Handcrafted Honeymoons: Grab Your Better-Half And Head To The Magical Lands Of Turkey

Tripoto

Hagia Sophia Museum, Istanbul | Credits: Blaque X

Photo of Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

The transcontinental country of Turkey is a captivating concoction of the East and West. Steeped in historical stories drawn from former Greek, Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman establishments, it's a cornucopia of charming coastal towns, sweeping highlands and outlandish oddities. An ordinary day in these middle-eastern terrains is an orchestration of skies dotted with hot-air balloons, the sun softening folds of the magnificent Kaçkar mountains and uninitiated travellers navigating their way through ramshackle shops serving fragrant kebabs and the delectable baklava.

In Turkey, time passes gently, at an unhurried pace. It will take you and your partner an hour or so to get attuned to the haunting arabesque music, mere minutes to soak in the exuberance of conversations drifting out of kahvehans (coffeehouses) and a second to fall irrevocably in love with a language you don't understand and flavours you've never tasted.

Getting there

Reaching Turkey from India's major cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore is quite easy. It will however be the most economical to fly from Mumbai. Istanbul's Atatürk Airport (IST) is Turkey's largest international airport and sees flights from Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, IranAir and Ariana Afghan's flights to and from Mumbai.

The return fare (Mumbai-Istanbul), during the peak month of November will be ₹24,679 per person.

Visa

Indian citizens can obtain a single entry e-visa for Turkey, costing ₹10,079. This is valid for 30 days within a 180-day period. And diplomatic passport holders are exempt from a visa for up to 90 days. For further details, visit their e-visa website. Most Western nationalities, for travel up to 90 days, either don't require visas or can obtain one online.

What to see and do

Through eight ridiculously beautiful days, we'll hop from one city to the next and each will usher you in with its Anatolian homes syphoning off the country's postcard-perfect landscape and its infectious energy.

Itinerary: Istanbul (day 1-2), Cappadocia (day 3-4), Kusadasi (day 5-7)

Day 1

Credits: Abraham Puthoor

Photo of Sultanahmet, Istanbul, Binbirdirek Mahallesi, Fatih, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Start with Istanbul's grandiose monument of Hagia Sophia – the spiritual epicentre of the Ottoman and Christian Byzantine empires and marvel at the Viking graffiti, gold mosaic work featured in its upper gallery and the ginormous dome guarding the mosque; walk down to Sultan Ahmet Camii – a mosque dating back to the Ottoman era, known for its exquisite blue Iznik tiles that made way for its other moniker of the Blue Mosque; take a tram to Divan Yolu that sustains the humungous 16th-century Ottoman shopping mall of Grand Bazaar and comprises of around 4,000 shops and a maze of alleys; in the evening, head to Hodja Pasha Cultural Centre in Sirkeci, for an enrapturing dervish/Anatolian dance performance at a restored Turkish bath.

Where to eat: Tuck into the flavoursome kebabs and mezes from any of Sultanahmet's street eateries. Go for a Bosphorus cruise after sundown with a dinner at G Balik. Try any seafood dish here and have a glass of raki (Turkish liquor). For a super romantic dinner, head to the Ulus 29. Visit Imroz – a lively tavern, for raki and a delish grilled fish.

Where to stay:

Budget: Sultanahmet Wooden House

Luxury: Hotel Bulvar Palas

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: From Sultanahmet, follow the tram-line up to Beyazıt Mahallesi.

Day 2

Credits: Justin Schier

Photo of Beyazıt Mahallesi, Beyazit Square, Fatih/Istanbul, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Take a lift to the top of the glorious Galata tower, that fans out over the Bosphorus strait and the minarets and domes of the old city; spend an hour or so in Neve Shalom Synagogue's historic Jewish Museum (Büyük Hendek Caddesi); for those customary pictures, walk down to the fascinating Kamondo Steps that were constructed by a local Jewish family; head to Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul's teeming thoroughfare for an afternoon of retail therapy; ride the red period tram from Tünel to Taksim Square and relive your childhood momentarily; end the day by an exploration of the historic arcades of Çiçek and Avrupa Pasajis.

Where to eat: Head to Khorasani for southeastern Turkish fare. When the weather is pleasant and the day is sunny, go for lunch at the rooftop terrace of Galata Konak Cafe. For a nostalgic evening, visit the Pera Palace Hotel for a cup of Turkish tea or the Büyük Londres Hotel for a drink or two at its swanky bar. Take a walk to Nardis, for a mellifluous night of jazz.

Where to stay:

Budget: BellaVista Hostel

Luxury: Rixos Pera Istanbul

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: Fly down to Cappadocia from Istanbul's Atatürk Airport (IST).

Day 3

Credits: Daniela Cuevas

Photo of Cappadocia, Province of L'Aquila, Italy by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Book yourself a hot-air balloon ride, that will take you across honeycombed hills smattered across the valley; take a hike through the trails looping around Güllüdere (Rose) Valley; over a thousand years old and constructed by earthquakes, visit Ihlara Valley sitting in Cappadocia's Aksaray province and be sure to explore the churches hidden and folded deep into the valley's caves; the rock-cut churches of the 11th century Göreme Open-Air Museum are a must visit for their ornate frescoes; go to the underground city of Derinkuyu that was flocked by locals during times of battle; end the afternoon with a trip to the towering Uchisar Castle piercing Cappadocia's impossibly blue skies.

Where to eat: Go to Zeytin Café and Ev Yemelkeri, for the local delicacy of manti (small pasta pockets of meat/cheese in a tomato-garlic sauce). Gorge on an asude or two, that are fudge-like desserts cooked from pekmez (molasses made from locally-grown grapes).

Where to stay:

Budget: Garden of Cappadocia

Luxury: Artemis Cave Suites

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: Devrent Valley is under 30 minutes away and can be accessed by a bus or taxi.

Day 4

Credits: Cristian Viarisio

Photo of Devrent (Imaginary Valley), Aktepe Köyü/Avanos/Nevşehir, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: With dewy-eyed wonder, take in the geological gems that are the mushroom-shaped chimneys and structures imitating animals, dotting Devrent Valley's landscape; visit the fascinating underground city of Kaymakli that is decked with a winery, bedrooms, stables and a church; using clay from a local red river, partake in a pottery class at Avanos and take home some souvenirs; catch a traditional belly dancing performance at any of Cappadocia's cave restaurants; go to the Museum of Seljuk Civilisation, that is essentially a 13th-century twin hospital and seminary; end your day with a walk around the Old Village of Ürgüp, whose alleys are lined with examples of timeworn Turkish stone architecture.

Where to eat: Head to Dibek for bowls of the trumpet testi kebabs (stews made in testis (pots) that will be cracked open right before your eyes. Go to Nazar Börek for its gözleme (pancakes), börek (stuffed pastries) and elma böreği (apple pastries). Visit Seki for its labyrinthine rock-cut wine cellar and Seten, for its kabak çiçeği dolması (stuffed zucchini flowers).

Where to stay:

Budget: Cappadocia Cave Rooms

Luxury: Rox Cappadocia

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: From Cappadocia, fly down to Kuşadası.

Day 5

Credits: Mahir Uysal

Photo of Kuşadası/Aydın Province, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Visit Dilek, the Aegean coast's largest national park and take a swim in any of its shimmering beaches; keep aside a few hours for a scintillating sunset by Pigeon Island and the nearby ruins of the Byzantine fortress; stroll through the 19th-century half-timbered houses lining Kuşadası's harbour and shop for baubles at the century-old Turkish bazaars; clamber aboard a boat heading to any of the bays and snorkel or swim your way through the beaches; architectural buffs can go to the Temple of Athena that sits amongst ruins of the Hellenistic city of Priene.

Where to eat: Go to the Erzincan Restaurant for authentic Anatolian fare of kofta and kebabs, and seafood casseroles. The Blue Fish Restaurant in the town centre is known for all its fish-based dishes. Head to the Dejazar Wine Bar for a laid-back bistro vibe.

Where to stay:

Budget: In House Hostel

Luxury: B. Equine Range Hotel

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: Ephesus is a taxi ride away from Aydın Province.

Day 6

Credits: Clark & Kim Kays

Photo of Atatürk Mahallesi, Ephesus Archaeological Museum, Uğur Mumcu Sevgi Yolu, Selçuk/İzmir, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Start with the ruins of Ephesus that were once the Roman Empire's second largest city – explore its gigantic Celsius library, amphitheatre and terraced homes; run by monks and nuns in the present day, visit the house of the Virgin Mary planted on the lush hills of Selcuk; while still in Selcuk, take a walk through the quaint village of Sirince renowned for its fruity wines and homemade olive oils; wander around the ruins of the harbour city of Miletus and douse yourself in the stories behind the Byzantine fortress walls, Temple of Apollo and Baths of Faustina.

Where to eat: Tuck into the epicurean flavours of the local dishes, such as the delectable simits (a Turkish bagel), balık ekmek (Turkish sandwiches stuffed with fish) and lahmacun (a light wrap packed with meat, onion, parsley and red pepper).

Where to stay:

Budget: Ali Baba's House

Luxury: Nisanyan Hotel

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: Under three hours away from Kuşadası, Pamukkale can be reached via bus/taxi.

Day 7

Credits: Daniela Cuevas

Photo of Pamukkale, Pamukkale Belediyesi, Denizli, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

What to see: Stand (or walk around) in awe of the white travertine terrace of Pamukkale; explore the ruins of Hierapolis – dating back to 190 BC where the structures of several churches and streets still remain; at the summit of the Pamukkale Hill, lies the Hierapolis theatre that was built during the reign of Roman emperors Hadrian and Septimius Severus; Pamukkale's Antique Pool, right beside the Temple of Apollo is perfect for a leisurely dip into the invigorating waters of a hot-spring.

Where to eat: From any of the street eateries, feast on tantuni – a tortilla crammed with generous helpings of spices, beef, tomatoes and peppers, midye dolma – mussels stuffed with herbed rice and lemon juice, kumpir – jacket potatoes topped off with cheese, corn, peas and carrots and tavuk pilav – Turkey's local favourite of spiced chicken and rice.

Where to stay:

Budget: Kale Hotel

Luxury: Polat Thermal Hotel

You can check out more stay options here.

Up next: Izmir is under two hours away via buses, from Pamukkale.

Day 8

Head back home from Izmir's Adnan Menderes Airport.

When to go

The best months to visit Turkey are from March to May and between September and November, when the temperatures are pleasant and skies are clear. These periods are usually perfect for sightseeing, swimming, kiteboarding and other such activities, with the temperature only going as high as 14ºC. The wonderful Sarıgerme Kite Festival, takes place in April every year by the Sarıgerme Beach near Bodrum, and is a vibrant showcase of Turkey's local traditions.

Getting around

The best and relatively economical way to get around Turkey is via buses, with the ticket costing around ₹142 for a 160 kilometres.

By plane: From Istanbul's Atatürk Airport's domestic terminal and local offices of Turkish Airlines, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Atlasjet, flight tickets to major cities such as Ankara can be purchased. Most of these regional airports are connected by a Havaş bus to the city centre (will cost you less than a taxi).

By bus: Buses to most cities ply from Turkey's Otogars (bus stations), with a bus departing every 30 minutes. For long distances, most buses are staffed with a couple of assistants who offer free drinks and small snacks, with the buses stopping after every two and a half hours. A ticket for travel up to 100 miles costs around ₹142.

By train/metro: The Turkish Republic State Railways (TCDD) operates passenger trains all across the country. Tickets can be purchased online, the departure station, central post-offices and authorised tourist agencies.

The M2 Şişhane-Hacıosman metro line is the fastest way to get around Turkey and runs through most of Turkey's cities, from 5am till midnight.

T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar tram line runs across most tourist destinations and is ideal for sightseeing purpose.

By dolmuş: Turkey's shared taxi, dolmuş (minibus) accommodates up to eight passengers and runs 24 hours a day.

By taxi: The Turkish taxi seats five people and the starting fare is ₹22. A trip spanning several kilometres during the day can cost anything up to ₹265. At night, the rates are usually doubled.

Costs

Flight from New Delhi to Istanbul, Turkey: ₹33,788 (return fare)

One-way ticket on local buses: ₹142 for 160 kilometres

Taxi starting tariff: ₹22

Hotel stay in Istanbul: ₹1,687 to ₹4,390

A meal at a small restaurant or a fast-food joint: ₹562

Credits: Evren Aydin

Photo of Izmir, İzmir, Turkey by Sonalika Debnath

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1 Comment(s)
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nice post and very informative i want go on turkey tour for next month what can i should a pefact planing . Thanks for shared. https://www.europegrouptrip.com/turkey-honeymoon-packages.html
Wed 05 02 18, 00:05 · Reply · Report