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Solo female travelling to Turkey! Suggestions?!

Solo female travelling to Turkey! Suggestions?!

Aug 27th, 2014, 01:57 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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Solo female travelling to Turkey! Suggestions?!

Hey guys!

Thought I would turn to the seasoned travelers here for some advice. I'm a 24 year old female about to embark on my first solo travel. After much debate between Western Europe and Turkey, I decided to head to Turkey for about 9 days around the 18th-28th of December 2014. I have not been to Turkey before. I was wondering if anyone has been there that time of year? Are most places open as per usual?

What's a good itinerary? I'm mostly interested in seeing the main areas of Istanbul and maybe take a day trip or something to nearby historical sites. I was thinking to spend about 5 days in Istanbul and split the rest of the time between Antakya (city) and Cyprus (North). Perhaps 2 days each? Do you guys think this is doable?


Any ideas/suggestions/advice will be much appreciated!

I apologize in advance if something similar was previously asked.

Thanks!
Kassian is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 03:09 PM
  #2  
 
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Five years ago, my three friends and I did Turkey (from Greece) and we LOVED it...We arrived in Istanbul, and stayed at a fabulous boutique hotel called CELEL SULTAN, right in the heart of Istanbul, walking distance to EVERYTHING...all the mosques, etc., Spice Market, felt safe wherever we walked....
We then flew up to Cappadocia region, where we hot air ballooned over some of the finest terrain I have ever seen...We stayed in a 'cave' hotel, was fabulous...a MUST to do when visiting Turkey...Kapydoccia Balloon was the company we used for the hotair and there are a ton of cave hotels to choose from. They picked us up at the airport and everything; it was great....
Hope these little bits of info help.....FODOR FORUM is great for ideas....and recommendations.
SportyMom23 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 04:01 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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I visited Turkey as a solo female, but in May -- for info about what is open in December, please consult a good guide book. I thought the Rough Guide the most useful of the half dozen I used when planning my trip.

"I was thinking to spend about 5 days in Istanbul"

I think that's the bare minimum for a visit to fascinating Istanbul, but it should give you a chance to see many of the most important highlights.

"split the rest of the time between Antakya (city) and Cyprus (North)"

I didn't go to either Antakya or Cyprus. You are aware that Cyprus is not part of Turkey?
kja is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 04:02 PM
  #4  
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That sounds amazing! Thanks for the tips and suggestion. I will look into the hotel you mentioned and definitely gonna add the hot air balloon into my trip. I saw some pictures and it looks fantastic! Thanks again.
Kassian is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 04:03 PM
  #5  
 
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I think you choose either Antakya or North Cyprus. Madness trying to do both in that amount of time.
gertie3751 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 04:30 PM
  #6  
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Kja..Yes, I'm aware Cyprus isn't part of Turkey. I just wanted to go somewhere different but close enough as well.
But I suppose Gertie is right, I don't have enough time to go to both places, so it might be a better idea to spend more time in Istanbul and choose one or the other.
Kassian is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 04:43 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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Right -- choose one or the other OR choose Cappadocia....
kja is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 05:00 PM
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Kassian, I'm traveling to Istanbul solo in March so please post a report when you return as I would love to hear how you spent your time. I'll be doing 4 days Istanbul and 3 days in Cappadocia.

jdc
jdc26 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 05:54 PM
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Kassian, I have no idea why you picked Antakya as a possible venue, however I need to warn you that Antakya is a short distance away from the Syrian border on two sides and is inubdated with refugees, from Syria, Jihadists from other countries wishing to cross over to join the beheaders and intelligence agents from tens of countries.

It has no airport, and getting there will take a day, flying to Adana and taking a bus from there and the same for getting back. It is bound to be the adventure of a life time.

Northern Cyprus, on the other hand, offers crooked gambling, some decent hotels and nothing much else in December. (It will be too cold for the beach)

Possible flying day trips from istanbul are not many in December because the days are so short, (Sun will be setting before 5PM)

An early ferry can get you to Yalova and thence to Iznik (Nicea) (see my report) or Bursa and a late ferry can get you back. If the weather is not wet, either (I prefer Iznik) is a good idea. Iznik has Byzantine ruins and Christian significance. Bursa has Ottoman architecture and Islamic significance.

I would recommend that you stay not at Sultanahmet, which can get miserable after dark in wet and cold December when there will be very few visitors like you at the hotels and hostels of Sultanahmet, but somewhere around Cihangir or Taksim where life will continue around you at all hours and you will be close to all the night spots, cafes, restaurants, etc. and where you can meet expats or decent Turks (at Cihangir, that is).

In any case, I hope you have street smarts. Istanbul is a very large very cosmopolitan city. Prefer mixed groups when making friends rather than individuals; do not make unnecessary eye contact in the streets; do not respond to unsolicited remarks.

Antalya may be the only possible location for you to fly to if the weather is not good for Cappadocia.

Good luck.
otherchelebi is online now  
Aug 27th, 2014, 06:49 PM
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Jdc, I'll be sure to post a report and let you know how things went.

Otherchelebi, I have no idea if you're being sarcastic or not, but either way, you're making me re-think my plans..baah!
As far as Antakya, It's a bit off the beaten path and has some interesting sites that I thought were worth a visit. There's an airport in Hatay province as an alternative to the one in Adana. But after what you said..

I was actually thinking of staying in Sultanahmet only because it's close to most of the major sites and I'll be alone so I figured it would be more convenient. However, now I'll look into the other areas you mentioned. I'll also check out your report on Iznik as a possible alternative.

Thanks for the helpful info!
Kassian is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 07:06 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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"Otherchelebi ... you're making me re-think my plans..baah!"

Re-thinking in light of Otherchelebi's expert comments is a VERY wise decision.
kja is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 07:06 PM
  #12  
 
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I went to Istanbul (alone) in December 2011 and I agree with otherchelebi (who lives there and knows way more than I know.) I stayed in Sultanahmet for my first 3 days and was pursued, relentlessly, by salesmen of carpets etc. It got to be a bit much. After a few days in Cappadocia (which you could consider for a couple of days) I then stayed in Cihangir, a very cool 'hood where no one tried me to sell me a carpet. And it was not difficult to get on the tram to get to Sultanahmet from there.

Everything I went to was open, but as otherchelebi says the days are shorter so that shortens the sightseeing day.
rialtogrl is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 08:25 PM
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Kja, yes he seems to know what's what
so I'm inclined to take his advice.

Do you guys at all think I should just go to Western Europe instead? London/Paris/Amsterdam or a combo of the sort? I always wanted to go to Turkey, but I'm a bit nervous now.

Rialtogrl, thanks for the input. Sounds like I should stay in Cihangir. Definitely don't want to be constantly harassed to buy stuff. As long as it's an easy trip to Sultanahmet for sightseeing.
Kassian is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 08:43 PM
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I liked staying in Sultanahmet, although the rug salesman can get annoying. That area has a plethora of the sites you want to see. If you don't mind moving, I would stay in Sult. for 2 FULL days of sightseeing and then move to Cihangir or Cappadocia. Nine days is not so long for Istanbul. It is one of my favorite places ever! Isnik is great as well as Bursa but in 9 days, I don't think you can do anything but Ist & one other destination. I bet you will love it. Oh I was there once in Dec. and my recc would be to bring warm clothes - even maybe silk underwear turtleneck since you may be outside a bit in sightseeing. And I don't remeember any places being closed.

And since OC lives there, you might get more specific recco particularly for food. Also look into Lonely Planet since many younger people contribute to that board.
wintersp is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 08:48 PM
  #15  
kja
 
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Otherchelebi is an expert. Period.

You have 9 days. Pick at most 2 cities. You cannot meaningfully visit London and Paris and Amsterdam in that time frame. You could, perhaps, see two of them, and even then you will need to be selective about what you try to see if you want to visit 2 of these magnificent cities in the same trip.

If you seriously believe that this trip will be your ONLY trip to Europe and your heart tells you to go to Turkey, then get several GOOD guidebooks, do your homework, seek the advice of Otherchelebi and Fodor's other experts on Turkey and make a plan that suits your interests and needs.

Otherwise, go to your local library and look over several guidebooks to see what might best suit your timeframe. Any decent guidebook will have a section on when-to-go and/or climate statistics or something else that will help you narrow your options.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 09:02 PM
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I must have been typing while you were possting your last post.

No, I wouldn't change my plans to Western Europe. After experiencing Turkey, WE might seem a bit bland. Don't be intimidated into not going to Turkey. I don't think OC meant to do that - just to point out to you some things. I always knew not to go to East Turkey ...there is always more unrest in that direction. OC made some pointed statements to you. I mentioned the bothersome rug salesmen!. So I started watching the other women alone, particularly in traditional garb. I noticed they NEVER looked any one in the eye, particularly males. And do not strike up a conversation with a single male - he says stick to mixed groups. If you do a lot of reading you will see that restaurants often have a separate section for seating women. This is not the destination for a single female if you're looking into meeting lots of other young folks - natives or otherwise or to party. If you do meet others that would be a plus, not an expectation. You can also check into travel agents in Istanbul for a group day trip to Isnik/Bursa etc.

I think you should ask OC re taxis. That was a worrisome area for me. I think the hotels or rest often called a taxi. And I didn't go out at night other than the immediate area I was in. Rialtogrl, do you have something to add to that?
wintersp is offline  
Aug 27th, 2014, 09:11 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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wintersp wrote: "You can also check into travel agents in Istanbul for a group day trip to Isnik/Bursa etc."

I visited both Iznik and Bursa on my own as a single female without difficulty.

wintersp also wrote: "you will see that restaurants often have a separate section for seating women"

I didn't see that ANY where I went in Turkey. YMMV.
kja is offline  
Aug 28th, 2014, 12:18 AM
  #18  
 
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<> Cyprus was invaded by Turkey in 1974 and since then has occupied the northern part. It is called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey.

There were so many interesting antiquities to see in North, ancient Salamis, Famagusta, Bellapais, St Hilarion. In the south of the island, there are many more sites eg Curium, Amathus etc and the area is more advanced and developed, better hotels, better infrastructure & better winter weather. North Cyprus is colder than the south of the island.

If you want something different than western Europe, why not spend your entire time in Cyprus?
Odin is offline  
Aug 28th, 2014, 06:55 AM
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kja, thank you for the confidence and compliments.

wintersp is correct about those types of restaurants. There are some like that, for more conservative patrons.

The things to do with taxis is not to take them at locations where you would expect them to be waiting only for tourists, to make sure they turn the meter on and make sure what denomination bank note you are giving the driver.

By the way, taxi fares went up a bit in Istanbul today, as far as I can follow from Chicago/ (I will be back in ten days)

Kassian, check the weather report for Istanbul and any other areas you wish to travel and the events of the period at Hurriyet Daily News (.com) until the day you travel.

The whole Syrian border area of about 530 miles is risky as well as the 300 miles of iraqi border, but do not forget those areas are almost athousand miles away from istanbul and most Roman, greek and Byzantine antiquities. No, I was not being sarcastic. I use irony but seldom sarcasm and never to anyone well intentioned.

I intentionally did not mention Hatay airport which does not receive many flights and which is also risky. As a side note, I teach a graduate course called "International Risk Management"
otherchelebi is online now  
Aug 28th, 2014, 07:18 AM
  #20  
 
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wintersp, I didn't use taxis too much, I walked and took public transportation. But I was never out late at night.

The public transportation, whether boat or tram was fairly easy to figure out - once I got my bearings! And that took a few days.

Kassian, when you arrive, consider doing the on-off tourist bus in the first day or two. Istanbul is huge - it will help orient you.
rialtogrl is offline  

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