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Budget Travel in Istanbul

Budget Travel in Istanbul
Cruising the Bosphoros Strait on a public ferry provides a wonderful day's entertainment at a bargain price.

Turkey is one of the world's top travel bargains. My room at Istanbul's Hotel Hali, www.halihotel.com, cost just $35 for two beds at the time of this writing, color TV with BBC channels, a marble bathroom, and a wonderful rooftop breakfast buffet with a glorious 360-degree view of the ancient city.

Probably the best bargain in the entire city is the $2 roundtrip ticket on the public ferry that departs three times a day from the Eminönü docks and cruises out to the mouth of the Black Sea. The 5-hour voyage crisscrosses the Bosphorus several times, stopping at picturesque fishing villages on both the European and Asian sides to take on or let off passengers. At the end of the line, at the village of Anadolu Kavagi, you can climb to a 10th century fortress overlooking the Black Sea, or just sit back, and enjoy the colorful waterfront. Before returning, you can order a platter of fresh sea bass, steamed clams, and calamari served with a salad and a large bottle of the local beer for $3.50-a daily bargain that's hard to beat.

Istanbul has to be one of the most fascinating and surprising cities in the world. Safe, clean, friendly, and fine-tuned for tourism, the English language is readily spoken, although American visitors are still a small minority.

Hotels

Istanbul abounds in good clean, low-cost hotels. The best values are in the Sultanahmet area, which is in the old city and close to all major attractions. For a great overview, visit expert author Tom Brosnahan on the subject at TurkeyTravelPlanner.

Travel Documents

Visas to enter Turkey cost $20 and can be purchased, oline, at the airport in Istanbul, or ahead of time from any Turkish consulate.

Timing

A week is needed to see Istanbul's major sights. However, you will undoubtedly want to see more of this fascinating country, so if possible allow at least three weeks for your trip. Try to avoid the oppressively hot summer.

Local Tours

Arrange for a tour package that will take you to Gallipoli, Ephesus, and other fascinating cities along the Turquoise Coast. You can make arrangements from any hotel or from a wide assortment of reputable agencies in Istanbul.

For a wonderful website that has tons of good information, visit www.travelturkey.com.