Discovering Turkey: By Land and By Sea
Turkey, which is bordered by three oceans, is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and it’s hardly surprising with so much to do on the sea, along the coast and in the country’s mountainous interior.
But where do you start when planning a trip to Turkey? Tour operators offer various itineraries for Turkey Tours Starting from Ephesus, Istanbul, Cappadocia or any of the cities along the southwest coast. Whether you prefer to travel spontaneously or pre-plan your trip, there are a few places that shouldn’t be missed.
If you’re coming from one of the Greek Islands then Kusadasi is likely to be one of the first places you visit in Turkey. Located on the Aegean Coast, this is a budding seaside resort with a central beach, vibrant nightlife and excellent shopping opportunities.
Kusadasi is more than just a popular resort town, it’s also a fantastic place to base yourself while exploring the area. Nearby you can visit the Dilek Peninsula National Park, home to a pristine sandy beach and the legendary Cave of Zeus, with a deep blue pool of crystal clear water to dive into.
Only 18 km from Kusadasi is the quaint town of Selcuk, which offers accommodation in friendly, family owned guesthouses and traditional Turkish cuisine. The main reason to visit the town is to pay a visit to some of the nearby archeological sites but you may also like to taste some wine in old Greek town of Sirince.
The most famous historical site is Ephesus, the second largest city of the ancient world and previous capital of Roman Asia. For historians it’s an absolute must see, while those who don’t know Greek architecture from the Roman, the grand theatre, marble temples and well preserved library are still very impressive sites. Don’t forget to stop by the Ephesus museum in Selcuk town centre and visit the House of the Virgin Mary.
To the mountains
In the centre of Denizli Province is where the world renowned UNESCO world heritage sites, Pamukkale & Hierapolis, are located. Literally translating as Cotton Castle, Pamukkale is a breathtaking snow like scene of naturally formed travertine pools, brimming with hot mineral rich waters that cascade over the valley side terraces. There are some amazing photo opportunities here, especially around sunset when the view is magical.
For another opportunity to bathe in thermal waters take a stroll to the nearby ancient Greek-Roman spa city of Hierapolis, were fallen marble columns and ancient artifacts lay submerged in sacred stone pools. The archeological site also hosts large amphitheatre and an extensive museum.
Land of beautiful horses
Cappadocia, meaning The Land of Beautiful Horses, is a region in the heart of Anatolia, also known as the Lunar Landscape and famous for its mushroom shaped Fairy Chimneys. The unique scenery has been formed by thousands of years of wind and rain erosion and human excavations on the soft volcanic tuff.
Today, the region comprises small traditional villages, lush valleys and barren terrain. The Goreme Open Air Museum is the perfect place for history buffs, filled with rock-hewn Early Christian churches with original frescoes, Apple Church and Dark Church have the best preserved art works, while cave drawings can be found inside stone age troglodyte caves.
Meanwhile adventurous travellers can spend their days hiking through incredible rock formations exploring the two largest underground cave-cities, Kaymakli and Derinkuyu. Don’t miss trying local Anatolian delicacies and experience warm village hospitality in a converted cave hotel.
Returning to the sea, you might want to take a tour of Turkey with gulet boat and spend four to eight days relaxing on the top deck of a beautiful wooden sailing boat. The Blue Cruise from Fethiye to Olympos is one of the best ways to spend your vacation in Turkey. Visit the most secluded bays, isolated coves and swim in azure blue cliff caves.
The Kekova region between Kas and Demre is known for having the clearest water of the entire Turquoise coast and anyone who’s visited one of Turkey’s Mediterranean beaches before will know that that is saying something. Spend your days sunbathing, swimming or snorkelling or join a scuba dive to visit an underwater Lycian city. By night, socialise with you fellow crewmates and party at Smugglers Inn, a hidden beach bar then wake up to the sunrise each morning.
A trip to Turkey wouldn’t be complete without a visit to this iconic city where the East literally meets the West; where Byzantine Churches have been converted to Ottoman Mosques and extensive underground cisterns occupy the space beneath the city centre.
Istanbul is well known as the crossing point between Europe and Asia and diversity is the first word that comes to mind when describing the city. Once known as Constantinople, Capital of the Roman Empire and major trading city on the Silk Road. Istanbul still retains much of its history in the archeological sites, castles, palaces and city walls that can be found around the Sultanahmet district, while the city’s trading heritage is still very much alive in the crowded streets of the Grand Bazaar.
Linked to the Black sea via the Bosphorus Strait and the Aegean sea via the Dardanelles, with the Princes Islands occupying the centre of the Sea of Marmara, there is plenty to discover both by land and by sea in this particular Turkish city.
- This post was written by guest blogger and traveller Beth Carter.