Turkey is an incredible travel destination, with something for everyone. If you like amazing culture, food, architecture, history, souvenirs or natural wonders, it’s all there in Turkey. The summer is long and hot, which is fantastic, given the number of amazing beaches that dot this fabulous country. Think of it as a beach holiday, or a sightseeing holiday or a foodie exploration. Your Turkey adventure is bound to open your eyes to all kinds of possibilities. Similarly, let’s talk about ruins! Amazing ruins ranging from prehistoric times to medieval times, detailing every occupation that Turkey has ever been under.
It does not just mean little bits of broken stones either – in addition, there are huge stretches of area filled with ruins. Mountain forts, Byzantine-era cave churches, mosques from the Ottoman era – you name it. History buffs have never had it better. If you love nature, though – Turkey is paradise on earth. Literally. You will find a brief Turkey Travel Guide below –
Know a Little About Turkey
- Turkey is the world’s 38th largest country, sharing borders with eight countries: To the east – Georgia, Armenia, Nakhichivan (the Azerbaijan exclave), Iran, and Iraq. To the west – Bulgaria and Greece. To the south – Syria.
- The country’s population is 82 million, with 76% living in towns and cities.
- Turkey’s capital is Ankara, with a population of five million.
- The official language is Turkish, but several other languages are spoken here too. There are Kurdish, Kurmanji, Arabic, Russian, Armenian, Persian, and English and more.
- The Turkish currency is the Turkish Lira and 1 Turkish lira equals 0.10 USD.
- Tourists are required to obtain their visas before arriving in Turkey.
- Hotel rates in Turkey are usually inclusive of breakfast and Wi-Fi.
- Non-Muslims can visit any mosque during non-prayer hours. While visiting a mosque, wear modest clothing. Both men and women are required to take their shoes off before entering and women are required to cover their hair before entering a mosque.
- Turkey’s national drink is tea, which is usually made in very delicate, tulip-shaped glasses. Traditionally, this tea, which comes from the Black Sea region, is taken black.
- The Turkish people are very hospitable, so you’ll be invited into homes, so be sure to take off your shoes at the entrance.
- Remember that smoking is not allowed in any indoor space in Turkey.
Turkey’s intriguing history
Turkey’s mind-boggling history will keep you hooked. This country has ruins from the classical era, the Byzantine era, the Roman era, the Ottoman era and more.
The whole country is filled with world-famous ruins and monuments as each empire has left its mark on Turkey’s landscape, its culture, its cuisine and its architecture.
Turkey was a stopover for those traveling along the Silk Road to China. As such, it has been the crucifix for multiple cultures over time. When you’re in Turkey, you’ll experience the legacy left behind by each of these cultures.
Check out the Ottoman Sultan’s Topikapi Palace and its harem, to understand the Ottoman influence. Explore the amazing archaeological sites in Turkey to appreciate leftovers from the earliest Neolithic villages. Sometimes, in the same region, you’ll find both prehistoric artefacts and artefacts from the more recent Ottoman Turks.
When is the best time to visit Turkey?
That brings us to the most important question – when exactly to depart for Turkey?
Spring and summer
Spring and summer are perfect for a beach holiday and during spring, hotel prices are still low, and the crowds haven’t begun yet. Enjoy Turkey’s spring beauty, when the public parks are full of tulips, and wildflowers abound.
Summer is the perfect season, with blue skies sprinkled with white cottony clouds. Most locals head for the sands then, as do European tourists. You’ll find any number of coastal resorts that offer every delight on earth. It can get a bit too hot in eastern Turkey, though, but it’s the best season to do some mountain biking, hiking, caving and sightseeing.
Autumn comprises the months of September and October, hotel prices fall, but it’s still nice and sunny. It’s the best time for sightseeing, though the snow tends to start from mid-October.
Winter time is when summer resorts shut down, but hotel booking comes really cheap. There’s a lot of rain around the coastal regions, while the inland regions will see plenty of snow. Winter traveling is also great –feast your eyes on the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, plus all the skiing!
Things to do in Turkey
Turkey offers tons of activities to suit everyone’s individual likes. If you’re a water-fun type of person, go kayaking over Kekova’s sunken ruins, or try windsurfing, diving, and rafting in Fethiye and Kaş. Or, try mountain gorge canyoning in Turkey’s mountains. Like to relax? Sign up for a traditional Mediterranean and Aegean gület cruise, or a thrilling paragliding flight. Tourists love to sign up for a hot-air balloon ride over Cappadocia. Another treat for you is trekking Turkey’s beautiful highland pastures and, in our opinion, the Lycian Way trail is a must-hike.
Similarly, beach fun is aplenty in spring and summer, in the beach towns along the Aegean and Mediterranean. Turkey’s beaches are well-maintained and well-guarded, with all modern facilities, plus the ever-present food trucks. In Turkey, there’s so much to see that sightseeing is always at the top of every tourist’s itinerary. Amazing ruins, architecture, mosques, markets and natural landscapes that’ll leave you gaping. Be sure to check out the incredible monuments and attractions in Mardin and Şanlıurfa. If you are a food lover, head to Gaziantep to enjoy baklava, and Istanbul and Bursa for Iskender kebap and simit bread. The food in Turkey is so amazing, you’ll want to apply for your Turkey Visa just to go on a foodie tour of this country.
Where to stay in Turkey
You can stay anywhere in Turkey, but the best hotels are in Ankara, the capital, Istanbul, Cappadocia, Goreme, Konya, Antalya and other cities. Turkish cities and towns offer some of the best hotels, given that Turkey is an international tourist destination.
You’ll find plenty of farm-stays, B&Bs, and country cottages which offer good rooms and home-cooked food at reasonable prices. You might find it difficult to get booked into good hotels in some of the most popular tourist places during the tourist season.
You can take advantage of the lower prices at the very beginning of spring or in Autumn. Prices will be relatively down and it’ll be easier to get bookings in good places before summer begins. You can always look for home-stay options if you’re overnighting in remote towns and villages.
Plan your itinerary properly so that you’re never without a plan to sleep in for the night, whichever part of Turkey you’re exploring. You can call the Turkish Tourism department for advice and guidance at any time.
Turkey’s foodie culture
Food lies at the very heart of Turkish culture. Food is very important in Turkey– the ingredients, the preparation, the variety and the presentation – all of these are important. The Turkish have transformed food preparation and presentation into an evolved art form. If you get invited to someone’s home, enjoy the magnificent breakfast Meze they put out. The Turkish lay the table with the best cheeses, roasted tomatoes, meats, yoghurt dips, salads, olives, and plenty of simit, that amazing sweet Turkish bread.
Whether it’s kebabs or falafel or the delectable Turkish coffee – feeding and eating are both time-honored rituals in Turkey. Welcoming guests to the house and laying out the Meze is a Turkish tradition, one that all Turks are proud to follow. If you travel to different corners of Turkey, including the Greek-influenced Turkish Cyprus, you’ll get to experience a variety of Turkish dishes. Enjoy crisp Aegean vegetables lathered in olive oil, after that, rich kebabs from Anatolia. Indulge in some lovely Baklava from the east, and simit baked at the corner clay bakehouse – that’s Turkish food for you.
The interesting thing about Turkey’s cuisine is that, given its Mediterranean origin, food isn’t mostly about meat. While meat figures prominently, food is also about a large selection of fresh vegetables, plenty of olive oils and olives, eaten with every meal. Fresh tomatoes figure into every meal as well. Various kinds of bread are baked, using natural ingredients. Most of these breads are baked in neighborhood clay ovens, manned all day by bakers who bake their bread in the traditional way. Similarly, many things in Turkey are still unchanged, such as the old clay ovens, which makes its cuisine so appealing.
Which Turkish cities and towns should you visit?
Most of Turkey’s towns and cities have something or other notable about them. However, the following cities and towns are the most notable – for their culture, landscapes, food, historical monuments and more.
Istanbul, home to some of the most incredible historical monuments, is also a thriving art scene. It’s the central hub for modern art, culture and music in Turkey. In addition, you can also enjoy varied shopping here, from handicrafts to handcrafted unique carpets to electronics. The city’s vibrant nightlife, pubs, restaurants, bakeries and cafes will keep you busy in the evening.
Antalya is an up-and-coming city, populated by people belonging to multiple cultures. The beaches here are simply splendid. Antalya is home to many classical-era ruins, some of the best in Turkey, including the ruins of Perge, Aspendos, and Side. The city of Mardin in Antalya is a Unesco World Heritage site, with historic buildings built on the slope of a hillside. The citadel at the top of the hill is not accessible to tourists, but looks imposing over the city. Mardin has several impressive churches and mosques, especially the 12th century Great Mosque whose towering minaret can be seen from all over the city. After that, if you want to explore Turkey’s coastal scenery, and explore the historic highlights of Turkey’s coastline, Antalya is the best place to start.
Amasya, in northern Turkey, is located on the banks of the River Yeşilırmak. Backed by rocky mountains, this town is a thriving hub of Turkish folklore. The tale of Ferhat and Şirin, one of love and labor, is famous here. There are many tunnels under the mountain, supposedly dug by Ferhat who was in love with Şirin. The town’s stunning landscape, the tombs cut into the rocky mountain faces, the beautiful antique bridges and the ancient and lovely Ottoman-style houses make it a must-visit.
Bozcaada is an island, home to a lovely 15th century castle and the ruins of many ancient castles. This town has resisted modernization, and you can see that in the untouched, un-spoilt town planning. Therefore, Bozcaada is a perfect island retreat in Turkey, with its charming beaches, gently rolling hills, old-style seaside cafes and winding streets.
Göreme, part of Cappadocia, is home to some of the world’s most incredible rock formations. These are natural rock formations that have formed over millennia. There are several rock formations that look like fairy chimneys that are coming up out of the ground, in between quaint-looking houses and villages. The locals have created wonderful things with these rock formations – there are underground cities, lovely churches and homes and more. The Göreme Open Air Museum is a collection of churches and monasteries, all created out of rock formations. For instance, the best way to see all of this is to take a hot air balloon ride over Göreme.
Pigeon Valley in Cappadocia is home to a beautiful volcanic tufa that has been entirely sculpted by the wind. The wind has created a truly magnificent series of valleys through which are strewn fairy chimneys that tower over the ground, along with dramatic rock formations. It’s called Pigeon Valley because the layout is similar to the pigeonholes that are found carved into the tops of the fairy chimneys. In other words, Pigeon Valley, which is also known as Güvercinlik Vadisi, is a stunning part of Cappadocia.
Kaş is a fishing village on the Mediterranean coast, famous for its amazingly preserved historical lanes, monuments and ruins and its natural beauty. Explore the ancient ruins of Antiphellos, through which more recent alleyways and houses and cafes can be found. The beaches are beautiful, pebbly, and offer mindblowing marine life. You can sit and watch the turtles, the colorful fish, and other sea creatures by diving into the shallow parts.
Top attractions in Turkey
Turkey’s diverse landscapes will keep you hooked. It’s all so mesmerizing – the verdant highlands, the flowing eastern steppes, the fabulous, never-ending Aegean olive groves. Explore Asian Anatolia with its incredible Mediterranean coastlines. Be sure to check out the Kaçkar Mountains with their alpine pastures. Moreover, you must definitely enjoy the chimney rock formations, underground cities and cave churches and rock houses Cappadocia and the 18km-long Patara Beach. Lake Egirdir, surrounded as it is by mountains, is simply mind-blowing. Above all, these are just a few of Turkey’s amazing landscapes, and there are thousands of them.
Check out these ones:
- The beautifully preserved Roman city ruins in Ephesus, on the west coast of Turkey.
- Several WWII memories in Gallipoli
- Ölüdeniz, which has the most famous beach in Turkey, is called the ‘Blue Lagoon’ for its incredible beauty.
- Pamukkale with its beautiful cascading pools surrounded by white travertines. The pools contain hot thermal water, which is good for one’s skin and general health.
- There’s a beautiful monastery set on mountain cliffs in Sumela, which is a must-see if you’re in Northeast Turkey.
- Uludağ is a lovely national park that offers forest ranges at different altitudes. You get to experience different climatic experiences along with different flora at each altitude.
- However, as for monuments, we have to talk about Hagia Sophia in Sultanahment, Istanbul, where Byzantine imperial ceremonies were held. It has seen many coronations, weddings and other great ceremonies over time. Therefore, it was also once the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
In conclusion, no matter how many times you visit Turkey, you cannot get tired of it. That’s because every corner of this incredible country is rich in culture, cuisine, attractions and history. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Turkey. The same cannot be said about every country out there. Firstly, beach paradise? Check. Secondly, food capital? Check. Thirdly, beautiful landscapes and stunning nature? Check. Fourthly, incredible, mind-boggling natural wonders? Check. In other words, all you need to do is pack your bags and get ready. Turkish delights await you!