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Turkey is located in both south east Europe and south west Asia, and its attraction goes far beyond its 5,000 miles of beautiful coastline.
While Bodrum and Antalya are popular for their luxurious beach resorts on the beautiful Turkish Riviera, exploring beyond the sandy beaches can lead to creating an exceptional travel plan for Turkey.
Explore the remnants of a Neolithic era in off-grid areas, embrace city living in the capital, and witness breathtaking views from Unesco sites Pamukkale and Mount Nemrut. Create your own path and experience all of the highlights of this nation.
Experience the excitement of hiking along the Lycian Way and paragliding over Ölüdeniz, while also exploring the religious architecture of Ephesus and Istanbul. And don’t forget to spend your afternoons bargaining at the Grand Bazaar.
Discover the top thrilling activities, rejuvenating spa experiences, and delicious local delicacies to include in your upcoming journey to Turkey.
Learn more about traveling to Turkey.
Visit the Blue Mosque
The Blue Mosque, officially known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, is a popular tourist destination in Istanbul, Turkey. It features a stunning exterior dome and intricate interior tiles in shades of cobalt and aquamarine. This historic mosque, built during the Ottoman era, is a must-see for its grand central prayer space and thousands of blue İznik tiles. Visitors are often amazed by its beauty, especially when not during daily prayer hours.
Negotiate at the Grand Bazaar.
Imagine wandering through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, surrounded by artisan stalls, handmade goods, and the excitement of bargaining. The market, which dates back centuries, is filled with vibrant lamps, intricately woven rugs, and aromatic spices. With over 3,500 shops to explore, you’re sure to find a unique antique to bring home as a souvenir.
“Discover the historical ruins of Ephesus”
As far as Turkish archaeology is concerned, the Greek city of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved Greco-Roman ruins in the world, is an unmissable ancient metropolis on the Aegean coast. Among the marvels of the 10th-century city that once stood, you’ll find the towering façade of the Library of Celsus, a 40,000-seat theatre carved into the hillside.
Experience the thrill of paragliding above the stunning Ölüdeniz Blue Lagoon.
Experience the thrill of danger while tandem paragliding from Babadag mountain in Ölüdeniz for unbeatable views of the mesmerizing cobalt waters of the Blue Lagoon, 1,200m above the sea. For the brave, just run towards the mountain’s edge and let gravity (and strong winds) guide you down over the stunning blue hues, landing on a grassy area. It’s an exhilarating experience that will stay with you for a long time.
Take the overnight train to Sofia.
The train that travels from Turkey to Bulgaria departs from Halikali station and passes by burek stands, earthen homes, and colorful minarets. The journey to Sofia will resume in April 2022. The train cabins are equipped with outlets, refrigerators, light snacks, and fold-out beds, making it a comfortable trip through the scenic Bulgarian mountains and into the cityscape of Sofia. This is a perfect opportunity for interrailers to experience the Balkans.
Experience a traditional Turkish bath.
The spa industry in Turkey features ancient bathhouses where visitors can enjoy steam rooms, mineral water, and skilled Turkish masseuses to help them unwind and escape the busy tourist areas. The historical beauty of tiled arches, decorative columns, and crescent designs adds to the experience for those seeking a soothing treatment amidst their sightseeing adventures.
Climb Mount Nemrut and witness the sunrise.
Mount Nemrut, which stands at an elevation of 2,150m and is recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site, is a destination that should not be missed by both hiking enthusiasts and those who enjoy stargazing. For the best experience, reach the summit at sunrise to not only get your steps in but also to take in the breathtaking scenery of the seated statues and the Euphrates River glowing in shades of orange. For unimpeded views, a knowledgeable guide, and a delicious local lunch following the hike, book a tour with Made in Turkey Tours.
Take a dip in the Pamukkale hot springs.
North of Denizli lies Pamukkale, also known as the “Cotton Palace,” where visitors can experience hot spring paddling in a whole new way. The stunning cascading pools made of limestone and coated in calcium carbonate create a mesmerizing white appearance and were once the backdrop for the Hellenistic spa town of Hierapolis. Now a Unesco-listed site, visitors can walk and soak in designated swimming areas of the cloudy blue waters for a fee of just €11 (£9.52).
Experience the flavors of the local cuisine in the less-traveled parts of the country.
There are countless options to choose from in the simple yet delicious mangal kebabs, meze platters, and sweet baklavas found in the lesser-known areas of Turkey’s major cities. Enjoy a breakfast of spiced eggs known as menemen along with the famous donner kebab and pitta bread filled with kofte. During the winter, you can also find roasted chestnuts being sold on the streets of Istanbul. To truly experience the diverse and flavorful Turkish cuisine, consider taking a walking tour.
Explore the Mediterranean Sea aboard a gület vessel.
A great option for exploring the coastline of southwest Turkey is by utilizing a boat, particularly a gület – a classic double-masted wooden sailing vessel. These boats were previously used for transporting silks and spices, but now they serve as a means for vacationers to uncover secluded coves on the water and dock in remote villages to indulge in delicious meze dishes with the crew.
Experience the thrill of soaring to great heights while riding in a hot air balloon in Cappadocia.
Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is famous for its iconic sight of hot air balloons drifting through the sky. This popular destination attracts thousands of visitors every year who are eager to experience the World Heritage Site. Those who wake up early are rewarded with breathtaking views as they embark on sunrise hot air balloon rides over the charming Göreme Town, unique fairy chimneys, and stunning tufa rock formations.
Swim in the waters of Bodrum’s beaches.
Bodrum, often referred to as Turkey’s version of St Tropez, offers a picturesque coastal getaway with luxurious beach resorts that feature unique amenities such as floating sunbathing areas and private cabanas perfect for enjoying the golden sands throughout the year. Beyond the convenience of all-inclusive lounging, visitors can also enjoy beach bars, lively seafood eateries, and a variety of watersports right at their fingertips, making this holiday destination a dream for anyone seeking a Turkish escape.
Explore the Lycian Way trail.
For those who enjoy exploring history while walking, there is much to discover about Turkey’s past along the 539km Lycian Way. This long-distance trail stretches from Fethiye to Antalya and passes by Lycian burial sites and Roman ruins. Along the way, hikers can stop at quiet beaches, charming hilltop villages, and cozy boutique hotels. Imagine seeing well-preserved Roman amphitheaters and acropolis, all against the stunning backdrop of the Mediterranean.
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The Independent is a digital newspaper based in the United Kingdom.