From the call to prayer to church bells, combining Turkey and Greece into one holiday is a great way to get the most out of your vacation time. Geographically close (in some places it’s possible to cross over to the Greek Islands in just 20 minutes), but pleasantly different, Turkey/Greece combinations appeal to those who like a little history, culture and adventure mixed in with their sun, sea and sand. Also, if you check your favorite currency converter, you’ll see the Turkish Lira is still your friend.
Make your reservation at least one day in advance and be aware you may have to submit your passport overnight for registration. Also, it cannot be stressed enough that you MUST confirm departure dates and times carefully, as they are notoriously ever-changing.
What’s working for you:
- For Canadians, Aussies, Kiwis, Americans and most EU residents, the Turkish visa is a 3 month multiple entry and EU entrance is free, so you can hop back and forth between the two countries without paying additional visa costs.
- There are discounts on fares for kids six and under.
- You won’t have to pay the port tax if you go to Greece on a day trip, but if you stay overnight in Greece, you will be required to pay the tax upon re-entry into Turkey. (Usually five or 10 euro and it must be paid in cash.)
- Same day return tickets are only a few Euro more than a one-way trip, and booking an open return ticket is cheaper than two one-way tickets. You won’t have to pay the extra port tax, or one night’s accommodation in Euro. Samos, Rhodes, Kos and Kastellorizo can easily be visited on day trips.
- Can’t afford a Greek vacation on the Euro? Basing yourself in Turkey with an excursion to Greece will give you the vacation you’ve been dreaming of and be much kinder on your wallet.
What’s working against you:
- Unfortunately, the above point also works against you, the Greeks have made the ferry fares much more expensive in recent years to discourage Greeks from doing too much cross-border shopping. The most expensive ferry is always the Ayvalik -Lesvos route. The cheapest? Kas to Kastellerizo weighs in at 20 Euro return.
- The other headache is scheduling. Ferry companies in the area are such commitment-phobes they can’t even commit to a regular two month schedule. Find a reliable travel agent to deal with schedules and ticketing for you. Pay the agent for their time, they are going to save you literally hours of headache, hassle and heartbreak.
Where to go:
Lesvos is a charming island with uncrowded beaches, laid back villages, and friendly locals. Despite developing tourism, the inhabitants of the island have done a good job of keeping their traditions and customs alive. Lesvos is famous for its excellent aniseed-flavored ouzo, thermal hot springs and for being the birthplace of the female poet Sappho.
How to get there: The ferry runs a few days a week during the summer months from Ayvalik (Turkey) to Mytilini (Greece) from June 1st to September. The trip takes two hours.
Chios is not on the Greek Island hopping route that most travelers follow, which means its less touristy and the locals are still happy to receive visitors. Chios has a few gems hidden away as well, don’t miss the medieval village of Mesta and the unique graffito covered village of Pyrgi. The summertime in Chios is often windy which is perfect for sailing and wind-surfing. In the evening enjoy the nightclubs, cafes and restaurants that line the posh waterfront in the town of Chios.
How to get there: The ferry runs daily from June to September.
Samos At one point, Samos is no more than 2 km (1.24 miles) from the coast of Turkey. Covered with white sand beaches, picturesque villages, and fishing harbors, Samos is the prettiest Hellenic island. An island which lives its traditions, it’s famous for the production and quality of its wine and ouzo.
How to get there: The ferry to Samos departs from Kusadasi. Between June 1st and October 15th there are departures everyday at 08:30am and 5:00pm.
The second most popular and touristy island after Rhodes, Kos is very well organized and has everything a tourist could hope for. Visitors are attracted to its sandy beaches and rich history, along with the vivid nightlife. If you like sightseeing during the day and clubbing and barhopping at night, Kos is for you!
How to get there: Getting to Kos is a breeze from Bodrum, during the summer months Hydrofoils leave every morning and return in the evening.
Rhodes Rhodes is located within eyesight of the Turkish coast and its capital, Rhodes City, remains a unique blend of Turkish and Crusader influences. An easy day trip from Marmaris, Rhodes is known as one the most beautiful medieval cities in the world.
How to get there:
From Marmaris: A hydrofoil ferry departs every day around 9am from Marmaris, and runs June to September.
From Fethiye: A hydrofoil runs between Fethiye and Rhodes in July and August daily, except Saturday. This is a very popular route, so book ahead. From Bodrum: Another hydrofoil runs from Bodrum to Rhodes twice a week during the summer, check on the dates and times with a local travel agent.
Only one nautical mile from the coast of Kas you find the smallest of the Dodecanese Islands. Movie buffs may know this island as the idyllic setting for the 1991 Oscar winning movie “Mediterraneo”. The trip to this small unspoilt island takes only 20 minutes.
How to get there: This ferry runs daily July and August and roughly once a week through the winter.