My, my, my, what can I say about Turkey? Although I only spent half a year in Istanbul, I have already decided that it shall be my second home. Walking through the beautiful streets, smelling the concoctions at various bazaars and sailing down the Bosporus are just some things I never got tired of. Yet, Turkey is not just about the magnificent Istanbul. Turkey is blessed with a beautiful coast, impressive history and a diverse culture. There are many things to do in Turkey if you are a nature-lover, a history-fan or a foodie. In fact, there are so many things to do in Turkey that a single vacation is just not enough, never enough.
For beach-lovers, the Mediterranean coast of Turkey is simply gorgeous. You definitely know about the famous island of Santorini, but what about the peaceful coastal city of Bodrum? The southwestern coast of Turkey is dotted with many beautiful little villages and towns that are worth a visit, such as the quaint village of Datca and the amazing beach of Olimpos. Rest, relax and enjoy a delicious plate of Turkish kebabs. Nothing beats a vacation along a beautiful coast.
The coast however is not just for beach-lovers. Hiking fans would also not be disappointed – a famous trail links many of these beautiful villages and hard-to-reach pristine beaches. The Lycian Way is a 30-day trail linking Fethiye with Antalya. There are various access points all along the trail so you could easily choose between a day-hike or a multi-day adventure. I did a day hike from Fethiye to the secluded beach of Oludeniz, passing through ancient Lycian tombs and a panoramic view of the rocky coast from above. The hike was short, but nothing short of amazing.
Impressive ancient cities also dot the coast. Most tourists visit the 3000-year-old Ephesus near the city of Izmir, but how many people actually know of a larger, more impressive ancient city of Bergama? Perched on a mountain, you can walk up through a dizzying trail or take a panoramic cable car to the ancient site. Turkey is blessed with a rich history, thanks to its great location that bridges Europe with Asia. In fact, there are so many historical sites that it is impossible to visit them all. I bought a museum pass that included almost all of the famous sites, but I could not complete the list despite living there for half a year (and actively trying).
Yet Turkey is not just about its spectacular coastline. The central Anatolian region of Turkey is also packed with beautiful sights. Imagine a hundred hot air balloons at sunrise rising above beautiful rock formations… Or massive underground cities and cave networks. This area around Cappadocia is a world wonder and there is so much to explore. I visited Cappadocia twice, yet felt like I still have not seen enough.
Keep going eastwards and you will arrive at the Kurdish part of Turkey. If you are a foodie, you will not want to miss the amazing food from Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. For history-buffs, you have to visit Diyarbakir, the proud capital of the Kurds. Last but not least, if the cradle of the first civilisation is your thing, you have to see the Mesopotamian plains for yourself, right from the citadel of Mardin. Not many tourists make it this far, yet I find this part of Turkey the most attractive. It takes courage to venture this far, but I assure you that this adventure will be nothing but great memories.
In my travels, many people asked me which country was my favourite. Without doubt, Turkey remains my top country to visit, simply because of how it caters to a diverse interest. Turks are one of the most hospitable and also the warmest people I have met and I always felt welcomed while living in Turkey. With great food, amazing people and beautiful sites, what more can you ask for?
The map below marks the places that I have visited in Turkey. Hover over them to see the names of these places. Soon, you will be able to click on them to discover what exactly these places are!
Check out some of the articles that I have written about Turkey and hopefully you may find inspiration in your next vacation: