Turkey is a diverse, gorgeous region with more than its fair share of mysteries. Within hours of arrival, however, you’ll pull back the veil on all the treasures hiding within the country’s borders. Plan your itinerary beforehand to make sure you hit up the most beloved cities.
Visit Ankara for the Capital Experience
Image via Flickr by Jorge Franganillo
Ataturk, the first man to serve as the president of Turkey, declared Ankara the country’s capital. Set aside time to visit the Mausoleum of Ataturk and pay your respects to the city’s most important authority figure. After that, head to the Old Quarters, a beautiful historical area where you can walk along cobblestone streets flanked by Ottoman homes with red roofs.
Ankara has accommodations, activities, and dining options for every type of traveler. Try Trilye for fine dining, or eat like locals at Duveroglu, Haci Arif Bey, or the Timboo Cafe. In between mouthwatering meals, visit the Rahmi M. Koc Museum or the local mosques, such as Haci Bayram. Get to know the local landscape, as well. Ankara has several parks, as well as Eymir Lake.
You can find hotels near just about any point of interest. Take advantage of the city’s public transportation to get from place to place. Consider the minibus or the subway.
Spend Time in the Melting Pot of Istanbul
Image via Flickr by Pedro Szeke
Not only is Istanbul the biggest city in Turkey, but it’s also the most well-known. Some of the country’s most gorgeous architecture is in Istanbul, not to mention its most glorious landscapes. Regarding culture and geography, it’s where East meets West. Given the abundance of things to do, you need to open up an Istanbul city guide before your trip.
Snag a photo op at Sultanahmet Square. Spend time in the historic district of the city, and pay homage to buildings of cultural and religious importance, such as the Blue Mosque. Put aside a few hours to tour the Hagia Sophia Museum. Nearly every point of interest has dining options nearby. It’s expensive at 1924Istanbul but worth it. Kucukoglu Barbecue redefines barbecue. Old Istanbul Cuisine delivers exactly that. Just as the restaurants range from budget-friendly to high-class, so do the hotels. It’s even possible to find rentals, room shares, and Airbnb options.
Get around with a transit pass to save on bus and metro fare. You can skip the cab fares altogether. Travel on the bus, the trolley, or the subway, or consider a ferry. There are even places you can reach on a catamaran.
Get Lost in the Fairy Chimneys of Goreme
Image via Flickr by Travel-Turkey
Goreme is most known for its fairy chimney formations. The rocks resemble hobbit homes more than rocks. Some of them contain churches, in fact, and entire cities run beneath the ground. Explore where you can, then take in the Goreme Open Air Museum, with its monasteries and churches. The small-town atmosphere makes for cozy dining options and accommodations. Within just a day or two, this will feel like your new home. Splurge on a hot air balloon ride. You have to rely on buses and taxes to get around, but the view from the sky is breathtaking.
Visiting Turkey is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Where do you want to go?