From UNESCO sites, small towns, big cities, mountains, underground city, beaches, to the hot springs, Turkey is a country bursting with history and activities.
This is a great first stop for an introduction to the Turkish culture. This metropolitan city is jam packed with history, museums, mosques, and ruins. Be sure to visit Aya Sofia (closed on Mondays), Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Market for your shopping souvenir needs. If you are a social butterfly and curious about the nightlife, you can head to Taksim Square where there are plenty of clubs, bars, and lounges for you to choose. There is no shortage of things to do while in Istanbul.
This is a desirable beach town for locals and foreigners alike like me. There are plenty of splendid restaurants with ocean views, teashops, large shopping malls, and pebbled beaches. The Antalya Museum is a place to see if you are seeking local culture. The tram conveniently takes you from point A to point B for only 1,50 Turkish Lira one way and on some days it is free. If you enjoy the nightlife, this town has plenty of bars and lounges to discover.
3. Underground City of Derinkuyu
An eight-level city, you will be fascinated on how people lived in order to escape from the prosecution of the Roman Empire. Learn about the history and see the cellars, kitchens, churches, rooms for food storage, and etc. Make sure you are not claustrophobic and you don’t have a bad back as you will be bending down to get around the low and narrow rooms and cellars.
You will be in awe with this natural beauty, with view of the mountains from every corner of your eyes. Visit the Goerme Open Air Museum to see Orthodox monks medieval painted cave churches. Take a two-hour trek through Pigeon Valley. Highlight activity you must do is the magical experience of hot air ballooning. It is worth waking up early to catch the sunrise while flying over the Fairy Chimneys and the surrounding areas!
This is a coastal town with small town delights and a big art culture. At the steep cobbled streets are plenty of artisan and antique shops for unique souvenirs. At the harbor side is a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. If you are in Kas during the Turkish National holiday, Republic Day, a street parade and celebrations are along the harbor. It is a great experience to partake where friendly and patriotic Turkish citizens welcome you.
6. Choose to stay at a homestay for a rich and rewarding experience
At a homestay you eat and sleep the way the locals do. The homeowners and their family are often there to communicate with, where you are able to learn more about them and the culture while exchanging information. I always find homestays to be more personable.
This is a seaside town of old Ottoman architecture and cobbled streets. The harbor features great views of the Aegean Sea and the longest sandy beach in Turkey. Stay at a restored family-run Ottoman House called Taksiyarhis Pension, located in Ayvalik. This is a great place to spend a night or two. A 140-year-old home with rooms in every corner of your eyes, it is conveniently located to the main road, Farmer’s Market, and the harbor.
8. Ephesus Museum near Selcuk
The ancient Roman town, this is a place for the history buffs. Be captured with the amount of history here with the two-story library and 2,000-year-old public toilets. Spend a few hours to walk and take pictures of the entire area of Ephesus consisting of a theatre, a museum, and plenty of ancient ruins.
Pay a visit to this old war site in remembrance of those who lost their lives in WWI. Learn about the history, visit ANZAC, and war cemeteries. For the sensitive travellers like me, make sure to bring a box of Kleenex.
Translated as “cotton castle” in Turkish, I was amused at this natural wonder. You climb and step into 17 hot springs of both deep and shallow waters. You’ll be amazed with the warmth of the water. The travertines capture the overall scenery in a surreal way. To preserve its natural wonder I wouldn’t recommend swimming in it, however many tourists still do.
You can read more about Turkey at V Traveling Project.