Europe

Tallying Up The Cost: 17 Days in Turkey

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Posted on / by Alex Berger

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Turkey:  A country that spans two continents, has seen the rise and fall of numerous empires, and offers an amazing melting pot of contrasting cultures and geographic terrain.  When the time came to choose the destination for my winter break the choice was clear.  After years of dreaming about a visit, I was more than ready to pack my bags for Turkey.  After doing some research, perusing the excellent posts on the Turkish Travel Blog and talking to my brother, David Berger, who recently visited Turkey, I decided on three destinations. Choosing the three was a challenging task.  The rich history of Turkey, combined with its size and geographic location mean that Turkey has an amazing depth and richness which might initially surprise those not overly familiar with the country.  While I considered several popular destinations such as the ruins at Ephesus and the natural hot springs at Pamukkale, I ultimately decided to focus instead on Istanbul, the Cappadocia region, and Antalya.

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Istanbul was a must.  The former location of Byzantium and Constantinople, it offered an incredible opportunity to visit one of the centers of modern civilization and the heart of some of history’s most captivating empires. The reports I had from friends and peers in the travel industry also suggested a city that was far more compelling and engaging than your standard capital city.

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Cappadocia has captivated me for years.  Fairly unknown outside of Turkey, Cappadocia’s unusual cities are carved into the sides of the local hills and delve deep underground into  sprawling chambers. Ever since stumbling upon the first photos I’ve had it at the top of my list of unique and unusual places to visit.  However, it wasn’t until recently that I learned that Cappadocia is actually a rather large region, which encompasses a number of small towns and not a stand alone town.  After doing my research I eventually decided on the small town of Göreme to serve as my base while exploring the region.

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The final city was Antalya.  I chose Antalya, which is situated at the heart of the Turkish Riviera in part due to climate and in part because I had a strong interest in seeing the unusual Lycian ruins at Myra.  Located along Turkey’s southern coast it offered the allure of significantly warmer weather and the chance to catch up on some time in the sun – something I’ve been sorely missing here in Copenhagen.  While far larger and more widely known, my concern about visiting the ruins at Ephesus stemmed from the belief that they are likely heavily stabilized to handle the number of visits they get annually.  I know it is necessary to protect the site but it diminishes the life of a place. The ruins of  Pompeii are another good example. Despite the small size of the ruins at Myra, and the excessive tourist infrastructure in the Antalya region, I still found them to be charming and well worth the visit. Antalya also offered the opportunity to see the Düden Falls which is located in the heart of the city. It is a picturesque waterfall which cascades over the side of the cliffs and into the Mediterranean below.

 Analyzing The Cost

One of the reasons I chose Turkey was the relatively cheap airfare to and from Istanbul from Copenhagen.  My round-trip ticket cost $245 USD. Even though it was slightly more than I might have paid using a budget airline within central Europe, it was still reasonable.  The three cities I selected are relatively far away from each other.  This posed a challenge from a transportation standpoint.  The cities are also connected by long-overnight buses, a viable option, but one which I hoped to avoid.  To my surprise Turkish Airlines and their subsidiary AnadoluJet were running specials which meant I could get airfare from Istanbul to Kayseri (Cappadocia), Kayseri to Antalya, and Antalya to Istanbul for virtually the same price as a bus ticket.  In total these in-country flights ran me $179 USD.  The combined cost of all airfare/long distance transportation, excluding regional tours, was $423 for the trip.

For the duration of my visit the US dollar was performing fairly well against the Turkish lira and was typically about 1.75 lira to the USD.  This gave me a significant amount of added buying power as most Turkish prices are structured at what would be 1:1 between the lira and the dollar.   My hostels were usually 20-30 lira per night.  After facing the brutal food prices here in Copenhagen for 6 months, I was eager to splurge on the relatively cheap food in Istanbul.  As a result, instead of opting for the 2-8 lira kebabs, I tended to seek out more filling meals which ranged anywhere from 10 Lira to 30 Lira a meal. I’ll do a more comprehensive post on food in Turkey at a later date. It is worth noting that the area around Sultan Ahmet Square in Istanbul and the old city in Antalya were significantly more expensive as they cater heavily to tourists.  Another item that was surprisingly expensive (but more available than expected) was alcohol.  Beer was typically priced between 6-10 lira per bottle.

Unfortunately, due to the need to use cash for many of my purchases, I don’t have an accurate breakdown of individual expenses by category (eg: food, lodging, etc.). However, the sum for all non-airfare costs over the 17 day period was $1,086. This includes approximately $100 in added expenses for unnecessary clothing purchases.

The total cost for the trip including all primary and secondary expenses, transportation, food, entertainment, etc. was $1509.55 or about $89 USD per day.  I suspect that a traveler operating on a tighter food budget, and doing fewer organized regional tours (I did two expensive day trips in Cappadocia and Antalya) could drop that fairly easily to $60 a day. Similarly, budget travelers moving at a slower speed and adding more legs to their trip could reduce or at least spread out a significant portion of the $179 USD in transportation costs I paid.

Turkey is a wonderful budget friendly destination that has a lot to offer.  Have a specific question not covered in this post?  Let me know and I’d be happy to answer it if I can.

Alex Berger

I am a travel blogger and photographer. I also am involved in academic research into the study abroad and backpacker communities.

12 Comments

  • Natalie
    March 12, 2012

    I spent about the same Alex on my months tour of the Mediterranean coast. I was doing the same however and spending money on day time excursions as well as splashing out on steaks! The exchange rate at the moment is good for the USD and pound so travelers really are getting their moneys worth. Thanks for the shout out BTW

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      March 12, 2012

      Yep, it’s hard not to splurge when you have solid exchange rates like that! I’m sure other parts of the country outside the tourist infrastructure is also significantly cheaper! Thanks again for all the wonderful insights and feedback in the lead up to my trip!

      Reply
  • wandering educators
    March 12, 2012

    what a great trip – and VERY reasonably priced – wow!

    Reply
  • Cindy
    March 20, 2012

    You just can’t go cheaper than that! Great trip at such low costs!

    Reply
  • Nina F
    April 2, 2012

    Truly intriguing destinations, particularly the smaller Lycian ruins at Myra. Very smart to choose 2 or 3 specific destinations to visit and spend quality time there.
    Thanks very much for the cost breakdown. The more I read about Turkey the more fascinating it becomes.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      April 2, 2012

      Thank you Nina! Yep, it was just about the right pace. A little long in Antalya, but the weather was such that it wasn’t a bother! Turkey is fantastic, and when you make it make sure to give yourself extra time in Istanbul. Given your background and interest, I think you’ll also really find Cappadocia fascinating.

      Reply
  • Cole @ Four Jandals
    April 3, 2012

    Great timing! We are headed here in 3 weeks and can’t wait. Cheers Alex!

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      April 3, 2012

      Great to hear, I’m in the process of writing a restaurant recommendation post right now. Should be live in a few hours.

      Reply
  • Mary @ Green Global Travel
    May 16, 2012

    Göreme looks like an amazing place to explore. It must have been really interesting with all of the underground chambers. Sounds like a person could get lost if they wanted to.

    Reply
    • Alex Berger
      May 16, 2012

      A very cool place! Definitely check it out when you find your way to Turkey Mary! The chambers are fascinating. Hard to imagine living down there.

      Reply

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