Things to do in Turkey
Things to do in Turkey
Below is a grand tour around Turkey, starting and finishing in Istanbul with the main highlights along the way.
This grand city is the first port of call for most visitors to Turkey, a cultural melting pot where eastern traditions meet modern western influences. Visit exquisite mosques and Ottoman palaces, Byzantine basilicas and churches adorned in mosaics, the colourful spice market and buzzing bazaars.
Moving around the coast to the west of Istanbul is theGallipoli peninsula, where the failed Allied invasion of world war one took place in 1915.
For Turkey, it was a defining moment in their history as a final stand by the Ottoman empire and the basis for the Turkish War of Independence. Apart from a visit to the battlefields, there is also a museum and trench reconstructions to see.
Continuing down the Aegean coast you will find an abundance of fascinating sights as well as picturesque towns and villages along an intricate coastline. Major archaeological sites to visit include the remains of the ancient cities of Troy and Ephesus while inland are the white terraces and hot springs of Pamukkale. Chic places to stay include the small towns of Ayvalik, Cesme and Alacati or the larger resort of Bodrum.
Further around, the coastline meets with the Mediterranean Sea. Beautiful beaches and rocky shorelines dip into astonishingly clear blue waters, hence this area is nicknamed Turkey’s ‘Turquoise Coast’. Apart from relaxation in resorts such as Marmaris, Oludeniz and Antalya, visit superbly preserved sites such as the Lycian Tombs, the Greek cities of Perge and Termessos or the immense Roman amphitheatre at Aspendos.
Travelling inland from the Mediterranean coastline into central Anatolia is one of the most unusual man-made and natural wonders of the country. Cappadocia is an area of strange rock formations resembling chimneys. The soft rock is easily carved and early Christians dug out subterranean cities here to escape persecution. The caves and their frescoes are fascinating to explore. This area was also the home of the Hittites. You can visit the Unesco-listed ruins of their capital, Hattusa.
Travelling further east across the Anatolian highlands are isolated treasures such as Gaziantep, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth with a superb museum of mosaics, the beautiful terraced architecture of Mardin and ancient stone sculptures on top of Mount Nemrut.
Few tourists visit the far reaches of eastern Turkey. The scenery here is very different with almost alpine landscape and Turkey’s largest lake, Lake Van. Bordering Georgia, Armenia, Iran and Iraq, the influences here vary, with a distinctly Russian feel to the city of Kars.
Turning back around to the west and to the north, you travel along the Turkish Black Sea coastline. In the wet climate, forests and tea plantations flourish. There are several pretty towns here including the Unesco-listed city of Safranbolu with its beautiful Ottoman buildings. The Sumela monastery is also worth a visit. Its position on a cliff face affords spectacular views of the area.
Final stop is Ankara, the capital city of Turkey. People often forget about this city in favour of Istanbul, but it has the best museum in the country – the Museum of Ancient Civilisations –covering a huge range of treasures from various periods of Turkish history. The mausoleum of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic, is also a prominent and important piece of architecture in the city.