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Need advice on Turkey portion of Turkey/Greece trip

Need advice on Turkey portion of Turkey/Greece trip

Old May 6th, 2024, 08:56 PM
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Need advice on Turkey portion of Turkey/Greece trip

I'm new to the Fodor's forums and I have found some great info on both Turkey and Greece. We are seasoned travelers in our 60s who are planning to visit Turkey & Greece in Sept/Oct 2024 for about a month. We have never been to either country, and I find I'm struggling with this trip's planning more than any other place we've been. (Even more than Patagonia, which was challenging.) My big issues are: logistics between locations, knowing how much time to allocate to experience places without being rushed, and figuring out a logical itinerary for the list of places we're interested in. Here are the place in Turkey we're interested in, including tentative number of nights in each place:
  • arrive Istanbul. Mosques. Cistern. Bosphorus cruise. Topkapi Palace. Spice bazarre. Day trip to Gallipoli Peninsula & Troy - 5 nights
  • Cappadocia. Visit Tuz Gölü? Hot air balloon? Stay in cave hotel - 3 nights?
  • Antalya - 2/3 nights
  • Rhodes - 3 nights
  • Ephesus - 2 nights Kuşadası or Selçuk
Once the Turkey portion is completed, we need to make sure we can transfer to our places of interest in Greece via ferry or plane. We're hoping to stay a few days on one of the Cyclades islands (hopefully a less crowded one) before spending some quality time in Peloponnese (side trips to Delphi and Corinth) and ending with about 3 nights in Athens. (An alternate to Peloponnese is to somehow get ourselves to Corfu for about 5 nights.) I don't want to take up space here with the Greece portion of the trip - though we certainly welcome info/suggestions for it - I just include it so you know where we're headed from Turkey.

What are we missing? What should we take out? How do I get the logistics to work between these locations? We're fine with renting a car once we leave Istanbul, but it seems to make much more sense to fly to Cappadocia and Antalya. We decided to forego Pamukkale since it will likely be dry by then, and we didn't feel we needed to stop in Ankara (especially if flying to Cappadocia). A few days on a gulet would be nice, too, but I'm not sure if we have the time or where we'd insert it (Fethiye?).

Any and all suggestions and ideas are most appreciated! TIA
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Old May 7th, 2024, 05:32 AM
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My proposal:
Direct flight from Istanbul to Izmir
Visit Ephesos etc.
direct flight from Izmir to Kayseri
visit Urgup-Goreme-Ilhara Valley etc.
direct flight from Kayseri to Antalya
visit the huge antique sites of Perge, Side, Aspendos.,.,.,..
move to Kas, either by direct bus (dirty cheap) or rent a car with driver (in order to have no luggage stockage problems) and visit en route the sites of Phaselis and Demre and may be Olympos or Finike (all historic places).
Visit the rock tombs of Kas. Sleep at Kas.
Alternative: go on up to Fehtiye and sleep there. Reach Rhodos by daily catamaran the following morning.
From Kas: Local ferry (daily )from Kas to Kastellorizo Island (Meis Adasi) plus Greek ferry to Rhodos (about 4times weekly) or local flight from Kastellorizo to Rhodos.
Stay at Rhodos.
Ferry from Rhodos to Karpathos - Anafi - Santorini (2-3 times weekly, arrival at some Islands in the middle of the night), or
Ferry or catamaran from Rhodos to Kalymnos, ferry from Kalymnos to Astypalea (twice qweekly), plus ferry from Astypalea to Amorgos - Donoussa - Naxos - Paros (4times wekly, or)
Plane from Rhodos to Heraklion (Crete). Visit Crete or go on by catamaaran from Heraklion to Santorini - Ios - Paros - Naxos - Mykonos.
There is also a twice weekly ferry from Kissamos (Crete) to Gythion (Peloponnese).
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Old May 7th, 2024, 04:36 PM
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You might want to take a look at my trip report on Turkey. To a large extant it is a reversal of your potential trip, starting in Izmir (Ephesus) and ending in Cappadocia.

Trip Report: Turkey, 2008

The references to pictures no longer works, so here are the relevant albums:

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpcrHU1

https://flic.kr/s/aHsjp1sZBV
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Old May 7th, 2024, 05:32 PM
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Thank you, @neckervd. Your suggestion of moving things around makes perfect sense. We are in the process of investigating transportation options between Rhodes (or Kas/Fethiye/Marmaris) and whatever island we choose before heading to Peloponnese. The ferries are a great option, but they only run on certain days and generally take the better part of a day (or two). I'm utilizing ferryhopper to find out which routes work to which islands, but it's time-consuming to run through the many permutations. At least I feel better about the itinerary up until Rhodes.

Thank you, @Michael
, for your thorough trip report. I'm sure we'll reference it several times in our planning.

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Old May 7th, 2024, 11:52 PM
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For me, slwo ferry rides (with sun decks) are relax and not wste of timeIf you prefer tpo be transported like a sardine in a closed catamaran, the daily Fethyie - Rhodos catamaran is the solution.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 12:54 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd
For me, slwo ferry rides (with sun decks) are relax and not wste of time
Couldn't agree more. I look at the ferry rides as a cruise opportunity without the high costs. And how could we not enjoy being surrounded by the beautiful blue waters for several hours? My focus is not so much the time on board, it is figuring out what are the best connections to make and which island to choose. Not having a "layover" between ferry segments of several hours in the middle of the night is also a strong preference.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 12:20 PM
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A lot of ferry timetables for October are not yet published (That's Greece!).
The 2 weekly slow ferries from Kastellorizo stops usually at Rhodos, Tinos and Kos and continue during the night up to Piraeus.
https://www.12ne.gr/en/itineraries shows which Islands are if esy reach from Rhodos (by catamaran, but with some not too windy seats outside)
Symi, Tilos and Patmos are all nice places, although very diffderent from each other.
The huge Island of Crete is best reached by plane from Rhodos.
There are daily catamarans from Heraklion (CRETE) to Santorini until mid October https://www.gtp.gr/tdirectorydetails.asp?id=56315
I's usually possible to go by catamaran (Dodekanissos Seaways) or by slow ferry (ANE Kalymnou) from Patmos to Pythagorio (airport of Samos Island) and by Bluestar slow ferry from Karlovasi (Samos Island) to Mykonos.
ANE Kalymnou goes usually to Astypalea (Island with airport and ferry to Naxos - Piraeus) too (twice weekly, even in October). But for that it would be necessary to sleep at Kalymnos.
Accommodation will be no problem at all in October.

Last edited by neckervd; May 8th, 2024 at 12:23 PM.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 07:09 PM
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Okay, our latest draft of the Greek portion of our trip looks like this:
  • 3 nights in Rhodes (arrival from Kas via Kastellorizo?)
  • 3 nights in ??? island (possibly Naxos; decided against Crete this time)
  • 4 nights in Peloponnese
  • 3 nights in Athens
  • depart ATH
Questions:
  • I'm getting conflicting information on ferries to Rhodes. Also, there are no ferries showing in October on ferryhopper. Are the ferries not running in early October, or have the schedules just not been released yet (as suggested by @neckervd)? If they don't run at all (or much) in October, we'll need to move our trip earlier
  • having a hard time deciding which island to visit between Rhodes and Peloponnese. While Mykonos and Santorini are supposed to be awesome, everyone else seems to have them on their itinerary and it sounds like they're being overrun. We'd love to walk/drive around whatever island we choose, see interesting sites, swim in the beautiful water, and relax - preferably in a quieter island. (We're not partiers.) Whatever island it is, it would have to be accessible by ferry (or plane) from Rhodes and Athens/Piraeus.
  • is a 4-night stay enough for Peloponnese? We've heard Nafplion is awesome, but it is a ways from much of the island. We're also interested in seeing Delphi and Corinth, either while in Peloponnese or on our way to/from Athens.
As always, advice is much appreciated!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 02:44 AM
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Oops, included Greek portion!

I realized I included the Greek portion of our trip in my latest post to a thread titled "Turkey portion". I cannot figure out how to delete an entry, so I'd love any feedback you could provide even if it's mislabeled!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 02:56 AM
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Some more timetable links:
https://www.meisexpress.com/kas-meis...o-ferry-ticket
https://www.12ne.gr/en/itineraries
https://www.flightroutes.com/KZS-RHO
Bluestarferries run all the year round and will probably not change their timetable (departures Monday and Friday at 11am)
https://www.gtp.gr/RoutesResults.asp...586,8&Intern=1

Rhodos - Naxos without detour via ATHENS airport resp. Piraeus port or via Heraklion (Crete): every Thursday until Sept 26th. The overnight ferry Rhodos - Santorini - Piraeus will continue to run after Sept 26th, but may be at other dates.
Actual timetable: Rhodos dp 18.00 - Santorini ar 8.10, dp 10.10 - Naxos ar 11.40.

If the Kastellorizo connections don't work, you can travel via Fethyie.
The connections between Rhodos and the Cycladic Islands work in July and August only (without too much trouble).
The boat solution via Piraeus (long layover) is a waste of time. Best is to fly via ATH.

3 nights (I suppose 2 full days) for Athens isn't too much.
4 nights are enough for Nauplia, Epidauros (just one theatre more, after all those you will have seen in Turkey), Mycenae, Thyrins and Akrokorinthos. For Delphi, you will have to backtrack almost up to Athens, as there is no direct connectin fro the Peloponnese.
4 nights would never be enough for the whole Peloponnese, however (with Sparta/Mistras, Monemvasia, Mani, Koroni, Methoni, Pilos, Olympia, Bassae, Kalavrita, etc.).

Beachlife: air and water temperatures will be like in summer from Antalya up to Rhodos, west of this area, it will get cooler and windy.

Islands with either direct ferrise or direct planes to Rhodos and Athens: Nysiros and Kalymnos (both not my choice), Symi, Tilos, Kos, Leros, Lipsi, Patmos (if you don't mind board the Athens bound ferry at mdnight), Karpathos (not a bad solution), Crete (with 1 or 2 weekly ferries from Kissamos to the Peloponnese).

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Old May 9th, 2024, 08:41 PM
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Well, we've pretty much decided it doesn't make sense to try to add an island between Rhodes and the Peloponnese given the time we have and the logistics of getting around. So, here's the latest itinerary draft - still subject to much discussion and research:
  • Arrive Istanbul. Mosques. Cistern. Bosphorus cruise. Topkapi Palace. Spice bazarre. Day trips to Gallipoli Peninsula and Troy (Istanbul 5nt)
  • Fly to Izmir, transfer to Kusadasi. Visit Ephesus (Kusadasi 2nt)
  • Fly to Cappadocia. Visit Tuz Gölü? Hot air balloon? Rent car while there? (Kayseri or Goreme 3nt)
  • Fly to Antalya. Optional visits to Perge, Side, Aspendos (Antalya or Alanya 3nt)
  • Bus or car to Kas. Optional visits to Phaselis, Demre, Olympos, Finike, rock tombs (Kas 2nt)
  • Ferry to Rhodes via Kastellorizo (Rhodes 3nt)
  • Fly to Athens. Pick up rental car. Drive to Patras via Delphi (Patras 1nt)
  • Drive to Gytheio, hugging the coast as much as possible (Gytheio 3nt)
  • Drive to Nafplion (Naplion 3nt)
  • Drive to Athens via Corinth. Drop off rental. (Athens 3nt)
  • Depart ATH
I think we're getting closer. We still need to do a lot of logistics research to make all the transportation work. And then we've got to figure out lodging and see where we'd like to hire guides. But... progress!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 11:29 PM
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Given the 2 days that you are allocating to Cappadocia, I would eliminate Tuz Gölü. You will have enough with the underground city, the national park with its churches, and the Ilhara valley where this picture was taken

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Old May 10th, 2024, 12:44 AM
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IMO Gallipoli and Troy arent' worth the long journey.
But if you want to go to Troy nevertheless, you will realize that this site is midway between Istanbul and Izmir.
It wouldn't make sense to backtrack to Istanbul in order to board there a Izmir bound plane.
Between Troy and Izmir, you will drive through the huge antique site of Pergamon.

I wouldn't sleep at Patras , here ar nicer places aorund. 1 day for Patras - Gythion is by far not enough (Olympia, Navarino, Koroni, Methoni, Mistras....). But 3 nights is too much for Gythion.
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Old May 10th, 2024, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Michael
Given the 2 days that you are allocating to Cappadocia, I would eliminate Tuz Gölü. You will have enough with the underground city, the national park with its churches, and the Ilhara valley.
Good to know, @Michael. I really would like to see Tuz Gölü since it's the closest thing to Salar de Uyuni I'll likely have the opportunity to see. It sounds like we need to add another night to Cappadocia.

Originally Posted by neckervd
IMO Gallipoli and Troy arent' worth the long journey. But if you want to go to Troy nevertheless, you will realize that this site is midway between Istanbul and Izmir. It wouldn't make sense to backtrack to Istanbul in order to board there a Izmir bound plane. Between Troy and Izmir, you will drive through the huge antique site of Pergamon.
Good point about the location of Ancient Troy. I'm not married to the idea of Gallipoli and Troy - I had just seen it in several tours and thought they could be worthwhile for us history buffs. I have never heard of Pergamon and it looks very interesting. Perhaps we should skip Gallipoli and Troy, fly to Izmir from Istanbul, and go to Pergamon before heading to Kuşadası. (I know, it's the opposite direction but it appears to be less than 2 hours' drive.) If we do, it sounds like we might need to add another day in Kuşadası. If we are removing Gallipoli and Troy, which would have been one of the Istanbul days, could we drop a day in Istanbul? Is that foolish, given all there is to do there?

Originally Posted by neckervd
I wouldn't sleep at Patras , here ar nicer places aorund. 1 day for Patras - Gythion is by far not enough (Olympia, Navarino, Koroni, Methoni, Mistras....). But 3 nights is too much for Gythion.
Yes, Patras was just a stopover point on our way south. I'm open to another place along the way. We chose Gytheio as a second base in the Peloponnese because it looked lovely and gave us access to a different part of the peninsula. And driving from Patras (or wherever) along the coastline looked like something we'd really enjoy. I know it's impossible to do justice to the Peloponnese in just 6 nights, but we wanted to hit the highlights as best as we can. If we have 6 nights in the Peloponnese and we'd like to see both Delphi and Corinth, what is the best location(s) for us to use as a base and what would be the logical route for us to use?

Rereading the above, I've potentially added a day in both Cappadocia and Kuşadası and possibly removed a day from Istanbul. We have flexibility in the number of days on our trip - to a point - so I think we could accommodate these changes. We'll just have to see how they affected logistics for the later days.

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Old May 10th, 2024, 05:41 AM
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ISTANBUL
If you are really interested in Greek, Roman Byzantine and Ottoman History, you may spend hours and hours in the big museum, above all if you have a good guide who explains every thing in detail.
For a more than superficial visit of Konstantinoupolis/Istanbul, the following places are a must (at least for me)t:
Archeological museum
Museum for Islamic Culture
Topkapi Serail Museum
Mosaic Museum
Haghia Sophia
Chora Church
Haghia Irini
Hyppodromos
Citern
Sutan Ahmed Mosque
Süleymanie Mosque
Selim Mosque
New Mosque
Golden Horn and Cafe Pierre Loti.

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Old May 10th, 2024, 05:53 AM
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Don't underestimate the sites around Antalya.
At least Perge, Side and Aspendos are of easy reach and worth the visit.
After Istanbul, the visit of the archeological museum of Antalya is rather a waste of time (the best thng may be the historic German traway which brings you there).
The old city of Antalya is a party mile (incredibly noisy during the whole night).
But Park Hotel and Hotel Perge (1311 Sokak) are fine (a few 100 metres away).

Alanya is not less touristy, but too far away from historic stuff.
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Old May 10th, 2024, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd
...above all if you have a good guide who explains every thing in detail.
Are you available as a guide?

I'm beginning to think we should save Greece for another month-long trip and just focus on Turkey. (Well, I'd include Rhodes.) I'm not sure what that looks like yet, but I'm feeling we'd be shortchanging both countries with our current itinerary. I'd love to add some time along the Black Sea as it looks amazing, and possibly spend more time along the Med Coast. There are awesome sites in the eastern part of the country as well, but the US State Dept has some pretty strong wording against visiting anywhere near the Syrian border right now. Again, this is not a firm change, but we're leaning this way.
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Old May 10th, 2024, 09:36 AM
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There are stunnning Armenian monasteries along the Black Sea Coast. Trabzon was once the capital of a Christian state (when Venicians plundered Konstantinoupolis).But th Black Sea Coast can get rather cld and rainy in October.
Eastern Turkey: did you have a look att the distancies?
With the itinerary you planned until now. you remain more ore less in the ancient Greek world.
I you open towards Hittite culture (Sungurlu, Boazkale Hattusas), you enter into a new civilisation.
And Adiyaman and the statues on Nemrut Dag (be aware that it will no longer be really warm there in October) is even another thing.
And if you are already so far in the East, Gobeklitepe is a must. So are the cities, museums ad churches of Sanliurfa and Mardin.........

For me, your trip around Medtierranean Turkey makes sense. The combination with Greece makes sense too, as it was more ore less the same
Civilisation in the antiquity.

Eastern Turkey is another story and should be combined with Douro Europos in Syria (actually not possible)
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Old May 10th, 2024, 09:37 AM
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Old May 10th, 2024, 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd
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???
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