Overall score (Dan) = C
Overall score (Jocelyn) = B
Total days = 7 nights, 8 days
Total cost = $1,344
Cost per day = $168 / day
Flight costs = $525 one-way from Zagreb
Cities visited: Cappadocia, Ephesus, Istanbul
Turkey was always so far away on our round the world trip that we never gave much attention to it, but we heard from enough people it was worth the visit. After we found a way to fit it in our schedule between meeting friends in the countries before and after, we were set to take on Turkey.
Istanbul is the cultural capital and led the fight that took Turkey to the 2020 Olympics final destinations – narrowly losing to Japan in what some experts say was caused by the way Turkey handled protests in Taksim Square back in 2012. I think the Olympics lost out on what would’ve been an incredible destination.
From the culture and glamour of Istanbul to the unbelievable caves of Cappadocia to the Roman ruins of Ephesus, Turkey offered much more than our 9 days and three cities allowed us to take in. In fact, it’s probably now the highest on our list of countries to revisit (I know, I’ve said that like six times now). We loved the cultural, geographical, and archaeological diversity Turkey offers – and even more so, we loved the incredibly nice people.
How far does your money go in Turkey?
Turkey uses the Lira and $1 USD equals roughly 2 Turkish Lira and its affordability is closer to SE Asian countries than to Europe which was nice on the pocketbook.
Here are our per day spending highlights:
Transportation = $79.8 / day
Lodging = $37.4 / day
Food = $26.5 / day
Excursions = $19.25 / day
Total hotel points used = none
Turkey offers so much as a destination and checks the box for interesting people, ancient ruins, beautiful landscapes, and an exotic feel. Each of the three cities we visited offered a very unique experience, and I’m sure that’s also the case for other cities we different visit. As mentioned before, prices for food and lodging are more on par with SE Asian countries than the rest of Europe so your money can go pretty far.
If archaeological ruins is your thing, than Turkey is your place. It’s at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and switched hands between various powers through the centuries that each left their distinct marks on the land and culture. Our favorite place in Turkey was the incredibly intriguing Cappadocia area in the center of the country. Basically, three volcanoes erupted 60 million years ago leaving a thick layer of sediment which hardened and then eroded over time leaving a beautiful landscape of “fairy chimneys” behind. Different civilizations figured out they could carve rooms into the fairy chimneys and cliffs and what’s left is 200 kilometers of explorable land full of abandoned rooms and cities which used to house thousands of people. In fact, there are 90+ underground cities that go up to 10 layers deep where early Christians could hide from their Roman persecutors underground for over three months! Many of these cities were connected with underground tunnels which stretched for 10’s to 100’s of kilometers.
Turkey is also full of Roman ruins and Ephesus was a great place to explore these for the day. It’s pretty much a reconstructed Roman city that was abandoned after a major earthquake struck in the third century.
Due to our shortened time in Turkey but our continued desire to see as much as we could, it was pretty expensive for us to travel around because we flew to save time. We also rented cars in Cappadocia and Ephesus because each required quite a bit of travel from the nearest airports to explore the local area. From what I’ve read, it’s pretty easy to travel around bus or train, so it seems we could’ve lowered our per day spending pretty easily if we had more time for the country.
We really didn’t find too much ugly about Turkey; the only problem we had was that we didn’t give it enough time! There are so many other cities we’d like to explore, but we’ll just have to leave them for next time. In fact, we had three days in Istanbul and we still missed some major sites.
Well, we did have one major problem in both Cappadocia and Ephesus – cold showers! I think it’s because we visited during the first cold blast and maybe they weren’t prepared, but it wasn’t a fun way to start the day… or maybe it’s because we literally stayed in a cave in Cappadocia.
In conclusion, Turkey is a great travel destination and is easy to travel around even if you’re not comfortable with visiting “exotic” places. The people are very friendly and enjoyed getting to know them in the little time we were there.
Next up: Israel