This will be our first trip to the area and would like to travel from Istanbul to Cappadocia and then to SW Turkey and then to Greece. We are very open to suggestions but can't figure out how, in the middle of April to get from Turkey to Greece. Thanks for any ideas.
Where are you trying to go in Greece? And where in SW Turkey will you be, Antalya? That will help us provide more specific advice on your options.
The specifics are the puzzle. We want to see Ephesus and maybe Bodrum. In Greece we'd like to visit Rhodes and Hydra. We leave Cappadocia on the 17th of April and fly out of Athens on the 29th. We want to see as many of the highlights as time, a relaxed style and a moderate budget allow. We would prefer to travel by ferry between Turkey and Greece.
Close to Ephesus is Kusadasi. From there we went to Samos. Then Mykonos and ultimately Santorini. The schedule for ferries on internet was quite messy and in Kusadasi they were not able to give us any information about Greek ferries, only to Samos. We got all needed information after we got to Samos. It was quite a lot of improvisation (no overnights booked ahead) but fortunately it worked well for us. We traveled in October. It was still pretty warm.
We did something similar last fall -- went from Istanbul to Cappadocia to Antalya to the area around Marmaris, and took a ferry from Marmaris to Rhodes. There is also a ferry from Bodrum to Rhodes, but it is a further distance and thus affected more by weather. I was told that the Marmaris ferry was the most reliable, so I went with that.
The Marmaris>Rhodes ferry leaves every morning around 9 am. From Rhodes, you can take a Blue Star ferry all the way back to Athens if you want, or you can fly.
Some useful links:
- http://www.skyscanner.com for flights within Turkey and Greece
- http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Ship/GreekIslandFerries.html (for ferries between Turkey>Greece)
- http://www.bluestarferries.com (for Greek ferries)
The Turkey Travel Planner site, by the way, is filled with useful info on Turkey. Now you must figure out how to get from Istanbul to Cappadocia (probably fly), from Cappadocia to Izmir (for Ephesus) (bus??), from Ephesus to Marmaris (bus??). The long distance buses in Turkey are very comfortable. We had trouble getting schedules ahead of time; but once we arrived, we learned that buses are very frequent so you shouldn't have a problem getting from one place to another.
Be sure to take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia! And if you have a day or two to spare between Ephesus and Marmaris, the city of Dalyan is a good place to stop. It has amazing Lycian tombs carved into the rocks along the river; you can take a riverboat ride and see the tombs plus have a mud bath (quite an experience).
This is great information. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together. Thank you. Any more info is welcomed.
We ended our best of Turkey tour in Kusadasi. Based on the recommendation of a Rick Steves consultant we took the ferry to Samos (first ferry out in the am..about 9:30ish). Then from Samos it is a quick 1 hour flight right to Athens. One big note...you "can" make the 1PM flight to Athens...but you must be the absolute first block of people off the ferry. Since you are going from Turkey to Athens you have to go through the customs control and they are NOT quick. They're a bunch of Taxi's right outside.and then tell the cab driver you have a 1PM flight to Athens. They will drive like a maniac and you will make your flight...but take the evening flight for less stress (Tip them nicely since they do drive insane). I know of other people who took the flight into Athens and then grabbed a connecting flight to Hydra. We chose to go direct into Athens and then hit all key sites (Acropolis, Agora, National Archaeological Museum, Acropolis Museum). Plaka Hotel is very conveniently located. One day was dedicated to a full day trip up to Delphi (along with the museum). If you go to Delphi then I highly recommend the Hosios Loukas Monastery. It is a Unesco world heritage site (you probably need to book a Taxi vs the bus to get the Monastery). I used George's Taxi in Athens for a private Taxi. He's very accommodating and he never gets tired of the cultural and historical question about Greece. Not cheap but he really maximizes your time on the site (he cannot go into the sites but he gives you plenty of time and lots of prep info). One warning: Athens has a lot of graffiti but if you focus on the sites and the culture it's quite amazing. We didn't go to the Islands (other than Samos) but if you do I understand there is much less graffiti than you see in Athens. Also, we happened to be in Turkey during the outbreak of protests. We didn't have any negative experiences...Turks were very helpful (please and thank you in Turkish go a long way). Butterfly Balloons in Capadoccia is a first rate way to take in a Balloon ride. Enjoy
Ephesus is definitely worth a visit, it's an amazing site to walk around, with so much to see. Make sure you visit the Terrace Houses while you're there. It's within the Ephesus site, but there's a separate entry fee at it's entrance, which is well worth it.
You mentioned that you may head down to Bodrum, and from there you can get to the Greek Islands of Kos and Rhodes. To get to Kos it takes about 25 minutes, and Bodrum to Rhodes takes 2hours 20 minutes by ferry and about 2hrs by Catamaran.
Here's a local Bodrum travel blog that has a ferry information from Turkey to Greece, but also from Bodrum and Turgutreis (also on the Bodrum Peninsula) to other parts of Turkey, like Datca.
It's too early for the 2014 ferry boat timetables to be published and updated ... but let me know if you want information about the 2013 summer timetables as a guide, which would give you an idea of the days of the week the boats travel.
There are a couple of local Bodrum Ferry Boat and Catamaran companies, but the official start of the season is May 1st, so you're best option could be to go from Bodrum to Kos, and then catch one of the Greek Ferry Boats from Kos to Rhodes. These Kos to Rhodes ferries run more frequently than the Bodrum to Rhodes ferries.