Travelling around Turkey

Old Dec 7th, 2004, 07:24 AM
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Travelling around Turkey

My husband and I plan to go to Turkey this May. We would prefer NOT to rent a car if at all possible. Are the trains and buses clean, manageable, run frequently etc? Not totally filled with cigarette smoke? Can you see nice swaths of countryside travelling that way? Train is generally our favorite way to travel but it seems most everyone going to Turkey has been renting cars.
jld4f is offline  
Old Dec 7th, 2004, 07:51 AM
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A couple of years ago we travelled throughout Turkey -- and we did rent a car. The roads were good, signage was fair -- and the entire country was very clean. There are many gas stations along the road with convenience stores and places to eat and at many of them the attendants wash your car if you want. If you dislike driving yourself, I would recommend the bus system in Turkey -- it is FANTASTIC. The busses are clean and modern and make frequent stops at the gas stations along route. However, since I didn't use them myself, I can't say whether they allow smoking aboard. They used the same roads we did -- so you will most definitely get to see the countryside. We rented a car because we preferred the convenience of stopping and starting whenever and whereever we wanted. We also found it cost beneficial for three of us. Trains are not recommended. You will LOVE Turkey -- there is so much to see and the people are wonderful. The food is also good, too.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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Travelaw--My husband and I are just beginning to think about putting together a trip to Turkey in the fall. We are considering driving and I have a few questions for you. Would you mind posting your itinerary? What map did you use? How did you rent your car? What agency? Any other trips would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 10:41 AM
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I too vote for a car in much of Turkey. It is easier to drive in Turkey than in Italy or France for example. The roads are even better marked, mostly in better condition, and there is a tiny fraction of the traffic that you will encounter in those other countries. Driving was a joy. (All bets are off though in Istanbul, where we didn't drive.)

We flew to Istanbul, and later flew to Keyseri where we got a car through AutoEurope which was with SIXT. We drove to Cappodocia, to Lake Egidir, to Antalya, Bodrum, Marmaris, Dalyan, and Kusadasi where we turned the car in. Interestingly enough we actually had to turn the car in at Europe Car as AutoEurope had arranged that since there wasn't a SIXT office in Kusadasi.

Sorry, I really don't have any information about the busses as we were thrilled with driving there.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 11:26 AM
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We took buses and were quite pleased, mind you we were there only for a week. The buses were clean, ran frequently and as far as I remember, there was no smoking allowed. We're planning to go back next year, and will probably take buses again. Neither of us really feels relaxed driving in a new area.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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jld4f: Here's our basic itinerary (from memory -- I will try to find a copy of exactly what we did -- and the map we used). When we arrived in Istanbul we decided to taxi to our hotel and pick up the car at the airport later. I would not recommend driving in Istanbul -- you can walk/tram/taxi to all the sights you will want to see there. When we were ready to leave, we taxied back to the airport to pick up our rental car. We rented from Autoeurope -- which in Istanbul can be picked up at the Sixt office. If you are from the US, it is cheaper to rent from home before you leave. You pay for the car n advance and get a voucher to present to the agency in Turkey. We had no problems with this. When you pick up the car, remember to check it over very carefully for damage and see that it is noted before signing any of the paperwork. I also know some people who take photos just in case -- though we had absolutely no trouble with the car or the agency.
From Istanbul we took the ferry to Bursa. We only stayed the night in Bursa, but loved the market (purchased fantastic towels from Ozdilek -- should have bought more!) and the ornately tiled tombs/mosques. Drove from Bursa to Bergama -- spent a couple nights there -- great ruins of the old city of Pergamum -- especially great if you see them early in the morning before the tour groups get there. From Bergama we drove to Izmir -- big city -- also good market there -- lovely waterfront. Took the old elevator up to a restaurant with beautiful harborfront views on high (will try to find these details for you). From Izmir we drove to Ephesus -- we stayed in Sirince a little village not far away -- the village had some good restaurants -- it was an idyllic setting -- we had an little old turkish home all to ourselves right near the mosque (by this time we were used to the call to prayer and it didn't bother us). Ephesus was a short drive away -- and we were so glad we stayed in the village -- much more pictureque than staying in Selcuk or Kusadasi where most of the hotels are located. From Ephesus we drove to the calcium cliffs of Pammukale, near Denizli, stopping at the ruined city of Aphrodisias, which is being excavated by a team from NYU, on the way. The ruins were awesome. Pammukale is somewhat of a has-been tourist town -- there used to be hotels all around the white cliffs but I understand UNESCO or some other organization required them to be torn down some years back. In spite of the element of tackiness there, we enjoyed the stop -- and especially enjoyed the pool at the hotel (we were there in June). By the way, there are decent inexpensive hotels in Turkey -- or at least they were a couple of years ago -- some places only cost us $30 a night including breakfast(!) -- so you don't have to spend a lot unless you want to. From Pammukale we drove back out to the coast and stayed in Olu Deniz near Fetiye a lovely little town on the coast with a blue lagoon -- fantastic restaurant there called the white dolphin. Visited a ghost town nearby that was occupied by Greeks until the countries traded populations. (I think that happened in the 20s.) From there we drove along the coast making several stops along the way -- including Kas and Demre (Myra) (town St. Nicholas was from) -- enjoyed seeing the old lycian tombs. From Demre we drove to Olympus -- and from Olympus to Antalya. Loved the old part of Antalya. Good ruins nearby at Aspendos. From Antalya we drove through the Taurus mountains to Konya -- home of Mevlana Rumi and his father -- organizers of the whirling dervish movement. From Konya we drove to the Cappadocia region -- stopping a a silk caravanseri on the way -- incredible -- stayed in a cave hotel near Urgup. Loved it! The geological formations are fatntastic to behold. We got up one morning and took a hot air balloon ride over the region -- great birdseye view. There is tons to do in that region. We drove to Kayseri, dropped off the car, and caught a Turkish Airlines flight back to Istanbul. There were other places we wanted to see but just ran out of time. The Turks are very hospitable. We never felt threatened or at risk at any time. We even enjoyed bantering with and having tea with the rug sellers. Will write more later.
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 01:08 PM
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Sorry -- that last message was for wj1!
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 01:23 PM
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I have used both the bus and train in my travels in Turkey. I found the bus system to be very good, especially for shorter day trips. Bus es are usually non-smoking excspt for the driver. For overnight trips I found the train to be much better, the long distance trains in Turkey are very comfortable and not expensive. For information about trains see:
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Old Dec 7th, 2004, 01:29 PM
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Travelaw: WOW!!

Thank you so much. You have a great memory if that's off the top of your head! I can't wait to begin planning this trip. My husband and I are just starting to talk about the trip and whether or not we want to drive (we've driven in Ireland and Italy before) and this sounds like the way to go. I need to go and buy my map right away! Thanks so much and if you have additional information, that would be great.
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Old Dec 8th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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Sorry wj1 -- I forgot to look for our Turkey map and itinerary last night! We're leaving for a trip to Spain/Portugal (again driving) in a few days and I had too much on my to do list yesterday. Anyway, I will try to remember to do it tonight and post tomorrow. BTW, if you've driven in Ireland and Italy you will have no problem in Turkey. I thought Ireland was much more difficult -- but that may be because of driving on the other side of the car/road. People warned us that Turkish drivers are dangerous -- we didn't find that so much -- an occasional pull out without enough room to pass situation -- but in general, I didn't think they were as agressive as some of the drivers in the States. In fact, I think I was more aggressive than they were. We did try to avoid driving at night -- we heard that they don't like to use their headlights and will flash them on right before they approach you, and you are unexpectedly blinded. My feeling is you can't see the countryside if you are driving at night so why bother. Also, people will tell you not to take the coastal road along the Aegean/Mediterrean -- It is a bit harried as it is curvy and often runs right between the water and a mountain, but the views were spectacular -- and it wasn't nearly as bad as was warned. By the way a good online map of Turkey is at:
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Old Jan 2nd, 2005, 10:50 AM
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Travelaw-are you still around?

My husband and I have been studying your route along with our Turkey map and I have a couple of questions.

Did you stay anywhere along the way from your night in Olu Deniz to Antalya?

How long did you it take you to get to Konya from Antalya? What route did you take?

How long was your trip? It seems like you moved along pretty quickly. How many nights did you stay in each place?

Finally, if you have a detailed itinerary, would you be willing to email it to me?

Thanks so much for your help. I hope you had a great trip to Spain and Portugal!
wj1 is offline  
Old Mar 16th, 2005, 08:23 PM
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The country is just fantastic. People are people all over the world. In general, Turks are very hospitable people. Who is Turk in Turkey? That country is very mozaic, mixed of all peoples. You can obtain regional pamphlets, maps of cities from the Turkish Consulates/Embassies, simply by writing to them. Internet you have it, just looking and studying the tours agents are trying to sell, you get a very good picture.

You may visit Italy, you will see Roman, Roman, Roman, you will visit Greece, you will see Greek & Roman. The minute you step to Istanbul and the rest of Anatolia, you can go back 5000 BC and ruins of Frigians, Lidians, Hittites,Persian, Greek,Roman Byzantine, and Ottoman buildigs, ruins are every where. If this is your interest.

You can spend months in Turkey. However, you can tour the most visited sites within 15-20 days. And driving, is really not a problem at all. I have driven in France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Kenya, Congo, Mexico, all over Southern Africa, Australia and many more countries and Turkey. My most recent visit was to Nemrut Dag in the Eastern Diyarbakir. Roads are fine and most tourist destinations have excellent roads.

Istanbul : 4-5 days. You do not need to drive. Taxis, have meters, buses, mini vans, rail car (along the tourist route) are all available. Once you figure out and ask people, they will tell you, even put you in a bus that will take you to your destination. City map has the name of areas in capital letters. What to see: get yourself a good guide book about Turkey, read and see what your interest is. St. Sophia, St.Irene, Blue Mosque, Underground sistern, Topkapi Palace, Mozaic Museum, Arheological Museum are all in old section of Istanbul within walking distance, as well as the Covered Bazaar and Spice Bazaar.

If you are looking for more, and particularly interested in old Ottoman Iznik tiles, Sokollu Mosque a bit further down the Blue mosque and Rustem Pasha Mosque near Spice Market (Misir Charshisi) are very unique. Out of the main tourist area, Kariye museum (also known as Kariye Camii) is a must. It is a bit out of way but you will see the most beautiful Byzantine period mozaic work in this Byzantine Church. While visiting Topkapi Palace, you may have your lunch at the cafeteria/restaurant with a spectacular view of Boshphorus.

From Istanbul you can drive your rental car via Ankara to Capadocia. Stop and see the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara. One of the best collections from Mesepotamia and tons of Hittite artifacts are all there. Excellent museum. If you leave early from Istanbul, drive on toll road, you will reach to Ankara by noon, have lunch and see the museum and hit the road to Capadocia. 3 days is good enough. Tassaray Hotel is right in the center of Urgup and very convenient. Many cave hotels, a bit pricy. Visit the town Soganli about 58 Km. away and make sure to climb Uc Hisar in Capadocia to have a spectacular view of the area.

It is not fare to Fodors to write more in their space. This is wonderful they are providing this for all of us. If you are interested more about planning where to go, definetely Antalya, Museum, Perge, Aspendos, Side and Termesos (a must while in Antalya) you can drive all along the cost all the way to Bodrum and believe me, you will be drowned with Greek/Roman ruins in every 30-50 Km. Believe me you have to be very selective otherwise, you may end up spending a month along the cost. Or from Antalya you can see the Termesos and drive up to Pamukkale. From there you drive to Ephesus and easily can spend 3-4 days in the area by visiting Ephesus, Selcuk (museum is there) then take side trips to Miletus. If you are still driving you can drive up to Pergamum and Troy from there you can drive to Bursa and stay at Celikpalas and swim in their good size marble pool that is heated by natural hot spring water coming from the mountains. You can drive to Mudanya or Yalova take the ferry to back to Istanbul.

Buses go to every city, every corner of the country. There are expensive buses like Varan Tourizm or Uludag Tourizm. They will run from point to point without stopping to pick up passengers on the way. They will stop for tea/coffee or lunch. Other companies run buses and if you want a non-smoking bus, ask before you buy the ticket. Train is fine between Istanbul - Ankara. But, really you will be more comfortable with a rental car, you will go where ever you want and you will stop where ever you want to stop. For example, while in Antalya, in order to go to Termesos, which is about 28-30Km., you will have to rent a taxi. If you decide to drive along the Mediterrenean cost Antalya, Fethiye and bypass Marmaris and Bodrum so you get to Ephesus, there will be lots of sites you would like to stop and see. I dont run a car rental co. or do not have shares in one, but, when driving in a foreign country, use common sense.Be careful in sharp curves, do not overtake and always think that someone might do that from the other side.

By the way, we will be going to Turkey on May 02 will be spending one month and we will be driving.

Good luck with your planning and enjoy your trip.
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