23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn’t Be Missed

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

Turkey really is the land of incredible scenery, culture, food and adventure.  During my time in Turkey with Travel Talk I saw and experienced some amazing things.  To me, Turkey meant delicious food but I soon learnt that it meant much more than that.  I highly urge you to visit this beautiful country and experience all that it has to offer.  Here are 23 unique things to do in Turkey.

 

  1. Ballooning over Cappadocia

Cappadocia has one of the most unusual landscapes on earth and by air is the best way to see the fairy top chimneys!  Hot air-ballooning should be on everyone’s bucket list.  It’s an experience but especially so you get to see one of earth’s most mysterious landscapes.

 

  1. Taste the local Raki

Raki is an alcoholic drink that traditionally is served with water and ice although many tourists just down it as fast as they can.  This is not how you drink raki!  After a couple of glasses of this, you’re bound to be either bouncing from the walls or passed out in a gutter.  Either way, it makes for a great story.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Be brave and drink Ayran

Ayran is a super unusual drink that typically the locals drink made of yoghurt, water and salt.  This is either a hit or miss, you will love it or absolutely despise it.  A great summer drink because it rehydrates you, that’s if you don’t spit it out!

 

  1. Smoother yourself in lemon kolonya

You’re not Turkish until you smell like lemon.  It used for a multitude of reasons but the most popular being a cologne.  You will find it in most homes around Turkey.  Due to its alcohol content its used as a disinfectant.  It’s usually offered to guests to freshen up when they visit or at restaurants and hotels.

 

  1. Try a fish sandwich and pickle juice on the harbour of Istanbul

If you want to become a true İstanbullu then you need to make your way to the river Bosphorus near the Galata Bridge and you will find places serving the famous fish sandwich. The fish is placed in a bun along with, green salad, onion and dressed with lemon juice.  The traditional way to have the sandwich is with a shot of pickle juice too.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed 23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Have your picture take in the iconic Troy horse

Unfortunately, the ancient city of Troy was mostly destroyed but at the site is a replica of the famous Troy horse which you can climb inside.  It wouldn’t be a trip to Turkey without a trip to Troy.

 

  1. Visit Pergamum

Another must-visit ancient city is Pergamum.  Although it’s not in great condition like Ephesus, it’s still one of the three most famous ancient cities here in Turkey.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Visit the ancient city of Ephesus

This ancient city was home to 30,000-60,000 people and is in surprisingly good shape considering it was built in the 10th century BCE.  This city was famous for its Temple of Artemis, which was named one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  See if you can find the public toilets in this city.  This was where the men of the city hung out and talked important business!

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Pigeon Valley

Okay, pigeons may not seem so glamorous to you but in Turkey they love Pigeons and take care of them.  At Pigeon Valley, you will see a huge amount of pigeons (obviously) but also a tree which is covered in blue evil eyes.  The tradition of the eye dates back thousands of years ago and it’s believed that the eye swallows up the evil and bad luck so you will be safe.  Just about every Turkish person will carry one of these or have them hanging in their house.

 

  1. Try REAL Turkish delights

I have to admit, I have had many ‘Turkish delights’ and every one of them I tasted I have hated.  The real Turkish delights are amazing and I love them.  They don’t taste like the nasty ones we have in New Zealand or other western cultures.  You are guaranteed to come home with a box of them.  The most popular flavour is pistachio.

 

  1. Go for a Turkish spa

The Turkish bath is an iconic thing to do on your visit to Turkey.  Men and women have separate sections of the bath where you will relax in a heated marble filled room while a lady or man will scrub to exfoliate and then massage you with oils.  Typically, the Turkish will make time to do this once a week.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Pumukkale

Pumakkale means ‘cotton castle’ in Turkish.  It’s a UNESCO site which contains many terraced hot pools.  People have come to these pools for thousands of years meaning that unfortunately in the past, they have been damaged.  Back in the day, there used to be hotels that used these pools as their own backyard but after it was declared a world heritage site these were torn down.  Thankfully, that was done in time before more damage was done.  These days you can still walk over a small part of the terraces and swim in the hot pools too!  It’s an amazing place and should not be missed!

 

  1. Visit a silk carpet factory

If you get the chance to visit a carpet factory then it’s totally worth it.  In Cappadocia, there are ones that are run by the government in Cappadocia to help supply the women in the villages with jobs.  They provide all the tools and materials and then the women get to make their own carpets to sell.  It’s a great scheme to make sure that the locals have jobs and can feed their families.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Watch the locals make Turkish pottery

If your anything like me when you see the Turkish pottery you would have wished you had taken an extra suitcase just to pack it full of the stuff.  Make sure you visit a traditional pottery and watch how they make and hand paint these beautiful dishes.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Pay your respects at Gallipoli

If you are a New Zealander or Australian you will know all about the history of Gallipoli.  Our Anzac soldiers fought and lost in Gallipoli to knock the Ottoman Empire out of World War 1.  Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the bloody battle.  It’s an amazing experience to be able to pay your respects to those who lost their lives there.  If you can make it for actual Anzac Day then it’s totally worth.  You can read all about my experience here.  It’s something I will never forget.

 

  1. The Blue Mosque (Sultan Ahmet Mosque)

One of the most impressive pieces of architecture I have ever seen.  The blue mosque was built by Sultan Ahmet I between 1609 and 1616.  It consists of 26 columns ad 30 domes.  It’s still used today so during the day it can be closed off to non-worshipers for the 5 daily prayers.  Make sure you wear suitable clothing, if not they will supply you with cloaks to wear.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Hagia Sophia

Just a stone’s throw away is the Hagia Sophia.  It used to be the largest church on earth but nowadays it is the fourth largest.  It has an interesting past as it was used as a church for 916 years and a mosque for 481 years.  Nowadays it’s a museum for all people to enjoy.  It’s interesting to see the mix of religion inside the museum and is a must-see when visiting Istanbul!

 

  1. Experience a traditional Turkish night of dancing

On my Travel Talk tour we had the option to experience a traditional Turkish night that consisted of dancers and unlimited alcohol.  It was a fun interactive show and great to see the traditional dancing, it’s highly recommended!

 

  1. Try a traditional Turkish coffee

Personally, I don’t drink coffee but I decided to try, because when in Turkey!  To my surprise, I liked the strongest coffee on earth!  How is this possible?  I still have no idea.  Turkish coffee is served black with the beans at the bottom of the cup so try and not down the whole coffee and you may get a nasty surprise at the bottom of the cup!

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Eat your weight’s worth of Pide

Pide is basically a Turkish pizza.  Expect lots of cheese on a thin dough with the option of lots of delicious flavours.  My mouth is watering right now as I speak!

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Visit the Göreme open air museum

In Cappadocia, there are estimated 600 churches that are cut into rocks.  It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Cappadocia, with beautiful frescoes and bizarre architecture it’s easy to see why.  Make sure you visit the church just outside of the open-air museum as well.  The detail and colours are incredible.

 

  1. Smoke shisha

You must try shisha at least once when visiting Turkey.  Its an instrument where you vapour and smoke flavoured tobacco.  Shisha is readily available in most restaurants and bars and it’s a popular pastime for most Turkish people.

 

23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

  1. Underground city of Derinkuyu

The underground city of Derinkuyu was only discovered in 1963 by a man while improving his house he found a secret room which then lead to a tunnel and a full underground city!  At least 20,000 people lived in this city including animals in this 18-storey masterpiece.  Nowadays you can wander through the first 8 storeys weaving through the tiny tunnels.  If you’re a tall person, be warned, it may be a bit uncomfortable!

 

As you can see Turkey boasts some incredible sites that should not be missed.  There are so many more things to do in this beautiful country so make sure you leave any suggestion down below!

I visited Turkey with Travel Talk Tours on their 10-day Anzac tour that I can highly recommend.  Although this trip was sponsored, all opinions are my own and I would never recommend something I didn’t absolutely love!

 

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23 Things To Do in Turkey That Shouldn't Be Missed

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10 Comments

  1. June 3, 2017 / 8:34 pm

    I think you’ve really shown the best of Turkey here, I want to visit all of them – I’ve only seen a few so far. I’m loving that tree with all the blue eyes on it, within Pigeon Valley, I’d never heard of that before. By the way, for me it’s being brave to drink raki and I much prefer ayran! 😉

  2. June 4, 2017 / 2:19 am

    I have been to Turkey in the past but I have never visited here. I would love to balloon over it though and look down on the wonders. Great article with lots of suggestions to do while in Turkey

  3. June 5, 2017 / 1:55 am

    I have been to Istanbul and Marmaris in Turkey but I can see from your list there is so much more to see and do. Although I do totally agree with eating your weight in Pide – which can be achieved anywhere!

  4. Siddhartha Joshi
    June 5, 2017 / 2:07 am

    Such a cool list…really feel like making a plan for Turkey now! I think I will love Aryan (seems similar to the buttermilk in India)…however, I have realised after may trials that Raki isn’t exactly my drink 🙁

    Also want to visit Pergamum…my kinda place 🙂

  5. June 6, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    Ballooning over Cappadocia is my favourite here and it is a great experience indeed. The next one of my favourite is the ancient city of Ephesus. Given my fascination for Roman history and architecture this is something I love. Great list, which gives the best of this enigmatic country.

  6. Nisha
    June 6, 2017 / 4:12 pm

    Wow! I am reminded of my trip to Turkey a few years back. I am not sure if I have been to all the places you mention. The name Raki is close to Raksi , an alcoholic drink you get in Nepal and the resuts are the same , bouncing off the walls and falling in the gutter and in addition , sliding down the himalayan mountains too 🙂 🙂

  7. June 6, 2017 / 8:31 pm

    The kids and I were in Istanbul year before last and LOVED it! Fabulous city and we’d love to see more of Turkey including all of the above. Loved the yogurt drink too, all of us.

  8. June 7, 2017 / 3:35 pm

    We visited Turkey earlier in the year though only had the chance to stop by Istanbul – I LOVED it! Such a beautiful and exotic place. I hope to head back to spend more time discovering the rest of the country – Ballooning over Cappadocia is at the top of my bucketlist!

  9. June 11, 2017 / 4:50 am

    Turkey was already high on my bucket list because of ballooning in Cappadocia. But now after your this post I have several another reasons to visit it. The drink Ayran sounded like Lassi to me in India ( It is also made from yogurt, salt and water). The Turkish coffee and Pide too sounds yummy. I too would like to have hands on at Turkish pottery and treat myself with some silk carpets.

  10. June 12, 2017 / 3:40 am

    This post brought me back some great memories of the time I was in Turkey a few years ago. We did many of these things and we had such a wonderful time!

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