For sheer diversity, Turkey is hard to beat. The country is best measured in multitudes – of people, natural landscapes and cultures. It is a land of vast open spaces and massive mountain ranges, fertile valleys and rugged coastline, fast-growing cities and sleepy villages, seaside resorts and remote beaches.
Countless waves of invasion, rebellion and immigration have forged a country whose cultural depth and breadth may surprise visitors as they venture not just through major cities, but across the country.
Turkey overflows with historic sites and archaeological wonders, all set in a varied and beautiful landscape. The Mediterranean coastline is punctuated with well-preserved Greco-Roman cities like Pergamom and Ephesus, while the otherworldly landscapes of the Cappadocia region harbour cave churches and underground cities.
Though capital status eludes it, Istanbul is very much the beating heart of the nation. The city is an archive of cultural influences throughout the centuries, playing host to Roman aqueducts, Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques and palaces. Yet it’s no relic. Cafes, bustling bazaars, hammams (public baths), and nightclubs all buzz with activity.
Still, Istanbul is just one piece of the vast Turkish puzzle. Beach-lovers can while away lazy sunny days at the ever-popular Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir resorts along Turkey’s Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.
The unlikely capital city, Ankara, may be less frequented, but its location in central Anatolia makes it worthy of a few days’ visit, if only to witness the contrast between the city’s modernity and the surviving citadel. Away from the more European sensibilities of Istanbul, Ankara also presents an opportunity to gain insight into other facets of Turkish culture.
However deep its roots are, Turkey is today a thrusting and dynamic society, navigating cultural, economic and political change while seeking to retain the best of its multicultural heritage and time-honoured traditions. And that’s arguably what makes it so rewarding.
When To Go
With hot summers and a chilly, rainy winter climate, the best times to visit are the spring and autumn. Spring is generally the best time to go, as the days are longer than in the autumn. Either way, you will miss the mid-summer crush of tourists. Autumn is also Ramadan season, a culturally interesting time to visit but also a time when there’s some upheaval in regards to store and restaurant business hours. Spring and autumn are both excellent times for rafting, trekking and camping.
– If your visit falls during Ramadan, expect to be awakened before dawn by drummers who wander the streets to awaken Muslims for their pre-dawn meal.
– Wear the clothes you would normally wear in your own country, but if visiting a mosque, follow the proper etiquette and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.
– If trekking or rafting, use a respected, licensed tour operator who is willing to provide references.
– Stick to rafting trips that are appropriate for your skill and comfort levels. Rapids in Turkey vary from pleasantly thrilling to extremely challenging.
– Take care in selecting a Hamam (Turkish bath), as they vary greatly in cleanliness.
-Cappadocia Snowshoe Trek
-Istanbul Walking Tour
-Lycian Way Trek
-St. Paul Trail
-Kackar Mountains Trek
-Rafting on the Çoruh River
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
– Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia
– Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği
– Historic Areas of Istanbul
– Hattusha: the Hittite Capital
– Nemrut Dagı Milli Parki
– City of Safranbolu
– Archaeological Site of Troy
– Selimiye Mosque and its Social Complex
– Neolithic Site of Çatalhöyük