Turkey in December


in Travel

In December, my father and I are planning to spend a bit less than two weeks in Turkey. The prospect is very exciting to me, for various reasons. It will be a chance to spend time with a member of my family, which is always very welcome when they are so distant. It will be my first substantial foray outside of North American and Western Europe since I went to Costa Rica when I was 15 or 16, though perhaps Estonia and Finland counted as well. Also, it should contribute some diversity to my growing collection of travel photographs.

Turkey is an interesting country for many reasons: diverse, on the cusp between Europe and the Middle East, and quite politically important in the contemporary world. Turkish history, both in the post-Ottoman period and under previous arrangements, definitely warrants investigation. EasyJet flights from London Luton to Istanbul also help make it an easy and affordable to visit.

Has anyone been to Turkey recently? We have not yet decided where we will go, except that we will be spending at least a few days in Istanbul. Taking train to somewhere less urban is part of the plan, though we have not yet decided where. Also, do people have any fiction or non-fiction books particularly related to Turkey that they recommend?

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan October 1, 2006 at 4:48 pm

I think the thesis is due on the 21st of April: the last day of the Easter Vacation.

I got that from Section 2.4 of this page.

Julia October 1, 2006 at 5:34 pm

I spent 6 weeks in Turkey in 2002. Istanbul is an absolutely fantastic city; it is by far my favourite large city I have ever visited. Turkey itself is a great place to travel. Wonderful cheap accommodation and a fantastic bus service, I never took the train only buses. You can get anywhere you need by taking a bus, it is extremely reliable and inexpensive. I could go on and on because of the several countries I have visited I hold the fondest memories from Turkey. I would suggest the two must sees are Ephesus and the city of Goreme in Cappadocia. There is a lot to see on the Mediterranean coast however it will be quite cold so it may not be that desirable a location to visit. As for somewhere rural I visited Amasara on the black sea coast and had a great visit.

As for fiction I have heard that Orhan Pamuk is a great Turkish author. In particular his book, My Name is Red has been recommended to me by several Turkish friends, but I have yet to read it myself so I cannot comment on whether or not it’s a worthwhile read.

Vickie October 1, 2006 at 6:18 pm

I just returned from Turkey in June. I spent 20 days there, but I only went to Antalya and Istanbul. Istanbul in itself has so much to see that you cannot possibly take it in with a few days. As far as Antalya, and I only went to Side and that area, the ancient seaport is very impressive and massive ruins. This area of Turkey speaks mostly Turkish and German only. Some speak a little English, but I had a very difficult time in this area. I have some other tips for travel in Turkey that I will be glad to share.

Milan October 1, 2006 at 6:50 pm

Personally, I think spending most of our time in Istanbul, with a couple of side trips to interesting smaller places, is the way to go. Places more than five hours away are probably more distant than can be managed on an eleven day trip.

SallysBlackBow October 1, 2006 at 7:03 pm

As for something to read about Turkey, try Fez of My Heart, by Jeremy Seal.

My trip to Turkey is one I long to repeat. Istanbul is a fascinating city. Don’t forget to take a tour up the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea.

Milan October 1, 2006 at 7:08 pm

Don’t forget to take a tour up the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea.

My father and I are both keen on this.

MadJennyFlint October 1, 2006 at 8:07 pm

I got your request for ideas through 43places.

I second (or third) what others have said. You can definitely spend several very full days in Istanbul, which is one of the most exciting cities I’ve ever seen. So much history, so much intermingling of cultures. Ephesus and Cappadocia are also huge highlights. I would also suggest Pamukkale as being a really neat natural site to visit. I’ve never seen anything like it. Adjacent to Pamukkale is also an ancient site called Heirapolis, which is also well worth visiting. I never made it to the Eastern half of Turkey, as the little of the West we saw took the just under 2 weeks that we had.

For the Bosphorus, there are several tour and ferry boats you can take from central Istanbul up toward the Black Sea. The one we took let us off at a nice little tourist place from which we were able to get on a bus out to a town on the Black Sea for part of the day. This was really nice, but hard to say if it will be functioning in December.

Also, like another person mentioned, bus services are fantastic in Turkey. I never took a train, and cannot comment, but you can easily get around on buses.

Hope you have a great trip!

Wendy October 1, 2006 at 8:32 pm

I went to Istanbul for 10 days last September. There’s so much to see, we easily could have spent another month exploring. We were primarily in the Sultanahmet district, where the Ayasofya and Blue Mosque are. Don’t miss the Mosaic Museum, tucked behind the Arasta Bazaar, near the Blue Mosque. If you can, take in a Turkish Bath (I went to Çemberlitas); it’s quite an experience!

We had no problems with language, nearly everyone was fluent in English, and most were also fluent in many other European languages. You can read my travel journal, transcribed into LiveJournal here: http://wendywitch.livejournal.com/2006/01/16/ for a pretty detailed account of what we did, where we went, and my impressions.

Telly October 1, 2006 at 8:45 pm

My husband and I went to Turkey for our honeymoon. We spent most of our time travelling along the aegean sea and making day trips into some of the sites. I recommend that you see ephesus and Pamukkale, the white castle (http://www.bitez.net/turkey/pamukkale/).
We didn’t visit Instabul, that is a whole visit to itself. Its on our list for next time.

Turkey is beatutiful and the people are wonderful. I am sure you will have a good time no matter what section you end up it.

su October 1, 2006 at 8:52 pm


I am from Turkey so I think my reply can be very useful for you.
I am living in Istanbul and I can easily say that you are “supposed” to spend some days here, this city is way too amazing and wonderful. In december, it may be bit cold but that’s not a big deal.
Istanbul has two continents and the bosphorus between them. Generally tourists do not see the asian continent but I advise you to see it. In the european continent you can see Taksim and Sultanahmet. European continent is more likely to be the living part of the city. It is really crowded. The historical places of Istanbul is generally on the european continent.

Well, I’d love to help you about Istanbul.
You can contact me via my myspace or from my 43 places account.
Me and my friends here, we are used to be tourist guides (:

R.K. October 1, 2006 at 3:57 pm

When exactly is your thesis due?

Monty Jones October 1, 2006 at 10:00 pm

I would see the Blue Mosque in Istanbul & the markets are great. Also near Izmir is the lost city of Troy. Cappadocia & Ephesus also I recommend. A bus ride along the Black Sea would be nice all the way to Sinop. Also near Adana is Tarsus on the Med. Eastern Turkey I also visited but do not recommend that area due to its location being near Iran & Iraq. Enjoy your trip.

hello October 1, 2006 at 10:29 pm

hello im a turkish woman from turkey. im living in turkey and im working Hyatt Regency Istanbul Hotel/ most of the people know this hotel maybe you know that too. i ca help you about everthing tour hotel like this. write me bergolya@gmail.com and i can write back you details i hope so you will be enjoying in turkey see u

Selcuk October 1, 2006 at 10:35 pm

Hello, well I myself am from Turkey. I live in Istanbul. And I agree with those people saying Istanbul is a fantastic city. It really is.
If you are going to be spending a few days in Istanbul, you must go and see the Old City and the museums (altough there is a lot of place and a few days will not be enough). what I am talking about when I am saying old city is the city which dates back to Byzantine and Ottoman Empire. In other words, Blue Mosque, Aya Sophia (St. Sophie), Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Dolmabahce Palace, Baths of Lady Hurrem, Suleymaniye Camii (mosque), Beyazit Camii etc. (I didn’t even mention about the museums) And beside all of these, there is Golden Horn, Camlica and some modern places like Shopping centers (malls).. Like Cevahir -the second biggest mall in Europe- , Akmerkez.. I dont know.. There is so much to see.. and a few days will not be enough, I guess.. But make sure you see the Old City part of Istanbul and be in all of the museums.. Turkish baths will also be a different experience.. As for the urban area, you can go to somewhere in the blacksea area.. Like Uzungöl, which will not be a fantastic but still a good place in winter :(

I will be in Istanbul in December, and my school is very near to Old City and I will be pleased to help you see around if you want..
here is my email and msn adress… If you need to ask something, feel free to ask :

Hope you enjoy your time in Turkey… Good luck :)

Caitlin October 2, 2006 at 12:02 am

Of course, you must spend some time in Istanbul. It’s a fascinating city – the Old Town is great with bath-houses, markets and the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia but also the New Town is pretty interesting and a much better insight into modern Turkey.

Aside from that, you MUST go to Ephesus – the best-preserved Graeco-Roman city in the Eastern Mediterranean – and Cappadocia – for fantastic rock formations and underground cities.



Milan October 2, 2006 at 1:15 am

My thanks to everyone for making such helpful suggestions. I will investigate each before leaving.

Davi Ottenheimer October 2, 2006 at 5:09 am

I’ll be there in November. Might blog about it, or will just send details after.

Aydin October 2, 2006 at 4:47 pm

Nice place,

Milan October 2, 2006 at 10:51 pm

People have posted more responses on the 43Places thread.

Mark October 3, 2006 at 12:36 am

Hi Milan,

As for some reading, I can thoroughly recommend the obvious choice, Orhan Pamuk. “My Name is Red” is an amazing experience – unlike any other book I have ever read. For something about modern Turkey, you might try “Snow” or “The Black Book”.

Giray Ertas October 4, 2006 at 7:11 am

hi, i am in istanbul and will gladly answer any specific questions u have.

Milan November 20, 2006 at 6:55 pm

My friend and classmate Douglas Gilman sent me an interesting NYT article on Instanbul.

ADee C. February 1, 2007 at 8:55 am

Hello Canada !

I’m interested in hearing about your trip to Turkey. I read this blog recently and was impressed with all the advice you were given and wanted to know how it went.

I was recently in Spain for Xmas and New Year’s Eve and have already booked my trip to Turkey in DEC 2007. I will be traveling with my boyfriend and we are very excited but know so little about this magnificent country. I look forward to your response and hope you had a wonderful time!

Thank You in Advance !!

Hollywood, California (USA)

oleh December 6, 2009 at 3:43 am

It has been three years since Milan, his cousin Ivanka and I visited Turkey. We split our time between Istanbul and the town of Goreme in Capiddochia which is quite quiet in the winter. The unexpected highlight for me was visiting the school in Goreme for a day. I would encourage travellers to include Turkey in their travel plans. I have not heard of anyone who has gone to Turkey and regretted it. I would suggest including the countryside such as Goreme.

Jessica August 28, 2010 at 11:20 am

Hi, is the scenery of turkey in December not as beautiful as that in spring/summer? Or is it still as beautiful? I’ll thinking of visiting turkey this dec. Thanks!

NS September 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm


I am planning to go to Turkey for 4 days during the last week of Dec. Can you recommend must see places and/or must do things? We will be two women (30’s and 50’s) and would like to make the most of our time. If possible, please suggest how to make the most without spending the most? Thank you!

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