First time in Turkey
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2012 4:35 AM Last Post By: swampeastmike
Nov 11, 2012 11:55 PM
First time in TurkeyHello,
My wife and I are traveling to Istanbul from the 16/5/2013 until approximately the 22/5/2013. We like to browse about in Istanbul's markets, back streets and see the most important sights and eat good food. If it is possible time wise to go down overland to Kusadasi onto Mykonos (2 nights) and finish at either Venice or Rome great. If you tell me we need all that time just in Istanbul that is great to. We are in our 50,s so back packing and roughing it, is passed us. Any suggestions.
John and Shayne
Nov 12, 2012 1:46 AM
Nov 12, 2012 2:20 AM
2With just 1 week I would be inclined to use all of it just in Istanbul.As Jyortirmoy says you need a minimum of 3 days to visit the major attractions but if you also want to have a more leisurely wander around the city then a week would be ideal.This would give you chance to visit some of the lesser visited and more off beat area's on both the European and Asian sides of the city.
I don't where you are coming from but if you are coming long haul then also bear in mind that the first day or so you could have some jetlag too which will slow you down a little.
You will also be here slap bang in the middle of tulip season which is one of the most beautiful and colourful scenes you can imagine,so strolling around some of Istanbuls many parks and green area's is a photographers dream land!
From Kuşadası it is not possible to go direct to Mykonos;one must first take a ferry to Samos Island and then another from there to Mykonos.Depending on ferry connections this may mean needing to stay overnight on Samos thus eating into your precious time even more.Not really worth it IMHO.
To go from Istanbul to Venice or Rome you can fly.There are very reasonably priced flights with Pegasus Airlines from Istanbul Sabiha Goçken airport to Milan and Rome.
Turkish Airlines also have some special offers from time to time so they too are worth checking out and they mainly fly from Istanbul Ataturk airport.Early booking usually ensures the best prices.
One final point on early booking,spring is the most popular time for visitors to Istanbul and accomodation gets booked up quickly so you should start looking and booking by January to have the best choice.
Nov 13, 2012 12:58 AM
3Are you wanting to fit Rome and Venice into your six days, or are these extra days?
If extra, then maybe you could fly to Izmir for a couple of days and take the train a short way on to Selcuk (not Kusadasi, which is a resort city). Selcuk is a lovely, laid-back small town which also has the benefit of being closer to Ephesus. Transport links are good, too.
It might also be possible to fly from Izmir to Venice and/or Rome. Check it out on http://www.skyscanner.net
Nov 13, 2012 4:35 AM
4I have to agree that your 6-7 days would be well-spent in Istanbul.
Yes, you can visit many of the highlights in three full and rushed days but that will leave precious little time for "browsing markets and back streets".
Two full days is good for the Sultanhamet area, i.e. the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Istanbul Archaeologic Museum, Grand Bazaar, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, etc.
Another full day is good for exploring around the Golden Horn on and at both sides of the Galata bridge. Things to do in this immediate area include the spice market, the textile district, the "new mosque", Galata tower, a Golden Horn/Bosporus cruise (the "Sultans Boats" based at the SE corner of Galata Bridge while a bit more expensive and perhaps a bit tacky are nonetheless very nice as long as you don't mind the jostling of a small boat compared to a large ferry ship), a cheap and tasty fish sandwich for lunch from one of the many restaurants on the lower level of the bridge, just strolling across the bridge to watch the fishermen and enjoy the views.
Another full day can easily spent exploring the Taxim area and Dolmabahce Palace and the Istanbul Modern Museum down the hill from Taxim on/near the shore of the Bosporus.
The best part of a day can be spent exploring on the Asian side of the city.
The street-level cafes in the Taxim district (they're on side streets off of the long, pedestrian only street) are a wonderful place to have tea, beer, a snack, smoke a water pipe, play backgammon, people watch, relax and give the feet a rest.
Visit a barber for the works (shave, haircut, unwanted head hair removal, arm/neck massage) for all of about 20 lira provided you go to a side-street barber and not one in a hotel or tourist area. Send the wife to the salon for the works as well. A morning shave is one of the greatest Turkish pleasures in my estimation and should only cost about 5 lira.
Definitely visit a hamam. The most tourist-oriented are sometimes unisexual but the old, authentic hamams are strictly segregated by gender with separate entrances and areas for men and women. I would suggest finding a hamam that serves both men and women--most of the "real" ones are either all men (more common) or all women. A full Turkish bath will take the best part of a morning or afternoon. There are some hamams geared to tourists that could be described as "opulent" but in my opinion it is the old ones that are the best (and certainly inexpensive). The "works" (hamam, scrub and soap massage) is typically around 20 lira not including a tip for the attendant who scrubs and massages. You don't tip the "house" if you just visit the hamam but you should definitely tip the attendant if you have a scrub and/or soap massage--the Turkish also tip them. An authentic scrub can be a bit rough as it will remove a layer of dead skin from nearly every square inch of your body. While modesty is maintained, you do have to be comfortable with a member of your own sex touching you nearly everywhere ;)
The T-1 street-level tram and the one-stop tunnels at both end of the "long street" in the Taxim area are perhaps the most useful public transportation lines for the tourist. The low end of the tunnel leading down from Taxim Square is on the Bosporus near Dolmabahce Palace and is also the transfer point for the T-1 tram at the north end of its line. The tunnel at the other end of the "long street" leads to the north base of Galata bridge and is also a transfer point for the T-1 tram. The T-1 tram goes through the heart of the city to include Sultanhamet, Istanbul University, the Grand Bazaar, the Istanbul Archaeologic Museum, etc. There is also a wonderful truly Turkish neighborhood to explore if you continue towards the southwest terminus two or three stops before Zeytinburnu--I can't remember the name of the stop but you'll be in an older commercial area that looks busy and dare-I-say "Turkish".
There are many, many other things to do in Istanbul as well even if I've given enough suggestions to easily fill a reasonably paced week!
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