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Turkey Travel Guide

Sunrise hot air balloon rides. Opulent sultans palaces. Ancient bazaars.
The sultans’ palaces Sultan’s palaces gilded in gold and jewels. Surreal lunar landscapes dotted with fairy chimneys. Bazaars of glittering treasures. Turkey feels like a world created of imagination, wonder, and delight. 

Turkey is unique in every way. It is a mosaic of modern and traditional, the quiet and vibrant. Its capital embraces two continents, one arm to Asia, the other to Europe. Iconic landmarks pay homage to a confluence of religions, and superstition. You can go shopping in Ottoman-era markets. You can explore subterranean cities. And you can even drink glasses of pickle juice (don’t knock it till you try it). There’s a new surprise waiting around every corner.

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The sultans’ palaces Sultan’s palaces gilded in gold and jewels. Surreal lunar landscapes dotted with fairy chimneys. Bazaars of glittering treasures. Turkey feels like a world created of imagination, wonder, and delight. 

Turkey is unique in every way. It is a mosaic of modern and traditional, the quiet and vibrant. Its capital embraces two continents, one arm to Asia, the other to Europe. Iconic landmarks pay homage to a confluence of religions, and superstition. You can go shopping in Ottoman-era markets. You can explore subterranean cities. And you can even drink glasses of pickle juice (don’t knock it till you try it). There’s a new surprise waiting around every corner.

Location

Turkey is located at the intersection of Caucasus, the Balkan Peninsula, the Middle East, and the eastern Mediterranean region, nestled on the border of Asia and Europe. The country boasts a coastline of thousands of kilometres running along the total boundary length of Turkey, that encompasses the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the gorgeous turquoise Mediterranean, and the Turkish straits- which include the narrows of the Bosporus, the Dardanelles, and the Sea of Marmara. 

When to go

The best time to visit Turkey depends on the region you prefer to visit.. If you’d like to visit Istanbul and other inland regions, April-May or September-mid November is the ideal time period to travel. The skies will be a clear blue and the temperature will be pleasant.  But if you’re planning a beach side Turkish holiday, choose a Turkey holiday package during May to October, and head to the Aegean and Mediterranean coastlines.

Where to go 

With its rich past, beautiful coastlines and natural splendour, Turkey will delight you every step of the way. You can discover the paradox that is Istanbul, with modern cafes and neighbourhoods that seamlessly blend in with historic quarters. You can visit places of intrigue and whimsy, such as the surrealistic landscape of Cappadocia, or the natural, gleaming white limestone terraces of Pamukkale. 

Other popular places include The Egyptian Bazaar of spices and dry fruits, Sahaflar Carsisi for book lovers, the beautiful cruises that start from Marmaris, Eminonu for Bosphorus cruise, Aladaglar National Park.
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At a glance

Currency

Turkish Lira
Turkey’s currency is the Turkish Lira. The conversion of Turkey’s currency to INR, at the time of posting, is 1 TRY= 11.95 INR.

Weather

Turkey can be visited throughout the year. In summer, the temperature is a pleasant 28 degrees celsius, while in winter, it can drop to 11 degree celsius. And it gets a little chiller in January and February. If you wish to visit any of the archaeological sites, spring and autumn are the best seasons to go.

Language

Turkish
While the official language is Turkish, some parts of the population also speak Kurmanji, Arabic and Zaza.

Expert travel advice

Travel tips and insider advice that have made the most difference to us, sourced from our
community of like-minded travellers and global experts.

Pay your respects at the iconic Blue Mosque   

Recommended by Atlas & Boots

“Directly opposite Ayasofya is the Blue Mosque – perhaps Istanbul’s most photogenic building. The architecture combines a blend of domes, minarets and blue Iznik tiles (hence the name). Despite receiving over five million visitors per year, crowds are managed well making the Blue Mosque a site not to be missed.”

This outdoor travel blog is read by 250,000 explorers every month. It is run by author Kia Abdullah, and photographer Peter Watson who are the Lonely Planet ambassadors.

Enjoy a colourful shopping experience at the Grand Bazaar   

Recommended by Travel Tales of Life

“Estimated to have between 3000 to 5000 shops depending on the article you read, the 60 covered vault like streets of the Grand Bazaar are crammed with tiny shops selling rugs, hand painted ceramics, spices, jewellery, gold, silver, scarves, t-shirts and likely the kitchen sink although I missed that booth.”

Travel bloggers Sue and Dave have been married for 35 years; adventurous spirits keep them living the theme of ‘never too old to explore’. They hold accredited media status with Travel Alberta, have been nominated for tourism media awards, and have collaborated with tourism boards around the world.

Take a Ferry Ride down the Bosphorus   

Recommended by Polkadot Passport

“Istanbul is best appreciated from the river. would definitely recommend doing the cruise at sunset– it adds that extra bit of magic to the whole experience! Alternatively, you can make the experience a little more memorable and book a 3-course dinner cruise, which includes entertainment in the form of folk dancing and traditional music!”

Nicola, who runs Polkadot Passport, shares unique bucket-list experiences, destination guides, travel photography tips, and more. This popular blog receives over 1 million hits a year, won numerous awards and has been featured on the likes of Lonely Planet, Huffington Post and the Daily Mail.

Float in a hot air balloon over Cappadocia   

Recommended by Salt in our Hair

“Cappadocia is world-famous for its balloon rides with the sunrise. Hundreds of hot air balloons filling the sky, flying over and through the fairytale-like canyons...This is a once in a lifetime experience”

This award-winning travel blog features beautiful photography, travel tips and guides by Hannah and Nick

Feel like a sultan at a Turkish bath   

Recommended by Flirting With The Globe

“A hamam (or Turkish bath) is something that every traveller should experience when traveling to Turkey.”

Karisa Klee writes about her travelling adventures on her popular website, sharing travel tips for those with limited annual vacation days.

Incredible places to visit in Turkey

Pamukkale

Pamukkale means ‘cotton castles’, so named for the startling white snow-white calcium terraces filled with turquoise water. These are thermal pools, rich in minerals; it is a favourite pastime for locals and travellers to take a dip in the warm waters. 

Hierapolis Amphitheatre

The Hierapolis amphitheatre is situated on a slope just above the ruins of Hierapolis, running almost a hundred meters long. Built during the Roman Empire, the theatre is very well preserved. The columns on the front facade are decorated with statues and marble reliefs of Greek gods, giants and mythical creatures. From the spectators’ seats, it’s easy to imagine the Greek tragedies, celebrations, concerts, speeches and public events performed here. 

Cleopatra’s Pool

What a feeling it is to bathe in the same pool where Egyptian queen Cleopatra is said to have once swum. It is a pretty locale, with clear, warm waters, fringed by big palm-trees and pink flowers. And it is a professionally run modern spa with a spa shop, locker room and a cafeteria.  If you’re not swimming, you can simply relax by the poolside, dip your feet into the water, and let your mind wander back in time.

Necropolis

The Necropolis in Pamukkale is the biggest graveyard in the ancient world. There are different types of graves here, from the different Hellenistic, and Roman periods. It is also filled with sarcophagi made of limestone and marble, each with an inscription of the name, occupation and social status of the deceased. This is not often found on group travel packages, so make sure you add it on your own travel itinerary.

Istanbul

Istanbul, the capital of Turkey, is a whirlwind of colour, innovation, revolution and chaos that will surprise you at every turn. Located at the juncture of Europe and Asia, the city effortlessly criss-crosses Eastern and Western cultures, values, and food.

Topkapi Palace

As the seat of power for Sultans over more than four centuries, Topkapi Palace houses countless stories of royalty, scandal and opulence. Like what? There’s an imperial harem which once held over 300 concubines; the Treasury Room features a vast collection of medieval bling: baskets of emeralds, gold thrones studded with diamonds, jewel-encrusted swords; and, at one point, turtles carried candles on the back as they ambled around the gardens, providing nighttime lighting. Here, every room, and every item carries an intriguing story.

The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is an Aladdin’s cave of glittering delights. The noise, the food, the smells, and best of all, the shopping bargains! – this is the ultimate oriental shopping experience. You can wander its winding lanes and labyrinthe of shops for hours, picking up antiques, jewellery, lamps that look like they could contain a genie, and carpets of course. The Bazaar is also the largest, the most enormous and the oldest covered market in the world, attracting travellers who want to get a taste of the authentic Ottoman-era Turkey. 

Hagia Sophia

This architectural marvel, once a mosque as well as a Basilica, is one of Istanbul’s most iconic and impressive landmarks. It has been a museum for 85 years, which is regarded as a compromise between Christian and Muslims, for whom it is hallowed ground. It is also considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture; standing beneath the immense gold-ribboned dome that seems to float overhead, with exquisite mosaics decorating the walls, we’re sure you’ll agree. Dan Brown fans should know that there is a special Inferno tour which you can book along with your Turkey trip package. Feline aficionados will want to say ‘hello!’ to the Hagia Sophia’s cat named Gli, who has turned into an Instagram star.

Blue Mosque

Known as Sultan Ahmet Camii (or Sultan Ahmed Mosque) in Turkish, the Blue Mosque is a famous mosque in Istanbul, renowned for its beauty and historical significance. With its light-filled prayer hall, impressive dome, six minarets, and thousands of blue ceramic tiles that line its interior, you’ll feel like spending as much time as you can admiring this monument. But be warned: the mosque is closed to non-worshippers during the daily prayer times, so plan your visit accordingly.

Galata Bridge

Built on the Golden Horn, Galata Bridge in Istanbul is one of the best places in Istanbul to take in the view of the city at sunset. It’s also a charming local spot; lines of fishermen cast their lines into the water; seagulls fly overhead; cats keep a low profile yet let the fishermen know they’re there, just in case there are any ‘extras’ for spare.

Bodrum

Bodrum is a port city in the southwestern Aegean region of Turkey.  Visit this city for the famous Mausoleum of Mausolus, sun-bathe by Camel beach or take a boat trip during the day on the Bodrum Peninsula. One experience you absolutely cannot afford to miss here is the incredible Turkish bath (Hamam).

Castle of St. Peter

The medieval Castle of Saint Peter is an important historical landmark of the town of Bodrum. Formerly among the most notable military garrisons, the castle has been turned into a historical museum today. Flags fly from it’s ramparts, while inside, the walls are studded with colourful coats of arms, and you can spot names of soldiers who’ve left their mark there.

Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum

Located inside the Bodrum Castle, the museum exhibits a collection of ancient archaeological artefacts that offer insight to the maritime history of the region. There are amphoras, lamps, carpentry tools, glass bowls, a gold scarab alleged to belong to Egyptian queen Nefertiti, and even the remains of a third of a seventh-century Roman ship, to name a few. Some were retrieved from shipwrecks and you can even touch a few items to feel the surface and texture. 

The Bodrum Old Town and Bazaar

The philosophy “shop till you drop” is perfectly apt here. Bodrum is the largest open market of its kind in the area and is a must on your Turkey travel itinerary. Shop for various items of clothing at ridiculously affordable prices, oriental perfumes, quaint artefacts or fresh food items like local cheese, fresh herbs, olives.

Yahsi Beach

Yahsi beach lies to the south of Ortakent town. It is one of the longest beaches on the peninsula. The clean shore and warm, blue waters makes it a popular place for families with kids, and for swimmers and snorkelers too. 

Kusadasi

The town of Kusadasi in Turkey is located on the coast of the Aegean Sea and is famous for being a vibrant and buzzing beach resort town. When you’ve gotten your fill of the sand, surf and sunshine, a great option to take in some local history is to spend a day exploring sites of Biblical significance, as well as the ruins of the nearby ancient city of Ephesus. 

Pigeon Island

Prepare to be disappointed. You won’t find any pigeons here - although during the past, the island used to be a convenient rest stop for migrating birds. The island’s other multifold charms will make up for any despondency.  You can visit the Pirate Castle located at the end of the bay, or sit back and take in the sight of yachts sailing peacefully in the turquoise blue waters while enjoying a meal of fresh seafood. Also, there’s an iconic tree which is covered in hanging blue ‘evil eye’ amulets that you must see.

Basilica of St. John in Ephesus

Christ’s apostle, St. John, who wrote the Fourth Gospel as well as the Book of Revelation, preached about Christianity in Ephesus, where he lived out his final days. The Basilica of St. John ruins stands over the what is believed to be his burial site. ‘Believed’ because according to local legend, John is not really dead, but sleeping beneath his tomb. 

Isa Bey Mosque

The Isa Bey Mosque is located at the foot of Ayasoluk hill and just below the Basilica of St. John. It’s an elegant  example of Seljuk Turkish architecture, known for its unusual asymmetrical structure, and it is also the oldest known example of a Turkish mosque with a courtyard. It is made of marble, and stone pieces that were brought from the Temple of Artemis and earlier ruins in Ephesus. Curious travellers will be intrigued to know that ‘Isa Bey’ roughly translates to "Jesus.”

Ladies Beach

As one of the most loved beaches in Kusadasi, Ladies Beach is a must on any group travel package. It is frequented by local residents especially on Sundays. To enjoy a less-crowded beach, visit during the rest of the week and grab a prime spot on the golden sands.

Top things to do & experience in Turkey

Nobody wants to be a tourist. Here are curated experiences in art, music, food, culture and communities
to help you have an authentic and memorable trip.

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