A mesmerizing mix of the exotic and the familiar, Turkey is much more than its clichéd image of a “bridge between East and West”. Invaded and settled in every direction since the start of recorded history, it combines influences from the Middle East and the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Central Asia. Mosques coexist with churches, Roman theatres and temples crumble near ancient Hittite cities, and dervish ceremonies and gipsy festivals are as much a part of the social landscape as classical music concerts or football matches. Turkey’s diverse landscapes, from Aegean olive groves to eastern steppe, provide a lyrical setting for its many great ruins. The country’s most magical scenery is to be found in Asian Anatolia, where beautiful vistas are provided by the vertiginous Mediterranean coastline, Cappadocia’s otherworldly ‘fairy chimney’ rock formations and wavy valleys, the alpine pastures of the Kaçkar Mountains, and golden beaches such as 18km-long Patara.
Whether you settle down with a çay to enjoy the view across mountain-ringed Lake Eğirdir or explore the hilly hinterland on the southwest coast’s many peninsulas, Turkey’s landscape will leave a lasting impression. The best thing about sampling Turkey’s delicious specialities – ranging from meze on a Mediterranean harbour to a pension breakfast featuring ingredients fresh from the kitchen garden – is that they take you to the heart of Turkish culture. For the sociable and family-orientated Turks, gathering together and eating well is a time-honoured ritual. So get stuck into olive oil–lathered Aegean vegetables, spicy Anatolian kebaps and dishes from Turkey’s many other corners – and as you drink a tulip-shaped glass of çay and contemplate some baklava for dessert, remember that eating is deepening your understanding of Turkey.
Top 10 Places to Visit in Turkey
1. Istanbul – Istanbul is, without a doubt, the brightest and most precious gem of Turkey, one of the most colourful, eclectic, and mesmerizing cities in the world. The cosmopolitan city is a home to millions of people and attracts millions of tourists every year because of the curious blend of history and culture left by four majestic empires during its existence. Loved and admired by ancient emperors, kings, and sultans during its long, turbulent, and interesting history, Istanbul is the only city in the world that is spreading its beautiful streets on two continents – Asia and Europe. Make sure to visit Istanbul so you can enjoy and admire the impressive and detailed architecture, sizzling culture, modern-day skyscrapers, the most delicious food, great shopping and nightlife opportunities, and, of course, the overall mesmerizing vibe of the city.
2. Cappadocia – The region of Cappadocia situated in Central Anatolia enjoys a booming growth in terms of tourism in recent years and there is no wonder why this piece of curious land works as a magnet for tourists and travellers from all around the globe. The region is best known for its fairytale landscape and unusual natural and man-made formations Underground churches and houses out of stone, natural chimneys and cones carved from the rock by years of volcanic eruptions, underground tunnel complexes, luxurious hotels in the old caves, and dozens of hot air balloons are just a few examples of how much there is to be seen and enjoyed in Cappadocia.
3. Ephesus – Ephesus is an ancient site and an open-air museum that is located in Aegean, Turkey and it is Europe’s most complete classic metropolis. Once one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire back in time, Ephesus is a home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis. The ruins of Ephesus are nowadays a popular archaeological site and very well-preserved, making it one of Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations.
4. Bodrum – Tukey is, in fact, a home to many wonderful beach resorts and Bodrum is just one of them all. It is located in the southern Aegean and back in time the city has a home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Mausoleum. Nowadays, Bodrum is a magnet for tourists who want to enjoy its amazing beaches, ancient ruins, and picturesque hilltop resorts. When in Bodrum make sure to take your time and visit the Castle of St. Peter is also known as the Bodrum Castle that operates as a museum.
5. Side – Side is a picturesque town of classic ruins and historic sites that bring you back to its glorious time of a major port in ancient Pamphylia and a territory under the occupancy of Alexander the Great. As a juxtaposition or for achieving an eclectic blend, Side is also blooming with modern and luxurious beach resorts overlooking endless beaches of white and fine sand. One of the star attractions in Side is the excavated site of ancient Hellenistic and Roman ruins with the remnants of a magnificent amphitheatre and various temples.
6. Marmaris – Marmaris is, hands down, one of Turkey’s most popular seaside resorts and there is no wonder why. The resort city is providing you with a picture-perfect backdrop of pine-clad mountains, sandy white beaches, crystal clear waters, and ancient architecture you can enjoy. Located in southwest Turkey along the Turkish Riviera, Marmaris is also a great cruise and yacht spot, offering plenty of opportunities for water sports and outdoor fun.
7. Antalya – Right on the Mediterranean coastline and another excellent example of the beauty of laidback vibe of the Turkish Riviera, Antalya is yet another amazing seaside resort worth visiting. Welcoming tourists in numerous resorts that can fit anyone’s budget, Antalya is a vibrant, dynamic, and buzzing city with a spectacular scenery of lush green mountains and gorgeous beaches. Swimming, sailing, and mountain climbing, there are many outdoor fun opportunities you can use your time for and do not miss to have a stroll around and explore the ancient ruins and the Old Quarter.
8. Konya – Konya is one of the oldest cities in the world and you can expect it to be a home to a very unique history and culture. And you will be right because Konya is the birthplace of the infamous Seljuk architecture and the Whirling Dervishes. Nowadays, remnants from the Seljuk Dynasty rule can be admired by exploring the Alaeddin Mosque, the ruins of the Seljuk Palace. Konya is also the birthplace of the Persian Sufi mystic Rumi, who is the “father” of religious ceremonies of the Whirling Dervishes.
9. Mardin – Nestled on a hilltop overlooking the plains of Mesopotamia in southern Turkey, Mardin is one of the oldest settlements in the region and it is best known for its cultural diversity and the interesting architecture of sandstone buildings that cascade down the hill in the Old City. The Old City is easy to navigate and walk around, while the labyrinth of little streets will lead you through terraced houses and popular sights in the city including one of the oldest monasteries in the world Deury’z-Zafaran Monastery, and the Sultan Isa Madresesi that served as an astronomical observatory in the past.
10. Ankara – Despite not the biggest or the most visited city in Turkey, Ankara is the country’s capital. Ankara is a sizzling and modern city that houses several government buildings, a number of commercial businesses, corporations, and industries, many universities and foreign embassies. Ankara is also an important transportation hub due to its strategic location right in the centre of the country. The city itself offers a major concentration of museums and a sizzling culture scene.