1. Stay in Sultanahmet, it’s the old city of Istanbul and it’s only a few minutes walk before you will find yourself in front of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. There are so many restaurants, shops and it’s also super close to the tram line which can take you all over the city. On that note, use the tram and don’t take taxis. If your in a group or know you will be using the tram a few times buy a tram card; it’s cheaper to charge the card up then buy tokens.
2. The Blue Mosque is something you really need to do, and because it’s a place of worship it’s free. Make sure you find out the call to prayer times because as a tourist you aren’t allowed to go inside during these times. If you do find yourself there at one of those times (5 times a day) take a wander through the Sultanahmet square and then spend time just being in awe of the Blue Mosques courtyard. Also, as we mentioned in our Blue Mosque post wear something that covers your legs and shoulders and take a head scarf… Otherwise you’ll have to use the smelly ones they provide.
3. The Grand Bazzar has a really special vibe. We found it was a good place to get amongst their culture. You’ll be offered tea while they present you ceramic hand painted bowls in every colour. We also found so many great jewellery pieces for reasonable prices; be sure to barter with them. You’ll only need a few hours to look around as a lot of the shops sell the same stuff.The Bazaar is also closed Sundays so make sure you factor that into your schedule.
4. Taksim Square is about ten minutes by tram from Saultanhamet and is a hub of restaurants, shopping, bars and nightclubs. We were told it’s where lots of students and youth hang out. As for being covered up when going out, it’s a lot more relaxed then we initially thought. As we were staying in Istanbul during Ramadam there was a higher concerntration of Muslims around the Blue Mosque during the later hours of the afternoon and this was the only time we felt it was necessary to cover up more out of respect.
5. We highly recommended you spend an evening watching the sunset form Galata Tower. The 360 degree panoramic views are breathtaking. It was only about 18 Lira ($7 AUD ish) and worth every penny.
Being backpackers on a budget we skipped quite a few of the touristy attractions but there is so much to do in Istanbul like museums, palaces, the spice markets (devo we missed them) and a double decker city tour. We spent 4 nights in the city and found that more then enough time to get a good taste of the city.
We stayed in Canakkale just for one night so we could visit Gallpoli. Other then the ANZAC tour there is the site of Troy and the Trojan horse used in the actual movie Troy starring Brad Pitt. As Australians the ANZAC tour was a necessary stop, but otherwise the city is quite small with not a huge amount to do. Nevertheless, some fantastic beaches are in the area if you have it in your budget to get transport there and back.
It’s an overnight bus trip from Canakkale to Seluk, which really aren’t all that fun but the buses do have wifi. We visited the site of the ancient city of Ephesus, Temple of the Virgin Mary and the Temple of Artemis. Maddie is an ancient history lover so it was great for her to visit the ruins of such an important city during the Roman era. The Temple of Artemis is also listed as one of the seventh wonders of the ancient world, although a lot of the temple has been taken to a museum in London leaving little left on the actual site – which to be honest we did find a little dissapointing.
The hostel we stayed at was super cool – Atillas Getaway. It’s a little bit out of the town centre but it is it’s own little oasis. We shot Maddies entry to the Somedays Lovin blogger completion there too.
Now this place is a MUST DO. We took a bus trip from Selcuk and stopped for the day in Pammakule and then instead of staying the night we took another late afternoon down to Fethyie. It was only about $12.50 to get into Pammakule and it was worth every cent. If you’ve only got a small amount of time in Turkey make Pammakule a top priority.
We stayed in Fethyie for four days at a sick hotel called V-GOs guesthouse. Once again it’s about a five minute walk back into the main centre of town but it’s still a great location just opposite the waterfront. Oh and also a beautiful Turkish man with the most alluring accent works there.
If we were to do Fethyie again we would defiantly do a Blue Cruise from Fethyie to Olympos. The whole town seems to be revolved around these cruises and you can get one for as cheap as $250 AUD. Although the town is full of shops, resturants and beautiful waterfronts. Their is also a bus for $2 that runs through town every 20 minutes taking you out to the beaches; which are beautiful!
Our stay was so short (perhaps the best part of an hour and a half) we can’t really comment. However, from what we have heard, and from our own short lived experience stay in a tree house but make sure you spend a little extra money book a room with air conditioning. The town had really cool vibes, similar to Nimbin/ Byron Bay kind of area. You did have to pay $2.50 to get onto Olympos beach but.
Absolutely incredible city. The fairy chimneys are like nothing we’ve seen before and the hot air ballons at sunrise are spectacular to watch. TJ even had the opportunity to take a sunrise balloon flight and was in utter awe the entire time. Maddie didn’t do a flight but we did watch it from sunrise point at sunrise and it was still just as incredible.
We also did a Turkish night which was traditional Turkish dancers, belly dancer and whirling dervishes. It also included dinner and unlimited drinks; which we certainly took advantage of. For only 90 Lira ($45 AUD) it was probably the most value for money we spent the whole time in Turkey.
Turkey really put on a show for us, our expectations were utterly blown out of the water. The people are incredibly kind, the food was delicious and cheap, the cities were clean and well kept and the transport (mostly local buses and buses between cities) was also quite cheap and efficient. We had heard from a few people that tours were the way to go in Turkey. From our experience we wouldn’t have done it any other way but at our own pace by ourselves. Getting to and from places was so simple and the people were so kind and helpful – and are always ready to share some Turkish tea with you.
So basically, GET TO TURKEY because it’s an experience y’all should have
M & TJ x