Turkey is not just the best beaches on four seas but also the magnificent city of Istanbul with the Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace, the thermal springs of Yalova and snow-white Pamukkale, the monasteries of Cappadocia, skiing and the best shopping. The most popular tourist trips may be divided into two groups: beach boredom (which can be advantageously diluted with excursions) and full-on sightseeing programs. Turkey's "sandy-sunny" resort towns include budget- and youth-oriented Kemer and Alanya, family-friendly Side and active Belek, prestigious Antalya and Marmaris, secluded Fethiye, and a slew of lesser-known resort towns. The Turkey Historic Excursion: legendary Troy, the ancient Ephesus with the ruins of libraries, theaters, and temples, travertine terraces of Pamukkale and Cleopatra Bath, the world's first mausoleum, as the name suggests, King Mausolus, the remains of the Lycian Kingdom, and much more. Well, and of course the city of Istanbul. Turkey is the best destination for the holiday!
Turkey's regions and resorts
Ankara is the second largest city in Turkey after Istanbul and, since 1923, the capital. Despite its capital status, Ankara is not as popular with tourists as Istanbul and seaside cities, but it is interesting as a non-tourist and more authentic Turkey. Ankara has many ancient sites from Roman times: the Roman baths, the Julian Column, and the Roman temple. It is especially interesting to see the citadel of Hisar and the cemetery from the Byzantine era, and old buildings from the Ottoman period, which are well preserved to this day. As for modernity, the city of Ankara is almost as good as European capitals: there are excellent restaurants, discos, nightclubs, and the best shopping.
Mysterious and majestic, noisy and fabulously beautiful, the city of Istanbul is the bridge between Europe and Asia, between the traditional East and the modern West. Throughout its rich history, it has managed to change several names and was the capital of four empires: the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Latin. The former capital of Turkey, its main cultural, commercial, and industrial center, is divided into two halves, even geographically. Istanbul is located on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait. It means that it is part of two continents. The European part of Istanbul is conventionally divided by the Golden Horn; the Old City, with its famous sights, largely retained its medieval image, and the new concentrated business and commercial life. The Asian part is less popular with tourists, but it is here you can explore the traditions and lifestyle of residents in the smallest details.
The city ofIstanbul is extremely tolerant: solemn squares coexist with imperceptibly cozy courtyards, tangled narrow streets coexist with bright avenues, and ancient mosques coexist with modern mansions. The crowded, bustling metropolis is a city for contemplation, for unhurried immersion into the wonderful world where times and cultures are mixed.
Central Anatolia is a Turkey’s region with incredible scenery and ancient cities that bear the spots of a powerful civilization. The city of Ankara is the main attraction here. There is also Aksaray, with mosques, tombs and caravanserais, Konya, the birthplace of the Christian martyr Paraskeva Friday and folk sage Hoji Nasreddin, and Kayseri, with excellent sightseeing, shopping and skiing. The region of Central Anatolia (Anadolu IC) — flat desert steppes and salt marshes, lying on an ancient plateau with a harsh continental climate. It is the best choice for sophisticated travelers. In Central Anatolia you will find Turkey's most interesting tourist sites, unspoiled nature, "moonscapes", and traces of numerous vanished civilizations.
The Antalya region on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is considered one of the major tourist centers of the country. It is also the warmest — the bathing season begins here in April and ends only in November. It is the best destination for beach-rest-lovers! All the resorts are on a beautiful coast, on a rocky plateau, around the towering mountain range of Taurus. The highest peaks are covered with snow all year round. Combined with the lush greenery in which the settlements are buried, the resorts make an impressive contrast. In addition, the Antalya coast is famous not only for beach holidays but also for its rich cultural heritage. There are not only hotels and bars but also a scattering of ancient sights. The ruins of the entire city can be found near Kemer. The South Side is a living museum. Alanya is home to ancient towers and pirates.
Marmaris is one of the best resorts in Turkey. It is considered the most "European" city in the country. Several unconditional advantages of this resort have made Marmaris the most luxurious destination in Turkey. Firstly, it has an ideal climate: there is no exhausting heat, even in July and August. Secondly, the sea is calm: as the resort is located in a closed bay, fenced off from the open sea island and the peninsula, the waves here rarely happen, the water is well "held" and therefore the resort is suitable for those who are not very good at swimming, including children. The entrance to the sea here is smooth. Thirdly, Marmaris has a reputation as the most dancing city in Turkey — there is hardly any room in the disco bars in the evenings. And then there is the stunningly beautiful harbor, where many snow-white yachts are anchored.
The ancient city of Ephesus is one of Turkey's most popular attractions, surpassed only by Istanbul's Sultanahmet. Ephesus is a museum city located near Selcuk, once a tiny farming village and now a major tourist center. The archaeological complex attracts travelers with its antiquity and very good preservation. True, there are almost always a lot of tourists here, but the place is certainly worth a visit. The territory of the museum is not very large. Usually, two or three hours is enough to visit. But you should take water with you because the taps with drinking water are located at the entrance, and you can buy drinks only outside the complex.
The city of Izmir plays several roles in Turkish culture: it is a popular resort, a modern business center, and a cultural treasure trove with dozens of museums. The symbol of Adana is the country's largest mosque, Sabanci. The Pride of Erzurum — a majestic fortress of the 5th century. Bursa is the former capital of the Ottoman Empire, attracting fans of beach recreation in the summer, skiing in the winter, and sightseeing all year round.
Cappadocia is a historical region in the heart of Turkey. In recent years, it has become popular among tourists, and there are many reasons for this. There are incredible natural landscapes, beautiful parks, cultural monuments, unusual sights, and attractions. The amazing landscape of Cappadocia, which many travelers call "alien," began to form millions of years ago. All thanks to volcanoes — lava and ash turned into tuff and basalt, which over time have acquired unusual shapes. In Cappadocia, there are valleys of rock outcrops of all kinds of shapes and colors. Some are easy to reach, even on foot, while others are hard to reach and almost wild. The one thing that valleys of Cappadocia have in common is that they make an unforgettable impression on all visitors.
The snow-white travertine terraces of Pamukkale look like a quarry from afar, but as you get closer to them, you begin to understand why they attract tourists from different countries. This is a real geological miracle, which is called the "Cotton Fortress." The entire plateau, which rises above the river, is covered with smooth travertine, resembling lilies, shells, and bowls. Travelers come here to improve their health and enjoy the views; similar landscapes are not found anywhere else in the world, only in Turkey.
Beaches in Turkey
The beaches of Turkey do not need any advertising: they are the main tourist magnet. In the land of the four seas-the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea-it cannot be otherwise. The coasts of Belek and Side are covered with the best sand, Bodrum with pebbles, Antalya and Kemer have picturesque bays. The only thing left to do is pick a variant that appeals to you and enjoy some classic beach relaxation. You can even get a tan and have a good swim in Istanbul. The beach "Dalia Beach Club" at the Black Sea is famous for the best service: a spacious guarded area, secluded areas for recreation, sports fields, snack bars, and an excellent fish restaurant. "Solar Beach Club" is the largest private beach in the city ofIstanbul. It has everything from sun loungers, umbrellas, and showers to bars, restaurants, a children's club, a beauty salon, and even its own medical clinic. For a quiet holiday, it is better to go to the beaches of the Prince Islands: most of them are paid, but very nice.
The Antalya coast is always crowded with tourists: the sea here is clean, and the beaches (sandy and pebbly) are well-groomed. "Cleopatra" in Alanya is famous for its perfectly smooth entrance to the water, a cozy bay in the town of Olympus — the best choice for those who want to be alone with beautiful nature. The villages of Kadriye near Belek — a democratic resort, and Tekirova near Kemer are elite. There are "pearls" on the Aegean coast. "Pamucak" is a wild but very picturesque beach covered in dark sand. The sea in the lagoons around Fethiye is always warm and calm. Nesting turtles on the beach of Dalyan, although watching them is great luck. And "Akyarlar" near Bodrum is an ideal place for a family holiday.
Skiing in Turkey
Holidays in winter in Turkey are not the best season but still it is the pleasant time to rest. Firstly, it's not so hot. Secondly, the season at ski resorts is in full swing. Thirdly, in winter, the coast is available with numerous hotels, offering excellent cuisine, golf, tennis, thalassotherapy, indoor pools, and clean sea air. Oh yes, all this is much cheaper than a week in the Alps or any European city.
Tracks at the Turkish ski resorts are simple, without extremes, but fans of quality service and beautiful scenery will love them. The season lasts from December to March. One of the most popular resorts is Uludag; its slopes, framed by pine forests, are wide and well-groomed, and almost every hotel has elevators. Palandoken is a young but advanced resort: there are many all-inclusive hotels, a children's school, a couple of black slopes, and off-piste skiing slopes. By the way, the Turkish national alpine ski team trains here. Sarykamysh, with its cozy, relaxed atmosphere, is often chosen by beginners and families with children, and Kartalkaya, with its professional snow park, is suitable for athletes of all skill levels.
Shopping in Turkey
Shopping in Turkey is more than just leisurely strolls through fashionable malls and market gambling; it is also treasure hunting in souvenir shops and fashion experiments in boutiques of local designers. The most popular wishes among tourists are unique handmade Turkish carpets, jewelry, and all kinds of leather products such as sheepskin coats, raincoats, and jackets. A nice change of gift for your loved ones is the "eye of Fatima" in pendants, earrings, key chains, and bracelets that protect from spoilage and complete the image of the famous amulet. An even more expensive souvenir is the Turkish hookah; it is almost a cult to inhale the aromatic vapors.
The best bargain is on sale: in summer (July to August) and winter (January to February), discounts in Turkish stores reach 70%.
Cappadocia is famous for its clay crockery, and Marmaris for its richly flavored honey. It is certainly worth buying the specialty dessert made of chestnuts in Bursa. The resorts of the Aegean coast make the best natural soap based on olive oil. Gourmets are unlikely to leave without a box or two of the famous Turkish sweets, and fans of drinks, without a bottle of local vodka "raki". Most shops are open from 10:00 to 22:00, with a half-hour lunch break starting at 13:30 and a Sunday off. Stores in resort areas are open until late at night, and large shopping city’s malls are open all week.
What to taste in Turkey?
The best things of Turkish cuisine are beef (less often lamb), beans, vegetables (tomatoes, onions, garlic, eggplant), different spices, rice, and bread as main side dishes. Popular dishes are mostly minced meat; variations of kebabs and koftas are cooked on the grill or stewed in the sauce. "Meze" is an indispensable part of the meal: a lot of plates with tiny portions of all sorts of cold snacks. It is worth trying the Turkish sweets — endless varieties of baklava and Turkish delight. Among the drinks, as elsewhere in the East, the most popular are coffee and tea. Another local highlight is "boza" — a mixture of water, flour, and sugar — and "sahlep" — sweet milk with orchid root and cinnamon. Famous alcoholic drink is "raki", strong liquor with the aroma of anise.
Events and Festivals in Turkey
According to the Zoroastrian calendar, the New Year in Turkey begins on March 21. It is called Nowruz Bayramy. The Kurds living in Turkey organize folk performances, burn sacred lights and launch fireworks into the sky. April 23 is Children's Day, which is loved and pampered here. It's a public holiday with seminars, Olympiads, and parades of schoolchildren in the smartly decorated streets, and an extra reason to give your kids candy and toys. May 19 is the Day of Youth and Sports. August 30 is Victory Day in memory of the liberation of Izmir from Greek troops.
The end of the month of Ramadan marks Sheker Bayram, the holiday of repentance. Turks visit their elders, ask for forgiveness from their loved ones, and feast on sweets after a strict 30-day fast. October 29 is Republic Day, with demonstrations, fireworks, and concerts by local stars. The main religious holiday is Eid al-Adha. The International Istanbul Film Festival in mid-April, the Festival of Tourism in Anamur in late May, the International Jazz Festival in Istanbul in the first week of October, and the International Regatta in Marmaris from November 1 to 6.
Important information for Turkey’s tourists
In general, Turkey is a safe country. In all the resort areas, there is no risk of strolling at any time of day or night. The only thing to be wary of is the theft of small items (such as cell phones) or money. The memory of Ataturk, the first president of Turkey, should not be insulted. You should not disrespect relics and things of state value, such as money and the flag. At the entrance to the mosque, shoes should be removed. The dress code for women is a covered head and a long skirt, otherwise, they will not be allowed in. It is not allowed to take photos of Turks wearing black clothes or of Turks without their consent. Drinking alcoholic beverages (even beer) on the street and in public places can cause disapproval. It is not recommended to drink water from street fountains, especially from the tap: you should limit yourself to bottled water. Too "sweet" alcohol prices in clubs and restaurants are frequently a dangerous ploy: poisoning from low-quality alcohol is not uncommon in the country.