Turkey on a Budget
I’m Priscilla. and I hope you bring you travel content in the coming weeks and months.
I’m going to take you on a journey to Turkey in the next few minutes. Hope you enjoy it ! Leave a comment and share this with everyone you know.
If you grew up anything like me, Turkey is probably synonymous to cheap clothes. This is because growing up Nigerian, Turkey was synonymous with buying cheap clothes to sell in Nigeria, Lagos style hustle and haggling and not necessarily serenity, relaxation and h’enjoyment.
In the last few years though, as I started travelling and exploring the world and following travel content creators, Turkey slowly started topping my travel wish list- more specifically Cappadocia in Turkey.
So, let me set the stage- I travelled solo, I try my best to travel affordably and if you want to see more of my content- check out my blog: Ajalaonabudget.com
I flew to Istanbul – Pegasus – £65.54. I am a Premium Member of Jack’s Flight Club and I got sent this deal back in November 2019. Jack’s Flight Club is an OG in the travel community that sends free weekly emails with flight deals and daily deals if you are a Premium member.
I booked this flight to Istanbul immediately and found onward flights to Kayseri Airport (an hour away from Cappadocia) on Turkish Airlines for £20.31 and a return to Istanbul on Pegasus for £21.00. That brings all my flights to a rounded-up total of £108.
You can also fly to Neveshir Airport (an hour way from Cappadocia) which I ended up flying into because my Turkish Airlines flight into Kayseri was cancelled and finally changed to Neveshir.
Visas- I needed an e-visa (it cost £27). If you are British, they have recently scrapped this and you no longer need a visa. If you are Nigerian for example and have a British visa or form of permanent residency, you can apply for an e-visa. Disclaimer: Always check with the embassy, things change pretty quickly.
Hotels & Transfers & Transport
When my flight on Turkish Airlines to Kayseri was cancelled, I was put in the Radisson Blu Tulza at no cost to me. It was the most beautiful and comfortable hotel ever and I recommend this for anyone wanting somewhere to stay very near Istanbul Sabiha Gocken Airport.
In Cappadocia, I stayed at the Travellers Cave Pension Hotel. It cost £50 for 3 nights with breakfast included. I wholeheartedly recommend this place. The price is right, the location is perfect as it is near everything, the staff are friendly and I couldn’t complain. They can also book experiences on your behalf and airport transfers. Transfers to and from the airports were 35-40 TL each way (approx £4.50-£5).
Cappadocia is very walkable and I did not need to enter any public transport or taxis. All the experiences I booked also came with a transfer service which was really convenient.
In Istanbul, I stayed at the Constantinopolis Hotel which cost £35 for 2 nights. I recommend this place half-heartedly. It is absolutely beautiful, pretty new, the staff were really friendly and helpful and really close to all the major landmarks (about 10 minutes from Blue Mosque, Haggia Sophia, Salt Bae’s restaurant).
However, it can be hard to find. My taxi driver really struggled to find it and when I walked home, I also struggled to find my way home. It can be potentially dangerous if you go out late as a solo female traveller and cannot find the way home. Finally, the area at night just felt a bit unsafe as it is not well lit.
Transferring to this hotel from Sabiha Gocken Airport (SAW) was really difficult and this is not because of the hotel’s location but because SAW is far from Istanbul’s centre. There are private shared transfer coaches which costs roughly £20-£35 (155 TL-270 TL). However, I do not recommend these.
I recommend that you take a public Havabus from outside the airport which costs 18 TL (£2.30) to Taksim Square which takes about an hour. Then take a bus/tram to your hotel.
I flew into Istanbul quite late at night and left quite early so I took a taxi for convenience. I do not recommend hailing a cab, instead, use BiTaksi app. This is like an uber and gives you an estimate before you enter and you are sent the driver’s details. In general, be careful using taxis in Istanbul as they have a bad reputation for scamming people and overcharging tourists.
For transport in Istanbul, I got the IstanbulKart which is a pre-paid card that allows you get on buses, trams and ferries. You can get this from most bus stops and stands. I paid 10 TL (approx £1.24) for this card and topped up 50 TL (£6.20) which was sufficient for my full day in Istanbul and my journey back to the airport.
If you’ve seen Cappadocia on Instagram, chances are you saw a picture of someone in a hot air balloon. It is the only place in the world where over 100 hot air balloons fly over the skyline every single day all year round. Goes without saying this isn’t cheap. However, as a money conscious traveller, I always switch seasons and tend to visit most places in low season so I pay less than average.
I paid €100 (£83) and if I paid in cash, it would have cost €90. This price included transfers to and from my hotel, breakfast and champagne showers at the end. In high season, it tends to cost at least £150 for the most basic of rides. My top tip is that remember this is a flying experience and that safety is very important. Do your research, ensure the pilot has enough experience and if the price is too good to be true, it probably is not true.
I can save you the trouble and recommend the company I used- Universalballon.com. I booked this through RedCappadocia on Viator.
In Cappadocia, I also recommend you visit Goreme Open Air Museum. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is a cluster of monasteries. If you are Christian like me, you will truly enjoy this. No one knows the full history of this place but the individual churches have paintings of various biblical moments like the Transfiguration. Pictures aren’t allowed in the churches, but I snuck a few (shhhh, don’t tell anyone!)
In Istanbul, I recommend starting your day with a free walking tour. I was not impressed with the company I used but I was able to get discounts on other experiences through them (freetour.com). The rule of a free walking tour is that you tip the guide at the end. Please tip them, this is how they make a living.
I also recommend visiting the Blue Mosque. It is free to enter. Please respect the religion and be well dressed. However, you can rent free skirts and scarves at the entrance.
I recommend a Turkish Hammam experience. I went to Cemberlitas Hamam. This is one of the oldest hammams in Istanbul which gives you a mix of culture and the hammam experience. If you are a prude, maybe skip this experiece. The hammam experience involves you being naked in front of other strangers and being scurbbed by a half-naked stranger. It is divided into a sections for men and women and no photography is allowed inside. It cost roughly £35 for the basic package which is a Turkish bath and a peeling soap massage. I also booked in advance which earned me a free facial and I got roughly 10% off as I had a discount code from my free walking tour.
I advise that you go into the hammam to book this experience as the prices online are much higher.
Istanbul is one of the only cities between two continents. It is both in Asia and Europe and I was on the European side for most of my trip. You should definitely cross to the Asian side. There are various tour options, however, I believe they are overpriced and tourist traps. Take the public ferry to the Asian side to Kadikoy and then take a tram to Moda. It is a really modern upbeat neighbourhood with lots of cool cafes and shops and a good view of the sea. Alternatively, you can take the public ferry tour of the Bosphorus strait.
The other major landmarks you should probably visit are Haggia Sophia (not open on Mondays), the Topkaki Palace. You can get a Museum Pass for Istanbul which allows you to visit some of these places at no extra cost.
You should also see the Grand Bazaar for the experience and visit the Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar to buy any souvenirs. This is because the locals actually buy their things from the Spice Bazaar as it is more affordable.
Do not miss the good food in Turkey. Turkey is the home of kebabs, Turkish delights and extremely sweet desserts. Do yourself a favour and try some local dishes especially street food and desserts.
I got this absolutely delicious meal after my free walking tour and a discount code got me this set menu for 60TL (roughly £7.70).
Read up on popular tourist scams before visiting Turkey. In fact, do this before you visit any country. You can save yourself being ripped off and any potentially danagerous situations.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and I will try my best to answer them.
Hope I have taken you on a journey to Turkey. You can see my other tips, tricks and trips at https://ajalaonabudget.com/.
Till next time.