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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This parliamentary Republic lies on the boundary between two Old World continents: Europe and Asia. The historic strait of Bosphorus divides the two land masses. Turkey has been a crossroads in the full sense of the word throughout history. Today, it is a thriving economy in development with almost 80 million residents.
Turkey is rich with historic monuments, from the ancient ruins of the Greek civilization in the west of the country to Christian monasteries in the east. Even though Turkey is an Islamic country, it is secularized and democratic. The most famous city is Istanbul, formerly known as Tsarigrad and Constantinople. The capital of the country is Ankara, and other major towns include Izmir, Konya, and Burs.
Tourism has exploded in Turkey in the past decade, and the coastline is full of resorts and hotels. People from many countries come every year to enjoy the weather, the culture, the food and so many other sites in Turkey.
Official Name: The Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti)
Founder: Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK (1881-1938)
Population: 67.8 million (as of 2000)
Language: Turkish (uses Latin Alphabet)
Location: Eastern Mediterranean . Located on two contitents Europe and Asia . The European part of Turkey is called Thrace , while the Asian part is called Anatolia or ( Asia Minor )
Area: 814 578 Km2 (314 500 square miles) on the European continent and on the Asian continent
Religion: 99 percent of the population is Muslim. Turkey is a secular state that assures complete freedom of worship to non-Muslims.
WHEN TO COME
Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean coasts: These coasts have a typical Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The swimming season becomes shorter the further north one goes: Marmara and North Aegean – June to September; South Aegean and Mediterranean – April to October.
Black Sea Coast: Warm summers, mild winters, and relatively high rainfall. Central Anatolia: Steppe climate with hot, dry summers; cold winters. Eastern Anatolia: Long snowy cold winters with mild summers. Southeast Anatolia: Hot summer with mild, rainy winters.
WHAT TO WEAR
a) Marmara, Aegean, and Mediterranean coasts: Light, cotton summer clothing and cardigans for evening.
b) Black Sea, Central and Eastern Anatolia: Summer wear, warmer clothing should be taken for cool evenings at high altitudes.
c) Comfortable shoes are necessary for visiting archeological and historical sites.
d) Sun hats and sunglasses are advisable in the summer.
e) Headscarves should be brought by women for visiting mosques.