Planning a trip to Turkey

May 23rd, 2010, 08:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 54
Planning a trip to Turkey

My husband and I are planning to spend 8-10 days in Turkey in early October. By nature, we are not tour people so plan to do it on our own. Right now, it looks as though we will plan to see Istanbul, Capadoccia and the area around Ephesus. Has anyone done this without a guide and can you offer any suggestions / insight? We are thinking of flying to Capadoccia and Epehesus....but I also wondered if renting a car and drivoing the coast to Ephesus are was advisable / worth it? lastl;y, any tips on best area to stay in in tIstnabul?

BarbraR is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Vancouver
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If you plug 'Turkey' into the search function you'll find all
sorts of good information and advice on both the country and
immimi is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 10:14 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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I've made three trips to Turkey (including one which lasted a month) and never had a guide.

It is very easy to get around by rental car or bus.

In Istanbul I prefer the "new" city but others like the Sultanahmet area. On my last trip I stayed a few nights in both places. If you give a price range, we can give hotel suggestions.
ekscrunchy is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 10:39 AM
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I am planning a trip to Istanbul for summer 2011. For starters, I have purchased Rick Steve's Istanbul 2010 edition. I got this guide b/c I do not want to spend money on tour guides/taped recordings/booklet for each individual site. I did that for my Europe 2009 trip and realize that the cost quickly adds up, but I question how much I have actually retained.

I hope this book lives up to its promise to describe the history/background/walking tour of each worthy site in Istanbul. I plan to spend 5 nights in Istanbul.
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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I did those three places the first part of October last year. I flew into Izmir from the States via Munich, picked up a car and stayed in Selcuk near Ephesus. It's an easy drive from the airport. Ephesus is close to Selcuk and the hotel provided transportion to and from. I mainly used the car for a day trip to Priene, Miletus and Didyma. I enjoyed having the freedom of having a car and not being a part of a tour group. Although I was close to the coast, I was mainly interested in seeing the ruins.

I spent 3 nights in Selcuk and then flew to Capadocia for another 3 nights. The hotel provided pick up service from the Kayseri airport for about 12 euros. I stayed in Goreme about an hour from the airport. I thought of renting a car, but took a day tour instead. The next day I just explored the area around town on my own without a car. I know many Fodorites do rent a car, but I felt my full day tour gave me a good feeling for the area.

I then flew to Istanbul out of the closer Nevsehir airport. I spent a week there.

I'm not sure this really answers your questions. But yes, outside of the day tour with a guide, I did everything on my own. The weather was near perfect except for a bit of rain one day in Istanbul. If you're interested, here are my photos.
JEFF_ is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Not a lot of time!
I rented a car and spent 3-4 days in Istanbul,drove to Cappadocia via Ankara, then down to Antalya and along coast with stops in Kas, Marmaris and Ephesus (1/2 day) and back to Istanbul via Bursa and ferry. About 10-11 days

Driving gives you another perpsective but you will have to decide if the journey or the destination is more important
Michel_Paris is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 12:08 PM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 147

My family and I traveled the same route 2 yrs ago but our trip was 21 days.
Since you are going to be there about half the time I would suggest you fly b/n cities to save time b/c there is so much to see.
Like you, we are not tour group travelers and I do all the planning myself b/c for me, it’s part of the fun! We used a local tour company which I found through this site and Turkey Travel to purchase airline and train tickets, hire guides and with the exception of the apartment we stayed at in Istanbul, our hotel reservations. I highly recommend them, their guides were amazing and they even got us an upgrade in the hotel in Capadoccia at no extra charge.
A great place to gather practical information is the TTP site. Tom is an expert on Turkey and can help you put together an itinerary. I had a phone consultation with him and found it extremely helpful.
Our itinerary was as follows:
We flew into Istanbul at night and took the first flight to Izmir the next morning. We picked up a rental car and stayed in Selcuk, We visited Ephesus the next day and were lucky enough to have it to ourselves since it was December and the summer crowds were long gone!
We toured the area for the next 3 days and drove to Bodrum for the day.
Afterwards we flew to Capadoccia and stayed 4 nights and although it was freezing, at least it didn’t snow and were able to do some hiking but no balloon ride since the weather was not cooperating.
We did hire a guide the second and third days to visit towns and underground cities. I would say that this was definitely worth the expense.
Our last stop was Istanbul via Ankara. We hired a van and guide to drive us to the capital which took about 6 hrs. Since we arrived midday we went with our guide to visit Ataturk's Mausoleum and archeological museum which really gave us a sense of the incredible history of this amazing country.
We boarded the train at 10pm and after eating in the dining car we went to sleep in our private sleeping cars, ten hrs later we arrived in Istanbul as the city was waking up.
We stayed in Beyoglu at Istanbul Holiday apts for 10 days and only hired a guide for two half days to visit Blue Mosque, cistern etc. otherwise we found the city very easy to maneuver on our own with the help of Rick Steve’s Istanbul.
We walked just about every where and used the tram and ferries to get around without a problem.
I’ll be happy to give you specifics about where we stayed etc if you like.
October must be a wonderful month to be in Turkey and I’m sure you are going to have a wonderful time!
kikiv is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 12:15 PM
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BarbraR, my response was meant for you!
kikiv is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 12:32 PM
Join Date: May 2010
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As a local, i think you have some excellent advice.

You do not really need an agency to make flight and hotel reservations. They are all very easy on the net, but if you feel lazy and are willing to pay the cost go ahead.

To summarize the above posts:

1. you have an alternative between staying at Sultanahmet the historic and the touristic area, or Taksim, the modern and the local area. The distance is 15-30 minutes by taxi or tram.

2. With your limited time you should fly to your destinations, Izmir and Cappadocia.

3. Renting a car in Izmir airport for Ephesus and nearby sites is recommended

4. You may take daily tours in Cappadocia or also rent a car.

5. A ballon ride in Cappadocia is expensive but usually recommended.

6. Check THY, Atlas Jet, Pegasus Airlines, Sunexpress, Anadolu Jet for internal flights.

7. Check for excellent lodging recommendations, and then read TA reviews.

8. If you are a scholar, get John Freely's books. If you are out to enjoy yourself, just listen to your heart rather than any book.
Eser is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 12:51 PM
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Great summary Eser.

BarbraR - Just one more comment: Unless it's changed, SunExpress flies non-stop between Izmir and Kayseri, BUT not everyday. So if that's a part of your itinerary, it's something to consider. Otherwise, you'll have to make a connection in Istanbul.
JEFF_ is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 02:35 PM
Original Poster
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Posts: 54
Wow! This is all such great information! I truly appreciate all of it and will need to do some serious planning now! I also may need to rethink the length of time there - good news is we have not yet booked flights! Thank you all so much -and for the wonderful photos!
BarbraR is offline  
May 23rd, 2010, 03:01 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 151
BarbraR we were in Istanbul(with a day trip to Epheseus) at the beginning of April for a week. We stayed right outside the Sultahamet area at a hotel called Sirkeci Konak and have nothing but raves about this little gem--location,room,staff. Was a little worried about not staying in Sulthamet since so many posts suggest staying there so glad we didn't listen to any of them and found the Sirkeci Konak (look them up)where I will definitly stay when I go back. We didn't have one guide and had no problems. We know a lot of the history, came with notes,books,maps (specifically diagrams of what to see and descriptions of Epsheseus, Chora chora mosaics etc) Have a fantastic time.
Mo is offline  
Jun 30th, 2010, 05:32 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 4
There are very explanatory answers here.. I hope I can be of help too..

Well let's go with your order of questions:

You can cover all those 3 areas without a tour guide. All you need to do is, research deeply.. And don't be intimidated by the enormous number of "things to do and see". Just plan wisely and you'll be fine.

Flying to both Ephesus and Cappadocia is a good idea. A road trip would be nice too but it depends on how much time you have. And if you don't have much, then your precious hours should be spent at the actual places you want to go to.

I drove around Cappadocia and Ephesus, for a couple of times. They are very easy to get around. Besides, the views along the way are really gorgeous.. I suggest you do that. But be warned, gas prices are high in Turkey.

And ask for the local open markets in Cappadocia and around Ephesus (Selcuk for example..) If you happen to see one, dive in and buy some fresh fruits, dried organic fruits and vegetables, natural olive oil that locals produce and so more.. You'll be amazed..

As for driving in Istanbul, I would suggest otherwise.. I drive in Istanbul for 10 years now. It is not for foreigners. Parking is a big issue, traffic jam is constantly on.

And the alternatives are way more logical, it makes great sense to take a tram from Sultanahmet to Taksim or take a taxi. The distances are not too big between the areas you are going to be.

The best area to stay in Istanbul totally depends on what kind of a traveller you are. If you like to be around historic neighborhoods, then by all means choose to stay in Sultanahmet. But if you want to see what's going on in the famous nightlife in Istanbul, then you'd better stay around Beyoglu.

Actually where ever you choose to stay it is okay. Because these two neighborhoods are close to each other and can be accessed easily. Just make sure you stay in Sultanahmet or around Beyoglu (Talimhane, Galata, Cihangir, Tunel, Tepebasi are all around Beyoglu.) and don't be too far away from the real attraction.

Here is my site if you'd like to learn a lot more:

And you can ask me anything about Istanbul, I'd be glad to help..
zozlem is offline  

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