We're planning to travel from Istanbul to Ephesus next May. We'd heard that airfare was not much more expensive than bus fare, but the cheapest prices listed by local airlines seem exorbitant -between $400 - $600 round trip. (We've also been exploring the ferry/train option. Your advice would be much appreciated. RevEB
Next May? It's only Aug 2013. You're looking wayyyy too early - I'm surprised they have their fare schedules up already. Are you looking at Pegasus and Turkish Air? I would step back and wait until you get closer to your leave date. Buses are cheap, so you always have that as a back up. There are also tons of local tour operators that can take you there from Istanbul.
Yes, we're early, excited to be going to Turkey and not sure how important to book ahead. Also looking at sleeper trains from Istanbul to Izmir, if they have them. Thanks for your reply!
Hopefully this will help...I also found the Lonely Planet Turkey book and Trip Advisor to be good resources. http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Aegean/Izmir/transport/
Eliza, I did several inter-turkey flights. Yes, you are looking a bit too early. Best way to get the best price, and the way I did it, is to check airfares periodically on the actual airline websites (Turkish Air, Pegasus, etc). My flight from Izmir to Istanbul couldn't have been more than $50 if I recall.
I've been watching flights on Turkish Air to get from Izmir to Istanbul after the RS tour in November. A one-way no-refund ticket is either TL 74 or TL 94, depending on the time of day. The full-price tickeet is TL 114. The exchange rate is roughly TL 2 = $1. Round-trip tickets are TL 5 less.
The equivalent of Kayak or Skyscanner for Turkey (a website that searches all the Turkish airlines) is Bulucak http://bulucak.com/Default.aspx. Unfortunately, the English option seems to be disabled, but as long as you use a translator for the months, the rest is easy to decipher. As with Kayak and Skyscanner, you then do the actual booking with the airline's own website. Be careful of using Sabiha Gökcen Airport. Even though flights from there are sometimes cheaper than from Atatürk Airport, the time and money it takes to get there from central Istanbul will usually negate any savings. I agree that you don't have to worry about finding a cheap fare. And when comparing airlines, try to find one that has a free shuttle between Ephesus Izmir Airport and Selcuk. We took Atlas Jet, which offered this, and I've read that at least one other airline does (not Turkish Air). On the advice of Turkey Travel Planner, reference above, we took the train from Selcuk to Ephesus Izmir Airport one way, but the train was PACKED. We used the Atlas Jet shuttle the other way, and it was very nice and easy. EDIT: corrected to reflect where trains actually go. There is no train between Selcuk and Ephsesus; there is a train between Selcuk and Izmir Airport, and that was the one that was packed. Atlas Jet had a free shuttle between Izmir Airport and Selcuk, which was painless.
Thank you all for your thoughtful responses, caveats, and counsels of patience. Has anyone done the ferry from Istanbul to Kusidasi, and then train? to Selcuk, or the reverse? We're thinking of flying one way and taking the water route the other, and would like to know if the train/ferry is scenic/reliable/relaxing/expensive or other.
Correction: we took the train from Selcuk to Izmir Airport, not to Ephesus. This train was packed. From Izmir Airport to Selcuk, we took Atlas Jet's free shuttle, which was painless. From Selcuk to Ephesus, our hotel arranged a taxi, which was very affordable for two, and very easy. Sorry, I don't know about the ferry. Do check http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com