I still cannot believe that I spent 6 days in beautiful Turkey last week. This trip to Istanbul & Cappadocia was on my bucketlist for so long and I am so happy to can finally tick it off. I wanna share with you all the accomodations we (my boyfriend & I) stayed and the things we went to see and experienced.
Flights and Accomodation
We flew from Munich to Istanbul. The airport Sabiha Gökcen is quite far away from the city centre of Istanbul, so I recommend you to book a shuttle service in advance (many hotels offer one around 15€).
For the first two days we stayed at the Sultan Hostel, only 5 minutes away from the Hagia Sophia. It was really cheap – we paid 24€ per night for a double bedroom. Yes, it wasn´t the biggest room and the breakfast did not offer that many options. However, it was clean and for this price and location, you cannot hope for the biggest comfort.
After two days we took a flight to Cappadocia. We landed in Kayseri and a shuttle service – we booke it in advance – picked us up and drove us directly to our hotel in Göreme, the Travel Inn Cave Hotel. This time it is quite necessary to book a shuttle service because Göreme is about 1,5 hours away from the airport. There are many hotels in Göreme but I really loved ours and the stuff was absolutely nice and welcoming.
After another two days in Göreme we flew back to Istanbul for the last day where we stayed in The Raymond Hotel. We booked a budget double bed room, but luckily we got a free upgrade to the standard version. The room was really big and beautifully furnitured. Sadly, we could not try the breakfast the next morning, because our flight back home took off to early for it.
All in all, we spent 420€ for all accomodations and flights together. I think this is not that expensive, eventhough, I know that we could have spent less if we stayed in cheaper hostels (in Istanbul are hostels for only 8€ per night in a dorm room).
What to see and do in Istanbul
There are so many amazing things to experience in beautiful Istanbul and sadly we did not have that much time in the city. However, because everything is quite close to each other, we got to see most of it. I recommend you to start your day really early (everything opens around 9am and make sure, you are there around 15 minutes earlier!
- Hagia Sophia: This mosque is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. Make sure to be there early in the morning and take yourself some time to really enjoy all the amazing details and the impressive architecture. The entrence fee is around 60 Lira and it is totally worth it! Another information: you do not have to wear headscarf but make sure to cover up your shoulders and legs.
- The Blue Mosque: It is also called the Sultan-Ahmed Mosque and it is just across from the Hagia Sophia. If you are there in summer, make sure to bring some socks with you because you have to take off your shoes at the entrence and I do not believe that you want to walk through it barefoot. You do not have to pay anything to get in, but you need to wear a headscarf which you can get at the entrence.
- Seven Hills Hotel: Even if we did not stay there, we made time to go there for having tea in the morning and to take some pictures on the rooftop restaurant. It is such a beautiful place with a wonderful view over the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia.
- Cisterna Basilika: Since reading Inferno from Dan Brown, I wanted to see this magical place. You have to pay 20 Lira to get in and if you are there in the morning, the queue is usually not that long. It is dark, gloomy and can be a bit cold, so make sure to wear a warmer jacket or a scarf.
- Topkapi Palace: The palace just next to the Hagia Sophia, is an amazing place if you are interested in turkish culture and history. The architecture and relics of bygone times are impressive and colourful. The entrence fee is 60 Lira which is around 10€. The price is totally worth it and if you go there in fall/winter there might not be that many tourists, so you can really take your time!
- The Great Bazaar: Take time if you go to visit The Great Bazaar because you might get lost in between all the shops. While walking through the bazaar which is more like a huge labyrinth, sellers will shout their offers and will invite you to try some Turkish Delight, coffee or buy plates, lamps and clothes. Make sure to try some things and talk to the people. Eventhough, they try to sell you something, they are all really friendly and do not hesitate to deal at the price – it is all part of the game and quite fun!
- Büyük Valide Han: This place is quite hidden and not that many people know about it. It is a hidden art café with a rooftop, just next to The Great Bazaar. Although, you will find Büyük Valide Han on GoogleMaps (make sure to set a pin there!), the stairway to the rooftop is around the corner and there is also no sign, so just ask someone. Sadly the roofto was closed because of restoration work when we where there, but we enjoyed a delicious cup of the in the café
- Galatar Tower: The tower is on another island and you can get there easily by crossing the bridge or taking a ferry. This iconic tower is easy to get to – just follow the signs. We did not get in because the queue was a bit too long and it was also raining. However, the area around is really nice and there is also a turkish-german bookshop and café really close by.
What to do and see in Cappadocia
We just had one and a half days in beautiful Göreme, Cappadocia, but I am convinced that we got to experience most of it and the days we stayed there will forever have a special place in my heart. Now I wanna share with you the things we loved to do and why I believe that the famous ballon ride should not be on top of your list if you go there:
- Hot air Ballons: It was my dream since years to do that, but when we arrived in Cappadocia, every tour was booked out. However, looking back it was one of the best things that could have happened to us. In the morning before we sunrise we walked up the hill and watched the sunrise with all the ballons up in the air. When a ballon passed the hill, we saw that the basket was filled with over 30 tourists and that was the moment, we were so grateful that it did not work out for us to take the ride! On the ground it was so relaxing and we had lots of time to take pictures and enjoy the moment.
- Horse Riding: Because my boyfriend and I try to incorporate one special adventure in every trip and the one we planned for our stay in Turkey (the hot air ballon ride) did not work out, we had to change plans and find another adventure instead. We decided to go horse riding and we booked the tour over our hotel. It was an extraordinary experience. Our guide was really nice and the ride lasted for 2 hours through the Red Valley of Cappadocia.
- Pigeon Valley: After horse riding we still had some time left and decided to go for a walk through Pigeon Valley. It is really amazing and the landscape looks absolutely stunning.
I hope you liked this blog post and maybe it inspired you to travel to beautiful turkey. This was for sure one of my favourite adventures as I loved the for me completely new culturel. The people there were so friendly and welcoming and the food was absolutely delicious (a seperate blog post will come up soon, I promise). Let me know, if you have been in Turkey yet or plan to visit!