With a travel bucket list as expansive as the Pacific Ocean, it is natural to dig in your pockets for extra vacation funds and scour the internet for promising side hustles to sponsor this justified addiction. However, many international destinations are far less expensive than one may think, with Turkey being a surprisingly affordable city in comparison to its European neighbors.
As the following highlights from our 13-day affordable Turkey tour allude to, it is more than possible to encounter the country’s tourist highlights and camouflaged treasures without spending a fortune – as long as you restrain yourself while walking through each bazaar.
Traverse Through the Streets of Istanbul
As you arrive in the illustrious city of Istanbul, rather than falling victim to jet lag, step out into the eventful streets and begin your budget-friendly escapade on the right note. In an effort to uncover the city’s inherent cultural riches, venture to the Rustem Pasha Mosque for a close-up view of its Iznik tiles. Step into a 4-D history book of sorts as you head to the Hippodrome, the ancient home of chariot races and athletic events.
Spend the remainder of your day soaking in the views of St. Sophia, a grand mosque and dome-like structure with Greek influence running through its architectural veins. Stroll through the fragrant Spice Market to bring a big of Middle Eastern cuisine home with you, elevating your recipes with prominent seasonings.
To close your day, contemplate an interactive visit to the Topkapi Palace to gain a glimpse of the everyday lives of the Ottoman sultans.
Tour Ancient Civilizations
Troy, a 4,000-year-old city, will be your destination for the day, the streets serving as archives for visitors who come to see the home of the Trojan War in person. As Greek mythology alludes to, the Trojan War’s title comes from this battle’s final climax, when the army strategically left a giant wooden horse outside the city’s gates. Little did the Trojans know that Greek warriors were hidden inside the horse. It was much too late to put their defenses up after pulling this oddity into their city, as the Greeks used this entry to climb out of the horse and defeat the city. Although many historians are in agreement that the Trojan Horse is a myth, tourists still are able to see an elevated Trojan Horse in the city of Troy, fancying this legend to this day.
Later, continue your exploration of ancient civilizations by visiting Pergamum, a once-powerful kingdom, as well as Asclepion, an ancient Roman spa center that once was held in great esteem.
Day Seven: Hot Springs
Give your body a rest by dipping in the Pamukkale Hot Springs, a picturesque view of aquamarine buckets of water set among rocks as white as glaciers. Rumor has it that these waters have healing powers to them, most noticeably in their detoxifying effects on the body. Pamukkale quite literally translates to “cotton castle,” and rightly so. The carbonite mineral seemingly airbrushed under one’s feet contrasts greatly with the hazel-colored terra firma found elsewhere in the country.
Because of the hot springs’ famed restorative powers, it became a prospering spa resort for ancient civilizations, with one legend even voicing its ability to transform one’s physical appearance into one of ethereal beauty.
Nearby this natural wonder, visit the historic Necropolis and Hierapolis “Holy City,” where ruins still stand from a time we know little about.
The Magical Allure of Cappadocia
Upon first arriving in the ravishing region of Cappadocia, leave time in your schedule to witness a demonstration of carpet weaving and to attend a Whirling Dervish performance, which symbolizes a spiritual journey to accessing God.
Many travel influencers who have gotten their passports stamped in Turkey have also traveled to Cappadocia for a view of the many hot air balloons that float atop its fairy chimney rocks. If your budget allows, you might decide to embark on one of these balloon rides yourself, but watching them from an outlook has proven to be just as mystical of an experience. As the sun rises, observe the multi-colored floating baskets as they hover over the vast land, illuminated by aureate daylight.
After this phenomenal morning, descend to lower levels to explore the town at a street level, deciding whether or not to add on an experience at the Open-Air Museum in Goreme Valley. Other highlights of Cappadocia include the charming village of Avanos, with its unique architecture and locally-owned pottery shop, as well as the Ozkonak Underground City worth exploring.
A Farewell Cruise and the Grand Bazaar
As your trip begins to come to a close, you’ll use your last day to travel back to the city where it all started: Istanbul. Your last day might fill you with nostalgia for the previous activities you partook in or might entice you to use your closing moments to experience something new, such as an optional cruise along the Bosphorus, viewing fishing villages and suspension bridges.
If you find yourself abounding in Turkish lira at this point in your trip, consider making the visit to the Grand Bazaar for some final souvenir shopping. Put your best poker face on, as bargaining is the key to success here. Browse through hand-crafted carpets, vivid lanterns, traditional ceramics and fine jewelry, to name a few of the bejeweled artifacts you can justify purchasing as a memoir of Turkey’s awe.