Top Things to Do in Turkey

Top 10 Destinations and Attractions in Turkey

1. The Blue Mosque

For most tourists, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is the top priority to visit. It is called the blue mosque because it looks blue for the over 20,000 pieces of blue tiles on the walls.

Highlights:

• The delicate blue tiles
• The 6 high minarets
• The largest dome building in Istanbul.
• The 260 small colorful windows.

Tips:

• Morning is the best time for visit to avoid long queue.
• Shoes must be taken off when visiting.
• Shorts, skirts, or off-the-shoulder dresses are not allowed.
• The headscarf can be borrowed for free at the entrance for wrapping hair.
• Visitors have to enter from the right side entrance.

2. Aya Sofya

Aya Sofya is a famous landmark of Istanbul, which is near the Blue Mosque. In the early days, it was the main church of the Byzantine Empire but later was converted into a mosque by the Turks. In modern times, it works as a museum.

Highlights:

• The typical mosque dome and minaret.
• The 9 doors to the main hall.
• The main hall.
• The altar and the two large discs.
• The 2nd floor cloister.

Tips:

•    Suggested visit duration is 1-2 hours.
•    No visit is allowed on Monday.

3. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace is a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture. It was the official residence in downtown for the Ottoman Sultan from 1465 to 1853. Located on the left side of the Bosphorus Strait, it has got ideal sites to observe the magnificent Marmara Sea and Golden Horn Bay.

Highlights:

• Sultan Ahmad III Fountain
• The imperial harem
• Topkapi Palace Treasure Museum

4. The Basilica Cistern

Built in the 6th century, the Basilica Cistern is one of the most romantic and mysterious places in Istanbul. With a huge water storage capacity of 100,000 tons, it is still used by Istanbul people nowadays.

Highlights:

• Size: 140*70m (460*230ft.)
• Its 336 Corinthian pillars with the height of 9 meters (30ft) for each
• Teardrop shaped embossing on the center pillar
• Two inverted pillars.

Tips:

• A jacket is necessary because it is cold inside.

5. The Bosphorus Strait

The Bosphorus Strait, also known as the Istanbul Strait, divides Turkey into two parts, Asia and Europe. This 31-kilometer (19-mile) sea area is full of natural scenery and historical monuments. Sailing here, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the mosques and imperial palaces on the two sides of the strait.

Tips:

• The best way for visiting the Bosphorus Strait is by cruise.
• The best visiting time is at sunset.

6. Süleymaniye Mosque

As the second largest mosque in Istanbul, this majestic architecture was built on the steep Third Hill. Extraordinarily combining the hills and surroundings, it is the most magnificent monument of the Ottoman Empire.

Highlights:

• The prominent architect- Sinan's masterpiece.
• Palatial interior decorations.

7. Goreme National Park

Goreme National Park is a large area around the town of Goreme. The stone forest in the park is famous for its spectacular volcanic rocks, ancient cave churches and cave residences. It is one of the most typical landscapes in Cappadocia.

Highlights:

• Unique rocky scenery on the volcanic plateau.
• Love Valley
• Rose Valley
• Fairy Chimneys
• Pigeon Valley

Tips:

• Hot air ballooning is the most popular way to explore Goreme National Park.
• Other ideal ways are hiking and ATV tours.

8. Goreme Open Air Museum

The Goreme Open Air Museum is located in the Goreme Valley and has more than 30 rock cave churches decorated with beautiful frescoes, some of which are well preserved with bright colors. They were built to escape Muslim pursuits after the 9th century.

Highlights:

• Cave paintings
• Çarıklı Kilise (Sandal Church)
• Yilanlı Kilise (Snake Church)
• Elmalı Kilise (Apple Church)
• Karanlık Kilise (Dark Church)

9. Aspendos Ancient Theatre

As one of the best preserved ancient Roman theaters in the world, Aspendos Ancient Theatre is still used for concerts without sound amplification equipment in every June and July. Built in 155 AD and having suffered more than 2,000 years of disasters such as earthquakes and wars, it almost remained intact.

Highlights:

• Its diameter is 96m (315ft.), with stone-scale auditorium of 7,000 seats.
• The Ancient Greek style cylinders as stage decorations.
• Exquisite acoustic design, no need for amplification equipment.

10. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Being one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Temple of Artemis was built for the goddess Artemis in Greek mythology. Originally, it was larger than the Parthenon in Athens. It was an unparalleled brilliant existence in the Western world. There were carved patterns on the bottoms of its 127 pillars, each of which was about 40 to 60 feet high. The base of the temple is about 200 by 400 feet. Although it was buried for twice, visitors can still enjoy the splendid relics today.

Top Activities to Experience in Turkey

Hot Air Ballooning

Cappadocia is one of the most suitable places for hot-air ballooning in the world because of the good flight conditions and picturesque geological features.

Tips:

•    The preferred flight time is before sunrise.
•    No flight during heavy wind or rainy days, better to save 2 days for the flight.

Hot Spring Bath in Pamukkale

Pamukkale, known as one of the Seven Natural Wonders in the world, looks like a snow-covered terrace, or a large flower of cotton standing on the hills. Entering the Pamukkale Hot Springs pools, visitors have to travel 250m (820ft.) on barefoot to reach the upper platform.

Tips:

•    Bring a bag for the shoes.
•    It is better to put on thick socks in case that walking barefoot is very painful.
•    Visitors can bring their own swimsuits.

Paragliding

Paragliding is one of Fethiye’s top experiences. From the top of the hill near Oludeniz, with the help of wind, visitors can glide over the sea, viewing the breathtaking scene of Dead Sea from the sky.

Tips:

•    It’s safer to choose big paragliding companies with flight licenses.

Top Turkish Food

Turkish cuisine began with the development of the middle plains of Asia. After the rise of the Ottoman Empire, it gradually combined the catering culture of Greece, Persia, Arabia, and the Balkan Peninsula, and formed a unique "Turkish Cuisine". Some of the most popular dishes are as below:
• Doner Kebab: roast beef or chicken, usually wrapped together with chips and vegetables by a pancake.
• Baklava: oriental style of flaky pastry.
• Icli Kofte: with beef or lamb inside, with butter, toasted.
• Cacik: the main ingredient is cheese with cucumber, mint and red pepper.
• Kadayif: multi-layer walnut pastry, very sweet.
• Lahmacun: crisp bread with a layer of mutton, tomato and other fresh vegetables above.
• Manti: dumpling with beef filling, eaten together with ketchup and yogurt.
• Mercimek Koftesi: meatballs mixed with lentils, wheat, and vegetables, supplemented with onions and tomatoes.
• Red Lentil Soup: carrots, peppers, and onions smashed together with a mixer, with spices and lemon juice in.

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