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Turkey Travel Tips

4.0 stars

Insider advice for your Turkey vacation


melissa
Fighting the mosquitos 5 stars
Even if you have a room with air-conditioning, you'll probably find if you visit Turkey in the summer that you'll have problems with mosquitos. There are a couple of things you can do to combat this: one, they make sprays and creams to put on your skin (similar to Off in the United States) in the evening before you go out; two, if you find you have mosquitos in your room at night, you can buy these little electric gadgets that look like a Glade plug-in but have some kind of repellent liquid in them. They really work - I have one in my bedroom at home and we are almost always mosquito-free. It'll set you back less than five dollars and is well worth the investment.

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melissa
Turkish travel during holidays 5 stars
If you're in Turkey during one of the religious holidays (which sometimes spread over several days), it helps to know in advance what you're up against if you're planning on traveling around the country. The first time I tried to travel in Turkey during the Bayram at the end of Ramadan, people warned me that I wouldn't be able to find a seat on a bus, that if I did find a seat it would be expensive, bus stations would be closed, etc. In reality, none of this was the case. Bus stations were open, prices were normal, and though lots of people were traveling to be with their families, there are literally hundreds of bus companies, and there were plenty of seats to be had. So don't buy the hype - if you want to travel during the Bayram, go for it. There's no reason not to.

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melissa
Turkish beach attire 5 stars
There are a lot of myths and urban legends out there about what is and is not acceptable on Turkish beaches. Many people think that bikinis aren't allowed because of Islam, or, on the other extreme, that all Turkish beaches are topless because of Turkey's efforts to become more European. The truth is neither of these, and you'll find that behaviour on Turkish beaches varies wildly depending on where you are and what kind of people are on the beach. Kemer, for instance, tends to be more liberal than most areas, and though occasionally you will see a few topless women, mostly people keep their halters tied, but bikinis are absolutely the norm. Islam has nothing to do with beach attire; Turkey has a secular government and does not dictate what people must wear. So the key is common sense - when you hit the beach, have a quick look around and make a judgement call. If you see mostly women in headscarves sitting fully clothed on blankets, perhaps it's best not to strip down naked and prance up and down the beach. On the other hand, if you're on a beach where 90% of the people are European tourists with their tops off, feel free to go for it.

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melissa
Learn your visa requirements before you travel 5 stars
I used to provide transport from the Antalya airport for tourists who needed a ride to their resorts, and a good percentage of the time people would get stuck in the airport because they didn't have any cash on them and didn't realise they'd have to pay for an entrance visa to get into the country. Turkey has a system where most visitors can pay for a visa at passport control, and you must pay exact change cash in the appropriate currency for your passport (dollars if you're American, Euros if you're from the EU, etc.). Visitors from some countries get a one or two month visa; most get three. The best thing to do is to check with your local Turkish embassy before you travel so that you don't get stuck at passport control with the wrong amount or the wrong currency. No one wants to spend the first day of their vacation in tiny airport room arguing with a Turkish bureaucrat, so get yourself organised beforehand and everything should go smoothly.

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melissa
Get the local currency 5 stars
When you plan a visit to Turkey you might be confused as to what kind of money to bring. Our official currency here is the new Turkish lira, but people will tell you that everyone accepts euros and dollars in tourist areas. Generally speaking this is true, but what people don't mention is that you pay for the privilege of using foreign currency. If you manage to find a decent exchange rate between your currency and the Turkish lira, my recommendation is that you change your money into lira rather than euros. Sure, shops here will take your euros, no problem, but the exchange rate they'll give you against their lira prices is horrible compared to what you could find yourself at exchange offices.

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melissa
Take the bus 5 stars
Bus travel might represent the lowest of the low for those of us from the United States and Europe, but in Turkey bus travel is where it's at. With the lack of a national railroad system and some of the craziest car traffic in the world (not to mention extortionate gas prices), buses give tourists a third and very attractive option for cross-country travel. I always take the bus whenever I'm going anywhere in Turkey. Prices are amazingly low, and the coaches are gigantic, luxury affairs, with stewards and food service and even free WiFi on some vehicles. I definitely recommend booking a bus if you want to get out of Istanbul and see some of the rest of Turkey.

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Peregrina
The tiny and lonely Sedef Island 2 stars
Would you like to visit the smallest island of İstanbul?

If yes then I can recommend you to go Sedef Island. Sedef means the mother of pearl, but we can simply say that it is like small pearl from a far away look.

If you are familiar with the rest of Princes Islands of İstanbul, Sedef may make you a little upset.

Since 1950’s the biggest part of the island belongs to private property and there is no much possibility to move around . This means only the ¼ of the island is yours. If you say it is enough then here you have a restaurant on the left, a beach on the right and a small grocery across the port.

Sedef Island was a penal colony for exiled people, during Bizantine period. The Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid gave the island to his groom as a gift. Today the island’s population in summer is about 400.


Some Tips

It is a windy place even in the summer, be prepared

Do not take your bicycle with you, there is no place to ride.

No accomodation possibility, watch out the time schedule of the last ferry to return. Bon Voyage !


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Peregrina
Kadıkoy Bazaar: A Unique Place to Taste 5 stars
If one day you make your way to the center of the Antolian side of İstanbul, Kadıkoy you should definetly spend some time in Kadıkoy Bazaar.

If you are looking for buying food there is a great deal of it. From different kinds of fresh fish to all types of cheese or spices there is a guarentee that you can find the most fresh food you are searching for.

Besides food, Kadıkoy Bazaar is probably the best place to search for second hand books and magazines. If you step to one of those small antiquarian booksellers’ stores you just can find anything. Just say it !

But probably the most fantastic characteristic of the Bazaar is the unforegattable savour of the recently cooked brad coming from the bakery shops close to the Armenian Church…Or the fresh smell of Turkish coffee that makes you feel that you are in your sweet home.

BEST PLACES TO VISIT:

Baylan for its delicious bakeries
Mercan for its excellent fish
Haci Bekir for its unique delights.
Passage Akmar for its second hand book stores
Ciya Restaurant for its amazing tastes from Anatolian cuisine.


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Alibaby
Turkish food 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Turkish Food is one of my favourites! I did not know this until I went to Turkey with a bunch of moaning Brits. Whilst they all stuck rigidly to bland chips, pizza and spaghetti bolognese I dove into the Turkish cuisine wholeheartedly!
Turkish food is so delicious, I guess it's a good old mix of mediterranean and middle eastern tastes. It is fantastic for vegetarians, with loads of tasty salads, smothered in delicious oils, yogurts, spices and fantastic flavourings. My faves were the yogurt dishes, I avoided them at first thinking it was mayonnaise, but once I discovered them I could not get enough! They are similar to Greek Tzatiki, but with all kinds of different ingredients!
The meat is tasty also, often coated in herbs and spices or rolled up and stuffed into things! Cous cous, is also aplenty and mixed with all kinds of fish, meat or veg.
The deserts are often pastries with nuts and honey, these are VERY sweet, but great taken in small amounts, just enough to curb any sweet cravings you are having!
Turkish is mediterranean food with an arabic twist - Brilliant! Can't wait till my next trip!!!


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Alibaby
Turtle Beach, Dalyan, Turkey 5 stars
The best thing about Turtle Beach is getting there. To get there you need to go on a boat via waterways surrounded by huge watery vegetation, via the tombs of ancient Kings knocked into the rock. It's really rather excellent journey, relaxing, informative and interesting. The guide on our boat gave us a talk about the Tombs carved into the mountain side, then let us chill out for the rest of the journey to the beach. The beach itself is long, clean and really pleasant. It is sandy and fairly quiet. Not alot to do except lay around or have a swim. The trip back is again lovely, taking in a bit of scenic contryside, via a town and it's waterside buildings.
If you are on a beach holiday you will no doubt be offered this trip as part of a package, we also went Mud bathing at Dalyan on this day - well worth it. It was along day but interesting. Nice to get away from the resort and learn a bt of history and politics from our informative Turkish guide.


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Alibaby
Dalyan Mud Bathing, Turkey 4 stars
Dalyan Mud Bathing is good fun. The mud baths at Dalyan are good old fashioned muckiness and apparently good for your health too. It generally involves stripping down to your bikini - or shorts and firstly bathing in a pool that stinks of rotton eggs. This I believe was the sulphur pool and is naturally occuring and is also allegedly very good for you. After this you move into the big mud pool, in some areas its like mucky water but move around, find the thick mud and slap it on. don't be silly like my boyfriend and stick your head under the water as you will get mud in your ears, and it will hurt, then you will moan all day!

After the bath you get out and everyone stands round looking very peculiar, a bit like meer cats, drying off. Once dried there are plenty of showers to wash it all off, which takes some work. Good fun, a different experience, and from the photos around the place you can see it is an experience that has been shared by several major big name Hollywood celebs!


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Alibaby
Olu Deniz 4 stars
Olu Deniz is a lovely resort in Turkey. Far more family and couple orientated than some of the other louder, brasher resorts that cater for young, single, party animals. I went to Olu Deniz as part of a wedding party. Everyone of all ages enjoyed the area, children through young adults through to the older members of the party. There are plenty of restaurants and bars, some are quite pricey and it was only at the end of the holiday we discovered that there were alot of cheaper ones if only we had ventured a few streets further afield! The beach was lovely and the locals friendly. I had been warned that as a blonde I may be hassled, but I was not bothered at all, which was great!
The local arts and crafts were so pretty and on sale everywhere. The beach was nice and the food is spectacular. Olu Deniz is a classy little beach resorted, surrounded by mountains and the ocean, excellent!


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AndreaLJC
Budget accommodation in Turkey 3 stars
I found that there wasn't much choice in Turkey for budget accommodation, there were very few dorm rooms and it was rare that I found a female dorm, mainly just double rooms. The double rooms are about €20-30 depending on how popular the area you are in is, obviously if little or no tourists go to an area it will be much cheaper to stay. In general the budget accommodation in Turkey is of a very good standard, clean, spacious and you usually get a free breakfast and free tea and coffee. Generally speaking the staff at the hostels were very helpful.

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AndreaLJC
Whirling Dervishes 4 stars
The Whirling Dervish is a dance that is performed in meditation by religious men; you will see it in a few places in Turkey but Cappadocia is most common. Not all of the Whirling Dervishes will perform in restaurants and stuff because there is alcohol on the premises but some will. They wear all while with a white flared skirt down to the ankles then go into a trance meditation and they start spinning, some go really fast too (they have trousers under their skirts by the way!) They continue like this for about 45 minutes to an hour. I also saw Whirling Dervishes in a cafe in Istanbul just by the Blue Mosque.

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AndreaLJC
Camel Rides 1 stars
I went on a camel ride in Turkey and it was so scary, especially when the camel stands up and sits down as you feel like your going to fall off, and I have seen some people that do, so hang on for dear life! Even when they are walking its really scary and its hard to stay on the seats, my camel started running and I don't think I have ever held on to something so tightly! I didn't enjoy it at all and was dying to get off from the moment I got on! Maybe if you went on a camel with two humps you could wedge yourself in between the humps in order to stay on easier but I dint know if it works like that!

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AndreaLJC
Transport in Turkey 5 stars
Getting from place to place in Turkey is easy and is actually a really nice journey. The long distance buses are fantastic and it has to be the most comfortable journey I have ever taken! The buses are clean and comfortable with plenty of room and there is a steward on the bus. Every 20 minutes or so the steward will come round offering water, then every so often a glass of coke will be offered. Later there is an offer of coffee or tea and you get a cake or biscuits with that too. Regular hand and face refreshment spray is also given out (and it smalles great too). All tjis is free and included in the price of the ticket! It makes the jourmey go really quickly so its actually a really lovely journey. Regular stops are also taken so you can eat and stretch you legs etc. Short distance travel is also easy, bus tickets are bought usually before boarding the bus though so make sure you get a ticket first. Taxis are also a pretty cheap way to travel but some of the drivers fiddle with the meter so itr increases very quickly, so just keep an eye out. There are boats too which are quick and easy to catch and its very easy with all modes of transport to find out where to go and timetables are clearly displayed.

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AndreaLJC
Turkey in General 5 stars
I remember going to Turkey when I was 14 and I hated it as I got so much male attention. Loads of guys kept trying to get me to come in their houses for coffee and walking down the market was a nightmare as men kept grabbing my hand and trying to take me places. So when my mum suggested we go there twelve years later I really wasn't up for it and was just expecting to be greeting with loads of pestering guys, but I was very presently surprised and I loved every minute of it! The guys did try and chat me up still but more in a funny way, for instance waiters say stuff like “would you like some tea, coffee, ice cream, me?” so that I can deal with! I was in Turkey for 1 month and the only bad experience I had was a guy grab my bum in Istanbul. The food in Turkey was amazing and vegetarians are catered for very well, there is such a huge range of different dishes too so there is so much new food to try – I tried all of it and probably gained at least a stone! The sights in Turkey are also amazing with so many natural wonders like flames shooting out from rocks in Olympus, to the lava cone Flintstones town of Cappadoccia. Turkey is an amazing country to travel and the people are so friendly and helpful (ok, they are usually trying to sell you something as well!) It is one of the best countries I have ever been to and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

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IMAGINATION
Istanbul: Sufi Music Concert and Whirling Ceremony 4 stars
Indeed, one of the most sublime episodes in my life! I have heard about Sufi music and the whirling dervishes, but to see them live in Istanbul was a significant part of my Turkish cultural experience.

The Sufi music concert and whirling dervishes ceremony is held in one of the event halls on platform no:1 of the Sirkeci Train Station on every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. The Sirkeci Train Station, built in 1889, forms an exotic location on its own, as it reminisces its identity as the once famous destination for opulent rail experience known as the Orient Express. Entering the old railway station certainly set the tone for the much anticipated mystical music and dance experience.

I wished I had entered the hall much earlier to grab the front row seats, but my regrets swiftly sunk beneath the gigantic stained-glass windows and a strange sense of respect-owing silence which hung in the interior of the hall. Our chairs, arranged in circular fashion left a generous space for the ceremony to take its form, and almost enough for my imagination to run amuck.

It began! The Sufi music concert played to the first half of the hour-long event. Gathered on top of the circle, the ensemble or ‘mutrip’, comprising of the flutist, drummer, chanters and choir enthralled the awkward silence of the hall through its dose of spiritual tunes. The concert was organized by the Sufi Group of Istanbul Galata Mevelevi Lodge. They thrive on the name Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, which stands for Love and the estatic flight into the infinite. Rumi, known as one of the great spiritual masters and poetic geniuses, was the founder of the Mevlevii Sufi order, a leading mystical brotherhood of Islam.

The sema or the whirling ceremony gently cascaded over the second half of the event. The dervishes made their entrance dressed in black cloaks and blank expressions. Leaning on an informative write-up on the history of the Sufi music and whirling ceremony in a programme book given to us at the event, which was amazingly translated in eight languages, I saw myself getting closer to their symbolisms and ideals. Their costumes bestowed a huge impact on their enigmatic personalities. Symbolising the Death of Ego, the slender earth-coloured head dress, the black cloak and the full-skirted long gown depicted the tombstone, the tomb and the shroud respectively.

Following an introductory music, the dervishes or semazen bowed to each other, to acknowledge the centre of Divine Truth, which they believed, lie within the hearts. They then removed their black cloaks and began turning. This, for them, represents the birth of humanity. As the dervishes peacefully enter a circle, their arms are crossed across their chest, signifying the unity of God. In the heat of the ceremony, their arms were extended with the right hand opened upwards and the left hand turned downwards. Trance-like, they whirled, whirled, whirled and whirled to the heartfelt quote, ‘from God we receive, to man we give, we keep nothing to ourselves’. Never a clumsy moment. Only a captivating display of elegance and serene, almost surreal, grace, which supplanted all of us at the hall to their Divine Reality. Indeed, a very unique spot to be in Istanbul!

The lone sound of the flute concluded the ceremony with a reading from the Koran. To reach Divine Reality via the intoxication of the soul, are for the dervishes in the ceremony, but one phase in the long spiritual journey they have undertaken. I witness the intense passion and commitment, fortunate enough to be part of the journey, for that sublime hour.


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AndreaLJC
Ayvelik 4 stars
Just a few hours from Istanbul is a small town called Ayvelik where local Turkish people often take holidays, so there aren't many tourists. I went on a boat trip during the day so I could check out some of the surrounding islands.  The boat was fab and had a waterside off the back (which made my bikini come off and look more like a necklace!) and everyone was out on deck dancing.  The sea was freezing (because there are fresh water springs under the sea) and the water was so salty that you just float and when you get out you were covered with salt crystals (no its not the dead sea).  Later in the day they had party games on the top deck that random people had to join in on, I just watched as couldn't understand anything as everyone except me was Turkish.  Soon I realized that the man on the microphone was talking about me as everyone was pointing and cheering at me, I gathered I had to take part in the next party game so got up and stood with the other Turkish girls that were picked.  This game, to my dismay, was a belly dancing competition and there was about hundred people on the boat watching me while I attempted to belly dance - IN A BIKINI for all to see!  How embarrassing is that!  They made me do it again after on my own too as if the first time wasn't embarrassing enough - I came second though! There are plenty of different boat trips on offer, with relaxing options too, there are also night trips available. The town also boasts a fairly large market offering all types of clothing and food which is lovely to walk around. Don't miss a panorama sunset with amazing views about 7km out of the town, there is also a restaurant there so you can make an evening of it, although you will need to take a taxi there and back as there is no public transport.


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AndreaLJC
Istanbul 4 stars
Turkey is nothing like I had expected, I wasn't really that up for it, I thought it would be all about carpets and pervy men but but its really cool and there are loads of natural amazing things to see with less perves than England (more carpets though).  The capital, Istanbul is really cute!  Its like an exotic Coronation Street with its tiny cobbles streets and flowers and there are fabulous fairytale like mosques and palaces everywhere, the people are really friendly and chatty too (generally because they want to sell you something), and the food is to die for - I think I must have put on about 2 stone since leaving the UK!   The menu's that have been translated to English are brilliant, we saw one that had 'Sensitive meatballs' on offer!

There is loads to see and do by night or by day. By day there are many beautiful buildings and mosques to see and of course all the bazaars – although all the shop owners will try and drag you into their shops and pressure you to buy something so stand your ground with a stern “No thank you.” There is also the spice market where you can get a potion for almost anything and there are plenty of free testers up for grabs too! If you fancy a lazy day the river cruises are lovely and usually provide lunch, although the quality of the food is fairly poor. By night there are plenty of dining options or partying if you prefer there is a place in the city called Taxim which is great for both! Don't miss out on some brilliant entertainment either, dinner whilst watching belly dancing and traditional dancing, its definitely something not to be missed.


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