Turkey's Everlasting Magic : the country straddling Western Asia and Southeast Europe
Updated: May 25, 2021
Turkey is a country where East meets West and history meets adventure. The people are welcoming, the cuisine is delightful, the culture has depth. Turkey has sun-kissed beaches, pine-covered mountains, and more than enough attractions to fully occupy a month’s time. There are just so many reasons to visit Turkey. We’ve put together a list of all of the things to do and places to visit in Turkey that are reason enough to start looking into flights to this surprising country!
The terrace pools filled with milky mineral waters look surreal in pictures and more dreamlike in person. The white mineral deposits make it look as if you’re stepping on a snow-covered hill, but the tepid water will tell you otherwise. This is one of the most epic places to visit in Turkey. Spend an afternoon soaking, splashing and relaxing in these unique springs. And when your fingers have turned pruney, head to the top of the hill where you can explore the ancient ruins of Hierapolis.
The Hagia Sophia reveals a timeline to Istanbul’s religious history. Formerly an Orthodox Cathedral from 532 to 1453, the building was then converted into a Mosque, until it became secularized in 1931 and turned into a museum. It is still technically considered to be the world’s second largest cathedral and is an awe-inspiring display of giant domes and intricate mosaics (even when half the building was covered in scaffolding)! I’d recommend booking a guided tour in advance so you can skip the queues.
Riding in a hot air balloon is the ultimate bucket list experience, and Cappadocia is one of the world’s top destinations for this adventure! Rising above unique rock formations in a sea of colourful balloons will certainly be a highlight of your time in Turkey and is an experience you will remember for a lifetime.Everyone we talked to who had done a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia was starry-eyed days later and swore the experience was worth every penny
After spending days exploring this sprawling city, we came to the conclusion that Istanbul is best appreciated from the river. Organisers run ferry services run for an hour and a half-guided tour along the Bosphorus. I would definitely recommend doing the cruise at sunset– it adds that extra bit of magic to the whole experience! Alternatively, you can make the experience a little more memorable and book a 3-course dinner cruise, which includes entertainment in the form of folk dancing and traditional music!
Viewing the landscape of Cappadocia from a hot air balloon is mesmerizing, but so is getting up close and personal with the flowers and rock formations that dot the region’s valleys. And speaking of rock formations... the ones in Love Valley resemble... ummm... well, let’s just say it’s called “Love Valley” for a reason. Pack a picnic lunch and wear sturdy shoes for this little day trip, where you’ll likely be amongst just a handful of other hikers.
Now, we’re not talking about laying down your head in any old bat-ridden cave. The hotels in the town of Göreme are seriously luxurious (though there are a few options for budget travellers as well!). The room isn’t a cave per se, but is made of stone bricks and has a high, arched ceiling which makes it feel almost as if you’re in a cave. The room itself has lots of natural light and a spacious bathroom with a Jacuzzi pool (yes please!). The breakfast is good and the family who runs this hotel is nice.
Wander amongst wildflowers, fruit trees and wild goats in this enchanted valley that will have you wondering if you’ve stepped into a storybook paradise that’s been frozen in time. Just a kilometre from the ocean, you’ll find a tumbling waterfall framed by boulders and flowering trees. And if you get bored of wandering, relax on the pebble-strewn beach that is lapped by crystal blue waters. Have I sold you on this dreamy paradise yet?
To truly immerse yourself in the culture of a country you sometimes have to get out of your comfort zone, and visiting one of Istanbul’s Hamams is the perfect way to do this. Hamams have been a Turkish tradition for thousands of years, used as both a place to socialize and a place to cleanse. Most bathhouses are separated by gender, and yes, it is normal for everyone to be walking around naked, or at least topless. A traditional Hamam experience involves transitioning through different rooms of varying temperatures, including a hot steam room and cold and hot pools. Once you reach
the end, you generally receive a brisk scrub down by an attendant. Yep, this is a once-in- a-lifetime experience you won’t forget in a hurry (plus, you’ll never feel cleaner)!
It may look like normal ice cream, and it may even taste like normal ice cream, but Dondurma has a texture unlike any other ice cream in the world. The ingredients used make it resistant to melting and impart a sort of chewiness to the consistency. Dondurma vendors are known for putting on spectacular shows, spinning around giant masses of ice cream on long paddles and playfully flipping customer’s cones upside down.
The gateway between the East and the West, and the only city in the world that can claim residence on two separate continents, Istanbul is truly a one-of-a-kind city. With two major airports and direct flights to cities all over the world, it’s likely to be your entry point into Turkey and we highly suggest you take advantage and stay a few days (or more if your schedule allows!). While it is a large city – it’s spread out over two continents after all – most of the major highlights of Istanbul can be visited on a walking tour, combined with some public transportation. You’ll learn about the progression of this historically significant city, visit landmarks like the famous Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Topkapı Palace. Any good walking tour will show visitors the famous Grand Bazaar, Turkey’s largest and oldest coveredmarketplace, and the Spice Market next door.