A Cultural Tour of Turkey

A Cultural Tour of Turkey

The land that is now Turkey has been under several civilizations and at their wake, left ruins and traces of their existence. But while they may be long gone, they have left their mark on the culture and the landscape for you and all other tourists to explore.

If you are planning a cultural tour of Turkey, here are some spots you should never miss:

1. Ancient Caria and Lycia

The coastlines are not the only highlight of a visit to Ancient Caria and Lycia. The ruins are just as breathtaking, from the remains of Knidos at the top of the Datca Peninsula, the tombs of Kaunos near Dalyan, and the remains located in Lycian Xanthos are a must-see.

2. Contemporary Art and History

The doorway to Asia and Europe, Istanbul, is now becoming more popular because of its growing art scene. This is all thanks to the Istanbul Modern the flagship gallery, and the Istanbul Biennial. There are many galleries all over the city, with tour companies offering special tours to both bigger and lesser-known galleries.

3. Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival

This 2,000-year-old Roman theater is a sight to behold but imagine watching an opera, classical music concert or a ballet under the stars. Culture seekers should never miss out on this destination and better yet, catch a performance as well. During the Aspendos Opera and Ballet Festival, guests will be able to see this whole theater full of life while enjoying a top performance.

4. Traces of the Ottoman Civilization

Most visitors only visit the biggest sites of the former Ottoman capital in Turkey (Istanbul). However, there are other parts of the country that were also important capitals before Turkey, like Bursa and Edirne. They have some wonderful buildings from this time. Another stop is Iznik, which is known for its tiles. These places are perfect for history lovers.

5. Old World Anatolia

The bigger cities have been modernized, so if you want to see how the previous civilizations who lived in Turkey have left their dent, then you might want to head over to the countryside. A tour around Central Anatolia is to trace the past while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

6. Searching Alexander the Great in Turkey

The famous city of Troy is one of the highlights of a trip to Asia Minor. Visitors can trace thousands of years of history here, from the ancient Greeks to Alexander the Great’s start of his 22,000-mile trip. You will also see important spots in the Gallipoli Campaign during the First World War.

7. Istanbul International Music Festival

Istanbul is not really a favorite among classical music lovers but this changes when the International Music Festival is in town. It happens in June when the days are warm and perfect for strolling around or watching the musical performances.

8. Archaeology along the Aegean Coast

A trip along the Aegean coast allows you to visit the most popular classical cities from Aphrodisias, Pergamon, Miletus, and Ephesus. You can also combine the trip with a stop at lesser-known ruins. The first stop is Troy and ends at the World Heritage Site of Hierapolis.

Turkey has so much to offer those who are looking to experience the culture, arts, and history of the country. In fact, ruined cities by themselves are already plentiful so make sure you allocate enough time to check everything out.

Must-try Turkish Foods and Where to Find Them

Must-try Turkish Foods and Where to Find Them

While Turkish cuisine has undoubtedly been exported to the rest of the world, there are still many delightful treats that remain unknown. This means, when you visit this country, you should embark on a culinary tour to discover these traditional dishes and treats.

1. Lahmacun

This is no ordinary pizza, although it may look like one. Just like the world-famous Italian recipe, it is also made of dough rolled thin before being topped with minced vegetables like onion and tomato, minced meat, and herbs like cumin and cayenne pepper. They also add onion, a bit of tomato and lettuce onto the middle after it is baked before they roll it up and eat it like a burrito. You can eat it with ayran (the traditional salty yogurt drink). This dish can be enjoyed in every corner of Turkey.

2. Turkish Breakfast (Kahvaltı)

There is no one way to do kahvalti, and every restaurant offering it has its own version. In fact, you can visit the Besiktas neighborhood in Istanbul and try out one of many of the restaurants in the “breakfast street“.

There are staples, however, that are common in each restaurant, like olives, butter, jam and honey, white cheese, sliced tomatoes, bread, and cucumbers. Beyond that, there are warm dishes like menemen (scrambled eggs with tomatoes) and gözleme, a Turkish crepe filled with cheese, potato, or spinach.

3. Iskender

This dish is popular in Northwestern Turkey and was created by a man from Bursa called Iskender Efendi. It is made by pouring tomato sauce on a pita before adding thinly-sliced lamb on top. It is then covered in melted sheep’s butter. Lastly, it is served with a scoop of yogurt. It is best enjoyed in Bursa, where it comes from, which is only a 2-hour ferry away from Istanbul. Otherwise, you can enjoy it in one of the Iskender restaurants in the bigger cities, especially the ones in the west of the country.

4. Simit

This is a staple in Turkey since the beginning of the 15th century and is very popular all over the country. Simit, which is a bagel encrusted with sesames and has a circular shape, is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.

All over the country, you can find simit sellers (simitçis) and they normally have red, circular carts in Istanbul. A tip is to buy some peynir or cheese that you can spread on top. This is a delicious and cheap snack that is great for between meals and when you are in a hurry.

5. Çiğ Köfte

The term “çiğ köfte” can be translated to raw meatball. It was named after the process of making it in the past, but it is now prepared differently. In modern Turkey, it is composed of bulgur, as well as tomato paste, onion, and spices. It originated in the southeastern part of the country, but it is now widespread and available all over theTurkey. You can wrap it in lettuce, with some parsley or mint inside.

These are just some of the culinary treats Turkey has to offer, along with the more popular Turkish delight and the kebap. So make sure you have an empty stomach and an adventurous spirit before doing your food tour of the country. You won’t be disappointed.

Turkey’s Hidden Gems

Turkey’s Hidden Gems

If you truly want to explore Turkey, then you will need to plan enough time to check out the popular destinations and also discover some hidden ones. After all, this is a country with beautiful beaches and a very long history dating back to thousands of years. If you are planning to get off the beaten path, then check out these secret gems only locals know about.

1. Sumela Monastery

Found in the northeast of Turkey, the Sumela Monastery is 1,700 years old and is located on top of a cliff 1,200 meters above sea level. This monastery was built by the Romans but every ruling empire after that had somehow restored and slightly altered it since then. You can also enjoy the beautiful nature around it but because of its location, very few tourists make it up here.

2. Butterfly Valley

The Butterfly Valley, or Kelebek Vadisi in Turkish, is near the west coast of Turkey. It is accessible only by taking a boat from the main city of Olu-Deniz. Upon arriving, you can find a local hostel to stay in while exploring the waterfalls and forests in the valley. You can explore the jungle to watch the waterfall, although seeing it from up top is also a great idea. This is possible by taking a Dolmus, a local taxi.

3. Mount Nemrut

Although this mountain is not that far away from Adiyaman, it is still not as popular with tourists. This is because Mount Nelmut is a bit further from bigger cities in Turkey. However, locals will recommend climbing up the mountain and watching the sunrise from the top, which is considered a sacred experience. From the peak, you can also view the huge stone statues, which are all that remains of the tomb of King Antiochus. These statues, 8 to 9 meters tall, represent the world’s history and religions.

4. Lycian Way at Olympos

This is a tiny village that very few tourists visit but should definitely in your bucket list. Beyond the beaches, it can be a starting point to walk the Lycian Way, a 500-kilometer footpath along the ancient Lycian coast. Along this way, there are numerous ancient ruins to be seen, as well as breathtaking views of the landscape.

5. The Flames of Yanartas

Yanartas is a short drive from Olympos, where you can check out a curious natural geographical feature. The Flaming Stone, which translates to Yanartas in Turkish, is actually flames coming out of vents in between the rocks. They burn all day, all year long, for more than 2,500 years already. You should, however, plan your visit at around sunset to enjoy the sight of these flames. They used to be used by explorers and sailors for navigation but are now used by locals to brew tea.

6. Ishak Pasha Palace

Located in the isolated region of Dogubeyazit, the Ishak Pasha Palace is the best place to explore Islamic architecture. It was built by the Ottomans and includes a mausoleum, a mosque, kitchens, dungeons, and a harem. Beyond giving you a great chance to see Islamic architecture up close, you can also enjoy seeing the snow-capped peaks of the nearly Ishak Pasha mountain.

There are many undiscovered sites and corners that never make it to the usual tourist itinerary, but it does not mean that these are not worth the visit. To truly appreciate the history and the landscape of the country, you might want to take the time to explore every corner of this unique country.

Useful Tips for Traveling to Turkey

Useful Tips for Traveling to Turkey

Turkey is a must-see destination for those who love culture, history, and great food. It is where East meets West and thus, visitors can expect a unique experience when traveling here.

Before you plan to explore historical sites like the ancient ruins of Ephesus or the beautiful landscapes in Cappadocia, you should know what preparations to make for your trip. Every country has its own dos and don’ts, so it is best to know what they are before flying over.

1. You Might Need A Visa

To enjoy many of Turkey’s tourist destinations, you will need to enter the country legally with a visa. Those from Western countries that normally do not require visas while traveling will need one to travel to Turkey. Thanks to the e-visa application available, you will not have to spend a lot of time and effort to secure your visa.

However, citizens of several countries will need to apply for their visa the old-fashioned way, which is to go to the nearest embassy. You will also want to make sure that your passport will still be valid 6 months after your planned entry date into Turkey, otherwise, you might not be able to enter the country.

2. Try To Learn Some Turkish Phrases

If you are especially planning to visit smaller cities or the countryside, it is unreasonable to expect everyone to be able to speak English. Thus, if you want to be able to communicate with the locals, then you might want to learn a few phrases in Turkish. The great news is, the language is not that complicated to learn or pronounce.

3. Bring Different Currencies With You

To travel around the country, you will need the local currency (Turkish Lira). If you travel with US Dollars and Euro, it will be easy to have them changed at money exchange offices. While you can withdraw money from an ATM, you can’t be sure that your card is accepted everywhere. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted and you will have to go to the post office and bank to get them cashed.

The best step is to bring a mix of everything so that you are ready for every situation. This means, carrying small denominations of Lira, Euros, and Dollars, as well as your ATM and credit card for larger purchases or paying for the hotel.

4. Dress Respectfully

This unique land that straddles Asia and Europe has an interesting mixed culture that is not as western as the big cities in the US and Europe. Moreover, most people are Muslim, making it important to dress properly if you are a woman. This is especially true if you are going to the countryside. To prevent any misunderstandings, pack modest clothes that follow the proper etiquette.

5. Prepare To See The Traditional Turkish Toilet

Most places outside of the cities and older places will still have the old squat-style toilets. Beyond learning how to use the toilet while squatting, you might want to keep your things safe from falling off your pocket by removing them beforehand.

You should also bring around small change every time because most public toilets are not for free. Toilet paper might also cost you.

To make sure you have a fun and worry-free trip to Turkey, make sure you prepare not just your things but also yourself. Experiencing a bit of culture shock due to differences is normal but when you do your research and make the right preparations, you will be able to immerse yourself in the culture during your trip.

Black sea coast, jewel of Turkey

Black sea coast, jewel of Turkey

This spectacular coastline makes a great landscape route across Turkey and will smash any of your stereotypes you may have about Turkey. This is a biggest historical area with numerous ruins, buildings and other archeological spots. Usual ones are monasteries, churches, and castles. Most of the country beauty is located right here on Black Sea Coast. Beside historical parts, you will find them beautifully balancing with impressive and picturesque nature areas.  Alpine meadows, rich valleys, lakes and green hills will make your enjoying level highest possible. All this nature piece of art is created by the combination of north and west winds confronting mountains on the south of shore making rainy and green realm. And in spite cloudier weather and colder water temperatures, semi-tropical heat is still showing up. All the charm of this area is based on its’ rocky beauty, untouched cities and empty beaches.

Most attractive locations

Activities like camping, trekking, and fishing are fulfilled with outstanding nature beauty in Uzungol Plateau. More loud and active spot now as Trabzon will please your market and bazaar expectations surrounded by great historical regions. More pleasant, domestic and green covered part is called Rize where are grown most kinds of fruit. The fact that best tea plantations are found here gives that special note. Speleologists and cave lovers should go to Karaca Cave, an area with most beautiful caves in the world. One of the best beach attractions may be found in Hope, bordering town between Georgia and Turkey.

Lovers of little physical exercise that will provide at the end an outstanding view must explore Goksu Fall, an offshoot of great Goksu River. It is found as on of the most beautiful sights in the Black Sea region. Perfect water rafting is an experience you will find in Firtina Valley. Wonderful greenery in combination with raging, the long river makes outstanding sight where anybody will stay breathless. Hiking and trekking are left for Artvin, amazing mixture of lakes, forest, valleys and step mountains. On the way of your adventure in Artvin, you will meet his historical part in forms of traditional Ottoman houses and mosques.