6 Best Experiences in Turkey That You Must Bookmark

When I think of Turkey, the iconic images of the Blue Mosque, the delectable pistachio-filled baklava, and the vibrant atmosphere around Aya Sophia immediately come to mind. However, Turkey has so much more to offer beyond Istanbul!

While most travelers tend to stick to the well-known cities and resorts around Istanbul, Turkey boasts some of the most stunning places on Earth. From the surreal landscapes of Cappadocia and the stunning beaches of Kaz and Antalya to the ancient statues atop Mount Nemrut, there’s a wealth of experiences waiting to be discovered.

Recently, Turkey has become increasingly popular among Indian travelers, with social media showcasing its captivating landscapes. Moreover, obtaining a Turkish visa from India has become notably straightforward.

If you’re seeking extraordinary adventures, here are the 6 best experiences in Turkey that you must add to your travel bucketlist.

  1. Soar in a hot-air balloon over Cappadocia

As Lonely Planet aptly describes it, “Cappadocia is like landing on another planet.” The iconic images of Cappadocia from above, with its volcanic rock formations, pigeon houses, vineyards, and orchards, are simply breathtaking. There’s no better way to appreciate this historic region, which includes Bronze Age homes carved into valley walls by troglodytes and later used by early Christians. Cappadocia stands as one of the world’s premier hot-air balloon destinations.

hot air balloon cappadocia

  1. Explore the ‘cotton castles’ of Pamukkale

Pamukkale has been a spa town since the Romans settled in the ancient city of Hierapolis. The name Pamukkale, meaning ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish, perfectly describes the miles of white calcium cliffs and multi-level pools that appear as if crafted by nature for bathing. Pamukkale’s thermal pools and travertines are sure to leave you spellbound and breathless. Don’t miss the opportunity to soak in the mineral-rich pools and hot spring waters that have been used as a spa for centuries. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit, offering ample material for your Instagram feed.

  1. Cruise along the Bosphorus Strait

Did you know that the Bosphorus Strait divides Istanbul into its European and Asian parts? Now that I’ve sparked your curiosity, you’ll want to add this cruise to your bucket list! The majestic Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea with the Mediterranean and offers one of the most scenic cruises during your Turkish adventure.

Embark on a yacht and marvel at Istanbul’s beauty at dusk, as the setting sun casts a golden glow over everything. While many opt for a half-day tour, consider a full-day or even a night cruise to fully experience the glittering sights of Istanbul. Sail past iconic landmarks such as the Galata Tower and the Bosphorus Bridge, venture into the Black Sea, explore the remnants of ancient fortresses at Anadolu Kavağı, and perhaps even take a refreshing dip at Poyrazköy, a picturesque seaside village.

  1. Discover the ancient ruins of Ephesus

For history enthusiasts, Turkey offers treasures at every turn, with Ephesus standing out as a must-see destination. An ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, Ephesus holds significance in Christianity, with some believing that the Gospel of John was written here. As one of the largest Roman archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean, the sprawling ruins of Ephesus offer a journey back in time.

Located in Selçuk, a small town 30 km from Kuşadası, Ephesus is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure to visit iconic landmarks such as the Odeon Theatre, the Temple of Hadrian, the Temple of Domitian, and the Temple of Artemis. Walking through these ruins, I felt transported through history, with the pages of my history books coming to life.

ruins of ephisus turkey

  1. Explore the picturesque coastal town of Kekova

Step off the beaten path and uncover Turkey’s hidden gems! Kekova, a small Turkish island near the Demre district of Antalya province, is renowned for its unique attraction—the submerged ruins of an ancient city visible beneath the waves. These ruins belong to the trading post of Simena, destroyed by earthquakes in the 2nd century.

Whether you kayak on the tranquil waters, snorkel, or scuba dive to get a closer look at the underwater ruins, or opt for a cruise and spend a night under the starlit sky on deck, Kekova promises an unforgettable experience. Beyond the sunken city in the shimmering turquoise waters, Kekova also charms travelers with its countless coves and bays, as well as the historic village of Kaleköy. Picture-perfect waterfront restaurants, quaint houses with terracotta roofs, and narrow streets add to the allure of this idyllic coastal village.

  1. Immerse yourself in the charm of Fethiye and discover Butterfly Valley

Well, it was the beaches of Fethiye that stole my heart, but if you’re planning a backpacking adventure, Fethiye should definitely be on your itinerary! As one of Turkey’s popular tourist centers, Fethiye shines, especially in summer. The Fethiye Museum boasts a rich collection of ancient and more recent artifacts, offering insights into the succession of civilizations that once thrived in the region, starting with the ancient Lycians. Don’t miss the Tomb of Amyntas, a grand tomb built in 350 BC by the Lycians.

Among the historical sites worth exploring are the Kadyanda Ancient City, the ghost town of Kayaköy, Afkule, Gemiler Island, and Aya Nikola. And of course, set aside at least a day to visit Butterfly Valley, named after the myriad butterfly species found here.

best experiences in Turkey

While many travelers flock to popular destinations like France, Spain, Greece, or Croatia, I encourage you to consider Turkey for your next adventure and uncover its hidden treasures!

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