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> Starter Kit for Turkey
post Mar 10 2009, 11:53 AM
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Group: Local Expert
Posts: 914
Joined: 30-November 08
From: Çeşme, Western Turkey. One of Turkey's best-kept secrets
Member No.: 262135


Where do you start with a country so large, so diverse? Turkey offers the visitor everything from superb beaches and water sports, some of the world’s greatest historical sites, palaces, battlegrounds and monuments, and a climate offering everything from lazing on the beach to skiing – and a genuine welcome from its people (even when they’re not trying to sell you a carpet or some Turkish Delight!)


The nationalities of many countries (including the United Kingdom and the United States of America) can purchase a sticker Visa on arrival at the airport, sea port or border crossing. You hand in your passport and the fee in cash, the official sticks a stamp in your passport and you're on your way.. The whole thing takes 10 seconds from arriving at the front of the queue. The visa fee is really just a tourist tax. It allows you to stay in the country for up to 90 days - not three months (i.e. calendar months) as often printed on the sticker!

Your passport should be valid for at least three months from the date you enter Turkey.


The Turkish Lira (TL) is divided into 100 Kuruş (pronounced koo-ROOSH).
Although you can sometimes use foreign currencies (Euros, US dollars and UK pounds sterling are accepted in some places for larger transactions), you will probably want to use TL most of the time.

You can easily exchange foreign cash at an Exchange Bureau (Döviz Bürosu), much quicker than using a local bank.

You will certainly receive a better rate for Turkish Lira in Turkey than your home country so it’s wise to arrive with just a small amount of TL for immediate expenditure. ATM’s accepting Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus and Maestro cards are in all major town cities and tourist areas and major credit cards are accepted in many of the larger shops and restaurants in the tourist areas.

Travellers from the Unite Kingdom should be aware that Scottish and Irish bank notes are not accepted or exchangeable in Turkey


Hiring a car does of course give you greater flexibility to explore off the beaten track but petrol is expensive. Roads are being upgraded all the time and there is a motorway system in western Turkey with many major cities throughout the country now having Ring Roads. You need to exercise great care as the rules of the road are quite flexible with a number of grey areas! However road signs are clear, are similar to more familiar European ones. Seat belts are compulsory for the driver and front seat passenger.

Inter City Coach travel has been the way to go for many years. Coaches are comfortable, operate safely on time and with great efficiency. Stewards are in hand to serve free tea, coffee, soft drinks and for longer journeys, snacks.

However, a number of airlines now serve many routes throughout the country with fares equalling the cost of travelling by coach. For example, the coach journey from İzmir to İstanbul takes about 10 hours – or under one hour by plane, excluding getting to the airport and checking in, of course. Turkish Airlines now has fierce competition from a number of efficiently-run ‘budget’ airlines.

Dolmuş (shared minibus) services ply local routes between towns and villages at low cost, stopping and setting down wherever the passenger wishes. A great service.

When to Go:

April to May) and September to October are the best times to visit for sightseeing and exploring in İstanbul and on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.

For sun worshippers, mid-May to September is perfect for the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, but in July and August the temperature can rise and being close to the sea for a cooling dip can be a distinct advantage.

The Black Sea
coast is most welcoming from April and September when there will be much less rain.

Central Anatolia and Cappadocia:
The best time is probably May to September but Cappadocia makes for a quiet escape in spring and autumn. Indeed I visited the area one December and the covering of snow on the rock formations gave them quite a different and mystical beauty
Eastern Turkey is best visited from late June to September, but not before May or after mid-October unless you’re prepared for snowdrifts, road closures and sub-zero temperatures.
High season is from July to mid-September when prices are at their highest.

Where to Go:

İstanbul, Turkey’s largest city, has been a magnet for travellers and traders for centuries. You could spend weeks here and still not see everything this bustling cosmopolitan, once imperial city, straddling two continents has to offer. Istanbul is divided in two by the Bosphorus, a narrow strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea and separating Europe from Asia. Principal must-sees are the Topkapı Palace, Aya Sofia (the Church of the Divine Wisdom) and the Blue Mosque and a cruise along the Bosphorus is on many visitors’ itinerary.

If you want to ‘shop ‘til you drop’, head for the Covered Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) with sixty-six streets and alleys and over 4000 shops!

Just southwest of İstanbul are the Dardanelles, site of the 1915 Gallipoli landings by the Allied troops, and its World War I battlefields.

Aegean Coast:

Most visitors arrive at either Izmir (Adnan Menderes) Airport or Bodrum (Milas) Airport. Although comprising some of the country's most popular tourist regions, the Aegean Coast also holds some of Turkey's most fascinating and diverse treasures, from superb white-sand beaches, picturesque harbours to the largest and best-preserved ancient cities around, Ephesus, the most visited single tourist site in the whole of Turkey – and not forgetting the beautifully sited Roman City of Aphrodisias.

The most popular resorts are Çeşme (one of the quieter spots with reputedly some of the best beaches on the Aegean Coast), Kuşadası, a busy resort preferred by the younger set with a seaport welcoming Aegean and Mediterranean cruise liners, Bodrum, the longest and most attractive of the Aegean resorts with great nightlife in the town and lovely beaches dotted around the peninsula, and Marmaris, second busiest resort after Kuşadası and popular departure point for Blue Voyage Gulet cruises.

Mediterranean Coast:

For quieter resorts with character, Kaş and Kalkan are popular choices. Although having no decent beaches, nearby Patara offers the largest and most beautiful stretches of sand on the Mediterranean with accommodation options, too.

The most popular resorts include Antalya with its a charming old quarter. Most importantly, it's the coast's transportation hub, with a huge, busy bus terminal and a modern international airport. Nearby are the ancient cities of Termessos and Perge. Beach bums head for Lara Beach, 10kms southwest of the town. Side, 25kms east of Antalya, has fine sandy beaches and an ancient city gate with well preserved walls and a colonnaded street running down to the Agora.

Much further east is Antakya, the heart of the Hatay region, culturally part of Syria. ‘Must-sees’ here are the Archeological Museum (Arkeoloji Müzesi) with a collection of Roam mosaics which class as some of the best in the world and Sen Piyer Kilisesi, the famous Cave Church of St Peter where it’s said the apostle preached to the Christian population of Antioch (ancient name of Antakya).


What can be said about Cappadocia that hasn’t been said already?
A unique landscape formed by deposits from ancient volcanoes approximately nine to three million years ago, the rocks of Cappadocia eroded into hundreds of spectacular pillars and minaret-like forms. The volcanic deposits are soft rocks that villagers at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out to form houses, churches, monasteries and even huge multi-storied underground cities..

The Göreme Open Air Museum is the most visited site of the monastic communities in Cappadocia and is one of the most famous sites in central Turkey, comprising more than 30 rock-carved churches and chapels containing some superb frescoes, dating from the 9th and 11th centuries.

And did you know?

Two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are located in Turkey. The Temple of Artemis, near Ephesus and the Halicarnassus Mausoleum, Bodrum.

This Starter Kit is only a taster of a country with so much to offer the traveller. I hope you will enjoy your journeys with confidence and find, as I have discovered, the more adventurously you explore the country, the more you gain. I have often said Turkey is one of the best places to lose your way. There is always someone close by who will offer help, directions and friendship - and you could even end up sharing their meal!

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"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"
Lao-tzy, Chinese Philosopher (604 - 531 BC)
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