Itinerary advice please!
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Oct 4, 2012 11:51 PM Last Post By: sarikanarya
Sep 26, 2012 1:44 PM
Itinerary advice please!Hi All,
I'm new to this forum and I'm not sure if this is an appropriate place to ask.
I'm going to Turkey in late October until mid-November (15 days).
I have been planning my itinerary and I now have two options (by bus unless stated otherwise).
1. Istanbul - (by plane) Izmir - Selcuk - Aphrodisias - Pammukkale - Cappadocia - Ankara - Istanbul
2. Istanbul - Izmir (rent a car) - Sart - Pammukkale - Aphrodisias - Bodrum (if time permits) - Selcuk - Back to Izmir (drop off the car) – (by plane) Kayseri - Cappadocia - Ankara - Istanbul
The difference between the two options is renting a car in Izmir and doing a round of ruins, or Bussing straight eastward to Cappadocia.
I came up with this idea since I found it bit tricky to bus around izmir, selcuk, Aphrodisias, Pammukkale, Kusadasi, etc...
Renting a car would mean approx. $400 more (rental, gas, plane from Izmir to Kayseri instead of bus). Is it worth it? Are there a lot of places I can go around that part of the country with the freedom of a vehicle?
The benefit of first option is that there’s no backtracking and it's cheaper.
The benefit of the second option is the freedom, ease of getting around, and avoiding long bus ride from Pammukkale to Cappadocia (Although I've heard the bus ride is quite comfortable…).
For both options I’d like to spend 4-5 days from the beginning of Izmir to the arrival to Cappadocia.
Please provide your insight. It's my first time in Turkey and I'd really like to make most of it.
Sep 26, 2012 11:29 PM
1Welcome to the forum Sung.There is a question here only you can answer;is 400$ a deal breaker for you?You have done your homework and know the cost of car hire and the dreadful cost of fuel here(just gone up again!).Is it within your budget?If so then yes go for it.
Around the Aegean area there are so many interesting places you can visit.Other than those you already plan to see there are Bergama,Priene,Miletus and Didyma,Iasos,Nysa,Çeşme peninsula,lovely Lake Bafa too.If you are allowing 5 days I would maybe drop Bodrum though in favour of more interesting places.To avoid backtracking at any point this can all be done in a circular route starting and finishing at Izmir airport.
Alternatively if you go down the coast and finish at Pamukkale then ask the car hire company if they allow remote drop offs.Many do but there is usually a charge for this similar to a days hire charge,but it varies so you need to ask,some don't charge for remote drop offs.Then you can hand the car back and still take the bus from Denizli to Göreme to keep finances in check a little :)
If you decide not to hire a car then Selçuk>>Aphrodisias>>Pamukkale can be done by bus okay and we can help you work out the logistics of it.But if your wallet can stand it then having a car gives you great freedom and flexibility.
Sep 26, 2012 11:50 PM
2Yes, you are in the correct place. Welcome!
Something to consider during your stay is the Bayram/Republic Day holiday which runs from about Oct. 24th - 29th. The 24th will be an extremely busy travel day for the Turkish--especially going out of the large cities. Same for the 29th & 30th with the most crowded travel heading back to the cities. Since only Turkish citizens can make on-line advance bus reservations, you may find it nearly impossible to find available bus seats on and around these days. While anyone can make advance airplane reservations via the web, I would not be at all surprised if some flights are already fully reserved. Inexpensive to moderately priced hotels may be very difficult to find in some places as well. 2
Not being sure of your exact arrival date (only "late October") means that you could very easily have some serious travel problems early in your holiday...
Everyplace you plan to visit has a well-developed tourist structure with no necessity for a rental car. From the Izmir area you can easily access Pamukkale/Heiropolis via public transportation or commercial tour companies. Aphrodiasis is in an isolated area and while you can access via public transportation it is rather time-consuming so a commercial tour is a good idea. An ideal (in my mind) commercial tour would depart the Izmir area in the morning, visit Aphrodiasis, continue to Pamukkale, spend one night in Pamukkale and return to the Izmir area the next evening. You could also decline the return to Izmir and stay on in Pamukkale for another day and/or catch a night bus to the Cappadocia area. This is a particularly good place for a night bus as the scenery is not very exciting ;)
Similarly there is utterly no need for a rental car in the Cappadocia region as there are a multitude of companies offering reasonably priced, reasonably sized tours to the many attractions in the region. This said, I will add that Cappadocia is an excellent place to have the luxury of private transportation as you can not only tour at your leisure but at times that do not coincide with the commercial tours. Car rental prices from local firms are not particularly expensive and while fuel is ridiculously expensive, you probably won't be burning too much of it. You could then take a bus to Ankara and after visiting there either bus or fly to Istanbul. (If you fly Ankara-Istanbul, pay attention to the destination airport in Istanbul as there are two! Ataturk (IST) is the most convenient for the tourist, but flights to SAW tend to be lower in cost.
I will again repeat a good piece of advice for first-time visitors to Turkey who are mainly doing the Istanbul-Ephesus-Cappadocia triangle. Upon arrival in Istanbul, IMMEDIATELY FLY to either Cappadocia (probably Kayseri) or Izmir! You can find direct flights Cappadocia-Izmir quite inexpensively but they are not daily so you must time things properly! Again, night busses for this route are a good way to travel between and the coaches are very comfortable. Then bus or fly back to Istanbul to spend time there before returning home. In your case, it would be best to immediately fly Istanbul-Izmir as your desire to visit Ankara would involve some back-tracking should you first go to Cappadocia. If you follow this suggestion pay particular attention to the airports in Istanbul! It can be time-consuming and/or expensive to transfer from one airport to another so do everything possible to fly in and out of the same airport!
Enjoy your holiday and given the possible conflict with major Turkish holidays, start planning/reserving immediately for any days that may be included in your holiday!!!!
Sep 27, 2012 1:10 AM
I'm extremely excited about this trip and thank you so much for all the useful info and advice!
Sep 27, 2012 2:26 AM
4By the 28th you'll be clear of the madness and going in the opposite direction to any late returners so that's good.
Normally I would agree that moving on directly from Istanbul on arrival is a good idea but as you may hire a car at Izmir airport,then in this instance it will be better to have a short rest of a day or soi n Istanbul first.You will be too tired on arrival(possibly jet lagged too) to then cope with driving on unfamiliar roads.
As your itinery starts to take firmer shape please come back to the forum for any more help you need.
Sep 27, 2012 12:48 PM
5Because there are so many great unheralded places to visit and be awed by tucked all along the coast and up into the valleys of Aegean Turkey, a car is a great option. However, on a first visit, you could do Itinerary #1 entirely by bus and see the highlights very easily.
If you opt for a car, I would second the notion of a loop from Izmir to start out. After a day to rest and get oriented in Istanbul, fly to Izmir as planned, rent your vehicle at the airport, and drive to Bergama via Sart. Overnight, and hike the site from top to bottom. Then, go to Selcuk for Sirince and Ephesus, and for the many joys of Selcuk itself. Then drive through Priene, Miletus and Didyma, and on to Iassos for the night. Next day, see Euromos and Labranda on the way to Bodrum. While the resort aspects of Bodrum can put one off, the Museums in the Crusader Castle of St. Peter are world class, and staying in a village out the peninsula a bit is very pleasant.
From Bodrum, go over the mountain road via Kale to Pamukkale, and overnight. Anyone who thinks that you experience Pamukkale by looking at the travertines for three minutes is selling the great site of Hierapolis way too short! Artemis Yoruk Pension is a great place to stay, with a good restaurant across the street. Next day, go back to Selcuk via Afrodisias, allowing at least 4 hours for the site. You don't need a guide, but you do need time.
Next day, drop off the car in Izmir, and fly to Kayseri to enjoy Cappadocia. You don't need a car there, as small tours, dolmuses, and your feet will get you anywhere you want to go from Goreme, which you can reach by airport shuttle. Fly back to Istanbul from Kayseri.
If you do decide to use the bus from Pamukkale to Goreme (it will cost you time and not save much if any money), you could break the trip at Egirdir, which is very pleasant, or Konya, which has its highlights. In any case, be sure to use http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com for the great resource that it is. Go to their "Maps" link on the left side of the homepage, and then on the green "Touristic Map of Turkey" that appears, and click on the places that interest you. Attractions and travel times and distances are covered in accurate detail.
Sep 27, 2012 11:50 PM
6Thanks to you guys I think I have a basic skeleton of my itinerary.
Day 1. Arrive Istanbul
Day 2. Istanbul
Day 3. Istanbul
Day 4. Istanbul -> (Plane 50TL. Early morning) Izmir -> Rent a car (300 TL for 5 days)
Day 5. Pending
Day 6. Pending
Day 7. Pending
Day 8. Pending
Day 9. Izmir -> Drop off the car -> (Plane 60TL. Early morning) Kayseri -> Cappadocia
Day 10. Cappadocia
Day 11. Cappadocia -> Ankara
Day 12. Ankara -> Istanbul
Day 13. Istanbul
Day 14. Istanbul
Day 15. Istanbul -> Back home
Based on your suggestions, I think I will do the loop around Izmir with all those places mentioned (Hopefully I have enough time!).
1. Those flight tickets and car rental price seem very reasonable. Are they?
2. As you can see, I’m only spending one full day in Ankara. Should I stay one more day? Or is Istanbul too good to sacrifice. Or should I sacrifice Cappadocia? I’m planning on watching a football game on day 13 in Istanbul, so I need to come back on that day!
Again, thank you guys so so much for all your help and advice!
I will be sure to update once I put some meat on my itinerary.
Sep 28, 2012 12:27 AM
7The prices you have found are decent yes.
I personally would recommend bringing the itinery forward a day,i.e leave Istanbul on day 3 instead of day 4,to give you a little more time along the Aegean coast so you aren't rushing from place to place too much.
1 full day in Ankara is sufficient although you could spend longer if you had time,but stick to 1 day.You'll have at leat 5 days in Istanbul which is perfectly adequate to see all the must see's at a relaxed pace.3 days in Cappadocia too is also fine.
Cars are given empty here and returned as close to empty so your first call is the fuel station,ask the hire company where the nearest one is and the grade of fuel needed.Check the car over before accepting it for any bumps or scratches and point any out to the hirer.Some of your driving will be on toll roads so ask them for a KGS toll card.
Sigorta insurance is supplied as standard and is equivalent to third party,fire and theft but for a small daily charge this can be uprated to kasko insurance which is equivalent to fully comprehensive and covers everything including all glass.Something to think about.
Although a huge number of Turks still do not wear them seat belts are mandatory! and don't drink and drive.
Road signage is very good in most area's and sites of historical or natural interest are in white lettering on a brown background and very often in English as well as Turkish.
English is spoken to quite a wide degree in many area's so you can ask people for directions etc and they will do their best to help you.
Which footie match are you going to see?
Sep 28, 2012 9:12 AM
8While I love Istanbul and could happily spend months there, I think you're giving it too much of your limited time this trip. Like sarikanarya, I'd also suggest flying to Izmir on Day 3, to give you more time to enjoy Aegean Turkey.
I'm also curious as to why you're devoting two days to flying to Ankara and flying back out of Ankara. By the time you've dealt with the time and logistics of airports, shuttles, and hotel, you'll have little time for the city. On the other hand, IMHO, Ankara doesn't actually merit any time on a short first visit to Turkey. Exactly why do you want to go there? Aside from a great museum, it isn't a thrilling tourist destination.
If you took Day 3 away from Istanbul, and didn't bother with Ankara, you would have three days to extend your loop out of Izmir. A good use of those days would be to stay along the coast beyond Bodrum, visiting the sites east of Fethiye like Tlos, Patara, Kas, Phaselis and Antalya. You could then take the inland route from Antalya to Pamukkale, visiting Termessos in passing, and join your original loop at Pamukkale.
Under absolutely no circumstances would I sacrifice Cappadocia for Ankara! In fact, I'd be more than tempted to forgo footie and add one of my Istanbul days to Cappadoccia. Cappadocia is a scenic and historical marvel with discoveries and delights around every corner. Ankara is a big modern city where in November with average temperatures around 7C, you'll enjoy the reek of coal smog around every corner.
On our first trip to Turkey, we tried to cover too much ground. In places like Cappadoccia and along the Aegean and Med coasts, there are a multitude of places to not only see, but to sit back and savor. Cutting out that Ankara leg would give you time to truly sink into the atmosphere at your other stops.
Sep 28, 2012 12:00 PM
Sep 29, 2012 1:11 AM
10I will skip Ankara and go straight to Istanbul from Cappadocia.
I will also leave a day earlier from Istanbul, as suggested by both of you, to allow myself more time for the drive around Izmir - Denizli.
So in short,
Istanbul: 1 day
Izmir - Denizli (surrounding): 6 days
Cappadocia: 3.5 days
Istanbul: 4.5 days
I'm almost leaning towards giving one more day in Cappadocia...
But I think if I book the flight late at night, it should give me ~4 days which I think is good enough.
There are two options for the footie,
KASIMPAŞA VS. ANTALYASPOR
FENERBAHÇE VS. ORDUSPOR
Given their current ranking, I think I will go see the latter (unless I'm missing something?). They are both in Istanbul on Nov 10th.
I absolutely cannot wait until this trip. Since my high school years, I have been dreaming about travelling there. And for the last 2 years, I have been eyeing on the opportunity. It will be my first international trip opportunity (with school, work, and all), outside of North America (originally from South Korea), and I cannot see myself travelling any other country!
Sep 29, 2012 1:40 AM
11Yes,4 days for Cappadocia is fine,you can have a good look around most area's at a relaxed pace.Your itinery looks good now,allowing several days at just a few keys places so you can really get to see them properly and not just whizz through.
If you can get tickets for the Fenerbahce game that would defo be the best match.Orduspor have newly come to the Premier League so have a lot to prove which will be difficult as the match is at FB's home ground,but Fenerbahce are sadly struggling a bit and rather off form so who knows what could happen.I say 'sadly' because I'm a FB fan!.As it isn't a big derby match tickets should be fairly easy to buy.They go on sale around 5 days before the match and can be ordered online through Biletix the official ticket agent.
You can also check out what else is going on in Istanbul whilst you are there,maybe a concert or exhibition.
You are right to be excited about visiting Turkey,it is truly a fascinating country with layer upon layer of history left by so many civilisations going back some 12,000 years.It offers huge contrasts between very traditional and ultra modern lifestyles,amazing natural places,great coastlines,literally something for everyone and with very warm welcoming hospitable people too.I feel sure this will not be your last visit!
After you return home please remember to come back to the forum and post up a trip review.
Edit:one small thing I would like to add FYI.These days there are visitors from all parts of the world coming to Turkey and in major cities and tourism area's locals have become used to seeing black and south Asian people but in some of the smaller places don't be surprised if you get stared at.I realise this could make you feel a little uncomfortable at first but trust me it is not done offensively.It is purely out of curiousity as they may not have seen many s.e. Asian visitors.They may want to take photographs with you too.
Another forum member who is black commented on this after staying in a small seaside village but didn't know why it was happening or if it was done offensively or not.Believe me it isn't;Turkish people are a naturally curious people and are not afraid to ask what may seem to us to be personal questions or to look at people very openly.Just smile back at them and you'll be fine-maybe you'll feel like someone famous for a few days :)
Edited by: sarikanarya
Sep 29, 2012 9:52 PM
12Thanks for your tip. I will make a note to myself to book the ticket online.
I would think that it is natural for people to stare at objects (people aren’t exceptions!!) that are unfamiliar. I would just have to check the mirror every now and then to make sure that they aren’t staring at crumbs of kebab around my lips :)
I have not yet reserve the car. Do you recommend any specific rental company? I think I will go with either Economy car hire or Proper car rental. They both have protections, unlim mileage, etc… and they are reasonably priced. I guess it doesn’t matter??
Thanks for all the help! And yes, I will definitely leave reviews when I come back!!
Sep 29, 2012 10:38 PM
13I know people who have used both of these companies several times and experienced no problems.When you do a search online you are sure to find complaints against both which is not unusual-even the best of companies foul up sometimes.
See which offers the best price,terms of agreement etc.and which deals with your enquiry in the most professional and efficient manner.
Oct 1, 2012 2:21 PM
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