Bursting with rich culture, boundless history and admirable hospitality, Turkey is easily a global favourite when it comes to travelling. A country so diverse it is comparable to an entire continent, it never fails to capture hearts: mesmerising landscapes, mouth-watering delicacies, and incredible stories – what’s not to love?
With a climate ranging from the gentle Mediterranean to frosty Alpines, Turkey prides ten thousand years of history within thousands of miles, offering an array of activities and an experience of a lifetime.
Let’s take a closer look at the things you can get up to in Turkey, region by region.
Turkey’s Mediterranean Region
1. Wander the charming cobbled streets of Alacati
A beautiful Turkish town married in history with Greek culture, Alacati really blurs boundaries between the two cultures. The charming cobbled streets are lined with chic hotels, quaint boutique stores, antique shops and dainty cafes, some of which have been converted from beautifully restored wooden Greek homes. Alacati is perfect for leisurely walks and luxurious lazy days.
2. Get your heart pumping while windsurfing in Alacati
Cradled right in the heart of the Cesme Peninsula, Alacati is surrounded by clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches, offering endless spots for you to kick back and lounge in the sun. If you are feeling slightly more adventurous, Alacati’s strong winds have made it the centre of the windsurfing world. Get your heart pumping and give it a go! Lessons and equipment are easily accessible, and quite frankly, there’s not many better places to try.
For the full experience, there are many small boutique hotels you can stay in that feel just like private homes. The Tas Otel is the first of its kind, a 130-year-old Greek mansion which has been tastefully renovated, it offers sweet gardens and relaxing pools, along with a delicious traditional afternoon tea with freshly made cake. Who can say no to cake?
Black Sea region
3. Roadtrip between the mountainous villages of Trabzon and Rize
An incredibly distinct yet discreet part of Turkey, the black sea region is bursting with tradition, cuisine and a deep devotion to the earth. A hikers’ (and photographers’) paradise, this part of Turkey will have you wanting to stop every other minute as you gaze in awe at breath-taking views.
Road trip between the cities of Trabzon and Rize, hand-in-hand with high mountains and deep green forests, ponder at beautiful plateaus and bottomless valleys as you discover medieval castles, rushing rivers and alpine villages along the way.
4. Enjoy good food with a view in the Black Sea region
Take the opportunity to have a traditional meal as you are perched high above a valley, because the only thing better than good food, is good food with a view! Most of Turkey’s tea comes from the Black Sea region, along with a bulk of the world’s Hazlenuts (Nutella, anyone?) so if you get the chance, learn about the perfected process and visit the family-run farms. Treasure the enthusiasm with which the farmers display their craft, as you sample their fresh produce and enjoy the most beautiful complimentary landscapes.
Turkey’s Aegean Region
5. Step into the Roman Empire, preserved in the heart of Izmir
Izmir is a diverse destination: after housing Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ottomons and now modern Turks over the past few hundred thousand years, what else can you expect?
It hosts one of the best preserved archaeological sites in Turkey; the Roman Agora of Smyrna, which will take you right back to the Roman Empire. In the heart of the city, these ancient monuments are surrounded by hilly neighbourhoods, towering commercial buildings and colourful market streets.
Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Region
5. Challenge your tastebuds in Gazientep
49% of the enterprises in Gaziantep are dedicated to food, making it one of the ‘8 creative gastronomy cities’ in the whole world! We told you turkey steals hearts, in this case, through stomachs!
The Pistachio capital of Turkey, Gazientep produces thousands of tonnes of quality produce every year. Expect some of the most exciting combinations using pistachios, including a coffee that converts even the non-hot beverage drinkers, where coffee beans are replaced with wild pistachios.
Turkey’s Central Anatolia Region
6. Whirl with the dervishes in Konya
Konya is the soul of Turkey. Antique villages, ancient mosques, catacombs and cave churches make up some of its striking architecture, all ready to be explored.
It is also where one of the worlds’ most read poets, rests. Jalaluddin Rumi’s turquoise tiled tomb is at the heart of the old city and invites thousands of tourists every year, making it Turkeys second-most visited attraction.
Rumi was a mystic, a Sufi saint promoting love. To this day, his followers lose themselves in trance and dance, sometimes for hours on end. You can experience this for yourself on Saturday evenings not far from the Mevlana Museum.
South Central Turkey’s Cappadocia Region
7. Rise with the sun in enchanted Cappadocia
You may have seen some of these dreamy hot air balloon pictures floating (see what we did there?) around the internet, and wondered if this place was even real? So did We!
The enchanting land of fairy tales, Cappadocia (pronounced Kapadokya) is a triangle of land bursting with geological, cultural and historic structures. In between Aksaray, Nigde and Neveshir, it is packed with mystery. Cappadocia is particularly popular for trekking, along with its picturesque fairy chimneys, underground caves and of course, colourful hot air balloon rides!
Goreme, in the region of Cappadocia, is THE place for hot air balloon rides and an absolutely magical experience as you float high into the sky at dusk. Harmonious with rows of other colourful balloons, you are gifted with an unrivalled view of the charming landscape below you, right as the sun paints the horizon with the most beautiful palette, right before your very eyes.
As well as riding the hot air balloons, you can watch a gallery of colour float into the perfect sunrise from an incredible rooftop view. As long as you arrive 30 minutes before sunrise, Sultan Cave Suites is famous for opening up its rooftops for visitors to enjoy this spectacle, even if you aren’t a guest at their hotel. Beautifully complete with traditional Turkish rugs and detailed homeware, the hotel rooftop also displays a table spread full of traditional breakfast. You are bound to enjoy the show and get the perfect Instagram picture, now that’s one way to start your morning!
Credit: @sultan_cave_suites on Instagram
Turkey’s Marmara Region
8. Experience the antiqued bazaars of Bursa
Bursa, one of the capital cities of the Ottoman Empire, stands today almost like an open-air museum. It displays remarkable reflections of the early Ottoman culture, both awe-inspiring and historically significant.
Unlike other popular cities, Bursa is a working town offering an authentic Turkish experience. The sites are not flooded with tour buses, and you are more likely to rub shoulders with locals rather than tourists or operators as you wander in its relaxed cultural atmosphere.
Beauty and history aside, Bursa is wonderful for food and shopping. Walk through the antiquated bazaars and hans, where you can find an array of artisan items to take home for yourself or your loved ones. Bursa is famous for silk scarves and pottery, both of which have been made in this area for centuries.
With an incredible amount of significant history and rich culture all in one place, it’s no surprise that many people who have been, are yearning to return. That’s the thing with places like Turkey; one visit is often not enough. In fact, maybe even a lifetime of visits wouldn’t suffice in uncovering the many amazing wonders waiting to be discovered!