Often regarded as the bridge between East and West, Turkey is blessed with an amazing combination of cultural, historical, and natural beauty. The country offers visitors not only ancient and traditional monuments but also contemporary, cosmopolitan cities.
Turkey maintains the top position in our ranking of favourite countries people can visit for a holiday. In addition to its excellent cuisine, it’s also a great place to grab a bargain or two. Here are 10 great things that Turkey is renowned for:
1. It’s the home of the Turkish bath
Visiting Istanbul gives you the opportunity to take a Turkish bath in a gorgeous Ottoman monument. In these hammams, you can opt for a wonderfully relaxing style of both bath and massage that has become recognised around the world.
So often imitated but never bettered, you have to experience the real thing, so be a little brave and opt for an attendant to bathe you, rather than having a go at the self-service options widely available.
2. The shops are fantastic
During your stay in Turkey, you will discover thousands of shops packed with bargains. Visit the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered bazaar in the world. Stop here for fresh local delicacies, deluxe watches and much more, all alongside the perpetually popular handmade trinkets that everyone loves to bring home.
There’s more to discover than just the Grand Bazaar, though, with countless open-air markets and stylish designer boutiques to be discovered, every shopaholic can fulfil their wildest fantasies in Turkey. For keen cooks, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is a bucket-list shopping destination.
3. They do breakfast better than anyone
Breakfast, otherwise known as kahvalti, is a must-do experience, as it remains the best and most important meal in Turkey. A typical breakfast includes a spread of different types of bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, kaymak (cheese) and spicy sausages, well as numerous cups of cay (Turkish black tea). Later in the day, don’t forget to taste the fresh and delicious meat rolls at the Atatürk Farm, along with the fantastic beer and old-fashioned ice cream.
4. The parks are beautiful
Ankara’s various beautiful parkland areas can be traced to the days of the Turkish Republic. Take a trip to Kurtulus for ice skating alongside veterans, seasoned professionals and the Olympic hopefuls of the future, as well as keen amateurs. Or head to the Kugulu for wildlife. Known for being home to countless swans, ducks and geese, this is a park for families to enjoy, though you’ll need to maintain a firm grip on your lunch!
HarikalarDiyari is a little different in that it’s one of the largest urban parks in Europe. Also known as Wonderland Park, it plays host to a variety of rides and rollercoasters for thrill seekers of all ages to enjoy, so don’t assume it’s all relaxing greenery.
5. It’s the centre of medical tourism
The medical procedures carried out in Turkey have been acclaimed as some of the best in the world. Besides, the low-cost of these procedures relative to the US and European countries make Turkey a favourite destination for hair transplants. GetHair.co.uk is a leading provider of hair transplants in Turkey with several different transplant techniques you can choose from.
You might have attended various weddings somewhere else, but you need to experience the glamorous wedding packages and parties in Istanbul and along the attractive coastline. However, if you are not one for extravagant events, you can opt for elopement on short notice. You can get married in Turkey without rigorous paperwork or stringent residency requirements.
6. They know how to belly dance
The Oryantal Dans (belly dances) on display in Turkey are very different from the one that you might have seen in Europe or north Africa. Expect plenty of quick and fierce spins, and a few shimmies! A Turkish belly dance is something you must try to see while you’re there.
7. You can see underground cities
You’ve got to explore Turkey’s stunning underground structures. These historic formations are one of the deepest underground cities in the world. People used to seek refuge in them to avoid persecution by the Roman Empire. The underground city consists of churches, kitchens, cellars, and rooms for storing food.
8. You can see a Trojan horse
To make your trip more wonderful, you’ve got to visit Troy. Though you may have been aware of the amazing artefacts, the memory of being physically present at one of the most magnificent archaeological sites ever discovered is worth the effort. Having been immortalised by Homer in The Iliad, the Trojan Horse houses vital ancient artefacts and buildings, including temples, mounds, and altars. A wooden Trojan Horse is available for tourists to enter and explore, too.
9. It’s got loads of thermal spas
Spas and Turkey go hand-in-hand, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. Although the overarching themes will be the same, with you submerging into hot water and feeling all of your cares wash away, you can enjoy a variety of locations for some diversity.
The Pamukkale spa was built by the Romans and it is as old as the city of Hierapolis, approximately the 2nd century BC. You should also visit the Antique Pool which houses hot-water mineral spas where you can enjoy an invigorating dip.
10. You can enjoy an epic hot air balloon ride
Hot air ballooning is one of the most exciting activities on offer in Turkey. While you’re up in the air, you can float over the elegant Goreme Open-Air Museum, with its spellbinding rock formations, amazing valleys and striking colours. If you think the landscape is pretty from the ground, just wait until you see it from above, particularly in the Cappadocia region. The rocky terrain is dazzling in the dusky hours just before sunset.
The beauty, friendliness, rich culture, and value for money on offer in Turkey cannot be overemphasised. The country mixes both interesting traditional structures with comfortable modern architecture. This combination makes Turkey one of the world’s top 10 travel destinations, hosting 35 million visitors every year. Visiting Turkey should be on everyone’s bucket list.