Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Grand Balkan Tour

Is trip to charming Balkan countries on your bucket list? Anatolia Tours just launched 2017 Grand Balkan Tour with brand new itinerary. From Dalmatian coasts to the high mountains of Montenegro visit 6 countries in 13 days. Unbeatable prices starting from $1690 per person. More details at

Please click to see all our Croatia Tour Packages.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Top 10 Tips to Travel Light

All holiday travellers desire to travel light but it is more important nowadays when airlines impose high surcharges and even some flights restrict carry-on baggage for security reasons.
Some other advantages of traveling light will be that you won’t need to pay porters if you can carry yourself, you’ll spend less time at the airports (waiting for one bag instead of two at luggage collection), less risk to lose any belongings to damage or misrouting. For more tips you can also watch the recent movie “Up in the Air”.
The Society of American Travel Writers recently came up with 10 tips to reduce the weight of your luggage when traveling. The first test is asking yourself “Do I really need to carry this?”; if item passes this test you can apply the 10 recommendations listed below:
1-Stick to single color scheme when you pack, this will reduce the need to pack multiple pairs of shoes, bags etc. Choose dark color that does not show dirt, and brighten with light accessories.
2- Carry heavy items on yourself, like your coat or heaviest pair of shoes. Make sure you have lighter layers inside so you can shed when it gets warm on the plane.
3-Pack synthetic microfiber clothing; they are light, you can easily wash in a sink and they will dry overnight. Furthermore they will not wrinkle so you don’t need to iron them or carry extra clothes if you don’t like wearing wrinkled clothes.
4-Allocate a budget to buy new lightweight luggage; older bags were made of heavy materials, however new bags are stronger and weigh half of their older counterparts.
5-Whenever there is no restriction to have a carry-on bag or limit for its weight, pack all heavy items in your carry-on bag. Cameras, books, shoes, medications are ideal to carry with you and to lighten up your luggage.
6-Pack only small bottles of shampoo and toiletries and buy them at the destination. In your carry-on bags, you can carry only one plastic zip-lock bag that includes 3.4 ounce (or less) bottles. Packing bigger bottles in your checked in luggage is something you should avoid, they can spill and spoil your clothes, and surely will increase the weight of your bag.
7-Rather than packing your best clothes, it is smarter to pack your older clothes, shoes, underwear etc. You can wear them during your trip and toss them away before you return home. You’ ll have extra room for your souvenirs and less dirty laundry when you come back.
8-Don’t pack for all possible weather conditions, you can easily find a shirt in Egypt, or an umbrella in Istanbul if it unexpectedly rains while you are travelling in Turkey. You can always buy inexpensive local clothes and wear them during your trip.
9-If you purchase some heavy items – such as carpets in Middle East – ship them to home. You’ll pay less and won’t bother with carrying them around.
10-Use lightweight clothing such as fleece instead of wool; they will provide the same warmth without extra weight.
Nil Aykut is the Marketing Manager of Anatolia Travels. Anatolia Travels offer private and escorted group tours to Morocco , Turkey, Greece Egypt, Jordan, Dubai, Italy, Spain and Dubai. More information at

Follow the Hollywood Scenes in Turkey

Every year hundreds of movies are shot, and luckily not all of them are filmed in front of the green cardboards in Hollywood studios. Some of them are shot in their actual environments giving us the opportunity to sense the real surrounding.
Just as a well played role would bring more business to the actors, so will a good movie to the small town or to the country it was filmed. Movies are one of the most effective ways in the presentation of a country or city. The film “Casablanca” had attracted many tourists to Morocco for years. Similarly thousands of tourists, in the footsteps of “Indiana Jones”, still travel to Jordan to see the treasury in the rock carved temple.
Sometimes you even might not enjoy the movie but the historic street you see at the background may snatch your attention and motivate you to learn more about the location the movie was shot. Or if you have already picked your next destination, why not watch a few movies filmed in that country to get into the groove?
If Turkey is one of your next destinations, here is the list of some well known movies that were shot in Turkey, mainly in Istanbul. These movies captured many touristy highlights as well as less known places which might spice up your itinerary:
• The World Is Not Enough (1999) is the nineteenth movie in the James Bond series. The film was directed by Michael Apted and it is Pierce Brosnan’s third James Bond movie. Bosphorus and Maiden tower are the major places seen in the movie. “I’ve always wanted to have Christmas in Turkey.” is the famous quote said by James Bond.
• Hitman is a 2007 film based on the same-titled video game series. An agent hired by a group known as ‘The Organization’ is trapped and finds him pursued by both Interpol and the Russian military as he treks across Russia, Eastern Europe and Turkey. In this movie you can see the backstreets of old Istanbul and crowded bazaar area.
• Gallipoli is a 1981 Australian film, directed by Peter Weir and starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee. It is about two Australian sprinters facing the brutal realities of World War I when they are sent to fight in the Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. Although the whole movie was shot in Australia it is about the place Gallipoli which is in North West Turkey and a district of Canakkale province.
• The Accidental Spy is a 2001 Hong Kong martial arts-action film, starring Jackie Chan and directed by Teddy Chan. It all starts on one normal dull day, Bei a salesman at a workout equipment store follows his instincts to trail two suspicious looking men into an alley and this leads him to an adventurous journey from Korea to Turkey. The scene that Jackie Chan is running naked in the Grand Bazaar is the most haunting moment of the movie.
• Topkapi (1964) is a film directed by Jules Dassin and the film is based on Eric Ambler’s novel The Light of Day. The film stars Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell and Peter Ustinov. The movie is about a man with passport problems gets mixed up with a gang of thieves plotting to rob the Topkapi museum in Istanbul.
• From Russia with Love (1963) is the second spy film in the James Bond series with Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. In the film, James Bond is sent to assist in the defection of Corporal Tatiana Romanova in Turkey. Most of the movie was shot in Turkey and the major places are; Egyptian spice bazaar, Sultanahmet, Bosphorus and the Blue Mosque.
• The Net 2 (2006) is a film directed by Charles Winkler and starring Nikki Deloach, Demet Akbag and Sebnem Donmez. The life of a computer systems analyst is thrown into turmoil when, after arriving in Istanbul to start a new job. This movie was also shot in Istanbul mainly Sultanahmet district and most of the actors are famous Turkish movie stars.
• Head On (2004) is an award winning film directed by Fatih Akin. The movie is about a Turkish man called Cahit in his 40s who has given up everything in life and seeks solace in drugs and Sibel, another German Turk who has tried to commit suicide due to her conservative family. In this movie you can see the real local life in Istanbul.
Above list includes the major movies; however there are several other European, Hindi, Asian movies filmed in various parts of Turkey. If you are planning your next tour to Turkey why don’t you grab a few of above movies from your local video store and get ready for a Christmas in Turkey just like our old pal Bond.
Nil Aykut is the Marketing Manager of Anatolia Travels. Anatolia Travels offer private and escorted group tours to Turkey , Greece Egypt, Jordan & Morocco. More information at

Find Your Travel Style: Group Tour Or Private Tour?

It is not always about money – you may have sufficient funds to afford either but one of them would suit you more. And it is not always about your general style or preferences as ‘travel style’ is totally different. Many positive people may turn to be ‘unbearable’ fellows while traveling only because they have chosen the wrong style. You can go for group tours if you agree with some or most of the statements below:
– You are single and do not have a travel buddy: Join group tours for more fun, less cost and of course to make new friends.
– You are not alone but still enjoy knowing people from all over the world; where else will you have this chance?
– You are female(s) traveling to less developed countries – stick to group tours if possible. Groups can offer more safety and comfort.
– You seek for maximum efficiency: Group tours have pre-scheduled itineraries to maximize your sightseeing. No matter how long your wife/husband would prefer to stay at a shop or your photo addict friend would like to take extra shots; the tour has to end when the guide blows the whistle.
– Although money is not everything, it is something: In some countries such as Turkey, Greece or Morocco private tours cost almost double or even triple prices when compared to the group tours. For small families or friend groups (2-3 traveler) it’ll be more cost effective to join escorted group tours.
If you are not sure about your travel style yet, here are the reasons why people prefer private tours despite the higher costs:
– You want to have full control on where to go, how to go, when to relax, when to shop etc. No matter how much more it cots, take a private tour.
– You are not control freak but prefer flexibility while traveling: Well, check the group itinerary, see how tight their schedule is. Some group tours provide flexibility to some extend. But at the end, there will be at least 30 more people to share the same flexibility.
– You want to get off the regular tourist path; you prefer to visit a less known sight hidden at the far end of the city, or to stop at a local snack shop to mingle with the locals. If yes, you’ll have limited opportunity for this with a group.
– Your tolerance limit is somewhat low while traveling. Totally understandable. Well, in a group tour there might be fellow travelers that you dislike and you’ll need to stick with them for the entire tour. If this sounds like a nightmare, private tour might be a better option.
– You have certain accommodation preferences such as design hotels, awarded hotels, small B&B’s etc. However group tours usually stay at western type standard hotels to cater for the taste of the majority.
– You want to have the time and the freedom to ask silly questions.
– Simply you prefer privacy and personalized service!
– Last but not least, you have extra savings to afford all the reasons mentioned above.
So what will you do for your next trip? You don’t have to decide right away. It all depends on the destination, on the tour company, itinerary you’ll be looking for, the price etc. You will see that it is much easier to find group tour sellers. There are certain big tour operators that organize these tours and most of the travel agencies sell the same packages with same rates. However for private tours, you definitely need to make your homework. Look for a smaller boutique travel company that provides customized service. This company should have some expertise about the destination, should have the patience, and bulk purchasing power. The only way to understand all these are by asking questions, asking for price and comparing at least few companies. Always and always check the legitimateness of the tour company. Where is it registered and licensed? Are you under the protection of a provincial travel fund if anything goes wrong? All these questions are crucial before traveling to a new destination. At the end, when traveling is involved, cheapest is not always the best; peace of mind is what every traveler will be looking for.

by Turkay Aykut

Turkay Aykut is the Sales Manager of Anatolia Tours & Travel Co. offering private and escorted tours to Turkey, Greece, Morocco, Dubai, Oman, Egypt & Jordan. More information at

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Top 15 Tips for Shopping in the Middle East

It is a well known fact that every holiday includes the delight of shopping. Even tough you may promise yourself you’ll resist the bargains (that often become clutter around the house after a couple of months), nevertheless you’ll end up in the souvenir shop for ‘little’ shopping for your loved ones. If you are travelling to Turkey, Egypt, or Morocco it becomes harder to resist this incitement. As a person who travels frequently to Middle East, I’d like to share some of my personal experiences with North American travellers who are planning to visit these countries: 
1) First rule: Always bargain at the bazaars and Souks. Salesmen in carpet, jewellery and leather shops work on commission basis; so never accept the first or second offer. Sometimes you can even get up to 70% discount over the original price. 
2) Try to judge the price by how much you would be willing to pay for it in your home country. Fix the price in your mind and stick to it. On the other hand, always keep in your mind the value of the local money. Try to think in the local currency; most items might sound cheap when converted to USD but might be very expensive for local people. So purchase like a local. 
3) Most salesmen understand many languages, so do not discuss anything in front of them. 
4) Use power of ‘No thank you!’: At least learn this phrase in the local language and use it when you are hassled. Smile and walk away.   
5) Keep your own currency and credit cards out of sight. It is easier to haggle over a price with your ‘limited’ local currency..6) Guides get commission over your purchases. If you are not satisfied with the price, try to come back on your free day and check the similar item at the other shops. So another golden rule: Have a free day for shopping! 
7) The top touristy places such as Khan El-Khalili usually visited in Cairo tours or Grand Bazaar in Istanbul will have the most expensive prices. Find out the residential shopping areas for better bargains. 
8) For items where quality is important try to find a fixed price shop. You may pay little more but the quality will be superior. 
9) Haggling is necessary if you are buying high value items, such as gold and jewellery, but with low value goods it is not always worthwhile the time and effort. 
10) Shops in Middle East prefer cash. If you pay with cash rather than a credit card, you should have more power for getting a good discount. 
11) Always shop around. Never buy at the first shop; you can always come back. Shopkeepers will try to persuade you that they offer you the best value, but will not be offended when you say you want to look around and would come back. 
12) When buying gold/silver bargain on the price per gram not the price per item. 
13) Usually little grocery shops, coffee shops, supermarket chains will have fixed prices and bargaining is not accepted. 
14) Shopkeepers will show great hospitality. They will tell that purchase is not necessary, they will invite you to their shop, offer you tea, coffee; at the end you’ll feel so ashamed to walk away without buying anything. Don’t fall into this trap. 
15) If you are buying more than one item or shopping with a group, you can haggle for a greater discount.

About the Author:Nil Aykut is the Marketing Manager of Anatolia Travels. Anatolia Travels offer private and escorted tours to Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan & Greece.

10 Unknown facts about Turkey

10 Unknown facts about Turkey

1-) Original homeland of Tulip is Turkey
2-) The Seven Churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation are all in Turkey
3-) The Turks introduced coffee to Europe
4-) The word “turquoise” comes from “Turk” derived from the crystal blue Mediterranean
5-) Legendary city Troy is in Turkey
6-) St John, St Paul and St Peter lived and prayed in Anatolia
7-) Scholars agree that Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey
8-)Homer, King Midas, Herodotus and St Paul the Apostle were born in Turkey
9-) St Nicholas was born and lived in Demre, Turkey
10-)Turkish Cuisine is regarded as one of the best cuisine in the world 

About the Author 
The author of this article, Nil Aykut, is the Marketing Manager of Anatolia Travels. Anatolia Travels offer private and escorted tours to Turkey, Greece Egypt , Jordan & Morocco. More information at