Besides a steady stream of kebab and Turkish delight, Turkey offers tourists a diverse look into the roots of civilization. Whether you are interested in dancing all night long in one of Istanbul’s many club districts or you are in search of the relics of the Ottoman empire, Turkey offers an exhilarating, user-friendly tourist experience. This list will help you discover Europe’s gateway to the East.
The Bosphorus, the strait between Europe and Asia, forms one of the boundaries of modern Turkey. Once considered one of the greatest military strategic points in the world, the Bosphorus is still an important geographical area of commerce, transport, and tourism with Ottoman era castles and mansions still nestled along the steep banks. One of the cheapest ways to see the Bosphorus is by ferry however, if you’re willing to spend a little more cash, there are tourist rides available complete with sickeningly sweet Turkish coffee and oh-so-romantic Turkish top forty songs.
One of the best reasons to travel to Turkey if you do not practice Islam is that Turkey is one of the only Muslim countries where non-Muslims may still visit local mosques. The Blue Mosque, located in the center of Istanbul, offers a stunning glimpse into the beautiful, geometric intricacies of Islamic art. Stick around in the evening for the call to prayer—you’ll never hear anything like it.
If you’ve seen Star Wars or “The Rider Who is Like Casper” (Ghost Rider) as my Turkish tour guide explained in broken English, then you have already seen Cappadocia. The lunar landscape has been inhabited for thousands of years, even before Luke Skywalker went to Toshi Station to pick up his power converters. Today Cappadocia is home to one of the largest hot-air balloon festivals in the world, with daily balloon tours that wind their way through the ancient, towering sandstone.
“Women LOVE the Pamukkale” my hostel host assured me, because, of course, all women enjoy bathing. I think that “people LOVE Pamukkale” would have been a more accurate statement. These sky blue hot spring pools offer a picturesque place to bathe and enjoy the historical and unique geological scene. Just steer clear of caves filled with carbon dioxide—nothing ruins a sexy vacation like asphyxiation.
Archaeology Galore! (Troy, Ruins of Ephesus, Mount Nemrut)
If you’re searching for cities of the ancient world look no further. Whether your love for Troy spawned out of your passion for Herodotus or Brad Pitt’s butt, the ruins of Troy will revitalize your inner history nerd. Furthermore Ephesus completed in 550 b.c., includes the Temple of Artemis, one of the original seven wonders of the world. And finally, Mount Nemrut, located in southeastern Turkey, towers over 7,000 feet above the valley below. Perched precariously atop Mount Nemrut lay the ruins of several 30-foot high statues dedicated to the Greek, Armenian, and Iranian gods. Eat your heart out Stonehenge.