One of the few countries in the world that spans more than one continent, Turkey is a pleasant surprise to the senses. It boasts all sorts of natural scenery: mountains, seas, lakes, waterfalls, rivers, forests and even thermal hot springs! It has the perfect mix of historical and ultra-modern cities. Vibrant nightlife and a quaint laidback way of living merge harmoniously here. When you’re done touring, enjoy unending cups of traditional Turkish tea or coffee—yes, they have their own versions of both!
Recently, Zindagi Channel started airing international shows in India, and they began with Turkish telenovelas. This increased its viewers’ interest in the country with several people choosing to vacation there. Here are some of the must-visit places in Turkey for your next holiday.
Nearly all Turkey itineraries begin in Istanbul. It’s this city that straddles two continents at once. The Bosphorus Strait acts like a continental border, splitting the city into two halves—European and Asian. This city is the centre of the country’s film and television industry, which is why many telenovelas, including Kuzey Guney, are not only shot but also set here. When here, make sure you visit the Ottoman Topkapi Palace, the beautiful Hagia Sophia with its intricate mosaics, and the underground Basilica Cistern. Shop until you drop at the Grand Bazaar, take a cruise down the Bosphorus, say a prayer at the Blue Mosque and soak in the cityscape from the Galata tower. If you need some motivation, just stream the show on the OZEE and look at some of the gorgeous screen grabs of the city!
Turkey’s capital and second-largest city, Ankara, is a quieter version of Istanbul. Buğra Gülsoy, who plays Guney in Kuzey Guney, was born here. He is among many celebrities who call this city home.
The city has all the fine-tunings that come with being a diplomatic seat of power; however, it never bores its visitors. Here, you can visit the Anıtkabir, which is the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of Turkey. It is no wonder why this structure dominates the city’s skyline. For panoramic views of the city, head to the Ankara Citadel located in the Ulus Bentderesi District of the Old Quarter. While you are here, go for a walk on the cobblestone alleys of the quarter and take in the quaint Ottoman houses. At the other end of the spectrum is Kizilay Square, filled with buzzing cafes and restaurants.
The star of the Turkish Riviera, Bodrum, is a world-famous getaway for beach lovers. The city sits by the Aegean Sea and offers a fun Mediterranean vibe to visitors. Its enviable location makes many tourists throng the numerous cafes, restaurants, and luxury hotels that line its azure coastline every summer. Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ, who plays the role of Kuzey in Turkey’s most popular show, holidays here often! You could visit Bodrum Castle, the museum of Underwater Archaeology, the ancient Bodrum Theatre, and Myndos Gate or simply recline on the beach and hope to run into him!
Kas is a quiet seaside town set away from the bustling crowds. It is located in the Antalya region on the Mediterranean coastline of Turkey. If you prefer an itinerary that’s void of a to-do list, this should be your to-go place! This is the best spot to explore the underwater world first-hand with several diving schools that will first train and then take you on guided deep-sea diving tours. You may take a break from that at one of the seaside cafes or explore the colorful streets of the old market! Kas also offers a dose of history in the form of ancient sites like Antiphellos Theatre.
Trabzon offers two-in-one fun: it’s located by the Black Sea in north-eastern Turkey and has the Pontic Mountains pass through it; this creates a hill station-like ambience. The region offers a different take on Turkey, one that’s sprinkled with bouts of silence. Explore the Sumela Monastery, a Greek Orthodox Ministry built in the year 346 AD. Spend a night near the Uzun Göl or Long Lake, enjoy a sunset over the Black Sea at Boztepe, and pay respects to the nation’s founding father at the Trabzon Ataturk Kosku museum. Trabzon also has its own Hagia Sophia that’s a little different from the one in Istanbul!
You will know you’re in Cappadocia when you look up and see colourful hot air balloons floating in the sky. Of course, the best view from one of these balloons is that of the UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed Goreme Open Air Museum, which is home to rock-cut churches that once sheltered Byzantine monks. Equally fascinating are the region’s 36 underground cities—; the most prominent one being the Kaymakli Underground City. Once you’re done touring the sights in Istanbul and Ankara, there are direct flights that connect you to this city in the central Anatolian region of Turkey. You can visit the various pottery shops, the Pasabag and Devrent Valley, and even check into a cave hotel!
If you are a lover of history then Ephesus must make an entry in your Turkey travel map. It is located about one hour away from Izmir, a city in which many of Turkey’s most popular shows have been set. Ephesus was once an ancient Greek city and today its ruins are very interesting to visit. The entire area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its must-visit places include the remains of the Temple of Artemis, the Temple of Hadrian, the Basilica of St. John and the Ephesus Museum where you will be captivated by the Artemis statute and the Gladiator Room. The Isa Bey Mosque is an important religious centre as is the Meryemana.
Konya is a romantic city—the kind that would lure dreamers and poets. It’s no wonder why the famous Sufi poet and whirling dervish, Mevlana Rumi, penned his famous, heart-touching verses here in the 13th century. Without a doubt, your first stop should be at the Mevlana Museum that’s adorned with gorgeous roses and contains the tomb of the renowned poet. Its Semahane contains a museum exhibiting religious items from the era. Head to the Alaeddin Tepe park for an evening stroll and cup of Turkish tea. The other fine arts in Konya are represented by the Tile Museum and Museum of Wooden and Stone Carving, ensuring that all lovers of art have a gala time here!
Pamukkale literally translates to “cotton castle.” One look at its whitewashed terrain and you will know why! The natural site in southwestern Turkey abounds with hot springs rich in the mineral travertine and has been drawing visitors since the 2ndcentury B.C.! Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pamukkale combines mineral forests, waterfalls and terraced basins into an open-air spa in a surreal landscape. Take a dip in the calcium-rich travertines, trek up Pamukkale Castle, and learn about Cicero in the Roman ruins of Laodikeia. You may also explore the Hierapolis City Ruins that, along with the springs, make up this UNESCO site.
Bursa is so verdant that it was nicknamed “Yeşil Bursa” (Green Bursa) because of the number of parks and gorgeous mountain within and around it. It once served as the capital of the Ottoman state, and its importance as an industrial centre continues to this day. In the winters, it is a major attraction for skiers because of the ski resort of Mount Uludağ that overlooks it. In the summers, the mountain provides respite from the heat and wonderful mountain vistas. Take the teleferik to go up to the top. Cumalıkızık, with its quaint cobblestone streets is a preserved Ottoman village just outside the city centre that offers a peek into the traditional Turkish way of life, head here for it’s huge village breakfast spreads. Buy souvenirs like ebru painting, filography, ceramics and tiles, calligraphy, metal art, and Ottoman-period antiques at the Kayhaan Bazaar. Also, don’t miss the natural thermal spas and hammams!
When Zindagi channel started airing shows that were from countries other than India, the US and the U.K., we were given a glorious glimpse into the lives of people from other cultures. We realized that despite the difference in languages, we are all the same, no matter where we live. Almost all their shows are available on the OZEE app, ensuring you never miss an episode.
Once in a while though, it is important to step out of our homes and visit some of these lovely places we see on our televisions. Unlike Kuzey Guney, that has two brothers fight over the love of the same girl, Turkey will not mind if you land up loving more than one of its must-visit cities!