December road trip in Turkey
Replies: 30 - Last Post: Dec 14, 2012 12:07 PM Last Post By: hobbittr
Nov 5, 2012 2:23 AM
December road trip in TurkeyMe and 5 friend are coming to Turkey in December and we are planning on making a road trip with a rental van from Istanbul, over the sea of Mamara with a ferry, driving down the west cost to Antalya, from there on to Capadocia and then returning to Istanbul via Ankara all in two weeks...
Question 1: Is the length of our trip to ambitious for the time we have available?
Question 2: Places or regions you would advise against visiting that time of year?
Question 3: Must see places along the Aegean coast and places to skip (the shear amount of attractions are overwhelming). Our rout is open for debate and flexible.
Any advice on driving in Turkey in that time of year?
Thanks for the reply.
Nov 5, 2012 3:34 AM
1Welcome to the forum Jannes!
"...the sheer amount of attractions is overwhelming..." and then some.You could tour for 2 years never mind two weeks and still be stuffed for time!
This is a reasonable itinery for 2 weeks and the fact that your will have a vehicle rather than using buses means you can make the most of your time too,setting off early mornings,not havimng to wait for connections etc.
At that time of year there is no where that I would say would be a problem,certainly not in the area's you intend to visit.
Along the Aegean coast there are some excellent sites to see but I guess it depends on what you like to see and do.Assos has great ruins and a lovely setting,Bergama is an extensive and interesting site.Then you reach Ephesus which is a must see on anyone's list.Cutting inland you come to the equally beautiful Aphrodisias not far from Pamukkale/Hierapolis.
From there you could drive direct to Antalya or you could drive down onto the coast at Fethiye and follow the coast road to Antalya.If the weather happens to be bad then this latter would be better.
From leaving Antalya you could stop off at Konya to break the journey,there is enough to see for a few hours there including the Mevlana museum(whirling dervishes).
An overnight in Ankara to take a look at the M.O.A.C and maybe the Anıtkabır is also worthwhile.After leaving Ankara and if you have time you could also go and take a walk around lovely Lake Abant just after Bolu on the way back to Istanbul.
As there are 6 of you to share costs hiring a mini van will probably work out the more economical option over using buses but do be aware of the horrendous fuel costs here-the most expensive in the world!Try to get a diesel model as not only is the consumption better but it is also a little cheaper per litre.
I don't think there is anything special to warn you about regarding driving at that time of year over any other time.If you make use of the search facility at top right hand side you can find lot's of threads giving advice and info about driving in Turkey and also vehicle hire.
Days will be short so try to set off fairly early in the mornings to maximise daylight hours.It will be dark by 17.00 and you should try to avoid driving after dark particularly in rural area's.The only hazard to be careful of early mornings is there could be fog in some places.If you arrive somewhere late so what;don't take risks!
In Cappadocia it is possible you may have some snow on the ground but not an excessive amount.It looks even more magical under a dusting of snow :)
Just a thought about these 2 weeks...will any of the days be spent in Istanbul?If so then that cuts down time on the road for other places.You need to allow at least 2 full days in Capp.and ideally 3,so you need to ration out your time between other places you want to see.
Finally take a look at the trip review sticky at the top of the page.In September a countryman of yours,forum member Hennopsrover,spent a month touring the country and kindly posted up a wonderful photograph blog which features several of the places you are considering.I think it is post no.84 or 85.Perhaps looking at those will help you all decide if they are your sorts of places or not :)
...and if they all are,well....you've got a problem LOL...find more days!
Nov 6, 2012 12:33 AM
2As usual, sarıkanarya is full of great advice, heed it and you will seldom go wrong.
Size of Turkey and Distances
Not counting the ferry ride, you are looking at 2,000 km for your trip. See this map: http://goo.gl/maps/S7oFY
Turkey is larger than Ukraine (second largest on European continent) which has an area of: 233,090 sq mi (603,628 km2 ). Turkey is roughly twice the size of Germany and 1.2 times the size of France.
Do NOT attempt to navigate your rental car in and around and about Istanbul. It is a curr-aa-zey city in which to drive. Get your rental car as close to the ferry stop as possible or have it delivered to your hotel.
Before you rent a vehicle, inquire about supplemental insurance and be sure you know what is covered with your rental. Check your rental agreement to see who has the right to drive the vehicle. Some agencies allow 2 drivers for free, any others must pay. Ask the agent if they top off the fuel tank or do they leave it empty. It is very common for rental agencies to give you a nearly empty fuel tank and then you have to "guess" to bring it back almost empty again. Ask if they will top it off before you start and then fill it again when you return. They probably will not...:-(
You may be able to buy a road map at book stores, tourist places, a rental car agency or at some gasoline (benzine) stations. The ones we bought several years ago are still quite good. Plan your route and distances using a Distance Calculator. Or you can print Google Maps with road markers and routes.
Driving in Turkey:
As sarıkanarys mentions, gasoline (benzine in Turkey) is the second most expensive in the world. This Petrol Ofisi web site helps you compare regional gasoline prices in Turkey. Use the pull down menu next to "Görmek İstediğiniz İli Seçiniz" to find the location. Click the "Sorgula" button to see prices.
Here is a short TripAdvisor commentary about driving in Turkey.
Note that pedestrians do not have nor expect to have the right of way in Turkey. Also be aware that usually, whomever reaches an intersection first takes the right-of-way regardless of whether they are to your right or left...
Small trucks and tractors or those pulling trailers often do not have tail lights (just like when I was in Kansas).
If some maniac (there will be plenty) comes up behind you at a high rate of speed, slow down and get close to or off the side of the road if space permits and let them pass. I drive at a leisurely pace and I do not allow the speed "monsters" to push me into driving faster. Some will honk, others will wave or flash their lights, just let them pass as soon as it is safe and you will be just fine.
Watch out for speed traps, there are many "fake" police car mockups along the road (true, no joke here) but I have frequently seen the real thing parked immediately next to one of these mockups. Traffic stops are usually routine checks for registration, insurance, licence, etc. Make sure you have all the rental car paperwork handy along with your passports and driver's licenses. If you are pulled over in a routine road side stop you may get a fine if you are not buckled up.
Speed limits are 90 km or below on secondary roads and up to 120 is permitted on the high speed roads (commonly called TEM). There may or may not be a sign for reduced speed limit going into a town or village, do be careful and slow down when passing through villages or towns.
Nov 6, 2012 6:44 PM
3All the advice from #1 and #2 above is good.
I note that you come from South Africa so you would be used to lunatic drivers: there is a good reason why hire car fees in Turkey are costlier than the rest of Europe.
My experience driving in Turkey is that speed limits are frequently exceeded, horns are tooted much more than in Australia, some drivers will veer across when you overtake, and others will drive down one-way streets in the wrong direction.
Make sure that you are armed with good detailed paper maps plus sat-nav or similar. As #2 said avoid driving through Istanbul.
Despite all that I recommend driving around Turkey, especially given limited time and desire for flexibility.
Nov 8, 2012 2:31 AM
Wow thank you for the extensive replies, you are making this a lot easier!
We are spending the first two and the last two days in Istanbul, so yea Sarikanarya we lose a bit of time on the rest of Turkey. We haven't booked any accommodation for most of the trip so we are flexible and will see what can be sacrificed. But thanks for the recommendations, they will definitely have an huge influence on our itinerary!
Hobbittr, I have already had a look at google's maps and calculators and we will get a gps with the car... The only other question is: In your opinion can google's travel time calculations be trusted? At this point Im relying on it.
Chris, it will be interesting to see which cities traffic is worse because believe me, down town Johannesburg with our local taxi's aren't easily beaten. But we wont test Istanbul...
Nov 8, 2012 5:21 AM
5When we lived in Istanbul, I was somewhat accustomed to the lunacy because I had moved here from Miami where everyone drove according to the custom of the country from whence they had come... :-)
A friend of ours from India said that traffic in Istanbul was no problem--compared to Delhi!! :-(
IF you drive the speed limits, and IF you have relatively straight and non-mountainous roads, the travel times seem reasonable. Kaş to Antalya may take you longer as there is considerable coastal road driving. Take time for photo stops... Of course the middle region of Turkey, to Konya and on to Ankara could slow you due to ice or snow.
I have driven several times, to and from Istanbul, around the Marmara inlet, and on to Kaş through Afyon in about 14 hours, that included several tea & toilet stops and 2 lunch & dinner stops. Map: http://goo.gl/maps/C5S9m
If you drive like most Turkish men, you can decrease your time between places and significantly increase your chances of getting caught or killed...
Nov 8, 2012 6:27 AM
6With only 10 days on the road, I'd skip the south coast. Say 3 days down to and including Ephesus, 3 days to Cappadocia, 2-3 days in Cappadocia and then 1 day back to Istanbul. After all, you shouldn't really be spending your vacation driving all the time - take time out to follow a few brown signs which mark sights of interest.
Nov 8, 2012 9:54 PM
7David, if you talk about the south coast do you mean the area around Antalya? Why would you skip it?
As you all can see we are really trying to see as much of an awesome country as we can, but I realise that we are going to miss the essence of most of the places if we rush through it...
So I pose a question, is Cappadocia really a must see or can it be sacrificed to see more of the Aegean and Mediteranian Coast? In your opinion what area would you rather leave out for a second visit?
The reason why I ask is because Cappadocia is so far east and from what I could tell there isn't as much to see on the road, for instance, between Antalya and Cappadocia...
Thanx for your postings, you guys are helping a lot and I'm enjoying the conversations!
Nov 8, 2012 10:54 PM
8Leave out Cappadocia??I could leave out eating baklava and I could leave out flirting with handsome young Turkish men(LOL),but I defo could not Cappadocia.This is a truly remarkable and unique region quite unlike anywhere else you have seen.Hennopsrover's photographs are good but even they do not convey the place enough.It is just one of those places one has to visit to really appreciate.
I would agree with David to maybe drop Antalya.This is just a big seaboard city and so essentially it is a summer time place.There are points of interest there such as the excellent archeological museum but frankly in December you won't see the city at it's best.
You could fit it in by doing a whistle stop tour through places and many people are happy to do that but only you can make that decision.An overall view of several places or a slightly more indepth view of fewer places?
Allowing 3 days for Cappadocia this gives you roughly 7 days for other places.I am assuming that more than one person will be able to drive so you don't have to take so many pit stops enroute.
If you take the morning ferry from Istanbul you can reach Bergama by midafternoon and stay there the night and then view the site next day.
It is then only 2 hours on the motorway to Selçuk so you could push on to there late afternoon arriving early evening at stay there for the night and view Ephesus the next day.
Again late afternoon move on to Pamukkale,this again is on good,well lit,well maintained motorway roads.Stay here and view next morning.After early lunch drive down to Fethiye and follow the coast road to Antalya.This will be a long days drive and the latter part would be after dark.
To break this long journey up I would stop off at Fethiye and spend part of the next day there also as there is plenty of interest around there.This would still give you a full day and a bit for Antalya.
So yes you could fit it in but it only gives you a day at each point.If you decide to skip Antalya then you can spend an extra day around Selçuk and also an extra day around Pamukkale and use it to visit Aphrodisias,and then maybe on the drive from Pamukkale to Cappadocia you could stop off at Konya for a look around and to break the journey.Pam>>Konya c.5-6 hours.Konya>>Capp.c.2½ hours.
There are so many other places but these are the basic must see's for any first time visitor IMHO.
I know... it is so difficult to prioritise...sigh :)
Nov 9, 2012 3:21 AM
9Hahaha ok ok, we wont miss Cappadocia! :P
Thanks a lot Sarikanarya, your postings are awesome!
Nov 9, 2012 3:52 AM
10the area around Antalya? Why would you skip it?
I think it's better to visit that region in June or late September when the sea is nice and warm. You'd need 2 nights down there (Fethiye and Antalya area?) which I reckon would be put to better use on the Selçuk-Pamukkale-Eğirdir-Konya-Cappadocia section - plenty of interesting things to see along that route - make sure you visit some of the hans - http://www.turkishhan.org/visiting.htm
I'd say leave the Lycian coast for your next visit - it needs more time to enjoy it.
Nov 9, 2012 6:22 AM
11Too many places, so little time. If you are into ancient sites and something unique then do as sarıkanarya and DavidM1 recommend. Stick to their suggested itinerary. We live on the Med Coast and there is a lot to see and do, but you just do not have time unless you only want to spend all your time looking out the windscreen and side windows and pointing.
A LONG drive from Fethiye to Antalya and not worth it if you are not able to spend several days along the coast.
Next visit come for a longer time...
Nov 11, 2012 9:02 AM
12The only advise I can add would be wherever possible use the newer Toll Roads (Green Route Signs). You can purchase a 'Toll swipe card' and use it along the way. It's not that expensive and allows you to bypass lots of small towns of no interest on the old highway that seem to have traffic lights every 200 meters.
There's an off ramp for every town of course should you want to get off, and the 'Green' route also has the more modern rest stops (fuel, snacks,restaurants etc.).
In some cases the routes are also considerably shorter, with huge viaducts and tunnels instead of driving up and down, and around mountains.
Nov 11, 2012 3:28 PM
13Following on from #12 re toll roads, ensure that you prepay your toll before entering.
Many (all?) of the toll road exit gates are unmanned, do not accept cash, and require a prepaid pass to get through.
You don't want to be struck at an exit gate with no pass and dozens of irate Turkish drivers queuing up behind you accompanied by a crescendo of horns.
Nov 11, 2012 5:33 PM
14All the above advice is great. Hopefully it's not making things to confusing. :)
I would suggest you really consider Pamukkale (photos of Pamukkale here) because it's one of those natural wonders you will see nowhere else. While you're there, I also think it would be worth a stop at Aphrodisias (photos of Aphrodisias here).
Overall, Cappadocia is going to be much better than Antalya but you can still get a sense of the western coast by going down from Istanbul, cutting through the places I've suggested, and then continuing on to the east.
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