We are considering the Best of Turkey tour in 2016, but we are looking for guidance regarding our return to the US. The tour ends in Kusadasi, which has no airport or train station as far as I can tell. You have to get a ride over to Selcuk to catch a bus or train to Izmir. The problem is, that their are no early a.m. flights from Izmir back to Istanbul to catch international flights, so you would have to fly from Izmir to Istanbul and stay overnight to catch the outbound international flight . Many of the connections from Izmir to other European cities to catch US bound flights are expensive and result in long layovers. It seems like it will take us a day and half to get back to California from Kusadasi. For those who have taken this tour before, do you have any suggestions?
Since I don't know the exact date you are traveling, I'm not sure what the flight options are for that particular date. But just picking a random date, I was able to see early flights from Izmir to Istanbul. We recommend checking flights on www.skyscanner.com, as this website shows all commercial and budget airline options from point A to point B within Europe.
Also, on our website in the "Pre-Tour" information of our Turkey tour (http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/greece-turkey/turkey), it has the following information, which may be useful for you:
There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Consider flying into one city and out of another ("multi-city" on flight booking websites). It's easiest to fly into Istanbul and home from Izmir (or Athens if you're exploring the Greek Islands — see below). Departures from Izmir may require a connection and an overnight stay in Istanbul. However there are some international departures that avoid this extra stop, so have your travel agent check for the best options.
Tour members who would like a ride to Izmir's airport can accompany our tour bus the last morning of the tour, Day 13. The bus will leave the tour hotel in Kuşadası immediately after breakfast around 8 a.m., arriving at the Izmir airport by 10 a.m. If you are flying out of Izmir on the last day of the tour, you'll want to book a flight that departs around 10:30 a.m. or later.
You may save money by purchasing this airline ticket prior to leaving home if your flight dates and plans are finalized. You can check schedules and purchase tickets at Turkish Airlines, Atlas Jet, or Onur Air, or have your travel agent check for the best options. If your plans are not finalized, you will also have opportunities to purchase this airline ticket at a travel agency in Turkey. See your hotel directions and Best of Turkey Sightseeing Guide for more details.
I'm taking the Best of Turkey tour starting Nov 9, 2015. I just finished scheduling my flight starting in Izmir to home. I leave Izmir at 10:40 am, arrive in Istanbul at 12:40, and my flight leaves IST at 1:10. I will be spending the night in London. The prices there, in November anyhow, are around $80. Not terrible.
Originally I wanted to power through but a friend suggested that a little down time is necessary when you are traveling on a plane for such a long time.
I took that tour 2 years ago and we rode the tour bus back after breakfast. A nice offering.
I took this fantastic tour in 2002. (You are in for a treat!)
My friend and I, rather than return directly back to California, opted to take the ferry from Kusadasi to Samos for a few days, then on to Paros for another couple of days, and then to Athens for a few days before flying home from Athens. This was at the end of June/beginning of July and so we had lovely beach weather on the islands and a good opportunity to decompress after the intense (but fun) learning curve that was Turkey the year after 2001.
Greece and Turkey have so much in common that it is nice to experience them back to back. I have been back to Athens again (about 6 years ago) and the new Acropolis museum is pretty cool.
If you can take another week you might consider doing something similar. It's no fun to end a wonderful tour stressing over catching the plane home!
There are lots of flights from Izmir to Istanbul. On my tour, one couple had a very early flight out (to make a connection in Istanbul) and took a taxi to the airport, cost was about $250, if I remember correctly. The rest of us took the tour bus to the airport for morning flights to Istanbul, some for connections, a few to spend more time in Istanbul. The tour spends very little time in Istanbul and it's worthwhile to stay another day or longer afterward - as well as a couple of days before the tour.
I agree with other posters..... getting back shouldn't be much of a problem. A group bus takes you to the airport where there are lots of connections.....although most of us went on to Istanbul. Enjoy the tour, it is fantastic.
Did the tour 2 years ago. We had an early AM flight in Izmir to make a connection in Istanbul. Our guide and the hotel helped arrange the taxi since we needed to leave before the tour bus. Cost was 150 Turkish Lira as best I can remember.
I agree with recommendations to spend extra time in Istanbul if you can. We went early before the tour, so at the end, we were ready to get home. Arranging the taxi was easy, and the ride was uneventful.
Ron, having taken the taxi, is correct. At current forex rates, that's about $50 to the airport, though it was closer to $75 - the rate is much more favorable to the dollar now - but the cost may have gone up.
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions, the information was very helpful.
My husband just returned from this trip a few weeks ago. It was a fantastic tour, and you will have a great time.
We, liked most of the people in our tour, flew out of Izmir after breakfast...the tour bus took us there, which was very convenient. You have so many options, and since you are planning early, do some research to see what you may want to do and see before you buy your tickets.
Option 1: take a ferry to Greece. November may be a bit cold, so I'm not sure if recommend a Greek island add-on so late in the season.
Option 2: spend some time in Izmir. I almost wished we had done this. It's a beautiful city with historic harbor, and I'm sad I missed it.
Option 3: fly to Istanbul to spend more time there. It's truly one of three most magnificent cities of the world. After you've traveled around Turkey, learning so much about Turkish history, society, and culture, and going back to enjoy Istanbul on your own would be very rewarding. You'll also be more relaxed and open to Turks, and love the place even more.
Option 4: fly directly from Izmir to Europe. That what we did. For $110 each, we flew Izmir to Berlin to visit friends and see the Festival of Lights. Actually, we found the cheapest way to fly to Turkey was through Germany, using budget carriers. Yes, we went with different carriers, but it didn't matter, because we carried on our luggage on the way there, and left plenty of time between flights.
Let me know if you have any other questions, we loved our Rick Steves' tour of Turkey!
Before you plan on a ferry to Greece, check it out very carefully. People on my tour had planned to do that, only to find that the season was over and there were no more ferries.