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Three days in Istanbul--Time for Ephesus?


I'm traveling to Istanbul for business in mid-June. I'm going to extend my stay for an additional few days. How many would you suggest? Two? Three? In my mind, I would like to do a tour of Istanbul, and then I would love to go to Ephesus for a day. Is that possible--fly there and back the same day, or should I spend one night in Ephesus?

I'll be traveling solo and don't know much about Turkey. Safe for a woman traveling alone? Tips?

I'm so excited! I just found out I will be going, so while I don't have tons of time to plan, I'm going to be reading reading reading until my trip. I'd love any and all tips!

Thank you,

Posted by
733 posts

I would opt for three full days in Istanbul: 1 day for Sultanahmet; 1 day for a Bosporus cruise, and the Galata and Eminonou areas; and 1 day for ..... Grand Bazaar? Suleymaniye Mosque? Istiklal Street? Museums? Dolmabahce Palace? Asian side? Prince George Island? .... There's a lot to explore in Istanbul.

My impression is that Ephesus is a too much for a day trip from Istanbul, but other folks with first-hand experience might be able to give you a better answer.

I have traveled alone to Turkey several times and have always felt totally safe at any time of day or night. Carpets touts in Istanbul can be annoying, though.

Have a great trip! Istanbul is one of my favorite cities.

Posted by
1194 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
My wife and I both found Istanbul such a stunning city we wouldn't trade a day away for a one shot day in Ephesus. But we are a couple. And we have little fear of walking around in cities on our own. If you are more comfortable in a tour group, then maybe two tours of Istanbul and one of Ephesus. Or three of Istanbul.

The Aya Sofia is such an amazing building only getting into it once did not satisfy us. First off, it is beautiful. Second it is enormous. The largest roofed/domed building for 9 centuries. Did I mention that it is beautiful and that from the second floor people are almost like ants. From the second floor!. Imagine that.

Plus the water cisterns. The Arkeologic Museum. Think of this. The city of Istanbul is an arkeologic city. Imagine what they have in the museum that THEY think is old and noticeable. You should see what it is sitting outside of the museum exposed to the weather because it isn't good enough to get in.

You might consider a tour on one side of the Golden Horn and one on the other side. Check a map. the Golden Horn separates two sections of the European side of Istanbul. And a third on the other side of the Bosphorus. Step into Asia. It is a ferry ride away.

Ephesus is a pretty amazing ruin of a library. But it is a one pony circus. It is stunning that Ephesus was a sea port and yet today you can't sea the sea form the hillside. That is worth something. But goodness. Even the Little Aya Sofia is worth seeing.


Posted by
7011 posts

I am a solo, female traveler. I spent seven days in Istanbul and could easily have stayed seven more. I did make it to Ephesus, but I was in Turkey for 2 1/2 weeks. I would not give up a single day of Istanbul for Ephesus, although Ephesus is certainly worth a trip there. But I would allocate at least five days in Turkey. 3 days in Istanbul, and another two to travel to and from Ephesus.

Posted by
4921 posts

I did find some day trips to Ephesus from Istanbul, including a round trip flight to Izmir.

As an alternative, consider booking your flight into Istanbul and out of Izmir. Spend as many days as your schedule allows in Istanbul. Then take a one way on Turkish Airlines to Izmir and your day trip to Ephesus from there.

You may find that scheme requires an additional day, though, unless you can book a really early flight to Izmir, to arrive before day trips to Ephesus would leave.

Posted by
4921 posts

Another option, without knowing your budget preferences, is to contact SRM Travel. Explain what you want, how many days you have, and pay them to create an itinerary and assign a guide. Their guides lead the RS tours of Istanbul and Turkey.

If you do have the time and inclination, it's easy enough to plan and do on your own.

Posted by
265 posts

Yes, a daytrip to Ephesus from Istanbul can be done. I have done it, and glad I did. But you need to plan it carefully and be efficient. Get an early morning flight to Izmir and an evening flight back. Book a car and driver to meet you in Izmir and return you to the airport. Don't do it unless you have enough other days to see Istanbul sufficiently. I should add that I did this using the old Istanbul airport, which was closer to the city than the new one. I think it is still feasible but the trip to and from the airport will be longer.

Posted by
484 posts

I did a day trip from Istanbul to Ephesus a few years ago. It was all arranged (flights, tours guides and airport transfers) by Efendi Travel based in Istanbul and everything went very smoothly. The cost was very reasonable.
You can email them and get a quote. I have found that when time is valuable its best to use a tour company/tour guide.