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Izmir Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Formerly known as Smyrna, Izmir has been standing on the Turkish Aegean shore for centuries. Turkey’s third largest city, it has been a commercial centre since old times and has evolved into one of modern Turkey’s most liberal cities.

Combining ancient sites with oriental bazaars and a lively waterfront, it has been established as one of the major gateways for the western part of the country.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Building up a thriving art scene, Izmir hosts the annual International Arts Festival every June. Also check out if there is a temporary exhibition on at the former building of the city’s Gas Factory, which has now been turned into a modern art house.

Understand

İzmir is the third largest city in Turkey with a population of around 3.7 million, the second biggest port after Istanbul, and a very good transport hub. Once the ancient city of Smyrna, it is now a modern, developed, and busy commercial center, set around a huge bay and surrounded by mountains. The broad boulevards, glass-fronted buildings and modern shopping centers are dotted with traditional red-tiled roofs, the 18th century market, and old mosques and churches, although the city has an atmosphere more of Mediterranean Europe than traditional Turkey.

History of Izmir

The history of İzmir stretches back to around 3000 BC when the Trojans founded the city in Tepekule in the northern suburb of Bayrakli, where is now the “Eski Smyrna” museum. This was the Smyrna that is the supposed birthplace of Homer; a common and consistent tradition connects Homer with the valley of Smyrna and the banks of the river Meles. The Aeolians, the first Greek settlers, were eventually superseded by the (also Greek) Ionians, and then the Lydians destroyed the city around 600 BC before a brief recovery following Alexander the Great’s arrival in 334 BC.

After his death, Alexander’s generals followed his wishes and re-established Smyrna on the shadow of Mount Pagos (Kadifekale), and the city then prospered under the Romans. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 178 AD but later reconstructed and became a major commercial port. After the Byzantines, the city had a turbulent time under the Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders and Mongols, until Mehmet I incorporated it into the Ottoman Empire in 1415. Under Suleyman the Magnificent, Smyrna became a thriving and sophisticated city and a huge trading center, despite its frequent earthquakes. It was cosmopolitan, with mainly Greek Orthodox and also Jews and Muslims, and many languages were spoken among locals and visiting traders.

Following World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, on the basis of a major Greek-speaking population in the area, the Allies gave Greece a mandate over İzmir. Greece thereby took control of the Aegean area, and marched on Ankara. Led by Kemal Atatürk the Turkish army counter-attacked, in what became the War of Turkish Independence, and regained their territory, but a huge fire broke out which destroyed 70% of İzmir. Atatürk formally took İzmir on 9 September 1922 and this is celebrated as the date of the city’s independence. As part of the peace deal, Greeks in İzmir were compulsorily re-settled in Greece, while Turks in Greece (especially around Thessaloniki, Atatürk’s own birthplace) were compulsorily re-settled in Turkey. This ended the multicultural nature of the city.

Climate

Dry and sunny summers in İzmir are so infernally hot and sticky that, unless there is an air-con in your room, you will most likely have trouble falling asleep at least on your first night, no matter whether the windows are wide open or not. However, a mild breeze coming in ashore from the sea (locally called meltem) may refreshen the evenings, at least in locations close to the waterfront. Temperature can drop down to freezing point (0°C/32°F) in mostly windy and rainy winters, however snowfall is some sort of curiousness in these latitudes, which happens once or at most twice a decade, if at all.

Get in

By train

Izmir has a resonable number of trains from cities across western Turkey, however the city is not along Turkey’s new high-speed train network meaning that trains are rather slow. The two major overnight services are:

  • Izmir Mavi, overnight train from Ankara via Eskişehir. In Eskişehir there are convenient connections to YHT high-sped trains from Istanbul.
  • Konya Mavi, overnight train from Konya. There are plenty of bus services in Konya from Adana and Antalya.

Other popular services includes the 6 Eylul Express from Bandirma (6½ h), with connections to ferries from Istanbul as well as regional trains from Selcuk (2 h, for Ephesus and Kuşadası) and Denizli (4 h, for Pamukkale).

Tickets for long-distance services can be bought at stations or via the web page of national operator TCDD. For regional and suburban trains, buying tickets is done at stations.

By boat

There are no ferry services to Izmir. The ferry to Istanbul and the ferry to Venice are both suspended. Formerly these docked at Alsancak Ferry Terminal, 2 km north of the city center. Passengers are expected to use gate “B” to access Alsancak port.

Getting around

Metro lines are limited but cover several points of interest, running between 6.30 am and 11.30 pm. City-bus routes can be a bit confusing for visitors, but if you ask a local for the name of the stop, where you need to get off, you can manage just fine. Taxis are plenty on the streets and outside large hotels.

On foot

You can explore İzmir inner city by walking. Walking Routes to center of the city are very easy to walk and enjoyable.

By train

The system of urban rail in İzmir consists of two lines:

  • a line connecting city centre/Konak Square with the northeastern town of Bornova and western town of Balçova(for now, the line ends at Fahrettin Altay square, that is the boundary of Balçova)
  • a line connecting Tepeköy (to the south) and Aliağa (to the north). It also provides connection to Foça and other places north from İzmir.

By bus

There is an extensive system of public buses covering the entire province.

By boat

Public ferries are easy, fast inside the coast and provide a nice view of İzmir. Preferable to every other transportation in nice climate.

By taxi

There are many taxis with reasonable price. No night rate. Turkish taxis are not allowed to go outside province they are registered at. Meaning an İzmir-registered taxi(registration starting in 35) cannot go beyond İzmir provincial boundaries.

Things to see and do in Izmir

Due to the Great Fire of 1920s, there is a relative lack of historical sights in İzmir, especially when considered how old the city really is (more than 5000 years old).

Kordon is the waterfront of Izmir and it is one of the liveliest parts of the city. Sit at one of its many restaurants and cafes for a nice lunch over sea views, or take a stroll before dusk to join the locals who come here to enjoy the beautiful sunset. Nearby Konak Square features the Tower Clock and Konak Camii, an 18th-century mosque with impressive tile-works.

For an authentic oriental taste, take a couple of hours to wander around the maze of Kemeralti Bazaar. Traditional coffee houses are hidden among dozens of jewellery, flower, kitchenware and bead stores around the market’s alleys. For souvenir shopping try Kizlaragasi Han, a covered touristic market housed under a former caravanserai.

On a sunny day walk up Kadifekale Hill to see the Velvet Fort and enjoy some marvellous views of Izmir. First erected by Lysimachos in 3rd century BC, the defensive fortification had been captured by many conquers during the centuries, including the Aydinids, the Genoese and Tamerlane. Each invader destroyed some of the facilities, but also added new parts to the fort. Today the visitor can see parts of the defensive walls, gates, a castle and the remains of a watch tower. Avoid the area after dusk as attacks against tourists have been reported during night hours.

The archaeological site of ancient Agora features the remains of a Roman market built by emperor Marcus Aurelius. The Roman Agora was built on the ruins of a former Hellenistic Agora. Walking around the site you will see marble columns in Corinthian style, a few marble arches and the foundations of domed chambers. Old tombstones are scattered around the site, as it was once occupied by an Ottoman cemetery.

Izmir’s Museum of History and Art houses an interesting collection of ancient statues and pottery from Neolithic era to Roman times. Divided into three sections, the exhibits are focusing on sculpture, ceramics and precious artefacts. If interested in traditional arts and crafts, visit the Ethnography Museum, where you can learn about local customs through interactive displays and admire some fascinating pieces of Izmir’s folk arts.

Dating back to late 16th century, Hisar Camii is Izmir’s largest and most impressive mosque. The light blue ceiling and surrounding walls are ornamented with beautiful golden decorations, while the stone staircase features delicate engraved motifs. For a close-up look at traditional Izmir tile-work, visit Fatih Camii, which also houses a small tea garden and some nice views.

Konak Square

Main square of the city center, famous for the clock tower, one of the unique symbols of İzmir. The clock tower was built in 1901. There are also Konak Yali Mosque and Kemeraltı Bazaar around the square. | Main square of the city center, famous for the clock tower, one of the unique symbols of İzmir. The clock tower was built in 1901. There are also Konak Yali Mosque and Kemeraltı Bazaar around the square.

Asansör

This landmark was constructed by a Jewish businessman in 1907. The purpose was to help residents to go to their districts on the top of the hill. The elevator used to work by a water-driven mechanism. Later, it was restored by İzmir Municipality and now it works by electricity. There is a restaurant on the top of the elevator, with a bird-eye view of İzmir. | This landmark was constructed by a Jewish businessman in 1907. The purpose was to help residents to go to their districts on the top of the hill. The elevator used to work by a water-driven mechanism. Later, it was restored by İzmir Municipality and now it works by electricity. There is a restaurant on the top of the elevator, with a bird-eye view of İzmir.

İzmir Archaeological Museum

Hosts a large collection of finds from Smyrna and other Ionian cities, mostly from the Roman age. There’s also a numismatic department with ancient coins and jewelry. | Hosts a large collection of finds from Smyrna and other Ionian cities, mostly from the Roman age. There’s also a numismatic department with ancient coins and jewelry.

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Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu.

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Ankara Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Much less glorious and cosmopolitan than Istanbul, Turkey’s capital Ankara is still outgrowing its Anatolian profile and evolving into a sophisticated political, financial and educational centre.

Featuring a population of almost 4,000,000 residents, Ankara has a dynamic student community, which lives up the city’s social and night life.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Gateway to deeper Anatolia, Ankara bears a 4000-year history, touches of which you will trace among scattered ancient, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine ruins. Recent history monuments adorn the capital’s streets and squares as well.

Ankara is Turkey’s capital, and its second city in size after Istanbul. Literally and figuratively, it is located at the heart of both Turkey and Central Anatolia, the surrounding region. The population is around 4.5 million.

Ankara is the administrative hub of Turkey and a huge university town, so it has a large population of government workers and university students. As the national capital Ankara is home to a large population of foreign diplomats and embassy staff, it offers goods and services that might be more difficult to find in other Turkish cities — for example you will have no problem ordering a cappuccino or a hamburger.

Ankara is a sprawling, modern city which can appear as little more than a dull, concrete jungle at first glance — most non-local Turks view Ankara as a depressive and grey city with nothing in offer other than the boring world of politics. Consequently, many visitors tend to use it merely as a transit point for getting to places like Konya or Cappadocia, however Ankara does have a lot to offer for those prepared to look a bit deeper — as the proud capital of the Turkish Republic, it is easy to trace the steps of the early republican years here, whether it be in the shape of the fine buildings of the first national architecture movement or the 1940s monuments following the totalitarian aesthetics of the era. Local museums abound with some of the best pieces of art in the country, ancient and modern. And since it originally lies on the mostly barren Central Anatolian steppelands, Ankara vigorously pursued a policy of tree planting, which resulted in many parks and forestlands around the town, which add to its charms.

About Ankara

Like most Turks, the locals are generally friendly and helpful to tourists. Ankara has a large university student population and many young people can communicate in English. Having said that, it’s still a good idea to have a Turkish phrasebook or dictionary on hand.

Apart from the old town in and around the citadel near Ulus, and unplanned shanty town neighbourhoods here and there built hastily by new immigrants from countryside in the last five decades, most of Ankara, which was a provincial town of 20,000 people in the early days of the Republic, is a purpose-built capital due to its strategic location at the heart of the country, although the history of settlement in the vicinity is millennia old.

While the biggest claim to fame of the town used to be the long-haired local breed of goats named after the former name of the city (Angora), out of which high quality mohair textiles were produced, today the few places where you can spot them in the city is the lawns in some parks or at the sides of clover-leaf interchanges on the highways—in the form of cute sculptures.

Orientation

The “downtown” area of this large city is around Kızılay Square (Kızılay Meydanı, named after the headquarters of the Red Crescent, the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross, now replaced by a modern shopping mall) which has a fair number of transportation links to almost anywhere in the city. To the north, Kızılay Square is connected by a wide avenue, Atatürk Boulevard, to the squares of Sıhhiye (Ottoman Turkish for “sanitary works” as this has been the site of the building of the Ministry of Health since the foundation of the republic), marked by an unmissable Hittite monument in the middle of its roundabout, and Ulus (“nation”, the site of the major institutions of the early years of the republic, such as the old parliament), which has a large equestrian monument of Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic, at its side. Ulus, the adjoining Hisar district around the hilltop citadel, and Hamamönü just south of it down the hill form the old town of Ankara.

To the immediate south of Kızılay lies the upmarket districts of KavaklıdereGaziosmanpaşa and Çankaya. The city’s most expensive hotels and restaurants are found in this region, as are most of the embassies and consular services.

Southwest of Kızılay, past the aptly named Bakanlıklar (“ministries”) district, İsmet İnönü Boulevard (named after the second Turkish president) leads into the area collectively known as Eskişehir Yolu (literally “the road to Eskişehir”), which is lined by most of Ankara’s large and afforested university campuses and the buildings of the administrative institutions, including the National Parliament. The area morphes into exurbs several tens of kilometres out of the city, which eventually give way to the wide open steppe.

Weather in Ankara

As any other part of the Anatolian highland, the winters are cold and usually snowy. Temperature is regularly below the freezing point during this season, but it rarely drops below -15°C. Thanks to the low levels of relative humidity, the hot and dry summers are more comfortable than coastal regions of Turkey. Average daily temperatures in midsummer are around 30°C. Daily temperatures can reach 35°C and above, but is not common and usually last no more than a few days. Summer nights are cool, though, so be sure to bring at least a cardigan with you to wear outdoors. Spring and autumn are the wettest seasons, but with an annual precipitation of 415 mm (i.e. a semi-arid climate), you are unlikely to get much wet during your trip to Ankara, anyway.

Ankara Esenboğa Airport

Is the only civilian airport in Ankara. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope – apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), only Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs. Iran Air also has two weekly flights to Tehran. For other carriers flying into Turkey, a flight into Istanbul is necessary, followed by an air transfer to Ankara by Turkish Airlines or Anadolu Jet (a low cost brand of Turkish Airlines). – EasyJet also offers discount flights to and from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) and Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in the summer months (until October 25) and to and from Istanbul and London Luton airport all year round for fares as low as £22. | Is the only civilian airport in Ankara. International flights are rather low in frequency and scope – apart from Turkish Airlines (THY), only Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and British Airways offer direct flights to their respective European hubs such as Frankfurt and London.

The only means of public transport are public busses numbered 442 (4 TL with one pass cards). It starts from the airport and follows a main artery to Ankara, passing through almost all central points, including train station, Kızılay, AŞTİ (intercity bus terminal). You can expect it to be rather crowded and as they don’t have separate sections for luggage, you might get exhausted at the end of the journey. One common way to travel to and from airports in Turkey is HAVAS but recently their services were temporarily suspended due to some legal issues with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. Until the issues are solved, there won’t be any HAVAS service. Until then Ankara Metropolitan Municipality started their own shuttle service called Belko Air. They follow a similar route to the public transport, from airport it takes you to train station, Kizilay, and AŞTİ. You can put your luggage in luggage compartment. It costs you 11 TL. You can take a taxi as well but that would cost you around 100-140 TL one way, metered.

Travel by train to Ankara

Ankara is the eastern terminus of the Turkish high-speed rail system (YHT), with frequent fast trains to Konya, and via Eskişehir to Istanbul. Trains to Eskişehir and Konya take 90 minutes and those stations are within 3-5 km of their town centres, so they are easy day trips. Trains to Istanbul take 4½ hours; they also stop at Pendik, 25 km east of city centre and convenient for Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen airport (10 km, taxi or bus).

Destinations east of Ankara are served by slow overnight trains. The main services are to Diyarbakir and Kurtalan (the Guney Kurtalan Express), to Erzurum and Kars (the Dogu Express), and to Tatvan (the Vangölü Express), thence by dolmus to Van. From Van a train runs once a week to Tabriz in Iran, with onward trains to Tehran.

For times and reservations (strongly recommended) see TCDD Turkish Republic State Railways website.

A high-speed line is under construction from Ankara eastwards, and the first section to Kayseri and Sivas might open by 2020. The railway from Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan currently only carries freight, but passenger trains are expected to start in autumn 2019. International trains to Syria and Iraq are all suspended indefinitely.

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Antalya Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Located by the namesake gulf, Antalya has been standing at Turkey’s Mediterranean shore since 150 BC. Since the 70s tourist crowds flock the city as a gateway to enjoy the beautiful beaches of Turkish Riviera. However, Antalya’s rich historic inheritance features several interesting ancient, Roman and Ottoman sites, which make the city itself a popular travel destination throughout the year.

Tourist facilities include all kinds of accommodation, from large all-inclusive resorts to stylish boutique hotels to basic room rentals. Intense nightlife is supported by dozens of hip bars and trendy clubs.

Turkey Covid-19 Situation Report
2,412,505
Confirmed
6,289
Confirmed (24h)
24,640
Deaths
153
Deaths (24h)
1.0%
Deaths (%)
2,290,032
Recovered
6,113
Recovered (24h)

Having entered the scene in 150 BC as Attalia, named after its founder, Attalos II, king of Pergamon, Antalya has ever attracted a wide array of travellers, including Paul the Apostle, and Ibn Battuta among others. Antalya had replaced Phaselis—beautiful ruins of which now lie to south of the city, between Kemer and Olympos—as the main harbour of the surrounding region during the reign of Seljuks, in early 1200s, but the lack of a large hinterland (or, rather, lack of good connections with its mountainous hinterland) meant for much of its history eversince that it was a provincial coastal town, albeit with a multicultural community of Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

As the centre of a region with beautiful beaches, verdant mountains, and a mindblowing number of ancient ruins, the tourism investments started in 1970s, which changed the fate of the city considerably, however as most of the visitors (make no mistake—they are in the range of millions annually) to the region are actually on “all-inclusive” vacation packages nowadays, they are instantly taken from the airport to the huge resorts lining the coastline of hundreds of kilometres, where they stay until the end of their holidays except perhaps a raid or two to the nearest and the most popular attractions, so Antalya itself, mainly the old town (Kaleiçi), is more of an independent traveller destination, where you will meet the other travellers of a similar mind, and the locals.

Weather in Antalya

Around April, when you can perfectly get a suntan and the weather is much more bearable than summer months, is one of the best times to visit the city.

Travel to Antalya

Antalya is the closest airport, served by inexpensive flights from Istanbul (as low as US$50, early booking is also available for lower prices.)

Cheap Flights to Antalya

Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

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29.01.2021

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01.02.2021

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Timisoara

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Lviv

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Saratov

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22.05.2021

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Getting around

Quite a few of the city’s points of interest are served by the local 10-stop tram. City-buses cover every corner of Antalya, while “dolmus”, Turkish shared taxis on fixed routes, are an efficient and fun way move around. Privet taxis are also widely available.

Being 10 kilometers from the city from Antalya, Antalya Airport (Havalimanlı) caters to the charter flights full of holiday makers. Airlines that serve Antalya include: Pegasus, Transavia.com (lowcost and charters from Netherlands, France and Denmark), AtlasJet (domestic flights), SunExpress (dozens of flights from all over Europe), Turkish Airlines (plenty of flights from Ankara and Istanbul-Atatürk), Aeroflot (daily flights from Moscow-Sheremetyevo), Ukraine International Airlines (several charter flights a week from Kiev). Britain is also represented by numerous charter firms such as Airtours.

A taxi ride between the airport and the city centre will set you back €15 (45 TL) during the day (March 2011). You may also prefer transfer companies in order to avoid any scam. Other, more wallet-friendly options for airport transportation include Havaş buses, which are less expensive and more frequent; they depart on the hour from “Güllük PTT” (10 TL).

There are public buses from the airport (line 600, “Terminal-Otogar”) which leave on the hour and cost 4 TL. Buses from the otogar run along Adnan Menderes Blv and Mevlana Cd (exact location of bus stops can be found on Google Maps).

To catch a public bus from the International Terminal you have to go to the domestic terminal (300 m, just turn right when you leave the International Terminal); there is a small blue “D” sign next to a larger ficus tree. There is another blue “D” sign next to the taxi stand in front of the International Terminal which won’t get you anywhere; waiting there usually attracts taxi drivers (telling you, truthfully, “There is no bus leaving here!”) offering a ride.Besides,you can make pre-booking antalya airport transfers by private taxi companies.

The AntRay tram connects the inner city with the airport. To the old town you have to leave at Ismetpasa. You can also continue direct to the bus station (Otogar). The price is 4 TL (2016).

Travel by bus to Antalya

Antalya’s huge bus terminal is located around 6 km north-west of the town center, but easily reached using the tram getting off at Otogar station, and walking about 10 minutes to the otogar. A taxi from the Kaleiçi to the otogar is about 40 TL (Nov 2017). The distance between the bus station and the tram stop is a bit far if you have lots of luggage and the signs seem to send you the long way round but due to the security perimeter there is no shorter way. Just before the faregates is a ticket office and staff usually speak English.

The Turkish bus system is comprehensive and you can get about anywhere from anywhere. Better spend a few more liras and you will have an unforgettable journey. Ulusoy has buses with seats that resemble business class in airplanes. There are also other bus companies, including Kamil Koç, Truva and Varan. Some companies have an onboard WLAN. Check otobusbileti displaying prices of bus tickets from Antalya to 81 cities in Turkey.

Fares are low. Simply show up at the bus station (otogar) and announce your destination.

There are regular buses destined for Antalya that run along the coastal roads and stop at tourist towns such as Kas and Fethiye, although the latter one is reached quicker (3½ hr instead of 5-6 hr) using a direct bus not along the coastal road.

From the bus station you can take a local bus or the Tram (Antray) to the city or the airport. There are signposts for the tram (saying either “Antray” or “Tramvay”), but it is quite some walk and the last part is through an underground walkway. Thankfully the ticket agent is accustomed to dealing with foreigners and getting a ticket for the Tram shouldn’t be too big a hurdle.

Travel by boat to Antalya

Most travellers arrive in Marmaris from Rhodes, Greece, then bus it overland. You can also take a ferry from Kastellorizo, a tiny Greek island just off the Turkish fishing village of Kas.

Travel by train to Antalya

Buses run from Antalya to Konya (300 km, 5 hours) to connect with YHT fast trains to Ankara (90 min), Eskisehir (90 min) and Istanbul Pendik (3 hr 30 min). Pendik is relatively convenient for Sabiha Gokcen airport (), but reaching central Istanbul takes another 90 minutes by metro and bus. So compared to bus all the way, bus and train is quicker to Ankara and about the same time to Istanbul. There are also connections to trains for other Turkish cities, such as Izmir, Kars and Adana. These are slow at the best of times and are disrupted by engineering work, at least until 2018: see Ankara page for details.

Transportation in Antalya

Antalya offers a variety of public transportation, such as public buses, trams, mini-buses, taxicabs and dolmuş.

By public transit

Single bus and tram fares are 2.75 TL (Nov 2017) but cannot be paid using cash. Fares are paid using the Antalyakart. There is a refillable plastic card, and a disposable paper card, available at kiosks along the AntRay tramway, at stores around the stations, or at specific AntRay counters (e.g., at the Otogar). If you’re unsure, just ask the helpful station guards. The refillable card gives you discounted fares of 2 TL. (April 2018)

Drivers on the Heritage Tramway sell the disposable Antalyakart for 12 TL (Nov 2017), which gives you four single rides, and which can be used by one or more people at a time.

The refillable plastic card provides discounted fares.

By tram

Antalya has two, disconnected light rail lines, one modern and one deliberately made to look old-fashioned although the stations of the heritage line near the old town are within a quick walk distance to those of the other.

The Heritage Tramway has been donated by the German city of Nuremberg and connects the western Konyaalti Beach and Antalya Museum to the eastern part of the town center. It runs every 30 min in either direction. This tramway can be used for sightseeing as it passes some beautiful places of the town center.

The AntRay tramway consists of one line, serving the route Fatih-Otogar-Muratpaşa-Ismetpaşa-Meydan every 15 min during the day (June 2015), and some trams continue to the airport (Havalimanlı) or to the Expo 2016 site. To get to the Kaleiçi or to the interconnection with the historic tram line, get off at Ismetpaşa station. To get to the bus terminal from the Kaleiçi, take the tram in the direction of Fatih, get off at Otogar, and follow the signs for 10 min. Check OpenStreeMap the location of tram lines and stops.

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Bodrum Coronavirus (COVID-19) Turkey Travel Report

Wolfgang Holzem

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Standing on the remains of ancient Halicarnassus, Bodrum is one of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts. Offering golden-sand beaches and clear blue waters of the Aegean Sea, it was once a small fishing village. Today trendy restaurants, boutique hotels and dazzling nightlife draw tourist crowds, who come to Bodrum to enjoy the sun and the sea during summer months.

Once a place of exile for the “internal enemies” of modern Turkey, Bodrum started gaining attention by Turkish intellectuals and artists after the writer Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı, who was exiled here, begun to talk the place up. Resembling the Greek Cycladic Islands, with low whitewashes buildings dominating Bodrum’s architecture, it is now one of Turkey’s most popular travel destinations.

Understand

Bodrum is the site of the ancient city of Halikarnassus, the location of the famous Mausoleum of Halikarnassus (built after 353 BCE) – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The ancient monument was destroyed by earthquakes in the Middle Ages – some of the remnants can be seen in London’s British Museum.

Bodrum is a fascinating place as it has a pleasing contrast between the Ancient city – where there are discernable fragments everywhere in the town -and a playground for rich Turks and an array of foreign visitors. It is one of the centres of the Turkish Tourist industry and is the market town for the Bodrum Peninsula which consists of a number of towns and villages nestling on the edge of the Coast. Until the 1960s the town was a fishing village which changed when a number of Turkish intellectuals gathered and wrote about Bodrum.

Most notable of the these was Cevat Sekir ‘The Fisherman of Hallikarnassus’, an Oxford Educated Turk who devoted his time to writing and planting numerous plants and trees which continue to dot the landscape of the Town. His book the ‘Blue Voyage’ describing gullet trips around the Turkish coast, and his descriptions of the astoundingly clear Blue Seas of the Aegean and the delights of a trip around the coasts adjacent to Bodrum inspired a whole generation who have come to emulate his trips.

Bodrum has therefore grown as a sailing destination and thanks to its warm but not humid climate has become a top destination for visitors who enjoy the combination of the ancient past together with all the usual tourist paraphernalia. There are large numbers of shops and restaurants – from humble cafes to exquisite Turkish cuisine served by an array of waiting staff.

Modern Bodrum strangely seems to have two contrasting sides to it.

The east half of the town has a long thin but reasonable beach, which has been added in the last few years, with the authorities trying and largely succeeding in creating a good beach. Behind the beach lay all the bars, restaurants, and night clubs that are typical of Mediterranean resort citys. This means open fronted bars that do not come alive until 10PM when everybody goes out. As well as some nice beach fronted bars (e.g. Cafe del Mar being a reasonably chilled out and attractive bar, with attractive staff so that helps) it also has some terrible ones, if you do not like the hard drinking culture of some tourists. It does have some reasonable clubs. Halikarnas being the obvious one as it is huge (4000 people). It also is mostly outdoors and hosts foam parties on regular occasions.

The other half of the town is the west side. This mainly revolves around the Marina and Yacht Club. Here life is a little more sedate with shops catering mainly to those who have stepped off their boats. Expensive supermarkets with proper wine and olive oil as well as the obligatory Helley Hanson to be able to purchase your new jacket. There are a number of nice restaurants if you look hard enough and some good clothes shops. Like all resorts being directly on the sea front increases the prices. During the evenings there is a wonderful atmosphere as the locals and tourists all seem to promenade along the sea front.

There are many cultural events – notably the Ballet Festival in August, a wide range of pop concerts at the Castle or in the Amphitheatre which has been restored in the last few years, having been built some 2,000 years ago.

History of Bodrum

According to Herodotus, born B.C. 484 in Halikarnassus (ancient name for Bodrum), the city was founded by the Dorians. Megarans enlarged the city B.C. 650 and changed its name to Halikarnassus, and then Persians started to rule the city from B.C. 386

Halikarnassus had its glorious days, when it was the former capital of the Karia B.C. 353. One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum, was built there by Artemisia for the memory of King Mausolos.

After the Roman and Byzantium rule for ages, Ottomans have conquered the city in 1522, during the time of Suleyman, The Magnificent. The city was named “Bodrum” after the Turkish Republic was declared.

Mausoleum

Known as one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World, The Mauseloum was built by Artemisia, the sister and the wife of King Mausolos, B.C. 355.

This work of art, stood on a 21 stepped pyramid which was 46 metres high and carried a horse car symbolising victory on it, had 36 marble columns in Ionian style.

The mauseloum was destroyed in an earthquake; and the ruins were used in building of the Halikarnassus Castle. Many statues and reliefs from the mauseloum were carried to The British Museum by archeologist C. Newton, in 1856 and now lies there for public viewing.

Weather in Bodrum

During winters and springs, November through April, the weather in Bodrum is generally very good with a few heavy shower periods, usually taking place in November, and then some time after new year and the last one in March or April. February is especially pleasant with not too cold nights and the almond blossoming and the abundance of wild ruccola all over the place.

Summers, arriving after April, are as hot as it can get (expect temperatures higher than 40°C) and sunny with no rain.

Get in

Fly to Bodrum

Bodrum-Milas airport is 35 km away from Bodrum and many flight companies operate charter flights to Bodrum in Summer season. There are also Dalaman and İzmir airports which are 3 hours far away from Bodrum.

From the Airport: There are Havas Shuttle services in accordance with each planes’ arriving to the domestic lines of Bodrum Milas Airport. Ticket fee from airport to Bodrum Center is 17 TL, journey takes 40–45 minutes.

Food and drink costs at the airport are astronomical. For example, a can of soda costs about €5 whereas it would be a fraction of that in the city. Take this into account before arriving at the airport.

By boat

Bodrum is reached by sea from Kos and Rhodes (Greek Islands). Daily ferryboat services from/to Cos and Rhodes to Bodrum are available during the summer season.

By bus

There are many intercity bus companies which operate bus services to Bodrum from major cities of Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Antalya, Adana, Bursa, and Konya. After arriving at any of these cities, Bodrum is reached by bus.

By bus: from Istanbul to Bodrum 13 hours; İzmir to Bodrum 4 hours; Ankara to Bodrum 10 hours, Antalya to Bodrum 7 hours.

Sometimes, if you are arriving from a very distant destination (such as Cappadocia), the bus will not arrive directly to Bodrum (inquire about this when you purchase your ticket as they don’t always bother to let you know and some buses are direct while other are not) but rather arrive at a nearby town (usually Mugla) where you will change to a smaller bus which will take you directly to the central bus station in Bodrum. The original bus ticket you purchased to Bodrum will usually include this leg of the trip in the price so make sure you do not pay again when the ticket seller comes by to collect the ticket fee on the smaller bus.

Getting around

Walking around Bodrum is highly suggested since distances are small and the surroundings are quite scenic. For longer distances you can hop on a “dolmus”, a local shared taxi with fixed route, which will cost you around half a euro. Privet taxis are also available for a higher, yet still affordable, price.

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