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Turkey (advice on tours, guides, what to see)

I just graduated from college and am currently living and working in Germany as an English teacher/assistant. Money is still fairly tight, but I get enough to travel on, if I save and am careful. Anyway, I am interested in going to Turkey and I was wondering if anyone happens to know of any good guides, short tours, or day trips in/around Turkey? I'd like to go to Istanbul, but I'm also interested in visiting Cappadocia and Avcilar. I realize Istanbul and Cappadocia are very far apart from each other, so that might not be possible. Any advice anyone could give me would be very much appreciated. I am thinking of going sometime between the end of November and March...depending on airfare deals I can find from Germany. My colleagues tell me this is the best time to find airfare deals from Germany to Turkey. I have a week of flexible vacation that I can take between that time, so dates are rather flexible. I may spend Christmas in Cyprus with a family friend, so I was also wondering if it is possible to spend a few days in Turkey from Cyprus as a short side trip? and if so how does that work transportation-wise...boat, plane, ferry? Also, has anyone heard of Pegasus Air? I've stumbled across some airfare deals from them, but I've never heard of them before.

Posted by
990 posts

First off, you will find it easier to get advice here if you have a bit more information about what you plan to do and where you might prefer to visit, what your time table is, etc. A few hours spent with a good guidebook will help you get some ideas. Here are some answers to your questions: Cappadocia in the winter will be cold and probably snowy. You are right that it is a long way from Istanbul, and the distances within Cappadocia are also considerable. Since hiking and outdoor touring are the main reasons for going there, I would skip it in a winter trip. Can I ask you why you are interested in Avcilar? As far as I recall, it is a suburban part of Istanbul without much tourist interest that I am aware of. Traveling between Turkey and Cyprus, other than the Northern Cyprus republic, is awkward and time consuming, owing to the political impasse between Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus regarding that island. If you plan to travel that route, I would go to a travel agent with Greek, Cypriot, and/or Turkish clientele to arrange your transportation. Finally, Pegasus is a well known Turish discount airline. There are several others, too. whichbudget.com is a good source of information on which budget airlines serve which routes. Hope this helps.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you! That was very helpful. I have about 8 days, but 2 of those would probably be eaten by traveling to and from Turkey back to Germany. Perhaps I should just stick to Istanbul with that amount of days? or perhaps I should save Turkey for my 2-week break in April? I'm only looking at going to Turkey between November and March because my colleagues in Germany have stressed it is the best time to go to Turkey and find cheap airfares and I happen to have a week free during that time. If anyone has advice to the contrary, please let me know as well. I am seeking any advice and opinions I can get. I went to several of the local travel agencies in my town to ask for suggestions, but they keep handing me a book and say they only know about spa vacations or beach trips to Turkey and the shortest trip in their book is 16 days, which I don't have. I've been very frustrated trying to get advice, so thank you! I'd like to do more than just sit on a beach. I'd like to learn about the people and the history and visit the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and Topkapi Palace...maybe walk through a spice bazaar. Yes, I still have quite a bit of research left to do, but if anyone has favorite places they enjoyed that are rich in history, let me know, and I will further research them. Also, if anyone knows any good guides/short-term tour trips, let me know. I will most likely be going alone and I'm a bit nervous to be wandering around by myself the entire time. I've traveled on my own before, but I've always known the language. Avcilar, as far as I've read, is supposed to be a cave village with an interesting underground cave system in the Cappadocia area. However, I could be wrong. I am certainly no expert. Thank you again! This was extremely helpful!

Posted by
990 posts

Hmmm...I have never heard of Avcilar except the section of Istanbul. The main underground cities open to the public in Cappadocia are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu, I believe. It is not hard at all to travel to Turkey independently, so do not worry about the overpriced tours of travel agents. But for the time you have, especially in the winter, I would probably stick with Istanbul. There is so much to see there. You could easily spend a half day in Topkapi Palace alone. The Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market are also good cold weather touring places. And, if you want to warm up and get cleaner than you have ever been in your life, try one of the traditional hamams, or Turkish baths. Get the worksa scrubdown and massage! Taksim is a more modern section of Istanbul, with shopping boulevards and cafes. If you decide to get outside of Istanbul, take a discount airline to Izmir. It's less than an hour by air from Istanbul. From there you can visit Ephesus, one of the most stunning Roman sites anywhere in the world. In the winter, the tour busses are gone, leaving the site for you to explore minus the crowds and blazing heat of a summer visit. If you stay overnight at one of the inexpensive pansiyons or hostels in Selcuk, the nearest town, the hotel owners can usually arrange to pick you up at the Izmir Airport and later take you to the ruins of Ephesus. Then you can fly back to Istanbul the next day.

Posted by
807 posts

pegasus is just another regional carrier. i never used it personally, but flew some competitors like cyprus air or aegean - both are good with clean airplanes and services better than many domestic flights in the US, so i think it's fine. i believe the izmir airport is connected with selcuk via train line, and the train station in selcuk is 2 min walk to the town center where you can find many cheap and good hotels. i stayed at this place called wallabies next to the roman arch it's only 40 TL pretty clean. the owner's cusin gave me a free ride to efes when i was there. the ruined st john's church is also pretty cool in selcuk you should check out.

Posted by
2788 posts

I was in Turkey in May and June of this year. I spent a total of 9 days in Istanbul and did not see everything on my list. I also spent another 12 days going south out of Istanbul. Rick Steves' (who sponsors this web site) guide book on Istanbul is "co-authored" by a couple who own a travel agency in Istanbul (SRM Travel) who also provided us with an excellent guide who happens to live in Istanbul. You should check on the weather there for the dates you might want to travel there to see if that is the best time for you or, to wait until later. Good luck and happy travels.

Posted by
1 posts

A hotel in Sultanahmet puts you in the middle of most of what you wish to see in Istanbul. I agree with other posts - It is amazing. Make better use of your time sharing taxis around Istanbul - you'll see more fore the same price as taking the tramway, although this is not to say that the walks aren't fun- just use the taxi to get to and from a central location. We took the bus from Goreme (Cappadocia) to Istanbul and arrived in the late afternoon - a long day, but faster than a train, and the bus service was amazing!! You will never, ever regret visiting Cappadocia, so find a way to go. Take a balloon ride with Kapadokya Balloon rides- expensive but the extra money got us an amazing experience!! A side note on whirling dervishes - we saw them at Mevlani in Konya and they were amazing and are not to be confused with the knock-offs available everywhere else. Hotel Bella in Selcuk had about the best servie I've ever experienced, however service throughout the country was excellent, we even gout lost on 50 kms of dirt road in Anatolia and the villagers were very helpful. Go to Cappadocia and Istanbul. That's my two cents.

Posted by
13 posts

My wife and I travelled around western Turkey 2 years ago and had a great time. The Turkish people are some of the friendliest you will find anywhere. We do not normally like big cities, but we loved Istanbul. We were there for 5 days and ran out of time - too much to see and do. So you could consider just going to Istanbul. I do not take buses because i get motion sickness, but the bus system is excellent there. Also, check out the web site Turkeytravelplanner.com. If you only go to one site, go to this one - we used it extensively before going - a wealth of info. Turkish airlines has lots of internal flights. We flew them from Istanbul to Antalya. You can book that before you go, but if you fly anywhere it will eat up a lot of time. Good luck and have fun!