A few years ago Shane put together my dream trip to Turkey. At that time we had no idea how much it would cost and we were happily surprised to discover it’s one of Europe’s cheapest destinations. With plenty to see and good transportation networks, their tourism industry is thriving and it has topped TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice awards for a few years now. Istanbul has Europe’s largest city limits population, making it a major point of entry to the continent. In fact, every time we have searched for flights to Europe from the U.S., even to a major destination like Paris , traveling through Istanbul is almost always the cheapest way to get there.
A fellow Texan friend was recently surprised to find out that this 2 week European vacation cost the same as his 1 week Caribbean cruise. That’s why we wanted to start this blog, to show how you can make the most of your vacation days without busting your vacation budget.
Our two week itinerary and cost breakdown below include hard costs only—this means transportation and hotels, not entry fees or meals (although all of our hotels included a hearty breakfast). A few things to note: first, prices may have fluctuated since we originally took this trip, but currently the Dollar is stronger against the Turkish Lira than it was at the time of our trip, which should only help with costs like food and transportation. Second, it’s most definitely possible to save even more with multitudes of really nice private rooms available for as low as $30/night. So while we feel this trip was affordable, especially compared to many packaged deals you’ll see for Turkey, there are still ways to shave even more costs to make it fit your budget.
ItineraryDay 1 – Fly to Istanbul
Day 2 – Topkapi Palace, walk around Hippodrome and Sultanahmet area, Galata Tower
Day 3 – Chora Church, Archaeology Museum, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern
Day 4 – Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, New Mosque, Rustempasa Mosque, Gulhane Park
Day 5 – Spice Bazaar, Grand Bazaar, Arasta Bazaar, Mosaic Museum, Bosphorus Cruise
Day 6 – Travel to Kusadasi
Day 7 – Ephesus, Pigeon Island
Day 8 – Beach
Day 9 – Travel to Goreme
Day 10 – Green Tour (Derinkuyu, Selime Monastery, Ilhara Valley Hike)
Day 11 – Hot air balloon ride, Goreme Open Air Museum, Dervish Ceremony
Day 12 – Travel to Istanbul
Day 13 – Bazaar shopping
Day 14 – Fly to Houston
Houston > Istanbul $1200 r/t flight on Turkish Airlines ($600pp)
Istanbul > Izmir $70 flight on Pegasus Airlines ($35pp)
Izmir > Nevsehir $190 on Turkish Airlines ($95pp)
Kayseri > Istanbul $90 on Pegasus Airlines ($45pp)
Misc Transportation (airport transfers, buses, metro etc): $60
Istanbul – Lokum Ev Apartment in Beyoglu $575 for 5 nights (read our review here)
Kusadasi – Hotel Carina $220 for 3 nights (read our review here)
Goreme – Nostalji Cave Suites $365 for 3 nights (read our review here)
Istanbul – Divalis Hotel in Sultanahmet $230 for 2 nights (read our review here)
Two weeks in Turkey: $1500 pp
You can’t beat those Turkish Airlines prices! Although they’ve gone up a bit, we have seen them run promos for $600 r/t tickets a few times since. We made our second trip to Turkey last year and plan to return again as soon as we can. It doesn’t take much to fall in love with this country and its incredible history. Stay tuned to the blog as we share more details from our trip and watch our video to get inspired!