We are thinking about doing 10-12 days in Turkey this June and I'm wondering about getting around. Doesn't seem like there is much of a rail network and I don't love the idea of being on long distance buses. Is it advisable to rent a car to get between points outside of Istanbul? Looking for any advice you have on getting around the country as well as any tips on an itinerary for adventuresome/foodie travelers in their 30's.
We are planning our first trip to Turkey this June, too, for 10 days. We originally planned to rent a car and drive, but since the three areas we are visiting are quite far apart (Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus), I looked into flying. We are a family of six, and I was able to get airfare between these areas (Istanbul to Cappadocia, and Cappadocia to Izmir) for about $40 USD per person, including all taxes and 1 bag per person. We are flying Andalou Jet and Sun Express. I found good information on Turkey travel on www.turkeytravelplanner.com. I'm sure you'll get some great advice from others who have actually been to Turkey, but wanted you to know how economical flying can be within Turkey, especially if time is limited. We do plan to rent a car for just a couple of days in the Ephesus area, where there are some outlying sites we want to visit.
Depending on budget, flying between regions and then renting a car for local use is a good option. A car will give you much more flexability, especially in locations such as Cappadocia, Selcuk (Ephesus), and other coastal areas where there are lots of sites that are somewhat scattered. Turkish Air has fairly economical flights and there are a number of other regional carriers too. One note - most cars are manual transmission. You will need to request an automatic if you need one.
If you post some information on where you go, you might get some more details and ideas on how others have traveled.
There are plenty of options for food. Try some different stews, fish dishes, lamb dishes, pide (think Turkish pizza-like flatbread), depending on where you go. At some point you need to find a kebab salon and get an Adana kebap and some raki. Don't skip desert. There are a number of baklava-like deserts. Those made with pistachios from Gaziantep are the best.
Agree with Lori & Rob. If you could tell us the places you're thinking of going, it would be easier to answer your question with specifics. We've been to Turkey twice in the past three years. We flew between cities that are far apart, then rented a car to take us to the various sights. For example, we flew from Istanbul to Kayseri airport and took a shuttle van to our hotel in Goreme. Rented a car in Goreme for three days to see Cappadocia. We took an overnight bus to Antalya rather than a plane because the flight schedule didn't suit us. Rented a car in Antalya and drove along the coast, ending in Selcuk and returning the car at Izmir airport to fly back to Istanbul. Our second trip was similar, flying out of Istanbul to another part of the country, renting a car, and returning to Istanbul airport.
Driving in Turkey is easy. Most things are well signed. Our Garmin GPS has European maps including Turkey and that was helpful. We also had a good map and we had printed driving instructions from Google maps so we had backups. Also, people are very helpful and many speak English, so asking for directions in towns is fairly easy.
If you like the outdoors then Cappadocia would be a good area. Lots of hiking in beautiful, scenic, historical sites. You could also take a hot air balloon ride to see the sights from the air. Ten to twelve days would give you a few days in Istanbul, 3-4 days in Cappadocia, and possibly a few days along the Turquoise coast, maybe ending in Selcuk to visit ancient Ephesus. We found the food in Turkey to be delicious; pide, kind of like pizza; lots of lamb dishes, especially meatballs; soup; yogurt dishes; desserts. You almost can't go wrong.
The local Turkish airline companies offer some great cheap short-hop flights, and may work out more convenient than a bus, just because you can spend a lot of time on the road, and it really depends on how much time you have available.