Last updated: 09:54 PM ET, Sat November 07 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | November 7, 2015 9:54 PM ET

    Everything You Need to Know About Turkey

    Everything You Need to Know About Turkey

    PHOTO: Without a doubt, Cappadocia was by far the highlight of my travels in Turkey (and now you can see why). (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    I had booked my flight to Turkey on a whim after living in Florence, Italy and that was due to an image I saw of hot air balloons flying high at sunrise over Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys, hills and valleys. I had no idea where this was, how to get there or if it was even as incredible as the photograph, but quickly found out it was in Turkey and that settled it for me.

    Turkey, specifically Cappadocia and along the Turquoise Coast/Lycian Way will take your breath away and can easily compete with island hopping in Greece for a quarter of the price!

    VISA REQUIREMENT: If you are living in North America, you must apply online for a tourist visa. Accepted instantly, costs $70.

    Safety/Traveling through Turkey as a woman: It’s simple — use common sense, be aware but not defensive and you’ll do just fine. However, below are a few things I had learned traveling solo in Turkey.

    • The people are generally kind and friendly, but be aware of harassment as a tourist even if you’re covered up.

    • A lot of men will hiss at you but you need to just ignore it — specifically in Istanbul and the east of Turkey. If you have a problem with this, I would advise you to spend more time along the turquoise coast where culture is more relaxed.

    • Be friendly, but not overly — It can convey the wrong impression. The assumption that Western women want sex is still alive and real (unfortunately).


    Turkish cuisine is heavily meat based so options for vegetarians are slightly more challenging unless you go to a supermarket.


    Alcohol is incredibly expensive — be prepared to destroy any hope of a budget if you go out.

    • Raki is a traditional Turkish drink and will knock you on your face if you have too much of it.

    • Efes or Tuborg are the go-to beers in all of Turkey.

    PHOTO: If you enjoy sun, beaches and Roman ruins, Olympos is the perfect place for you.

    Getting Around

    There is some talk online about taking trains throughout Turkey but the truth is, EVERYONE uses the overnight long-distance Coaches. You are seated next to your gender for added safety, the buses are comfortable, come with free snacks/coffee/tea and Turkish movies you probably won’t understand.

    Be sure to also check for flights as they are sometimes cheaper or the same cost as coaches!

    Long-Distance Coaches:

    • Varan

    • Pamukkale

    • Ulusoy

    • Metro Turizm

    • Kamil Koc

    Typical costs of Long Distance Coaches: $30-$50/one way

    Booking Tickets Online: 

    • Straightforward and easy. 

    • You need a Turkish phone number, otherwise book 2-3 days before your planned departure at a ticket office.

    Note: Metro Turizm is the easiest website to navigate and for a few extra dollars, it’s worth the lack of stress.

    Domestic airline carriers in Turkey:

    • Onur Air

    • Atlas Jet

    • Pegasus Airlines

    • Sun Express

    • Anadolu Jet

    • Bora Jet

    Hitchhiking: Hitchhiking in Turkey is very easy, cost effective (since it’s free) and a great way to experience the country. However, I would advise you to travel with someone else for safety reasons.

    PHOTO: Butterfly Valley is the ultimate hippie haven with the best meal you’ll eat in Turkey, valleys and turquoise waters, I loved it so much that I came back twice. 


    Types of Accommodation: hostels, pensions, couchsurfing, wild camping.

    Cost of standard dorms: $15-$35.

    Best Places to Visit and Highlights:

    • Goreme, Cappadocia: Fairy chimneys, caves, open air museums, hiking, hot air balloon rides and underground cities.

    • Oludeniz (Butterfly Valley): Hippie haven, swimming, waterfalls, hiking, best vegetarian food you’ll ever eat.

    • Olympos: swimming, ruins, hiking.

    • Kas: Scuba diving, beaches, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking.

    • Pamukkale: Hot springs, waterfalls, nature.

    • Dlayan: Mud baths, beaches, turtles and tombs.

    • Ephesus: Ancient Roman cities monumental ruins.

    PHOTO: You can never go wrong covering yourself in white mud at the hot springs in Pamukkale!


    ISTANBUL > overnight bus (METRO) to GOREME, CAPPADOCIA > overnight bus to Antalya, transfer on a dolmus to OLYMPOS > bus back to Antalya to catch a bus to KAS  > bus to Fethiye, transfer on Dolmus to Oludeniz to catch a ferry (20TL round-trip departing three times a day) to (BUTTERFLY VALLEY) > dolmus back to Fethiye for a daytrip to PAMUKKALE > catch overnight bus back to Istanbul to fly out.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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