Thursday, January 5, 2017

Turquoise Coast a.k.a Turkish Riviera

By far the best holiday destination in Turkey is it's a thousand kilometers of shoreline along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas known as Turquoise Coast or Turkish Riviera. Dotted with some of the best beach resorts in the world and well preserved archaeological points, Turquoise Coast offers many attractions for tourists such as infamous Blue Voyage (Blue Cruise),  mostly served by all wooden handcrafted motor sailing yachts called Gulet.

Turquoise Coast lies between Cesme and Alanya and many important and internationally known holiday destinations of Turkey lies on Turquoise Coast such as Alanya, Antalya, Bodrum, Çeşme, Fethiye, Kalkan, Kaş, Kemer, Kuşadası, Marmaris and Side.

Many locals prefer these locations as holiday destination in Turkey and in the summer, the region is filled with European and Russian tourists. Tourists from different countries prefer different locations. Kusadasi and Marmaris are popular holiday destinations for British tourists while Alanya and Antalya are very popular among Russians. Locals usually prefer Bodrum, Marmaris and Cesme. Although you can simply stay in a hotel in any of these cities and their beach resort towns, a popular way to holiday in these locations, is to charter a yacht as a group and cruise the coastline cove by cove. Although it may look an expensive activity, since you would not need to pay for hotel (4-5 couples can easily rent a yacht), it is not that expensive.

A gulet performinb blue cruise
Blue Voyage with a Turkish Gulet is one of the best attractions
a holiday in Turkey's Turquoise Coast offers.
Cesme, a holiday resort in the Turkey's western-most end, is also Turkey's most prominent centers of international tourism with many hotels, marinas, clubs, restaurants, boutique hotels, family accommodation possibilities (pansiyon) and other facilities. Can be accessed through Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport.

Kusadasi, a resort town just 95 km away from large metropol Izmir, caters to tourists, arriving by land, and as the port for cruise ship passengers heading to Ephesus.

Bodrum was once called Halicarnassus of Caria in ancient times. The Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were here. The city and surrounding area is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.

Beautiful coastline, friendly people, good fresh foods and delicious local wines, that could easily compete against many European vineyards. The summer is long and good weather is virtually guaranteed between May and as late as end October.[1]

Marmaris Marina in Marmaris Turkey
Marmaris Marina

[1] -

Marmaris Night Life

Marmaris on the Turqoise Coast is one of the most popular resort towns in Turkey. This small town of 28,000 sees tens of thousands of tourists flowing in from around the world but especially from Europe. The most popular daytime activity in Marmaris is blue voyage, taking a small daily cruise which will take you around the turquoise coves, mountainous shoreline, ruins of ancient cities and Paradise Island.

Marmaris is also famous for its colorful and lively nightlife. There are many cafes and bars in Marmaris and especially the bambu bars on the way to Marmaris Marina are great places to have a calm but entertaining night. Beachfront also offers plenty of drinking options for party animals to watch the sunset before heading to the real party. Turtle Bar here is one of the best in Marmaris.

Party goers will probably head to Marmaris Bars Street in the night. But before heading to there, have some pre-party drink in the above places where prices are much cheaper.

Marmaris Bar Street (Marmaris Barlar Sokağı) is the heart of Marmaris Night Life. This street is located in Marmaris old town and houses 100 plus bars and clubs catering to almost all tastes: rock bars to electronic music clubs. Marmaris Bar Street is probably the best entertainment street in Turkey after Istanbul’s İstiklal Street.

Club Arenaa Marmaris on Bar Street is the largest outdoor nightclub in Turkey. It offers much fun for party animals with foam parties. Until recently Bodrum Halikarnas Bar was the most famous night club in Turkeyis Turquoise Coast but Marmaris Arenaa is now the trendiest and most popular.

Backstreet, Greenhouse, Beach club, Daisy, Highend and Cheers are some other night life avenues in Marmaris.

Compared to Turkish dominated Bodrum Night Life, Marmaris has more foreigners and the nights are more crazy. Marmaris Bar Street is also exclusively full of bars whereas Bodrum Bar Street offers small restaurants and shops in between bars. If you need a crazy entertaining night than Marmaris is a good choice.

Marmaris Bar Street is lively until 4 AM. As we have said, it is quite expensive to drink here but most clubs offer free entrance.

Marmaris Night Life
Marmaris Marina in the night
Famous DJs usually come to Marmaris for shows. The night life offers almost all kinds of music catering to everyone.

Another center of Marmaris night life is Uzunyali Beach where there are many pubs, clubs, cafes as well as restaurants. This area is usually full of tourists staying in Marmaris hotels. Although a little expensive, Uzunyali offers a nice night.

Where to stay in Marmaris?

If you are in Marmaris for its nightlife or at least you want to enjoy it more than other activities, then staying in Marmaris hotels in the town center instead of the surrounding towns and beaches will be a good idea.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Butterfly Valley: One of the best places to have holiday in Turkey

Butterfly Valley Turkey (Kelebekler Vadisi), a large canyon which can be reached by a taxi boat from Fethiye Oludeniz, is one of the best places to have a holiday in Turkey. The canyon, around 250 meters wide and 1 km deep and (practically) can only be accessed from sea by boat, was once called Gudurumsu, but then renamed as Butterfly Valley thanks to large swarm of endemic butterflies living around the waterfalls on the canyon wall furthest from the sea. Unfortunately it has become very popular recently and is far from its peaceful atmosphere in the late 90s and early 2000s but still it is a great place to have a summer holiday.

Accommodation is basic in Butterfly Valley. The most luxurious option you will have is a wooden hut without electricity and shower (showers are shared). You can also rent a tent for the night or you can sleep outside on the beach! Last time I have been there, I have just rented a space to put my sleeping mat outside and then slept 3 nights there just next to the beach. And actually I have simply slept on the beach at one of the nights. Here you will stay in bungalows without electricity. This basic but unparalleled holiday experience draws many international tourists here from as far as Singapore, Australia and USA.

If you do not want to stay there, you can stay in Oludeniz and visit Butterfly Valley for a day or two.  But one of the best things to do in Butterfly Valley is to enjoy its otherworthly night.

The best way to get to Butterfly Valley is to use the official Butterfly Valley boat taxi which leaves Olu Deniz beach at 11:00 AM and 02:00 PM and valley at 01:00 PM and 05:00 PM. The other boats will try to sell you their boat trips and will be very annoying. Do not believe in what they say (they may even say there is no more taxi boat to Butterfly Valley) and wait for the official boat. It will approximately take 45 minutes boat ride from Olu Deniz to the valley and a round trip should cost 15 Turkish Liras.

Butterfly Valley: One of the best places to have holiday in Turkey
Butterfly Valley Turkey – Source : Turkish Travel Blog
The management who is running the butterfly valley has the monopoly in this small place and this will translate into expensive meals. For example a beer will cost you around 7 Liras while a fish-bread will be also around that price. If you are really on budget buy some canned food and snacks from a market in Olu Deniz so you can have some cheap.

There are not many things to do here except resting quite well. The valley has a decent beach and the sea is quite OK. You can hang out in the restaurant all day and make new friends from around the world. Nights may be passed by singing in front of the beach fire or in the bar and you should at least once track the canyon to the waterfall to see the butterflies of the valley. People usually go to Butterfly Valley to do absolutely nothing which is actually quite good way to charge your batteries before going back to work.

And the valley has its own legend: Once upon a time, there was a small village at the mouth of a large canyon opening to the sea. One day, a ship comes to the shores of the valley  and a girl from the village falls in love with a sailor. But when time comes for the sailor to leave, he promises the girl that he will one day come back. He sails away and never comes back. But the girl waits with faith. Soon she has a baby from the sailor. Villagers abandon her and she shelters in the church of the village.

One day, a big storm blankets the valley. The villagers escape to the high grounds but the poor woman does not leave the church because she thinks if the sailor comes, he may not be able to find her there and may go back. Storm turns out to be a big one and the waves sweeps away the village and everything in the village. Today, there is only one stone structure in the valley and it is believed to be the church of the village where the woman died with her baby.

What is Blue Cruise (Blue Voyage)?

Blue cruise is one of the most famous and unique attraction of a holiday in Turkey. It is also the least understood until you experience it. If you google “blue cruise” or “what is blue cruise?” the standard idea is renting a private yacht with captain and crew then cruising along the soutwestern coast of Turkey known as Turqoise Coast or Turkish Riviera. But this simple blue cruise advertisement type of definition miss the real meaning of the blue cruise.

What is blue cruise then? Blue cruise is simply a meditation. You basically cut your physical as well as the mental ties with the land. As your yacht sails away from the marina, your daily routine ceases to exist and a new, almost spiritual daily routine consumes you. This new parallel reality is a spiritual one: you are now in different existance and nothing outside this small boat matters or exists for you. This is an experience you cannot get from your ordinary cruise holiday on a large cruise ship.

In this sense, blue voyage, other translation of Turkish “mavi yolculuk”, is a better term than blue cruise to describe the experience.

The complete disconnection from your requirements and responsibilities and the freedom of absolutely doing nothing combines with beautiful and unhabited coves and clear blue waters as well as the mystical nights in the middle of the sea will bring you the most relaxing and refreshing holiday of your entire life.

This does not mean “action seekers” will be bored on a blue cruise. A typical blue cruise boat offers many activities today: from classical kayak tour, swimming and snorkeling to speed boats, jetskis and even bananas! You may also have an opportunity to hike on the land among ancient ruins littering the southwest coast of Turkey.

But the most mystical part of the blue cruise is the night. If you have not experienced it before, nights in the middle of the sea on a small yacht is a very unique experience.

So, as you may have understand from the above definition, blue cruise is probably the best that Turkey has to offer as a holiday destination. It is highly recommended if you are seeking a holiday experience where you can truely get lost.


Gulet is “The Zen Temple” of the meditation called Blue Cruise. You can have a blue cruise experience on any type of private yacht but gulet, “The” sailing boat of blue cruise, is the type of boat which will truely give you blue cruise experience. This is the “boat” where all blue cruise experience has started.

Here we should also stop a little and give some background about the history of blue cruise: Yes, how did all this blue cruise experience has started?

A gulet on blue cruise along Southwestern coast of Turkey
The infamous beach resorts of Turkey were once far far away villages and sleepy fishing towns where nobody went. And then a court in Istanbul has  sentenced a writer named Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı to three-years’ exile in Bodrum. He loved the place so much so that  after serving the last part of his sentence in Istanbul, he returned and settled down in Bodrum where he lived for 25 years. He took the pen name of Halikarnas Balıkçısı (The Fisherman of Halicarnassus), name of the city in antiquity.

The Fisherman of Halicarnassus is the person who has brought the formerly sleepy fishing and sponge-diving town of Bodrum to the attention of the Turkish intelligentsia and their readers. This has led the formation of international tourist attraction the Turqoise Coast became today.

One of the activities Cevat Şakir enjoyed was taking his visiting friends to  tripon the sponge divers’ sailing boats, called gulets. These excursions became known as Blue Cruise (Mavi Yolculuk). He and his friends writers Azra Erhat ve Sabahattin Eyüboğlu has created the term. The first time blue cruise entered the Turkish literature was in 1957 with Azra Erat’s book with the same name.

Azra Erhat Mavi Yolculuk
Mavi Yolculuk by Azra Erhat
The original blue cruises were and many modern blue cruises are performed using gulets (Turkish word gulet comes from Italian word guletta which comes from French gouëlette or goélette meaning schooner).  If you will do one, try to have it on a gulet.

Modern gulets are of course not fishing boats. They are equipped with all the amenities a modern yacht can offer. Most gulets can carry eight to twelve passangers which makes a gulet cruise a very private experience. You can join tours with strangers or like many Turks do, you can rent an entire gulet with captain and crew for your group.

In practice, gulet is a full-service all inclusive hotel or a miniature cruise ship where every room offers fantastic sea view. This “hotel” moves from coves to coves, small harbours to small harbours and provides an intimate view of Turkey’s coast line which cannot be experienced with a cruise ship.

Blue Cruise Route in Turkey

Blue Voyage is offered along the Aegean and Mediterranean coastline. There are different routes including Bodrum, Gocek, Gokova, Knidos and Marmaris ports. A full Blue Cruise generally starts in Didim or Kuşadası, although tours may also depart from Bodrum or Marmaris. They usually terminate at the port of Antalya.

Blue Cruise Map – Source :

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Where to stay in Budapest?

Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers a magical atmosphere, one of the best classical concert music experience, colorful night life and must visit baths to its visitors. It is one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe and called "Paris of The Eastern Europe" thanks to its romantic and historic facade.

Budapest is bisected by the River Danube into two "cities"; the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A 19th-century Chain Bridge connects these two districts which were separate cities until 1873.

Budapest is divided into 23 districts which are numbered using Roman Numerals. Buda contains the most historic part of the city where you can find Buda Castle, Fishermen's Bastion, the Labyrinth and Mathias Church here. Districts I-III, XI-XII, XXII are also in Buda. The east of the Danube River is Peste which has District IV to IX and is the lively hearth of the city.

Let's come to the title question, where to stay in Budapest? If you have budget, the best places to stay in Budapest are hotels in Budavar (near Castle Hill). Outside Castle Hill, you can find more luxurious or middle class hotels in Buda. If you are looking for a budget hotel or hostel, you will need to look at Peste side.

In Budapest, hotels range from 7 Euros per night hostels to 5-star luxury. If you have arrived Budapest by train, you will see many aunties trying to rent you a room in their houses as well as people working for cheap hostels. Instead of picking an accommodation here, we suggest you to book your hotel online.

Where to stay in Budapest?
Budapest is bisected by the River Danube into two "cities"; the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A 19th-century Chain Bridge connects these two districts which were separate cities until 1873.
Budapest hotels can be divided into 3 categories : hotels up to 3 stars (22 - 127 USD price range), 4 star hotels (32 - 252 USD) amd 5 star hotels (90 USD - 328 USD).

The oldest part of Budapest houses the Castle Hill, Buda Castle, The Labyrinth, Mathias Church and Fishermen's Bastion. These are the must see places in the city. But this area is also the most expensive place to stay in Budapest. But if you have the budget, it worth to stay here. For hotels in these area, you can check Budapest hotels near Matthias Church and Budapest Fishermen's Bastion Hotels pages.

Let's now write some Budapest hotel recommendations.

If you are looking for a luxury Budapest hotel, below are some of the best :

Four Seasons Gresham Palace – The hotel is in an Art nouveau building and has one of the best view of Budapest. The rooms are very nicely decorated and everything else is as you would expect from a Four Seasons hotel.

Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge Hotel – This luxury hotel has one of the best hotel locations in Budapest but it is designed more for business travelers than leisure travellers.

If you want a hotel with a good and popular location, here are our recommended hotels :

Palazzo Zichy – Housed in a 19th Century town house, the hotel is located near university and a lot of bars and night clubs.

Boutique Hotel Zara – The hotel is in the center of the city which is closed to vehicle traffic. It is a nice and modern establishment which is a stone throw distance away from Danube.

Brody House – This is the most cool hotel in the city, or at least it is known like that. It is like Soho House of Budapest.

If you are looking for a cheap Budapest hotel, there are a lot of options. We will recommend Molnar, a  family hotel in the outskirts of the city.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Where to stay in Stockholm?

Sweden's capital city Stockholm is located on 14 islands on Lake Mälaren which are connected to each other through 14 bridges. Although the city is located very north, its climate is relatively warm. And thanks to its northern location, the days are 18 hours in summer and are just 6 hours in winters. With its 2 million population, Stockholm is also the largest city in Sweden and is a must see with its historic city center, cultural activities and the beauty of its nature.

Where to stay in Stockholm? Stockholm hotels get naturally cheaper as you go further from the city center. The best value for money Stockholm hotels can be find just outside city center and next to public transportation stations which will still provide an easy access to city center where most Stockholm tourist attractions are.

The name of the Stockholm historic center is Gamla Stan. There are accommodation opportunities in Gamla Stan but if you want to stay in this popular and expensive Stockholm area, you need to book in advance. Other than Gamla Stan, Lower Norrmalm (just to the north of Gamla Stan) is known as The City and is the most central area in Stockholm. Hotels in Lower Norrmalm are expensive but towards the north of the area you can still find some nice and relatively cheap Stockholm hotels.

In the 4 star Stockholm hotel category, there is high competition and this is reflected to customers as campaigns and discounts. The room rates in this class are usually between 900 - 1200 SEK. Since there is a huge competition, we suggest you to use an online hotel comparison web site to check for the best prices.

Gamla Stan (Old Town)

Gamla Stan is the historic center of Stockholm and is also known as Staden mellan broarna (the city between two bridges).  Gamla Stan is in fact an island. North Gamla Stan houses the Royal Palace and Swedish Parliment House and the rest of the area houses cobblestone streets, historic buildings and most of the tourist attractions in Stockholm. Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet), Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan), Riddarholmen Church (Riddarholmskyrkan), German Church (Tyska Kyrkan) and Nobel Museum (Nobelmuseet) are all in this area.

Small Riddarholmen Island forms a part of Gamla Stan and is a must see place with its 17th century houses and palaces.

Hotels in Gamla Stan are very popular so book in advance if you want to stay here. Especially in summer time it is very difficult to find a hotel here. The area is close to car traffic so if you have a car and you want to use it, this area may not be for you.

For Stockholm hotels in this most popular and central Stockholm area visit Stokholm Gamla Stan Hotels pages.

Stockholm Cathedral(Storkyrkan)
Stockholm Cathedral(Storkyrkan)
Lower Norrmalm , The City

Lower Norrmalm is known as The City and is the most central area in Stockholm. This is also the financial and business center of Stockholm. There are usually 4 and 5 star Stockholm hotels here but as you go further north to residential areas, you can find cheaper and mid level Stockholm hotels. One of the advantages of staying in Lower Norrmalm is that you can access Gamla Stan on foot.

In 1950s and 1960s, Lower Norrmalm has been redeveloped to create a modern city and unfortunately most of its 19th century building were demolished in this process. Especially the Klara District has lost its character completely in this era.

Grand Hôtel (Södra Blasieholmshamnen 8 (T Kungsträdgården)) next to Royal Palace in Norrmalm is the most luxurious hotel in Scandinavia. This hotel was the place where royal families stayed and now it offers classic, old fashioned luxury and a unique experience on its own. The rooms with lake view are very popular and usually full. Even if you do not stay here, the piano bar of the hotel is a must see.

For a comprehensive list of Stockholm hotels in this area, you can visit Stockholm Norrmalm hotels page.


Stureplan Square in Östermalm, a high class neighborhood in Stockholm, is an important Stockholm night life and shopping center. Kungliga nationalstadsparken (Royal National City Park), Skansen Open Air Museum, Gröna Lund Amusemement Park and Vasa Museum are also in this area.

Some of the most famous and expensive restaurants in Stockholm such as Sturehof, Spy Bar, Riche, Laroy, Hell's Kitchen, East and Sturecompagniet and expensive bars are here between Stureplan Östermalm and Norrmalm. You can also find shops like Versace, Hugo Boss, Gucci, and LV here. If you want to stay in this colorful, central and luxury area, you can check Stockholm Stureplan hotels pages.

For hotels in Östermalm, you can visit Stokholm Östermalm otelleri pages.

Arnoldhuset's Spy Bar is one of the most famous and luxury night clubs in Sweden.


Södermalm Island is just to the south of Gamla Stan and is simply known as Söder (South). Götgatan Street crossing the island from south to the north is ver famous and houses one of the most colorful Stockholm night life spots, Medborgarplatsen. Fjällgatan on the north shores of Södermalm offers a fantastic Stockholm view.

Götgatan and the adjacent streets are full of restaurants, bars and shops. Götgatsbacken is closed to vehicle traffic and is a very popular area.

Business hotel Hilton Slussen in Södermalm offers a fantastic Gamla Stan view. Hotel Rival, is owned by Benny Andersson from ABBA. One of the most interesting and extraordinary hotels in Stockholm is Rygerfjord Hotel and Hostel which is basically housed in an old passanger ship.

For a comprehensive list of Stockholm hotels in this areas, you can visit Stockholm Södermalm hotels page.

Gamla Stan view from Södermalm
Gamla Stan view from Södermalm

Where to stay in Miami?

Miami is the largest city in Florida, United States. The city, which lies between Atlantic Ocean and large Everglades swamps is 100 kilometers long but just 20 kilometers wide and is famous with its beaches. If you ever visit Miami, going to Miami Beach is a must. Thanks to the almost tropical climate in Miami, it is possible to enjoy the sea and the beach year around.

Before going into the answer for the title of this blog post, where to stay in Miami, we would like to give some general information on Miami hotels. Miami is famous for its boutique hotels. Especially the Miami Boutique hotels of South Beach are very famous. Thanks to hotel designers such as Ian Schrager (the Delano, Shore Club), André Balazs (Raleigh, Standard on Belle Isle) and Todd Oldham (the Hotel), the area is full of interesting and creative hotels. But there is something you should know about Miami boutique hotels in general : hotel rooms are generally small and if the hotel is constructed during Art Deco time, they are extra small. If you are looking for larger rooms to stay in, you should book a room in a large, multi storey hotel instead of a boutique hotel. You can find such large hotels to the north and south of South Beach and Downtown Miami. But these large hotels are usually luxury and expensive. If you are looking for something in between, cheaper but relatively larger rooms, try to find a smaller chain hotel.

The peak season for Miami hotels is the period between November and April. While rest of USA is deep in cold winter, the weather is relatively warm in Miami so Americans flow to warmth and create the peak season. And during the peak season there are organizations like Winter Music Conference and Spring Break, during which hotels are extra full and expensive. If you are planning to stay in South Beach and a boutique hotel, you need to book your hotel room months in advance.

And a last but important warning : Miami hotels will charge 12.5% room tax and some Miami hotels will charge 15% service charge which will not necessarily be reflected in online or agency room prices.

Now let's look at some of the most popular places to stay in Miami.

Miami Beach and South Beach

For almost a century, Miami beach is the undisputed king of beach holiday in USA. In addition to the beach, the colorful night life, cultural and art activities in Miami makes the area a tourist magnet. The Miami Beach area is on the opposite shores of Biscayne Bay compared to Downtown Miami. South Beach and Collins Avenue, which runs parallel to Atlantic Ocean is full of art deco hotels. After 21th Street, MiMo (Miami Modern) architecture dominates and Miami Beach starts. The 6 mile long jogging street here is very famous and you will easily recognize it from many movies.

In Miami Beach you can stay in a hotel or a rental condo near the beach. For a comprehensive list of hotels in this area with price compared room rates and guest reviews, you can check Miami Beach Hotels or Miami South Beach hotels pages.

Miami South Beach
Miami South Beach
Coconut Grove and Coral Gables

Coral Gables and Coconut Grove are wealthy neighborhoods to the south of Downtown Miami. Once a bohemian village, Coconut Grove is famous for its alfresco Cocowalk shopping and restaurant complex, night life and high class shopping opportunities as well as beautiful hotels. Coconut Grove Playhouse is famous with its Broadway shows. Coral Gables is famous with its Mediterranean style houses and high class shops and Venetian Pool from 1920s here is a must see.

Miami Map - Where to stay in Miami?
Miami Map. As you can see in the map, famous Miami Beach is on the opposite side of Downtown Miami.

Downtown (Central Business District, Park West, Omni, Brickell)

Miami is not only a tourism center. It is the cultural, business and economy center of Florida. Downtown Florida is full of museum, business centers, parks, shopping malss and historic buildings. If you are in Miami for business hotels like InterContinental Miami, Hotel Urbano, Marriott Biscayne Bay ve Trump National Doral Miami are some of the best Miami hotels to stay. But Downtown Miami becomes almost deserted in the night (although it is lively in daytime).

For hotels in Downtown Miami, check Miami Downtown hotels page.

South Miami

The most important tourist attraction in South Miami is Miami-Dade Zoological Park and Gardens (once known as Miami MetroZoo). This is the only tropical zoo in United States and is a must see tourist attraction in Miami. Monkey Jungle to the south is a very fun place to visit in Miami with its 400 monkeys.