Turkey Travel Guide
A fusion of east and west; Turkey is a rapidly developing country with Middle Eastern mystic coupled with European charms. Turkish hospitality is famed throughout the world, as is the country’s cuisine and coastline. However, it’s the culture and attractions that are the real Turkish delights.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Relaxing in a Turkish bath, belly dancing, free tea, experiencing the sights of Ankara, visiting Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, chilling on the beach, taking a stroll around the ancient ruins of Ephesus and bathing in the therapeutic waters at Pamukkale.
What’s Not: Going out to eat during Ramadan and finding most of the restaurants have ground to a halt, bargaining for hours over a small item only to find you could have had it cheaper next door, handle bar moustaches, trains crowded with sweaty and sometimes odorous bodies and having blonde hair and being the center of unwanted attention.
When to Go
Due to its varied terrain, Turkey experiences a range of weather patterns. However, the best time to visit any part of the country is in the summer (June to September) when temperatures can soar. This is also the most popular time of year for tourists, so expect to get caught in the crowds. Winter (December through February) can get extremely cold, with snow being seen in some towns and the mountainous areas. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during spring (March to May) or autumn (October and November).
Getting There & Away
There are a number of ways to reach Turkey with international airports found in Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. Direct flights arrive in the country from many European cities as well as New York, the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia. There are daily rail services to Budapest, Bucharest, Belgrade, Sofia, Iran and Syria. Buses travel from across Europe, while Marmara Lines operates car ferries to a number of ports.
Health & Safety
A bit of common sense along with general care will ensure that most visits to Turkey are problem-free. Watch out for pick pockets and always keep one eye on your valuables. Always keep you passport on you in case of an encounter with a policeman with time on his hands. There have been reported cases of bird flu, but these have been in rural areas and no one has been infected in any major city. Pharmacies can be found throughout the country with trained pharmacists on hand to help with any minor ailment. For more serious complaints, head to a hospital in one of the major cities. Steer clear of tap water and public toilets if you can.
Food & Hospitality
Turkish cuisine fuses Mediterranean and Arabic influences and is usually extremely rich. Beef is the most commonly used meat, while eggplant, onions, lentils, beans, tomatoes, garlic and cucumber are the principal vegetables, often mixed with an explosion of herbs and spices. The main staples are rice and bread. It would be a crime not to sample some homemade Turkish delight and an authentic Doner kebab. Raki, the local aniseed liquor has an amazing ability to give you a hangover that lasts for more than one day; exercise caution.
The average holiday to Turkey is two weeks, which will ensure enough time to see some sights and soak up the sun.
Spend a relaxing week on the beach at one of the country’s coastal resorts.
Spend two or three days discovering the historical sights in Istanbul.
Visit the capital Ankara and experience this vibrant capital.
Take time to party with the crowds in Bodrum.
Two days in Ephesus will allow you to experience this ancient city, which boasts some of the most impressive Greek and Roman ruins in the country. Head to the mountains and enjoy trekking in the summer or skiing in the winter.
Ankara: the capital of the Turkish Republic and the second-largest city boasts an array of attractions.
Antalya: a haven of stunning beach resorts and a hub for water sports enthusiasts.
Istanbul: the largest city in Turkey and a commercial and cultural hub housing Turkey’s most significant architectural icons.
Bodrum: a trendy Aegean resort boasting a lively nightlife and a number of fine dining establishments.
Ephesus: was a great Greek and then Roman trading city and today, the city boasts the grandest ancient ruins in the entire country.
Cultural sightseeing: Turkey has been the site of a number of flourishing empires and kingdoms. Famous ruins and ancient cities boast huge historical significance.
Shopping: is a must-do activity. Especially worthwhile is taking a trip world’s largest covered market, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.
Relax: in a steaming Turkish bath, known as a hammam, and indulge in a body scrub and massage.
Water sports: are varied and plentiful. Try your hand at scuba diving, windsurfing, sailing or rafting.
Trekking: Turkey boasts the Lycian Way, a trail which stretches for 500kms between Fethiye and Antalya. It takes up to a month to complete, but you will pass through some of Turkey’s most breathtaking scenery.
Partying: is particularly enjoyable in Bodrum, the heart of Turkey’s nightlife. Enjoy a few cocktails before dancing the night away in one of the countless clubs.
Festivals & Events
Turkey has a curious mix of religious and festive events taking place throughout the year. Focus is largely on the family.
April: National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is a celebration for children across the country as well as marking the establishment of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
May: Atatürk Commemoration and Youth and Sports Day remembers the arrival of Atatürk in Samsun. Children across the country don shorts and head into the playing fields for a number of sporting events.
September/October: Ramadan, a month-long Islamic festival, sees devout Muslims fasting and abstaining from sexual relations.
September/October: Seker Bayrami is a three-day festival which sees feasting to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
December/January: Kurban Bayrami is a four-day festival marked by the slaughtering of sheep.