Bordering Eastern Europe and Western Asia, Turkey has some of the most exquisite landmarks and unpretentious scenery in the world. With so much on offer, it can be hard to know where to go. Here is a short list of the 5 must see destinations in Turkey.
Antalya, Old Town and Surrounds
Antalya’s history is extraordinarily unique. Once occupied by Grecians, and Romans, next Ottomans, and Italians, it is now Turkey’s biggest international sea resort, located on the Turkish Riviera. But do not fear, you can get cheap flights from Istanbul for about 95 Euro. The city itself has blossomed into one of Turkey’s most populated cities, however it’s true beauty can be found in the historical remains of the old town and the natural wonders of travertine terraces. Head to Kaleiçi and stroll through the maze of cobblestone paths and ancient Ottoman style mansions to breathe in this old town ambience.
Kaleiçi is also home to one of the most famous gateways in the world, Hadrian’s Gate. This triumphal three arched marble entrance was erected in honour of Emperor Hadrian when he visited the Old Town in 130 AD. The ornamentation is well-preserved and indicates stories of Hadrian and his empire. Antalya is not only renowned for its rich history. From waterfalls to sinkholes and springs, the city’s surrounds have been forming for two million years to deliver a stunning limestone countryside, perfect for exploration. Take a day trip to check out Kirkgöz to witness Turkish sinkholes, and the falls of Düden and Kursunlu.
If you’re after a local village experience then this one’s for you. Uzungöl is located to the south of Trabzon, in the Çaykara district of Turkey. The small village was formed by a landslide which created a natural dam, allowing the townspeople to live off the naturally existing ecosystem for hundreds of years. Uzungöl’s atmosphere is mysteriously exclusive, hidden in a valley surrounded by foggy mountain forests – the real world seems totally inaccessible. But fortunately you can find this gem via public transport from the city of Trabzon or take a day trip with a tour company to see the highlights. Hire bicycles and ride around the town or go for a hike way up into the village’s mountain faces to take full advantage of one of Turkey’s most secluded rural nirvana’s.
In the heart of Turkey lies this natural wonder with topography like no other. Miles and miles of lava-sculpted “fairy chimneys” has you truly in awe of nature’s beauty. The historical architecture of the “moonscape” region was formed from erosion of soft volcanic rock. So where should you stay in Cappadocia? Well no doubt you should take up the opportunity to stay in these aforementioned “cave hotels”, for a truly Turkish experience. These caves that have been hollowed out by the residents, as they maintain a near constant temperature all year round and give you the opportunity to be a true Turk for the night.
Cappadocia means “land of the beautiful horses”, so taking that in stride, the best way to explore Cappadocia is on horseback. For 30 euros, you won’t be sorry. Clambering up the ridges of the moonscape upon your noble steed is an experience like no other! And whilst in Cappadocia, be sure to make your way to Göreme, where you can go hot air ballooning and witness the breath-taking landscapes from a bird’s eye view.
Take a break from Turkey’s busy capital city, Istanbul and stroll through an age before time. Historically, Topkapı Palace was the administrative, cultural and educational hub of the Sultans for almost four hundred years. But in 1924, the palace was announced as the first museum in the Republic of Turkey. Today, the building tells a marvellous story of the great opulence endowed by the Sultans during the Ottoman Empire and their incredible journey into Europe, down through the Middle East and into Africa. Take your time meandering through the incredible exhibitions and you will be astonished at the extravagance of an era which has now surpassed.
It’s hard to imagine a winter wonderland in the dead heat of summer. Well, that’s how you’d describe Pamukkale. This extraordinary natural wonder parades shimmering snow-white limestone baths full with mineral-rich waters, cascading down a calcite mountain face. At the foot of the flowing hot springs, is the ruins of Roman Hierapolis, your abiding host to take you back in time beyond the Bronze Age. The town itself is an incredible cultural immersion – visit the Hierapolis Archaeology Museum which showcases an array of Bronze Age Craft. Tour through one of Turkey’s most famous natural wonders to truly gain the most out of this natural wonder. For the best photographs, come at dusk when the travertines glow as the sun sinks below the horizon.