Here’s our top 10 list of things to do and places to see in Turkey.
1. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Probably Turkey’s most famous landmark, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is so-called because of the blue Iznik tiles adorning its interior. With six beautiful minarets surrounding it, this distinctive building was built in the early 1600s, and although it still functions as a place of worship, it’s also a popular destination for tourists.
Top tip: Grab a ‘simit’ nearby. It’s a bit like a pretzel. The perfect snack.
2. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets. This is where Istanbul’s status as the only city in the world to straddle two continents really becomes apparent, with goods from all over the world to peruse.
Top tip: Learn to haggle! Start your price at around a quarter of the asking price and don’t be afraid to walk away. Don’t be aggressive, but stand your ground if you feel you’re being taken for a ride. And if you can’t get a good price? Try another spot, there are around 4000 shops here to look at.
3. The Trojan Horse, Troy
You won’t find Brad Pitt or Eric Bana lurking around here (or at least, it’s unlikely) but you will find a really fascinating replica of the Trojan Horse, the legendary device used to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. This is just a replica, but it’s definitely worth a visit.
Top tip: Don’t just look at it! You can climb up inside too!
Gallipoli is the site of the annual ANZAC day celebrations, an important day in the calendars of Australians and New Zealanders the world over. This is where thousands of allied forces lost their lives in a doomed mission during the First World War. Pay your respects, and have a look around too – Gallipoli has stunning natural appeal, and even in summer the pristine beaches remain uncrowded.
Top tip: You’re not far from Troy; head over and have a look!
The local name of Pamukkale is ‘Cotton Castles’, and you can see why – calcium-rich water has cascaded over the cliff edge, creating surreal formations that formed as the calcium was deposited. The natural shelves and pools make for an interesting backdrop for photographers, but it’s the warm pools at the top that people come here for. Take a dip amongst the submerged fragments of fluted marble columns. This is where the Roman spa town of Hieropolis, founded in 190BC was located.
Top tip: Visit the partially restored Roman theatre nearby, once capable of holding more than 12 000 spectators!
The landscape of Cappadocia
6. Troglodyte villages, Cappadocia
Cappadocia is another oddly-formed landscape, and here you have a few different choices (which is why it features twice on our top 10). First, head underground and see the subterranean churches, tunnels and troglodyte villages hewn out of the soft porous rock. Some of these subterranean cities are up to eight levels deep!
Top tip: Portions of the very first Star Wars movie were filmed here. Can you guess which ones? Use the force!
7. Hot Air Ballooning, Cappadocia
Once you’ve explored the landscapes themselves, hop in a hot-air balloon and see this odd-looking but undeniably beautiful landscape from above.
Top tip: Take your camera!
8. Whirling Dervishes in Konya
Commemorating the death of the great Sufi poet and teacher Rumi, considered a saint by many Muslims, crowds of devotees and tourists flock to Konya from the 10th to the 17th of December every year. The Sufis believe that union with God can be achieved through the performance of the dance. It’s also a way of honouring their teacher. This isn’t just movement of the body – the dance is also a spiritual experience achieved through a combination of music, listening and the dance itself.
9. Gulet cruise in Fethiye
Fethiye is on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, a beautiful port with breathtaking views of an island-studded bay. With a good selection of charming cafes, restaurants and shops to amble around, it’s the perfect place to relax. Take a Gulet (traditional wooden sailing boat) cruise around the area and soak up the sun!
10. The Draconids Meteor shower
Tipped to be one of the best meteor showers around this year, the Draconids Meteor Shower takes place in October. With the earth passing close to the tail of the comet 21P / Giacobini-Zinner, stargazers should see the results as a shower of meteors visible to those in the Northern Hemisphere. On The Go Tours has a unique 10-day Draconids Meteor Shower tour departing on the first of October and arriving in Cappadocia just in time to witness this meteorological event.
Top tips: bring a notebook stargazers – Dr. Ferhat, Asst. Professor of the Space Studies division from Erciyes University will be giving a talk about the Draconids Meteor Shower after dinner on the 8th day of the tour.