Turkey is a place that has plenty to offer to its visitors. Tourism is mainly focused in Istanbul and along the coast throughout the long, hot summer. The country’s diversity is best assessed in people, natural landscapes, and cultures. It is a nation of enormous open areas and massive mountain ranges, fertile valleys and rocky coastline, fast growing cities and sleepy towns, seaside resorts and remote beaches.
Istanbul is the beating heart of the country, despite its lack of capital status. This city is home to Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques, bustling bazars and ancient palaces. Still, Istanbul is only a small part of the Turkish vast puzzle. The ever-popular Bodrum, Marmaris, and Izmir resorts along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean shores are ideal for beach-lovers.
Ankara, Turkey’s capital, is less well-known, but its central location makes it worth a few days’ visit if only to see the contrast between the city’s modernity and the surviving fortress. Away from Istanbul’s more European sensibilities, Ankara offers an opportunity to learn about different aspects of Turkish culture.
Turkey is currently a thrusting and dynamic society, managing cultural, economic, and political change while attempting to preserve the finest of its multicultural past and time-honored traditions, no matter how deep its roots are. That is, in part, what makes it so rewarding.
Getting in and around Turkey
Turkey is ideal for road trips, with its typically good roadways and diverse landscapes ranging from sea coastlines to mountains. Even the smallest towns are frequently served by at least one daily dolmuş (shared cab) or minibus, while larger cities have metro and tram system (a mini train that operates within the city)
The majority of visitors arrive in Turkey via one of Istanbul’s two airports (Istanbul Atatürk and Sabiha Gökçen) or one of the three major regional airports serving the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts (Antalya, Bodrum and Dalaman).
Almost 50 cities in Turkey have active national or international airports, the smallest being less as one daily flight, usually connecting to one of Istanbul’s two airports or Ankara, the capital city. National flights are normally inexpensive unless you travel on one of Turkey’s main festivities. Flying across the country takes less than two hours. Domestic airline Turkish Airlines, along with its subsidiaries AnadoluJet and Sun Express, and low-cost airline Pegasus Airlines, operate domestic flights
By Bus or Dolmus
Transport between major cities is operated by larger bus companies such as Kamil Koç, Pamukkale, and Varan, providing comfortable travel services and sometimes even seat-back entertainment systems and wi-fi. Travel times can be long and ticket prices aren’t usually as low as plane tickets, but it’s a great way to get to nearby areas. To get to smaller towns and villages, you will likely need to take a dolmuş or minibus to the nearest otogar (bus station). A dolmuş is a minibus, but it can also be a van or a car, that only departs when it is completely filled, which can result in long wait times in less-traveled areas. There is no national bus schedule, however individual companies typically provide their own.
Train travel in Turkey is generally limited and slow, although this is changing. The bustling high-speed train connecting Istanbul, Eskişehir and Ankara is a notable exception. Tickets for this route, as well as the popular overnight trip on the Dou Ekspresi (Eastern Express), a leisurely and Instagram-friendly journey between Ankara and the border city of Kars, should be purchased well in advance. Turkish Railways operates all trains, including local services to Izmir and surrounding areas, as well as trains to Konya and Adana.
Turkish food is known for its non-spicy, rich, and savory flavors. Turkish cuisine is filling up restaurant menus all around the world. There is an Ottoman culinary tradition, as well as a menu of classic Turkish cuisine known for meat kebabs, but there is so much more.
When you think of Turkish food, you probably think of kebabs, but the cuisine in this region is considerably more diverse. Turkish food is meaty, rich, and tasty, but there are a few dishes that you must try in Turkey to have the whole experience. The iconic donner kebab, kofte meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, lahmacun – flatbread wrapped in minced meat, manti – lamb dumplings with yogurt or butter, meze – a spread of cold appetizers
For dessert you can try traditional baklava, Kayisi Tatlisi – apricots packed with cream and almonds – or Mozaik Pasta – chocolate cake made with biscuits. Wash it all down with a glass of Raki, Turkey’s national drink, a white spirit created with distilled grapes and aniseed, or a warm cup of Salep, an orchid-based drink available solely within Turkish borders. Finally, a vacation to Turkey would be incomplete without sampling Turkish coffee, which is thick and bitter and best served hot with a piece of traditional Turkish pleasure, which is another must-try!
Turkish Foods will amaze your taste buds and make you want to eat it all the time, whether it’s main dishes, desserts, appetizers, or juices. Meatballs, kebabs and doners are just a few of the items available in Turkish cuisine. Turkish Foods may be difficult to pronounce, but they are delicious in every corner of Turkey.
Accommodation in Turkey
Everything is accessible in Turkey, from affordable hotels to luxurious apartments. You can select an appropriate accommodation option based on your needs and budget. Many hotels offer online booking services to book a hotel in advance if you want to be sure. Almost all of the hotels are available. Despite Turkey’s economic boom, costs are still reasonable by Western European standards, but Istanbul can be quite expensive.
The Ministry of Tourism grades Turkish hotels on a range of one to five stars, with a lower tier of unstarred hotels are rated by municipalities. Expect to pay from €110–€180 at the lowest end of the scale to €200–€500 for restored palaces or highly luxury boutique hotels at four- and five-star establishments. Two- or three-star hotels (€50–€90) are more modest, with no bathtubs in the bathrooms and sparse breakfasts, though they may feature a small pool, terrace, and bar in resort areas.
Boutique hotels are popping up in places like Amasya, Cappadocia, Mardin, Safranbolu, Gaziantep, Istanbul, and Urfa, especially in restored historic mansions. However, the word is overused to market any accommodation decorated in a minimalist or modernist style, and prices vary widely as a result.
Unrated hotels authorized by municipalities can be nearly as good as one-star hotels at the lower end of the scale, with most having en-suite bathrooms, televisions, and phones (€35–45). Others, on the lower end, will have an in-room sink but will share showers and toilets (squat) down the hall, with costs ranging from 20 to 30 euros. In unstarred and even many one- and two-star hotels, especially in less touristed areas of the interior, most solo female travelers will feel uncomfortable.
Pansiyons and Apartments
Pansiyons (pensions), compact guesthouses widespread in touristy locations, are generally the most comfortable places to stay. These normally have private bathrooms and many have shared gardens or terraces where breakfast is served (which is usually, but not always, included in the rent). The rooms are generally sparse but clean, furnished in the style of a one-star hotel and with two sheets (çarşafs) on the bed at all times. Hot water is always available, though not always when you want it with solar-powered systems. Many have air conditioning, which is usually used as a supplement.
Self-catering apartments are common in beach resorts and are mainly offered to Turks on vacation or foreigners arriving with pre-arranged vacation packages. Some are open to walk-in trade; local tourism offices keep lists. Apart from the weekly price, the biggest (negotiable) expense will be the large gas tank that will power the stove. Make sure the kitchens are well-equipped to make them truly self-catering.
Accommodation within Turkey might be as expensive as a Europe if you don’t plan ahead. One of the most significant pieces of advice for first-time visitors to Turkey is to stay in apartments to live like a local. There are charming houses available for a comfortable stay at a reasonable price.
Weather in Turkey:
For ideal weather, visit during the spring months—the days are long and the heat hasn’t yet arrived. This is the peak season for cities like Istanbul and Cappadocia, as the weather is just perfect. Keep in mind that hotels will be fully reserved and prices will be higher than usual.
Summer brings plenty of sunshine and warm weather, attracting both locals and tourists to the beaches.
Autumn is also a fantastic time to visit. The days are becoming shorter, and there’s a higher probability of rain in October, but the weather is still pretty pleasant. Winter is cold and rainy, but there are significantly fewer travelers. While Turkey does not always have much snow in the winter, skiing is frequently available between December and March in more northern locations such as Kartalkaya in the Koroglu Mountains, where snow depths can reach nearly 10 feet.
Things to do in Turkey
There are plenty of things to do in Turkey to ensure that you have the trip of a lifetime. Here are some of the best things to see and do in Turkey.
Visit Hagia Sophia Mosque:
The Hagia Sophia Mosque (Aya Sofya), generally considered as one of the most majestic buildings in the world, is not just one of the top things to do in Istanbul, but also across the Turkey.
Built-in 537 CE by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it is considered the greatest architectural achievement of the Byzantine Empire and has remained the world’s largest church for 1,000 years.
The delicate minarets built after the Ottoman conquest encircle the massive exterior, while the opulent and vast frescoed interior is a great reminder of old Constantinople’s majesty and power. Its dome is one of the city’s most recognizable architects, and despite all of Sultanahmet’s (Istanbul’s old city district) many architectural highlights, this ancient structure remains one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
This famous monument is a must-see for all visitors to the country.
The lunar region of Cappadocia, southeast of Ankara, is located in south-central Turkey and is known for its remarkable geological features known as fairy chimneys. The huge cone-shaped formations formed over time due to the erosion of the relatively soft volcanic ash that surrounded them. Past civilizations delved into them to build homes, palaces (like Uchisar), and even entire underground cities (like Kaymakli and Derinkuyu), used by early Christians as hiding places. Kayseri, a nearby town, serves as the region’s entry point.
This place is also one of the world’s best hot-air balloon destinations. Ballooning takes place soon after sunrise, so be ready to get out of bed before the sun rises. The thrill of seeing the protruding fairy chimney formations and the rugged moonscape of valleys from above is well worth the early morning wake-up call.
If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, Pamukkale is one of the best places to go. Pamukkale is the most beautiful destination to visit if you are looking for a beautiful natural wonder and something a little different to see in Turkey. Pamukkale is a collection of white travertine terraced pools nestled into the mountainside, formed from a carbonate mineral left behind by running water. However, it appears that no one knows for sure how Pamukkale came to be.
The wonderful ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis, chosen to sit atop the “cotton castle” with an abundance of hot springs, is located at the top of Pamukkale.
Pamukkale is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and tickets to both Pamukkale and Hierapolis are available for the same price.
Try Eastern Express to Kars:
The Eastern Express (Dou Ekspresi) train, which operates between Ankara and Kars in Turkey’s remote northeast, is the most scenic rail excursion in the country. Over the course of the 24-hour journey, the traveler will see the best of Anatolia’s rocky mountain and high plateau scenery.
This path has become a popular tourist attraction for Turkish visitors, especially during the winter when the landscape is coated with snow. It has become so popular in recent years that tickets often sell out months in advance, so planning is important if you want to travel by railway.
If you want to break up your journey, the train route stops in the cities of Sivas and Erzurum, which are well worth spending overnight for their historic sites.
Visit Blue Mosque:
Blue Mosque, also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a popular tourist attraction in Turkey because of its bluish interiors. This mosque was built by an Ottoman ruler and is next to Hagia Sophia, another famous site. This mosque has an exterior and interior courtyard, six minarets and several balconies. The inner courtyard is marble-paved and encircled by a small domed porch.
Dress appropriately. A clothing code applies to both men and women in any place of worship. Shorts and tank tops are not allowed. The heads and shoulders of women must be covered. Take a headcover at the tourist gate if you need one.
Have a great time here! The interior of the Blue Mosque will take your breath away.
Visit Goreme National Park
Turkey is known for its diverse scenery. The Goreme National Park is one of them. Walking is the best way to view this position. Cappadocia’s stunning sedimentary rock formations, which result from volcanic deposits, have given it a strong identity. UNESCO has designated Goreme National Park as a World Heritage Site. Cappadocia is home to some of the world’s most unusual sites, including underground cities and churches carved out of rock. Cappadocia’s beautiful lunar scenery makes it one of the top things to do in Turkey.
Visit Topkapi palace museum
Set on top of the most visible hill of Istanbul, Topkapi Palace, is the symbol of the city. It is opulent and steeped in history, and it allows tourists to get a closer look at the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire.
Topkapi Palace has a collection of remarkable exhibits, including Ottoman Army weapons, beautiful fabrics, gems, and art, as well as an incredible collection of Chinese and Japanese pottery.
There’s even a Holy Relics Chamber with treasures like the Prophet Muhammad’s personal items, Moses’ rod, and David’s sword, to name a few. What an amazing collection!
Topkapi Palace is Turkey’s most visited museum, is an absolute must-see while in Istanbul. If you are going to visit Istanbul you must add it to your plan!
Nightlife in Turkey
Although Turkey is best recognized for its natural and historical wonders, its vibrant nightlife is also a popular destination for visitors. A wide range of entertainment options appeal to a wide range of tastes and represent the country’s cultural diversity. These venues provide a fun night out where you can listen to live music, try different foods and drinks, and dance with your friends. Both modern and historic establishments border Istanbul’s famous Bosphorus coastline and the southern holiday destination seaside villages. Traditional beerhouses, bars, rock bars, folk music bars, licensed restaurants, nightclubs, and taverns all provide hours of entertainment until the morning. It’s a wonderful way to unwind in the evenings after a day of sightseeing in Turkey’s environment and history.
Istanbul has the most diverse range of nightlife options. The majority of options can be found in and around Taksim.
The city’s most famous clubs and pubs are located on Istiklal Street, the Cicek Pasaji (Flower Arcade), and Sahne Street close to it, with Nevizade behind them. Anatolian folk music has recently gained popularity, and there are numerous folk music clubs along Istiklal Street where people can listen to music and dance the traditional Halay folk dance of Anatolia.
Plan your trip to Turkey
Turkey is full of adventure and thrills, promising you a once-in-a-lifetime experience. While each city has its charm, Turkey offers a diverse range of activities and things to do. Plan a vacation that includes some breathtaking experiences, captivating architecture, and delicious food. Book your flights to Turkey today and let every wonder in the country surprise you.