Turkey is increasingly becoming one of the must-visit countries for tourists. It borders the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas but it is inexpensive compared to the other European countries. Turkey is a one-size-fits-all country where Europe meets Asia and vacationers are plentiful. It has beautiful beaches, plenty of history, wonderful people, two of the Seven Wonders of the World and has one of the top three cuisines in the world…Feeling interested in a trip to Turkey? Having trouble to decide what cities to start with your great venture?
1. Istanbul: European Capital of Culture
Istanbul was voted the European Capital of Culture for 2010. It was formerly known as Constantinople and was the former capital for the Byzantine, Eastern Roman and Ottoman empires. Istanbul has the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. What’s more, there is a vibrant nightlife and an endless amount of shops (from Harvey Nichols, Vakko and Koton) to keep anyone entertained once Istanbul’s main attractions have closed for the day.
2. Pamukkale and Hierapolis: Healing Water, White Cliffs and Cleopatra
Located about three hours from Selcuk, Pamukkale is famous for its healing waters and white cliffs that resemble snow. Legend says that Cleopatra visited Pamukkale to bathe in the pools there and now those same pools are named Cleopatra pools as homage to her visits. The water stays at a constant temperature of 91 degrees Fahrenheit, so the area is open year-round.
When travelers arrive in Pamukkale, they can choose to walk through Hieropolis (which is at the entrance to Pamukkale) or take a bus to ferry them directly to Pamukkale. If they are able, they should walk through Hieropolis. The ancient ruins warrant their own trip. If tourists want to walk up, but feel uneasy about that prospect, they can have a tour guide take them through Hieropolis to Pamukkale.
3. Selcuk and Ephesus: Many Atttractions, Day Trips and Nearby Cities With Vibrant Nightlifes
Selcuk has many attractions. The city contains multiple historical venues to visit. Ephesus (one of the best-preserved cities of the ancient world), the Temple of Artemis (one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the grave of Saint John the Evangelist, the House of the Virgin Mary and Isa Bey mosque is all located in the city.
Hotels will arrange day trips for tourists that include many of the city’s sites in conjunction with other sites. From Selcuk, people can take day tours to Pamukkale, Capadocia, Troy (site of the Trojan War) and even Greece.
Selcuk is also close to other cities. Kusadasi is roughly 20 minutes by bus from Selcuk and is where many cruise lines dock for excursions. As a result, Kusadasi has a vibrant port area with shops such as Lacoste and a bazaar where people can purchase anything from hand-woven rugs to diamond jewelry. When the sun sets, the clubs open. Kusadasi has Bar Street which contains nothing but bars and clubs. The clubs stay open late and play a variety of music from Beyonce to Tarkan.
Approximately 30 minutes from Selcuk is Izmir, Turkey’s 3rd largest city. In Izmir there are high-end department stores, similar to what is in Istanbul. What sets Izmir apart is that the atmosphere is laid back and very Mediterranean. During the spring and summer, the waterfront comes alive with cafes. It is common to go for a late dinner on the waterfront after watching the yachts sailing in the marina.
4. Sirince: People Come for the Wines
Ten minutes from Selcuk is Sirince, a former Greek village renown across Turkey for making traditional wines and specialty fruit wines. Besides wine, tourists go there to purchase souvenirs, which range from organic, hand-made soaps and jewelry, and to eat at charming restaurants and look at historic architecture.
5. Bodrum: Turkish St. Tropez with History
Bodrum is located on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast and is the St. Tropez of Turkey. People who love the sun, the sea and partying visit Bodrum. It isn’t just for tourists; lots of locals come to the city during summer season. Tourists head to Bodrum for relaxation, the city also has an underwater museum, scuba diving and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, another Seven Wonder of the Ancient World that is located in Turkey.
The best time to visit Turkey is during the summer season. There are numerous water activities, all the historic sites are open and the wine and food flows. Turkey discovered a way to merge history and modernity much like it merges east and west. People who visit Istanbul, Izmir, Selcuk/Ephesus, Bodrum, Pamukkale & Hieropolis will understand why more and more people are visiting the country.