Does the idea of slow travel in Turkey get you excited? Are you wanting to know a little more about HOW to slow travel? Our guide covers all the details to get you started and to have more authentic and local experience when you plan your trip to Turkey.
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What is Slow Travel?
Slow travel is a mindset of going deeper into a culture as you travel. Peel back the layers and gain a better understanding of the people. Go slower and spend a longer period in one place. Slow travel tends to be independent travel or in small group slow travel tours, off the beaten path, or away from heavily traveled tourist areas.
Why Slow Travel in Turkey
Slow travel in Turkey provides advantages to you as the traveler and to the locals, you encounter while you travel. Be ready to get out of your comfort zone and connect with the culture on a deeper level. You’ll have a better understanding of the world around you and expand your worldview. We all bring something beautiful to the table to share and experience together. We’ve compiled our top reasons why you should slow travel in Turkey:
When you travel slow through Turkey, the experiences you have are richer and more personal. You can take in what is happening around you. When you travel at a faster pace, trying to check off your to-do list, you miss being present in the moment and experiencing the location you’re visiting.
Slow travel allows you to have deeper connections with the locals. For example, one summer in Turkey, I was traveling with friends looking for a waterfall in the mountains near Antalya. We met a local man on the side of the road that took us to find the waterfall. The day ended at his house having dinner and connecting with his family. We had a day of connection that I will never forget. As a result, I learned more about Turkish culture, customs, and people that day than I did the rest of my trip – and we never even found the waterfall.
Slow travel allows you to support the local economy in Turkey. You can take the time to visit local cafes, restaurants, and markets instead of the fast food and chain stores that show up in the tourist areas through big business that we’ve seen overrun resort areas. Slow travel helps stimulate the economy with longer stays in locally run accommodations, purchasing of local products, and helping to increase the quality of life in the area.
When you slow travel, you can rest & reconnect. You slow down and walk on the side of flexibility and spontaneity so that you can recharge. We encourage you to have time that you plan nothing – and see what happens. You’ll have the flexibility to say YES to a local authentic experience of hiking trails, shopping at the local market, or eating where the locals eat when you’re not trying to check off the next thing on your list of things to see.
You can save money slow traveling – but let me be clear, slow travel is not about staying in the cheapest place – it’s about longer stays and living like a local. You can save money by staying at smaller locally owned establishments, skipping the next tourist trap to take a hike on the trail down the road, or saying yes to the cooking class from the Turkish teyze(auntie) down at the market. There are so many options if you are open to saying yes to new and different kinds of experiences.
We are so used to going full throttle in work and life. Planning everything and then when a bump comes up in the road, its throws everything off. I get it – I’m a planner too. I like to know what we’re going to do next. My advice for slow travel, hold your plans loosely. Plan to have days that are unplanned so that you can change directions at the last minute if you so choose. Slow travel teaches us flexibility and being willing to let go.
How to Slow Travel
So you’re thinking – ok, this all sounds great, but HOW do I slow travel in Turkey? You need to decide what you want from your trip. Then, pick your locations from there. Istanbul is the most traveled city in Turkey and for good reason. It’s the bridge between East and West and encompasses so much of what Turkey has to offer. But, I’ve heard it said repeatedly if you want to learn about Turkey, get out of Istanbul. So, here are our recommendations of how to slow travel in Turkey:
Stay in One Place Longer
This can look different depending on how many days you have for your trip. Maybe you have 7 – 10 days, or a full month to explore or maybe you’re going to RV through Turkey. Instead of stuffing as many locations and activities in that time frame, pick 1 or maybe 2 locations and stay longer. Another example, coming for 3 months and selecting a city as your home base and spending that time exploring the area and living like a local as much as possible. To find the best area for you and your family, our Destination guides can you give you a better idea of what each area has to offer.
Language & Music
Before you go, take some time to listen to the Turkish language. Get a feel for its rhythm and flow. Learn a few phrases, listen to Turkish music both classical and modern. We’re fans of Erkin Koray, Tarkan, and MFO.
In addition to staying in one place longer, you can incorporate road trips into your slow travel. The beauty of a road trip is the adventure is in the journey – not the destination. Take your time making your way to your destination but seeing local places, foods, and experiences along the way. Once, we went skiing with some friends here. The trip there should’ve taken 2 hours but took maybe 3 or 4. I think we stopped twice in the first hour to stop, drink cay a local tea garden and enjoy the view. Look up and see what’s around you. Connect with locals. Connect with your family. See our 5-day road trip to Kas with the kids.
Eat where the locals eat. Our favorite question to ask a local in an area we’re vising is not, where should we eat – but where do YOU like to eat? When you walk into a cafe or restaurant full of locals eating, you know you’re going to have a more authentic experience. If you walk into a place full of tourists, you’re going to get less authentic food and tourist prices. Also, another way to experience local foods is to look for a local food producer or slow food tours.
Our Turkish Food Guide provides regional information on food and what to try.
When looking for local activities, ask a local what they or their kids do for fun to get a sense of things to do in the area. Be flexible and leave space in your day for unexpected adventures. Also, get outside and look for activities to explore. You’ll get a feel for the landscape and other things to do in the area. For inspiration, you can see our top bucketlist experiences in Turkey.
Get out of your comfort zone and try other modes of transportation. Take a train, bus, or rent an RV or a car to make your way through a specific region of Turkey.
Trends in Slow Travel in Turkey
Many families stay in one spot during their trip or for longer periods in Turkey. We’ve got the details on slow travel trends in Turkey:
7 - 10 Days
You may wonder if you can slow travel when you only have a week? Of course, you can! Slow travel is a mindset – a way of traveling. You get to make the rules for YOU! We suggest picking 1 – 2 places and staying in one area as long as you can to explore and get to know the locals
14 - 30 Days
This is an extended version of the shorter slow travel trip. Stay at 1 place for a month or 2 locations for a 2-week stay each. We recommend renting a house or staying at a locally owned pension in Turkey.
2-3 Months in One Location
Tourist visas in Turkey are good for 90 days, so we see quite a few families coming in for the length of their tourist visas and having a home base during that time. They get to know the locals and incorporate road trips, camping, RVing, and other types into the time in Turkey.
6 Months - 1 Year in One Location
If it’s your first-time entering Turkey, you can apply for a 6 months resident’s permit. If you’ve spent time in Turkey before with a resident’s permit, you can apply for a year or more. If you’re slow traveling for 6 months to a year, you may be interested in working abroad or learning the language. Also, incorporating other types of slow travel into the mix.
Certain areas of Turkey are perfect for a good road trip. We highly recommend road trips through the Mediterranean and Aegean coastal regions of Turkey. You can easily rent a car or RV in Antalya & make your way along the coast. There are many hiking trails, beaches, and long-term stays in this area. The idea here is to take your time not to be in a hurry to get to the destination.
RV & Camping
RVing and camping are new trends that are becoming popular over the years. Lately, we see RVs large and small making their way through Antalya. You’ll find camping places and RV parks are popping up all over Turkey. You can even find them in Istanbul!
If you want to camp, load up your gear in your car and stop along the way. Like RV Parks, campgrounds are popping up in Turkey so there are places to stop. You can Google locations along your route for the best spots.
There are some unique opportunities to sail on the Mediterranean in Turkey. You can do a higher end blue cruise and make your way down the coast at your own pace. The ease of sailing down the coast at your own pace, docking at a location and staying as long as it feels right. You don’t have a schedule of things to do and can take the time you want.
Remember, the adventure is in the journey!
FAQs: Slow Travel in Turkey
Absolutely! Remember, slow travel is a mindset of slowing down and peeling back the layers of the area you are visiting. To go deeper in connecting with the local culture we recommend picking one or maybe 2 locations to stay for a longer period.
There is a lot to discuss on safety in Turkey. The short answer is yes, it’s safe, but you need to consider what is going on around the country, where you want to go, and who you are traveling with. Our favorite place to slow travel is along the Mediterranean and Aegean coast.
- Confirm how long you can travel.
- Write down your goals for your trip.
- Decide on a budget.
- Pick your destinations.
- Plan your trip loosely.
- Be flexible to make changes on a whim before and during your trip.