Planning for two weeks in Turkey

Old Jun 24th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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Planning for two weeks in Turkey

I've bought the tickets, so now I need to work on the details for a 16 night/ 14 day itinerary that begins and ends in Istanbul. It will be me, my husband and possibly our 22 yr old daughter.

I've bought Fodor's and Lonely Planet guides and read most of the Turkey trip reports here. Problem is there's so much to choose from and the trip reports have really varied itineraries.

I'm thinking 6 days in Istanbul, 4 around Ephesus, 3 in Cappadocia, then one more in Istanbul. I guess what I need at the moment is a rough plan for our time outside Istanbul. We like museums, ruins, walking, local crafts, good food, horseback riding, maybe an overnight or two on a boat. We're from Hawaii, so unless there is good surf in September, beach time is not a priority.

Also a few specific questions:
I know many rent cars in Turkey, but is it fairly reasonable to hire a car & driver?
Are the buses comfortable, or do they qualify for e-ticket status?
Is there much difference in the domestic airlines?

lcuy is offline  
Old Jun 24th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Lucy - We did 3 weeks in Turkey and loved it. I will look and see if I have my original notes which were extensive. It looks like you have too many days in Istanbul. While we like to extensively visit a city, there's so many nice ruins and beautiful places to see that I think you can cut it down to 4-5 days. There is a night train from Istanbul to Ankara, the capital. Upon arriving there we made arrangements to have a rental car brought to us. We quickly visited Ataturk's memorial and the archeological museum and then headed out to Cappadoccia. The roads were not bad at all. In fact, as long as you don't have a problem driving mountainous roads, the travel was easy, albeit a long drive. From Cappadoccia we drove the coastal route back down to Istanbul. We thought it was the nicest coastal highway we ever drove. There is very little traffic and nothing to be worried about. The Turks were extremely helpful and despite the fact that we were unable to communicate in Turkish, their sign language was sufficient to get us where we needed to go. Don't let anyone frighten you that driving is terrible. It just wasn't so. I dodn't t hink hiring a car and driver is as inexpensive as in SE Asia, but I'm not sure. We loved the flexibility of having an auto. However, the infra structure for public transportation via bus is excellent and most people do travel inexpensively throughout Turkey that way. The buses are supposedly very comfortable and there are hostesses aboard them that serve drinks and refreshments. We cannot speak though from first hand experience. Many people fly directly from Istanbul to Cappadocia. Check out this web site for a great source of info on Turkey:

Their Classical 2 week tour sounds excellent. We visited all of those places.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 01:33 PM
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6 days very long for istanbul
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 01:43 PM
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You can hire only car .Otherwise it will be very expensive.
If you insist the stay 6 days in Istanbul.You can drive cities nearby.Like Edirne ( was the second capital of Ottoman Empire)
You can start toe drive from istanbul
1 Edirne
2 Gallipoli
3 Troy
4 Assos
5 Pergamum
6 Ephesus
7 Miletos ,Priene,
8 Bodrum
9 Dalyan
10 Pamukkale
11 Afrodisias
12 Cappodocia
You can checek this places and arrange your trip
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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I agree that you could drop time from Istanbul (although there's loads to do there - for my last visit see and, and probably from Ephesus as well. I'd use the extra time to head for the south coast - probably Antalya, and look into spending time on a boat. Maybe you could take in Konya on the way.

Besides the night train to Ankara, and the buses, there are now some cheap internal flights that are worth checking out - I flew Bodrum to Istanbul on Onur Air in '06.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 01:56 PM
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We will be in Turkey for three weeks in October and one full week at the end of the trip.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 03:32 PM
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IMO, Bodrum was not that great. Gallipoli was boring to us - mostly battlefields and some monuments. Unless the war history has particular interest to you, skip that and Troy as well. Bodrum is on a peninsula and a bit out of the way. If you get to Antalya, be sure to visit Side which is missed by most and not even in some guide books. It was a real treat for us. Wear a bathing suit. Just past the ancient ruins is a beautiful beach. We loved Assos, Pergamum, Ephesus, Miletos ,Priene, Pamukkale, Aphodisias & of course, Cappodocia. Pamukkale is a bit out of the way as well, so if you have to cut something, you may consider skipping that.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 04:18 PM
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Bodrum's probably should be skipped in season - I was there before it got crowded, and for a couple of days it was fine. Liked my hotel - the Su - and had a very authentic hamam visit.
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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4 days around E is probably too many....
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 07:42 PM
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Hi Lucy.We spent 3 wonderful weeks in Turkey in '04. I agree that 3-4 days touring Istanbul is enough.
I would visit Ephuses for 2 days and stay in Sirence (I'll get the correct spelling and wonderful B & B rec for you).
A 3-5 day trip down the Lycean coast on a gulet is heaven, a once in a lifetime experience. Our guide Eddip was the curator of the Antalya Museum and his knowledge and enthusiasm made the ruins come alive. I don't have direct contact info for him but you could go on to the Antalya Museum website and email him through there. He does guiding and tour arranging in his off time. Mention that Robbie and Fred from Pasadena suggested him.
My friends went, like you, at shoulder season and then hired a gulet on the spot and negotiated the food, itinerary and costs.

Our routing worked very well:
Ephesus (I'd skip Pamukkale, found it boring and disappointing)
gulet trip ending in Antalya (or anywhere along the coast)
few days lazing around Antalya (this you could skip)
drive from Antalya via Konya (3 hour visit) to Cappadocia (3 nights)
flew back to Istanbul
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 09:28 PM
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Lucy, I'm actually one for NOT dropping time in Istanbul. I've been there three times, each time for about a week and there is plenty to do to keep you busy.

Ephesus is good for a few days.
Loved Cappadocia and you can easily spend 2 or three nights there. Pamukkale was okay, nothing special. Same with Konya. I wasn't terribly impressed by either one. I think Antalya was very nice and relaxing. It's really pretty and laid back.

I think the plan you laid out is good. It depends on how much you like city life. I happen to love big cities and Istanbul is wonderful. So much to see and do. Just walking around, going to the Topkapi, the Grand Bazaar and Mosques can eat up a week. Great restaurants by the water. Just watch out for the taxi drivers. They rival Athens for worst in the world!
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Old Jun 24th, 2010, 09:46 PM
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I would start with 5 days at least in Istanbul, then take a domestic flight to Cappadocia (Kayseri), rent a car from there on and do Cappadocia in 3 days, Antalya for 2 days and the, still with the car, work your way back along the coastal road, do Ephesus and surroundings, and so on to Istanbul. A car in Istanbul will be a nuisance, public transport and cabs are cheap and sufficient to see Istanbul.

You wouldn't hire a car and driver for Turkey. Is there any particular reason to do so?
Domestic flights are OK. What kind of difference are you thinking of?
If you are more the backpack kind of traveller, you can take the buses, which are cheap to our standards and well organized, also an excellent way to meet people.
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Old Jun 25th, 2010, 12:48 AM
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Hello "lucy misspelled"

You have some excellent advice from most of the previous posts. Here's a summary and a few additions:

- The distances between regions are long , trains are usually slow and do not go everywhere and buses are comfortable but also consume too much time.
- domestic flights are reasonably cheap with Atlas, anadolu Jet, pegasus, Sunexpress and if booked early with THY.
- Leave Pamukkale (and Aphrodisias) to next trip
- Gallipoli, Troy, Bursa, Edirne, Konya, Bodrum, Ankara can easily be left out.
- If you are foodies, like urban life and night fun, Istanbul will be excellent for 6 days. If you just want a feel of the city and see the historic sites and museums and one Bosphorus cruise, and are willing to eat at touristic restaurants, 4 rushed days is enough.
- Cappadocia is definitely great. You can get a private guide with his own car and will not be too expensive. You can check with your hotel for the arrangements.
- Ephesus/Selcuk/Sirince/Miletus/Prienne/Herakleia, and possibly even Aphrodisias or Sardis can be fitted in 4 great days. You can do all that in your self-drive rented car easily. You will need a guide for Ephesus which you can hire at one of the entrances. Otherwise just read your books.
- If you are archeology buffs, buy the relevant books by John Freely.
- If you add a day to cappadocia area, you can visit the Hittite capital, Hattusas. This is well worth it, although some distance away.
- Replacing either Cappadocia or Ephesus with the Antalya region is possible if you are willing to drive long distances, spending a night at each place on your route.
There are very interesting historic sights, spectacular scenery and nice beaches on the route from Side to Fethiye.
You can of course leave this to your next trip.
- You can reduce your time in istanbul with a day trip to Iznik (Nicea) or an overnight to Pergamom and Assos.
- You can probably do some horseback riding in cappadocia. again, consult your hotel. Also camels.
- Your safest bet is to try the DOSIM (turkish ministry of culture) shops for crafts. Cappadocia will be good but most items should be negotiated.
- If looking for carpets, "Yahyali" carpets made in Cappadocia (you can actually visit Yahyali village) will be your safest buy. Check on-line and international prices on the web, and the designs, before you attempt any carpet purchase.
- Depending on the time of your visit, your daughter especially will love the supper clubs and the bars on the Bosphorus, like reina, Sortie, Angelique, Ask Kahvesi/Mia Mensa in the summer and the side streets of Beyoglu (Istiklal) like asmalimescit, balo, nevizade, kucuk parmakkapi, etc, and Nisantasi/Abdi Ipekci in the spring and fall or winter. Also, Cihangir is a good fun location at all times. (you may consider Hotel Villa Zurich located in lively, local, bohemian Cihangir, but with smallish rooms)
- For lodging in Istanbul, the distances between the touristic areas of the old city and the evening areas of Taksim are not much. You can reach each from other by tram, funicular and even about a 45 minute scenic walk.
- Some hotels are now suffering since the increase of the pedestrian only area at Sultanahmet around the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, Topkapi Palace and Basilica Cistern, etc. This means that many guests will be lugging suitcases for some blocks.
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