Experience Turkey Like a Local
Turkey has always been one of Europe’s most popular destinations. In our opinion, the Turkish Aegean is one of the best regions! Would you like to experience Turkey far away from the traditional tourist areas? Then put the following destinations on your list!
We’ve done some research for you and found out the best places to visit in Turkey, as well as what to do to travel like a local. From mountainous areas to city ruins, there’s so much to see and do in this country – and don’t forget about the good food. Are you ready? Then let’s go!
The Most Popular Destinations
As in most countries, Turkish people like to go out in the evening. The Ortaköy district in Beşiktaş, a neighborhood in Istanbul, is an excellent place to start. This district is located directly on the Bosporus – not only can you go clubbing or have some drinks, but you can also sit down peacefully by the canal and enjoy the view.
Close to the Bosporus, you’ll find the Eyüp district. It is located at the end of what is known as the Golden Horn, an inlet with a beautiful view. To fully admire it, we recommend taking a cable ride up to Pierre Loti Hill. Alternatively, you can make the ascent on foot. Your path will lead you through an old cemetery, which provides a melancholic and beautiful backdrop.
Although this is no longer an insider tip, it is still a special experience for travelers and locals alike. Once you’ve reached the top of the hill, you can sit down in the café and let the ambience and the view of Istanbul wash over you. This is what writer Pierre Loti, the hill and café’s namesake, did about 100 years ago! Or to put it in Loti’s words: “Holy Istanbul! Your name is the most enchanting one of all names which enchants me.”
While we’re on the subject of 20th century flair, Çukurcuma is a must-see! The trendy neighborhood is also located near Istanbul. The “hipster” quality is partly due to the large number of cafés and antique stores that make the neighborhood seem like one big flea market. Otherwise, it’s due to the Museum of Innocence. It was named after the novel of the same name by Nobel Laureate in Literature Orhan Pamuk. The museum and the neighborhood itself give the impression of stepping into the novel and becoming part of it!
The island of Tenedos, known as Bozcaada in Turkish, is located in the province of Çanakkale and is the country’s third largest island. To fully experience Turkey, take a ferry from the mainland to the island. Apart from the picturesque beaches for walking and bays for swimming, the city is also home to an impressive fortress right on the harbor. What’s more, in the fall, a famous wine festival with musical performances takes place on the island. As a result, the island has something exciting or relaxing to offer you nearly all year round!
The village of Kuyucak in the province of Aydın is a literal lavender dream! A trip here will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into an old painting – a small, ancient village surrounded by lavender and roses. It isn’t only enchanting to the eye, but also to the nose and even the mouth, since Kuyucak is famous for its lavender and rose flavored ice cream.
Here, you’ll appreciate the flowers with all your senses. Something can even be found for your skin – such as soaps, pillows, creams, and many other products with the iconic lavender or rose scent.
Traveling to Artvin is truly worth it, too. But don’t be alarmed! You might think you’ve landed in Switzerland at first. The beautiful turquoise lakes and waters are surrounded by idyllic forests and mountains. Take the chance to experience Turkey and all of its natural wonders in this province.
The picturesque landscape is rounded off by the Twin Bridge from the 18th century, which you’ll cross on your way to the Maral Şelalesi waterfalls. Another must-see is the Atatepe monument. From there, you’ll get a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the city.
The city Eskişehir in Anatolia offers an especially wide range of cultural activities in the form of various museums, such as the famous Meerschaum Museum or the Archeological Museum.
The locals take tremendous pride in their city and enjoy taking bike tours through one of the many parks or along the Porsuk River. Join them in admiring the beauty!
An extremely popular destination among locals is Ayvalık. It’s especially beautiful during the summer. For example, take a trip to the nearby Alibey Island on foot. Directly on Ayvalık’s coast, the island is accessible by road.
Alternatively, you can also enjoy the multicultural influence of the area. Greece, in particular, still has a strong architectural and culinary influence on certain parts of Turkey. The same is here as well!
Olympos is also a popular domestic destination, especially for younger generations. Once a city in Lycia, this site now allows visitors to experience Turkey’s history, and it has gained popularity due to its unique accommodations. For instance, you can stay in a tree house or in a bungalow. And during the day, you can explore the fascinating ruins of the ancient city or take a walk on the nearly golden beach. If that’s not enough action, you can even go bungee jumping, scuba diving, or paragliding!
Yedigöller National Park
Are you longing for even more closeness to nature? Then Yedigöller National Park is the right place for you. Stay at one of the campsites or completely rest your mind at a thermal water resort! Or do you need more exercise? No problem: try the nearby ski resort of Kartalkaya.
If you don’t like crowded beaches but still crave some sand under your feet, head to Altınoluk. This coastal town is very popular with the locals. The sea as clear as class is wonderful for diving, and don’t worry about running out of air: Altınoluk is known for having some of the highest oxygen levels in Turkey. Nearby, you’ll also find the waterfalls of Sütüven Şelalesi. These are a real spectacle and a refreshing way to cool off!
In the mood for more exploration? The city of Gazipaşa with its ruins of the ancient town of Selinus will certainly be of help. It all begins with the city’s location at the foot of, and partially on, a mountain. Moreover, ancient Selinus is full of history and a number of impressive ruins. You can reach them by walking along the Musa Çay River. But an almost unbelievable feature is the Yalan Dünya Mağarasi stalactite cave. Roughly 5 million years old, huge stalactites rise all around, appearing to transport you to a completely different world!
Manavgat has its own charm owing to its popular villages, like Side or Seleucia. These also offer a glimpse of ancient ruins and a journey back in time.
Above all, the Köprülü Canyon in the middle of a national park is a gripping attraction. Go rafting on the Manavgat River if you have some experience, or make a trip in a canoe. Whatever you choose, you’ll see incredible landscapes while riding the river downhill – an unforgettable way to experience Turkey for the adventurous spirit!
Festivals in Antalya
Antalya is the hub of tourism. But don’t let that scare you away! Experience Turkey to your fullest at one of the numerous festivals of the artistic center. We recommend the International Antalya Music & Dance Festival to get a glimpse of the traditions of Turkey. After all, Turkey and its people are strongly connected to its artistic culture.
Cafés, Çay, and Künefe
Admittedly, this is not a specific place you can visit. On the contrary, these are found all over! Cafés, Çay, and Künefe belong to Turkish culture like backpacks belong to backpackers. You are probably already familiar with cafés. For locals, sitting down in a café and meeting friends or family is almost part of everyday life.
Instead of coffee, the locals drink a delicious black tea – the Çay (pronounced as “chai”). Since the culture in Turkey is so friendly and open, it wouldn’t surprise us if locals invited you over to bond with them over a cup of tea in their home.
You’ll also be served various pastries, such as baklava, one of the most delicious desserts in the world! The Künefe is another must-try! It’s a fine noodle-like dough called “angel hair.” It has mozzarella cheese in the middle and is topped with simple syrup. Often, chopped pistachios and the typical, Turkish soft ice cream are added on top. Sounds crazy at first: ice cream with noodles? You might have heard about the German Spaghettieis, ice cream made to resemble spaghetti, but don’t be afraid to try this Turkish dessert either. Check it out at least once, otherwise you’ll never believe how good it tastes.
Turkey is extremely diverse, which is why it’s even popular for domestic tourism. From ancient ruins to picturesque villages and the most beautiful beaches, Turkey has it all. With a fascinating and open-hearted culture to top it off, the country sounds almost too good to be true. But it really is – see for yourself!