Turkey is the meeting point of east and west and the path from Europe to Asia, a place of myriad influences and a melting pot of art, architecture and culture. With cities of seething intensity, a beauteous and intricate coastline and a vast interior of off-the-beaten track delights, it’s a destination for multiple visits.
In A Nutshell
Turkey has a breathtaking range of experiences even in a 10-14 day trip. However, the highlight and arguable favourite of most trips to this land of crossroads is the thriving, pulsing metropolis of Istanbul. It is a city to get lost in. Immerse yourself in the narrow back streets of the gorgeously condensed Sultanahmet, the city's old historic quarter that also houses some of the main sights (like the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace). The Bosphorus cuts a dark swath through the city, separating the continents, and the Asian side is full of undiscovered treasures and markets. Another highlight is the surreal Dali-esque interior of Cappadocia, a place of improbably shaped landscape and cave hotels where the best way to get around is by hot air balloon. The gorgeously verdant coastline is littered with coves, bays, gulfs, islands and beaches. From the Aegean to the Mediterranean there are excellent experiences to be had, whether it is on a gulet (Turkish Yacht) cruising the azure waters, driving the bendy roads of the Bodrum Peninsula, or visiting the awesome ruins of Ephesus. Then there are the fragrant enticements of Gaziantep, the place to go for a taste of the origins of Turkish cuisine, or the varied archaeological points of interest like Mount Nemrut. And still we are only just scratching the surface.
Need To Know
- Direct flights to Istanbul are available from most major international hubs.
- The sweet spot for a visit is 8-12 days, but you can go for less time and focus on Istanbul, or easily fill three weeks by going into each area in more depth.
- Turkey is a great destination for everyone. Families, foodies and honeymooners will all find something to love.
- Entry visas are not necessary for North Americans or Europeans.
- No shots are required for your entry into the country, but we suggest you visit a travel health clinic before your departure to make sure you have all the vaccinations you need.
- In most cases it is best to fly from point to point within the country, with some moderate road transfers along the way. Self-drives are possible but not advisable.
- The food in Turkey is off-the-charts delicious. Just as you’d imagine at the point where two continents meet, Mediterranean freshness and Middle Eastern flavours mix with a deep culinary tradition for incredible taste and variety.
- Turkish is the national language, but you can get by with English unless you’re travelling to the far eastern part of the country.
When To Go
With the exception of Istanbul (a great city in all seasons), Turkey is best from May through October; the rest of the year gets very cold. Spring and fall are particularly ideal for both mild weather and mild crowds. Tourism and temperatures heat up in July and August, which can be a pro or con depending on the person.
Istanbul has a great range of hotels, from small boutique properties to large luxe chains. Elsewhere in the country small and charming are the key words, especially for the many fantastic converted traditional buildings. In a country where you can find a comfortable suite inside a cave, you can expect lots of character and lots of style—there are very few bland hotels in Turkey. You may also consider renting a gulet off the coast, a unique and authentic way to spend the night.
Bosphorus Cruising—Take a yacht trip through the centre of Istanbul and drink in the views of Asia, Europe and the impressive riverside hotels and mansions. It is a great vantage point from which to view the city.
Cuisine Tour—One of the best ways to experience Istanbul is through its food. Head to the backstreets with a local guide to find the culinary delights you might never otherwise try.
Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia—The most spectacular and rewarding way to traverse and enjoy Cappadocia is through the air. As the sun rises so does your basket and you gently soar through the morning air to stare at the fairytale landscape unfolding below you.
Lunch in Gumusluk—On the pretty peninsula of Bodrum, this is the perfect place to have a local seafood luncheon. Enjoy the gently lapping water at your feet as you breathe in the fresh sea air, enjoy a good Turkish wine and take some afternoon sun.
Overnight in Sirince—Stay in a lovely converted farmhouse and enjoy the rural, rolling hills and gorgeous cobblestone streets lined with low, white-washed buildings.
What They Say
Felt like Trufflepig had the inside track on what was going on in the city. Felt well looked after on trip too. Many, many thanks to you for creating such a fabulous experience. And again, you spoiled us with a totally unnecessary, but most appreciated gift. The wine carafe is a real keepsake.
— Jenn S.