Turkey has always been the melting pot of cultures. In ancient times, the Trojans, Mongols, Romans, Greeks, Ottomans and many others have visited this country to trade and establish empire. Now the country stands at the confluence of Asia and Europe.
To top it up, there are beaches, hills, food and music. And everything is extraordinarily
This is a major doubt Indians have while planning a trip to the Mediterranean. But according to UK's foreign office, there is little reason to worry as the Turkey, known for its magnificent beaches, scenic landscape and delicious food, is now rebuilding its tourism sector and is putting vehement efforts to curb down any safety issue for tourists.
If you plan to fly from India, the best choice of city to fly from would be New Delhi followed by Kolkata. There might be a difference of Rs 6000-8000 (return) between these two. India's budget airline Indigo offers the best deal if you book in advance. If you are looking for international airlines, then Qatar Airways might a very good option. However, Indigo should be the first choice as it takes only 6 hours from Delhi. If you plan well in advance, a Delhi-Istanbul return flight would cost you Rs 22,000 per person.
Intellectual note: Download one of the ticket booking apps and set a price drop alert well in advance. The app will notify you whenever the price hits a low.
The Indian passport might prove to be one of the most powerful ones in the world but that doesn't stop you from feeling special in Turkey. Recently, Turkey has issued quite some relaxation to Indian residents holding valid Schengen, US, UK, and Ireland visas on their passports.
This would enable them to travel to Turkey with just getting an e-visa from https://www.evisa.gov.tr in three minutes for a fee of $44.5 (Rs 3000 approx).
However, for others, you would need to go through the formal process of visa processing through Turkey Visa Application Centre, which refers to VFS Global, the international agency that takes care of the tedious process.
For applicants applying in Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Trivandrum, and Puducherry, one needs to submit through the Mumbai office. VFS will accept applications as per the document checklists provided by Turkey Consulate, Mumbai. Documents will be arranged as per the order given in the checklist.
For applicants applying in New Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Jalandhar, Gurgaon, Kolkata and Kathmandu, VFS will accept applications as per the document checklists provided by the Embassy of Turkey, New Delhi.
A Single Entry Tourist Visa will cost you Rs. 4270. It takes a minimum of 10-15 working days to process Turkey visa.
How to book an appointment? (Not applicable for Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Goa, Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin, Trivandrum, and Puducherry) . Call - 022 67866029 to book an appointment through call centre only. Submission Timings:- 09:00 to 16:30 (Monday to Friday) for Applicants.
When you are flying from India to Turkey, you would be arriving at the new Istanbul Airport (IST). This airport is Turkey's largest as of now and is located almost 40 km away from the main city.
How to reach Istanbul from the airport
To reach the main city of Istanbul from the Istanbul Havalimanı Airport, there are three ways.
Taxi: This isn’t the best option in Turkey. The taxi drivers are notorious for taking the passengers literally for a ride and charging an exorbitant rate. Never take taxis from inside the airport where the drivers hustle you. Instead, walk till Taksi Tarmac.
Fare: 105 TL - around 18 USD to Takism. However these aren't fixed prices and you might be overcharged.
Havaist Airport Shuttle: This Airport Shuttle serves almost all parts of the main city. To reach Takism, board line IST 19: Beşiktaş - Taksim. Get down at the last point, which is next to Point Hotel. You can walk or take a taxi from there.
In case your destination is Sultanahmet, Beşiktaş, or Yenikap, check with the booking counter.
These buses have on-board Wi-Fi, TVs, and other amenities to make sure you don't feel bored. You will find the timetable available at the airport bus stand as well as Havaist website.
Bus Fare: 18 Lira Per Head, which is equivalent to 3 USD. Journey time: 1 hr 40 minutes
Kiwi Taxi: This is an option if you are willing to pay more and get a comfortable service minus the hustle. Kiwi Taxi is just the medium through which you can pre-book a cab. While this is a bit on expensive side, this offers comfortable cars, 2-piece luggage option, and courteous chauffeurs. You need to book online, give details of your flight and you would find the driver waiting for you with a name placard. The payment would be through cash after your ride.
Fare: 250 Lira or Rs 3000 (1 hour waiting included) Journey time: 1 hour
First Things First
If you plan to cruise around the city, avail metro, tram and bus rides, or buy an Istanbul Kart at the airport. This is a prepaid card that can be used across all public transport modes throughout the city. This card offers almost 40% discount over normal fare. So the minimum fare for single ticket journey is 5 Lira while this card will cost 3 Lira as minimum. You can reload the card at small shops where Akbil Dolum Noktası is written. Otherwise, you can use self-service special purpose machines at major transits.
How to change currency in Turkey
Most locals would refer to Money Changer in Istanbul as Change Office. Remember to find 'Doviz' around you, which means Forex Counters. Unlike many countries, changing Forex at airports or hotels will cost you 5% more for tax.
Turkish currency is called Lira. 1 Lira is equal to Rs 11.90 (approx.). USD 100 will fetch you around 580 Lira. Lira is available in the denomination of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200.
Just like many other places, you would find the best money changing rates at around the commercial areas - Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Sultanahmet, Laleli, and Taksim.
Since you will be flying to Turkey from India, it's assumed that you will be carrying USD. To ensure that you don't find it difficult to pay the cab, it's advisable to get a few currencies exchanged at a higher rate at the airport and save the rest for later.
Here are a few Change Offices where our experts got a better deal.
Money Changers at Grand Bazaar Merkez Doviz Beyazıt Mh., Keseciler Cd. 105-107, 34126 Fatih, İstanbul, Turkey Phone: +90 212 520 4034 Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 08:00 - 18:00 Haznedar Doviz Services: Currency and gold exchange Address: Mollafenari, Çuhacı Han Sk. No: 8, 34120 Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey Phone: +90 212 514 2474 Opening hours: Monday to Friday 09:00 - 18:00By tram: The nearest tram stop is BeyazitBy metro: The nearest metro stations are Vezneciler and Marmaray Sirkeci Money Changers at Sultan Market Aydin Gold and Change Office Address: Divanyolu Caddesi Divan Center No:56/38, 34122, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey Phone: +90 212 513 8698 Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 09:00 - 21:00 Dadas Doviz Address: Mollafenari, Vezirhan Cd. No:36, 34120, Fatih, Istanbul, Turkey Phone: +90 212 514 5958 Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 08:00 - 18:00 The nearest tram stops are Sultanahmet and Cemberlitas.
Overview: Spend 1 to 2 days in Istanbul. Check out the city for the first 2 days. On the 3 rd day, take a cheap flight from Istanbul to Kayseri to reach Cappadocia. Stay in Cappadocia for Day 4,5,6, and 7. On the 8th day, take a flight to Izmir and then drive to Selcuk for your stay there. On day 9, visit Pamukkale by bus or taxi.
Come back to your hotel for the night. On day 10, visit the ancient city of Ephesus. Come back to hotel. Day 11, take a flight back to Istanbul and spend 2.5 and leave for Bozcaada on Day 13 evening. Reach Tenedos island and spend Day 14 at an Air BnB. Reach Istanbul an take your flight back home on Day 15.
BONUS: If you have 2 more days, Bozcaada will be a lovely place to explore.
Begin your Istanbul Tour
Day 1: Reach and rest.
Day 2: Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace
Once a church for 916 years, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque when Fatih Sultan Mehmed invaded Istanbul in 1453. In 1935, Hagia Sophia was turned to a museum to exhibit the marvellous architecture.
Timing: Summer- 9:00 to 17:00, Winter - 9:00 to 19:00
Entry fee: 60 Lira or 10.34 USD
However if you hate waiting you can buy the passes online through Tripadvisor affiliated sites and gain some extra access.
Time required: 2 hours maximum
To reach: Sultanahmet is the nearest tram station in Route T1.
In the 15th century, it served as the main residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans. The complex was expanded over the centuries, with major renovations after the 1509 earthquake and the 1665 fire. The palace complex consists of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan's family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building.
Timing: Summer- 9:00 to 17:00, Winter - 9:00 to 19:00
Entry Fee: 60 Lira. For Harem extra 35 Lira needs to be paid. You can buy the tickets online.
Time required: 3 hours maximum
To reach: Walking from Sophia Hagia
Day 3: En route Cappadocia
How to: The most convenient way to reach Cappadocia from Istanbul is flight. There are numerous domestic flights from Istanbul Airport, mostly operated by Turkish Airlines. The nearest airport is Kayseri.Cost: If booked in advance, the flights come really cheap at Rs 2500 to Rs 2700.
Time: 1 h 10 min
Alternatives: There are buses that take 11 hours to reach.
Day 4 and Day 5: Tour around Cappadocia. Visit: Monks Valley, Devrent Valley and Goreme Open Air Musuem. Hot air balloon ride.
The main attraction of this trip is the Hot Air Balloon Ride. This is something you have seen in movies and wallpapers of your computer. However this is expensive. But then again, it's a onetime experience.
Hot Air Balloons are best to be booked online before going according to your preferred date. On Klook, you will get the ride for Rs 12000 per person. This will include an hour of ride, a pre-flight breakfast and a Mercedes Benz transfer from your hotel.
You can keep the Hot Air Balloon ride for 4 th day and a day tour of the rest for the 5 th day. Again the day tour comes at a great price on Klook, costing Rs 3818 when booked online. This will include visit to Devrent Valley, Monks Valley, pottery workshop at Avanos, a hearty lunch and hotel pick and drop. The Hotel address needs to be provided in the Checkout page of Klook while booking.
Day 6: Visit Rose and Red Valleys. Watch the sunset overlooking Rose and Red Valleys.
How to go: While going solo might be in your agenda, we recommend subscribing to a group tour like earlier ones. Simply because the comfort and quality of public transport isn't that great in this part of Turkey. Also it's better not to get misguided.
What to opt for: You can try Woop Woop. They have a tour called Rose Valley Tour, which will include Göreme panorama, Rose Valley, Cavusin Village, Lunch in Avanos Village, Kaymaklı Underground City, and Pigeon Valley. Tour departs at 9.30 AM and you will be collected from your hotel prior to departure time.Cost: Rs 3000 approx.
Caution: Remember, no matter whether you go by yourself or tour operator, you would need to hike on the valleys. Ensure you wear comfortable shoes and fit enough to hike. Else you can stay at the foothills and enjoy.
Day 7: Eating at Dibek
Cappadocia being the hub of pottery, one of the most popular delicacies is Pottery Kebab. This isn't a dry kebab, rather a Turkish delicacy. Dibek is quite a popular restaurant in this dish. The meat is cooked in a sealed clay pot for hours. You would need to book in advance by calling Dibek to try this delicacy.
Cappadocia is known as retail hub of Turkey since ages. A shopping centre, Kayseri Forum, is quite a happening place. You can pick up clothes from domestic and international brands at decent prices. You would also find a cinema multiplex showing local movies and international ones.
There is a jewellery hub in the district of Uchisar. Gerome Onyx hosts a variety of shops that deal in gem stones. You can pick up some stones at affordable price.
There are a couple of places where you can enjoy your evening over drinks and music. Cafe Shafak, Angel Bistro, Asim'in Yeri, Mydonose Cafe & Bistro are one of the most reputed ones in the circuit.
Day 8: Proceed to Izmir. Stay at Selcuk. Rest for the day after reaching
How to reach Izmir: Again the best way to travel within Turkey for an Indian is always to fly.
Cost: Booking in advance, you would get a good deal costing around Rs 2800 - 4000 on Pegasus Airlines or Turkish Airlines.
Time: It will take 1h 25 min to reach Izmir. The airport is called Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport.
Day 9: Proceed for a 3-hour drive to Pamukkale, a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
How to reach: Pamukkale can be reached on train. You can take a train from Izmir Basmane station to Goncali, which will take 4 hour 28 min and cost Rs 240-Rs 300. From Goncali, you can take a taxi for 20 minutes, which will cost Rs 300 again. Trains are quite comfortable.
The other option is to take a taxi. These are quite expensive costing around Rs 14000 for a regular hatchback like VW Golf. Three passengers are allowed. Again you can book taxis in advance through Kiwi Taxi.
Start your day early because you would need to return to Izmir by night.
What to do at Pamukkale: Visit Pamukkale's white travertine terraces, the natural hot springs. See the turquoise pools and ice-like stalactites and stalagmites shaped by the calcium deposits, and then take a look at Hierapolis, the ruins of an ancient Roman city on the plateau. Also visit the Temple of Apollo if you have time. Back to Izmir.
Day 10: Proceed towards Ephesus.
How to reach: The most convenient way to travel would be train. Now that you had taken a train the day before, you would know where to get it from. The train starts from Izmir Basmane and reaches Selcuk, the nearest station in 1 hour 25 minute.
Finding it too long to read? Just drop in a mail on email@example.com. We would be sharing the PDF doc with you for easy planning.
Fare: 20 Lira (approx.)
What to do: Getting down from the train transfer to a hotel/ Bnb.Take a tour of the ancient Roman and Ottoman ruins and explore the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian, Gate of Hercules, the Great Theatre, the Odeon and also the Temple of Artemis. Take a tour of the wonderful Ephesus Museum and then the House of the Virgin Mary. Also see the terrace houses in Ephesus. Head back to Selcuk. Selcuk is a quaint little town. You can visit a few cafes around and try local cuisine and beer.
Day 11: Proceed to Istanbul via flight. The flights are really reasonably priced. If you book in advance you would flights at Rs 1198 to Rs 1500 per person.
Reach Istanbul. Enjoy Turkish dinner with show.
Day 12: . Take a stroll around the city.
Strolling around the city: You can start with the historic walking tour that is quite off beat. Start from Hippodrome. The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultan Ahmet Square).
From Hippodrome walk to the Blue Mosque. This is barely a 100 metre walk. From Blue Mosque, walk to Grand Bazaar, where you find souvenirs, Turkish coffee and a lot more.
Places to eat at Grand Bazaar: Byzantion Bistro & Restaurant (Steak, Seafood, BBQ),Altan Sekerleme (Turkish food), Coffetopia (Vegetarian)
Next walk to Gate 7 of Grand Bazaar and find Sahaflar Carsisi (Old Book Bazaar). If you take interest in books, this is your heaven. Get lost in the fragrance of old books.
Your next stop would be Suleymaniye, an Ottoman-era mosque. You can walk to the Spice Market nearby and buy some spices.
To spend the evening, you can take a ferry across the river. For that you would need to walk or take a tram from Suleymaniye to Bosphorus (Route T1). Here you will find multiple ferry options. Buy Simit bread to feed the seagulls when your cruise.
Return to your hotel/ BnB and retire for the day.
Day 13: Visit Sophia Museum. Later enjoy a Scenic boat ride by Eminonu through famous Bosporus Straits.
Option i- Take the evening flight home.
Option ii - Take an overnight bus to Canakkale from where you can get the ferry that will take you to Bozcaada. Regular buses run from Istanbul to Çanakkale. You will find buses from Çanakkale to Geyikli Yukyeri Port. Getting on this port, you can take a ferry boat to Bozcaada. The whole trip shouldn't cost you more than Rs 1800-2000.
Alternative route: You can take taxi. The route Ýstanbul-Tekirdag-Eceabat-Canakkale-Geyikli is about 400 km and takes 6 hours to reach. This route includes ferry. While this is one of the convenient routes, this route is expensive costing around Rs 7000- 12000 depending on car agencies in Istanbul.
Day 14: Explore Bozcaada (Tenedos Island)
Bozcaada is known in the Greek mythology as Tenedos. Even Homer's Iliad has a mention of this island. The Byzatine Empire during the medieval period found Bozcaada to be a vulnerable place because of its isolation.
Bozcaada Castle was built by Ottoman sultan Mehmet II in the 15th century, and repaired by the Ottoman sultan Mahmut II in 1815. This is a must visit.
Ayazma Beach is popular beach. You can lie under the sun on sunbeds and cherish the blue sea. There are a tons of restaurants to get your calorie on track. Make the full of this trip and enjoy a bath in the cold water of the sea.
You would find many Turkish grapevines where they make local wine. It's advisable, you try the local wine as it's quite different from the ones you are habituated with.
How to travel: You will find a tonnes of bike rentals just rent one and get going.
Day 15: Return to Istanbul. Take your return flight to your country.
Tourist Scams in Turkey
Just like any other country, on the contrary there are a couple of tourist scams that you should be aware of before visiting. This isn't meant to discourage you but to make sure you are cautious.
Target: Single male. Single female. Group of males.
Modus operandi: Stranger from opposite sex would approach and befriend conveniently. Take the victim to a pub and keep drinking. Then the victim is made to pay an enormous bill. Mostly the pub owners are involved.
How to avoid: Say a no with a smile. If still insists on, politely tell them that you will call the cops.
Modus Operandi: Selling overpriced tours, booking non-existent packages, offering low quality tours.
How to avoid: All agents need to be registered with the TÜRSAB (Türkiye Seyahat Agentaları Birliği, Association of Turkish Travel Agencies). Ask them for the proof. When booking online trust the sites that are global.
Target: Solo travellers
Modus Operandi: Offering a free shoe shine and telling you a sad story of life. Then insisting on a hefty amount.
How to avoid: Stay away. If someone drops shoe shine tools beside you as if an accident, never help.
Stay options across Turkey
Stanpoli Hostel - Rs 1000 onwards Hotel Tulip House - Rs 2500 onwards Marmara Guest House - Rs 5000 onwards Gul Sultan - Rs 6000 onwards Le Safran Suite Hotel - Rs 3500 onwards
Tugra Restaurant, Ciragan Cad. Ciragan Palace Kempinski 1924Istanbul, Olivya Gecidi No: 7, Beyoglu Old Ottoman Cafe & Restaurant, Cagaloglu Hamam Sokak No 17/J
Grand Ozturk - Rs 4000 onwards Taskonaklar - Rs 10000 onwards Kelebek Special Cave Hotel - Rs 17000 onwards Duven Hotel Cappadocia - Rs 4000 onwards
Seki Restaurant, Uchisar Inci Cave Restaurant, Goreme Safak, Goreme
DoubleTree By Hilton Izmir Airport - Rs 3500 onwards Renaissance Izmir Hotel - Rs 5500 onwards Wyndham Grand İzmir Özdilek - Rs 6500 onwards Mia City Hotel - Rs 5500 onwards
Kısmet Otel- Rs 6000 onwards Ilayda Avantgarde Hotel- Rs 7500 onwards Ramada Resort Kusadasi & Golf - Rs 6000 onwards Saint John Hotel- Rs 4500 onwards
Appollon Hotel- Rs 4000 onwards Hotel Öykü Butik - Rs 5800 onwards Ersin Konak- Rs 6000 onwards Aika Akvaryum - Rs 7500 onwards
** This has been produced by the experts at Indulgence Chronicle. The website takes no responsibility for any untoward experience. Travellers are requested to cross check all the information.
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