Does Turkey require an introduction? It doesn’t matter if you are a frequent or a one-off traveller, there are chances this country is already on the top of your bucket list if you haven’t already been there. This land of mystics, Sufis, natural beauty, Islamic architecture, and mysteries unveiled is definitely one place everyone should visit at least once in their life. Turkey is a complete package; it has natural beauty, it has a history, it has the architecture to marvel upon, and it has all the western party fun you want. In short, this country has something for every sort of traveller and this is why you are on this Turkey travel guide probably.
There is a lot in Turkey to see and that’s probably the reason, it takes avid travellers to make at least two trips to give this beautiful land a one go. I am sure you already know half of this country is in Asia and the other half is in Europe, so you can actually see the waves of both continents spread across this land. If you are someone who is planning a trip to Turkey or are just dreaming to go there, you have come to the right place. Even though there is a lot to see, but we have put together a comprehensive Turkey Travel Guide on a Budget, so you can get the maximum out of this breathtaking country in the minimum budget and time possible.
Let’s have a look together:
Turkey has a lot to offer. It is one big country with every place much better and mysterious than the other, so be assured that no matter how many days you have planned, they won’t be enough for you. In an ideal world, where you have to go back to your office or schools after the vacation, I recommend sparing somewhere between ten to fifteen days for this trip. For all the Turkey travel guide readers, I don’t recommend pairing any other country with Turkey, so dedicate one complete vacation to it.
The best times to visit this country are either April to May, but the temperature can get hot. If you are coming from a cold climate, these months are perfect for you. Otherwise, my favourite time of the year for Turkey from September to October. The temperature at this time isn’t too cold and not warm either. It is a perfect balance and you will enjoy the chilly winter nights.
The budget you are comfortable spending depends on you. If you are a backpacker, you can manage to spend one fine day for $30 – $50, and if you want somewhat a decent and comfortable place to stay in, then dedicate somewhere around $80 – $100 per day. Turkey isn’t exactly expensive, especially for Western travellers, and you can easily find cheap accommodation or food as you want. Hence, whatever your budget is, there are chances you might be able to swing by in it. This Turkey travel guide is made in such a way that every budget can be accommodated in it.
Now that you are seriously deciding to plan a trip, it is upon me to let you know everything you must be aware of before you visit the country. Here are some things you must keep in mind before visiting Turkey:
Never-ending Beauty – Yes, I gave my heart to Turkey and no place ever took it from this beautiful land. No matter where in the world you are coming from, you will find this country beautiful and full of miraculous beauty you won’t be able to get your eyes off. A treat to the eyes indeed!
History & Architecture – Turkey’s history is such that even if you don’t like history or the old Mughal and Islamic architecture, you will still be intrigued and love it. From the Islamic remnants of the prophet era to Turkey’s historical gifts, there is a lot that can turn it into a mysterious film.
Food – Turkish food is famous all over the world. Almost everyone likes it. Need I say more?
Hot Air Balloon – This is the sole reason people often visit this country. Flying on a hot air balloon over Cappadocia and watching the sunrise is one thing you will cherish and never forget.
Sufi Dance – If you visit Turkey and don’t visit Konya and see the original Sufi dance dedicated to the remembrance of Rumi, you will be missing out on the biggest favour you can give yourself.
Street Life – If someone had to ask me what I love about Turkey the most, my answer would have been this. The street life in the major cities like Istanbul, Antalya and many other will almost take you by surprise. From folk musicians to young lads singing local songs to painters and many others, the streets, especially on the weekend nights, will leave you in awe and you wouldn’t want to go back to your hotel.
People – While it might be an overstatement because not everyone has the same experience, sometimes travellers report the locals misbehaving and do not treat them properly. So, keep this in mind and do not have a load of expectations. Be especially aware of the taxi drivers as they charge extra and give fake notes in exchange.
Pickpockets – Yes, this is something that is popular around Europe, but Turkey’s pickpockets have some magical skills. In the crowded tourist sites and places, you have to be super vigilant of your belongings because you won’t even know your stuff is gone till you are looking for it.
Language – The language barrier is real in Turkey. Tourism is at its very best, but still, you will find people who do not understand a single word in English. This becomes a real problem if you are looking for a specific place or just want your problem to be sorted.
This is the best part of the Turkey travel guide. I will try my best to mention as many places as I can, but do not fret if I leave a few because there is a lot that you can see in Turkey but still won’t be done with it:
It couldn’t get any precise than this. There are dozens and dozens of places in Istanbul to visit and feast your eyes on. Hence, I have mentioned the entire city separately. From Bosphorus cruise to Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Istiklal Street, Taqsim Square, The Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahce Palace, and The Grand Bazaar, there is a never-ending list of places this city has to offer.
This is also the city split between Europe and Asia, so you will also enjoy seeing the fusion of the two. If I am, to be honest, if you spend all of ten days in Istanbul, you will only be scratching the surface and not diving deep into the beauty of this place. This is how magnificent it is. Make sure you take the ferry ride by Bosphorus to enjoy Turkish night, visit Topkapi and Dolmabahce Palace to go into Islamic and Turkish history respectively, Blue Mosque to see the splendour of this religious place, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern for some museum peek and architectural grandeur, and Istiklal Street and the Grand Bazaar for some local fun and shopping.
If you are in Istanbul, you should spare a day to visit these beautiful islands. A set of four, only one of them is accessible to the general public by ferry. This place is beautiful and otherworldly. No transportation is allowed here so the island residents use bicycles and horse carriages to go from one place to another. In your hectic holiday plan, Princes Island is the relaxing time you need.
Once you enter Cappadocia by road early morning, you will see hot air balloons flying all over it. This was my first introduction to this city and believe me it made the 8-hour bus ride worth it. Waking up early morning and taking a ride across the Cappadocia dunes and watching the sunrise is definitely worth it. Do stay in a cave house in this city.
If you are into extreme sports, pair it with the natural beauty of this stunning waterfall. Throughout this area, you can enjoy scuba diving, ziplining, and rafting. Take a day out to do these activities while having a relaxing picnic by the waterfall. You will cherish this day.
The seaside town Alanya is on the southern side of Turkey. It has a 13th-century castle and is bordered by the Taurus mountains. The waterfalls here are the most beautiful in the rest of the country. Swim in the crystal-clear water and rent a paddleboard to have fun. Do visit the castle to get a view of the beautiful beaches bordering it.
When in Antalya, spare a day to visit this place and see what raw beauty looks like. You can also take a ferry ride from Olu Deniz to four unexplored islands you only get to see in movies and pictures over the internet.
Olu Deniz is the town one can only imagine living in. This town sleeps by the day and wakes up by the night. You will literally see no one throughout the day roaming here. It is the best place if you want to take a hike, go paragliding, want to take a cable car ride and just enjoy the picnic by the beach.
On the coast of Ionia, Ephesus is an ancient Greek city. It is close to Izmir. This spectacular city was built in the 10th century by Romans and you can still get the essence of the old times here. There is a Library of Celsus, which is one of the most well-preserved ruins and you will feel that the ancient Romans just got up and left the place.
Visit the Temple of Artemis, which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and one of the biggest temples on Earth. Also go to Temple of Hadrian, Hercules Gate, Temple of Domitian, and State Agora among other places. History buff or not, we do recommend you take out a special time to visit Ephesus and go around all these places.
Pamukkale means the cotton castle and this is what this city represents. The hot thermal springs are healing here and you must at least drench yourself in them once. The water flows out of the white terraces, hence the name. They look like snowy slopes and the mineral-rich water is crystal blue. You will be transported to another world for a second.
There is also Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city adjacent to these terraces. They have a well-preserved theatre alongside a necropolis that stretches almost 2km.
If you are going to Turkey and not going to Rumi’s Mazaar in Konya to see the whirling dervishes dancing oblivious to the outer world, you are committing a big mistake. The Sufi mysticism is almost ethereal and one in a lifetime kind of experience you will never forget.
Go to Bodrum
Bodrum is another city filled with beauty and less with visitors and travellers. If you want to go off the radar and want to try something new that isn’t filled with tourists, visit Bodrum and soak as much natural beauty as you can.
If you don’t know what a Hammam is, it is a traditional Turkish bath famous since the time of rulers and kings. It is a new experience and you will cherish after you are tired of going places. It will purify you to the zenith and will prove to be therapeutic as well.
Visit Denizli’s old city and transport yourself to old Turkish times by going to Goddess of love at Aphrodisias, Kaklik cave, and Tripolis among others.
WHERE TO STAY?
Finding accommodation in Turkey for your stay is no big deal. You can easily find a hostel, hotel or an apartment of your liking within the budget you have. To find yourself a suitable accommodation within the budget you have, visit Hotel.com, Agoda.com, Airbnb.com, and Booking.com. Make sure your hotel is near the subway and tram stations. In Istanbul, either stay in the Sultan Ahmet area or Taksim, so you are near the major sites and transportation network as well. All the websites mentioned in the Turkey travel guide list the distance from these sites and the tram station as well.
If you are a solo traveller and do not mind novel experiences, I recommend trying Couchsurfing. You get to live like a local and that too for free, so you can try your luck here as well. Another option for cheap accommodation will be Hostel World, where you can find budgeted dorms to share with other travellers. In all, you can expect to spend somewhere from $8 – $50 and up, depending on what you choose.
HOW TO GO AROUND?
Transportation is cheap throughout Istanbul. Beware of taxis, because they are scams more often than not and charge the travellers way more than required or give fake notes in exchange. On the other hand, the public transportation network in Turkey is stellar, especially in Istanbul. There is no need for you to hire private cabs when you can use trams and get around just as easily. From trams to subway and buses, each and every inch of the major cities is covered by these transports.
You can get the Metro Card for as low as $0.5 for a single ride. For the major cities, we recommend you get yourself the Istanbulkart, Antalyakart and so on. Outside of the main cities, you can use the dolumses (minibusses) to go around. They are comfortable and super cheap and a single ride will cost you less than a dollar. You will be able to spot them easily at the designated stops or any local can tell you the direction.
Finally, for inter-city transportation, you can either take buses or a flight. The flights from the local airline Pegasus are super cheap and will cost you as low as $25. However, keep in mind almost all the airports are outside the cities, so you will have to take the airport shuttles to reach the city.
WHAT TO EAT?
Turkish food is famous all over the world, so you won’t have a problem deciding what to eat and what not. The street food is cheap and one of the bests, so you can definitely eat it without going crazy over your budget. Many hostels and hotels offer free breakfast in buffet style, so you can have a belly full of breakfast before you head out to sightsee and do activities. We recommend trying Menemen which is a local version of scrambled eggs with spices, tomatoes, onions served atop a thick-crusted bread. It will cost you somewhere around $1.5 only.
For lunches and dinners, you can have Kebabs, Doners, Pide (the Turkish version of Pizza), etc. You will be able to spot almost all the famous international eateries and a lot more. Believe me, when I say, food will be the last thing you will need help in Turkey, because good quality, fresh and cheap dining experiences are in abundance in this country. Do try Turkish tea and coffee as well, you will love them.
PARTY LIFE IN TURKEY
Even though Turkey is an Islamic country, but it is heavily influenced by European culture. This means there is no shortage of bars, pubs, and clubs, etc. Istanbul’s Istiklal street is the marvel for the party and nightlife. When in Instanbul, spend a night here and you will definitely have the most eclectic vibes and fun nights ever.
Alcohol is also easily available, but the amount of taxes to be paid per bottle is staggering. The local, cheap beer is horrible and you wouldn’t like it a bit. Hence, if you can’t go without a drink, you will have to rethink your budget.
SOME ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR TURKEY TRAVEL GUIDE
Though we have covered almost everything you must know to plan an epic trip in this Turkey travel guide, here are a few additional things you should keep in mind:
This was the complete Turkey travel guide, which will help you get the best out of one of the most wondrous places on Earth. If it was up to me, I would have a trip to this country every year. If you think this is an exaggeration, I think it might be time for you to plan a vacation. Do check out my other travel guides here.
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