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It’s no secret that there’s much to see and do in Turkey, and not just in the big cities. From historic ruins to iconic dishes, natural wonders to architectural monuments, here are some essential experiences that a Turkey expert should have accomplished.
First and foremost, the stunning touristic icons of Istanbul should be visited and researched in order to get an understanding of Turkey’s multitudinous past. We’re talking about the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapı Palace, Basilica Cistern, and Grand Bazaar (for a start).
Of course not everyone has the stamina to hike the entirety of this 540km trail that runs along the coast of southern Turkey. However, even walking a small section is enough to really be inspired by the amazing coastal views as well as the many remains from the Lycian Empire.
Cappadocia is one of Turkey’s most popular destinations and waking up at the crack of dawn to rise into the air via hot air balloon is one of those unforgettable experiences where the colors of sunrise meets a stunning landscape.
It’s no secret that some of the best olive oil comes from Ayvalık and the small (formerly Greek) island of Cunda is full of small shops selling amazing olive oil as well as olive wood objects and olive oil soap. Our favorite is the very eco-friendly family company Kürşat.
Turkey has begun to make its mark in the world of wines and has many excellent boutique vineyards that are making the most of the country’s indigenous grapes and excellent viniculture landscapes.
Known for the many pistachio trees that bloom outside the city center, Gaziantep’s baklava is famous as well as some of the best kebab you can get in the country. Don’t be surprised to see locals eating kebab for breakfast (it’s that good).
Not only the final resting place of Atatürk, the Republic of Turkey’s founder and its first president, Anıtkabir is also a striking architectural spectacle completed by Emin Halid Onat and Ahmet Orhan Arda in 1953.
A protected natural haunt, which gets its name from the around 105 butterfly species that flutter about freely, Kelebekler Vadisi (Butterfly Valley) is one of the best places to camp and wake up to the sight of sea and mountains.
One of Turkey’s most architecturally and historically significant cities, Mardin’s old city is full of Artuqid stone houses that stand out with their beautifully ornate facades. Wandering around the many cobble-stoned streets to discover something new every time is truly unique.
The mausoleum of the great Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, who is believed to have inspired the basis of the Mevlevi Order (Whirling Dervishes), is a must see for every Turkey expert.
Eating meze and drinking rakı at a historic meyhane is a quintessentially Turkish experience, especially in Istanbul where the rakı masası (rakı table) is seen as therapy due to the long hours of conversation among close friends.
The Gulet (long wooden boats) that take visitors along some of Turkey’s most beautiful coasts are necessary in order to get a view of the country from the water (a very different and essential perspective).
Apart from the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, there are open-air markets all over Turkey, where vendors bring the best produce from nearby villages as well as handmade goods and souvenirs.
Located at the end of beautiful Çıralı beach, Olympos is a real dreamscape with a small river flowing through the ruins of the Lycian Empire. A must see for every Turkey enthusiast.
The reward for hiking up a 2,134-metre-high mountain in southeastern Turkey is the chance to see an ancient tomb that is believed to have been erected in the 1st century BC.
The Sumela Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery nestled inside a steep cliff within the beautiful Altındere National Park and is truly a magnificent sight to behold for all those Turkey lovers.