Turkiye 2014: Full itinerary & budget

Fethiye – Sanliurfa – Mardin – Istanbul 2014

I created this post to share details of my recent trip to with my secondary school friends Ants and JY to Turkiye from 1 – 15 November.

In trying to be as accurate as possible, I hope this will help others make good travel decisions and show that budget – friendly travel to the culturally – rich but shunned areas of Southeast Turkiye can be done. You don’t need a big budget for good travel experiences. Keep an eye out for separate travelogues of these places to follow.

Map of Turkiye trip 2014


Some general points:

– We travelled in November, a short window after summer and before the Christmas tourist season. Because it was off – season, accommodation was at least 10-20% cheaper and less crowded. In Fethiye and Urfa, we had the dormitories all to ourselves.

– Despite the proximity to the Syrian border, I felt completely safe in Sanilurfa and Mardin, and trusted local advice and existing public transport routes. The closest I passed to Syria was through Kiziltepe (en route to Mardin) 15km from the Syrian border.

– This trip was planned in late 2013. Special thanks has to be given to several bloggers who specialise in Turkiye, in particular Turkeysforlife (Fethiye information), Pat Yale and the great travellers at the Turkiye forum at Lonely Planet.

– Exchange rate is S$1 to 1.61 TL (Oct 2014)

During this trip, we travelled to four main cities: Istanbul, Fethiye (Mediterranean Coast), Sanliurfa (Urfa) and Mardin (both Southeast Turkiye), and the locations surrounding them. Detailed in the next few pages is a points – form version with up – to – date information.

Lycian Rock Tombs at Fethiye
Lycian Rock Tombs at Fethiye

1. FETHIYE (2 – 5 Nov)

Sun, 2 Nov

  • To get to Fethiye, we took 3 consecutive flights: Singapore – Doha (Qatar Airways, 7.5 hours), Doha –  Istanbul (Qatar Airways, 4.5 hours) and finally Istanbul – Dalaman (Turkish Airlines, 1 hour). Layover at each stage was about an hour
  • Took a Muttas bus run by the Fethiye Belediyesi from Dalaman airport to Fethiye otogar (main bus station) for 7.5 TL. 1 hour trip.
  • From the otogar, took a Karagozler – Taskaya dolmus (orange) to guesthouse by the bay (4 TL).
  • Rest of the day – recceing Fethiye town and sites of interest within it: partially restored Roman amphitheatre at the bay, the Lycian rock tombs and castle on the hillside overlooking the town.

Mon, 3 Nov (Kayakoy)

  • Kayakoy: Walked to the abandoned Greek village of Kayakoy/ Livissi from the bay at Fethiye. Trek began at the road behind the Marine Park Vista Hotel over the hills. Total trek: 12km (around 3 hours).
  • Entrance to Kayakoy cost 5 TL. Unfortunately the church was under restoration.
  • Af Kule Monastery: Next, trekked to the abandoned monastery of Af Kule by the sea. Total distance: 8km in and out, including forest trails.
  • To get back to Fethiye, took the Fethiye – Kayakoy – Oludeniz – Gemiler dolmus from the modern Kayakoy village square (7 TL).

Tue, 4 Nov (Letoon and Xanthos)

  • Entire day focused on two Lycian city ruins: Letoon (a temple to the goddess Leto) and Xanthos (the capital of ancient Lycia)
  • Getting to Letoon: took the Kumlouva – Karadare dolmus (red) from the Fethiye dolmus station (10 TL). Journey took under 1.5 hours.
  • From where the dolmus driver dropped us, walked an additional 1km to Letoon (entry: 8 TL).
  • Getting to Xanthos: followed the Lycian Way markers for 5km, through the agricultural towns of Escencay and Kinik. Xanthos (entry: 10 TL) is very large site on a hill, so we spent at least 2.5 hours there.
  • To get back to Fethiye, took the Kumlouva – Karadare dolmus from the bridge outside Kinik town (8 TL), for about an hour. (Alternative: take the Bati Antalya bus from the Kinik otogar, but it only runs every 1.5 hours).

Wed, 5 Nov

  • Spent most of the day walking around Fethiye, waiting for the 1600 bus to Sanliurfa at the otogar. Visited Fethiye Musuem (entry: 5 TL).

Accommodation in Fethiye: Fethiye Guesthouse (dorms)
Total Expenses for Fethiye (all – in): 410.45 TL (S$255)

Urfa skyline
Urfa skyline

2. SANLIURFA (URFA) (6 – 9 Nov)

  • Getting to Sanliurfa: Booked seats on an inter – city bus run by Mardin Seyahat (100 TL/person) one day ahead. Very reliable company. As with all Turkish bus companies, they stop every 3 hours for a break and served water, tea, juice and snacks on board for free.
  • Duration of bus journey: 19 hours

Thu, 6 Nov

  • Reached Urfa otogar at 1100 hrs. Inter – city buses on top, provincial dolmuses below.
  • Urfa’s public transport system was too tough for us to navigate, so took a taxi to Guesthouse (30 TL). Note on Urfa’s public transport: all buses start from the Belediye. 61 and 72 go to otogar. R1 goes to Balikigol.
  • Explored city: the Balikigol (Fish Lake), Urfa Castle, the bazaar and the mosques around the Hazreti Ibrahim Dergah (Abraham’s Cave).

Fri, 7 Nov (Urfa City)

  • Walked to Eyyup Peygamber to find the cave and spring of Hazreti Eyyup (Prophet Job). Unable to stay long at the mosque because of Friday prayers.
  • Unfortunately, both of Urfa’s museums (archaeological and mosaic museums) were closed for restoration. Set to open in May 2015. Ruins of the Halepi Baths also closed for complete overhaul.
  • Walked around the Kapali Carsi (covered bazaar) to find local specialities. Then walked north along Ataturk Caddesi as far as the Belediye. Surprise find: the ruins of the Byzantine – era Hezmali Bridge/ Aqueduct near Nissan Fuar Caddesi.

Sat, 8 Nov (Gobekli Tepe & Sogmater)

  • Paid a driver from the guesthouse to take us to Gobekli Tepe (16km from Urfa) and Sogmater (72km east of Urfa). Cost: 150 TL/person
  • Gobekli Tepe entrance fee: 5 TL
  • Reached Sogmater after a long bumpy road. Site located in a currently inhabited Arab village. No existing tourist infrastructure.
  • After tour, walked to the newly – opened Urfa Kent Muzesi (Urfa City Museum) at the restored Mahmutoglu Kulesi. Museum not ready to receive visitors because of construction. Still admitted for free. No English translations, all in Turkish.

Sun, 9 Nov (Depart for Mardin)

  • Guesthouse driver sent us to the otogar for 20 TL to catch a bus to Mardin.

Accommodation in Urfa: Aslan Konuk Evi (dorms)
Total Expenses for Urfa (all – in): 358.50 TL (S$222.70)

 Mardin, viewed from the Eskikale Road
Mardin from the Eskikale Road

3. MARDIN (9 – 11 Nov)

Sun, 9 Nov (Reaching Mardin)

  • Getting to Mardin: Went to the otogar and got a bus with Mardin Seyahat again (25 TL/person, 3 hours)
  • Bus dropped us at a park in Yeni Mardin (New Mardin). Then took a Mardin Belediye bus (blue) to Eski Mardin (Old Mardin) for 1.5 TL.
  • Mardin Archaeological Museum closed for restoration, but still admitted for free. Visited the Church of the Virgin Mary (locked)

Mon, 10 Nov (Mardin)

  • Walked to the Deyrulzafaran Monastery (Mor Hananyo) on the outskirts of Old Mardin. Two roads – the upper road through Eskikale village and the lower Mardin – Nusaybin main road – lead there, but only the latter has signs. Distance: 5.5km. (entry fee: 6 TL)
  • Walked from Deyrulzafaran to Kasimiye Madrasah on the slopes of Mardin. Distance: 7.9km.
  • Explored the rest of Old Mardin’s landmarks, including the Latifye (Abdullatif) Mosque, Kirklar Kilise (40 Martyrs Church), Mar Yusuf Kilisesi (St Joseph’s Church), the Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque), Zinciriye (Sultan Isa) Madrasah, Sehidiye Mosque and Hatuniye (Sitti Radviyye) Madrasah.

Tue, 11 Nov (Departing for Istanbul)

  • Visited the Sakip Sabanci Mardin Kent Muzesi (entry fee: 2TL).
  • To get to airport, took a Mardin Belediye bus from Old Mardin to the Sehir Merzeki in Yeni Mardin (1.6 TL). Then, flagged down the Mardin – Kiziltepe dolmus for Mardin airport (3.5 TL).
  • At 1530 hrs, boarded a flight for Istanbul’s Sabiha Gocken Airport (AndalouJet, 2 hours)

Accommodation in Mardin: Dara Konagi (twin – bed room)
Total expenses for Mardin (all – in): 281.47 TL (S$136.31)

 Hagia Sophia, viewed from Sultanahmet, Istanbul
Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet, Istanbul

4. ISTANBUL (11 – 15 Nov)

  • First thing done in Istanbul: getting an Istanbulkart (20 TL). Then took IETT bus E11 from Sabiha Gocken Airport to Kadikoy (4 TL), then a ferry from Kadikoy to Kabatas (2 TL). Finally walked to the Cihangir neighbourhood to our hostel.
  • Recced Cihangir and Taksim Square for food options

Wed, 12 Nov (Sightseeing)

  • First thing done: bought a three – day Istanbul Muze Pass (85 TL) to bypass queues and entry to paid museums.
  • Finished main sightseeing: Topkapi Palace Museum, Hagia Irene, Istanbul Museum of Archaeology, Hagia Sophia, Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque and Kucuk Hagia Sophia (Little Hagia Sophia). Went two rounds around the Grand Bazaar.

Thu, 13 Nov (Golden Horn)

  • Took a ferry (2 TL) from Kabatas to Kadikoy. Explored Moda district.
  • Boarded a ferry for Eminonu (2 TL), then transferred to the Sehir Hatlari Halic Hatti line (3 TL). Disembarked at Eyup.
  • Paid respects at Eyup Sultan and the shrine of Abu Ayyub al – Ansari.
  • Tried to find old city walls but failed.
  • Returned to hostel via the same ferry (4 TL) and tramline to Findikli (2 TL).

Fri, 14 Nov (Off the beaten path)

  • Took bus 42T from Taksim Square to Belgrade Ormani (Belgrade Forest). Spent two hours trail walking.
  • Took 42HM from Bahcekoy to Haciosman Metro, then rode the metro down to Sishane and finally the tunel to Karakoy. Visited the Zulfaris Synagogue Museum (entry fee: 10 TL).
  • Took the tram from Kadikoy to Topkapi, then switched to the T4 tram to Edirnekapi. From there, walked to the Kariye Cami (Chora Church Museum). Entry into main hall closed because of restoration.
  • Recced the neighbourhoods of Fener and Balat. Stumbled upon the Fethiye Mosque (former Pammakaristos Church). Then went to the Church of St Mary of the Mongols. Visited St Stephen Bulgarian Church (being restored).
  • Took a bus back to Eminonu and visited the Yeni Mosque, before heading to the docks for dinner and later Karakoy Gulluoglu for dessert.

Sat, 15 Nov (Last day)

  • Visited Suleymaniye Mosque, then Cihangir Mosque and finally back to Taksim Square.
  • To get to Sabiha Gocken Airport, took a ferry from Kabatas to Kadikoy. Then boarded the Havatas shuttle (9.5 TL).
  • Left Istanbul for Singapore via Doha on 1825.

Accommodation in Istanbul: Stray Cat Hostel in Cihangir, Beyoglu (four – bed room)
Total expenses for Istanbul (all – in): 499.35 TL (S$310.15)

Total Expenses in Turkiye: 1,549.77 TL (S$962.60)
Add Qatar Airways (International flight): 962.60 + 1103

Grand total expenses for trip: S$2065


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