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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 20, 17 at 01:24 PM
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Driving Croatia turkey via Greece

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6 week driving holiday August- sept
We are flying from Australia and would like to cover the countries of turkey, Greece and Croatia. We are not knowing where to start. We are looking at covering the coast line of Croatia and intend on going inland also. We want to do Istanbul and go as far as Antalya . We would like to spend a few days on the Greek islands and cover some of the mainland in Greece. Thinking about catching car ferry from Greece to turkey to cut out some travel time.any ideas as to what route to go to take in the most scenic places?

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    Check beforehand if you can enter Turkey with a rental car.

    Turkey is not an EU member and has strict car import regulations. In addition to any issues at border check poinys, your insurance may not cover Turkey and/or the rental company may not let you take the car to turkey.

    However, you could probably arrange for a similar car from the same rental company to be made available to you inside Turkey at the border if you are dealing with one of the major internationals.

    Taking a ferry from Greece to Turkey would be a good idea in view of above.

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    Thanks.....have been looking at hiring a car at Istanbul airport for a week - quite cheap....starting to juggle a bit and think twice about entire drive...can u tell me of the highlights of Greece other than Athens and islands?

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    You can get to Turkey by car from Greece, by driving the Greek North (Macedonia and Thrace Regions). These are 2 truly beautiful regions, and quite off the beaten path.

    In Macedonia, some must sees are:

    •Thessaloniki, the Capital of Macedonia since Antiquity is the second largest City of Greece. Thessaloniki was the second city of The Byzantine Empire only second to Constantinople, its rich History can be seen everywhere today, there are 15 UNESCO protected Byzantine Monuments in Thessaloniki. Its a very alive city (European Youth Capital 2014), it has a unique culinary scene, Great Museums, and it's a seaside city.
    -Must sees: Hagia Sophia, Hagios Demetrios, Panagia Chalkeon, The Rotunda, Arch of Galerius, The White Tower, The Byzantine Culture Museum the Sea Promenade, and The Old Ano Poli (Upper City). The Cuisine of Thessaloniki is famous all over Greece, with its hundred year old tavernas, cafes, and pastry shops, it is an absolute Culinary Diamond. The sweets of Thessaloniki are the best in Europe hands down, they are experts (see Bougatsa, Trigona Panoramatos, Tsouteki, Kazan Dipi, Baklavas). Thessaloniki is a stunning city.
    -Vergina with its museum, is the best place to experience the Magnitude of the Macedonian Empire.
    -Pella was the Imperial Capital of the Macedonian Empire, and the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
    -Olympus, the Religious Center of the Ancient World, home of the 12 Olympians.
    -Mount Athos, is by far, the most mysterious place in Europe, and autonomous state under the protection of Greece, Mount Athos is the Center of the Orthodox World, and hasn't changed since the Byzantine Era. There you can only find Monks and Thousand year old Monasteries. The whole region is protected by UNESCO, for both Cultural and Natural importance, the Nature is untouched, virgin. Every Orthodox Ruler has Mount Athos under its protection, The Byzantine Emperors, The Czars of Russia, and other Orthodox Rulers, it houses Greek (mainly), Russian, Romanian and Serbian Monasteries. Its treausuries are absolutely stunning, the amount of Gold is huge, Gold given by the Byzantine Emperors, and the Czars as gifts. It is a great experience, a spiritual experience. But women are not allowed because the Monasteries are Male Monasteries, and they cannot even enter the Peninsula.
    Then Xanthi and Kavala are two jewel cities, in Thrace, very atmospheric.

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    I can't comment on the Greece or Croatia sections, but my wife and I are nearing the end of a 3 week driving trip around Turkey, so I will limit my comments to that.

    Getting a car that is valid to be driven in Turkey us important, but I'm guessing you have that sorted if you are picking up the rental car in Istanbul (I hope you are picking it up at the end of your Istanbul stay, as there is very little value in having a car in that city)

    There are automatic toll booths for which you need a tag called HGS, and you can't simply pay as you go, but again your rental may have that covered, but best to check, just in case.

    Driving out of Istanbul can be a nightmare, so without knowing it, we probably did the best thing and caught a car ferry from the port at the bottom of the Sultanahmet district, arriving into Yalova.

    We have only travelled around the western part of Turkey, so I can't comment in the Eastern half, but in our experience, most of the scenery and attractions are near the coast, other than Cappadocia and The Pammukale area. We drove from Istanbul down to Cappadocia, which took the best part of a day (ferry arrived in Yalova around 10ish and we got to our destination around 6pm).

    We booked to stay in Goreme (my wife learned of a lovely place called Divan Cave House, based on trip advisor recommendations, for what Its worth), but we needed to fill in 2 nights before we arrived, so we happened on a small town called Gruzelyurt. What a find! It is small/charming and close to the attractions in the southern half of the area, such as Ihlara Valley. We simply walked up to a place called Osomanoglu and they had spare rooms (but, this was in early May, not peak season, when you will be travelling). This is is small hotel (9 rooms), all nicely fitted out, which can be a relief when travelling around Turkey.

    The price is high for the region (150 TL per night, for B&B, which equates to AUD75), but we felt it was worth it, as the accomm was just right and the host family were fantastic. We were also offered dinner for an additional 25TL, which was a bargain - real Turkish food, cooked by mum.

    We saw some of the local sights (Ihlara Valley, and the Siseme Cathederal being the main ones), as well as visited a local Hot Springs Thermal Pool - all of which are well worth doing.

    We moved on to Cappadocia and saw all of the sights that are well covered in the travel books. I recommend doing it in this order, as you will appreciate the quality of the cave church frescoes more once you get to Goreme. If you do choose to spend time in both areas, then make sure you buy the museum card (7 attractions for one price), as it not only saves you money, but also allows you to skip the queue each time!!

    Our trip then headed due south (in order to hit the coast around Mersin), but if we had our time again, we probably would travel in a different direction, as there is very little to see/do (in my opinion) until you reach Alanya, which is another 2-300 Kms along a very windy coast road (and even then, Alanya is littered with a massive number of high rise tourist accommodations, but maybe that hits your sweet spot?). We continued along the coast, stopping at Belek (this is a golf region and I am a keen golfer), and then further on to Kas.

    If you have no golf interest, then my alternative plan would be to skip the southern coast altogether and leave Cappadocia, heading due west to Pammukale, where you can see the travertine terraces, plus the ruins of Hierapolis. We were also told to pass through Aphrodisias, and I'm glad we did. You should also do this, before continuing further west to the coast.

    We chose to stay in Kusadasi, as opposed to Selcuk and, again, I'm glad we did, as it has a nice vibe (albeit touristy, as all the cruise ships dick there to visit Ephesus).

    Ephesus us another 'must see' place, but the tip I have is to visit as soon as the gates open (8 am, I think) and start at the northern gates, making your way down the Main Street. All the tour groups opt to go in this direction, so If you do this, you will be ahead of the 'pack' for your entire visit.

    Heading south from there is where us gets really nice and there are many towns/cities that you can journey through (as opposed to the bleak towns on the southern coast), including Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, and Kas.

    Good luck with your trip, and be sure to have fun, no matter what gets thrown at you.

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    A further note:

    You will need to make a decision about how to get from Croatia to Greece, as most car companies will not allow you to drive through Albania and Kosovo, which means your best options are either to take a ferry from Bar in Montenegro (I believe there is a direct ferry to Igoumenitsa in the Western Coast of Greece), or drive all the way around, which means some very steep and winding roads (which is the option that we took).

    I have seen some comments about how hazardous these roads are, but having just driven them (and part of it in the rain), they are really OK if you keep your wits about you and drive at the appropriate speed fir the road you are on (for instance, we took 3 hours to drive 100kms on one if the back roads from Berane to Podgorica, but we loved every minute of it) The reward is that the scenery is beautiful, but only on the western section: ie in Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Once you leave the mountains it's gets a lot flatter and not as interesting, but you can get your speed back up to the usual pace.

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    Hi DonCall and sheringham,

    My partner and I are looking at doing a similar thing. We are starting in Turkey

    Question 1 - recommendation for cheap car rental for turkey only. Sheringham, have you found one you are booking yet?

    Then we are flying to Santorini island hopping then heading to Athens. From there we will get another Car and we were hoping to drive up the east coast and then over through Bosnia, serbia etc into croatia and around Croatia.. DonCall, who did you use...

    Question 2 - does anyone know a car rental that will allow us to drive from Greece to Croatia without having to get car ferries (i.e. overland).

    The reason we are so keen on overland (by car) is my partner travels for photography and so the more we can stop and do it at our own pace the better the trip for us.

    Any tips tricks advice greatly appreciated.


    For the curious partners photography -

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    Sorry for my late reply (I'm not an active contributor and didn't realise a question had been asked in reply to my post from last May/June).

    Unfortunately, our choice of car rental may not help you too much, as we took out a long term lease with one of the French car companies (Renault, Peugeot and Citroen all do it). It allowed us to drive all over Europe (including Turkey and Czech, which most rental companies won't allow) for 6 months, fully protected/insured at a very rate.

    Whoever you do rent through, be sure to check where you can/can't go, as Albania and Kosovo are usually not allowed.

    If a lease is an option for you, then maybe consider it (minimum lease period, I think, is about a month and they can deliver to another country, for a fee).

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