"The impulse to travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life." - Agnes Repplier
Everyone has a bucketlist of countries to visit in their mind. So did I. For quite some time, I'd been longing to visit Turkey. It's a unique country in so many ways; the rich culture and history, it's presence in the Asian as well as the European continent, abundance of geographical variety and the list goes on.
We spent 11 amazing days in this beautiful country and time flew by, literally. Turkey is a place which will immerse you in a myriad of magical experiences. Turkey has been inhabited by diverse civilizations and thus, is an example of rich culture and history with influences of the Roman, Greek, Ottoman and Byzantine empires. For the travel lover, Turkey has everything to offer - from buzzing cities to beaches along turquoise coasts to whimsical fairy chimneys to green mountains to ancient cities to authentic Turkish food!
Well, brace yourself for a detailed description about our trip to Turkey.. read on for all the information that you might need to plan that next trip of yours!
We decided to taste each aspect of what this country has to offer and short listed Istanbul, Capadoccia and Antalya for our visit.
Here's an overview of itinerary followed by us:
Day 1: Reach Istanbul. Unwind in the streets of Taksim and enjoy the night life. Quite a start to the trip, I must say!
Day 2: Explore the Sultanahmet district - Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia. Walk around in this area in the evening and enjoy the lovely vibes that the city has to offer!
Day 3: Visit the Red Valley in Capadoccia
Day 4: Exploring Ortahisar by day and Goreme night life
Day 5: A full day Green Valley tour, shopping for must-buy souvenirs in Goreme
Day 6: Exploring Antalya city on an e-bike tour of 30 kilometers - the best way to check out the city!
Day 7: Exploring Kaleiçi (old quarter) in Antalya, visiting Antalya museum (a must do for history lovers out there)
Day 8: Drive to the beach towns of Kemer and Cirali and just chill at the beaches!
Day 9: Visit to the Grand Bazaar, take the sunset Bosphorous cruise (a must-do thing in Istanbul)
Day 10: Visit Princes' Islands from Istanbul, Spice Bazaar, Suleymaniye Mosque
Day 11: Shop at the Istiklal street & Visit to the Galata tower
A few pointers that might be helpful for planning your trip:
Getting a Turkey visa becomes extremely easy for people who already have a valid US, UK or Schengen visa. Just fill up a simple form with basic information and you shall have a valid turkey tourist visa in your mailbox within a matter of minutes. The visa cost is also lower for these applicants at about INR 3000. For other applicants, a visit to the Turkish embassy would be necessary. The visa cost for the same would be INR 8,500 for a single entry visa. All the required information can be found out on the official website of Turkish embassy.
GETTING TO TURKEY FROM INDIA
Istanbul is well connected from all the major cities of India. We flew on Indigo - Turkish Airlines flights for our round trip from Mumbai. We had a brief layover at Delhi. After a comfortable flight, we reached Istanbul in the evening. Now, there are various ways to get to the city from Istanbul airport such as Taxi, Shuttle etc. If you're the one who is ready to splurge, then you may opt for taxis. We however chose to travel by the Airport shuttle from the airport to Taksim square, where we were staying for the next two nights. These shuttles, operated by 'Havaist' are the most cost effective way of transfer. We paid 18 Lira per person to reach Taksim square.
It is advisable to have Turkish Lira on hand as that is the most accepted currency in Turkey. You can choose to convert a few USD or Euros to begin with at the airport and then get the rest exchanged at Taksim square or other areas of Istanbul as you tend to get a much better rate.
Now this is another requirement to make your travel within Instanbul easy as a breeze. Istanbulkart is a smart card much like the ones we have in India for metro and train travel. You can recharge the card and use it to travel on all the public modes of transport such as Metro, trams, shuttles and ferries! Just one card and you can take on entire Instanbul - Voila!
Turkcel is the most economical mobile operator in Turkey, Vodafone being a slightly more expensive option. You can choose to buy a SIM card with your required plan either at the airport or from the city.
INTERNAL TRAVEL & DAY TOURS
It is advisable to book your internal flight or bus tickets before hand as there are limited options available that suit your time and budget. Most important is to book your hot air balloon flight as it is next to impossible getting a confirmation post your arrival in Capadoccia.
Let's jump into the detailed itinerary now!