When people think of dream vacations, Turkey usually isn’t the first place that comes to mind. With popular city destinations like Venice, Tokyo, Las Vegas, and Cabo, Eastern Europe is often overlooked – and we think it’s a shame! Turkey is not only a beautiful destination, but one packed with history, impressive views, and breathtaking scenery. Below, we list our top 10 reasons for why we absolutely love Turkey – and why we think you should, too!
#1: The Skiing!
Just because you’re not in Aspen doesn’t mean you can’t hit the slopes! The Erciyes Ski Centre in Ericyes Province is a ski resort at over 12,000 feet elevation – and the highest points are covered with snow all twelve months out of the year. These peaks are inactive volcanos and their cone shape is perfect for all levels of skiers. If that isn’t enough, Mount Erciyes holds a mysterious cave that was said to have been used by Byzantine monks.
There are plenty of other resorts, like Palandoken and Uludag, so you’ll never run out of slopes. When you’re done skiing, it’s only a quick drive off the mountains into the valleys – and you’re never more than a few hours away from the coast.
#2: The Food!
One of the greatest joys of traveling is exploring new cuisines, and Turkish food holds some of the most incredible tastes in the world. While there are plenty of recognizable home favorites, like sis kebap (skewered lamb), baklava, and rice pilav, make sure to branch out and try some of the local favorites, too.
Start off your morning with some menemen, hot scrambled eggs with vegetables, or borek, a savory flaky pastry filled with things like cheese and vegetables. For lunch, grab some doner and dolma, slow-cooked meat sandwiches and rice-stuffed vegetables on the go. For dinner, check out some Turkish staples like kofte meatballs, and follow them up with some delicious, sweet lokum – also known as Turkish Delight candy!
#3: The Stunning Views!
Turkey is home to some of the largest and most breathtaking mountains in the world. Mount Ararat, a volcanic cone, is the highest peak in Turkey at a whopping 16,000 feet. It overlooks Yerevan, Armenia and is said to be where Noah landed his arc after the biblical flood. For those who love stunning views, there’s no better option (and if you want to enhance your experience with a pair of binoculars, read more here).
#4: The Beaches!
If your plan for Turkey was a little less high-altitude and a little more sun-oriented, don’t worry! Turkey has extensive coastline on both the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea – and beautiful beaches abound. For instance, Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan is a 4.5km long, sandy, sunny beach that features crystal-clear water, resorts, restaurants, and bars. There’s no better place to get a sunburn.
#5: The Islands!
In case you didn’t get enough beaches on the mainland, there are islands to explore, too! Turkey is home to several small islands that are home to beautiful views and incredible history. Many islands, like Akdamar, are now abandoned and visitors can explore the ruins of giant castles under the backdrop of the mountains. Just make sure when you sail through these islands you bring along the best compass money can buy – because there are a lot of them!
#6: The Hole-in-the-Wall Architecture!
Turkey is home to a number of castles, monasteries, mosques, and even hotels that are built literally into the wall – the wall of a mountain, that is. From Uchisar Kalesi to the Sumela Monastary in Trabzon, these unique and gorgeous buildings hold centuries of history and geology within their walls. Art and architecture lovers wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to see these wonderful places.
#7: The History!
This is a country with a rich history – both in the past and living. From Anatolia, the Byzantine Empire, the Ottoman Empire, into modern Turkey, remnants of the political and cultural past carry on today through the art, clothing, food, architecture, and language of modern-day Turkey. Cities like Istanbul hold dozens of museums where you can learn about the incredible journey of the people and the land – and maybe even learn something about yourself!
#8: The Churches and Mosques!
While Turkey is a secular nation, there is a long history of several different religions in the country. There are massive mosques, like the Blue Mosque, which is lined with over 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles. There are also massive Christian basilicas, like Hagia Sophia, which is known as one of the greatest contributions to European architecture. These places are not only beautiful, but powerful places to visit and still used for spiritual purposes today.
#9: The Grand Bazaar!
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest bazaars in the world. Every day, over 250,000 people come to visit the 4,000 shops that line the streets with their goods from food to clothes, toys to memorabilia, and jewelry to cutlery. The bazaar first opened in the 15th century and is considered the world’s first shopping mall – and now it’s the world’s biggest! You can expect massive crowds here, but an unforgettable experience as well!
#10: The People!
Of course, it seems obvious to say – but the people you meet are always the best part of any journey. While it may not spring to mind, Turkey is actually well-known for its hospitable people and friendly cities. You won’t be short of new, interesting people to meet and share a cup of tea with!
And there you have it – our top ten reasons why we love Turkey. Remember – these are just our top ten, and there are plenty more where they came from!