Some of the things you might picture when you think of Turkey are the captivating and labyrinthine bazaars and perhaps also the steamy Turkish baths (called hamams), meant to cleanse your body and calm your mind. You`ll get to find out a lot more about what Turkey is known for when you visit its bustling cities, each with its own distinct charm. You can see the charm in the varied architecture seen across the country, varying from Byzantine to Ancient Greek to Ottoman to Turkish contemporary designs. Many of the buildings from the past have been converted into boutique hotels, and in the past decade or so it`s become yet another cool thing Turkey is known for. Some of these hotels offer chances for travelers to sample Turkish cuisine; even if they don`t, you should try all the Turkish food you can, whether it`s a farm-to-table restaurant or a street vendor selling kebaps.
As mentioned previously, Turkey`s history stretches for thousands of years and its land has seen many conquests. You can learn about Turkey`s history at the hundreds of museums scattered across the country, ranging from open-air museums to stately exhibition halls. Ruins from the time of the Greeks and Romans, such as Pergamum and Ephesus, are popular tourist draws. Finally, any mention of Turkey would be incomplete without talking about the beautiful landscapes, with Cappadocia, Mount Ararat, and the Turquoise Coast just offering a glimpse into the varying geographical beauty that Turkey offers. With these varying landscapes, there are lots of fun outdoor activities to take part in, ranging from windsurfing and water skiing at the country`s numerous and glittering beaches to walking and hiking and hot-air balloon rides in Cappadocia.
You should definitely take some time to visit at least a few of the most popular vacation destinations in Turkey. Istanbul, the city that sits astride two continents, is a must-see for anyone coming to Turkey. Take some time to visit cities and towns in the west of the country as well, with history dating before the Ancient Greeks and where the natural beauty of the land is something to be seen to be believed. Start at Lake Sapanca and Bursa near Istanbul and head down the west coast, stopping at Canakkale and Izmir along the way, and taking a visit inland to Pamukkale for good measure. Prioritize some time to enjoy the sands and waters of the Turquoise Coast and the Gulf of Antalya, which includes such cities as Kusadasi, Bodrum, Marmaris, Fethiye, and Antalya. Dalaman, located a few miles north of the Turquoise Coast, is a city you should see in this area as well.
Cappadocia, with its famous hot-air balloons and landscapes you may have only seen in picture books, is another top draw for travelers coming to Turkey. Whether you are riding horses in Kayseri or watching whirling dervishes in Konya, Cappadocia offers so many fun experiences for visitors. While you are in the interior, you should definitely spend some time in Ankara, the Turkish Republic`s sprawling capital city. East of Ankara, the Black Sea Coast, where Samsun and Trabzon are the major cities, is a popular summer vacation destination. In the winter, people head east to the ski resorts near Lake Van, and some even attempt to climb some of Turkey`s highest peaks, like Mount Suphan and the two Mount Ararats.
Turkey is a country that can be enjoyed year-round, but many people tend to visit in the high season. For Istanbul and Cappadocia, the high season begins in the month of April, and for the rest of the country it starts by the beginning of June. Between the months of April and June, the country warms up, dries out and enjoys lots of sunshine after a four-to-five-month rainy season. Tulips will bloom in April in Istanbul, and hot air balloons take to the skies in Cappadocia around the same time. By the time summer rolls around, most of the country sees larger crowds at museums, historic sites and other points of interest, while temperatures in some parts of the country, like Istanbul and Cappadocia, might become too hot for some travelers, slowing tourism down a tad in those areas. The shoulder season, in September and October, bridges the high and low seasons for nearly the entire country in one fell swoop. Wintertime brings cold weather to most of the country, save for the Turquoise Coast, and ski season begins by December in Bursa, Ankara, and in the east of the country, running through March. For more information, check out: Best Time to Visit Turkey.
We recommend 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in larger cities.
Because Turkey is such a big country, we recommend people travel by air or train. Many Turkish packages we offer are escorted, meaning you will be with a tour guide the entire length of the trip, but most packages specify air as the means to get from point A to point B (and C and so on).
By Air: Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier, and a number of other airlines fly across Turkey, usually via Istanbul Airport, where most people arrive in Turkey from the U.S. or Europe via air. There are international airports in Izmir, Milas-Bodrum, Dalaman, Isparta, Zafer, Ankara, Trabzon, Adana, Gaziantep, and Erzurum.
By Train: Turkish State Railways runs train operations in Turkey. International rail lines link Turkey with Bulgaria, Greece, Armenia, Iran, and Syria. Turkey is currently undergoing the process of electrifying its entire rail system: electrified rail lines currently run in and around Izmir, from east of Adana to the interior of the country, and from the Turkish/Bulgarian border near Edirne to Ankara. There is also a high-speed rail line that connects suburban Istanbul with Ankara and Konya.
The currency of Turkey is the Turkish lira (₺). Banknotes come in denominations of ₺5, ₺10, ₺20, ₺50, ₺100, and ₺200, while coins, called the kurus (kr), come in 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 kurus pieces. There is also a ₺1 coin. U.S. dollars are not accepted, although local prices for large ticket items (hotels, tours, carpets) are still commonly quoted in foreign currency, usually the Euro. (You will most likely be asked to pay in Turkish lira, but if you need Euros, a currency exchange desk will be able to help.)
Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for lira upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATMs can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the country. Be aware that the ATMs are often fickle or empty, so always carry around alternatives in the form of cash or traveler`s checks (which you will most likely have to exchange at the post office) for emergencies. For more detailed information, consult our guide by clicking here Tipping in Turkey.
English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. German is widely understood, as many Turks have family members who live in Germany, and they may have spent time in Germany as well. English is understood with about as much commonality as German, with French, Russian, Spanish, and Italian increasingly so. We suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello (merhaba), goodbye (hosca kalin), please (buyurun), thank you (ederim), excuse me (affedersiniz) and numbers 1-10. It`s considered basic courtesy to attempt to communicate a few words in the native language, even if it is `Do you speak English?` (Ingilizce biliyor musun?)