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Independent Solo Traveler in Turkey

I am taking a RS Tour to Greece on Oct 8 and planning to visit Turkey on my own. I was wondering if 5 days are enough, spending 2 in Istambul, 1 in Cappadocia, 1 in Konya and 1 in Pamukkale. On the sixth day I have to travel to Athens to meet with my group. By the way what would be the best way to go from Turkey to Athens? and does my itinerary make sense? Has anyone used the service of a private guide or a reputable tourist company for the city of Istambul?

It is not the first time I travel on my own. I take advantage and travel before or after the tour but of course I would prefer to do it with a companion. Two years ago two more people from the group joined me and went to Portugal, Spain and France. Last year I went to Venice, Milan, Salzburg and Vienna on my own. This year I hope to find somebody who is also planning to visit Turkey. If I am not that lucky, I would do it anyway.
Hope to have some answers to my questions above and thanks for your help.

Posted by
792 posts

You might have too many places on this list for 5 days - IST has a lot of things to see, and you also need to count the transportation time. I recall from IST to Pamukkale I took a pretty long bus ride, and once I hiked up I realized Hierapolis is much bigger than I thought, and swimming in the thermal pool was fantastic after a day of exploring... 5 days is too short.

Posted by
5188 posts

The easiest way to get from Turkey to Athens is a short Turkish Air flight (or Aegean, if it flies from IST airport). Five days is really a short time and 2 is not enough for Istanbul itself. Istanbul is a HUGE city (13 million plus people) with so many attractions to see. Plus you're not accounting for travel time between all your sites. I would spend all 5 days in Istanbul and maybe use one day for a ferry to the Princes Islands (to the south of Istanbul). That would keep you plenty busy. I spent over 2 weeks just in Istanbul and never ran out of things to do. If you had 2 weeks to spare, maybe you could also fit in Cappadocia, Konya, and Pamukkale, but 5 days is way too short for all of that. I traveled solo as well and had no issues.

Posted by
15901 posts

Cappadocia is a region and really requires more time so you can stop in multiple small towns. For instance you could fly there from Istanbul and then rent a car, use local buses, or find a local tour for sightseeing.

One full day is enough to see the highlights of Konya and Pamukkale, but that still usually means two nights each, depending on how far you have to travel from your previous stop. Istanbul-Konya will eventually be served by fast train, but part of that line is currently under construction. Since multiple bus companies run in Turkey, www.rome2rio.com is one search engine to help compare transport options. Budget flights can also make sense within the country; try www.skyscanner.com.

Aside from Istanbul-Athens, the only other direct flight option is Izmir-Athens on Aegean/Olympic Airlines at 6:00 a.m. about 4 days/week in early October. You'd still probably need two nights in Izmir to get in a full-day side trip to Ephesus (the main reason to go this direction) and the museum at Selcuk.

Posted by
12268 posts

First of all, there's enough in Istanbul for 5 days, especially if you're straight off a long-haul flight and jetlagged. Second getting to the other places in Turkey means long journeys. To spend one full day (not enough) in Cappadocia (Goreme), you need 2 nights there and you'll about 1/2 of a day to fly from Istanbul (consider time to/from airports, etc) and another longish bus ride to Konya. The fastest way from Konya to Pamukkale seems to be a 6 hour taxi ride, or a 6.5 hour bus ride. Then 4 hours by bus to Kusadasi for a ferry to Greece, or 4.5 hour train ride to Izmir for a 3-hour flight to Athens. Either allow a week or more after Istanbul to see your other Turkish destinations. And unless you are staying in Athens after the tour, you should plan on at least 2 full days to see the more of Athens pre-tour - the RS itinerary skips some of the best bits and rushes through some of the others, especially the museums.

Posted by
29 posts

Thanks a lot for the very useful replies. I am doing first the Greece tour and then visit Turkey on my own, I decided to take a ferry from the port of Piraus near Athens to Samos island, take a small boat to Kusadasi, visit Ephesus and Pamukale, take a bus to Izmir and from there take the overnight train or flight to Istanbul and spend three days in Istanbul. Has anyone done something like this? Is this possible? How many hotels do I have to book between Kusadasi and Izmir before I get to Istanbul? Any advise about the hotels in this cities? Thanks a lot.