6 days in Turkey
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Dec 8, 2012 12:09 PM Last Post By: tilos
Dec 5, 2012 9:00 PM
6 days in TurkeyHello,
Spouse and I just booked a cheap ticket to Istanbul in mid-May for 6 days. Our last trip was in 2000, when we spent 3 weeks visiting Istanbul, Cappadocia, Olympos, and the Dodecanese (yup, I know--Greece, not Turkey). This was our honeymoon and we were backpackers on a very low budget taking many overnight buses.
We now have a healthy budget and can afford luxuries such as flights, car rentals, and hotels without roaches. We are looking for a relaxing vacation, with a budget of maybe $2000, (not including the flight to Turkey) but including any domestic travel. The goal of this trip is to relax and not spend too much time on uncomfortable transit.
Question 1: Is mid-May too cold for visiting the beach? If not, are there any beaches that are either an easy drive or flight from Istanbul?
Question 2: Where is a good resource for finding non-chain hotels with character? We will want to spend a few days in the touristy area, and a few days in the Taxim area. I'm thinking $100-200 a night, though a one-night splurge isn't out of the question.
Question 3: Can you recommend excursions from Istanbul that wouldn't involve too much hassle? I don't want 8 hour+ bus rides, so Ephesus is out (I've seen it, but spouse hasn't). I would return to Cappadocia, but it seems like a pain to get there (I remember a horrendous overnight bus). Anywhere nice that we can fly or take the train?
General interests: eating good food, walking around and soaking up the local culture, beautiful scenery, historical buildings and ruins.
I read through some old threads, but please feel free to direct me to ones that I missed that answer my questions.
Dec 5, 2012 11:38 PM
1Ohh,so now you're returning as an old married couple :) Well you'll see a few changes since 2000 and most of them positive ones.One of them being we now have an excellent domestic flight system which is very affordable so making longer trips is much more attractive so don't rule out Ephesus and Cappadocia for this trip.
From Istanbul you can fly to Nevşehir or Kayseri in just 80 minutes and to Izmir for Ephesus in 1 hour.Flights on the latter route are often as cheap as the bus :) Booking flights to Cappadocia in advance will get you the best prices too.
However as you'll only have 6 days-and these may not be full days depending on your arrival and departure times you need to be careful not to overload your itinery,especially as you say you want a relaxing time.
The Aegean coast will still be quite nippy for swimming unless you are hardly but the south coast will be warming up nicely so swimming there would be okay.
For finding hotels you can use sites like Booking.com and Trip Advisor but be aware that the latter is heavily manipulated in several ways and anything you see on there should be cross checked on other web sites.Of course once you have an itinery drawn up then you can ask on here for recommendations too in particular places.Your budget will allow you to consider many many lovely hotels even in Istanbul.
You could easily use all 6 days just in Istanbul-May is a glorious month for the city as the tulips are all in bloom!
Or you could use 2 days to visit Cappadocia and forego the beach.
Or you could fly down to Dalaman airport and visit Fethiye and the surrounds for 2 or 3 days.This is a beautiful area with great deal of interest both natural and historical and it won't be too over run with visitors at that time.
Or you could fly down to visit Ephesus and the surrounding area for a couple of days.
These are just some options but you need to first do a little research on what there is in different places,think about what you enjoyed and didn't enjoy on your last visit and try to put together an itinery or at least pin down two places(2 are enough with only 6 days)and then come back to the forum and we can help you flesh out accomodation,transport and activities for those areas.
BTW;with so short a time why bother moving in Istanbul?The tram,metro and ferry system there is so good now that you can reach other districts easily and quickly now.Taksim is a busy bustling area and has major construction works taking place for the next several months.
Instead consider Galata/Beyoğlu/Karaköy area.This is half way between Sultanahmet and Taksim,an historical area,many hotels have excellent views including Bosphorus views and reaching S.ahmet and Taksim is simple and quick.Many local people live around this part so it has a more regular neighbourhood feel to it too,not so touristy and it has some great nightlife close by if you want it.
For some reading take a look at the trip review sticky at the top of the page.There are excellent,detailed reviews covering pretty much the whole country now so they may help you decide where is right for you.Solohobo came recently for 10 days with the intention of visiting other area's but never got beyond Istanbul!So if you do think about just staying there then their review may be helpful to you.
Where ever you decide upon it will be great;May is a perfect month to visit Turkey.Everything is fresh,clean and green,the weather warm and sunny but without the intense heat of high season.Anyway,pick your places and then come back to the forum again.
Dec 6, 2012 3:33 AM
Dec 6, 2012 6:21 AM
3Thank you for all of the advice. My knowledge is indeed 13 years out of date, so part of my research task is to figured out what has changed.
Sarikanarya and Mickyfinn: Thank you for your replies! We arrive just after noon on the 16th of May and leave on the 22nd at 3pm. So time will be short. Based on your comments, I think that we will spend the whole time in Istanbul. The water sounds like it might be a bit cold for us, and even with the flights, it sounds like there would still be a few hours of transit time. Though if spouse wants to see Ephesus (I saw it many years ago), that sounds doable with the short flight and reasonable drive.
There is now direct service from Houston to Turkey, which has led to competition and cheaper tickets. So hopefully it won't take another 13 years to return.
I will go read the sticky. This is the first time we've returned to one of the places we visited on our honeymoon (which was a grand 2-month backpack from Germany to Turkey trip), so I'm really excited. And this time our collective budget WON'T be $70/day :). No more $10 hotels!
Dec 6, 2012 9:11 AM
4Would you believe there are still visitors hacking it on 70-80$ a day?and it is still just about doable on that :)
Using all the time in Istanbul is a good idea as there is just sooo much to do and see there.
If you still want to visit Ephesus then this is comfortably doable as a day trip from Istanbul.Take an early breakfast flight down and a late teatime flight back.This will get you there for entrance at 09.00,spend the morning at Ephesus and then go back into Selçuk for some lunch and to look at other important points of interest in the town before taking a flight back c.19.00 or 20.00.
If you can fly down with Atlasjet or Onurair so much the better as they have a free shuttle bus from the airport to Selçuk and back again saving you time and hassle.
The whole day really works out very well and is not at all a mad rush around.Perhaps consider doing this on a Monday when many of the main sights in Istanbul are closed.
As your research and plans progress please shout up with any further questions.
Dec 6, 2012 10:56 AM
5Thanks you for your reply, sarikanarya!
Our international flight leaves on a Wednesday, so perhaps Monday would be a good time to make the excursion to Ephesus. Thank you for the airline recommendations. I assume that I would fly into Izmir? Atlasjet claims that the last flight (18.00) is not available for that day, so I will try Onurair in a few months once their schedule is up. $130 RT for 2 people is very reasonable.
By the way, I'm not trying to disparage the $70 for 2 people travel budget--I am still a backpacker at heart and will always welcome cheap travel over no travel. But I will be glad to leave the hotels with roaches behind, along with the endless bus rides.
Dec 6, 2012 10:36 PM
6Ah no,I did understand you weren't sneering at backpackers I just wanted to point out that budget travel in Turkey is still possible in these days of rising prices :)
Yes,you would fly into Izmir Adnan Menderes airport which is roughly 50 minutes from Selçuk.It is too early to check definate flight schedules for May.Even though some may be listed now they are not guaranteed and/or subject to change.The new schedules are published mid to end of February and into the first week of March.
One thing I should mention now you've made a decision to stay just in Istanbul;spring is the most popular time for visitors so accomodation gets booked up quickly during April/May/June,so this is something you can start investigating and reserving very soon so you have the most choices.
Rather than reserving through booking sites contact the hotels direct via e mail.This way you can ask about any discounts/special offers such as for cash payment,or or X number of nights,free airport transfers,ask for any special requests such as sea views,land views etc.all of which you can't do via booking sites.Also this initial contact gives you an indication of the efficiency,helpfulness and friendliness of the hotel.Sloppy communication could mean sloppy service!
Once you select a district to stay in I can offer some recommendations if you wish.
Dec 8, 2012 12:09 PM
7Great, I will do more research on which part of Istanbul we want to stay in and then will PM you for recommendations. I will be sure to find a hotel early.
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