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Please help with planning Epheseus-Bodrum-Pamakkule-Cappadocia-Istanbul trip

Thank you for taking the time to read this and offer suggestions.
1. Our family with kids will be taking the ferry from Rhodes to Marmaris in June. We would prefer the Rhodes-Bodrum ferry, but cannot find much information about this. Has anyone taken either ferry and can share any insight - prices, reliability etc.? Best site to book the ferry directly with the ferry lines? Once in Turkey, we will rent a car to see Bodrum-Epheseus-Pamakkule-Antalya and then fly to Cappadocia & Istanbul. Hence it makes more sense to ferry from Rhodes into Bodrum, instead of taking the ferry to Marmaris and then driving 3 hours from Marmaris to Bodrum. We do not plan on seeing Marmaris. Suggestions?

  1. Would Selcuk be the best place to stay for 2-3 days while we see Bodrum & Epheseus? Are there any family-friendly type, clean budget places to stay with kids?

  2. We do not want to stay in downtown Antalya with a car and also since we will be driving around archeological sites in Antalya vicinity(Pamakkule, Hierapolis, Olympos, Perge). Do we need to stay in Pamakulle, Hierapolis? Or, can these basically be done in a day if we leave early morning from Selcuk to Antalya and see these 2 sites on the way? We then plan to fly out from Antalya to Cappadocia. Any suggestions on where to look for budget, clean accommodations near the Antalya airport?

  3. Any suggestions for places to stay in Goreme that families will enjoy. We plan to spend 3 days renting a car again in Goreme and hiking.

  4. Our final stop will be Istanbul and I have narrowed down a few hotels near the Sultanahmet or Guhane metro stops from useful posts on this forum. Istanbul hotels seem pretty pricey. Any budget suggestions? We are not looking for anything fancy. Just the typical Rick Steves friendly, clean place? We have always used Rick Steves' budget hotel suggestions on our Western European travels and have befriended some of the best local people during our travels.
    Any help is highly appreciated.

Posted by
16883 posts

The Lonely Planet guidebook has been my best resource for Turkey travel, including hotel suggestions. (It also worked OK to just follow the room touts who hang around bus stations.) Trust your reading and your instincts.

It's easy to buy the short, local Kos-Bodrum or Rhodes-Marmaris ferry tickets there on short notice, but a day ahead so they can record your passport. From Rhodes to Bodrum, you usually have to connect in Kos and perhaps stay overnight. Selcuk is a small town, which I have preferred over the big city Kusadasi, and which has some fine pensions (but it's not on the beach). If driving up from Marmaris, you might want to sleep a night in Bodrum and just two in Selcuk.

For the ruins aspect, I remember Aphrodisias as more interesting/intact/compact than Hieropolis. The Antique Pool by Hieroplis is fun and bubbly to lounge in, but not a must-see for everyone. (I have not seen Olympos or Perge and can't judge how important they are to your plan.)

Posted by
338 posts

I can help with some of your questions. Overall, I'll second the recommendation to use the Lonely Planet guidebook. Although it's not really family focused, it does provide the basics for just about anywhere you'll want to go and its target audience is budget-concious travelers.

I have not taken a ferry between Greece and Turkey. You may want to look into regional flights if you don't find a good ferry option.

Selcuk and Bodrum aren't super close - maybe not quite 3 hours apart. You may want to split your time between the two instead. There are several interesting sites between them to break up the drive. I prefer Sulcuk, but Bodrum is closer to better beaches if that's important.

Selcuk and Antalya are probably 6+ hours apart. I would plan on adding a stand alone day to sightsee. I don't have a recommendation for a hotel in Antalya.

I don't have a hotel recommendation for Cappadocia. I've always driven up from the Adana-area to the south. Hopefully someone else will have an idea. I do know that there are lots of hotels in and around Goreme. Defiinately rent a car here. Since you mentioned hiking, the Ihlara Valley is a great place to hike for a day or half day.

Sultanahmet is your best bet for being in the middle of the tourist spots. I like the Blue House and Empress Zoe in that area. There are lots of business hotels near Taksim Square. If you have hotel points with any of the big chains that can get you free nights, they may have a location there (e.g. Hilton).

Have fun!

Posted by
1879 posts

Hi Asm -- We were in Turkey last fall, visiting all of these sights except Ephesus and Pamakkule. (We saw Ephesus on an earlier visit -- highly worthwhile.) Here are some comments based on my limited experience:

  1. You are arriving in Bodrum, then going north to Selcuk and south to Antalya. Instead of starting with a ferry from Rhodes, it might make more sense to start from the island of Samos. Take a short, daily ferry to Kusadasi, see Ephesus (and Pamakkule, although it's kind of out of the way; I would get opinions on if it's worth the detour) then drive down the coast to Bodrum and eventually Antalya. I'm not sure how your trip is structured before Rhodes, but if it's your first stop in Greece, you can easily fly from Athens to Samos instead. If you really want to see Rhodes, you can do a day trip (or quick overnight) from Marmaris.

  2. If you must for some reason start with Rhodes, we were told that the ferry to/from Marmaris was the most reliable. There is sometimes a ferry directly between Rhodes and Bodrum. You could check with a travel agent in Rhodes when you arrive and see if the Bodrum ferry is scheduled; if not, go to Marmaris. We came the opposite direction (Marmaris>Rhodes) in September, but did not have to buy our ticket in advance. We just went to the ticket office that morning, bought a ticket and hopped on the ferry.

  3. Nothing much to see in Marmaris, but on your way to (or from) Bodrum, an interesting place to stop would be Dalyan. They have Lycian tombs carved into the cliff face along the river, and Iztuzu Beach with a sea turtle rehab hospital that we found interesting. Kids might enjoy.

  4. A few hours south of Dalyan (on your way to Antalya), another good place to stop (great sandy beach, some ruins) is the tiny town of Patara. A great place to stay is Akay Pension -- simple, very basic, very inexpensive rooms but they had the most hospitable owner and served the best dinners we had in Turkey. We didn't stay in Antalya or visit Olympos so can't comment on those.

  5. We also flew between Antalya and Kayseri. We stayed at Kelebek Hotel in Goreme, which was very nice and had a shuttle to/from the Kayseri airport and good breakfasts. Not sure if they have family rooms, but they do have a pool. You can view & pick your rooms on their website. They give you a discount on flights with Butterfly Balloons, which is associated with them. Balloon flight is highly recommended. When we were there, the Kelebek offered a free "organic breakfast" one morning at a local farm. Very interesting.

You are going to have an amazing adventure!

Posted by
83 posts

Hi - My family of 4 stayed in Selcuk and used the town as a base to explore Epheseus, Sirince, Mary's House, and surrounding area. We all loved Selcuk. It's a great town to stay in. Not many tourists (May time frame), big enough to have activity at night and a great town to walk around. The hammam (right next to the police station) was about 1/3 the cost of Istanbul, it was coed (no nudity....I wore just a towel wrap, my sister wore her bathing suit), didn't know what to do beforehand but the attendants were very helpful. We stayed at the Boomerang the family room. It's a nice basic room that has a balcony that overlooks the street. Very clean and friendly....nice restaurant attached. Not noisy...and great watching the neighborhood. I would recommend the Boomerang..but I think there are probably plenty of nice places to stay that are reasonably priced.

I would highly recommend Selcuk.

We drove to Pamakkule from Selcuk intending to stay there overnight. Once in Pamakkule it started to rain so we left and actually went back to the coast to Sigacik. It was a long drive for the day but Pamakkule didn't seem to have a interesting town to stay in. You can definitely do the 2 in a day and move on. I'd suggest'll make the next day better. It might depend on the age of your kids and how well they do traveling all that time. It would be 7-8 hours driving. If that's too long....stop somewhere along the way to Antalya. If your kids (boys) are old enough think about going to a barbershop to give them sure to video tape it. Google...turkish haircut with fire.....

Jerry R

Posted by
11280 posts

I can only add that I enjoyed the town of Selcuk too. The Lonely Planet described it as more of sleeping place to see Ephesus and other ruins from, but I enjoyed the town itself.

We stayed at the Canberra Hotel, and would do so again. The staff was extremely helpful, and the rooftop restaurant was great for breakfast (included) and dinner (extra cost and worth it).