A country split between two continents, bathed in ancient archaeological sites and brimming with diverse culture, Turkey is a country made up natural wonders and unique phenomenons. The list of sites to see and things to do in this magical country is almost endless, but here’s a few suggestions to get you started.
Original WW1 Battlefields
For a little 20th century history, the Gallipoli Peninsula is the place to visit. Once the center of conflict, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps battles against the Turkish 57th Regiment for control of the Black Sea trading route. While the region has been at peace for over 100 years it still bares the relics of warfare; original battlefield trenches are still open to visitors, grand monuments and cemeteries decorate the hills and old warcraft’s lie below the water at Anzac Cove. The Gallipoli Peninsula is a significant milestone in Turkish and World history, Gallipoli Day Tours leave from Istanbul to visit the peninsula, or you may want to base yourself in Canakkale and combine the trip with a visit to the Ancient City of Troy.
Cay, Cami and Carpets
Undoubtedly Istanbul is Turkey’s most famous city, known for the iconic Blue Mosque which sits across a pigeon filled square from the impressive Hagia Sophia Museum. Pick up a sesame seed coated Simit from one of the local street vendors in the central Sultanahmet district and browse the colorful markets for woven textiles, carpets and handmade crafts. The drop into one of the traditional Turkish-style restaurants to share some conversation, Raki and Mezes. The city of Istanbul is certainly an interesting one and there are plenty of quirky surprises hiding down some of the ancient cobbled stone streets like Vefa Bozacisi, the oldest cafe in town that still serves the thick sweet and sour Boza drink.
The Home of the Ottomans
Said to be the birthplace of the Ottoman Empire Bursa is also gets called ‘The Green City’ for its large city parks and lush botanic garden. Meanwhile the Ethnographic village of Cumalikizik sits in the foothills of Uludug Mountain. Built in Ottoman times under the reign of Sultan Orhan Gazi in the early 1300’s, today the village is still fully functional with a mosque, Hammam and a handful of locally owned cafes.It’s quite easy to get lost among the maze traditional ottoman houses and it’s definitely a pleasant day trip from the city.
Dilek National Park
Pristine beaches, lush rolling hills and rich flora and fauna. This is what makes up the Dilek National Park. It’s clear Aegean waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling during the hot Turkish summer and the charming beaches are ideal for working on your tan. In the thick forests wild pigs roam and if you listen out you’re sure to hear one rusting through the leaves and shrubs. The highlight of this Dilek has to be diving into the deep blue waters of Zeus’s cave, swimming into the cave the water turns a midnight blue and then black but is still perfectly clear and clean.
A Real Cotton Castle
Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ and it’s easy to see how this majestic site earned the name. The steep valley slope is home to calcium white terraces, which climb up the and up while mineral rich thermal waters fill the naturally formed pools and pour like a waterfall over the landscape. The UNESCO site is perhaps one of the most breathtaking in the entire county and an ideal time to visit is around dusk when you can watch the sunset while bathing in the warm pools.
The perfect place to kick back and enjoy the stunning natural beauty that Butterfly Valley has to offer. With no coastal road, the place is almost completely isolated, only a very steep and slippery trail links the lush green valley to a small clifftop Village called Faralya. Fortunately there are speed boats making regular trips from Oludeniz beach town to this secluded paradise. Whether you stay for just a few hours, or take a tent and stay overnight, Butterfly Valley is all about chilling out and connecting with the nature, swimming in the transparent sea and relaxing in the beachside bar. For a little bit of extra adventure there is also a short hiking trail to a waterfall in the heart of the valley.
Explore the Lakes
Egirdir is a lovely town on the southern tip of Lake Egirdir, surrounded by rugged hills and tall mountains, it’s the perfect base for exploring Anatolia’s beautiful lake district. The main allure of Egirdir is the tranquil atmosphere and scenery that encircles the town, so after you’ve visited the Hizir Bey Mosque and the bustling bazaar which is built inside an original Seljuk Caravanserai, you can stop by one of the cute cafes, grab a cup of Turkish tea or coffee and enjoy the magical landscape. Egirdir is the perfect place to relax and the best view of the area is from one of the two small islands floating in the lake.
When visiting Turkey the region of Cappadocia certainly shouldn’t be missed off your list. Known as the ‘Land of Beautiful Horses’ for its many historic Caravanserai, it was once part of a major trading route between the east and the west. Also used as a sanctuary for centuries by various civilizations, Cappadocia is full of hidden gems to explore. Troglodyte caves, pigeon homes, rock-hewn churches and unique rock formations are spread across the lunar landscape and hidden between deep valleys. Plus more than a few extensive underground cities and the possibility to see this incredible landscape from a hot air balloon. Cappadocia is definitely one of the top sights in Turkey and has great connections to other destinations. So start planning you Cappadocia to Gallipoli Tour and set off on your Turkish holiday adventure.