Türkiye (Turkey) is one of the largest nations in Eurasia in terms of population and landmass, and has been one of the most culturally and politically influential nations in the region for well over a millennium. It’s safe and easy to visit, with large cities bursting with cultural attractions and a stunning and diverse natural landscape. Keep reading to learn more about where to go in Türkiye (Turkey) and what there is to do.
1. Explore the historic landmarks of Istanbul
The largest city in Türkiye (Turkey) straddles both Asia and Europe across the Bosphorus and is home to some of the greatest historic monuments in the world. Chief among these is the Hagia Sophia, once a pillar of the Orthodox church and today a mosque and museum, and the Blue Mosque, with its iconic minarets. Pair visits to these two monuments with a trip to Topkapi Palace, former home of the Ottoman sultans, to learn about the intertwining Byzantine and Ottoman history of this city and this nation.
2. Savor the flavors of Turkish cuisine
You’ve heard of Turkish delight, but there’s much more to Turkish food than this famous treat. Rise in the morning with a cup of tea (Turks drink tea in the morning) and a breakfast of cheese, olives, and eggs, such as menemen, a type of omelette. Grab a doner kebab for lunch and savor the slow-roasted meats and spices. Enjoy some strong Turkish coffee in the mid-afternoon for that needed pick-me-up—Turkish coffee is boiled twice, making it stronger and more highly-caffeinated than other European varieties. Cap it all off with a dinner of pide, which is a pizza-like baked flat bread, or manti, a dumpling dish usually stuffed with lamb, and, of course, a slice of nutty, sweet baklava for dessert.
3. Go on a shopping spree at the Grand Bazaar
A city that straddles two continents, Istanbul has been a center of trade over the centuries. It has benefited from the international influences of travellers visiting to sell their wares and move goods from East to West and back again. For instance, during the Middle Ages, it was a key stop on the Silk Road, so the city benefited from the influx of spices and other goods coming from all across Asia. Head to the Grand Bazaar to experience this trade heritage. It’s one of the oldest and largest markets in the world, with over 4,000 shops hawking all kinds of goods.
4. Explore ancient history in Ephesus
Ephesus was once the main commercial center on the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire and the home to the Temple of Artemis, as well as other important monuments. It was also an important site for early Christianity, as St. Paul founded a church here and addressed the Letter to the Ephesians to its community of believers. Today, Ephesus is an archaeological site, located on the coastline to the south of Izmir. It’s a place to explore biblical history and see a variety of fascinating ruins, including the remnants of the Temple of Hadrian, built for the Roman emperor, and the astounding Library of Celsus.
5. Ride a hot air balloon over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia
Cappadocia is magical. This region in central Türkiye (Turkey) is known for its rocky valleys and cave dwellings, but most of all, for its “fairy chimneys.” If the name makes you think about fairies flying out of rock chimneys, you’re dead on, as these rock formations look just like they sound: fanciful, natural rock formations jutting into the sky across the lunar-like landscape. The best way to see these chimneys is from the sky on a hot air balloon ride. On the ground, you can also explore the troglodyte homes in the region and even book a night in a cave hotel if you wish.
6. See the whirling dervishes of Konya
Home to the Mevlevi Sufis, better known as the Whirling Dervishes, Konya is one of the most sacred spots in Türkiye (Turkey). Visit the Mevlana Museum to learn about the history of the Whirling Dervishes and then take in a sacred performance after your visit. The city was also the home of the Sufi poet, Rumi, so it has much to offer lovers of poetry in addition to pilgrims.
7. Hit the beach in Izmir, Bodrum or Antalya
Türkiye (Turkey) is blessed with a lot of beaches, so you can take your pick and find a sunny spot to unwind near the water. Izmir, between the Dardanelles and the Cesme Peninsula, offers a blend of popular beaches and ruins for exploration, including the Acropolis and Askeplion at Pergamum. The city of Izmir, the third-largest in the country, is also well worth a visit. Antalya is the gateway to the Turkish Riviera. There you can explore old Ottoman houses and castles, while enjoying the beaches with mountain backdrops. Bodrum is further to the south and offers an assortment of small fishing villages and resort towns with plenty of coves and beaches to relax on.
8. Cruise the Aegean Sea or the Bosphorus
Being blessed with an abundance of beaches, Türkiye (Turkey) also has some great waterways worth exploring. There are a variety of cruise options in the nation. You can embark on an epic cruise along the Aegean Sea or the Mediterranean, combining Türkiye (Turkey) with Greece and other destinations. These cruises include accommodations onboard the ship, with daily stops at ruins and important historical sites. Alternatively, you can also book a day cruise along the Bosphorus while staying in Istanbul. In From Russia with Love, James Bond remarks that the “moonlight on the Bosphorus is irresistible.” Heed his words and experience the waters for yourself.
Start Planning Now
The beauty of planning a trip to Türkiye (Turkey) is that you have a lot of options on how to explore. You can opt for private-guided tours with expert local guides or join a small group of like-minded travellers and bond as you explore the nation together. You can book a cruise to Türkiye (Turkey) or stick to the mainland and take advantage of easy air connections and land transfers between the main sites.
When you plan your travel with Taylored Tours, we will include private transfers upon arrival and before departure. As well, all of your accommodations will be 4-star or higher and include daily breakfast. You will also have 24/7 assistance while in destination.
I believe deeply in the power of travel. Anything I can do to get you out exploring the world makes me happy! So, what are you waiting for? Schedule a call with me HERE and let’s talk about your next adventure.
Taylored Tours will get to know you, your travel style, interests, and vision for your trip. From there, we’ll design a stress-free, “taylored” vacation, full of immersive experiences. It’s really that easy.
Cindi Taylor, Taylored Tours