Turkey Travel Tips
Ancient cultures, delicious food, and warm, sunny beaches: We love and Turkey! What tips do you have for your fellow travelers to the East Mediterranean?
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Turkey September 2013
Turkey September 2013 for 3 weeks. My husband and I are in our mid 70s with medical problems. We like a relaxed trip where we choose how long we linger at breakfast and how we spend the day. For that we turned to SRM travel which we found on this graffiti wall. Lale and her husband are regular Rick Steves guides and they founded SRM. Lale planned a trip that exactly suited us. They provided guides in major areas, reserved hotels, rental cars, and internal flights. We merely followed the plan. We spent longer periods of time in major areas, Istanbul, Cappadocia, Fethiye, and Ephesis. rather than rush from one site to the next. In Istanbul we spent 5 days, the first with a guide who designed the day around our interests. Since there were only the 2 of us, we didn't miss a word. When we left her, we felt capable of traveling all over Istanbul..as long as it was by tram or boat. We saw all the major tourist attractions and some that were little known. SRM booked us into the old town, Sultanahmet. Most everything was within walking distance. In Cappadocia we had a guide the first day, did an extended balloon ride, and then hiked the various valleys. The hotel was slightly off the beaten path and at first I was a little puzzled why we were booked there. It turned out that the small town was a destination in itself. We flew to Ephesus, had another guide, and then again toured on our own. The Kirkinca house in Sirince was probably my favorite, and as we drove in the dark, up a winding mountain road, I was again baffled why we were booked so far out. Another unique town to leisurely stroll. In our travels we managed to get lost a few times, road the tram, took boat rides, got off at the wrong stop and had a great adventure. We ate at funny restaurants, had ice cream more than once on some days, went to more than one real farmers market where we were the only non Turkish, drove back roads where I felt I needed head covering even in the car, stopped at roadside farm stands. We saw a lot of the real Turkey. Even when we were lost in the dark, I never felt in danger or uncomfortable. And we were in many places where no one spoke English. We flew back to Istanbul because I wanted to do my shopping at the end of the trip rather than carry stuff around the country. As it turned out, I bought things the whole time. And was very glad we bought the Rick Steves carry on suitcases. They had a zip expansion which allowed me to carry souvenirs home easily. Rick Steves was right, it's actually easier to travel with few well coordinated pieces of clothing. And hotel shampoo makes a great laundry soap. On our last day in Istanbul and we were tripped out. So we took the boat ride to Buyukta and rented bikes. What a treat. I don't think the Turkish people are used to 74 year old ladies riding bikes, because I got many cheers. No cars but it was overrun with horse drawn carts. More ice cream. Loved Turkish Ice Cream. Turkey is still a bargain to tour, and I feel by letting SRM plan the trip, that we actually saved money because they know the area. It worked for us. For those who are nervous about driving on back roads in Turkey, don't be. The people are friendly and helpful and roads are well marked. I learned 'please' and 'thank you' and a few other important words, and they carried us far. We carried 2 guide books, Rick Steves Istanbul written by Lale(SRM) and Lonely Planets Turkey. They filled in where our excellent guides left off. I bought an inexpensive keyboard from Amazon and that made it easy to keep a complete journal. We had a great time!
Amherst, NH USA 11/21/2013
Istanbul hotel and food recommendations
Apricot Hotel, Istanbul Sultanahmet We stayed there Oct.-Nov, 2013 for 6 nights, both before and after a cruise. This is a moderate price small hotel in an old Ottoman building in the historic section. It is a good value. Very close to the Blue Mosque in the historic section, this was very clean, plenty of hot water, a very comfortable mattress, and had a nice breakfast that included either boiled or cooked eggs daily. They also have a very helpful staff that were great with advice on directions, restaurants, etc. There's no elevator, but the helpful staff was quick to carry luggage up and down the stairs for us. We arranged ahead for our taxi service through the hotel, and emails we sent were always answered quickly.
We wanted to try typical Turkish food, while sticking to budget restaurants. Our favorite was Buhara 93, near the Blue Mosque. We had an excellent dinner, good service and loved the puffed up hollow loaves of bread served fresh out of the oven. We liked it so much we went there twice.
We also enjoyed Sultanahmet Koftescisi , also in the Sultanahmet, near the tram stop. We tried the excellent "meatballs" (they are flat ovals!) and the tasty kabobs. Nice service and a tasty meal. Cankurtaran Sosyal Tesisleri is a large restaurant with impersonal but adequate service. Our meal was good and we had a great view of the Bosphorus, the bridge and the boat traffic from inside the restaurant. All these meals were tasty, inexpensive and a good value.
We also ate dinner at Hamdi Cafe, which we would not recommend. This did have a nice upper floor view of the Galata Bridge and the square. Our waiter did his best to ignore us, appearing only to provide menus, take orders, bring dinners and a long time later reappeared to present the bill. He and another waiter appeared at another table frequently, never giving us a glance. When he dropped off the bill and made a hasty retreat behind doors, we noticed that we had been charged more than the menu price for water and a soft drink. We had also been charged for bread. This was the only place in our six days in Istanbul where there was an extra charge for bread. The waiter did not reappear again while we were there. We paid the bill as it was with the overcharges, but left no tip. The meal we had was also the least tasty of any we had in Istanbul.
We had a fine breakfast at our hotel, so we made do at lunch with street food, enjoying donner kabobs and simits from street vendors
Rochester, NY USA 11/08/2013
Trip to Turkey
Just got back from a 9-day trip to Turkey and wanted to share some recommendations:
Istanbul hotel: Ayizade Hotel, in the Sultanhemet area. Fantastic hotel, comfy beds, great breakfast and rooftop view. Within easy walking distance of the Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque as well as the handy lightrail system. If you want an amazing night time view of Istanbul, head to the Galata Konak Patisserie Cafe. We had tea and cake (and they were awful) but the view was worth it). We took the long Bosphorus tour...and didn't realize that the boat stops at a small town at the far end of the tour...for 2.5 hours. And then everyone can get back on. The town doesn't have much to see, but hike up to the castle (which is underwhelming, but the view is amazing), and then enjoy some tea and ice cream at one of the many cafes that dot the hill over looking the Bosphorous.
Izmir: We were really disappointed with Izmir - it's just another big city. We ended up planning a last minute day trip out to Chios (Greek island off the shore of Turkey), but our bus got into Cesme late and we missed the ferry. We asked around and the locals recommended Ilica Beach - it was a gorgeous beach, cool water, great view, and much better than Izmir! The next day we headed out via a train from Basmane station to Selchuk to meet up with our Ephesus tour guide, booked through an Australian company "No Frills Tours" - they were super helpful during all the planning and I highly recommend them. Ephesus was incredible.
Cappadocia region - we stayed at the Divan Cafe House in Goreme, which had been recommended by another friend. Hanife is the proprietor and she was incredibly helpful both before and during our trips, with great restaurant recommendations (TopDeck and Seten - mouthwateringly good). We braved the Turkish hamam experience at Elis Hamam (also a recommendation from Hanife) - although slightly awkward, I would definitely do it again! We booked a hot air balloon ride via No Frills Tours - amazing. An absolutely must do. We also booked a hiking tour on one day - 7km hike through Ilhara valley. Gorgeous. Loved loved loved Cappadocia. If you can drive a standard, I would recommend renting a car so you can reach some of the other spots to hike around in Cappadocia. Overall, the town we stayed in, Goreme, was fantastic - they are so used to tourists so we had a nice respite from all the oggling from the men.
My Turkey experience was just wonderful and I really enjoyed my time there. The locals were hospitable and friendly and we had some great conversations with folks while in the bazaars and with our tour guides on the tours we booked.
Houston, TX USA 09/09/2013
Istanbul, July 2013
For other trips, we have found many helpful suggestions from the Graffiti wall, so I was disappointed to find so little information for Istanbul. Wish I had time for a full trip report, but will have to be brief. Here's the summary:
When: July 6-13, 2013
Hotel: Lausos Hotel - Great hotel! Our room on the 3rd floor had a great veiw of the Blue Mosque skyline. Lovely accommodations, great breakfast, very clean, and modern facilities. Staff was truely wonderful. The room was small but perfectly adequate (I was offered a larger one with a less interesting view, but we don't spend much non-sleeping time in the room). We were at the far end of the hall, so wifi was not perfectly reliable. Conveniently located ~2 blocks from the Blue Mosque, but not surrounded by lots of other hotels, a little less touristy than some areas.
Favorite restaurant: Balikci Sabahattin. Two of us shared 3 mezes (octopus, rice with mussles, calamari [best I've had in any country ever!], and a fish dish for ~$45. Really our very best dinner!
Other restaurants mentioned in RS:
Daruzziyafe: Had lunch here after visiting the Mosque of Suleman the Magnificent. It was more upscale than we usually do for lunch, but a close second for favorite restaurant. We shared a dolma meze and the recommended meatballs with crushed pistachios. Really excellent!
Sultanahmet Koftecisi: Had dinner here my first (jet-lagged) night. The food was flavorful and tasty.
Lale Restaurant: Food seemed similar to Sultanahmet Koftecisi, but I felt perhaps this place is doing business off of its history and location more than its current offerings. Not in RS but also really good: Mozaik Resaurant, just a short way down Divan Yolu, had very flavorful food and a lovely relaxing dinner. We had the Hunkar Begendi and Kuzu Sultan. I'd highly recommend both.
Balik Ekmek: We got a fish sandwich from the first restaurant on the Sultanahmet side of the Galata bridge to take with us on our Bosphorus cruise. It was a tasty treat. If you plan to do this, consider bringing a plastic bag to wrap it in. They handed us the sandwiches to-go with in a small paper that only wrapped about 1/3 of the way around. Fortunately, we didn't have to carry it far.
maybe time for more later...
St. Louis, MO USA 07/21/2013
Day sailing from Kas
In Kas, Turkey, we spent a lovely day sailing among the islands off Kas on the Guleryuz 2. We were treated to warm hospitality by Durmus and his wife, the boat owners. Their two bubbly girls may come along if it's a school holiday. We stopped at several islands off Kas for swimming and snorkeling and Durmus baited hooks for our kids to try fishing. We were treated to a huge, delicious lunch of grilled fresh fish and chicken, vegetable salads, bread and fresh yogurt, followed by Turkish tea and pastries and fresh fruit. You can find Durmus and the Guleryuz 2 docked at the harbor in the mornings and evenings.
Seattle, WA USA 07/20/2013
Istanbul and Turkey tours
My family and I arrived in Istanbul excited to see the sites of the city. While we were in Istanbul, we visited Private Istanbul Tours in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul. We were happy to meet Erkan, Manager of Private Istanbul Tours. In addition to providing us with valuable sightseeing tours and information about Istanbul, Erkan also gave us tremendous advice about travelling through other parts of Turkey. I had already done my research while still in USA, so I had an idea of where we wanted to go, but he assisted us in making our final decisions about transportation, hotels, tours etc. Our three-week stay in Turkey was truly a dream and I credit much of this to the assistance of Private Istanbul Tours. We received very good value for our money and I have to say that he and his agency really listened to us when we described the sort of trip we had envisioned; I wish I had known about this company while I was still in New York. It would have saved me so planning time. I highly recommend them. They are truly experts about all areas of Turkey! In addition to Istanbul, they assisted us with tours and accomodation in Ankara, Cappadocia, Antalya, Fethiye, Pamukakale, Bodrum, Ephesus and Kusadasi. You can see their web on here www.privateistanbultours.com and contact with them on mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Efendi Taxi Istanbul Ataturk to Town
AVOID THIS SHUTTLE SERVICE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. The driver took money from us and the owner of Efendi promised a refund and mailed only an empty envelope to us. Use any other transportation but not Efendi. Travellers be warned.
Roy Paul Roth
Chicago, IL USA 06/19/2013
Places to eat
Take the ferry to the Asian side of Istanbul (Kadikoy) and have a meal at Ciya in the market area for some of the best "all-regions" food in Turkey! 3 locations, with smaller one serving beer and wine, also. Here's their website: http://www.ciya.com.tr/index_en.php
Hilo, HI USA 05/31/2013
Chora Church in Istanbul
This is a rave review for Chora Church and for Rick's tour of the church in his Istanbul guide book. I also have a taxi story. The mosaics in Chora are wonderful, but if you went without the guide book you would be disappointed. The beginning of Rick's tour is right by the exit door for the church. That's right, if you started looking at the mosaics from the entrance to the church their order would make no sense. By following the tour, seeing the mosaics in the right sequence, and reading about the significance of them, the church was a wonderful two hour stop. It was also well worth it to walk to the city wall near the church and climb to the top for the view of the city.
We decided to take a taxi to the church from the Sultanahmet area with 5 people crammed in - no problem, the driver turned on the meter and it cost 25 Lira. But coming back from the church is different - there are many people and few taxis so the drivers insist on a fixed fee. The first driver wanted 40 Lira, so we said no. I negotiated with the second driver down to 25 Lira - great! We hopped in, got to our hotel quickly, and a traveling companion leaned in to pay the driver. The driver told him 35 Lira, and my companion assumed that's what I negotiated. The person that negotiates the fare should be sure that is what's paid.
SALEM, Oregon USA 05/14/2013
Airport to Bakirkoy bus service
The Havas bus that connected Ataturk Airport with Bakirkoy ferry terminal no longer is making that run. If you are planning to go from the airport to the Asian side directly you might consider using Havatas bus which goes from the airport to Yenikapi ferry port.
Stevens poit, Wiscon USA 04/15/2013
Hotel in Cappadocia
I have just been to this great hotel in Cappadocia Goreme* www.kismetcavehouse.com
Owner Faruk is very helpful with arranging tours. He arranged local info and tours and transportation back to Kayseri airport. Nice breakfast too. You can contact him directly.
Fremont, CA USA 04/05/2013
Zeugma hotel Istanbul
In RS Istanbul, it states that The Zeugma hotel has a 15% disc. if you show them RS book. That was valid only in 2012.
Rugs in Turkey
After seeing Ephesus our tour guide took us to the rug factory called Carpetium. Since we had read about it in Rick Steves' book, we trusted them. They were not terribly high pressure but there was some pressure to buy the rugs as they threw them out one at a time for us to look at. They started high and dropped the price slowly. We were suckered in and bought two. Once they arrived we had them appraised and to our horror, they were not even made in Turkey and were worth about half what we had paid. We love our rugs and were relieved to find that the quality was good but the price was way too high and it bothers me a lot that they told us they were made in Turkey and they were not, according to the appraiser. Don't buy a rug in Turkey! Go see the place where rugs are made, enjoy the apple tea and then politely refuse to pay that much. You can find better prices at home and you can try them in your home before you buy.
Farmington, Utah USA 03/22/2013
Turkey Tours & Vacations
Hello, I grew up in Turkey and visited many sites before moving to US 16 years ago. As the owner of a travel agency specializing Turkey I recoomend 8-10 days Turkey highlights tour first including Istanbul, Cappadocia, Konya, Pamukkale, Ephesus. Then another 8-10 days to include areas south of Ephesus, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, Antalya and historic/natural sites there and Pergamon, Troy, Gallipoli. For those interested in nature/eco tours Eastern Black Sea region is the best.
Clifton, NJ USA 10/06/2012
Rent a car for a memorable experience
After 5 days in Istanbul, my family flew to Izmir to spend time down there. We took a bus to Cesme and then a ferry to the Greek island of Chios for 2 days. After returning to Cesme we rented a car and drove to Selcuk, stopping in Alacati for lunch and in many places along the coast for incredible photo ops. From Selcuk, we drove to Ephesus and the House of the Virgin Mary, then to Kusadasi for an afternoon and evening. Finally, we drove back to the Izmir airport and flew back to Istanbul to catch our flight home. Renting a car was a fantastic and convenient way to experience Turkey and allowed a lot of freedom to enjoy not just the destination but the journey as well. If you can't drive manual, you'll pay more to rent an automatic car, but you'll still find plenty of places that have them.
Houston, TX USA 09/20/2012
We just spent 9 days in Turkey (family of 6). We had the greatest time: hotels, food, internal flights, punctuality, transportation, tours with English speaking guides to places including tickets and transportation... In Cappadoccia we took a hot air balloon flight and stayed in a Boutique cave hotel... all of it coordinated through Backpackers Travels. I have gotten the info through this graffiti wall and we want to confirm that they are the best and that the Graffiti wall was extremely helpful. MariaTB
Totowa, NJ USA 09/09/2012
Travelled with Otto's Tours
My husband and I travelled with Otto's Travel. We found them on the internet. Actually we were unsure to book an online tour but thanx to the girl - whose name I dont remember at the moment - working in that travel agency - I am not sure if she still works there - we had the best trip ever. Honestly we had some problems during the tour but it has nothing to do with the agency. They helped us very much. Thank you again. Recommended!
Guide for Ephesus
Please add Havva Yirtimci to your recommended list of guides to Ephesus. Her number is +90 530 312 79 62; email: email@example.com. We were on a cruise that stopped in Kusadasi and contacted her directly for an excellent tour of the old city.
Great Falls, VA USA 08/01/2012
Hot Air Balloon in Turkey!
Make sure you go to Cappadocia and do the hot air balloon ride--I think the best place in the world to do this! Our club did this and you can check out our pics! http://photoflytravel.com/
Somerville, MA USA 07/23/2012
Arranging travel in Turkey
We worked with Attila Yurttas at Backpackers & Efendi Travel to organize several domestic flights within Turkey as well as a rental car. Everything went very smoothly and Atilla provided excellent customer service and extremely fast response times. Highly recommended!
Washington, DC USA 06/06/2012
Skip Efes/Ephesus and visit Aphrodisias; it's about 2 hours from Efes (half way between Selcuk and Pamukkale). Smaller site, but better excavated meaning better ruins, and far less people.
Cairo, Egypt 05/31/2012
We just returned from an awesome week in Istanbul. We really enjoyed spending a day on the island of Buyukada-the largest of the islands. It was a short, inexpensive, beautiful ferry trip over from Kabatas. We rented bikes for the day, and toured around the whole island in several hours. There are no cars allowed on the island, many horse and carriages to rent. The town is very relaxed and picturesque. When in Istanbul we also enjoyed taking the ferry to Uskadar, then a bus to Camlica Hill, the highest point of Istanbul. It was a pretty parklike area, with tremendous views of the Sea, the Bosphorus, and all of Istanbul.
Mary Jo Hoeksema
Holland, MI USA 04/01/2012
I just watched a great Turkish movie called "Bliss". It's a wonderful story contrasting the different cultures in Turkey and has some great cinematography. I felt like I was back in Istanbul and Capadoccia. You can rent it or watch it instantly on Netflix.
Salinas, CA USA 03/01/2012
one week stay at Sultanīs Inn in Istanbul
Dear Sirs, I have stayed at the Sultanīs Inn in Istanbul in week 7 2012 and had a very pleasant stay there. The staff was very polite and eager to help us with any information we wanted. The room was nice and warm, and the morning buffet delicious. All people working at the hotel were friendly. Transfer from and to the airport functioned perfectly and is not too expensive. I would love to come back to this beautiful city with its friendly and helpful people.
Husum, Germany 02/27/2012
Staying in Istanbul
My mom and I stayed at Sultans Inn (sultansinn.com) and we were very pleased! It was clean, the staff was very friendly and helpful, and the breakfasts were delicious. It is not a far walk to Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque and the price for 2 nights and a transfer from and to the airport was incredibly reasonable. The drivers were safe and polite as well!! Highly recommend!
CA USA 02/19/2012
Turkey is Spectacular
We just returned home from our first ever trip to Turkey. The experience was great. We toured Gallipoli, Troy, Ephesus, Pamukkale, Cappadocia and Istanbul over a 7 days 6 nights tour that we had organized with One Nation Travel Agency before we left home. It was a lot of places to cover in a short time as we only had a week to spend in Turkey (having just completed a tour in Greece). Turkey was just spectacular. There are a lot of places worth visiting both historically important and scenic. There is a change in landscape as you move from Istanbul to central Anatolia. We had booked all our tours, pick-ups, drop-offs from and to airports, hotel accomodations and other logistical needs with One Nation Travel who performed quite well and were present for all the connections and needs. We really felt quite spoilt by them as all our needs were taken care of and they did not have an expensive price tag to their excellent services. We would recommend future travellers to visit Turkey knowing that an experienced travel agency can really help take your worries away and give you the time and hasslefree environment you need to enjoy the experience. In retrospect, however, we should have toured Turkey first and caught a ferry across from Kusadasi to the Greek Islands. The food in Turkey is quite good. Enjoy a nice lamb kebob (or two) when you get a chance. Not quite like the New Zealand lamb but still good. It was a trip worth doing.
Bus travel to Cappadocia
I made a trip to Cappadocia by bus, visiting valleys and natural castle around the region. 2 days 3 night trip that I found at www.travelcappadociatours.com was really complete and great. You can learn a lot about history and see many beautiful places. The hot air ballon is the top atraction of the place and I really recomend it. I followed suggestions from the manager of the tour agency Huseyin and I found everything very well organized beleived his experiences
London, Australia 01/25/2012
Very easy to see Turkey by bus!!!
My husband and I toured Turkey for 16 days in December and highly recommend using the bus system. It's very easy to do, and extremely economical. We used a travel agency affiliated with the Marmara Guesthouse in Istanbul (Shashot Travel) to book our daytours in several places and to reserve several of our hotels; we also spent about half the trip on our own...We flew into Istanbul and spent the first 3 days at the Marmara before flying to Cappadocia for two days...from there, we took a bus to the Mediterranean Coast (Antalya, then on to Kas and Fethiye ) and then took a bus inland and toured Pumakkale, Ephesus, and finally, the Aegean Coast (Mesme Penninsula) We flew back to Istanbul from Izmir...very easy to take Turkish Airlines flights within the country for the longer distances. Research your trip and make plans to see the country by bus..we avoided overnight bus rides and instead traveled during the day in order to see the countryside!! We LOVED Turkey and hope to go back very soon! It's SO interesting culturally and historically and the scenery is spectacular...the people are super friendly and it's easily half the cost of Europe or less!!!! Check it out for the adventure of a lifetime!!!
EDMONDS, WA USA 01/13/2012
Re Deniz House
When we first arrived in Turkey the airport recommended another accomodation provider .. it was terrible ; night 3 we arrived at Deniz House and everything was perfect, the hospitality, room service, breakfast, cleanliness, room decorations, bedding ... all faultless. The view from our room was lovely and staff could not have been more helpful. I look forward to seeing beautiful Turkey again and staying at Deniz House.
Adelaide, SA AUS 01/11/2012