10 days: Driving around in Turkey

Our driving expedition around Turkey

Merhaba! Lisa here and I will be writing about our driving tour around Turkey! We hired a rental car to travel to 5 different cities in our 10 days in Turkey for the month of december. I will be also giving additional information if you decide to drive around yourself!

We landed 14th of December '19 and went to pick up a hire car at Antalya Airport. We arrived at 5am in the morning and the trouble with that was that there was not much rental shops opened so we went with the most reputable one there which was Avis. The hire car costed us 2000TL. We took the car and drove to Antalya to our hostel. Luckily there was no traffic so we can get used to driving on the road with limited traffic and getting used to the traffic signs. We arrived at our hostel and we napped until noon. 

Just for your information: everyone drives on the right side of the road. The slow lane is on the right and the overtaking lane is the left. DUR means stop and YAVAS means slow down. I'm still confused till this day but I don't think Turkish people obey the speed limits or stop at stop signs...I was honked at when obeying the speed limits while on the right lane and also stopping at the stop signs haha

When we woke up from our beauty nap we wandered around the old city in Antalya! It was raining for abit but it didn't deter us from venturing outside.

First thing on our agenda was to get a sim card! Sang read up that Turkcell offered a great deal for tourists so we went looking for the store in Antalya.

So this was our first experience for Turkcell and it was soooooo bad. The lady at the counter was very nice and helpful but when she directed us to another girl, you can tell that this girl did not want to be there. She had the "I hate my job" aura and it wasn't going to be good. There were multiple times the system failed to take in our details for the tourist sim that Turkcell offered. So she gave up and gave us a completely different Sim without conversing with us what she had signed us up on. So with the help of Google translate we asked her what she gave us (we wanted to have 20GB of data and 200mins of calls so we can make calls in Turkey eg hotels or inquires about attractions) but she gave us only 20GB for 149TL. She even tried to charge us the same price as the tourist simcard! She clicked her tongue at us many times when we asked for the Tourist simcard and responded "not working only data". So we told her we spoke to the previous lady and that we wanted the minutes included and once she read that she immediately stuck her hand out and said "Simcard now!" following with her mumbling some words in Turkish to herself probably insults to us. We ejected the sim cards and left the store.

We took our business elsewhere and we ended up at Vodafone. Thank god the clerk spoke English and he was more helpful than the Turkcell lady! So we ended up with a 20GB Data Sim and 700mins for 149TL. So even a better deal than Turkcell. Even though Turkcell apparently had better coverage in Turkey we went with Vodafone because the guy was so much nicer.

So now that we have that out of the way it's time to explore Antalya! 
We explore the old city and it was a nice experience to see the cobblestone and the eateries that are in the this town. Want to know what we ate in Turkey? Click here to find out more!

Exploring around the old city in Antalya

Where the land meets the ocean

We did not have much time in Antalya ( only 1 day to be exact) as we were planning to head to the road to our next destination... Cappadocia!

You will see pit stops where they sell Gozleme! it was so good and made to order aswell

We arrived to Goreme, Cappadocia on the same day at 4:30pm and quickly checked in our cave abode for the 2 nights we were in. We went to explore the town of Goreme to see what it offers at night. In some guides they do advise that December is the quiet period for Cappadocia but it was still hella busy with tourists!

Our cave room for the 3 nights

We went to scope out some view spots for the balloons. We then had dinner and then called it a night as we were tired from the drive.

So for the next 2 days we scoped out the balloons in the morning and went to visit 2 valleys. The first sunrise was cloudy for us but the last day was absolutely amazing! For a more in-depth read of Cappadocia Sangs written a post here!

First morning

Second morning

Love Valley

Fairy Chimneys in the valley

Rose Valley

Traditional turkish lights
After the second sunrise in Goreme, Cappadocia we left to go drive to our next city, Konya. To be honest the only thing I knew about Konya was the whirling dervishes and Melvana! So we had 1/2 a day here before we headed off to Pammukale. I have to say though, Konya is a really smoggy city! We heard from our Airbnb host that Konya is described as Turkey's China so maybe that's why it was so smoggy. After we checked into our Airbnb we headed out to see the Mevlana museum and I have to say it was beautiful.

Wax figures of the whirling dervishes in training
After our tour of the Mevlana museum we then called it a night at our Airbnb so we could get up early to drive to the UNESCO site, Pammukale!

Our Airbnb hosts, Thank you for hosting us! :)

The drive from Konya to Pammukale was approximately 5hours but we took our time to take in the views from some small towns to Pammukale.

Once we arrived in Pammukale and checked into our hotel, we realised how quiet this area was, so it was great for us! We immediately went in search for some food and found a cute Japanese restaurant (I know but we should have some variety of food right?!) and had our lunch there. After lunch we walked to the the cotton city, Pammukale. We had 2 days in Pammukale so we explored more of the cotton city, relaxed in the thermal pools (that had ruins in it) and the Roman city. Click here for our post on Pammukale and the hieropolis!

This leg of the drive would be the longest and most stressful as we would be driving through the busy streets of Istanbul! It took us a whopping 8hrs to get there! After checking in we had a early night's rest from all the stress Istanbul gave us! Luckily we won't need to drive until we need go to the airport for our next leg!

Note: In all of Turkey they do not have a roundabout like what we were used to in Sydney, Australia. If you're going to the right it's normal but if you're going to the left side you have to do a half round about and wait in the middle until the way is clear then you can make your way to turn. It seems confusing but once you do it you will get used to it, especially in Istanbul!!

Today was going to be a busy day for us so we started bright and early! We planned to hit Hagia Sophia, the underground cistern, The Blue mosque and the grand bazaar. So the first stop...Hagia Sophia!

The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now called Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century A.D.
In its 1,400 year life-span it has served as a cathedral, mosque and now a museum. This poor building has gone through alot with its riots, being burnt down and it's collapse during construction but it now stands rebuilt and beautiful as ever.

After Hagia Sophia we went to the underground cistern which was less than 10min walk. It was hauntingly beautiful and I would recommend it if you like to marvel at some architecture (also how the hell they built it too!!).

Our next stop was the famous blue mosque, but first we needed some food! We ordered this special treat reccomended to us by the waiter and it was awesome! Check out our turkeys eats here.

This seafood is on fireee
So for the blue mosque there is a strict dress code to enter in the hall. Men and Women must have their shoulders covered and wear something in length which passes the knees. If you don't meet the dress standards they do have a renting system where they give out these blue cloths to cover yourself up. You have to go at the directed times to enter the mosque and also you have to be quick as the queues get really long! 

Unfortunately for us the blue mosque ceiling was under reconstruction but it was still nice to see the inside of the building.

What the ceiling would have looked like
After the mosque we had a quick bite of bread and nutella and also some baklava at the famous Hafiz Mustafa who are apparently the best and oldest sweets shop in Istanbul. We then headed to the great Grand bazaar of Istanbul.

This place is massive!! You can easily get lost here as there are a lot more laneways than the one in Egypt! They sold clothing, fabrics, scarves, lights and basically anything you want as a souvenir they have it here! We stayed here for about 2 hrs because you know we did get lost 😅.

Cute old men sitting in once of the laneways inside the market halls

After this Sang went to have a haircut and then we had dinner of Kebabs. We then went to bed because it was a pretty packed day we had!

The chicken here was just so good! definately recommend this place

Looking fresh Sang!

One of the nicest owners we have met on this trip in turkey!

The next day we took a train over the other side of Istanbul to explore the markets and to go to our 2 booked escape rooms. This day we also had a specialty coffee at Montage!

First things first, we had to find brekkie (breakfast in Aussie slang) and found this borek and pide place! It was so good as it was still hot 👌🏻. Check out Sangs post on what we ate here in Turkey.

Then to the markets to explore for us!

Everything was nicely organised!

A local fish in Turkey called Hamsi, like a sardine!

They display on how fresh the fish is by showing the gills!
Showing how fresh the eggs are too!

Dogs and lots of them!

After this we went to Montage cafe to sit back and people watch while on the second storey for abit until we had to go to our escape rooms.

After our coffee and escape rooms we explored more of the area (and stumbled upon the many cats!! 😽), had our lunch of fast food and many snacks of traditional Turkish food.

Good ole' KFC

Our escape room location!

This vendor ended up feeding me this mussel shortly after this photo was taken! it was actually really yummy!

After this our rendezvous with food and escape rooms, we headed back home to prepare for our hamam treatment at Hagia Sofia (Click here for our post on Hamam) and called it a night as we had to pack to our next destination.

Turkey was filled with so much history and it was a great experience to drive through the country to explore and learn about Turkey! Next time I would definitely spend more time here as I felt 10 days is definitely not enough for this big country.

Did you explore Turkey and if you did leave us a comment!

Thanks for reading and Happy travels!

- Lisa


  1. Nice blog! Really this was very useful blog for us. Nice sharing about Antalya side transfer


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