The only country to straddle both Europe and Asia, Turkey is a country that reflects both the beautiful unity and incoherence of being a country with so many influences. Turkey is a country of countless tales, from the ancient Greeks, Seljuks, and Turkic tribes that would lead to the founding of the Ottoman empire and finally the new age of modernity and Secularism brought by Ataturk in a culturally Muslim country. Whilst, the 20th century saw Ankara become the economic capital, Istanbul, the only city to straddle Europe and Asia in the world, is in the top 10 most visited cities in the world.
Overview of Cities:
Istanbul is often conflated as being equivalent to the whole of Turkey, and visitors should not limit their travels in Turkey to only this bustling cultural capital.
Istanbul is a highly sensory experience soaking visitors in thousand of angles of Turkish history that shows endless overlap. The city immerses visitors in the smells and flavours of Baklava and Kunefe and the deep tastes of meat in Lahmacuns, Kebabs and kofte. The Bosphorus, the lifeline of the city, connects huge Camii’s (pencil minareted mosques) to Palaces, Galata Tower and endless labyrinth Bazaars.
Ankara is a hip and modern city that invites travellers to explore its choice of cultural food, experience the bustling student nightlife and understand how Turkey became the country it is today. Ankara is the meeting point for Turkish people from all four corners of the country and can be a great taste of the complexity of the country. Tourists can visit the immense and impressive memorial of Ataturk at AnitKabit, which honours the creation of Turkey as a republic through huge art pieces and sculptures whilst giving followers of Ataturk the chance to experience the man behind the founding of Turkey.
Cappadocia and Pamukkale
In recent years, the city of Cappadocia grew in recognition due to its sunrise air balloon rides that offer bird-eye views of the semi-arid region and its mystical “fairy chimneys” entirely unique in Europe. Often paired with this trip is a visit to Pamukkale, a beautiful display of travertine terraces and white, pale blue petrified waterfalls. Visitors are rewarded for their hike upwards with the incredibly well-preserved Heirapolis, once a Greco-Roman spa town.
For food lovers and those interested in an authentic gastronomy experience, Gaziantep, known as Antep to Turkish people, is THE national touristic top pick. It is home to Turkey’s favoruite pistachios, iconic for its bitter and vivid green colour that pairs ideally with the sweetness of the syrupy and cheesy Kunefe or sweet-drenched Baklava. Visitors can even try Menengic coffee, a softer pistachio coffee that often comes in a beautiful cup, lid and saucer set. Meat lovers can enjoy Patlican, a bbq type of aubergine and meat dish, Kusleme, tenderloin lamb meat, Ali Nazik, lamb meat seasoned with garlic and spices on a bed of eggplant puree and yogurt. There are endless meat dishes and earthy meals of bulger, seasonal vegetables and varied yogurts.
Classical Cities of Turkey
On the Western coast, cities are found with an ever-lasting Hellenistic imprint with the famed fallen city of Troy, near Cannakkalle. The Library of Celsus, ancient Roman ruins in Epheseus, and Pergamon, the once ancient and powerful Greek city with such an everlasting impact that Berlin’s biggest museum is named after it.
Coastal Cities of Turkey
Further South, coastal cities like Antalya, Marmaris and Bodrum are Turkish favourites but also see tourists returning year and year due to the variety of beaches and attention to detail in the summer seasons. Turkish Tourism and hospitality are hugely important and customers are treated as kings. Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies can try all sorts of activities to check off their bucket lists. From Parasailing, and jet skiing, the family friendly banana boat rides, the choices all pack a punch and laughs for days. For those less interested in water activities, the national parks, offer mystical mountains and deep valleys inland that have opportunities for buggying, jeep drives and paragliding.
Religious Cities of Turkey
Religious towns such as Konya, home to the world-famous poet Rumi beckons visitors in search of spiritual awakening to walk in his footsteps and seek connection to the natural and divine world around. Often less visited are cities to the East, with entirely different landscapes of vast deserts and wide steppes. Sanliurfa, lesser known is a small town believed to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham.
The best way to figure out the best place to visit in Turkey, once a land at the centre of the world is to understand your travel personality and decide based on the type of holiday you desire. Turkey is a country that Turks themselves constantly revisit.