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Cabinet of Chic Curiosities

Turkey

I’m looking for the best option to get from Istanbul to Gobekli Tepe. If anyone has traveled there, local information about places to stay between Şanlıurfa and Gobekli Tepe would be very helpful. Thank you so much!

Thanks for reaching out, what an exciting trip! My father has actually travelled to this site
so I’ve pieced together some of his advice with my own research. Let’s get started!

You can easily find direct flights from Istanbul to Sanliurfa every day. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes and costs 65€ – 85€ (If it’s something you might be willing to consider, the cheapest way to get from Istanbul to Göbekli Tepe is to overnight bus which costs 24€ – 45€ and takes 18h 38m).
 
After getting to Sanliurfa Airport (Urfa), you can get to Gobeklitepe by taxis, car rentals, municipal buses or private tour buses to Gobeklitepe.

The city council has put on a bus that leaves 3 times a day to Gobeklitepe from Sanliurfa. The first bus of the day leaves from the Sanliurfa musem at 9.45 and the Abide bus station at 10.00, north of the centre near to the big roundabout where the Havas airport shuttle leaves from (Look for the huge Turkey flag painted on the side of a building. On Maps.Me it is marked as Airport Shuttle). 

The bus costs 5 TL each way and you pay the driver on the bus. It returns at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm.

Other things of note to see & do: 

– Abraham Pool, thought to be where Abraham/Ibrahim was thrown into the fire before God turned the fire to water and turned the burning logs to fish. The cave which is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham. More info

A lesser known site 46km south of Gobekli Tepe is Karahan Tepe. Also nearby (20 minute drive) worth investigating / enquiring about?

Visit the beehive city of Harran, one of the world’s oldest cities, the home of the prophet Abraham/Ibrahim, and later an important stop on the Silk Road. It’s an hour’s drive away and a taxi will cost around 25 euros (ask your hotel to arrange this for you). Wander and photograph the “beehive houses”, which have survived for over 3000 years despite being built only from the mud. Visit the castle (Harran Kalesi), explore the city walls. Make your way to the nearby ancient civilisation and sacred grounds of Sogmatar which welcomed the prophet Moses while being a different religion. The Grand Mosque is a stunning look into the history of the oldest Mosque in the area. It is possible to rent a car and to this trip on your own, but since it’s closer to the Syrian border, here is a local guide that could arrange this day trip for you. 

A wild card option is to treat yourself and throw in a visit to Cappadocia on your trip. Recommended hotel (luxury cave room hotel). 
– What you could do is to fly (or overnight bus) from Istanbul to Cappadocia (airport Nevsehir, 1h25 flight around 25-80 euros, 40 minute taxi to Cappadocia for around 20 euros), spend a few days and take an overnight bus to Sanliurfa (Urfa). It would be a bit of a journey, but there is a trusted tour company based out of Cappadocia for 190 euros per person which includes a three-day tour to Nemrut Dag, Gobekli Tepe, Harran and Urfa

Where to stay in Sanliurfa (Urfa):

Without knowing your budget, here’s our picks with a range of prices…

Places of note to eat:

– This cave restaurant on the cliffs overlooking the town
– Some of the best lahmacun (Turkish pizza) at the restaurant Sumer Lahmacun
– Veggie options here
– Enjoy a honey breakfast under the stone arches- This old han (caravanserai) has some fine dining. 
– Dining street food style 
– Find the best pistachio baklava at this bakery
– Terrace dining with a nice view over Balıklıgöl (sacred Abraham pool)

Resources before you go: 

– The Gobeklitepe excavation team’s blog Tepe Telegrams, for example, their favourite finds
– Listing Roman sites in Turkey (which fun fact, has more ancient sites than Greece and Italy combined)
– A fun podcast to listen to before you go?
– Health & safety

Happy Travels!