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West Coast of Turkey from Kusadasi to Istanbul...what is there to see/do?

West Coast of Turkey from Kusadasi to Istanbul...what is there to see/do?

Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 12:47 PM
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West Coast of Turkey from Kusadasi to Istanbul...what is there to see/do?

A friend and I will be doing a group tour of Turkey next year during the last week of September and the first week of October (2007).

The group tour starts in Istanbul and ends in Kusadasi. In between we will be going to Ankara, the Cappadocia region, Konya, Antalya, and Pamukkale.

We plan to fly in and out of Istanbul. At the conclusion of the group tour we would like to take several days (we're thinking between 5 & 7 days) and do some more exploring.

My questions are:
1. If we rent a car and explore the coastal area between Kusadasi and Istanbul what interesting places are along the way that you can recommend...I understand Troy is in this area, but it might not be worth a visit. Any Fodorite thoughts on this?

2. I've also heard of a place called Canakkale where I believe we can catch a ferry to the Gallipali Peninsula...would this be a good route to take heading to Istanbul, or is there an alternate route in another direction that would be more advisable?

4. Another alternative we have discussed is flying (from Izmir) back to Istanbul for those few extra days. We will have been in Istanbul for the first 3 days of the tour, but is there enough to do in and around Istanbul to warrant another 5 days? We thought if we saw something we might want to buy at the beginning of the tour, instead of buying it during the first couple days of the trip and then having to carry it around for 2 weeks with us, we could purchase it when we're back in Istanbul during the extra days there.

Before anyone tells me to go out and buy a guidebook...I have started doing some research on the internet and I am just starting to get a feel for Turkey. I also didn't want to run out and buy a guidebook that will be out of date by next September, so I am waiting a few months until some of the 2007 guidebooks will be published...I'm just trying to get a bit of a head start on my trip research/planning!

Thanks for any help you can offer!
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Old Dec 2nd, 2006, 02:02 PM
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Last year I did a similar trip. Three of us rented a car with driver and traveled from Istanbul, taking the ferry to Cannakale, to the Aegean coast, stopping overnight in Assos (one night) and Foca (two nights). Our last stop was Sirince, where we spent two nights and used as our base to visit Efes. We then drove back to Istanbul in one long day, making the crossing at Bandirma. I described this trip in a report in the fall of
2005 which you can find in a search.....

I would recommend Bergama (Pergamum) instead of Troy. And I highly recommend the entire trip...you should have no problems with a rented car.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 05:35 AM
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Thanks ekscrunchy.

Any one else????
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 05:58 AM
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Here is the report I posted about Istanbul and our drive along the NorthWest Aegean coast:



http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34695639
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 06:10 AM
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Pergamum is absolutely well worth seeing. The woman who has the office next door to mine visited Assos on her trip to Turkey some years back, and she ,liked it so much that she still has pictures of the place on her wall. The ruins of the town sit atop a large hill overlooking the gulf and the island of Lesbos.

Also, Sardis has some well-restored ruins and a very active ongoing excavation program. They've restored a synagogue and part of a temple, among other things.

Yes, it's true, the ruins of Troy are less impressive than those of Pergamum or Ephesus. But I think it would be absolutely nutty to drive right past it and not stop. If you're going from Izmir to Channakale, you will go within a few miles of the place, and it doesn't take that long to see because it's a relatively small site. Personally, I found the construction and sloping of the walls of the citadel quite impressive. You might want to read either Michael Grant's "In Search of the Trojan War" (also available on video) or J.V. Luce's "Celebrating Homer's Landscapes" (the portions on Troy) before you go -- it will make it a lot more meaningful for you. Or you might listen to the extraordinary audiotape version of the Iliad, narrated by Derek Jacobi.

You might also consider not heading north from Ephesus immediately. Priene, a short drive to the south of Kusadasi, is a neat city ruin on the terrace of a pine-covered mountain. The ruins of Miletus (mammoth theatre, but you will have already seen one of those at Ephesus) and the temple of Apollo at Didyma are all within an easy day trip to the south. The usual circuit is Priene-Miletus-Didyma.

As for Guidebooks, I suspect your local library has some that you can check out and use to start educating yourself. The Blue Guide to Turkey is the most informative and detailed -- it's incredible on Ephesus. It doesn't have hotel and restaurant info, though -- it's purely about sights. If you can find it in a lkibrary, you might want to just photocopy the sections on Ephesus, Pergamum/Bergama, Sardis, and Troy.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Correction -- that should be Michael Wood, "In Search of the Trojan War."
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 12:24 PM
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Thanks for sharing this great information!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2006, 07:18 PM
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Here's a thought - head south to Bodrum! You can fly to Istanbul from there when you're done. But first you must visit Sirince, an old Ottoman hilltown where time has stopped. It's about 30 minutes outside Kusadasi. Then you can drive to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma and on to in Bodrum that evening. If you have seven days could book a 4-day blue cruise out of Bodrum where you charter a boat and spend a few days exploring the southern Turkish coastline. Or if you want to skip the cruise you could do Sirince, PMD, a few days in Bodrum (I recommend the Underwater Archaeological Museum inside the castle) and a few days in Istanbul. You could spend two weeks in Istanbul and still not feel as if you've covered it all. It's an AMAZING city.

Also, private tours are unbelievably inexpensive. We had a small bus with a guide and driver for two days - Bodrum to Didyma to Ephesus, and it was $500 for the three of us. If you can split that between a group it would be a very inexpensive way to see the sights without having to worry about where you're going AND you have someone to regale you with history all along the way - they'll also direct you to the non-tourist places to eat and play. But do it now - once Turkey is admitted into the EU the prices are going to go way up.

We used tur-ista.com, a travel agency in Istanbul, to plan the Aegean part of the trip. Also, spend some time on turkeytravelplanner.com. I wish they had a site like this for all major cities. It's a wealth of good information.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 04:15 AM
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Thanks halliep...I hadn't thought of going south. Now I have another alternative!
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 04:37 AM
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I agree about Sirince; we used the town as a base for visiting Efes. We stayed at the Nisanyan House which I think is the best place to stay in that town. It is owned by the couple that writes the Special Places to Stay: Turkey guidebook, which I highly recommend. They also have a website which I found very useful for small hotels with character, like Nisanyan and Focantique:

www.nisanyan.net

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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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We did this trip several years ago and I would not pass up Troy. There is a pretty tacky looking Trojan Horse at the entrance, but once inside the site, though it is small, it is impressive to explore the site about which so many of the classics are written. The ferry ride from Cannakale was well worth it, if only to read the dedication from Ataturk to the men who died at Gallipoli. It is on the side of the hill, off the port side, and is so touching.
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Old Dec 4th, 2006, 11:31 PM
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"The ferry ride from Cannakale was well worth it, if only to read the dedication from Ataturk to the men who died at Gallipoli. It is on the side of the hill, off the port side, and is so touching." I am also touched by this sentence.... Thank you, very appreciative... By the way Atlas is starting Canakkale - Istanbul flights for those concerns for the time and when the ferry is not available due to bad weather.
Happy travelling,
Murat

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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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We cruised from Istanbul to Greece on Windstar, so the trip dynamics were different from a land tour -- but we LOVED our time in Bodrum: the castle, archeological museum, and the day we spent cruising the coastline on a gulet. So much history and wonderful scenery! We'd love to go back.
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Old Dec 5th, 2006, 08:25 PM
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My husband and I were in Turkey this last September.If going up and down the Coast I would not miss Assos. Plan to spend at least 2 nights there because it is a windey road. We stayed at the Eden Group hotels-Nazlihan Botique. This was a little fishing harbor. We had the only balcony in the hotel which was a restored Acorn shed. Talk about peaceful.
Any help you can possible use we got through Argues Travel.
Our agents E-mail is [email protected]
He was wonderful. The highlight of our trip was 2 nights in Cappadocioa-Out of Istanbul. We stayed in a cave hotel and went on a hot air balloon ride. YOu are going at a perfect time for the weather-Chris
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 04:21 AM
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Thanks to everyone for all the great information!
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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Istanbul to Ankara has an alternative by night train. From Ankara to Cappadocia you can drive, driven or take a bus.
In Cappadocia definatelly at least 1 day guided tour is recommended. If you are able allow yourself 3 days in Cappadocia.
Consider hot air ballooning one of the early mornings. Eat at Somine restaurant ( testi kebab is the outstanding option )

Happy travelling,
Murat
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 09:54 AM
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You could go to Cesme and take a ferry over to the island of Chios. Well worth the visit. The island is so close you can see it from Cesme.
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Old Dec 6th, 2006, 11:11 AM
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Last summer I went on a group tour that also ended in Kusadasi. I rented a car there and drove up to Bergama, then down through the Golmarmara area, stopped at Sardis to visit the temple of Artemis, then drove down to Aphrodisias.

Then I visited Pamukkale and Hieropolis, turned in the car in Denizli and took an overnight bus to Ankara. While in that area I visited Hattusa and Alacahoyuk before taking the train back to Istanbul.

It was a whirlwind end to my vacation, but I loved every minute of it. The man at AVIS in Kusadasi was VERY helpful and kind; gave me an automatic and didn't charge me extra for it.

Sirince was a really great town to spend some time in: storks nesting on remnants of the old aqueduct, quaint streets to roam, great textiles to buy...

The Apollo temple at Didyma and the Artemis temple at Sardis are not to be missed if you like those kind of ruins. The Sardis temple is not intact, but several pillars are up, and they are HUGE and the natural setting is magnificent. The place must have been awesome. The Apollo temple has more walls standing. We visited that on our group tour and we all really enjoyed it. Didn't visit Priene and I thought Miletus was missable. I haven't been to Troy. My Mom has and she said you REALLY have to use your imagination...it's historic rubble.

I liked Pergamum; had seen the Altar of Zeus in (East)Berlin when I was a kid and enjoyed seeing its natural setting. The merchant and residential area they are excavating below the temples on the hillside are worth exploring.

I really liked Aphrodisias and was so glad I made the effort to go. I was there early in the morning in early June and ate a picnic breakfast completely alone on the lawn in front of the tetrapylon. The setting was peaceful and incredibly beautiful.

Hieropolis and Pamukkale were nice but the crowds detracted from the experience.

I headed over to Ankara and Hatussa since my tour didn't include those and I really wanted to see them. I'm glad I did because the sites were so different from the Greek and Roman stuff we'd seen and the museum is very nice.

I can send you my travelog emails about those solo days if you're interested.

You'll have a wonderful time in Turkey.
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Old Dec 13th, 2006, 05:29 PM
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Bodrum is amazing, Selcuk has a great museum, Hieropolis is so great a place, it is worth the two hour drive from Selcuk. There is the most amazing calcium ponds I have ever seen. Valley of the dead, before Hieriopolis has the largest tombs, house sized; I have ever seen. Mary's House above Ephesus is quite a mention. Cave of the Seven Sleepers has a most fantastic treehouse along with Selcuk's (by St John's Historical Monistery), both have wonderful Turkish Pancakes. (a crepe filled spinach and cheese pancake) and may watch the ladies make them on the hearth at the Seven Sleepers. Izmir has ferry rides throughout the bay and for the best salmon and salad around anywhere, eat at Ege Bolge Mudurlugu on the bay. At last out of Kusadasi a mile or so to Bodrum is a mile long string of outlets, much more than I have seen in California.In Bodrum if you go, the McDonald's is a renovated 3 story Victorian with an iron spriral staircase. There is alot to do, ENJOY.
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Old Dec 13th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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From Kusadasi there is also a 40-minute ferry to Samos Island, Greece. We loved it -- it's a large island with several towns including Samos Town (we stayed with Giorgio at The Hotel Pythagoria, paid something like $20E for a clean, quiet double on the water, and the best service ever, from a family run business.

There's also the town of Pythagoras, and another town on the far side of the island. If you want to experience a little Greece, this is a great place to do it.

We were there in 2003 and loved it. We headed on to Turkey and stayed in Izmir after landing in Kusadasi, and on to Istanbul -- We had 4 days there and could have used much more.

Happy travels,

Jules
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