Discovering the delights of Turkey

As a gateway between two continents, Turkey – with its famous cities such as Istanbul – has held a fascination for many travelers over a long period of time.  People travel from all over the world just to breathe in the aroma of spices and to join in the hustle and bustle that characterize Turkish bazaars.  Many more come to see the amazing art and architecture of the country that dates back thousands of years.

Hagia Sophia Cathedral

Introduction to Turkey

The large landmass of Asian Turkey encompasses extensive areas of mountainous countryside and has long stretches of beautiful coastline along the Aegean Sea.  The north-western part of the country gives way to European Turkey, to an area that is dominated by Istanbul, which sits on the divide between the continents.

The hot weather that is typical of much of the year in Turkey attracts many tourists to the booming beach resorts, but the lure of the cities is great at any time.  For many people, however, spring and fall are the most comfortable times to visit, avoiding the high temperatures of July and August, and keeping away from the chill that can affect mountainous areas during the winter.

Tourist destinations in Turkey are served by Turkish Airlines, which flies to and from major transport hubs across Europe and worldwide, including North America.


Aspects of Turkish culture

A taste for the exotic is one reason for many visitors to embrace Turkish culture during a vacation trip.  The country itself is famously secular; however, with more than half of the population observing the Islamic faith, many of the sightseeing opportunities in the cities involve Islamic artifacts, history and, of course, the many mosques.  The rhythm of the call to prayers during the day is likely to influence the timing of visits, and travelers must remember to remove their shoes and to cover their arms and legs before entering a religious building.


Shopping in Turkey

Many vacation memories from Turkey center on a visit to a traditional bazaar.  While large modern shopping malls exist to cater for day-to-day needs and contemporary luxuries, the bazaars still serve as a vibrant outlet for arts and crafts, as well as spices, clothing, carpets, and other souvenirs.  When buying an item at a bazaar, bartering is still very much considered a part of the ritual.  It is best to start at a price that is lower than you are willing to pay, but not to barter for any item that you do not actually want to buy.


Tourist attractions and boat trips

Many of the most popular sightseeing attractions are in the cities; particularly in Istanbul, which is home to the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sofia, and a large number of other famous landmarks. Outside the cities, the coast is very popular, and places such as Kalkan and Marmaris offer boat trips that visit a series of remarkable sea caves.  These trips are arranged in boats known as gulets, which are a traditional form of Mediterranean yacht. The tours on board usually include some form of meal, as well as swimming stops and possibly some snorkeling opportunities.