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Turkey

Turkey is strategically situated at the cross-roads of two continents, Europe and Asia. The country is bestowed with immense natural beauty, spectacular sights, breathtaking architecture, and stunning cultural sites.  From the posh lifestyle at the seaside resort of Bodrum, to the magnificent mosques and exquisite museums in Istanbul, to the wide steppe landscapes of Cappadocia, there is something for everyone’s taste.

Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Turkey with my travel guide. Find out more about:

  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there
  • Travel requirements
  • Getting around
  • Inspiration, highlights, & travel tips
  • Suggested itineraries
  • Recommended luxury hotels (+ reviews)

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit Turkey depends on where you’re going.:

  • Istanbul and the European part of Turkey experience hot, muggy summers and cold, rainy (though seldom snowy) winters. Spring (from April to May) and autumn (from September to mid-November) sees delightful weather in Istanbul, with pleasant temperatures and clear skies. Istanbul’s location near the sea means it can be quite a windy city, especially in the winter, shutting down ferry service.
  • Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean Riviera both enjoy a typical Mediterranean climate characterized by uncomfortably hot summers – perfect for topping up that tan – and mild winters. The majority of rainfall occurs in the months of January and February, but apart from that the weather remains fairly pleasant in winter.
  • The Turkish Black Sea coast has a temperate Oceanic climate with warm, wet summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The region receives the greatest amount of precipitation and is the only region of Turkey that receives high precipitation throughout the nine coolest months, with mist and subtropical humidity lingering during summer.
  • Central Anatolia – which is home to Cappadocia – features a steppe climate, with a great temperature difference between day and night. Although mostly a semi-arid steppe, the region receives its fair amount of snow, rain and hard winds during winter, resulting in frequent cancellations of its number one attraction of hot air balloon trips. The preferred time to visit Cappadocia is usually May to October.

In general, the best time to visit Turkey is during spring (from April to May) and autumn (from September to mid-November) when temperatures are mild, the weather relatively dry, and the crowds thinner.


HOW TO GET THERE

Most tourists enter Turkey via one of the two airports serving Istanbul (Istanbul Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen) or one of the three major regional airports serving the Aegean and Mediterranean coast (Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman). The latter see the bulk of their traffic during the official summer season, when European tourists flock to Turkey’s beaches with charter flights.

  • Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IST) is the main international airport serving Istanbul, and the biggest airport in Turkey. It’s located on the European side of the city. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Istanbul Atatürk Airport.
  • Sabiha Gökçen International Airport (SAW) is the second international airport serving Istanbul. Located 35 km (22 mi) southeast of central Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen is on the Asian side of the bi-continental city. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Sabiha Gökçen International Airport.
  • Antalya Airport (AYT) is located 13 km (8.1 mi) northeast of the city center of Antalya. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Antalya.
  • Milas–Bodrum Airport (BJV) is a very modern airport that serves the Turkish resort towns of Bodrum and Milas. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bodrum.
  • Dalaman Airport (DLM) serves the surrounding tourist areas and environs of Dalaman. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Dalaman.

Before you buy a plane ticket, consider reading my tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket.


TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS

Requirements for entry into Turkey differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Prior to departure, always check with your government and your nearest Turkish embassy or consulate what documents you need for travel to Turkey.

  • You need a valid passport. The Turkish government advise that your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from the date you enter Turkey.
  • Travelers need a valid visa to enter Turkey. You can get an e-Visa online before you travel through the official Republic of Turkey e-Visa website. An e-visa costs $20 and you can pay using a credit or debit card. You can apply up to 3 months in advance of your travel date. Turkish visit visas issued on arrival are valid for multiple stays up to a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period. Please note that e-visa is only valid when the purpose of travel is tourism or commerce. For other purposes, such as work and study, visas are given by Turkish Embassies or Consulates.

Make sure you read my 10 tips to plan a worry-free trip.


GETTING AROUND

Despite its rather large size, it’s quite easy to travel around Turkey since the country is well covered by public transport:

  • Flying is a convenient way to cover some of Turkey’s large distances, especially when you are on a tight schedule. There are several domestic airlines that serve all of Turkey’s larger cities in addition to the resort towns. There is stiff competition between carriers, meaning that great bargains are often available, especially if you book in advance. Tickets can be booked online via the airlines’ websites:
  • Renting a car is a great and cheap way to travel independently in Turkey and visit off-the-beaten-track sites. This is even more the case now that the road conditions have improved dramatically in recent years. Car rental companies are present at major airports and central city locations. But be warned: the standard of driving in Turkey is often both poor and aggressive and the country has a high road accident rate.
  • Although Turkey has an extensive train network, run by Turkish State Railways, the train schedules are slightly unreliable. Popular routes on Turkey’s train network include a new high-speed line between Istanbul and Ankara, which takes three-and-a-half hours. There are also express trains and ‘blue trains’ which run between the different regions – for example, Izmir to Ankara – as well as regional trains. The standard of Turkey’s trains ranges from very basic to modern and air-conditioned. Most trains can be booked online or at the train station, but if you’re travelling during peak season, make a reservation to guarantee a seat. Online reservations are available up to 30 days in advance.
  • Coach and bus travel in an option when you are traveling on a budget. There are several categories of bus travel: municipal buses, the local ‘dolmus‘, long-distance buses, and short-distance minibuses. Long-distance coaches generally have air conditioning, reading lights, reclining seats, in-bus entertainment showing Turkish films. It is, however, the most time-consuming means of getting around.

INSPIRATION, HIGHLIGHTS & TRAVEL TIPS

There are several good reasons why you should put Turkey on your bucket list:

  • The cosmopolitan city of Istanbul, with its iconic monuments such as the Haghia Sophia and Blue Mosque
  • Hot-air ballooning over Cappadocia
  • Magnificent coastal scenery in the country’s southwest
  • Ruins of Ephesus
  • Visiting a hamam
  • The Byzantine monastery of Sumela
  • A wide range of terrific luxury hotels & resorts

The following, in-depth articles may also inspire you and help you plan your trip to Turkey:


SUGGESTED ITINERARIES 

Because the country is so large and has so much to offer, it is impossible to suggest one itinerary for Turkey but I hereby share with you a convenient two week schedule, based on of my own holidays to Turkey.

For more ideas, I suggest the excellent Turkish itineraries as provided by The Rough Guides and Frommers.


RECOMMENDED LUXURY HOTELS (+ REVIEWS)

Consider visiting my top 10 lists if you are eager to know how I rank Turkey’s top hotels based on my own experience.

Below, you find my reviews of luxury hotels in Turkey (with pros, cons, and tips to save money per property).


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