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Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

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Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

Hi all,

***I posted this message over a week ago in the general Turkey forum but didn't get any responses so I'll try again here.***

I'm going to be in Athens for 2 days for work and want to tack on some additional travel (perhaps a week) and am looking for suggestions to plan my itinerary.

I've been to mainland Greece before, so I don't really need to spend any additional time in Athens. I have not explored most of Eastern Europe, so I've narrowed into Turkey as a potential destination. I know Turkey is vast enough to spend weeks alone, but I am looking for a good introductory trip to the region and want to visit the key highlights.

I would like to make Istanbul my final stop and would depart from there. I want to definitely fit in some time in Goreme as well and am open to adding any other stops on the way that are considered "must-sees."

Right now I am thinking 1 day Izmir, 1 day Selcuk/Epheseus, 1 day Pammukale, 2 days Goreme, and 3 days Istanbul. Is that a logical route if I am arriving from Athens? What's the best way to map my journey? How can I best get from one town to another? I'm open to both flights and overnight buses/trains. I would not be renting a car.

I am going to be traveling by myself, so I am not interested in spending too much time on the beach and would rather structure an itinerary around exploration and adventure. I am young, well-traveled and am used to jam-packed itineraries. I would like to visits spots that provide good photograph opportunities. I am also 100% vegetarian if diet needs to be a factor when considering destinations.

Thanks!

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1. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

Hi Smartkid, You have a very ambitious itinerary. I normally do not recommend doing anything more in one week except Istanbul and one trip out of the city. I would recommend that you spend three days in the Cappadocia area (Goreme), one full day at Ephesus-Selcuk and three days in Istanbul.

You can fly from Istanbul to Cappadocia and also from Istanbul to Izmir and take the shuttle from there to Selcuk. I do not know if you can fly between Cappadocia and Izmir. These flights seem to be seasonal and not always offered on every day. I am sure if you have exact dates Enigma can check and see what is available.

I would go directly to Cappadocia from Athens, then to Ephesus and complete my week in Istanbul. You should not have to backtrack too much. I would try to move only three times because you lose lots of time checking in and out of hotels and transporting yourself to various areas. I would, therefore, eliminate Pammukale and Izmir. If you think you need more time in Ephesus you could drop down to two days in Cappadocia, but they would need to be full days.

You will have no difficulty following your dietary preference anywhere in Turkey. There is always an abundance of fruit and vegetables at every meal.

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2. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

Thanks for the response. I agree my itinerary is ambitious, but I've tried to piece it together based on several threads from this forum. The reason I had included a day in Izmir was because it seemed to me that I would need to pass through Izmir to make it to Ephesus-Selcuk? I could be mistaken, but I did want to spend a day there if it is not out of the way.

If it helps, my dates are as follows:

October 9 afternoon - Arrive in Athens

October 10 - Athens

October 11 - Athens

October 12 morning - Depart Athens

.

.

.

October 17 morning? - Arrive Istanbul

October 18 - Istanbul

October 19 - Istanbul

October 20 morning - Depart Istanbul

I have three full days in Istanbul, which I know will go by fast. I have 5 full days to fill between October 12-16. I'd like to make the most of my time by taking either early morning domestic flights or overnight buses/trains. The transportation is where I am most lost.

Based on your suggestions, it is recommended that I fly to Cappadocia from Athens and then work my way to Istanbul?

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3. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

To get to Cappadocia, you will probably have to fly via Istanbul so that will basically take up most of the 12th. There is easily enough there to justify 3 full days taking you to the 15th. Fly to Istanbul late evening 15th or early morning 16th to have three full days in Istanbul..

Flying to Istanbul on the 17th leaves too short a time to even scratch the surface of this city!

If you really want another destination, add Ephesus, leaving Capp late on the 15th, one day at Ephesus and head to Istanbul late on the 16th.

As BR says, you would have to check if Ephesus flights are available for those dates or you could use an overnight bus.

Edited: 19 August 2013, 07:18
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4. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

Thanks I'll going to try to figure out flight availability and work backwards from there.

Has anyone heard of the site mygola, which offers custom itineraries? It was recommended to me by a friend so I basically posted a similar request there and they came back with the following itinerary:

mygola.com/8-day-itinerary-for-turkey/q25359

(I hope I am not breaking any forum rules.)

At first glance, what they have provided seems even more aggressive than what I was asking for and does not even explain how I would get to Pamukkale! There are alot of things I would remove from the itinerary (such as Aqua Fantasy Waterpark, Laodikya, Prince Islands daytrip), but is it workable at all? I'd love to hear the expert comments from here.

5. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

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6. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

@Busy-retired - I'm doing some more research and see what you mean now. Izmir appears to just be a gateway into Ephesus/Selcuk, so I am happy to transfer directly without spending any time in Izmir itself.

@Jasminne - Do you offer tours without hotel bookings?

I'm starting to get weary about the overnight buses after seeing several reports here on TA about people's suitcases being rummaged through and items being stolen. Are the overnight buses safe? I don't want to take them if I am going to have to stay awake all night keeping an eye on my luggage.

Would it be wise to visit Istanbul at the beginning of my trip instead of saving it until the end? I'm surprised at how limited the flight options are from Athens. It seems like I would have to make a stop via Istanbul and there aren't any direct connections, so I'm going to waste all of October 12th making the journey from Athens to Cappadocia (or Ephesus).

Edited: 19 August 2013, 18:34
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7. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

I think the mygoal itinerary is unwise. Parts of it are much too ambitious. It includes things I would not do if my time were very limited. I would not, for example, spend more then 1/2 of one day visiting Buyukada. There are more important things to do in Istanbul. Also, I do not know who is preparing this itinerary, but the Islamic Arts Museum has been closed for nearly two years now for restoration. I am surprised the expert did not know this. It makes me concerned that he does not know what he should be to be guiding you.

Jasmine is prohibited from advertising on the forum. I stay away from packaged tours like this one. I do not want to waste time on buses when a plane can reach the same destination in an hour. I would never take a bus from Istanbul to Kusdasi to eventually reach Ephesus. I would absolutely fly to Izmir and take a shutle to Selcuk and then visit Ephesus from there. You will also note that Jasmine's itinerary takes six days, and does not include any time at all in Istanbul, which I think is the most important thing to see in Turkey.

I would avoid any packaged tour. You spend too much time "touring" ceramic shops, carpets shops and leather shops. You eat your meals at locations selected for you by the tour company, and sleep in places selected by the tour company. You have to follow the pace of the guide rather than your own. I hate being herded about in a group tour. When I absolutely have to use a guide, I hire a private guide who shows me what I wish to see.

I do not frequently use night buses because plane fares are so reasonable. I have, however, used a night bus on a few occasions, and nothing happened to any of my belongings. Actually I left my C-Pap machine on the bus when we arrived in Antalya, and did not realize I had done so until well after that bus had left. After some discussion with the man at the bus depot, we were served tea and told to wait. A bus coming into Antalya met the bus we had been on returning to Goreme, and the incoming bus stopped and collected my C-Pap from the original bus.

I know that there are thieves in every society, but (knock on wood) we have left expensive possessions all over Turkey, and they have always been returned to us. We do take regular precautions, but generally I feel safer in Turkey than many other countries where we visit, and certainly safer than in the US where we live.

I would not be concerned about taking a night bus. I would use planes when possible, but I think a bus is safe.

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8. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

I absolutely second everything BR says, ignore both those tours.

Hopefully, TA will remove Jasmine's offering very soon, as that type of self promotion is absolutely banned in TA.

You have no need of a tour for all the reasons stated by BR. You may think it makes the planning easier, but it will almost certainly result in a poorer experience when you visit, and will cost you a lot of unnecessary money.

Again, I agree, base your trip around available flights and get them booked as soon as possible because flight prices do increase the closer you get to departure.

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9. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

Thank you both for the responses. I'm working diligently right now to piece together flight scenarios and am also toying with the idea of adding a day so I can make a quick day trip to Pamukkale. I know I'm jamming in a lot (and probably skimping on the Istanbul section) but I don't foresee the opportunity to make it back to this region for another 5-10 years due to personal limitations.

Just wanted to point out that the mygola website isn't a tour service per se but instead provides you with tools to prepare your own custom DIY itineraries so I was thinking of taking some information from there that might be useful without replicating the entire itinerary because some of it doesn't interest me or doesn't link up. It is concerning that some of the sites that they recommended are closed!

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10. Re: Turkey Itinerary - October 2013

You can confirm information you get from other web sites, and you should. If you can't return for ten years you should add on 4 days & ser Istanbul.