You might have thought of Turkey as just another holiday destination, somewhere to head during the summer months for beach fun and vibrant nightlife. Now, whilst that is certainly true of the resorts on the south-west coast, it’s important to recognize that Turkey is a huge country, and in that country you have endless amounts of history, culture, and experiences to be had.
If you keep to the tourist resorts, yes, you will have a wonderful holiday and you will probably meet many warm and welcoming people, but you will also be missing out on some of the beautiful interior of the country, as well as some of the huge cities that are bursting with culture.
Here are five destinations in Turkey you should certainly not be missing.
Whilst Istanbul is not the Turkish capital anymore, that honour falls to Ankara, it is certainly the most famous city in the whole country. This is the only city which falls both within Europe and Asia, and is connected by the huge Bosphorus Bridge; you can literally straddle the continent line here. Istanbul is huge, it is busy, it is bustling, and it is loud, but it is a melting pot of culture and beauty that should certainly not be missed. Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque are two ports of call to put on your itinerary, as well as the Grand Bazaar. Nightlife fans should be heading to Taksim, and for olde-worlde culture, head to Sultanahmet.
If you’ve ever seen a travel brochure image of Turkey and you saw colourful hot air balloons, then you will have had a glimpse of the magical destination that is Cappadocia. One of the most sought after places to visit in Turkey overall, this is somewhere to take your breath away. Perfect for a honeymoon, romantic break, or simply for a glimpse of something amazing, Cappadocia is set in a range of honeycomb-style rocks, which look like they should be in a fairy-tale, you can stay in a cave hotel, and enjoy the sight of countless colourful balloons taking to the sky as the sun comes up.
In south-western Turkey you will find what is also known as the ‘cotton castle’ landscape of Pamukkale. This is a scene of hot springs, set on ridges of white carbonate minerals, with water flowing across them. This is a hugely popular tourist attraction, so during the summer months you can expect crowds, but the most stunning scene has to be the sun setting across the landscape. The water is said to have healing properties, which is a double bonus!
One of the quieter tourist resorts on the south coast of Turkey is Side. The difference between the other resorts and Side isn’t just the chilled out nature of it, but the amount of ancient ruins that stand on clifftops, backed by the brilliant blue of the ocean. Side is historic, which sets it apart, and is the perfect answer to a chilled out holiday.
If you’re looking for authentic Turkey, and you want to check out some Ottoman architecture, then head to Safranbolu, in the Black Sea region. The architecture here is so well-preserved that it has UNESCO status, and some of the must-see sites include Izzet Mehmet Pasha Mosque, Cinci Hani and it’s 17th century public bath, and the Koprulu Mosque. This is authentic Turkey at its best.
Many people don’t realise how huge Turkey is, and if you’re looking for unmissable destinations, these five should certainly be on the list.