Even though Istanbul has something for everyone, it’s truly a city that is quite fascinating for those who appreciate history and all its magnificent remnants. Spend a few days in Sultanahmet and explore the major Istanbul icons, such as the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace or the Grand Bazaar. To really become acquainted with the past, visit the fascinating Istanbul Archeology Museum with its three buildings that include items from the pre-Islamic period all the way to the Anatolian and Ottoman tiles and ceramics and everything in between. Of course, apart from the major sights, history lovers will also be happy to know that Istanbul has plenty of lesser-known sights that are just as interesting as the tourist favourites. Spending a day wandering around the historic Balat neighbourhood, taking a ferry to the islands to see a wealth of Ottoman-era mansions or simply spending some time in the Beylerbeyi Palace are just some great examples.
Turkey has a lot of areas where wine production is on the rise, but Bozcaada and Urla just happen to be our personal favourites. Visit the quiet town of Urla, about an hour’s drive outside of Izmir, and visit the biodynamic vineyard of Urla Winery, an award-winning producer of excellent wines from both local and international grapes. Our favourite is the Urla Nero D’Avola-Urla Karasi, which won the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards. Bozcaada, whose wine culture dates back to antiquity, is living from the resurgence of local grape varieties thanks to the Corvus Vineyards on the island’s southern hillsides. A dream come true for architect turned winemaker, Resit Soley, Corvus works with regional varieties, such as Cavus, Vasilaki, Kuntra and Karalahana, an important development for Turkish wines.
Compared to the Swiss landscape with its mountains, alpine villages and meadows overflowing with wildflowers, Turkey’s Black Sea Region is a true dream for nature lovers who want to get away from the city and hike around in solitude. Go hiking in the Kaçkar Mountain range, spend some time in Artvin’s beautiful Karagöl-Sahara National Park, hike up to the famous Sumela Monastery or just book a room in a hotel in one of the area’s idyllic alpine pastures way above the world.
Turkey has a huge stretch of coastline, which means there are plenty of summer vacation spots. However, it’s the hidden beaches and coves of Fethiye that we always dream of in the midst of summer. Spend a while in Fethiye’s Butterfly Valley, a pristine hidden beach nestled between two sloping mountains and inhabited by thousands of butterflies, and you’ll know why Fethiye is so special. Another one is the Ölüdeniz Lagoon, where you can spend plenty of time by the turquoise water.
Istanbul is the first place that comes to mind when talking about Turkish food, but the country’s pistachio capital is also a great place to enjoy some amazing local food. We’re talking about the best baklava you have ever tasted filled to capacity with fresh local pistachios. And lest we forget, Gaziantep is also famous for its kebabs, which plenty of locals eat for breakfast, so make sure to get your fill while you’re there.