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Turkey & Greece, Sept to Oct 2011

We're in the beginning stages of planning for a trip to Turkey, Greek Islands, and Greece. Realize it's too early to get ferry schedules so this is a very tentative plan. Would like opinions &/or suggestions as to whether this is doable. Istanbul, 6 nights; Fly to Izmir Selcuk, 2 nights; Fly to Kayseri Goreme, 3 nights; Bus to Anatolya, 4 or 5 nights (visit Side, maybe Fethiye or Kos) Marmaris, 1 night; Ferry to Rhodes, 3 nights; Ferry to Santorini, 3 nights; Ferry to Athens, pick up rental car Peloponnese (follow RS 8 day suggestion) Athens, 3 nights
Home Is this too ambitious? We'd appreciate any suggestions.

Posted by
116 posts

It's not too ambitious, it looks like a great trip. I personally would rather spend less time in Antalya. For me, two days there would be more than enough and then onward to Kas for a couple days, and Fethiye for 2 or 3 days. Lots of good sidetrips on inexpensive small tours in both cities. There is great bus/dolmus transport between cities here so move at your pleasure. Sept/Oct will be easy to find good lodging, no need to book ahead. There is a high speed hydrofoil from Fethiye to Rhodes (90 minutes), but it is not every day. I would drop Marmaris unless you have to use it to get to Rhodes. It has an everyday reliable high speed hydrofoil to Rhodes, but the city is just ok compared to other places on the Turquoise coast in my opinion. Rhodes and Santorini are good choices--two of my favorite Greek islands. It's a really good tentative plan.

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks for the suggestions: Rich, I thought we needed to take the ferry from Marmoris or Bodrum to Rhodes. When it gets closer to the date we can check the ferry schedule and hopefully improve our itinerary. Had planned to rent a car in Anatolya & visit the other cities but it seems to be better to just move hotels & use the bus as you seem to suggest. Sharon, thanks for the hotel suggestions. Had Hotel Bella in mind and will check out the Sultan Hill. Douglas, will check out Mystras and add it if possible. The fun thing about starting early is that there's plenty of time to do more research and fine tuning. Will probably have more questions as it get closer to finalizing our plans. Assuming late spring is time enough. Thanks again!

Posted by
3037 posts

The Turkey portion of your trip looks great! I'm glad that you're spending 6 nights in Istanbul as there is so much to do there. Your days allocated to Selcuk and Goreme are good too. I think that Rich makes a good point about Anatolya. Nevsehir Airport is another option to get to Cappadocia. For hotels, we liked Hotel Sultan Hill in Istanbul and Hotel Bella in Selcuk. We haven't been to Greece.

Posted by
4524 posts

If you'll be on the Peloponnese for several days, I highly recommend visiting Mystras. It's not in RS guide but is well worth a visit. Located just outside Sparta and is an old Byzantine city scenically located on the side of a mountain. All but the churches are stone ruins and it feels like a scenic Pompeii. Worth a few hours of time and involves lots of uphill climbing (on paths and stairs).

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks a lot!! Now we just have to count backwards to figure out our schedule. Do you agree we won't need reservations for the end of Sept.

Posted by
990 posts

I think I'd plan on reservations for Istanbul at least. Since you'll be there for nearly a week, you'll want to be happy with your accommodations. Also, a lot of hotels will arrange a free or discounted pickup at the airport if you are staying with them for a while, so arranging that in advance will make your arrival easier and cheaper.

Posted by
116 posts

There is no pressure to make reservations in your stretch along the Turkish coast at that time of year. Vagabond along at your leisure. The day before I leave one town I often send an email inquiry to a lodging in the next town. It might be some place that looked interesting in a guidebook, was recommended along the way, was posted here, or has good reviews on Tripadvisor. Other times I may just get off the bus and look around town. The point I was trying to make is that at that time of the year in your journey from Goreme to Fethiye you don't need to rigidly plan far ahead and box yourself into a highly structured intinerary--unless that is the way that you prefer to travel.

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks for your replies. Since we will not have a car for most of the trip we will most likely be making hotel reservations rather than dragging our carry ons down the streets. But how about reservations in advance for the plane flights in Turkey and the ferry/hydrofoil between the islands? Is it ok to wait and make those there or do it when we've finalized our plans. When reading travel blogs it sounds like it's about 50,50 as to which to do.

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks to all for your suggestions and links, etc. This seems it will be a strenuous trip but with the distance from the US west coast it seems best to try to see as much of both countries as possible. With a tentative itinerary we're able to set it aside for a while and make reservations a few months before we go. Thanks again!

Posted by
1689 posts

Hi Carol From one martinez gal to another. Just putting my 2 cents in. Just got back from Italy and Greece and had a blast. Glad to see you are doing research and "homework" early. I did all our research and planning, yes it's overwhelming but in the end you'll pat your back. If plan A don't work have plan B ready. Some ideas and sites for your accomodations i used was: venere.com, homelidays.com, booking.com, homeaway.com to get you started. You may want to look at self catering apartments which we rented in venice for "cheap". Are you flying into one place and leaving from another? bt-store.com for international flights. We also took got some euros at BofA before we left to tide us over, then used atm's there. Have a great trip and enjoy!!!
miss pupule

Posted by
1689 posts

One more thing Carol Pack light. With the extra cost of baggage with most airlines, we found a laundromat to wash our clothes after a week of travel. took some laundry soap with us which came in handy, and had some coins for machines. Took one large suitcase and one duffle bag as "purse carry on" that put a lot of my souvenirs in and extra change of clothes in case of lost or late luggage. you don't want to be pulling lots of luggage wherever you are. In Santorini we stopped and had appetizers at a wonderful restaurant "flame of the volcano??" or "house of volcano" in thira. was great and "george the owner" took a picture with us and the sunset. have a great vacation
miss pupule

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks Miss Pupule - we have begun to travel fairly often but appreciate your suggestions. Good to hear reinforcement of our form of travel. Re light packing: we each have a 21" carryon for and he has a backpack and I a purse large enough for a 8.5x11 manila folder with copies of all our reservations. Since it goes under the plane seat I have easy access for last minute checking, plus it has our guide books, snacks, and small breakables we might purchase. Also, we have no worries about lost luggage but we do pack carefully and do laundry each night. Thanks also for your suggestions re booking.com. We also use that for most of our bookings but also use recommendations from RS books. Another thing we do is to bring home some Euros so we always have some on hand when we land, although ATMs are usually easy to find.
Do you have any hotel recommendations for Athens or Santorini? Now thinking 2 nights is enough for Santorini; your opinion? If you went to the Peloponnese. any hotels for towns there? Appreciate your suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by
2874 posts

I can offer some hotel recommendations on Santorini. Which village do you prefer and what is your maximum daily room budget? There are just too many choices without this information.

Posted by
4524 posts

For Athens - Hotel AVA
For Nafplio - Pension Marianna

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks for the hotel suggestions - not sure about where on Santorini. Guess we'll have to do a bit more research first.

Posted by
54 posts

I'll echo Sharon's suggestions for the Sultan Hill in Istanbul (beautiful, quiet and conveniently located near Blue Mosque) and Hotel Bella in Selcuk (by far our favourite accommodation during our month-long trip) The food is to die for, the decor is stunning, and Erdal is a superb host. We stayed 3 nights and took our time viewing carpets is Nazmi who reliably shipped a rug for us. In Goreme, we stayed at Hotel Kelebek which was excellent and arranged a flight through them with Butterfly Balloons, which was unforgettable! Consider renting a car in Antalya to explore the Turquois coast. We visited Cirali (great beach, interesting site at Chimera) where we stayed at Canada Hotel for 2 nights. In Kas we rented a villa for 4 nights and took side trips to Saklikent Gorge, sea kayaking in Kekova with Xanthos Tours (outstanding), and Myra. We also spent an afternoon in Dalyan (on our way down to this area from Selcuk) taking the water taxi out to Turtle Beach (very enjoyable). Suggestions for accommodations in Peloponnese: Marianna Pension in Nafplion (superb!) and Pitho Rooms in Delphi. Avoid the Inamaos in Olympia.

Posted by
223 posts

We spent a month in both Greece and Turkey in the last 3 years, this past Sept being Turkey. Generally we plan and reserve our accomodation before hand. You can get by reserving on the fly except for the more highly recommended hotels such as: Istanbul - Hotel Sultanhill; Goreme - Kelebek Hotel; Selcuk - Hotel Bella and; Nafplion - Pensione Mariana. I agree with others that two days in Antalya is sufficient but well worth it. Here are places we stayed based on your itinerary and can recommend: Greece: Athens - Hotel Attalos; Santorini - Sunshine Beach Hotel Kamari. Easy bus ride to Thira and Oia; Nafplion Pensione Mariana; Gythio - Hotel Aktaion; and Olympia - Hotel Pelops. Turkey: Istanbul - Hotel Sultan Hill; Goreme - Sultan Suites Cave Hotel (part of Kelebek Group); Side - Onur Pansiyon; Antalya - Hadrianus Hotel; Cirali - Canada Hotel; Patera - Golden Pansiyon. (One of the best beaches in Turkey); Pamukkale - Artemis Yoruk; Selcuk - Hotel Bella; and
Bergama - Gobi Pansyion. Enjoy

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks to all for your suggestions. After reviewing our plans we decided to leave Greece for another trip and concentrate on Turkey and Rhodes. We prefer slower travel and less than 4 weeks at a time. With the distances that need to be covered this makes more sense. Waiting for the hydrofoil schedule to finalize our plans but now it's very tentatively: Arrive in Istanbul fly to Izmir, bus to Selcuk, 3 or 4 nights; bus to Fethiye or somewhere to get to Rhodes, 1 night Rhodes, 3 or 4 nights depending on ferry schedule Fethiye or somewhere returning from Rhodes, 1 night; bus to Anatolya, 3 or 4 nights (visit Side, possibly rent car)overnight bus to Goreme, 3 or 4 nights (possibly rent car) fly to Istanbul, 6 nights
The number of nights may change due to bus, ferry, plane schedules, but it seems to be a good plan to start. Again, thanks to all for your suggestions. Have incorporated tome into this revised schedule and will certainly take the hotel recommendations into consideration when booking.

Posted by
33 posts

Carol,
We are planning for our vacation this May/June as well, and can understand how difficult it can be to decide what to see/not to see. Started out all Greece, then added some Turkey, then had 30% (over a week) Turkey, currently back to all Greece. May I ask what was the deciding factor for you to choose Turkey?

Posted by
1214 posts

Interesting question but I think there was no real reason. From reading RS it seems Istanbul would be more interesting than Athens and nothing like Cappadocia in Greece. The pictures of Ephesus and Side were also a factor. Never having been to that part of the world and thinking we might not get back, it was hard to cut out cities so breaking it up made more sense and since our original plan was to start in Turkey, when we started adding the days it just seemed best to end it there and pick up the rest of the trip next year (we hope) in Greece. Then we can then spend more time on a couple of islands and the mainland but we'll still pretty much follow our original Greece itinerary. Also, we like to really experience each country and in trying to research and prepare, it just seemed to take away from the individual experience of each country to combine them. It may just have been that we had started researching Turkey first because I'm sure Greece will be just as interesting. So I guess it goes back to my first statement - no real reason.

Posted by
990 posts

With your new itinerary, let me suggest that you think about renting a car in Fethiye and driving the Mediterranean coast to Antalya. It's a stunning drive with lovely villages, beaches, and peaceful beach-side ruins along the way, but it is one area where having your own transport gives you much more flexibility than relying on buses and dolmuses. You can rent a car from a Turkish car rental place in Fethiye and drop it in Antalya probably without a drop fee. Any travel agency in the center of Fethiye can help you make those arrangements. Along the way, the beach at Patara is beautiful and worth a stop, as are the three coves at Phaselis (with Roman ruins of an aquaduct right on the beaches), and Myra, with Lycean cliff-tombs. The former fishing villages of Kas and Kalkan, the protected turtle spawning ground beach at Cirali; there's so much to see along the Turquoise Coast, and having a car makes it so much easier to do it at your preferred pace and schedule. In Fethiye, I love the Villa Daffodil, a pension right on the waterfront just outside the main town center. Ask for one of the rooms overlooking the sea with a little closed in balcony. In Antalya, we have stayed at the La Paloma Pansiyon and Villa Perla, both in the Kaleici, or medieval walled city. Three nights in Selcuk might be a bit much, unless you plan to use it as a base for seeing Didyma Miletus and Prietus down the coast. The small hotels there (like the recommended Hotel Bella) can arrange transport to those places as well as to Ephesus, the House of the Virgin Mary, Sirince, etc. I think you are wise to concentrate this trip on Turkeyyou will enjoy the trip by having a bit more relaxed pace.

Posted by
2622 posts

About choosing between the 2 countries people who are Rick loyalists probably will choose Turkey, since it is no secret that he vastly prefers Turkey to Greece (Me, I've alas read too much history to share the preference). I'm sure you'll enjoy Turkey but if/when you decide to come back to the area for a go at Greece, I suggest you look at some other Guidebooks by those who are Greece enthusiasts: Cadogan's guide to Greek Isles, Rough Guide to Greece, EyeWitness Guide to Greek Isles (and ditto for Mainland), Frommer's, etc. After 9 trips, Rough Guide is now my favorite, for details, comprehensive info & tone no color pix but that's what the internet is for.

Posted by
990 posts

Actually, Turkey versus Greece for a first trip is a matter of personal preference. (Turkey is mine, but others may prefer what Greece offers.) But I do think that picking one or the other is a good idea if possible; otherwise the trip involves a lot of transportation logistics.

Posted by
1816 posts

If you take Jer's suggestion to drive down the coast (which is a good one) and get as far as Kas, and want a bit of change of scenery, you could take a day trip by ferry to Kastelorizo, a gorgeous tiny Greek island.

Posted by
1214 posts

Thanks again to all who made comments and suggestions. To JER and Charlene: re car rental in Fethiye; may do that as we enjoy going at our own pace and you sure make it sound beautiful! Also we then would not need so many nights in Antalya as we can drive to Side which I hate to give up. Someone also suggested renting a car in Cappadocia which we'll also look into. Plan to wait till April to make 'final' decisions and reservations. We usually rent from Budget on line but it seems cars are cheaper renting in Turkey with all insurance included. Do you have any suggestions? Also re Selcuk - need three nights because we'll be flying from SF to Istanbul to Izmir and bus to Selcuk. For middle 60 yr olds that's quite a trip. We'll get acclimated and enjoy Ephesus and Kusadasi before moving on. To Janet: thanks for the idea. Have used Rough Guide and will be sure to get one for Greece. We usually use two different sources so it will be a good addition. Again, thanks to everyone for all the great ideas. We have a trip in March to Italy and it's hard and fun and exciting going between the two while also keeping Greece in mind for next year. There's just not enjough time (or money!). Which is why we so enjoy travel 'our' way where we can get two trips for the price of one tour/guided trip and we feel, a much better experience to boot! Look at all the fun just in the planning!
Thanks again.

Posted by
990 posts

On renting a car in Cappadocia: I would think twice. The various sites are all spread out in the region, but maps are few and far between and not very helpful. The first time we went to Cappadocia we had our own car and we ended up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to get from place to place. The second time, we hired a guide and found it much easier and saw more in a shorter time. I understand (though have no personal experience) that there are small-scale tours (minivans rather than busloads) that are also good value and convenient for Cappadocia.