We will be in Istanbul in Sept. and would like to visit various towns along the western coast and on to the Greek Isles. What is the best mode of transportation to do this besides renting a car?
Without renting a car, you will rely on the various private bus companies that run frequently all over Turkey (and then ferries and public buses in Greece). A guidebook like Lonely Planet will summarize travel time and frequency, and you don't usually need to get more specific schedules until you're in town. www.ulusoy.com.tr and www.varan.com.tr are bus companies with good reputations, but I've always just taken whichever was the next bus leaving, according to bus station personnel.
We visited Istanbul last September, then flew to Cappadocia and later to Antalya, and then spent a couple of weeks on the Mediterranean coast, using the bus. There are frequent buses between virtually every coastal town, but it was impossible to get schedules in advance. I'm a planner, so this was hard for me until I got comfortable with it. But it really does work. We ended up in Marmaris and took the ferry to Rhodes, then travelled north to Lesvos.
In case you're looking for Turkish coast ideas, one place we liked was Dalyan, where they have riverboat trips to see the Lycian tombs in the cliffsides. There's also a sea turtle hospital that we found interesting. And Patara, which has a long sandy beach just outside the town (walking distance) and some decent ruins. Our favorite hotel on the trip was Akay Pension in Patara ....great dinners ... best food we had in Turkey.
Just south of Patara is the town of Kas; from there you can take a day trip to the beautiful Greek island of Kastellorizo. Ferries leave Kas in the morning and return late afternoon. We think Kastellorizo is one of the prettiest Greek islands we've seen. You can't just hop off that ferry and stay in Kastellorizo though .... if you want to spend some time there (highly recommended) you must take a ferry to Rhodes, and then a ferry (or short flight) to Kastellorizo.
I didn't go to the west coast except to fly from Istanbul to Izmir and then take the airline's free shuttle bus for Selcuk (to see Ephesus). But, I found the Turkey Travel Planner website invaluable. Here's his transportation page: http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/index.html
In Turkey the best option is the intecity bus for your itinerary.
Actually you do not have many options.
Since there is no train from Istanbul to other citis on the west cost of the country.
The other option might be a booking for a tour group who will cover the cities on the west cost of the country.
If you will need any assist you may contact with a local tour operatour.
Enjoy your holiday.
Al the best
Hi Sara - My family and I flew into Izmir from Istanbul.....and then rented a car. Driving in Turkey was no big deal....almost all signs are in english. I wouldn't dismiss renting and driving a car on your own. If you can drive in an unfamiliar big city in the USA you will have no problem. Jerry