Top Ten Things to do in Turkey
Hopefully, when you think of Turkey, you think of a beautiful and diverse country with lots to see and do. Unfortunately, this is not the image that the media conveys to us. The media will have you believe that Turkey is unsafe for travellers, female travellers in particular. And while we can’t ignore that there’s some political unrest – and yes, there is a chance that trouble will arise again – I always felt safe in Turkey. People were friendly, and generally went out of their way to ensure I enjoyed my time in their country.
So… If you still need convincing, here’s ten incredible things to do in TURKEY:
1. Hot air balloon over Cappadocia
The hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia was not only the highlight of my time in Turkey, but one of my top travel experiences ever. A ride in a hot air balloon ride is smooth, slow and peaceful. Despite my fear of flying, I didn’t feel unsafe for even a second. There must’ve been at least a hundred other balloons taking off with us. All around, fire was flaming up into balloons, lighting up the sky around us… And then before I knew it we were up in the air! Flying over mountains and valleys and dipping down super close to the fascinating rock formations. I can’t recommend this highly enough!
2. See Pamukkale
Pristine white springs, filled with bright blue water… Obviously Pamukkale was way up on my Turkey ‘to-do’ list before I even landed. And it most certainly did not disappoint. If you can time it so that you’re in the springs either first thing in the morning, or right before closing, it’s not only beautiful but peaceful too.
3. Hop on a boat in Fethiye
If there’s one reason I’d go back to Turkey, it’s to see more of the stunning coastline. While in Fethiye, I spent half a day cruising around different islands and bays, absolutely gobsmacked by the beautiful scenery. There are also options for longer boat trips, such as the popular Med Sailors tours.
4. Hike or quad bike around Cappadocia
Believe it or not, there’s more to Cappadocia than the beautiful hot air balloons that fill the morning sky. The unique landscape makes for excellent exploring, whether it be by foot (just bear in mind it’s scorching hot in summer..) or on a quad bike.
5. Check out the two most famous mosques of Istanbul
The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia are the centrepieces of Turkey’s bustling capital city, Istanbul. Go inside each of them and learn about the history, then when you’re ready to sit down and take in an amazing view of them both, head to Seven Hills Hotel rooftop restaurant. If you take a little boat trip along the Bosphorus, you’ll be able to gaze at the many, many mosques dotted along the shore.
6. Chase a waterfall
Naturally, this is one of my priorities wherever I travel. I only managed to see one waterfall in Turkey – Duden Falls. A beautiful place despite the herds of tourists.
7. Take in the history at Gallipoli, Troy and Ephesus
I’m no history buff, but Turkey’s got plenty to offer if that’s your cup of tea. If you’re an Aussie or a Kiwi, I definitely recommend heading to Gallipoli to learn about WW1 and our part in it. What’s particularly fascinating there is that the locals have just as much respect for their men who fought for their country, as they do for the ANZACS that tried (and miserably failed) to invade it. An added bonus at Gallopoli is the ridiculously stunning coastline.
8. See Istanbul’s Asian side
Istanbul is split by the Bosphorus, marking the divide between Europe and Asia. While most of the popular tourist spots are on the European side, the Asian side is certainly worth exploring too. It’s the more modern, trendy, hipster side of town. Walking along the Moda Park waterfront, you’ll get a feel for how the locals live. As you walk down the main streets, you’ll find endless quirky little coffee shops and cafes, as well as boutique shops offering gorgeous handmade crafts.
9. Shop at the markets
I’m slightly obsessed with markets – and the markets in Turkey are pretty phenomenal. Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a treat for the senses. Gaze at the beautiful lanterns and crafts while you take in the aromas of hundreds of different spices and, most importantly, try all the Turkish delights.
10. Get a Turkish Bath
By the end of my rather invasive and yet somehow relaxing Turkish bath, I felt properly refreshed and rejuvenated. An odd experience, but one I would probably do again if I came back to Turkey – and I’d recommend it to anyone visiting. I think it’s a great cultural experience, so long as you are prepared for a lot of nakedness!