a VirtualTourist member asked on Oct 8, 2011
Hi! I am planning a trip to Europe and the Middle East this summer (I know, worst time to go, but it's the only time I can!). I want to hit Istanbul, Cairo and Greece (Cyprus, hopefully). I love backpacking and budget travel -- nothing fancy! I'm just looking for general advice about what to see, where to go, places to stay, things to keep in mind, etc. etc. I'm on a tight budget.
This is not really a "backpacker" trip. This will involve a couple flights outside the budget airline realm (Cyprus and Cairo)
Beyond that, without knowing anything about you or your interests, it's tough to suggest things.
Cyprus is not Greece. It's Cyprus. Do you want to go to Greece as well?
If you are visiting Cyprus in the summer months I strongly advise you to book your accomm well in advance: it's a very popular island for summer visitors. Budget accomm will be limited.
You'll need Turkish lira in N Cyprus but euro in S Cyprus. N Cyprus may be slightly cheaper for accomm, but because almost everything has to be brought in by sea the difference in e.g. food prices is not as great as one might expect.
If you are focused on those three places I suggest you book your flights as soon as you can: they will be the most expensive parts of your trip. Now is too soon, but I would start researching carriers and fares in Feb/March for a July trip (and booking anything which seemed to be a good price).
Use www.skyscanner.net to find carriers for your dates/route (usually fares too) and then book on the airline's own website. Remember that fares will rise the nearer you get to your dates.
www.hostelworld.com and www.hostelbookers.com have good listings for budget acomm in many/most places.
Things to keep in mind? Make sure you have good travel health insurance in place for non-EU countries and your EHIC card for Cyprus (if you are an EU citizen) or good travel health insurance for all if you are not an EU citizen.
Check the visa requirements for your citizenship, and keep checking nearer the dates. Egypt, in particular, may change its visa process.
If you put each place name into the searchbox top right of this page you will find a vast amount of information and tips about what to see/do, where to stay, where to eat, how to get around etc etc all written by Vt locals and visitors.
My opinion is (a very short list):
Istanbul: Topkapi, Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque, grand bazaar, spice bazaar, Rustem Pasa Mosque, Basilica cistern, walking Sultanahmet, the Galata bridge & the fish sandwiches...and that's only a faction of the city, all I had time for on my 4-day visit.
S Cyprus: the Roman mosaics and the Tombs of the Kings in Pafos, the Troodos mountains (you'll probably need a car or an organised daytour for the mountains), S Nicosia.
N Cyprus: Kyrenia, N Nicosia, Famagusta, ancient Salamis, the Crusader castles, Bellepais....without a car exploring will be more difficult as you will be reliant on dolmus or private taxi.
Cairo: I only spent a short time in Cairo... the pyramids & Sphinx, the museums, the Citadel, Muhammad Ali mosque...
This was incredibly thorough and helpful -- thank you so much!
Do come back and ask more questions as your planning progresses. Vt-ers are a helpful and very knowledgeable lot! :-)