With five extremely reliable commercial carriers to choose from, and with one of them taking off and landing at 48 Turkish airports alone (!) one easily realizes that our charming host country is a perfect destination for exploring by air. What’s more, its safety records are absolute top and taking to the skies is rather affordable, too.
Thus written, do we not all need a break from time to time? Living under Kusadasi’s splendid palm trees we might be forgiven to never even think of heading anywhere else. However, Turkey is a huge country with 8333 kilometers of shoreline and 81 provinces, with vast open landscapes, majestic mountains and impressive lakes. Add its metropolises and lush green forests and then again its inviting smaller towns and cities and you will get the picture.
Since you are already here the logistical aspect of flying is no big hassle at all. As you stay in the very same country no need for another visa or residence permit as one of them you will hold anyways; any valid photo ID is sufficient although I recommend you carry your foreign passport (or in the case of eligible EU member states nationals your national identity card) with you just to be on the safe side. Some hotels at the other end may actually wish to see a foreigner’s valid visa and/or residence permit to facilitate check-in; Turkish nationals may fly with a photo driving license and/or national ID card should you have obtained dual nationality.
And since Turkey is a high-tech heaven searching for destinations, booking and paying for a flight and even obtaining your mobile phone boarding pass whilst being online is easy as the ABC as all domestic carriers offer an English reservations and ticketing menu option.
Do I start planning from the comfort of my own four walls, or whilst browsing the free wireless internet in our favorite bar or restaurant, or do we hop into our next door internet café – that is of course up to you. I prefer a mid-sized tool such as a tablet as navigating the drop-down menus with all those mini-fill in boxes on our Smartphone could prove a little bit too much, at least to me, a non-tech expert man with big hands.
Once you have decided where to go to you are well advised to directly check out all potential airlines websites instead of using non-Turkey based travel search engines. Out of my experience the best domestic deals can be had whilst being in Turkey on location and checking on all campaigns as well as regular tickets. With the latter it is as anywhere else: book early and you might save a small fortune. Domestic flights often start at only 60 or 70 Turkish Lira, respectively, no kidding, but may go up to 500 TL of course for the same seat on the same plane.
Fairness first in a sense of name dropping: there are five commercial airlines with a sixth one currently undergoing company restructuring (Bora Jet). Those are in no order of preference but alphabetically Anadolujet, AtlasGlobal, Onur Air, Pegasus Airlines and Turkish Airlines, albeit the first one I mentioned here being a subsidiary of the last one I listed. All offer Frequent Flyer miles upon registration.
Once you know where you are going and by which carrier it is time to book a hotel. This depends on how off the beaten track you are intending to be, or how much easy booking comforts you prefer. Without much luggage and unless you travel in peak season to another prime resort finding a room on location whilst walking around is perfectly alright. With luggage and perhaps kids in tow booking ahead of arrival makes probably more traveler’s sense. A first point of search before departure could be to type the name of your city, and the Turkish word Otelleri, then click search. For example you are off to Trabzon on Turkey’s wonderful Black Sea coast, type ‘Trabzon otelleri.’ The word ‘fiyatlari’ means room prices (if you can, use the Turkish ‘i’ without the dot). Soon you will be able to search for rooms often without using non-Turkey based hotel booking engines which might make sense financially indeed; it works very well!
Now you need to go to the airport, the ‘havalimanı’ – those in Turkey for longer know the second half of that word, ‘limani’, or port. And same as deciding where to go, which airline to book and what hotel to stay in choice is enormous.
From Kusadasi you can order a private shuttle car or family car; or you can go by coach to Izmir coach station and then by local bus. I tried both, alone and with family and dare I say in hot summers and as we are so close to Adnan Menderes Airport the former option, in particular if traveling with a mini-group of at least two or three, is my preferred mode of local transport. Prices are very reasonable indeed! But please make sure that the company has a TÜRSAB approved tourism sector license, a vital (safety) issue!
Ten locations, personal choice: Istanbul, always. Antalya of course; Ankara for history and a trip to the buzzing capital and Trabzon on the fabulous Black Sea. Then there is Kars in the eastern heart of the nation and Van with its magnificent lake and surrounding mountains – to.Sanliurfa, and Mardin with all its cuisine and traditional hospitality, think nearby Gobeklitepe, a site with over 10000 years of history. Kayseri and famous ski paradise Mount Erciyes, Rize and the tea plantations. Out of my favorite 101 destinations just a few but probably some of my real highlights!
Next month and still on the exploring side, I shall introduce you to a destination I recommend you visit, too: northern Cyprus, so easily accessible from Turkey either by plane or (fast) ferry. Until then: enjoy our great resort, but take in a little bit more of our equally great host nation Turkey; happy traveling!