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Turkey - who’s been?

Thinking about celebrating a milestone birthday this upcoming September/October in Turkey. So far our international travels have been limited to Europe so this would be a venture into a different flavor of trip for us. Would love to hear your experiences if you’ve been and thoughts and impressions. TIA!

Posted by
8871 posts

Took the RS 7 day tour to Istanbul in 2011. Loved it.
Wandering by myself in the grand bazaar one day saw a small sign pointing up a flight of stairs. Only diner and best lentil soup ever. Never felt unsafe nor bothered by unwarranted attention. Fascinating city. Loved the food and the architecture. Went into Hagia Sophia before it opened to the general public. Our guide, Mert Tanner, was fabulous. Enjoyed the hotel and the call to prayer that can be heard.


Posted by
18763 posts

Well, a lot of Istanbul is in Europe, so you are still doing Europe.

I've been to Istanbul a few times and I think its a place everyone should visit once. I am terrible at trip reports and advice, but Istanbul was worth it enough for me for return trips. Of course, part of the reason was I like flying Turkish Air to Europe and since it changes in Istanbul, I get off and spend a few days, then continue on. ONe of the best connected airports in Europe.

Posted by
581 posts

I took the RS Best of Turkey tour last year and it was a revelation. I learned Turkey is a beautiful, fascinating country with a complex history, unique geographical position, and amazing people who are welcoming and outward-looking. As someone considered a well-educated American, it blew my mind how little I knew about Turkey before this trip. I was inspired to read a biography of Ataturk when I returned home, and that's just scratching the surface. The experience of being in Istanbul and visiting the historic sites and seeing the Bosphorus Strait with its bustling ships and ferries is incomparable. Hearing the call to prayer ring out both in cities and small towns was like nothing I had ever experienced. It is predominantly Muslim, but a secular country. Which we Americans don't always appreciate. There are gorgeous coasts, breathtaking mountains, and rich agricultural regions. And of course the food and the shopping (I came home with local honey, saffron, and a small carpet). Go, you will not regret it.

Posted by
2112 posts

We took the 12 day RS Turkey tour in 2017 and loved every second. Our guide was wonderful, our tour mates too. The people of Turkey are very nice, friendly and helpful. The food was fantastic as well. We had some wonderful seafood and local specialties! I bought a cookbook so I could “try” some dishes. I didn’t do a good job!😉 on a few recipes.
I wanted to visit Istanbul, Ephesus and the straits since fourth grade. The history captured my fancy so I had to visit. The country is full of history of ancient cultures and amazing ancient ruins.

I hope you go and enjoy Turkey as much as we did.

Posted by
7012 posts

I spent a little over 2 weeks in Turkey as a solo traveler back in 2007, and it was probably one of my best trips ever. It is truly an incredible country, from the diverse scenery (like Cappadocia and the Turkish Riviera) to the friendliest people I have ever met. Istanbul is amazing - I spent many days there and could easily have stayed longer. Other wonderful locations include Cappadocia, the Turkish Riviera (I stayed in Fethiye), Ephesus and so on. If you are interested, I created an online journal of my trip there. Keep in mind that logistic info in there is dated (i.e. hotel prices and so on), but it might give you an idea of what some of the places are like. You can find it at

Posted by
484 posts

Turkey is a fantastic destination. I have been there three times (independently) and every visit has been wonderful.
I've spent time in Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pammukkale, Kusadasi and Ephesus.
There is a lot to see and do, the food is delicious and things are very affordable.
I am considering a fourth trip there next spring.
I think its a great choice for a milestone birthday.

Posted by
2017 posts

Turkey is definitely a bit more exotic than Europe.
Many family and friends were worried about our safety in Turkey but we had a mostly great trip. You will find Turkish people very hospitable for the most part and we fell in love with the pistachios, tea and lokum. I also think it is a good view into Islamic culture for Americans who may be frightened of it and the call to prayer became as natural as church bells.

I would caution people that the roads and sidewalks in some parts of cities and the countries wouldn't meet the health and safety standards and that Istanbul drivers may not stop for pedestrians. Our hotel always told us to wait until a car stops before crossing any streets. Finally, you will find many stray dogs and cats on the streets. In the tourist sections they are well-fed and usually keep to themselves but there are at every mosque and park.

Have fun.

Posted by
677 posts

Thank you all for the encouragement! 😊 It is very helpful.

Posted by
59 posts

I've been to Istanbul twice and it defies description! An important point: I never felt unsafe there.
One thing I suggest is checking with the sites you want to see to make sure they aren't partially or fully closed for some reason or another.
Hidden gem: the calligraphy museum

Posted by
31 posts

My wife and I took the RS Turkey tour last May 2022. Turkey is a beautiful country. If you take the RS Turkey tour, you need to come to Istanbul at least 3-5 days before the RS tour. The RS tour is only in Istanbul for a couple of nights and there is so much to see in Istanbul that it warrants additional time.