PLEASE NOTE: The currency in Turkey is the New Turkish Lira (I will refer to them as T$s). At the time of writing, US$1 = T$5.78.
We are making our way slowly up the Mediterranean (Turquoise) Coast from Antalya to Istanbul. Our last stop was Ayvalik:
Next, we go north to Canakkale …
We need to get to the nearest public bus stop on Ataturk Boulevard in Ayvalik town. Mine was about 150 metres from my hotel. I was there at 10:40am. The bus to the Otogar (Bus Station) costs T$2.50 and takes 20 minutes.
There are 3 companies that do the route from Ayvalik to Canakkale. Two of those quoted me T$60 and left at noon. The Kamil Koc bus company quoted T$43 and left at 11:30am. You get an assigned seat number.
It was a modern, comfortable, full sized bus with personal entertainment and power in each seat. You are served free refreshments en route (tea / water and a snack). We arrived at the Canakkale Otogar 3.5 hours later at 3pm.
The trip takes about 20 minutes.
It is a gateway to the Gallipoli WWI battlefields which are located on the northern shore of the Dardanelles Strait.
It is also a gateway to Troy to the south (see ‘What To Do’, below).
Other lesser known (but interesting) ancient sites around Canakkale are: Assos, Hamaxitos, Alexandria Troas, Neandria, Sankrea, Dardanos Tumulus, Abydos, Sestos, Gargara, and Lamponia.
And meet the waterfront about 400 metres north of the Ferry Terminal:
There is nothing ‘special’ about Canakkale. You don’t come here for an holiday. You come here to use it as a base to go on ferry trips and to get out to other more interesting places.
The options are ‘sparse’.
So, let’s look at what we can get by booking in advance for the month of October (the other ‘shoulder season’) …
PLEASE NOTE: Booking.com did not work in Turkey whilst I was there. You will have to pre-book from outside of the country.
PLEASE NOTE: HOTELS usually displays prices INCLUSIVE of TAXES. Many search sites don’t provide a ‘private bathroom’ filter so, be careful with some of the cheap hotels and make sure that you read the room details.
AirBnB had several properties listed.
PLEASE NOTE: Other sites (such as Homeaway, FlipKey and VRBO are also worth a look).
GRANDPAckers cannot afford to come here in Peak Season: June to September. You will have to come in Shoulder Season (April-May or October-November). For the best discounts / prices, book at least 2+ months in advance. You may need to ‘get inventive’ and use Turkish hotel search engines. I suspect that HOTELS.COM may have more available closer to October. AirBnB / a holiday home looks like your best bet.
MY ADVICE: I suggest that you come for a month from mid May through to mid June. The hotels have had a ‘sparse’ period over the winter and some are ready to offer good discounts to get the new season started. When I first arrived in mid May I found a good selection of discounted hotels along the Turquoise Coast … these got fewer and fewer as June progressed. If you book your month of accommodation in advance, you should be able to get these pre-season rates for the whole of your month.
I used HOTELS.COM. I booked a Single Room with Private Bathroom at the Guven Hotel. I chose it because it was one of the few that I could afford – and it had a high review rating. I paid T$112 / US$21 per night including Breakfast. The hotel has 3 floors. It has a lift. I was on the 3rd floor. My room was small but functional. Being a ‘single’ room with a single bed, it was below ‘GRANDPAcking Standard’:
It was a typical Turkish Breakfast with boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, cheeses, jams, and fresh bread with unlimited tea / coffee. Watermelon was also provided. Water was available free from a 5 gallon dispenser.
The in-room wifi signal was weak. The hotel’s wifi, in general, was ‘average’.
It was all that I could afford on a GRANDPAcking budget. My single room was below GRANDPAcking Standard. But, otherwise, everything else was OK.
WHERE TO STAY:
The green shaded area is best. Expand into the yellow shaded area if you don’t mind walking. Avoid the unkempt red shaded area.
Have a look yourself:
EAT & DRINK:
This is a typical ‘big town’ scenario. You have all sorts of choices in all sorts of price ranges.
There are plenty of cheap cafes around. A large Doner Kebab costs T$9.
A 5L bottle of water in a supermarket will cost about T$2.50.
A small glass of tea in a local back street cafe costs T$1.
A local 500ml beer is about T$9 in a supermarket. Add another T$1 for the convenience of a corner shop. Expect T$15 for the same in a local cafe. Expect T$20 somewhere more ‘upmarket’.
You should get your Breakfast included in your hotel room rate. If not, expect to pay an average of T$20 each for a cheap local Breakfast with tea / coffee.
Expect to pay an average of T$25 for a cheap Lunch with fruit drink.
Expect to pay an average of T$40 for a cheap Dinner with a Fruit Juice / Small Beer.
A public bus trip to an attraction within a 1 hour drive should cost upto T$10 each way.
As a guideline, a Taxi should cost about T$5 for ‘flag fall’ plus T$5 per kilometer.
There are many Banks and ATMs to choose from.
In the main tourist towns (like Kemer, Kas, Kalkan, …), ATMs hit the tourists hard and they charge between 5% and 10%. In normal towns you should pay 3.5%.
MY ADVICE: Use one of the bigger and better known nation-wide banks for the best rates. I used Garanti several times.
INTERNET / WIFI:
Your accommodation ‘should’ provide good wifi.
You will, also, find free wifi in the tourist-oriented restaurants and bars.
Back in Selcuk, I bought a new TurkCell SIMcard for T$100 and a 1 month Promotional Package for T$25. The latter came with 2GB of Facebook / Twitter data, 3GB of Internet data, 300 minutes of talk time, and 200 free SMSs.
I went to TurkCell in Marmaris to top it up. They had a 4GB 1 month package for T$35. I chose their 6GB package for T$40 that included:
- 6GB standard internet;
- another 2GB bonus internet;
- another 1Gb bonus internet;
- 500 standard minutes of Talk Time;
- Unlimited TurkCell-TurkCell Talk Time at the weekends;
- 1,000 SMSs;
- Lots of other stuff that I didn’t understand.
I paid a T$2 fee.
HEALTH & SAFETY:
The first thing that you notice is the number of smokers; there is still a large % of smokers here. They even smoke in ‘no smoking’ areas without anyone complaining. Not a surprise when you can get a 20 pack of Rothmans ‘Click’ for T$11.
There is no reason to feel unsafe. As always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
I had no problems with mosquitoes whilst I was there.
WHEN TO GO
Summers are dry and hot due to the domination of subtropical high pressure systems … while winters experience moderate temperatures and changeable, rainy weather due to the polar front.
These climates usually occur on the western sides of continents between the latitudes of 30° and 45°. Seasonality is moderate.
Peak Season is June through September. Shoulder Season is mid April to May and October to mid November. Rainy season is December through March.
WHAT TO DO:
You can catch a ferry from Canakkale to Istanbul. I found it hard to find a ticket office or someone to provide any information.
The Naval Museum is located just south of the ferry dock. Entrance is T$10. The ticket includes a guided tour (in Turkish) of a WW1 naval boat which shows how the British naval attack on the Dardanelles in 1915 started and progressed to a Turkish victory:
The Historic National Park of the Gelibolu Peninsula was established to honour the 500,000 soldiers who lost their lives in Gelibolu, (aka Gallipoli).
Passenger and car ferries run daily between Çanakkale (Asia) and the northern shore towns (Europe). In 1451 Sultan Mehmet II, the conqueror of İstanbul, built one fortress on the European side of the Çanakkale Strait (at Kilitbahir) and one on the opposite shore (at Çimenlik) to control the passage of ships through the strait. Today the Çimenlik Fortress serves as a military museum dedicated to the World War I Battles of Çanakkale.
I wasn’t going to do Gallipoli from Canakkale … I was planning to do that from my next stop: Lapseki.
The archaeological site at Troy, including an ancient theatre, is southwest of the city. Contrary to popular opinion, the archaeological site of Troy does not embody just one ancient city. In fact, this site comprises the ruins of 9-10 different settlements, built one on top of the other, dating back to the early Bronze Age.
The first city was founded in the 3rd millenium BC and flourished as a mercantile city due to its location. This unique site enabled its inhabitants to control the Dardanelles (today’s Çanakkale Strait), a waterway which is used by every merchant ship passing from the Aegean Sea and heading for Black Sea. The extensive remains at this archaeological site are the most significant demonstration of the first contact between the civilizations of Anatolia and the Mediterranean world.
Naturally, Troy is one of immense significance to understand the early development of European civilization at such critical stage. Moreover, Troy is of exceptional cultural importance because of the profound influence of Homer’s Iliad on the creative arts over more than two millenia.
The mythological war of Troy was immortalized in Homer’s Iliad. Archaeological digs in Troy (Troia / Truva) have proved that there were nine separate periods of settlement (3000 BC- 400 AD). Here, one can see the ruins of city walls in addition to the Wooden Horse of Troy.
You can catch (expensive) day tours from tour agents in town. But, you can easily do it yourself for under US$10 …
1. Get to the BP on the south end of Ataturk Cd (red flag)
2. Or, for safety, get to the Minibus Terminal further down Ataturk Cd on the riverside (yellow star)
5. It continues over the bridge down Ataturk Cd and joins the E87
6. You are dropped off at the entrance to Troy
BUT, it doesn’t come close to Ephesus …
… nor Hierapolis …
… nor Aspendos.
Read About – GRANDPAcking Costs if you don’t know how to interpret my figures.
My costs are broken down into:
- Cost of Existence: The basic costs of just being there
- Cost of Living: The additional costs that make being there fun
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
I did not EXIST within GRANDPAcking standard: I had a Single Room.
My accommodation was T$112 / US$21 per night.
I already had my working and topped up TurkCell SIMcard.
I have apportioned T$28 for my Turkish eVisa.
I averaged about T$34 per day on food and water.
My COE worked out to be about T$116 (US$21) per day.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
I LIVED to GRANDPAcking standard.
In / Out Costs: My public transport costs were T$49.
Living Costs: I averaged about T$0 per night on drinks; I was on a health binge.
Entertainment: I spent T$63 on Tours.
My total COL was about T$144 (US$27) / day. This was 50% of my budget.
COSTS FOR 2 GRANDPAckers:
Again, costs are broken down into Cost Of Existence (COE) and Cost Of Living (COL).
COST OF EXISTENCE (COE):
Accommodation: I have booked you into an AirBnB apartment near the Old Town. Breakfast is included. I have booked you in for 1 month (because that is our standard practice for ‘comparative’ purposes) … but, to be honest, you won’t want to stay here for 1 month … 1 week is enough.
Transportation: I have budgeted a return bus trip on a local bus each week to somewhere within a 1 hour drive; again, this is our ‘standard’ method but you are more likely to take more expensive tours to Troy, Gallipoli, and Kilitbahir.
Communications & Fees: I have budgeted a TurkCell SIMcard and 1 month promo package. I have included the cost of 2 Turkish eVisas.
Food & Water: Your budget averages about T$131 (US$24) / day for 2 people. This is to eat Lunch and Dinner in Cheap Restaurants.
Your COE is about T$265 (US$49) / day. This is 7% UNDER budget.
COST OF LIVING (COL):
This leaves you almost nothing to LIVE on.
Canakkale, itself, is nothing ‘special’. You don’t come here for an holiday. You come here to use it as a base to go elsewhere. One week here is enough. To afford a week here you will need to:
- Come off-season (e.g. in mid April – May or October – mid November) – I suggest between mid May and mid June;
- Get a cheap AirBnB / Holiday Home at a discounted weekly rate and buy in groceries to eat at home.
There are cheaper holiday destinations … but Canakkale is definitely worth a visit so that you can see the surrounding attractions (such as Troy and Gallipoli).
Could you afford to retire here on a GRANDPAcking budget? NO.