Our guide on best time to visit, visa, getting around, attire and costs
Best Time To Visit
Even though Turkey is a year-round good to visit, albeit the Spring (Mar.- May) and Autumn (Sept.- Nov.) are the best time to explore the country. Moderate weather and thinner crowds make it a pleasure trip and saves on your budget too; though queues are reduced to half in winters at most of the major attractions.
We went in late May to early June and the weather was perfect. Sunlight not too harsh and the winds not too cold. Crowd was medium but we heard from fellow travelers that mid-June had bad rush in Istanbul.
So, when you plan, check for any holidays around and visit those places first where you might get less crowd and ditch the cliché when you can to embrace the place more. International Tulip Festival is held in April every year and billions of Tulips bloom throughout the city of Istanbul. For those who thought Tulips = Netherlands, Tulips are the gift of Turks to the world! It is one of the most sought-after events in Istanbul, so if you’re planning to visit Turkey in April, you may want to admire this gift 😉
For an Indian passport holder, there are two options available, E-visa and Regular Visa.
A Turkish e-visa can be applied for if you have a valid visa or residence permit from Schengen, US, UK or Ireland. Further, the e-visa process is the simplest we have seen till date. The steps are as follows:
- Visit https://www.evisa.gov.tr/en/
- Select ‘New application’ and enter the relevant details (a one page form with basic information required. No documents / photo required to be uploaded)
- Pay the visa fees of USD 43 online
- Receive the visa on e-mail within 10-15 minutes
However, in case e-visa is not applicable, the process is little cumbersome and time consuming as follows:
- Visit https://www.konsolosluk.gov.tr/Visa/Index
- Fill the required details
- Upload the required documents (List mentioned here http://www.vfsglobal.com/turkey/uae/Tourism.html) (Note: The link provided is for applying from UAE. Based on our research, the documents and process is similar for India. You can obtain details from the following link – http://www.vfsglobal.com/turkey/india/Tourist.html)
- After submitting the application, appointment needs to be obtained to submit the application for further processing by the Turkish consulate (http://www.vfsglobal.com/turkey/uae/schedule-an-appointment.html)
- Visit the VFS office on the scheduled date and submit the application, along with the documents and passport
- If approved, you will receive the visa within 10-15 working days
For Jackie, e-visa was obtained. However, for me we had to obtain the sticker visa.
Transport and Getting Around
We used the flight aggregator, Skyscanner – https://www.skyscanner.net/ to search for the best available flights. However, once our flight selected, we booked directly from the carrier’s website. We booked Turkish Airlines – one of the best flight experiences we have had till date. Special mention of their safety demonstration video that is loaded with sheer cuteness.
Getting around Turkey is all dependent on how much time and budget you have.
Road Trips: Roads in Turkey are good and if you’re into the adventure league. A few car rental options are available at majority of the airports, so you can pick and go. However, note that if you wish to drop off at another city, there may be high one-way fees.
While planning, after covering Istanbul we were to do our road trip as Izmir – Ephesus – Konya – Cappadocia. We dropped the plan as we were ending up with a very jam-packed itinerary. Instead, we limited the number of cities we wanted to see and rented vehicles locally to explore.
Public Transport: Istanbul offers a great network of public transport. You can buy the ‘Istanbul Kart’ at any train stop/ major bus stops, which can be used for all public transport in the city. We majorly used public transport in Istanbul. The tram ‘T1’ is the most convenient options to visit most of the attractions. We used the taxis only for travelling to and from the airport.
There was very limited public transport in Cappadocia, which can be used only if you have more time in hand to explore the place. We used it to visit some places as we had some time in hand. There was no public transport in Pamukkale. Domestic connectivity: Majority of the cities and towns are connected by either bus or train route. If you wish, you can travel between the cities like Izmir to Denizli by Train or bus. The fares are reasonable too. However, most of the cities have an airport and are well connected. We preferred the same to save time and flew with Pegasus and Turkish Airlines for our city hopping.
Turkey is a mix of Middle Eastern and European culture. There are not much restrictions like other Middle Eastern countries, apart from the mosques, where you are expected to cover your knees and shoulders. Women are expected to cover their heads as well.
Currency and Costs
Turkish Lira is the official currency in Turkey (1 AED ~ 1.55 Lira, 1 USD ~ 5.7 Lira, 1 INR ~ 0.08 Lira as on October 2019). We recommend carrying USD / EUR from home country and exchange for Lira, while in Turkey, for much better rates, rather than exchanging INR / AED to Lira. USD / EUR may also be accepted widely.
The costs depend on the type of accommodation and flights. A tentative budget for two persons is given below:
- Accommodation – bed and breakfast for 9 nights – 5,000 Lira
- Round trip flights – depending on your location. Turkish airlines has a good flight connectivity throughout the globe
- Internal flights (Istanbul to Pamukkale and Pamukkale to Cappadocia) – 1800 Lira
- Food per meal average – 80 Lira
- Entry tickets to attractions (per head) – Basilica Cistern (20 Lira), Topkapi Palace, with Harem (115 Lira), Dolmabahce Palace, including Harem (90 Lira), Laodicea, Travertines and Heirapolis combined ticket (65 Lira), Dervish Ceremony in Pamukkale (120 Lira), Zelve Open air museum (15 Lira) and Kaymakli Underground City (35 Lira). All other destinations do not require an entrance fee – you can check the updated prices on the respective websites
- Hot Air balloon – 1150 Lira
- Local transport, including airport transfers – Istanbul public transport and airport transfer (750 Lira), Pamukkale car rental and fuel (750 Lira), Cappadocia public transport, airport transfer and scooter rental (500 Lira)