Turkey Travel Guide & Information
Rich in culture and history, with endless beaches, amazing food and unbelievably friendly, welcoming people; Turkey has something for every type of traveller. And with so much to do and see, and quite reasonable cost of living, Turkey is a great destination for a budget traveller to get lost for a few weeks, or even months!
While hostels can be a little expensive, especially in the cities, Turkey is known for being one of the most hospitable countries in the world. Almost everywhere I have been in Turkey I have been offered a free place to crash, even in one case being offered a 6 bedroom villa equipped with its own swimming pool and jacuzzi to "crash" in, completely free of course! And with one of the largest populations of couchsurfers, you should have no problems finding free accommodation wherever you go. Free camping is also legal, and a great place to set up your tent is in the garden of a highway restaurant, assuming you are hitchhiking, and you should be because it is usually easier and faster than taking a bus or train! Not to mention you will be constantly offered free food and have the chance to meet Turkey’s amazingly friendly people. You can also sleep in almost any mosque which you will never be more than 500 metres from at any point in your trip. Just get a local person to write you a short note explaining that you are travelling and don’t have much money and could you please sleep here for the night.
The only thing that might hurt your budget in this country is alcohol, if you are a drinker, a beer in a shop can cost you around 2-3 euros, and at least double that in a bar or club. There are some cheaper places, especially in Istanbul, but you really have to search hard to find them. Drinking in public is usually prohibited in Turkey but there are some places where it seems ok, for example around Galata Tower in Istanbul, or on the seaside in Izmir. Just look around if you can see other people drinking, it should be ok in that area.
Hitchhiking in Turkey is definitely the best way to get around. It is cheaper (erm… free!), faster, and easier than taking a bus or train. No tickets needed, just stick your thumb up on a road people are going in the same direction as you and within a few minutes you will have a ride. Just of course take care whenever you are hitchhiking. While Turkey is a relatively safe country, there are always dangers anywhere you go, especially if you are a girl. Try not to hitchhike alone if possible, carry a pepper spray which you can buy for 3 euros in most bazaars around Turkey, and avoid hitchhiking at night.
If you do decide to pay for your transportation, trains and buses can be quite reasonable, usually around €20 for a 600km journey. And if you try to take night buses or trains as you will save money on accommodation. Also when travelling from Istanbul to Izmir you can take the new ferrybus (www.idobus.com.tr) for as little as €10 each way if you book online in advance.
If you are spending more than a few days inside a city it might be worth to get/borrow a transportation card (e.g. IstanbulCard or Kent Card in Izmir). These cost 5tl but fairs are usually cheaper with them and they also give you free or discounted transfers for 1-2 hours.
Food & Drink
Everywhere you go in Turkey you will find an amazing variety of food, usually at very reasonable prices. Most common being kebabs and other kinds of sandwich that you can find on almost every corner! In a restaurant you will more likely find hot food served with rice or bread, often served cafeteria style so you can also see and point at what you want. And you definitely shouldn't leave Turkey without trying a traditional Turkish breakfast! These are usually had in Turkish homes every single day, but if you can't get invited to someone's house then there are also quite a few breakfast cafes around, especially in Istanbul. Just look or ask for the word Kahvaltı. If you are brave and want to try something different, another thing I and many people love is kokoreç (Sheep intestines). Might be a bit weird for western people, but give it a try and you wont regret it! Again, especially Istanbul is the best place to eat kokoreç.
The local drink in Turkey is Rakı (pronounced more like raku not raki) which is an aniseed flavoured hard liquor made from grape skins and traditionally drank in bars with several side dishes of seafood, cheese, olives, etc.
Apart from a fascinating culture and history, few people know about the beautiful and unique nature of Turkey. The, erm... "interestingly" shaped fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, the massive salt plains (Tuz Golu) nearby there, the butterfly valley in Fethiye and you definitely can't talk about nature without mentioning the Black Sea's lush green mountains. All of these places are on my list of the most stunning things I have seen in my life.
The West coast of Turkey has mild wet winters and hot dry summers. During the summer months it can be rare to see any rain at all, which might be a luxury for a person coming from a country like England but it can also be a little extreme with temperatures reaching as high as 45°C. In contrast the central and south eastern areas have extremely cold winters with temperatures reaching -20°C and dry summers with cool nights.
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