How to plan your first visit to Turkey – An Ultimate Guide
Planning to visit turkey and not sure how many days are enough? And what is must to see and good to see? Let me make it easy for you.
How to get Turkish Visa
- Getting Turkish tourist visa was never easy before. If you are resident of USA, UK, Schengen States or Ireland (or even you have a valid visa of these countries on your passports) then you can get 6-Months Tourist visa through ONLINE system. Just fill the form and pay the fees 60USD and you will receive the PDF copy of visa on your email within a minute. I personally had a USA visa on my Pakistani passport and got the online Turkish visa very easily.
- (For Pakistani Citizens): In case you guys don’t have valid visa’s of USA, UK, Schengen or Ireland then you have to apply to Turkish Embassy through GERRY’s Pakistan drop box visa service. You must apply for visa atleast 2 ~ 3 weeks before your actual travel to turkey. Gerry’s takes 2500 Rs other than Visa fee to provide their services.
Purchasing the Air ticket
Although the best and cheapest option is to travel through Turkish Airline however before booking your tickets through a Travel Agent, you must check cheapest flight to Turkey using online Flight search engines like SKYSCANNER.COM or KAYAK.COM
TRAVELING AROUND TURKEY
ISTANBUL !! The only city in the world where you can visit ASIA and EUROPE at the same time.
Where to Stay:
If you want to experience the deep culture of Istanbul then your Hotel must be in SULTAN AHMET area. However if you want modern touch then you can get your hotel around ISTIKLAL STREET. I personally recommend Sultan Ahmet area because you would love roaming around streets of Istanbul and meeting local Turkish people and eating in local food restaurants
You can book your Hotel/ Hostel through booking.com or agoda.com. I am personally using booking.com from last 6 years because they dont charge from your credit card before arrival and also their help in case of wrong charging or any dispute with Hotel is remarkable.
What Transport to be used:
Istanbul has a very well established Metro Trains and Bus system. Just buy ISTANBUL KART (Istanbul Metro card) and you can visit around Istanbul from Europe to Asian sides of Istanbul using this card. Never use Private Taxis as these are 10 times expensive. In case you are with family you should use APP Taxis like CAREEM which are much cheaper.
Morning: Start exploring Turkey from the most iconic Sultan Ahmet Mosque which is also called Blue Mosque. I am not writing any history here. Just Go ! and Explore yourself 🙂
Afternoon: Topkapi Palace/ Hagia Sofia
For Muslims, Topkapi palace is one of the best History Museum in the world. You would have a chance to see lot personal things of many Prophets and companions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) such as
- Hair of Prophet Muhammad PBUH
- Foot print of Prophet Muhammad PBUH
- Sword of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (Azab)
- Miraculous Stick of Prophet Musa (A.S)
- Turban of Prophet Yousaf (A.S)
- Dresses of Hazrat Imam Hussain R.A and Hazrat Fatima R.A
Don’t forget to visit the backside of Topkapi where you would see amazing scenic view of River Marmara
Evening should be spent in Istiklal Street/ Taksim Square , one of the most happening and lively street in the world. You would love walking, shopping, eating and specially THE ISTIKLAL TRAM. I would always love to spend evening in Istiklal street.
Morning: Grand Bazaar
Grand Bazaar (constructed in 1455 AD) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 04 Gates, 60 streets and 5,000 shops. In Turkish it is named as Kapalıçarşı, meaning ‘Covered Market’
Afternoon: Spice Bazaar
I could not visit Spice bazar during my first visit to Istanbul. However lot of people recommend it and I would definitely visit spice bazar during my next visit.
Evening: Bosphorus Cruise and Dance Dinner
This is must to experience! You can book this tour through any tour operator in Istanbul however if you want it cheap, directly go to KABATASH PIER and book your tour from ticket window. It includes dinner, Turkish girls dance, Sufi Dance at bottom deck and then Turkish Belly dance at the Top Deck of cruise.
Morning: Buyuk Ada – Prince’s Island
Lets relax today and have a visit to famous Prince’s Island. You can take the Ferry from KABATASH PIER that will drop you at Buyuk Ada island. Don’t forget to taste delicious 5-Scoops ice cream there. You must know that no fuel car/ motorbike is allowed in Buyuk Ada. You can only roam around beautiful streets either renting a Horse Carriage or Riding on a bicycle. If you are young and have enough time then Cycling is recommended.
Late Afternoon: Asian side of Istanbul
Take the Marmara Metro Train (which travel under the sea) from EMINONU station and travel from Europe to Asian side of Istanbul. You would love walking along Marmara and beautiful view of Bosphorus Bridge that is connecting Europe and Asia in air.
(Standing at Asian side, lookiking towards Europian side)
IMPORTANT! Everything related to your Kapadokya tour should be “pre-booked” from Istanbul. Otherwise you will waste your time in managing things after arrival.
Travelling to Kapadokya
- BY AIR: If you have less time in turkey (and also you can afford it) then you should take flight from Istanbul to NEVSEHIR or KAYSERIA Airports (as Kapadokya has no airport). From there your hotel van will pick you and take you to Goreme town in Kapadokya
- BY BUS: If you are on budget travel then you should take a night bus from Istanbul main Bus station. As i was traveling solo so i chose this option.
Where to stay in Kapadokya
Kapadokya is a valley of Fairy chimney having caves. Make sure you experience your stay in a Cave Hotel. However you should always pre-book your hotel before leaving for Kapadokya because you need their pickup service at Airport or Bus station which is 1 hour away from Goreme Valley of Kapadokya.
Red Tour: After your arrival, you would be taken to Red tour which includes visiting ancient times Cave City. The reason of calling this tour “Red” because chimney rocks gives reddish shades.
Hot Air Baloon: Next day you will be picked early morning before sunrise and will taken for amazing Hot Air Baloon ride.
Green Tour: After coming back from Hot Air balloon , you will be taken to Green Tour at 0930 hrs. This includes visiting under ground city and Ihlara Valley and Selime Cathedrale. This tour is called “Green” because you would see more greenery and trees in this tour as compared to Red Tour
NOTE: Red and Green are the most famous tours in Kapadokya however it has another tour named as BLUE TOUR. If you are staying another day in Goreme valley then you must take this tour aswel
Getting there: You can travel from Kapadokya to Fethiye using Night Bus. These buses starts in the evening at center of Goreme Valley nearby all hotels and arrives at Fethiye in the early morning.
Paragliding: Although Fethiye is a beach city but I recommend visiting this place to experience adventurous Para-gliding flight over an amazing landscape. You can book it from your Hotel reception. The tour includes Pick/ drop , Paragliding jump, official Pictures and Videos (they do not allow to take your personal camera)
OPTIONAL Day: Visiting Saklikent Gorge
If you have an extra day or time other than para-gliding then you must visit this place. You have to walk through knee high cold rushing water stream and then you walk along the gorge.
Getting There: Take evening bus from Fethiye at 1800 hours and you will arrive Pamukkale at 10:30 PM in 55 TL. Make sure your next day tour is already booked which should cover visiting Hierapolis and Thermal Pools
Morning: Visit Hierapolis
Hierapolis (Holy City in Greek) ruins are UNESCO World Heritage site, adjacent to Pamukkale Thermal pools. You must read its details HERE before visiting.
Afternoon: Visit Thermal Pools
Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a natural site having hot springs (natural hot water due to underground volcanic activity) and terraces of white colored carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. There are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F)
Getting There: You should book your travel from Pamukkale to Izmir through tour agent (within 40 ~ 50 TL). The van will pick you in the evening and will drop at your Izmir hotel in the night. Izmir is 4 hours away from Pamukkale.
Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC, three kilometers southwest of present-day Selçuk in Izmir.
You can always customise your tour and can include cities/places like Antalya, Konya, Bodrum etc
Turkey Travel Video Highlights
Disclaimer: All images used in this blog are my personal and subject to copyright