Ranging from snow dusted mountains to fine sandy beaches lapped by bright turquoise water, it offers diverse environments which are perfect for a range of activities from trekking to diving and even skiing.
The country’s beauty has been one of its major drawcards, not just for tourists now, but for a chain of invaders and immigrants through the ages. Julius Caesar famously came, saw and conquered and the ancient Greeks pursued the beautiful Helen of Troy to the shores of Asia Minor which is Anatolia – the peninsula of land that today constitutes the Asian portion of Turkey.
As a result of these comings and goings, here you’ll find a mix of cultural influences from the Middle East and the Mediterranean as well as from its Balkan and Central Asian neighbours. These are played out in the country’s music and art scene as well as its diverse and delicious cuisine.
Explore the architectural beauty of its mosques and churches, browse the wares in the bazaars then give your body the ultimate clean in the hammam, those steamy Turkish baths. Or witness the twirling rhythmic meditation of the Sufis otherwise known as the Whirling Dervishes.
Then, of course, there is Istanbul – the city that straddles the continents, linking them with its spectacular stretch of water, the Bosphorus.
But remember that this vibrant metropolis is not the Turkish capital. That title instead belongs to Ankara which became the capital in 1923 when the Turkish Republic was founded after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Places to Visit in Turkey
Unique Things to See and Do in Turkey
- Go hot air ballooning in Cappadocia
- Walk the Lycian Way, considered by some as among the top ten long-distance walks in the world.
- Take a gulet cruise from Marmaris to Fethiye
- Make the steep climb to the Monastery of Sumela near Trabzon
- Visit the ancient city of Ephesus
Biting Into Turkey
Food is at the heart of Turkish culture, and one of the best ways to get to know the country is by tucking into its delicious cuisine.
With Turkey’s abundance of olive trees, olive oil unsurprisingly is a key component of many dishes. So too are vegetables, fish and meat which are flavoured using herbs and spices that have long formed part of the cooking traditions in this country.
For the spice trade flourished in Turkey, particularly during the six centuries of the Ottoman Empire, when Turkey was at the centre of interactions between the east and west.
During this time, Turkey was exposed to the cooking traditions of a wide range of countries. Certain dishes were adopted and adapted into Turkey’s own cuisine, spreading beyond its own borders to neighbouring countries. Take Turkish pastries as an example – the popular pastries of filo and nuts can be found across the area. Cooking techniques such as the use of a charcoal grill to prepare meat have also spread, as has the use of spices.
Nibble on meze, sip on some çay and finish on a high with a honey-dripping piece of baklava.
Getting Around Turkey
There are plenty of ways to travel this vast country. Trains, run by Turkish State Railways, are one way with high speed services available on some routes. Then there are long-distance buses which retain their popularity despite growing competition from domestic airlines. Small minibuses called dolmus, meaning “stuffed”, also run along set routes. Flag them down as you would a taxi.
Or you can opt for the air instead with carriers such as Pegasus or Atlasjet flying a number of internal routes.
Best Time of Year to Travel to Turkey
The Turkish climate varies quite significantly. Northern areas of the country have an oceanic climate, while southern areas benefit from the temperate Mediterranean climate. The country’s interior, meanwhile, has a continental climate which often brings four seasons in one day.
But the high season runs from June to August when temperatures are at their highest. But be prepared for crowds at this time of year, with Turkish school holidays also falling within this period. The shoulder seasons of April to May and September to October offer warm temperatures but fewer crowds overall, with the exception of the Kurban Bayrami holiday which takes place around autumn. Although this is the high season in Istanbul!
If you’re planning to take to the slopes at one of Turkey’s ski resorts, then plan to travel between October and April which is considered the low season elsewhere.
Ready to plan your visit to Turkey? Check out these popular guides and trips.