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HappyCheesehead Jul 30th, 2007 12:09 PM

Please help - I can't decide between the west and south coast of Turkey, and 2 Greek islands plus Athens.
I have a two week trip planned to Turkey next May. Week one includes Istanbul, the Cappadocia region and an overnight in Sirince to see Ephesus. I had intended on spending week 2 driving the Turkish coast from Sirince down and around to Antalya.

I am having second thoughts now, and thought just maybe I could see two Greek Islands instead in week two, maybe Samos, easy to reach from Turkey, ( right?) and then onto Santorini and an overnight in Athens before heading home. We have never been to Turkey or Greece.

I know each trip is so subjective (ie: the "is it worth it" question) but anyone have an opinion on this? Would Samos, Santorini and Athens be a lot more interesting than the western and southern coast of Turkey?

It seems every tourist who goes to a Greek Island stops in Santorini. I am hoping that visiting at the end of May might avoid the worst of the tourism crush, but maybe I am wrong about that. I know cruises are already stopping at that time of year. I picked up Greek Island guides from Fodor's, Rough Guide, and Eyewitness but they are not really helping me choose which islands to see, as the guides make them all sound great.

Hubby and I (45 and 50) have no specialized interests we want to focus on in this trip, just the fun of being somewhere totally different (from Wisconsin, that is) for a while. We love historical sights, dramatic natural scenery and cute towns.

Any suggestions or opinions are appreciated!

brotherleelove2004 Jul 30th, 2007 12:33 PM

For me Santorini is well-worth the effort, but be advised that to get there from Samos means first going to either Mykonos, Naxos or Paros (depending on what ferries are operating next May), and that will most likely require an overnight on one of those islands.

Your other option is to fly from Samos back to Athens to pick up a flight to Santorini, and considering the cost of staying overnight on another island it might not be such a bad idea especially if you can take advantage of Aegean Airlines' promotional 39 euro fares for next season. Their website will sell them to you (e-tickets) when they're available. If they're not available now, keep checking........they will be.

If you do decide to go with the Aegean tickets, once you get them keep checking their website for schedule changes, they're almost inevitable. If you detect them you can contact Aegean by email and request whatever change you need. Don't wait for them to contact you or you'll be stuck with whatever change they assign to you.

Weadles Jul 30th, 2007 01:49 PM

We just spent two weeks in Turkey. We loved Istanbul and Ephesus, but were disappointed in the Aegean Coast portion of our trip ( from Kusadisi to Bodrum). If I were to do it over again, I'd visit Istanbul and Cappadocia, then head to Greece ( either Rhodes or Crete and Santorini).

jubileefd Jul 30th, 2007 01:55 PM

weadles, is ephesus a must see? we really want to see it, but just cannot squeeze it in (or find a quick route from greek islands)..

amehi Jul 30th, 2007 03:56 PM

If you like cute towns and historical places, I recommend Rhodes. It is the biggest of the greek islands. My husband and I spent 18 days there in the spring. I recommend going at a warmer time (The climate is the same as here) if you want to swim. You can go to the end of the island and swim in the aegan sea, then run across the beach and swim in the mediterainian. The best part I thought was "old town" it is an old castle town that people still actually live in and there are shops and resurants and it is huge. Then there are other little towns you can visit or you can rent a motorcycle and go out in the country and see lots of old castle remains. It is just a wonderful place to see.

Weadles Jul 30th, 2007 04:02 PM

Ephesus was one of the highlights of our trip. We found it more interesting than Pompeii, which surprised us. Of course you need at least a half day to see Ephesus, preferably more.

We arranged a private tranfer and guide from Izmir aiport to the site, which maximized our time. I'd highly recommend doing it that way.

I'm wondering if there are flights between Izmir and Athens. That way, you could overnight in the area, then fly out the following morning to Athens, connecting through to Santorini, or one of the other Greek islands.

I wouldn't spend much more time in that area of Turkey. Kusadisi is quite built up, and Bodrum doesn't require more than a day or two, unless you're hiring a gulet to take you along the coast.

Weadles Jul 30th, 2007 04:06 PM

By the way, I totally agree with the recmmendation about Rhodes. We spent time there last summer and loved it so much that we decided to go back again, so took the hydrofoil from Marmaris for a few days. It is an amazing place, great combination of resort/old city/ruins sightseeing. Plenty to do, and very good restaurants. If you go, I'd recommend staying close to the walls of the old city, which is a wonderful place to explore esp. after dinner when everyone's out for their nightly walk.

HappyCheesehead Jul 30th, 2007 09:24 PM

I love the idea of Rhodes, but I suspect we could not do it justice in 2 or possible 3 nights.

I definately thought that I would fly from Samos to Athens and then down to Santorini.

I still need to get to Samos though - I have tried to look at ferry or other boat sites, and I am not having much luck.

Any one know how I can get from Kusadasi to Samos?

brotherleelove2004 Jul 30th, 2007 09:59 PM

Yes. Have a look here:

travelerjan Jul 30th, 2007 10:05 PM

There are ferries at least 5 days a week from Samos to Ephesus & back. Some are excursion boats (Round-trip fares only); that's what I took. But others are regular ferries.

I checked this info in my Lets Go Greece guidebook which has a section "Day trips to Turkey". Cheesehead, if you plan a trip of 2 weeks, which will cost you some thousands of dollars, surely you are investing in a guidebook costing about $15-$18. If not, why not? Web sites are wonderful, but they can't do everything. If you can't bring yourself to spend $15, then go to a Barnes & Noble and stand in the Travel SEction and read what you need for free.

belly Jul 30th, 2007 11:42 PM

Just did Samos to Kusadasi 2 days ago. It is very easy and I'm sure the reverse is as well. the people at Sammy's travel are very helpful([email protected]) They are based in Kusadasi and could walk you through the ferry info. We were able to get much cheaper hotel nights using another agent Argeus travel vs. going on our own. Had 2 rooms at the Kismet- one suite and one double for $240 total. We are in the Cappadocia region right now which is amazing as are the people at Esbelli Evi where we are staying.

MikeBuckley Jul 31st, 2007 05:47 AM


I understand your comment that you can't do Rhodes justice in just 2 or 3 days. But remember that many people who go there do it in 2 or 3 hours as a stop on their cruise.

My plan is to visit Rhodes for 3 days. I'm sure I could easily spend a week or two there but that doesn't mean I shouldn't go just because I only have 3 days. Everywhere I travel I could spend four times as many days than I actually do.

My best comparison is that years ago I spent a few days in Crete. I could have spent at least two weeks there, but the three days I had available are cherished and I expect the same will be true of Rhodes. And being in Turkey, I'll never be so close to Rhodes again so I'm going to take advantage of it.

It'll be really strange if you do indeed end up going to Rhodes, as we'll be doing practically the exact same Istanbul-Cappadocia-Rhodes itinerary at the same time.

kaneda Jul 31st, 2007 06:03 AM

Turkey is packed with history. You can easily spend two weeks touring it's historical sites. The country has got it's act together and lots of cheap tours are available. It also has good beaches down south for a few days relaxing.

HappyCheesehead Jul 31st, 2007 10:33 AM

Brotherleelove - that is perfect - just what I was looking for, thanks!

LOL, Travelerjan. I have 5 guidebooks at home right now for Greece, and my three Turkey books are out on short term loan to a friend who just went to Turkey and has not returned them quite yet. I am the queen of guidebooks :)

I should have written my question a little better, but it was late and I did it just before bed. My problem is that I am planning so far in advance that schedules for next May are generally not out yet, and the guidebooks all mention that not all connections go everyday and that schedules change frequently. I was worried that there might not be a daily connection from Turkey to Samos. Thanks to the website that Brotherleelove provided, I see that there will be a twice daily ferry to Samos after May 1 so that is a big relief. Now I just have to decide if I actually want to go there ;)

Weadles Jul 31st, 2007 10:55 AM

We spent only three days in Rhodes, and were able to cover a lot of what we wanted to see. If that's all the time you have, go for it!

HappyCheesehead Jul 31st, 2007 11:26 AM

Hi Weadles - you are confirming what I was reading in Julies trip report to Turkey. She mentioned she was not especially enamored of the south coast area either. If I compare a week on the Turkish coast with a week on two Greek Islands plus the Athens night, I feel a little more excited about the Greek option. I think I will do it. Although kaneda is right about the history in Turkey, I do have one week to catch some of it.

We are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on this trip, and it will occur while we are Santorini if I go with the Greek option. It seems like a great place to spend it!

Now I just need to decide what other island to see besides Santorini. I was thinking Samos since we will be right there at Ephesus and it seems like a simple connection.

Rhodes does sound like it fits the bill for us perfectly and of course you are all correct, two or three days on a very interesting island is better than none.

Mike - did you decide how you will get to Rhodes from Cappadocia? The big issue for me is getting to Rhodes in a time efficient manner. I plan on the Thursday evening flight from Kayseri to Izmir, then spend at least part of the the day Friday at Ephesus. I suppose I could drive to Marmaris to catch a Fri ferry to Rhodes. I would have to figure all that out, and then the Rhodes to Santorini segment too, but I bet I can fly that one via Athens if necessary.

It will be very funny if we end up running into each other all the time. I think we should plan at least to meet for a lunch or dinner while we are there!

Belly - how cool that you are there right now - I surely will looking for your trip report! Of course we are considering the perennial Fodors favorite - Esbelli Evi - for our time in Cappadocia, which is a "for sure".

brotherleelove2004 Jul 31st, 2007 11:49 AM

I'm not sure when they begin service, in May or June, but you might want to check with SkyExpress, a small Cretan airlines. They have direct flights to Santorini from both Rhodes and Samos. You might have to send them an email to ask for this information since they've deleted everything from their schedules page except for what's currently available.

MikeBuckley Jul 31st, 2007 04:00 PM


<i>We are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary on this trip</i>

Ok. That does it. Your trip and mine are just too uncannily similar. It's our 25th anniversary trip also. Our anniversary is in June, but it's a particularly special trip in May because it's our anniversary vacation.

<i>Mike - did you decide how you will get to Rhodes from Cappadocia? </i>

Nope. I'm waiting to piggyback on your research. :) Seriously, I had to take some time off from travel planning and haven't gotten to that level of detail yet.

Something to keep in mind is that you (we!) don't have to drive all the way to Marmaris to take the ferry to Rhodes. The hydrofoil trip lasts only 45 minutes from Marmaris, but other options include 2 1/4 hours from Bodrum and 1 1/2 hours from Fethive if the day the ferry runs works out. Check out this link:

I strongly recommend that you pass on the idea of Samos unless you literally have a day to kill that you'd rather not spend somewhere else. It's a lovely Greek island, but the other islands have all the charm of Samos plus additional opportunities to enjoy yourself. Samos is really tiny and could easily be substituted by a village in Santorini or Rhodes that you otherwise wouldn't go to. (I have been to Santorini but not Rhodes.)

Weadles Jul 31st, 2007 05:49 PM

Mike and Cheesehead,

The Bodrum option to Rhodes is only good on certain days of the week. That's why we were forced to drive to charmless Marmaris for the hydrofoil ride to Rhodes. We actually wasted a night in Marmaris because I thought our hotel ( Marti La Perla) would be on a really nice beach, and I was wrong. Really wrong. In retrospect, I should have driven from Bodrum a little later in the day, and caught the 4PM hydrofoil to Rhodes, rather than overnighting for the morning ferry. A complete waste of a day in Turkey.

I'm still trying to figure out what we may have missed in the Bodrum area. There must be a reason that so many people recommend going there. I just don't know what it is.

Weadles Jul 31st, 2007 05:53 PM


Just wanted to stress that the south coast doesn't hold a candle to the beauty or charm of Rhodes and Santorini. I'd go back to either of those or preferably both of those any time. Doubt I'd ever return to the south coast of Turkey. I will say that I think I really planned badly despite a whole year of research. We really should have gone to Cappadocia instead of the coast, and that and Istanbul, which I loved, would be worth a return trip to Turkey.

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