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Travelling in Turkey: Easier than I'm thinking? Probably yes...

Travelling in Turkey: Easier than I'm thinking? Probably yes...

Old Nov 11th, 2013, 06:19 AM
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Travelling in Turkey: Easier than I'm thinking? Probably yes...

We are finally travelling to Turkey! I'm so excited, and at the same time, it seems harder to plan this trip than other places in Europe or the Americas. I really need your help.

After reading and looking pictures, we agreed to go to Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the Efesus region. We could still change if there are suggestions.

Here come the questions:

1) To tour or To go on our own outside Istanbul (Cappadocia and the Efesus region)? We never travel with tours, however, in this case my concerns are:
a) I have heard buses or trains are not that comfortable or enjoyable, we usually travel renting a car to get out of the big cities to our next destinations, but we think driving a car may be difficult in Turkey (hopefully it is not).
b) it may be difficult to find good guides at the place of interest, and after such a long trip we would like to take the most out of our trip
c) it may be much more expensive to travel on our own (the tours cost 950-1150 euros for 8 days excluding food)

2) If you think we could go on our own (at least part of the trip)
a) is it easy to rent a car and drive? (highway quality, getting help if we get lost, safety at the roads, traffic, cost)?
b) which part would you do it like that? Cappadocia? Efesus region? both?

3) If you suggest to go on tour, which one would you do (see both below)? we think that the Turkey Express could be better since we stay longer at fewer places (there are two flights included: to Cappadocia and to Izmir)

4) If we take the other one, Best of Turkey, there is a chance to take a ferry to Samos after the Efesus part. Is it worth it? from the pictures I saw at Pinterest.com, it seems to be a relaxing place (and it would compensate in some way our not yet accomplished wish to go to Greece). in that case, one day trip or staying overnight? the ferry to go there would cost around 200 euros for the four of us.


Our info:

We are four (husband, two boys 13 and 10, and I) flying to Istanbul on the first week of May, for 11 days.

We always travel on our own (no tours) because I enjoy travel planning at home, and we love to just sit and relax at coffees and go at our own pace (also because we travel with kids, who happen to love history, but anyway, they are kids). And we love to get to know new types of food, though we prefer to assure some quality so we look for recommendations . We have made most of our trips renting a car and exploring the surroundings (example Rome and Tuscany, or Paris and the Loire).
My husband has the idea that driving a car in Turkey is not a good idea, and he is the main driver.

The tours:
Both include the places we would like to visit and take 8 days (days 1 and 8 = do what you want in Istanbul)

a) Turkey Express: 4 days in Istanbul, flight to Izmir to go to Efesus, staying around 1.5 days in that area, Ankara, Cappadocia (including 2 nights).

b) The Best of Turkey: Includes Istanbul (3 days in total), Cappadocia 1.5-2 days , one day in Konya, one day in Pamukkale, Afrodisias, Kusadasi, next day Efesus and back to Istanbul.

Thanks for taking the time of reading my long post! Hopefully you can help me
bqycc is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2013, 06:55 AM
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Take a look at my trip report; click on my name to find it. We went from Istanbul to Izmir by plane, rented a car and visited Ephesus and the near-by coast. We then drove to Cappadocia, visiting Aphrodisias and Hieropolis on the way. Flew back from Kayseri to Istanbul.
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Old Nov 11th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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"1) To tour or To go on our own outside Istanbul (Cappadocia and the Efesus region)?"

No need to take a tour unless that is your preference. The one exception: I think having a guide for Ephesus itself would be very beneficial.

"a) I have heard buses or trains are not that comfortable or enjoyable, we usually travel renting a car to get out of the big cities to our next destinations, but we think driving a car may be difficult in Turkey (hopefully it is not)."

Actually, I've heard that the buses are quite comfortable. That said, I rented a car, drove about 2,000 miles (as I recall), and found it no more difficult (and in some ways much easier) than many other places I've driven.

In addition to Michael's very informative trip report, you might want to take a look at mine in which I address many of your questions. Just click on my name to find it.

Turkey is a wonderful destination - enjoy!
kja is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2013, 10:35 AM
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There are many trip reports by couples and families who have done it without tours and enjoyed it.

- Local flights are reasonably cheap, especially if booked some weeks in advance. There are flights betwen the locations you wish to visit.

- I do not know what gave you the idea that buses are uncomfortable. Inter-city buses in Turkey are very comfortable and efficient. however, they are time consuming and not that much cheaper than flights.

- Driving in Turkey, except in the five largest cities is very easy and fun. It gives you a chance to visit as many less well known ancient sites or scenic locations as you wish from at least ten ancient civilizations.
It also allows you to pick and choose where you wish to eat and allow you to taste local and regional dishes you would never get on a tour.

- If you and your children like tasty food, you should forget about taking tours. Your taste buds come way down in their list of priorities.

- There are a great many trip reports, including at least three or four within the last few months. If you have time, go back further to come up with those written by a family member with kids same age as yours.

Good luck.
otherchelebi is offline  
Old Nov 15th, 2013, 01:38 PM
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Thanks for your replies! Great reports!
I'm much more confident about renting a car.
I already bought the ticket from Lima to Europe. I'm so excited.
Now I'll focus on the research to see how many days in each place. I'm thinking on going to three places in Turkey or two in Turkey and Athens. Let's see.

Thanks again!
bqycc is offline  
Old Nov 15th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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I would do the three places in Turkey. Istanbul is fabulous, great sights, wonderful food; Cappadocia is beautiful and extremely interesting, also great food and the kindest people you will ever meet. Ephesus is stunning, a world class archeological sight.

We got cheap RT flights from Istanbul to Cappadocia . We had seen Ephesus (and Athens) during cruises. Both are great, but you might get to Greece another time when you could also see some of the islands, etc., so I would do Ephesus since you would be less likely to do that on any other trip.

Your kids would probably love a hot air balloon flight in Cappadocia. We hired a car and driver there for touring because it was pretty cheap, but roads looked good and you should have absolutely no problem if you rent a car. IMHO, Cappadocia needs a minimum of three nights and two full days, but you could easily do more.
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Old Nov 15th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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Good advice above from the others. We did the long hauls in Turkey via cheap flights & only rented a car for a few days but both were relatively painless. The absolute 'do not miss' sites in Turkey are Istanbul & Cappadocia imho but you could certainly enjoy many others. But do it on your own! If you want a local guide for a day, there are always options when you get there.

Ian is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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We also did a similar round two years ago, and revisited just Istanbul and Cappadocia this past year. Here's a link to our Ephesus (Selcuk), Cappadocia, Istanbul trip if it helps.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 03:31 PM
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We just got back from an 8 day trip to Turkey. We first spent a full day in Izmir (all you really need) and then the following day took a chartered bus (because we were there for my husband's business conference) to a resort on the coast. The roads were in excellent condition, not crowded, and signage was great. We talked about returning and renting a car to visit more sites. If you are used to traveling on your own, as we are, you really need to do it on your own. From what we saw, a lot of visitors take tours in Turkey. We saw hoards of them check into our hotel every night and leave early in the morning. The tour groups at Ephesus were obnoxious and after experiencing them there I would never consider a tour.

Ephesus is a must but get there when the gates open, start at the top so you miss the crowds, and take photos on your way down the hill because there won't be any people. There were crowds last week at all the sites and it's November.
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