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I'm visiting Turkey for 13 days with my 19 year old nephew. We're flying in and out of Istanbul.

I'd like to get out of Istanbul and see the country. What are some recommended itineraries and preferred modes of transport. I and am considering renting a car, but I'm not sure if the trains / busses are a much better option.

My nephew is really interested in new cultural experiences and enjoys visiting unusual places in nature.

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First thing you should know, don't even think about renting a car. Istanbul's traffic is really a nightmare, it's one of the worst of all the world. You can never get anywhere with car and considering that you are a foreigner who doesn't know the area very well (istanbul is a huge city) you will be stuck in the traffic for hours and exhaust smell will be your only travel memory. Try to use taxi, metro and train. You can also use the bus but if you have a lady with you, I would recommend you not to use it when it's crowded. There are many perverts living in this city and the law isn't enough to –  Altay Apr 27 '13 at 23:01
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2 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

As a general rule, I would advise against renting a car for the entire trip. Renting a car in Turkey is expensive. The bus network in Turkey is very dense. Bus travel is comfortable and not expensive. Prefer the busses for long distance travel. You may consider to rent a car locally to access some sights. For very long distances, flying may be an option too. It's more expensive than taking the bus, but you save a lot of (precious) holiday time. Don't forget that Turkey is a big country and distances can be very long.

It would be a shame not to stay some days in Istanbul. It is a great city not to be missed. Furthermore it is interesting to observe the contrast with the rest of the country. Cappadocia is a pretty unusual natural place. It should be on you itinerary.

For the rest it depends on your style:

  • If you want a packed trip, you can consider to go from Istanbul to Ankara and then to Cappadocia. Next you could go to the Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dağı), another "unusual" place. Finish you trip in Şanlıurfa and the go back to Istanbul, possibly by plane.

  • If you prefer a trip with less kilometers, stay some days in Istanbul, travel then to Bursa. It's an interesting city, a bit off the beaten track. Then go to Cappadocia, via Ankara.

  • If you really want to do it in depth, split your time between Istanbul and Cappadocia.

In July, I would stay away from the Mediterranean, unless you do have to go to the Sea. It's really crowded then. If you do want to go to the Mediterranean, go to Çıralı, some 80 kilometers West from Antalya.

If you are tempted by mountains, steppe and austere landscapes, you can consider a journey in the East. Contrary to what I say above, I would recommend that you rent a car for this precise trip. It goes through sparsely populated regions, where the bus network is not as good as it is in the West. It's possible to do this trip on public transport, but a private car is the better option.

Fly from Istanbul to Erzurum. From there you can make the following tour: Eruzururm - Yusufeli - Kars - Doğubeyazıt - Erzurum. That keeps you busy for a week or even more. If you like slow travel, you might also consider to replace the flight to or from Erzurum by a train journey. The Doğu Ekspresi is a daily sleeper train running between Ankara and Erzurum. It takes +- 16 hours. Combined with some days in Istanbul, and possibly a day in Anakra, the 13 days are quickly filled.

Have a look at Turkeytravelplanner.com. It's a very good and quite complete resource for traveling in Turkey. All the places I mention are described there.

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+1 great advices. May I suggest Doğubeyazıt at the eastern part of Turkey, at least for the view on the Ararat? –  mouviciel Apr 2 '13 at 8:24
    
It's indeed a spectacular place, but in my opinion it should be part of a trip to the North-East or the Far East. It is not very suitable for the trips recomended here. It would be another trip –  PERSONA NON GRATA Apr 2 '13 at 10:59
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Thank you so much for the tips, this is exactly the kind of information I was looking for. –  johndbritton Apr 2 '13 at 20:33
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Some time ago, I did

  • Istanbul => Ankara by bus
  • 2 days in Ankara
  • Ankara => Cappadocia by bus
  • A few days in Cappadocia
  • Cappadocia => Istanbul by air
  • A few days in Istanbul

This made a nice 2 weeks holiday that was not too rushed.

(We are going to Turkey this year for 3 weeks starting on the coast and finishing in Istanbul, however as are going in September the coast should not be too crowded.)

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