The trip so far:
Thailand, Laos and Cambodia 3435k
TOTAL TO ARRIVAL IN TURKEY: 621
Total Turkey 2783k
TOTAL TO DATE 8993k
Accommodation in Turkey – 59 nights
Hotel or B &B – 17 nights
Paid campsite – 17 nights
Free camping – 15 nights
Warm Showers hosts – 9 nights
On a bus – 1 night
THE ROUTE, ROAD CONDITIONS AND ACCOMMODATION
March 25 Airport to Istanbul.
Jumba Hostel (excellent and perfect location. Bikes safe on rooftop
We put the bikes and bob trailer together in the airport, with no one seeming to think this was a problem. Took the Rauf Orbay then Kennedy Cadessi, and could ride on the pedestrian paths along the coast for much of the way.
Spent 6 bike-free days in Istanbul.
DAY 1 March 31 38k
Istanbul to Mudanya, near Bursa, then west
80 min ferry ride to Mudanya, 20TL each, bikes free and no problem even with the bob trailer.
Turned west from the ferry landing and rode the coastal route; hilly but very pretty and not much traffic.
Camped beside the sea, putting our tent up inside an abandoned shelter as rain was coming.
DAY 2 Camp To Edincik near Bandirma
92k TOTAL 130k
Pretty, hilly ride through small villages to start with. Hit the D200 which is four lane dual carriageway; not very interesting but fast and wide sealed verge. After Bandirma took small road following the coast west to Edincik.
Found very nice campsite in an olive grove beside the sea. No one to ask permission of and no one seemed concerned.
DAY 3 Edincik to Yeniçe 93k TOTAL 223k
Headed on to E90/D200 again then took back roads to Gönen and Yeniçe. They were perfect for touring. Virtually no traffic except sheep and goats, and a dog that insisted on coming along for an adventure.
Hit the D555 just before Yeniçe; Yeniçe is modern and uninteresting but nice cafés.
Camped in picnic area west of Yeniçe. Noisy from traffic and visitors but had good picnic tables and drinking water.
DAY 4 Yeniçe to Canakkale and Day 5 “jobs day” in Canakkale
90k not including local riding. TOTAL 313k
“A Place to Stay” (Air B&B) AUD$43 no bkfst but very spacious and an easy walk into town
In our camp woke to sounds of the farmer’s wife from the nearby farm lighting a fire next to our tent as it was such a cold morning! What a lovely person.
Gorgeous rural ride along the D555 and D210 through old villages until hitting the D550 10k before Canakkale. Very active cycling scene in town with a major ride to commemorate 100 years since the Gallipoli battle. Got gear cables replaced in two minutes flat at tiny repair shop. Bought new second hand phone to replace kaput Motorola. Friendly and attractive town with good food and plenty to do.
DAY 6 Canakkale to Troy 29k TOTAL 342k
Troia Pension and Camping – Uran Savas, owner. TL15 per person plus good home cooked dinner around TL15 each.
Left Canakkale after lunch and had a windy but pleasantly rural ride to Troy on the E87/D550, arriving in time for an excellent couple of hours at the UNESCO World Heritage site. Excellent meal at campground restaurant. Rain and wind overnight.
DAY 7 Troy to Odunluk 40k. TOTAL 382
Taskonak Otel. TL100 incl excellent breakfast.
Heavy rain delayed our start. Followed tiny rural back roads (all sealed) with very pretty villages but weather deteriorating and rain and headwinds setting in, causing us to change plans to visit Bozcaada and find shelter early. Lots of villages and housing estates but all closed up until the summer. Luckily found a really good hotel with a lovely family who invited us to a home cooked dinner insisting that we not pay anything for it.
DAY 8 Odunluk to Babakale 48k TOTAL 430k
Denizsen Hotel TL100 incl excellent breakfast
Westernmost point of mainland Turkey.
Very pretty ride with lots of ruins to explore on the way. Small country roads, good seal. Fun racing the ponies and carts which were about the only vehicles we saw. Good hotel; not the cheapest of the two open but the best looked after. Superb breakfast!
DAY 9 Babakale to Assos (Behramkale) 30k. TOTAL 460k
Teken Pansyion. TL80 with basic breakfast. Small rooms but warm on a freezing day.
Left Babakale on the steep dirt road, some of which I had to push up. But worth it for the views and also shorter than the seal. After 5k of dirt, hit good sealed country road with no traffic. Along the top of the ridge most of the way with magnificent views including of the imposing promontory of Assos. Assos definitely worth a visit; make sure you explore the Nekropolis.
DAY 10 Assos to Altinoluk 30k TOTAL 490
Zeytin Otel TL100.
Coastal road to Küçükkuyu then E87 which is dual carriageway but very quiet at this time of year.
Aborted ride due to shocking weather and stopped at the nearest hotel. Very nice people; gave us home baked biscuits and halva when we left.
DAY 11 Altinoluk to Ayvalik 65k TOTAL 555k
Istanbul Pansiyon TL100. Very elegant and friendly and home made jam to die for!
NOTE: if heading for Bergama consider turning off D550 through Kozak. Disadvantages: more hills and you will miss Ayvalik. Advantages: a little shorter and more rural road.
Followed D550 most of the day except for cutting the corner to avoid Edemit. Very quiet smooth safe road and great views of the coast and snow capped mountain ranges. Shocking headwind became a tailwind when we turned south and we could sit on 45kph hardly pedalling. Lunched in a park at Ayvalik and were heading off thinking it was boring when we saw the old city. Went to explore and ended up staying the night. Great walking the streets and foreshore. Took the comfort option of a lovely pansiyon as it is still so cold.
DAY 12 Ayvalik to Bergama 61k
Pergamon Pansiyon TL95 incl breakfast fit for a sultan, no kidding.
Pleasant ride on the D550 all the way. Not very busy, nice views. Bergama has a very interesting old town and lots of places to eat.
Arrived in time to explore the Acropolis. Amazing views as well as interesting history and construction techniques.
Pansiyon is an old Ottoman house in a great location; could see the Acropolis at sunrise without moving from the pillow.
DAY 13 Bergama to Selçuk 49k TOTAL 665k
Spent the morning exploring the Ascepelion and the museum, both very good. After lunch decided to avoid highways and opted to use Google Walks to get towards Selçuk. This led to a fascinating couple of days riding, but go for an easier option if huge hills and some dirt tracks is not your thing.
Warning: not much at all in the way of shops so take supplies. Also water is available but some distance apart so keep topped up. However I’m sure any village would help out if necessary.
First had the problem of getting out of Bergama as GW kept leading us to creeks with no bridge or dead ends. A local assured us there was no way through so we went east on the D240 for a while (in hindsight we think he was wrong). Turned off to Yayakent then followed GW up and down serious hills. Track turned to dirt, rough in patches, for about 20k over what appeared to be common land, with only (very friendly) shepherds and their flocks encountered. Then hit the seal again (but more hills). Tiny villages with no facilities except a mosque. Superb hilly landscape, and felt very remote; anyone we saw was very excited and wanted to shake Laurie’s hand. (Not mine – I’m female…).
Finally found a village with a little store; topped up our bread supply and bought fresh veges from a tray top truck. Camped in a lovely sheltered spot near a stream.
DAY 14 Silçuk to Izmir 92k TOTAL 757k
Free camp south of Izmir.
A dream ride to Muradiye – still huge hills but overall more down than up.
Then onto the D250 then D565. Google maps gives a few options to get to Selçuk but we had had enough hills for now so followed the D565 – only to have a relentless 500m ascent over about 10k. Followed as always by a fast and scenic descent into Izmir.
Traffic was a shock!
Took Google maps advice to get out of Izmir, meeting up with the D550. First 20k under construction and very industrial. Izmirbisiklet.org have an alternative route to Selçuk to the west which is longer but more scenic.
Asked at Yörük Obasi Picnik restaurant, just off the highway,if we could camp in their grounds and they were really friendly and wouldn’t let us pay. Had an excellent evening meal there.
DAY 15 Izmir to Selçuk (Ephesus) 65k.
Atillas Hideaway. Camping available and excellent facilities. Highly recommended.
Straightforward run down the D550.
Spent most of the next day exploring Ephesus ruins. Advice: start as early as possible to avoid the crowds and take water and snacks.
DAY 17 Selçuk to Dilek Peninsula
63k TOTAL 885k
An amazingly beautiful day but a bit of an adventure. We took the really lovely back road from Selçuk through Çamlik and Kirazli to Kusadasi then scooted through the concrete jungle as quickly as possible to Dilek Peninsula National Park.
Found out then that the only through road was over a steep walking track ominously called the Kanyon walk. As we didn’t want to go on the busy highway we took this option which was crazy with loaded bikes and touring tyres, but completely worthwhile. 800m ascent in 11k on a rough, sometimes loose track meant quite a lot of pushing but the views were spectacular.
Made camp at a watering point at the top in a gorgeous green glade with a view to Greece. Found out later that perhaps you are not meant to camp in the Park but there was nothing to say otherwise.
Day 18 Dilek Peninsula to Bafa Gölü
52k TOTAL 937k
Free camp at lakeside restaurant beside fuel station
Brilliant downhill ride through the old Greek village of Doganbey then on quiet flat roads to Akköy where we turned east up easy hills to join the D525 to Lake Bafa. Local restaurant happy to give us a spot to camp for free and we had an excellent dinner and breakfast there.
DAY 19 April 18 Bafa Gölü to Oren 89k TOTAL 1026k
Free camp at seaside cafe
D525 to Milas then small road 48-76 to Ören. Hilly and tiring but a nice ride despite massive coal mine north of Ören. Some hotels and pansiyons around but mostly still closed for winter. Asked at a cafe if we could camp and they were very obliging, giving us a nice spot behind the building sheltered from the strong sea wind.
DAY 20 April 20 Ören to Akbük 24k
Campground of sorts at the far end of the village (there is another one but it has not yet opened for the season).
Beautiful ride with one noteworthy hill out of Ören, made up for by fabulous views. Akbük more a tourist spot than a genuine village but we were about the only tourists there and it is very pretty.
DAY 21 April 21 Akbük to Göcek 103k
Terek Pansyion – view of the marina for only TL50. Lovely people.
Glorious, gently hilly coastal ride to Akyaka – one of the best rides you could want.
Joined the D550 / D400 planning to go down the Bozburan Peninsula, but had our first tail wind for days so took advantage of it and flew along the highway all the way (except for some huge hills) to Göcek .
DAY 22 April 22 Göcek to Fethiye 37k TOTAL 1190k
Hilly but pretty ride. Thought we had it made when we saw a tunnel through the last hill but bicycles weren’t allowed in – so a final huge hill and wonderful descent.
Were heading off to Ölüdeniz when we passed a very good bike shop so stopped to get some bits and pieces. Found out about a three day local ride starting tomorrow so decided on the spur of the moment to join it. So backtracked to the ‘tour’ base and camped there for the next three nights.
DAY 23 April 23 Fethiye to Yesilvadi (Green Valley) return 44k TOTAL 1234k
About 25 people were on the ride, a mix of British expats living locally and Turkish riders from all over the country. A fairly gentle ride mostly on unsealed tracks in the low hills behind Fethiye.
DAY 24 Fethiye to Yesil Üzümlü (Place of Green Grapes) return 45k TOTAL 1279k
A ride further into the hills today. The village where we lunched is very pretty, and surrounded by a snow clad mountain range. A lot of uphill on mainly unsealed roads then a grand descent on the bitumen.
DAY 25 Fethiye to Ölüdeniz 40k TOTAL 1319k
Front Lagoon motel
Rode with the group on the coastal road around the peninsula south of Fethiye to the abandoned Greek village of Karaköy. This part of the ride was spectacular and definitely worth doing. We left the group after lunch and headed up the hill to Then a very steep ride down to Ölüdeniz. Had trouble finding anyone that allowed tents but ended up on a nice tiny square of lawn with the first cycling tourers we have met in Turkey (two men from Stüttgart). Dinner and breakfast at campsite very poor.
Ölüdeniz is very touristy and not worth a special visit if you are not going this way. But the route we took from there made it worthwhile.
DAY 26 Ölüdeniz to Faralya (Butterfly Valley) 14k TOTAL 1333k
Odun Motel – excellent.
Biggish hill out of Ölüdeniz but only short. Walked into Butterfly Valley which is very pretty. Camped on lawn at Odun Motel where 40TL included really excellent dinner and breakfast. In effect camping was free.
DAY 27 Faralya to Gelemis (Patara) 57k TOTAL 1390k
A very special ride today. Backtracked a couple of ks and took road inland. Sealed for about 4k then dirt road to Karaagac (Black Tree). Steep and a little rough but completely worthwhile. No food available at Karaagac but a little further on had a lovely lunch with an amazing view at a Pansiyon. Downhill from there to the flat lands and a quick run in to Gelemis.
Take snacks on this ride as not much in the way of places to buy food.
DAY 28 Patara to Kas 51
Morning spent at the Patara ruins and on the beach – both nice and worth seeing but not amazing.
After yesterday’s big hills we decided to follow the D400 today. It was actually quiet and very scenic, a couple of biggish hills but a nice ride except the headwinds were back with a vengeance. Definitely avoid stopping at Kalkan – concrete jungle.
Kas Campground has great seafront location; on the expensive side but everything in Kas is. Good facilities.
DAY 29 day off
Kas Campground is a great place for swimming and relaxing, washing laundry and bikes etc.
DAY 30 Kas to Kumluca 89k
Free camp in picnic park on sea front.
Followed the D400 all the way. It was fairly quiet with mostly good verges although a “dead” road surface – no smooth hot mix here!
650m climb out of Kas followed by progressively smaller hills. Beautiful views to snowy peaks; rough and steep mountain landscape.
Not much in the way of shops so take snacks. We had a good lunch in Demre where there are many places to eat.
The last 20k or so into Finike then on to Kumluca was a beautiful rolling coastal ride which made up for the killer hills. Altogether a beautiful day but tough
DAY 31 Kumluca to Antalya 102
Warm Showers host Levent Akdogan.
D400 all the way. Good road, traffic began to build up close to Antalya but not too bad.
Another beautiful ride, not dissimilar to yesterday but with kinder hills. Three pairs of other touring cyclists today after seeing none for our first month.
Our first experience of Warm Showers and we had the most extraordinarily hospitable hosts, Levent Akdogan, his older brother and family.
DAY 32 Day off in Antalya.
Local cycling – the city is very easy to cycle around.
DAY 33 Overnight bus trip to Göreme, Kapadokya
Good decision to take the bus as it was over 500k of mostly uninspiring country (from what we could see in the full moonlight). Travelled with Kamilkoç bus company who were unimpressed by our bikes, bob trailer and luggage, and we would have been left behind if Laurie hadn’t packed it all in himself. Big argument between conductors and booking staff.
Arrived about 6.30am, booked into excellent Kaya Campground, and had an easy day. Göreme outdoor museum definitely worth a visit.
DAY 34 Göreme. About 20k
Explored Red and Rose Valleys by bike from a track from our campground. Would be better with mtb tyres but we only had to hop off on a couple of slippery slopes and some stairs. Went on to see Pasabag and Zelve Open Air Museum. Fabulous day.
DAY 35 Göreme to Kaymakli round trip 68k TOTAL 1720 k
Rode via Ortahisar then on a dirt track on a ridge to the west of Ibrahimpasa (great views) to Çardak then on main road to Kaymakli Underground City. Returned via Mizi, Ayvali and Mustafapasa to Ürdüp on small but sealed roads. Lovely day’s ride and the underground city well worth visiting.
DAY 36 Üçhisar local exploring
Ride and walk via Pigeon Valley to Üçhisar castle. Very worthwhile.
Day off due to back injury
DAY 38 Göreme to Yürücek 78k TOTAL 1798k
Used Pocket Earth app to find a really lovely ride on small back roads through rolling hills and attractive agricultural landscape. Went via Avanos and Gülsehir, turning left off the D765 through Yusilyurt. Not much in the way of shops so take food.
Asked at Yürüçek village if we could camp in old school grounds and they were very happy and friendly.
DAY 39. Yürücek to Tuz Gölü 92k TOTAL 1890k
Free camp beside Salt Lake
Continuation of lovely rolling back roads, hitting the D750 at Sereflikoçhisar.
Camped right beside the lake near a tourist complex
DAY 40 May 11 Tuz Gölü to Ankara 128k TOTAL 2018k
Warm Showers hosts
Followed main road all the way in. Safe and fast but uninspiring.
Really great meal with fun staff at the Zooey fuel station at the top of the hill before the big downhill to Gölbasi.
Bama and Deniz are fabulous Warm Showers hosts
DAYS 41 & 42 May 12 and 13 Ankara days off. Our Warm Showers hosts made Ankara fun; apart from that it is a fairly characterless city although the castle area is good.
DAY 43 May 14 Ankara to nth of Kizilcahamam 89k TOTAL 2107k
Free camp behind Acpet service station
Followed D750 all day. Pocket Earth provides an alternative for part of the way but we opted for the easier road; it had excellent verges, good gradients and still had nice if not exceptional views.
DAY 44 May 15 Kizilçahamam to west of Yeniçaga 93k TOTAL 2200k
Free camp in forest north side of D100.
D750 to Yenecik where we turned left onto village roads. Then followed Pocket Earth along beautiful small back roads to Dörtdivan where we had a great lunch at a köfteçi, then Yeniçaga where we joined the D100 which is a fairly busy dual carriageway but excellent surface and verges. A really excellent day’s riding, especially through the village roads.
DAY 45 May 16 Yeniçaga to Bolu then Yesiltepe 56k TOTAL 2256k
D100 downhill all the way to Bolu where we went to watch our Ankara hosts compete in the final race in the Turkish National MTB Championship series. We stayed with them and their team in a mountain house about 20k further on; can’t recommend the village to cyclists as it is up a huge hill and we got a lift up in a car!
DAY 46 May 17 Yesiltepe to Sümbülu 97k TOTAL 2353k
Amazing ride on Pocket Earth and Google Maps Walking routes through small villages and wild areas, including a steep dirt track following a beautiful river then up over a mountain range. Pocket Earth has a fault in that it suggests routes on unpaved roads even when you select the ‘only paved’ option. Leads to fabulous rides but could be tricky in wet seasons. Part way down the long descent found a supermarket then a spot on a side road to camp.
DAY 47 May 18 Sümbülu to Gölcük 98k TOTAL 2451k
Again followed Pocket Earth route to keep off the highway, and it gave us a fabulous ride through small villages and right away from traffic. Finally rejoined the D100 them the E881 for the final 40k or so. Around Gölçuk traffic getting heavy at peak hour so found a reasonable hotel in what is quite a nice town once you get off the highway.
DAY 48 May 19 79k Gölcük to Esenyurt, Istanbul TOTAL 2530k
Followed E881 (D575/D130) to Yalova and caught ferry with no problems; bikes free. Rode west from Yamikapi to join the D100 which was busy and got worse as rush hour approached. Gave up and booked really lovely hotel room and a builder from Trabzon who is working locally insisted on buying dinner for us!
DAY 49 May 20 Esenyurt to Safaalan 82k TOTAL 2612k
Safaalan Picknik and Campground
Followed the D100 for a further 20k approx, then up the D569 then westwards on the D020.
D100 horrible even at 0715, especially with dolmus and buses constantly stopping and starting erratically. D569 immediately quieter although the road lacks verges and is partly poor surface. D020 quiet, even peaceful, and a reasonable to good surface although constantly up and down and mostly no verges.
Had a lovely lunch at Benkiliç, which also has one of the best small supermarkets we have seen in a small town. Camped at a ‘piknik’ ground where we are the only visitors. Friendly owners insisted on giving us endless cups of kahve and çay, and chicken soup at dinner time.
DAY 50 and 51 May 21 and 22 Safaalan to Kirklareli 90k TOTAL 2713k
Warm Showers hosts Ede and Selcuk.
Followed the D020 all day. Constantly up and down but not steep. Road surface ok to good. Truck traffic busier than yesterday but almost no trucks west of the cement works at Pinarhisar. Only problem was the headwind all morning but we got some tail wind in the afternoon.
It is a fertile rural landscape; more towns than yesterday and a couple of small, old villages.
Kirklareli is a very nice town and worth spending time in. Our hosts are excellent and well located in the old quarter near the Hamam.
DAY 52 May 23 Kirklareli to Edirne 60k TOTAL 2773k
Warm Showers hosts
Similar ride to yesterday on the D020, hitting the D100 just before Edirne.
Trakya Bike Shop has an apartment near the shop where they put up Warm Showers cyclists. Very convenient and really great people. Also a good place to meet other cyclists
DAY 53 day off talking with fellow travellers and exploring Edirne, which is a lovely town
Day 54 May 25 Edirne to Greek border 10k
GENERAL NOTES: ROADS AND DRIVERS – AND DOGS
Roads and drivers mostly excellent. Major roads have wide verges and smaller roads virtually no traffic. Seal quality mostly excellent if rough; sometimes potholes. Rural drivers, unlike in Istanbul, are slow and courteous. However in big towns they tend to be somewhat random, especially in where they park (in the middle of the road?).
However no one, driver, pedestrian or sheep, expects bikes and no-one looks out for you, so always be defensive. Especially watch car doors.
Dogs make a big show of chasing you and barking loudly but give up if totally ignored. They are almost all mountain dogs, bred to protect (not to round up) sheep. This gives them quite different behaviours to other dogs – for example making eye contact or talking to them makes them aggressive as they see you as threatening their flock. Luckily their breeding also encourages them to lie around all day (as flock companions) so they are rarely very fit and can’t chase bikes that well.
One dog was an exception – too friendly and very fit, and ran alongside us for about 20k – there was no way he was going to miss out on this adventure! He cried when we eventually dropped him.