Photos

Bergama Theatre Bergama Trajan Temple Dalyan Lycian Tombs Kaprulu Kanyon Afrodisias Tetrapylon Demre Beach Ortahisar Volcanic Plug Goreme Sunset View Yoruk Turquoise Treasures and Volcanic Vistas draw Travellers to Turkey
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Turkey - Getting Started

Turkey Trip Planning

planning a trip to Turkey, driving in Turkey, how many places can I see, what does it cost, Turkey Trip Planning, Money, Mode, Destinations
So you want to go to Turkey (TR).  This page describes the practical things you need to know such as currency, hotels, safety, travel mode, logistics, et al.  How you plan your trip to any country depends on your interests and your mode of transportation.  But try to take into account what the country has to offer that you cannot see elsewhere.
 

Currency


The Turkish Lira (ISO code TRY) is the currency of Turkey (ISO code TR).  You do not need to bring cash Lira or your own currency with you as you can use the extensive ATM machines to withdraw lira cash.  Most hotels and restaurants take credit cards but some smaller hotels (called pansiyon like in Italian) either only take Lira or offer a pretty good discount for cash payments.  You generally can also pay in Euros (EUR ≈ 2.93 TRY), US Dollars (USD ≈ 2.12 TRY), and British Pounds (GBP ≈ 3.58 TRY). 

But there may be discrepancies between the price quoted when you booked your accommodation and when you pay for it because of the floating exchange rate and also which rate is used at which date (booking, arrival or departure date).  Try to get the rate in TRY for each hotel you book.  Our rule of thumb wherever we travel is always think and pay in the currency of the country; else you may be paying for a double exchange; e.g. once from EUR to TRY for the charge vs. your credit card and from TRY to your currency by your credit card company.  Get the XE Currency app for your cell phone or tablet.
 

Hotels


Every traveller goes to hotels at the standard of living they desire and the budget they have.  We prefer places that provide good value.  We did not go to the cheapest places like when we were backpacking.  We chose to stay in family-run or small hotels (sometimes called pansiyon in Turkish).  In off-season, we could go to places that in high season would be much more costly. Istanbul and Bursa are more expensive: we averaged TRY 192/day in low season.  In the rest of the country, we averaged TRY 128/day for a double.   

We looked for places that were not just highly rated but had minimal negative comments on Trip Advisor.  To find out, click on the hotel name then look at the Travel Rating histogram.  Note the number of "terrible" reviews.  Click on the link “terrible” to find out the issues and look for a pattern.

Sometimes there are many highly recommended places so it was hard to choose.  Overall, we would have to say that all our choices were good and the staff were friendly and helpful.  The only place that did not have good small hotels was Bursa.  There we stayed at the Hampton Bursa.   It was very nice, but a bit more expensive at TRY 221/day (low season).  But it was just like a hotel in Europe or North America; i.e. very business-like with predominantly business clients.  In most of the other small hotels, you felt like you were living in someone's home rather than an impersonal hotel.

When you are booking, compare your booking web site to the hotel itself in terms of cancellation policies, free airport or bus shuttle, and/or discounts.   We found many revelations and so then booked directly with the hotel.
 

Travel Mode


If your interests include hiking, national parks, birding, scenic views and off-the-beaten-path destinations then you probably want to rent a car − at least for part of the trip.  Yes it is very costly in TR because gas is very expensive (TRY 4.60/L).  If you are going to typical tourist destinations and/or staying in one place for a long time then use public transportation.  It is much cheaper. 

Driving is easy outside of the major cities.  Do not drive in Istanbul because not only is it difficult to park but the drivers constantly change lanes without warning and cut you off.  You may have to rent the car in Istanbul but get it at the Taksim Square office just before you leave the city.  You save the hassle and cost of driving in Istanbul (or whatever other starting point you fly into). 

It is very safe driving most of the rest of the country.  We had a joke when we lived in (Southern) Italy: red lights are just a suggestion.  In Turkey lanes are just a suggestion.  Drivers frequently cross into or drive across two lanes for no reason at all.  So drive carefully.  But do not be put off by horror stories. 
 
We drove 3700 km and saw no problems besides poor signs − or to be more accurate, the signs are not geared to tourists.  For instance, driving east there were no signs for Selçuk.  It may be a small town for Turkey but it is the major tourist destination.  So when we hit Izmir there was no sign saying go this way to bypass Izmir but still get to Selçuk.  We drove through Izmir!  The roads are fantastic −  many are six lane divided expressways.  Don't forget to get maps at the tourist office, or use Google Maps or a GPS.
 

Travel Safety

 
We never felt unsafe or worried wherever we walked, even in big cities.  Nor did we ever feel unsafe or worried about the rental car being broken into.  When we were not using something it went into the trunk.  Of course, we never left our camera backpack in the car either.  I learned my lesson back home.  I had all my camera equipment stolen in broad daylight when I was parked one block away from the busy Jean Talon Market.   See the Travel Tips page for special advice on drinking water. 
 

Travel Pace



One of the prerequisite steps for travel planning is to decide how fast you plan to travel from one site to another.  You need to allow a half day or one day for travel between sites.  This means that a stopover requires two or more nights.   On the other hand, a minor point of interest can easily be included as part of the travel day.  We aimed for 3 to 4 hours of travelling using Google Maps to determine the time of each road segment.  However, we found it always took longer than their estimate because of stops, viewpoints, photography, birding, et al.
 

Travel Destinations


No matter where you travel, the number of destinations depends mainly on the length of your trip.  Excluding Istanbul, you need as a rule of thumb 2 days per stopover.  So if you only have 14 days then you should be selecting less than 7 places.  That's because you need to spend at least 3 to 4 nights in Istanbul.  For details on planning an itinerary, see the Destinations & Seasons page.