Happy Turkey day! My trip report.

Just got back from 12 days in Istanbul, Cappadocia, and the mediterranean coast. I love writing trip reports so here goes nothing! 26 year old American dude. Oddly enough, lots of people said I look Turkish so maybe that explains why I hardly got pestered.

**Istanbul **

I think I can truly say Istanbul is my favorite city I’ve ever visited – beating out Barcelona and Mexico City. Its cliched as hell to say, but its the kind of place you could spend 1,000 years in and never get bored. It’s stupidly beautiful, super interesting, cheap, and has amazing food and nightlife. 

My biggest tip with Istanbul I will shout from the rooftops – do not stay in Sultanahmet, the area with the main attractions. You do need at least a day there of course to see the landmark sights like the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. That said, the food there is mediocre and overpriced, most stores are rip offs, its not really authentic, and there’s no nightlife. As amazing as those sights are, the other unique neighborhoods are what made me really love Istanbul.

I switched hostels two nights in and went to Cihangir – not far from Sultanahmet, which was absolutely lovely – that whole Galata area in Beyoglu is great though. Quaint and picteuresque with cafes, juice stands, and still well connected to the rest of the city and not far from nightlife in Taksim.

I spent one night in Kadiköy, which I also loved. Its super chic and has great nightlife and food. That said, I’d recommend it only if you’re staying a lot of nights, have a flight out of SAW or have already been to Istanbul as it’s on the Asian side and a bit long to get to big attractions by public transport

I’ve also heard good things about Besiktas which I didn’t make it to. Doesn’t seem like there’s many hostels there though.

Also on the Hagia Sophia – **I suggest going at night, and guys, make sure you are wearing pants**. I got turned away for wearing shorts. There’s no line if you go around 7 – 9 PM. 

**Recommended activities:** Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Bosphorus ferry, Pierre Loti hill, Prince’s islands, Galata tower, wandering Kadiköy and Galata.  

**Accommodations:** Bahaus hostel , Jumba hostel , Yolo Hostel

**Food recs:** Balat Sahil , Tavanarsi, Ciya Sofrasi, Karakoy Gulluoglu , Pide Sun

**Cappadocia **

Really one of the most unique places I’ve been. Like if someone combined Cinque Terre and Zion National Park and made it 1/3 of the price.

If you are flying, I recommend flying into Kayseri instead of Nevsehir if prices are similar as its much closer. 

You will probably stay in Göreme, which is the main tourist hub. My favorite town though is Uchisar, which is right next door. I don’t think it matters that much where you stay though.

Most places will offer a red and green tour. There’s no reason to do the red tour imo – you can get to all of those places by bus. I didn’t do the green tour but those places are less accessible and heard it was good. Most of the unique landscapes you can DIY.

The hot air balloons are $130 minimum. I didn’t want to pay that but your call.

**Recommended activities:** Pasabag valley, rose valley, love valley, waking up at sunrise to watch the balloons, Derinkuyu underground city, Uchisar castle, Kocabag wines.

**Accommodations:** Terra Vista hostel

**Lycia **

I didn’t get to spend too much time here, because I loved Istanbul and Cappadocia so much that they took up most of the trip.

I stayed in Olympos, which is a lovely little beach town. Super pretty pebble beach and ruins, which I loved cause I didn’t get dirty from the sand.

I spent one night in Antalya which I didn’t love – a but overtouristed imo.

**Accommodations:** Bayrams Treehouse , Role Street

**General Tips:**

**English:** The vast majority of Turks **do not** speak English. Even some hostel staff and people in tourist areas will struggle to hold a conversation, and English becomes almost zero in more off the beaten path areas. To be crystal clear so people don’t misinterpret – it is their country, Turkey runs on Turkish and they don’t owe it to tourists to speak English. If you’re used to traveling to places where people speak English though, just be aware. Google translate is your friend…learn a few Turkish phrases and words too.

**Getting around**: Taxi Drivers, especially in Istanbul, are notoriously dishonest and will try to rip you off. Try to avoid taxis. Public transportation is really good and cheap in Istanbul and not bad in Cappadocia or Lycia. If you need a ride, I recommend downloading Bitaksi which allows people to rate drivers to maintain quality. Used it for a ride to the airport and the price was fair and transparent.

**Look out:** In the tourist areas of Istanbul, there will be overly friendly guys helping at the tram machines . I ignored them. If you take their help, watch your pockets and backpack. All I will say, saw this trick happen to someone. 

**Food:** The food was amazing in Istanbul. I didn’t think it was anything special though in other places. It could have something to do with the coast being known for fish, and me being a vegetarian. 

Most hostels will serve a Turkish breakfast, which are delicious and filling, and will save you money.

When it comes to food, this advice holds true anywhere and Turkey is no exception. Two things I notice are correlated with how good each meal was:

* Places with people standing outside hawking customers. Any good restaurant knows it doesn’t have to station people outside to try and rope people in.
* If there is no english portion of the menu…the place is probably dope! It can be a headache sorry, but google translate…some places have meze on display and you can just point to what looks good.

**Vegetarian:** It can be a little tough to find cheap meals when shish kebabs aren’t an option. But the best part of Turkish cuisine is the Meze and plenty of Meze don’t contain meat. As well, plenty of pide dont contain meat. Vejetaryen is the Turkish word – so see if you can find it on a menu. The fresh fruits and vegetables were consistently excellent anywhere I went too.

**Booze:** Alcohol is still inexpensive compared to western europe or the US, but not as cheap as you’d expect because it’s heavily taxed. There’s a few watery pilsners like Efes everyone drinks. Raki is the national hard liquor you sort of just throw down, not sip on. That said, despite not being a wine person, I had a few really good reds.

**Weather:** The heat in Istanbul was no joke. If you go during summer, bring plenty of sunscreen and stay hydrated.

Cappadocia gets cool. Bring at least one jacket and pair of pants. 

**Rough budget:**

**Accommodations:** $170

**Transport:** $155. $83 of it was a flight from istanbul to cappadocia and bus from cappadocia to Lycia.

**Activities:** $72. $25 on a Turkish bath I did for the lolz.

**Food:** $170. Never cooked for myself. 

**Alcohol:** $74. Had about 2 nights out and a beer or two every night.

**Souvenirs:** $35

So about $675 minus the flight from the US. …which was more than that. Not bad at all.

**Final Verdict:** Turkey was a 10/10. I loved it. 28 countries later and I may have my favorite.

My itch was not scratched. I hope to see more of Lycia and Eastern Turkey soon.

Happy Turkey day! My trip report.