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Written by Savi, 50 Comments

 

Our love affair with Turkey goes back a long long way. A fleeting visit to Istanbul during a cruise left us besotted – it is a place like no other. It’s exotic, friendly, accepting, and exciting all at once. Its alleys are chock-a-block with vendors trying to sell their wares, bakers carrying their stash on their heads, little children playing games, hookah bars, and colourful restaurants.

 

Getting to Turkey

Istanbul is really well connected with all major cities of the world and it’s easy to get there from UK or India. Since 2013, it’s possible to apply for a Turkey Visa online if you fulfil certain conditions. British passport holders can easily apply for an e-visa (and are granted a 3 month multiple entry visa to Turkey) whereas Indian passport holders who have a valid Schengen visa or a UK/USA/Ireland visa / residence permit can easily apply for the electronic visa for Turkey. We have heard that applying for an e-visa is cheaper than getting visa on arrival in Turkey.

 

Istanbul

Istanbul’s landmarks are extraordinary and it is easy to spend an entire day examining the dome of Hagia Sofia, the treaures of The Tokapi Palace or the minarets of Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque). But to us, the highlight of a visit to Istanbul lies in its unique brand of chaos. It reminded us of Morocco. Sheesha bars and make-shift stalls try to elbow each other out of the way and shops hobnob with restaurants. The city emanates a unique energy that is tough to put into words.

We highly recommend taking an aimless walk in the city once you have ticked its major landmarks off your ‘to-do’ list. Get lost in one of the 61 alleys of the massive Grand Bazaar and feast your eyes on everything from spices to jewellery. Once you have managed to work up an appetite take the Metro to the lesser known areas of town and feast on shawarmas, kebabs, and Turkish tea. A number of small restaurants and takeaways offer a variety of wraps, pita sandwiches, and kebabs. Turkish kebabs taste like no other – the smoky minced meat simply melts in the mouth. An inexpensive, yet indulgent treat for the taste buds.

 

If you happen to be in Istanbul during summer months, then try to escape to Belgrade Forest for a picnic! If you’re a keen photographer, don’t forget to head down to Balat, the traditional Jewish quarter of Istanbul. Here colourful houses and quaint streets make for perfect photographs. It is ideal for a slow morning out in the city. Another offbeat neighbourhood that is full of character is Yeldeğirmeni. Here you will see some gorgeous street art and murals. If you enjoy new experiences in the cities you visit, we would also highly recommend visiting a hammam in Istanbul. There are several hammams to choose from but irrespective of the one you pick, you will leave feeling thoroughly cleansed.

 

Our love affair with Turkey
Colourful Restaurants in Turkey
Our love affair with Turkey
Sheesha Pipes at the Grand Bazaar

 

Our love affair with Turkey
Kebabs in Turkey = Culinary Heaven
Our love affair with turkey
Air Show in Izmir

What after Istanbul?

Istanbul is great for a couple of days, but if you want to get away from the chaos of Istanbul after a few days, Izmir is the perfect place for you. A popular port city, it has some great beaches, but our favourite thing to do is to walk along the Kordon, Izmir’s palm-lined waterfront promenade. We even got lucky and caught a spectacular air show while we were at the Kordon.

As with Istanbul, Izmir’s Konak Square (the central square), Kadifekale (an old castle), and Alsancak (area lined with cafes) seem to be most popular with tourists. But we really enjoyed walking in the city’s smaller streets, rummaging wares at unknown markets, and talking to locals at little known restaurants. Locals are friendly, warm, and extremely welcoming. They showed us the correct way of smoking a hukka one moment and invited us to their house for a meal the next.

A couple of other places we would highly recommend in Turkey are Cappadocia and Pamukale. Over the past few years, these gems have gotten incredibly popular but let me tell you, they are well worth the hype. You must have seen tons of photos of hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia and it is dreamy. But here’s the thing – these rides are dependent on the weather and they are frequently cancelled. So make sure that you plan your itinerary in such a way that you are in Cappadocia at least for 2-3 nights. This gives you a better chance of hopping on that hot-air balloon flight, which truly is a memorable experience.

Pamukkale also provides a stunning opportunity to take in the wonders of Turkey. It is almost 10 hours away from Cappadocia and there are several convenient bus connections available. However once you make it there, don’t rush to the springs on the same day! In fact relax and explore your surroundings that day. On the next, try to get up early if you would like to escape the crowds and photograph the surreal terraced springs.

The crowds have also ensured that hotels in both Cappadocia and Pamukkale have become incredibly expensive, especially during peak season. However you can find some really affordable AirBnB apartments in the area. If you’re on a budget, just book an apartment and visit some of the scenic coffee shops and hookah bars to get stunning views of Cappadocia and the countryside around Pamukkale

 

Our love affair with Turkey
Little known gems in Izmir

On our next trip to Turkey, we’d love to drive along the Aegean Coast. It’s ideal for a road trip. Vid recently chanced on some cheap flights to Bodrum, so that’s definitely the next on our wishlist. He can’t wait to get an evening shot of the Bodrum castle and we’d love to spend our days on the Bardakci cove – we’re thinking windmills, monuments, beaches, and sailing in the Aegean Sea – aaah Turkey, why doth you do this to us?!

 

Our love affair with Turkey
Dreaming of Bodrum

Have you been to Turkey? What’s your favourite part of the country?

 

50 thoughts on “Our Love Affair with Turkey – Istanbul, Izmir and …

  1. great post guys!!! could you please do an article on the suggested itinerary and and approx budget reqd for Turkey!! thanks

  2. I am from Izmir and I definitely agree with this: “If you want to get away from the chaos of Istanbul, Izmir is the perfect place for you.” This is a lovely post about Istanbul and Izmir and great photos! Next time when you are in İzmir – make sure you visit Karsiyaka & Bostanlı as well and eat “boyoz” 😉

  3. Hey guys!

    Been following you guys for a bit now. I just returned from a 30 day trip to Eastern Europe and found my self checking your blog each time I wanted to do something “off beat”.

    Your Prague blog was filled with wonderful ideas that we absolutely loved!! We did visit the nuclear bunker, put our heads in random baby butts (sounds so wrong?) and tried the hot chocolate at cafe Kaficko! Thanks so much for the tips 🙂 absolutely helped!!

    We also visited Istanbul (didn’t read this one before though). And we did a two day tour of Cappadocia. Absolutely breathtaking!!! We were there for 2 days so also managed to do a hot air balloon ride over the dormant volcanoes. A definite must do!

    Anywho, I just thought id drop in a line (more like an essay now) to say thank you!

    Love the posts and love the site 🙂 I’ve recommended to friends currently staying in London. Hopefully they don’t stalk you. Hehe

    Cheers
    Vruchi

    1. Vruchi,

      We can’t tell you how happy your comment made us 🙂 Did you enjoy the visit to the Nuclear Bunker ? That was the highlight of our trip 🙂 So envious of you – we have always wanted to the hot balloon ride – someday soon, I hope 🙂

      Thank you so much for spreading the word about our blog. It makes all the effort we put in to the site worthwhile after reading comments like yours. Thank you so much 🙂

      Cheers

  4. Hey guys! What do you think about visiting Turkey in winter? I’m looking to build an itinerary for Turkey over New Years and was wondering what to include besides Istanbul and Cappadocia.

    Thanks,
    Hitesh

    1. Hey Hitesh – Turkey is good at any time of the year but it’s quite quiet during winter. This is because it’s cold and there aren’t too many magical Christmas Markets in Turkey, unlike the rest to Europe. As for places, you should visit Pamukkale as well 🙂

  5. Hey we have been to Turkey last year and my favourite part was pamukalle. But the best part was town of denizili, we reached there at night and people were wide awake, taking children to parks and walking on roads. And all this was happening at 2:30AM. That apart pamukalle is just unworldly.. all through my travel planning I was thinking this cannot be real, but when I saw the white cotton castle I was smitten by its beauty

  6. Dear Savi Vid, I am a complete fan of your blog. Turkey has long been on my bucketlist. Can you please help me with the following questions::

    1. How safe it is for a solo woman traveller from India?
    2. Which is the best month if I want to visit Istanbul, Bodrum and Cappadocia?
    3. How much would a week long budget trip cost in INR approximately?

    Any help, tips would be much appreciated.

    thanks a lot
    Adii

    1. Hey Adii – thanks a ton. Turkey is safe, but as a traveller I’d suggest exercising common precautions such as not carrying valuables or venturing out really late at night. Summer months are great to visit Turkey but they can get crowded, so we’d suggest April or September/October. The budget depends on the kind of hotels you choose but expect to spend approx USD100 on food, transport, and activities per day once you are there 🙂

  7. Hi. Have you guys visited Turkey again recently? On the spur of the moment, a bunch of friends decided to book tickets to Turkey for Feb. Figured that’s the only way we will ever get something done. We are now reading up about the different places to visit etc. I know Feb may not be the most tourist-friendly monthly but we definitely want to make the most of it. Will be there for 8 days. What places would you recommend visiting and any must do activities?

    1. Hey Aditi – the weather might get quite unpredictable in February so we’d recommend heading to the cities instead of the beaches. Do visit Cappadocia amd Pammukale if you can 🙂

  8. Hey, not only do I get zillion couple goals from you two but also whole lot of content that I lovebirds to read! Your insta stories make My day!
    How do you guys rate turkey as a honeymoon destination in February?
    Thanks

    Jessica

    1. Hey Jessica – Turkey is great as a honeymoon destination and February will get you some great deals on accommodation et al but the weather is extremely unpredictable at the time, so you might or might not get sunny days which Turkey is famous for! Hope this helps 🙂

  9. Hello guys, can u suggest some good accommodations in Sultanahmet in Istanbul. We are looking for options within 6K INR per day.

  10. Hey guys! I’m planning a trip to turkey coming month.. i am intending to cover Istanbul, Cappadocia,Antalya and kabakbay..how many days do u think I should plan my travel for ? I was thinking 12 days..too much? Or if u suggest some places I shouldn’t miss while in turkey..pls fill me in

  11. Hey Savi and Vid,
    Truth be told i just stumbled across your instagram page, and Lord knows i have been hooked on it!!
    What you both are doing in your lives is highly inspirational.
    I was bitten by the wanderlust bug when i was 15 and I feel the “ache for distant places ” too :p
    I am 21 years old and have been to 8 countries. I hope that when am independent enough i will be able to travel and explore the world as you both do.
    Its so amazing to enjoy your passion full time.
    Kudos to breaking the monotony and stereotypes.
    The world needs more people like you both.
    Cheers guys !

    Also, I am travelling to Lisbon,Portugal and Istanbul,Turkey in a few days, It woukd be great if you guys can share the best places to visit there.
    Thank you and All the best for your future expeditions.

    1. Thank you so much for all the love 🥰🥰 we have a few articles on Turkey (just search Turkey on our website) but don’t have anything on Lisbon

  12. Hello Savi/Vid,

    Hope you guys are doing great.

    We are planning to travel around October/November and were wondering which place would you recommend? We are keen on exploring than just island relaxation.

  13. Hi,

    So of course all my trips have to get planned by reading more on your blog… we are 4 friends planning a trip to turkey in december.. most websites show it as wet month there but we like to go off beat away from.the touristy things with obvious tid bits of tourism… do you suggest turkey in december or is it too rainy and nada to enjoy since we usually dont travel to the same country twice as we like to explore and see as much as we can.

    1. Hey Kanika – the weather is unpredictable in Turkey in December, so you could get sunny days but you could also get really grey rainy days too 🙂

  14. Hi
    We are planning for a turkey trip in august..the places that we have decided to visit are Antalya, Cappadocia and Istanbul..other than internal flights, kindly let me know what is the means of transportation for travel within these places

  15. Hi, first of all I would like to say that I am besotted by all your pictures and the chemistry which you two share. It’s adorable and so rare nowadays. Touche!Now, coming to my question, i am thinking of visiting Turkey this year.. But can’t find a proper itinerary anywhere. I am from India, and I am planning a 10-day trip to Turkey. I’m interested in visiting Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, Bodrum. But have no idea how to cover them all. Can you guys please help me????

    1. Thanks a lot Shreya 🙂 To be honest whatever suggestions we have for Turkey are in this article so not sure what else we can tell you 🙂

  16. Hey Savi & Vid! First of all, I would like to say you guys are adorable and first thing in the morning I check is your instagram stories & pictures. You guys are too good & Savi I love your voice❤️❤️

    I’m planning a trip to turkey in first week of April as it’s my birthday week as well and Istanbul is going to be our stopover while we visit India for a month. So we thought of taking a quick break there for 3-4 days.Can you guys share some tips & itineraries . Looking forward to hearing from you guys.
    Love you guys😍😍

    1. Hey Renuka,

      Belated Happy Birthday 🙂 Hope you had a great time in Istanbul and India 🙂 Sorry couldn’t get back to you sooner but all our suggestions are in our articles 🙂

  17. Hi can you suggested me places to visit after Istanbul, also I am a vegetarian so if you know of some good cafes or restaurants offering veg food pls let me know. Suggestions on cities to visit & mid range hotels pls.

    Thanks,
    Kanika

  18. Hey Savi-Vid !
    We are planning to visit Turkey July end for 12 days ! Recommend few places where we can explore with our 6 yr kid 🙂

  19. Hey,

    Im planning a family trip (2 adults & a 6 yr old) in aug for 8-9 days. Apart from istanbul & cappadocia, which other place should we visit? Dont want a very hectic trip!

    TIA

    1. Hi Savi and Vid,

      I’m planning to go to Turkey in November (Mainly Istanbul and Cappadocia). Is Nov a good idea?

      Br
      Surbhi

  20. Hi Savi! Could you please help us chalk out an itinerary for Istanbul and Cappadocia for a 6 nights trip?

    1. Hi Divya,

      Unfortunately we are not in a position right now to provide personal itinerary planning – hopefully some day 🙂

  21. Hie savi,

    I love your blog guys, im planning to go to Turkey in January, any opinions also wanted to know about Cappadocia, does hot air ballons operate at that time?

    1. Hey Anupriya,

      It’s best to check with the hot air balloon operators about this – always best to hear from the horse’s mouth 🙂

  22. Hi Savi and Vid,

    Big fan of your blogs and pictures. You guys look too cute together!! <3
    I am planning a family trip to Turkey with my parents for my birthday in August, but had a week more to spare. I was thinking if you have any suggestion around another nearby country we can visit?

    PS: We are trying not to go for a European country

    TIA 🙂

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