1 km away from Selcuk, reached by Kusadasi or Pamucak minibuses, walk/jog
Night Stay for a night

30/9/2013 (Mon)
Walk around or by bus, go around Pamucak and Kusadasi (beach)
Go to Pamukkale 3.5 hours
Maybe stay at the Traverten Otel in Pamukkale?

1/10/2013 (Tues)
Walk around Pamukkale (cotton)
Night Go to Cappadocia by bus, sleep in the bus (9 hours)
Konya (KIV)

2/10/2013 (Wed)
Arrive Goreme (Cappadocia) Maybe can stay at Nomad Hotel
Cappadocia green/red tour
Walk around
Night Stay

3/10/2013 (Thurs)
Go to Ankara by bus (4.5 hours), 30 TL
Hittite Museum
Mausoleum of Atartuk
Night Go to Bolu

4/10/2013 (Fri)
Arrive Bolu
Walk around
We can maybe go to Lake Abant
Go to Istanbul (sleep in the bus) (10 – 12 hr journey)

5/9/2013 (Sat)
Arrive Istanbul
Walk around
Miniaturk
Galata Tower

6/10/2013 (Sun)
Picnic at Buyukade Island 4 TL for each person for entry
Cycling service: 10 TL for the whole day

7/10/2013 (Mon)
Panorama Museum or other museums
Thaksim

8/10/2013
Spice and Grand Bazaar Shopping!

9/10/2013
1.45 pm Depart

Thank you in advance, we'll be so grateful for any help!

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    Go to Pamukkale 3.5 hours
    Maybe stay at the Traverten Otel in Pamukkale?


    The hotels at the base of the spring had people trying to catch clients coming by car. You can negotiate a price with them which includes dinner. Those hotels usually had a heated swimming pool.

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    Hmmm.... It depends on what you want to see and experience, but at least some parts of your plan wouldn't have worked for me. For example, I spent more than 4 hours at Topkapi Palace.

    I was very glad to visit Bursa. I found the Muradiye tombs even more impressive than the Green Mosque and Tomb and was able to visit them, and the silk market, in a day (albeit a busy one).

    I'm not sure what your plan is for Konya -- just a place to sleep? If so, you might want to consider other ways for going from Pamukkale to Cappadocia.

    Only 1 day in Cappadocia? That seems too little to me. It obviously depends on what you want to see and experience, but I think most travelers want at least 2, if not 3, days in the area.

    I was glad to see both the Museum of Ancient Civilizations in Ankara (is that what you mean by the "Hittite Museum"? It is WELL worth visiting IMO) and the Ataturk Mausoleum -- but I'm not sure you can visit both after a long bus ride from Goreme. What time would the bus arrive and when do the sites close?

    Hope these thoughts are useful!

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    Just a few thoughts:

    I think four hours is enough to see the Topkapi and the Hagia Sophia. Eat a late lunch if not; the Blue Mosque won't take as much time as either of those. Or do Topkapi, have lunch, then see HSophia and BMosque after lunch. You'll be really religious by dinner time.
    Bus vs Ferry/bus won't matter. Take which ever is closer, easier, less expensive. The buses may leave more often.

    If I'm not mistaken, you can see the Artemis temple (a single pieced-together column is all that's left) from Ephesus. It's not worth trekking to see, it's sad rubble kind of down in the valley. Selcuk is a cute little town.

    Unless you live somewhere totally land bound, I wouldn't recommend time at the beaches. They're mediocre. Except for some areas of the Turquoise coast, way better stuff to see/do in Turkey. (But then I live in California) Nothing to do in Kusadasi, just an ordinary city with bad traffic.

    When you're done with Ephesus, head for Pamukkale. You may have to take the bus to Denizli and a dolmas to Pamukkale, but there might be direct buses. They were building a large resort at the base of Pamukkale when I was there so maybe more people are coming now and the transportation is better. You can easily spend the entire day at Pamukkale and Hierapolis.

    Definitely add another day to Cappadocia. It's a large region and unless you have a car, it will take you time to get around. There are some wonderful hikes.

    There's nothing in Ankara for tourists except the museum (at the top of the hill by the citadel) and the Mausoleum. If you get an early bus to Ankara, you could see both in about 5 hours, then head back to the bus station for your next destination. There is 24 hour luggage storage and showers in the bus station.

    Is there some particular reason you want to go all the way to Bolu? It's really out of your way. The Black Sea area of Turkey is truly beautiful, but merits a separate vacation.
    I'd skip it and take a bus over to Hatusha from Ankara. It's a really impressive Hittite site. You can hire a taxi driver (not that expensive) to take you around the site plus take you to Catalhoyuk, which is a wonderful bronze age settlement in a lovely setting. There are way more pretty lakes on the planet than Hittite sites.

    I took a late afternoon bus from Ankara to Hatusha and my hotel owner picked me up at the bus "station". Next morning he arranged the taxi/driver which I shared with two Japanese gals, we had a good time. At the end of the day, he took me back to the bus "station" (really just a bus stop on the main road) and I took the bus back to Ankara and caught my overnight train to Istanbul. I'd left my suitcase in storage at the bus station in Ankara and just took a little overnight bag to Hatusha.

    Enjoy Sunday on Buyukade. I've always wanted to spend some time there. Maybe next trip.

    You can see Miniaturk (sure you'd rather spend time looking at models than real stuff?) Taksim square, and the Galata tower the same day. They're all on the same side of the water. Start with Galata, then Miniaturk, Taksim is open all the time and you can walk around that area of the city in the evening, it's pretty :)

    Last day, spend time in the old downtown area, Fatih.
    Visit the Rustem Pasha mosque (gorgeous tiles) since it's practically next door to the spice bazaar. The spices won't be as heavy to lug around as other treasures you might buy.

    Skip the panorama museum, it's a Disney attraction. If you have time for a museum try the archeology museum, it has a good collection including the treaty of Kadesh. For another site that's close, the Basilica cistern next to the Blue Mosque is pretty cool. The column with the upside down medusa head was my favorite.

    Then head for the Bazaar. Three hours is enough to make you dizzy, and you'll have seen lots of the same stuff for sale for better prices other places. There's an impressive amount of gold for sale, and they'll alter the length of leather jacket sleeves on the spot. Amazing place, but seriously, you'll get better prices bargaining in the other places you are going. If you like any of the woven/kilim backpacks and bags you see in Cappadocia, buy them there, you won't find them in Istanbul. The bazaar is open until 7pm.

    Just my ideas but it's your vacation, do what you want and what interests you. I hope you have a good time.

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    Just a note to mowmow and to readers of above post :

    Catalhoyuk is a Neolithic and not a Bronze age settlement.
    It is also near Konya and has nothing to do with Hattusa or the Hittites. (Some say that it was established by tribes escaping the big flood in and around the Black Sea as a result of the formation of the straits of Bosphorus around 6-8000 BC.)

    Alacahouyuk is the Bronze age settlement near Hattusas and it is worth a visit.

    Another point is :

    Bolu is a large city about 2/5ths of the way from Ankara to Istanbul, almost on the motorway.

    Always helps to check your maps before responding.

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    Thank you for the correction chelebi, no need to be rude. Guess I shouldn't have tried to answer a post at 2am when I couldn't sleep. I must have been more tired than I thought.

    I mixed up Alacahöyük and Catalhoyuk. I visited them both. Alacahoyuk is the settlement near Hattusha I intended; I enjoyed it as much as Aphrodisias. It retains its feeling of a small ancient community.

    I still think Bolu will not fit well into OP's plan. Bolu is an ancient market/han town, but most of the old stuff was destroyed by fire and has been rebuilt, albeit nicely. There's better stuff to see elsewhere.

    The highway now goes through the tunnel below the town. The train does not stop there, and neither do express or overnight buses. It's 7 hours by bus from Ankara to Istanbul, so going from Ankara to Bolu will not be an overnight bus, unless you find some local type bus that stops in every single little town, and then it will not be a decent night's sleep. Going from Bolu to Istanbul will not be an overnight bus ride either, it's only 4 hours. That will shoot their plan of saving on hotel costs by traveling at night right out the window. OP will have to stay overnight either in Ankara or Bolu and then Bolu or Istanbul to get more than 4 hours sleep.

    I don't think there's any public transport to the lake, you will have to rent a car or hire a taxi. Seems like a lot of work to get to a lake. But then, once again, I live in a place with lots of gorgeous lakes, so I would spend my "Turkey time" doing stuff I couldn't do at home.

    The OP seems to like outdoor activities. Turkey is a really beautiful country with varied terrain, and hiking around is very enjoyable.

    I wish you a very enjoyable vacation. I hope you're studying your phrasebook, it will help. Turkish people are very friendly and helpful, especially if you've made the effort to learn a few words and phrases.

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