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Sumela Monastery | © David Bacon/Flickr
Sumela Monastery | © David Bacon/Flickr
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You're Only a True Turkey Expert if You've Done These 17 Things

Picture of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Updated: 25 July 2017
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.

Visited Sultanahmet’s Essential Sights

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).

Hiked the Lycian Trail

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.

Lycian Trail
Lycian Trail | © juergen_skaa/Flickr

Gone Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

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.

Tasted Olive Oil in Cunda

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.

Visited a Boutique Vineyard

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.

Eaten Kebab and Baklava in Gaziantep

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).

Visit the Mausoleum of Atatürk in Ankara

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.

Gone Camping at Kelebekler Vadisi

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.

Visited Mardin

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.

Mardin
Mardin | © Feride Yalav

Seen the Mausoleum of Rumi in Konya

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.

Had a Rakı Night at a Historic Meyhane

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.

Toasting with Rakı
Toasting with Rakı | © Ollios/Wikimedia Commons

Toured the Seas with a Gulet

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).

Seen Pamukkale and Ephesus

The other two very important natural and historic wonders of Turkey, the travertine terraces of Pamukkale and the ancient Greek city of Ephesus with its well-preserved remains, must be witnessed.

Gone Shopping at a Bazaar

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.

Turkish Market
Turkish Market | © Neil H/Flickr

Wandered Around Olympos

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.

Hiked up to Mount Nemrut

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.

Seen the Sumela Monastery

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.

Sumela Monastery
Sumela Monastery | © Scott Dexter/Flickr