July 16, 2014

How to Honeymoon in Turkey on a Budget

To be honest, I didn't keep an exact budget of our costs to honeymoon in Turkey (it was a crazy time of year.) But, I'm fairly certain we had one of the cheaper international honeymoons that a couple can have, so I thought I'd share our tips - some which are more than applicable elsewhere, and some that are particular to Turkey.

Our Budget (by my memory):
Airfare (international and in-country): $1,700
Car in Goreme (and fuel): $175
Accommodations: $860
Admissions/fees: $300
Food: $400
Misc: $100

The Prince's Islands

Why traveling to Turkey may be more reasonable than you think:
When planning our honeymoon, we originally were leaning towards Iceland, but plane tickets went up significantly, and we couldn't justify it with our already stretched budget. So we started looking at other places. We wanted somewhere that neither of us had been before (ruling out Costa Rica and Italy) and we also thought getting a new continent in would be great. Eventually, we just started looking up prices for every single city we could think of. Outside of Central America, Turkey was consistently the cheapest, by far. Turkey had come up a few times when we discussed places, so when the tickets were significantly cheaper than everything else, with some brief research we were settled.

Suleyman Mosque

Secondly, almost every hotel, hostel, pension or what-have-you for accommodations includes breakfast - and a really filing, good one at that. The only time we didn't have breakfast included is in Istanbul when we had a room through AirBnB (and when there, we just bought groceries and made our own breakfast).

Hiking in the valley in Cappadocia

Why Turkey may not be as cheap as you think:
Admission fees, to literally EVERYTHING, are the norm in Turkey. I can only think of one a few places that we visited that didn't have admissions fees. Even tiny, fairly off-the beaten path old cave churches would have a family who was taking care of things, and if not charging straight admission, were asking for a donation.

More hiking in Cappadocia

Most of these fees were quite reasonable, but it is something to keep in mind.

Food also was a cost to keep in mind - it could be quite reasonable (especially in Selcuk and Goreme) but it varied a lot more in Istanbul.

One of the MANY churches we visited. This is Chora Church, I believe

Keeping costs down:
We knew going in that we were fairly simple people as far as lodging goes. As long as it was safe and clean we didn't need much else. We ended up staying at a little "Pension" which is essentially the same as a hostel, by and large. We had a private room and bath, for all of $30 a night in Selcuk. Similar housing can be found pretty much everywhere in Turkey, leaving you with more cash to spend on other things.


Another thing about the Selcuk/Ephesus area - it is very walkable. Yes, we walked to Ephesus - a nice, two mile walk. We did pay for a van ride to the beach, but the cost was reasonable. Additionally we paid about $5 total for the train ride back to the airport.

The walk to Ephesus

We spent a bit more in Cappadocia, but we also had nicer accommodations (and staying in a cave hotel was worth the extra.) The couple that owned the hotel also owned a restaurant, which we ate at two out of three nights - first, it was good and fairly priced, and secondly, they gave hotel guests another 10% off.


One thing we didn't know about and we wished we had: There is a museum pass available for the major sites in Ephesus (and I believe it also covered Cappadocia sites.) There wasn't much advertising or posting about this card, so by the time we visited all the sites it covered (Ephesus, St. John's) we just realized the pass existed and would have saved us money.

We did buy the equivalent card for the Istanbul museums, and it was worth it. We could have spent more than one day at the Archeology Museum!

Not the Grand Bazaar, a market in a small town - so way better.

Also, unless you are incredibly centrally located by everything you want to see in Istanbul, buy a transportation card. They are good for ferries, busses and trams, and we used ours a lot, saving us on transportation costs (and we still walked what felt like FOREVER in Istanbul.) We then left the card for the next guests.

Istanbul at night

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