Visual Adventure: Lesser-known Turkey

Kirsten Alana April 23, 2013 10

Istanbul is perhaps the most visited of cities in Turkey and often, the first place people go when they are beginning their exploration of the country. Some wonderful posts have already been shared here about it and attractions like Cappadocia. My first time in Turkey I opted to explore lesser-known regions. It turned out the towns along the Aegean Sea were a magical place to begin because the pace was slower, the natural beauty was unspoiled by large cities and there were still ample things to see and do.

Instead of beating away crowds at Ephesus or Pamukkale, I leisurely explored the temple ruins of Bergama and took my time through the markets of Burhaniye, even enjoyed long afternoons at the beach in Ören. I discovered Manti, a Turkish dish of meat-filled pasta in a yoghurt sauces with chili oil and other spices; and I sampled chocolate baklava for the first time. Little tulip cups of Turkish tea were a way locals welcomed us and I came to feel nostalgic for them when I later left Turkey. I did eventually visit Istanbul, spending a week in the city, but that first trip is still the most beautiful in my memory.

Turkish tea, photo by Kirsten

Sunset in Burhaniye, photo by Kirsten

Ruins in Bergama, photo by Kirsten

House in countryside, photo by Kirsten

Oren beach, photo by Kirsten

Pergama ruins Bergama, photo by Kirsten

Sunset at Oren

Ruins at Bergama


  1. Lauren Szymanoski April 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Nice to see that in the 20 years since I visited this and other lesser-known parts of Turkey for my job at Smithsonian Journeys that they have changed so little. But sadly, my recent return to my favorite city in the world and one the I knew well– Istanbul–revealed a city overwhelmed by traffic and hoards of tourists. I will savor, and still long for, Anatolia and beyond.

  2. Kirsten April 25, 2013 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Lauren, change they have not. At least not so much that they felt to me to be anything but special. These smaller cities and towns do not suffer under the same overwhelming hoards of traffic and bodies that now plague Istanbul.

  3. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs April 25, 2013 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    I personally always thought that Turkey is a really underrated region. I find it beautiful and full of real pearls in every corner!
    I have been about 7 time and still don’t have enough :) Off to Izmir in couple of days :)

  4. Akash May 9, 2013 at 3:54 am - Reply

    I always wannted to travel to turkey. Planning to visit this year end.

  5. David May 9, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Hi Kirsten
    I would have to agree with you on the lesser known sites. Bergamot is a brilliant place. Friendly people, shop owners and good accommodation. The actual ruins are spectacular, including the huge amphitheatre on the side of the mountain. Ephesus is great, but so crowded. For me as an Australian the Gallipoli peninsula was a must see.

  6. David May 9, 2013 at 9:29 pm - Reply

    Of course that should have been Bergama. Auto txt spell check is a curse.

  7. Joan June 15, 2013 at 5:17 am - Reply

    We were in Turkey three years ago, and decided to go somewhere not so full of tourists, so caught a bus from Istanbul to Safranbolu, about 6 hours east, and north of Ankara. It is about 70kms from the Black Sea. Almost all the old town has well preserved Ottoman houses (the best in Turkey) and is on the Unesco World Heritage list. It is popular with Turkish tourists. We had a wonderful three days there, staying in a typical room in an Ottoman house – the bathroom in the closet was a delight!

  8. George June 17, 2013 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    I was in Turkey last year. it’s a great place to travel

  9. Karin June 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Visited Turkey 2 years ago and just love your photos.T he sunsets are heavenly

  10. Sabeen July 30, 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Great photos Kirsten, Turkey is one of my all time favorite destinations; from the culinary delights to the enchanting sights to the warm-natured locals, it truly has something for everyone to enjoy. I also have photos of Turkey on my website, do check it out.

Leave A Response »