Peace and Quiet in Turkey in August?
June 27, 2007 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Help me relax in the Turkish countryside. Sandy beach not required.

My partner and I are attending a wedding in Istanbul in August. Afterwards, we're hoping to escape the city for 5 to 8 days and just hunker down somewhere beautiful, quiet and interesting.

We're experienced travellers - between us we've visited over 50 countries - and we like small hotels, guesthouses, pensiones, etc. What we don't like are crowds.

...And August is high season in Turkey, so I turn to you all. Where can we go to read, hike, eat and drink in something resembling peace in Turkey? (Specific towns are great, regional recommendations are, too! And we don't hate the beach, we just don't require it.)

posted by minervous to Travel & Transportation around Turkey (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My uncle advises you to pony up for air conditioning, as the weather is excruciatingly hot that time of year.
posted by furtive at 12:16 PM on June 27, 2007

Hmm. I was there in late September, and consequently have no idea what the crowds/weather will be like in August -- I mention this as an FYI/YMMV thing.

So: I say Goreme. A pleasant little town, right in the middle of Cappadocia and conveniently located to all the nearby sights. In September it was practically abandoned, and major bus lines stop in nearby Nevsehir.

But again, it may suck in August. I dunno.
posted by aramaic at 12:18 PM on June 27, 2007

I would recommend staying in or around Kannakale, which is by the Dardanelle straits which link the seas of Marmara and the Aegean.

Troy is close by, and the countryside around the ancient city is very beautiful.
You can find beaches too and mountains as well, and I don't think you will be crowded by tourists since most go further south towards Antalya.
posted by spacefire at 12:20 PM on June 27, 2007

oh, I forgot to add, Kannakale is not very far from Istanbul so driving there is definitely an option.
posted by spacefire at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2007

Cappadocia was very relaxed when we were there. We stayed in a hotel that was formerly a monastery, big thick walls kept us cool, and a tiny swimming pool for if it gets too hot (although waking up to find the pool surrounded by chickens was surreal). The rock cut caves are stunning, and the town is large enough to be interesting (market, more than one restaurant, etc.) but small enough to feel that you'll know it fairly well after a few days.
posted by handee at 1:09 PM on June 27, 2007

Rick Steves on Guzelyurt.
posted by handee at 1:11 PM on June 27, 2007

Cappadocia is pretty cool. Interesting landscapes there. I spent a little bit of time in Pamukkale too, and I think my favorite part of that was walking around Aphrodisias.

FYI, in case you didn't know... the BEST way to get around Turkey is by bus. BY FAR. Everyone takes buses, and the buses that the locals use are by far nicer than the ones the tourists generally use. For what it's worth, here is a snippet from a blog I did while I was in Turkey last year...


There are really no trains in Turkey that run anywhere so everyone takes the bus, including Turks. The bus station in Ankara is overwhelming... there are over 50 counters for bus companies to sell tickets, and often a counter will service 2 or 3 companies at a time. It's really shocking & a bit of sensory overload almost.

Anyhow, there is a routine to riding a Turkish bus. First you find your assigned seat. Then after a little bit of driving, your waiter will come down the aisle to confirm your ticket. Yes, your WAITER. Then he will come down the aisle with a glass bottle filled with liquid and you are supposed to put out your hands. It's kind of like a liquid handiwipe, lemonscented, and he pours drops into your hands for you to rub together. They do this in shops and restaurants sometimes too.

After the liquid handiwipe, you are offered water. He walks down the aisle with a bottle of cold water and styrofoam cups. About 5 minutes later he walks down the aisle to offer tea or coffee. Depending on your order, he gives you a cup and either a teabag, sugar, and a stirrer, or nescafe, creamer, sugar, and a stirrer. Then in about 8 minutes or so he comes by to pour your hot water.

Next time he comes by to take your trash. If you want seconds, he will still take your trash. They do not reuse the same cups or stirrers.

Next he will come by and the people who want sodas. Then about every five minutes he will repeat his walk looking for trash.

Depending on how long your bus ride is, you may also be given some kind of snack cake or tea again. But even if the ride is only 2 hours, the routine follows everything I just mentioned.

They are very nice on the buses about making sure you get to the right place, and that's a key thing. They don't just ignore you, they ask exactly where you are going and will even help you hail a cab to get there. All in all, it's a really pleasant experience.

I met an American woman today who said, "Well I would NEVER ride a bus here. That is just a horrible thought! Disgusting! I would far rather take a train." From what I hear, the trains here aren't a very good experience in comparison so I guess she'll find that out for herself.

posted by miss lynnster at 1:21 PM on June 27, 2007

I would also recommend Cappadocia for its value as an unusual place. You should be aware that even though it is inland it is heavily on the tourist day trip agenda - around Goreme and Urgup in particular. You might want to stay in one of the other towns to escape the crowds - this is not too hard and there are plenty of places to walk off the beaten track. When I visited we travelled around by bicycle (don't do this in August) and particularly enjoyed the Ilhara region where there is a gorge you can walk along. Do consider taking a turkish bath in one of the more traditional towns.

You might also like the Antalya region around mount Olympus. There is an area where fire comes out of the ground and some tree houses you can stay in. Again there will be other tourists and this place is on the coast. Beautiful however.
posted by rongorongo at 1:49 PM on June 27, 2007

I loved this spot so much I don't want to list it. It was 10 years ago so it may have changed, but here's the deal:

Cirali / Olympos is (was?) a small town with few tourists (I was there in August and we were the only English-speaking tourists). There is a huge, long, unbelieveably unspoiled white sand beach. You can see all the layers of succession, because there is no development on the beach. Why? because it is a breeding ground for giant turtles. You can't go on teh beach at night for this reason.

Nearby is the eternal flame, and the ruins of Olympos, which were frankly disappointing compared to most of the others I saw in Turkey - but it was the village I loved...
...where I ate at the only restaurant, which is really a big open-sided tent, with a wood oven that bakes up fresh flatbread and you are served half a chicken and couscous and sit in a circle with whoever is there and speak broken versions of your common language.

posted by girlpublisher at 1:50 PM on June 27, 2007

Good advice about buses in Turkey. The one smallish place I stayed in Turkey was Fethiye, which is about midway between Antalya and Rhodes. (This was during August a few years ago) Pleasant small town, great beach, not totally free of tourists, but then you won't find any place on the coast that is. It's also easy to take a ferry to Rhodes and the Greek islands, if you're into that.
posted by Brian James at 2:49 PM on June 27, 2007

LOVE Goreme, and all of Cappadocia. My absolute favourite spot was the Lamia pension in Mustafapasha.
posted by rdc at 3:35 PM on June 27, 2007

Have to disagree with miss lynnster on the Turkish trains. They only run a few places, but have space, people coming round and giving you cakes, and a fab restaurant car with great kebabs and the ubiquitous Efes Pilsner. We went from Ankara to Istanbul and it was lovely.

She's totally on the nail about the buses though. They are great.
posted by handee at 1:11 AM on June 28, 2007

My favorite Turkish seaside city was Kaş by far. Have fun!
posted by laird at 2:09 PM on July 19, 2007

Response by poster: Inspired by the AskMe roundup, I'm posting here to thank you all, and to report that we had a near perfect stay on Bozcaada. It got crowded on the weekend with Istanbulies, but the beaches, the wine, and the isolation were made-to-order.

We're planning on going back next year, most likely in the low season to rent a place for a longer stay. We also plan to make it to Cappadocia then.

The buses are, by the way, great. Just as you said, Miss Lynnster & Handee.
posted by minervous at 5:21 PM on October 28, 2007

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