Exciting Things to do in Turkey
Turkey boasts a rich history and stunning landscapes, offering a captivating blend of heritage and beauty. Its UNESCO sites, mosques, and the iconic Hagia Sophia provide an immersive experience. Explore millennia-old treasures in this remarkable destination.
Pamukkale's Thermal Wonderland
Pamukkale's Thermal Wonderland, also known as the Cotton Castle, is a natural wonder located in southwestern Turkey. It is famous for its white calcareous landscape and thermal springs, which are rich in limestone and minerals. The springs have created a unique display of calcium formations, including potholes, stalactites, and cascades.
The pools at Pamukkale are filled with therapeutic water, which is said to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, such as skin ailments, eye problems, rheumatism, and asthma. The water is also known to be relaxing and rejuvenating.
Here are some additional points about Pamukkale's Thermal Wonderland:
- The thermal springs at Pamukkale have been used for bathing and therapeutic purposes for centuries.
- The white calcareous landscape is formed by the mineral-rich water from the thermal springs.
- The water in the pools at Pamukkale is naturally warm and ranges in temperature from 86 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Visitors to Pamukkale can swim in the pools, walk along the travertine terraces, and explore the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, a Roman spa town that was once located on the site.
Göreme's Fairy Chimneys
Göreme National Park in Turkey boasts captivating, UNESCO-recognized rock formations carved into underground cities and churches, offering a unique landscape. Exploring this lunar-like terrain on foot is a must, as it reveals the area's extraordinary character. Cappadocia's geological wonders make it a top destination in Turkey.
- The fairy chimneys are a result of erosion over millions of years.
- The underground cities were used by early Christians to hide from persecution.
- The churches are decorated with frescoes that date back to the 11th century.
- Cappadocia is also a popular destination for hot air ballooning.
- The fairy chimneys are home to a variety of unique wildlife, including birds of prey and bats.
- The park is also home to a number of hiking trails, offering visitors the chance to explore the landscape at their own pace.
- Göreme National Park is a truly unique and special place, and a must-visit for anyone travelling to Turkey.
A Turkish Bath Experience in Cemberlitas Hamami
Cemberlitas Hamami, a historic Turkish bath in Istanbul, designed by Mimar Sinan in 1584, offers a traditional bath experience. Visitors start with a peshtemal, followed by a full-body scrub and massage, leaving them refreshed. The relaxation continues in the lounge area with Turkish tea or coffee.
Here are some additional points about a Turkish bath experience at Cemberlitas Hamami:
- The Turkish bath is a traditional Turkish bathing ritual that has been practised for centuries.
- The Turkish bath is believed to have a number of health benefits, including improving circulation, relieving stress, and detoxifying the body.
- Cemberlitas Hamami is a popular tourist destination, but it is also used by locals.
- It is important to be respectful of Turkish culture and customs when visiting a Turkish bath. For example, it is important to be quiet and to avoid staring at other bathers.
Whirling Dervishes, Mystical Dance
Whirling Dervish dance, a profound Sufi ceremony, unites individuals in spiritual devotion with mesmerising music and poetry. Dervishes don white robes and conical hats, symbolising God's infinite nature through their graceful whirling. This moving experience celebrates our connection to the divine and the beauty of creation.
- The Whirling Dervish dance is a form of meditation.
- It is said to help the dancers to achieve a state of oneness with God.
- The dance is also a way for the dancers to express their love and devotion to God.
- The Whirling Dervish dance is open to people of all faiths.
- It is a beautiful and inspiring way to experience the Sufi tradition.
A Glimpse into Ephesus Ruins
The ancient Greek city of Ephesus is one of Turkey's most treasured historical sites, dating back to the 10th century BC. Its well-preserved ruins, including the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) and the Library of Celsus, offer visitors a glimpse into the grandeur of days gone by.
Here are some additional points about Ephesus Ruins:
- Ephesus was once a thriving metropolis with a population of over 250,000 people.
- It was a major centre of trade and commerce, and home to a variety of cultures and religions.
- Ephesus was also a significant religious centre, with a large Christian community.
- The city was destroyed by a series of earthquakes in the 10th and 11th centuries, but its ruins have been well-preserved.
- Ephesus is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.
Turkish nargile, a traditional water pipe, is a popular social activity in Turkey, found in numerous bars. It features rich Turkish tobacco, heated in a bowl atop the nargile and inhaled through water. Enjoyed with coffee or tea, it's a customary and communal experience shared among friends and family.
Here are some additional points about Turkish nargile:
- Nargile is believed to have originated in India in the 16th century.
- Nargile was introduced to Turkey by the Ottomans in the 17th century.
- Nargile is popular in many other countries around the world, including the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.
- Turkish nargile is known for its high quality and exquisite craftsmanship.
Archaeological Site of Troy: Journeying into the Past
At first glance, the remnants of Troy may appear as a collection of rubble and concrete. However, the ground beneath your feet, as you stand upon it, holds immense historical significance from a bygone era. This very soil bore witness to the bravery of heroes and inspired countless authors and literary figures.
History enthusiasts will find immense joy in exploring the remains of temples, altars, and other fortifications that vividly recount the stories of the past. It stands as one of the finest attractions to visit in Turkey.
Kapali Carsisi: Acquire Souvenirs and Artefacts
If you're looking to bring a piece of Turkey back home with you, aside from the countless memories and unforgettable moments, Istanbul offers the Grand Bazaar, also known as Kapali Carsisi. As you enter this vast marketplace, its liveliness will immediately captivate you.
Here, you'll discover a diverse array of treasures to take home, from jewellery and artefacts to spices, antiques, handcrafted items, and carpets. For collectors of unique items, this bazaar is a true treasure trove, and the added bonus is that you can engage in bargaining for your purchases.
Mount Nemrut: Embark on a Hiking Adventure
Mount Nemrut in southeastern Turkey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, features monumental statues believed to represent King Antiochus I and ancient gods. It's a popular tourist destination, accessible by car, bus, helicopter, or overnight tours from nearby towns. Hiking to the summit, a 2-kilometre trek taking around 1 hour, is a rewarding experience.
Here are some additional tips for visiting Mount Nemrut:
- The best time to visit Mount Nemrut is during the early morning or late afternoon, when the light is best for photography.
- Be sure to bring sunscreen, water, and a hat, as the sun can be very strong at the summit.
- There are no restaurants or cafes on Mount Nemrut, so be sure to bring your own food and drinks.
- Be respectful of the archaeological site and do not touch or damage the statues.
Ankara Castle: Exploring the Pages of History
Ankara Castle, a historic fortress dating to the 7th century in Ankara, Turkey, boasts a rich past under various empires. Perched on a hill, it features double walls, including a 7th-century inner wall and a Roman outer wall. Visitors can explore the castle, climb towers for city views, and discover ancient structures like the Temple of Augustus and the Alaca Mosque.
Here are some additional points about Ankara Castle:
- The castle was the site of a number of important historical events, including the Battle of Ankara in 1402, in which the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I was defeated by Timur.
- The castle was also used as a prison by the Ottomans.
- In the 20th century, the castle was restored and converted into a museum.
Aqua Vega Aquarium: Explore Turkish Marine Life
Regarded as one of Europe's largest underwater marvels, the Aqua Vega Aquarium boasts the distinction of hosting the third-largest tunnel aquarium in the continent. Serving as an ideal destination for families seeking quality time together, this aquarium is a sanctuary for an array of exotic sea creatures from across the globe.
Aqua Vega offers a diverse range of exhibits, including the Sea Shell Museum, Jungle Corner, Adrenaline World, and many more, providing visitors with the opportunity to intimately observe a fascinating spectrum of marine life, including sharks, Napoleon fish, clownfish, koi fish, and numerous others.
Dolmabahce Palace: Admire Architectural Splendor
Nestled in the heart of Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace carries with it a profound historical legacy. Once serving as the administrative hub of the Ottoman Empire, this palace showcases a captivating blend of architectural styles, encompassing Baroque, Ottoman, and Neoclassical influences.
With approximately 46 halls and 285 rooms, the palace's interiors match its exterior grandeur. Visitors will be enthralled by the opulence within, featuring gold-adorned ceilings, exquisite Iznik tiles, the world's largest Bohemian-style crystal chandelier, and many other remarkable elements.
Gobekli Tepe: Explore This Iconic Landmark
One of Turkey's most iconic and captivating archaeological sites, Gobekli Tepe, also known as the 'Potbelly Hill,' has stood for millennia. This tell, rising approximately 50 feet high and spanning 980 feet in diameter, ranks among the country's most significant attractions.
It is believed that during the phases of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period, this tell held social or ritual significance. With its deeply rooted and rich history, Gobekli Tepe offers travellers a unique opportunity to delve into the world of ancient sanctuaries.
Hagia Sophia: Discover Turkish History
Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Turkey, initially a Byzantine church from the 6th century, later converted into an Ottoman mosque, and subsequently a museum since 1934. Its colossal dome and stunning mosaics, hidden during the Ottoman era and rediscovered in the 20th century, make it an iconic and historic landmark.
Additional points about Hagia Sophia:
- Hagia Sophia is a hybrid building that combines elements of both Byzantine and Islamic architecture.
- The building is decorated with a variety of Byzantine and Islamic mosaics, inscriptions, and other artwork.
- Hagia Sophia is home to a number of important historical artefacts, including the Omphalion (the "navel of the Earth") and the Column of Constantine.
- The building has been damaged by several earthquakes and fires over the centuries, but it has always been restored.
Cappadocia: Witness its Mesmerising Beauty
Situated in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey, a visit to Cappadocia ranks among the top things to do in Turkey, particularly for couples. The captivating landscapes of hills and rock formations in this region leave spectators in awe.
Home to the renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Goreme National Park, Cappadocia exudes an atmosphere of romance and enchantment. With its diverse and unique cultural heritage and the wondrous creations of Mother Nature, Cappadocia has secured a place on the bucket lists of many travellers and adventurers.
Erimtan Museum: Immerse Yourself in Turkish Artistry
A relatively recent addition to Turkey's cultural landmarks, the Erimtan Museum is an art museum that was established in 2009, offering one of the finest experiences in Turkey. Inspired by Yuksel Erimtan, a civil engineer who stumbled upon an extensive collection of artefacts while working on various construction projects, this museum quietly but swiftly gained popularity. The museum's collection features ancient jewellery, coins, glassware, ceramics, seal stones, and numerous other treasures unearthed in the Anatolia region of Turkey.
Hippodrome of Constantinople: Embrace its Historical Significance
Once a vibrant hub for social gatherings and sporting events, the Hippodrome held paramount importance during the Byzantine Empire. Today known as SultanAhmet Square, visitors have the unique opportunity to witness the original structures that have endured through the ages.
Among the remarkable features are some that are thousands of years old, including the Serpent Column, the Obelisk of Thutmose III, and various other treasures. Travellers also have the privilege of admiring the magnificent base of the obelisk, which depicts Emperor Theodosius offering a laurel wreath.
Lycian Rock Tombs: Explore the Fascinating Past
The Lycian Rock Tombs in southwestern Turkey, attributed to the Lycians of 8th to 4th centuries BC, are carved directly into cliffs, resembling temples. These unique tombs feature intricate carvings at their entrances and contain sarcophagi, reflecting the Lycians' belief in elevated burials for afterlife transition. A testament to ancient rock-cut architecture and spiritual traditions.
Here are some additional points about the Lycian Rock Tombs:
- The tombs are located in a variety of places, including the towns of Dalyan, Fethiye, and Myra.
- Some of the tombs are quite large, with multiple chambers and sarcophagi.
- The tombs are often decorated with carvings of animals, plants, and mythological figures.
- The Lycian Rock Tombs are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blue Mosque: Embrace the Serenity
Also known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the Blue Mosque captivates countless tourists visiting Turkey with its enchanting blue interiors. When seeking recommendations on what to do in Turkey, locals often suggest a visit to this place of worship.
Constructed during the Ottoman era under the patronage of a sultan, this mosque stands in close proximity to another renowned landmark, Hagia Sophia. The mosque boasts a spacious courtyard, both inner and outer, six minarets, and several balconies. The inner courtyard is adorned with marble paving and encircled by a small domed portico, creating an atmosphere of tranquillity and awe.
Clubs and Cafes: Savour the Local Delight of Raki
Raki is a traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage that is made from aniseed and grapes. It is clear in colour and has a strong anise flavour. Raki is typically consumed with water and ice, but it can also be enjoyed neat or in cocktails.
Here are some tips for savouring raki in a Turkish club or cafe:
- Order a rakı kadehi. This is the traditional glass for drinking raki. It is tall and narrow, with a wide base.
- Ask for your raki to be diluted with water and ice. This will mellow out the flavour and make it easier to drink.
- Sip your raki slowly. Raki is a strong drink, so it is important to pace yourself.
- Enjoy raki with friends and food. Raki is a social drink, and it is best enjoyed with the company of others. It is also a good idea to have some food on hand while drinking raki, as it can help to soak up the alcohol.
Galata Bridge: Try a Fish Sandwich and Pickle Juice Combo
Galata Bridge, an iconic Istanbul landmark spanning the Golden Horn, offers stunning views and a lively atmosphere. A must-try experience is enjoying a grilled fish sandwich with onions, tomatoes, and lemon juice, paired with refreshing pickle juice, a classic Turkish street food delight, available from numerous vendors on the bridge.
Here are some additional points about Galata Bridge:
- Galata Bridge is a popular spot for fishing, boat tours, and people-watching.
- There are a number of restaurants and cafes on Galata Bridge where visitors can enjoy a traditional Turkish meal.
- Galata Bridge is also home to a number of shops and stalls selling souvenirs, jewellery, and other goods.
Pigeon Valley: Discover the Turkish Affection for Pigeons
Pigeon Valley, or Güvercinlik Vadisi, in Cappadocia, Turkey, is a bird lover's paradise with a rich history of pigeon keeping. Thousands of pigeons inhabit the valley, where dovecotes carved into volcanic rock offer shelter. The valley also features trees adorned with protective blue evil eyes. Visitors can hike, birdwatch, and enjoy traditional Turkish cuisine in this captivating destination.
Here are some additional points about Pigeon Valley:
- Pigeon Valley is located near the town of Göreme in Cappadocia.
- The best time to visit Pigeon Valley is during the spring or autumn when the weather is mild.
- Visitors can hike through Pigeon Valley or take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
- There are a number of restaurants and cafes in Pigeon Valley where visitors can enjoy a traditional Turkish meal.
- Pigeon Valley is a popular spot for hot air balloon rides.
What are the top things to do in Turkey?
Some of the best things to do in Turkey include indulging in various adventures such as going for a hot-air balloon ride, exploring the major attractions in Istanbul, experiencing the popular culinary delights, and strolling around the beautiful streets.
What can you see in Turkey in 5 days?
If you are visiting Turkey for 5 days, you can explore Istanbul and Cappadocia, and visit some of the major attractions in these cities. Turkey is known for its rich culture, so it's also recommended to savour various Turkish cuisines.
Is it safe to visit Turkey during COVID-19 times?
As the tourism industry slowly reopens, you can visit most of the above-mentioned places and more while following all the COVID-19 guidelines. However, it's advisable to check the latest travel advisory, COVID-19 measures, and the number of cases before your departure. It's generally safer to undertake solo travel or travel with a small group to less crowded destinations with fewer reported cases.
What are the best attractions to visit in Istanbul?
Some of the top attractions to explore during your visit to Istanbul include Hagia Sophia Mosque, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Hippodrome, Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Süleymaniye Mosque, Dolmabahce Palace, Yedikule Fortress, and the Grand Bazaar.
How much does a hot air balloon ride cost in Turkey?
The cost of a hot air balloon ride in Turkey varies, typically ranging from INR 9,935 to INR 17,750, depending on the duration of the flight. It's essential to check the weather forecast before planning a hot air balloon ride, as weather conditions play a significant role in whether the ride can take place.
What can you not do in Turkey?
Some things to avoid doing in Turkey include getting into taxis that do not have a logo, purchasing items without bargaining, wearing shoes inside places of worship, and carrying any items that are considered illegal in Turkey.
How many days are required to explore Turkey?
To explore Turkey thoroughly, 8-10 days are sufficient. However, for a more in-depth experience of this beautiful country, a 2-week tour would be ideal.