Welcome to my Turkey Travel Guide!
Are you planning a trip to Turkey? That’s amazing because there is so much about this country! I hope with my Turkey travel guide, you’ll be able to answer all the important questions and get the most of your trip.
I decided to create a separate section on my blog dedicated to Turkey to bring you the best information about life and travels here.
Together with my husband, I am living part of the year in Turkey and traveling extensively around the country. I want to share my first-hand experience of living in Turkey as a foreigner, moving here as a digital nomad, buying a property, and discovering the country from one corner to another. And to tell you the truth, there is a lot to see and discover!
I feature articles with information on accommodation, transportation, food as well as inspirational posts with the best places not to miss.
I hope this guide will be useful whether you are already living in Turkey and planning to explore a new region or if visiting Turkey for the first time.
Why Turkey Is a Special Country
Most likely you don’t even have an idea how special and unique Turkey is. Many people mainly know this country for all-inclusive resorts, hot springs of Pamukkale, Cappadocia, Istanbul, and beautiful sea. I guess that’s it. Some other people know about Turkey from the media, hearing all types of various stories that actually don’t show the country in a good light.
But Turkey is more than that.
Turkey holds the richest heritage of different cultures, civilizations, religions, and ideas. Sometimes, we don’t even know that many things familiar to us and many historical figures come from the land of modern Turkey.
Some of the most ancient cities with traces of the Greek and Roman eras are here. Three great empires such as the Hittite, Byzantine, and Ottoman empires left here many monuments of the past.
But besides all the mysterious historical sites, Turkey has a rich food scene and totally mind-blowing nature. Besides four seas, high mountains, deep canyons, some of the best world’s beaches and hot springs, there are glaciers, deserts, and even volcanoes.
If you are seriously thinking to visit Turkey any time soon, I’ll tell you that you won’t regret this trip. In fact, you’ll love it and yearn for more. But for the best experience, you need to know where to go and what to plan.
In case you are considering an opportunity to move here as an expat, digital nomad or retiree, there is a lot to analyze and plan. You should read this article with 6 reasons why you may want to move to Turkey to get an idea.
Turkey Travel: Quick Info
BEST TIME TO GO
March – June. September-December.
But to be honest, any time of the year is amazing for travels here.
HOW LONG TO SPEND IN TURKEY
Minimum two weeks. But that’s enough to see only major sights.
For Istanbul, plan to spend at least 5 days.
GETTING TO TURKEY
Major airports – Istanbul, Antalya, Izmir
Public transport is well developed, including air ways.
The fastest and the most convenient way to move around the country is by plain. The most scenic one – by train.
$50-$70 for accommodation + food for two people.
This price includes mid-range hotels/guesthouses, local food, public transportation, historical sites, museums.
Best Time to Visit Turkey
It depends on what you are looking to do and see. Overall, if I am going to generalize then I’ll say that the best time to visit Turkey is in the spring and fall.
However, Turkey is a country that will be interesting to come to at any time of the year.
Summer is the best time to hit the beach, spring and autumn is the most wonderful period for hiking, outdoor activities, and exploring the rich history. Winter is the ideal time for skiing in the winter resorts of Turkey, visiting hot springs, museums or catching some sun in the southern part of the country.
Here are more details on when to visit Turkey:
Summer in Turkey
The weather in Turkey in summer is ideal for a beach holiday or a trip to Eastern Turkey, especially to Rize, Van, and Ağrı Provinces.
The ideal time to visit Turkey in summer for a beach holiday is in the first half of June. This is that month when the sea is already warm, but the heat hasn’t come yet. July and August become unbearably hot, especially in the south. If you do not like the heat, then avoid Southern and Central Turkey during these months and consider the Aegean coast instead.
Kusadasi, Izmir, and Bodrum are perfect travel destinations for July and August. Such famous destinations as Istanbul, Cappadocia, Ephesus, Isparta, Pamukkale get very hot and it’s better to leave them for another time of the year.
Antalya with the surrounding area is the hottest region in Turkey in summer. The swimming season starts here in April and ends in November. For those with heart problems or high blood pressure, this kind of heat can be somewhat difficult to tolerate. Therefore, it is better to avoid Antalya during this time.
Autumn in Turkey
Autumn in Turkey is a truly fantastic time to travel and go on road trips around the country. September and October offer excellent prices, great quality of service and perfect weather.
In September, Turkey is pleasantly warm, and sometimes hot, but certainly not as much as in summer. The water gradually cools down and becomes both comfortable and refreshing at the same time. Kids are going back to school, so beaches and cities become less touristy. September and October are perfect months for both beach holidays and sightseeing trips. The sweltering heat is gone, you can easily combine 12-hour excursions and then relax on the beach.
Late October and November are perfect for visiting Istanbul. In fact, there is no better time for acquaintance with the secrets of ancient Constantinople than autumn.
Winter in Turkey
The weather in Turkey in winter for the most part is rainy. It often rains in a bigger part of the country (besides the mountainous regions where it snows).
Swimming, of course, is impossible even on the Antalya coast. All beaches are closed, storms are frequent at sea. The coldest month is February, but not Istanbul, not the coast get heavy snowstorms or frosts. Cappadocia occasionally gets snow and looks like a place from a fairytale. It is one of the most magical places to visit in Turkey in winter.
Winter is a perfect time to travel around the Turkish historical riches, visit Istanbul, Ankara, Pamukkale. It is also a wonderful time for spa treatments in Alanya or Bodrum. Oh, and winter is that season when you want to take a scenic train from Ankara to Kas.
Read more about: Istanbul in Winter – What to Expect
Spring in Turkey
Spring, starting from April, is one of the best times to be in Turkey. The weather is so pleasant and gets warmer with each day. It is also the beginning of the tourist season and time for sightseeing.
March is still rather cool and rain is possible. In April, it becomes sunnier and rains less. April is a good month for sunbathing, road trips, hiking the Lycian Way, going to Cappadocia and even the Mediterranean coast, although it is too early for swimming.
May on the Mediterranean Sea feels almost like summer and in Istanbul, it can be already too hot.
Among the advantages of a holiday in Turkey in spring are free sun loungers on the beaches, half-empty hotels, cheaper excursions and a large selection of offers with cheap tours in Antalya, Alanya, Kemer, Belek and other resort-like cities.
Where to go in Turkey
Istanbul, although not being a capital, is the most famous and popular city in Turkey. It is considered a cultural and commercial center of the country which is also a very special place with an endless list of things to do. Besides an amazing heritage of art, culture, history, and architecture Istanbul is also a culinary hub.
You can visit Istanbul on its own or when on a trip around Turkey.
But my main advice to you is not to be in a hurry. One or two days here is never enough. I recommend planning to spend at least five full days in Istanbul and explore the city at a slower pace. During this time you will be able to visit all significant tourist attractions, see vibrant life on Asian and European sides, get acquainted with Turkish cuisine, and even venture to some lesser-known spots.
To help you get the best experience, I created various guides. See them below:
Amazing Things to do in Istanbul
Where to Stay in Istanbul
Tips for Planning a Trip to Istanbul
A lot of travelers from Europe add Bodrum city to their itineraries when visiting Turkey. And no wonder why.
Bodrum is all about tangerine gardens, the purest Aegean Sea, beach clubs, a light breeze even during the hottest months, yacht cruises, romantic bars, and discos. Its architecture – narrow streets, low white houses, gardens, long embankments – reminds Greece. Bodrum is like no other city in Turkey.
During the holy month of Ramadan, there is practically no free space there – all of Turkey strives to go to Bodrum.
It doesn’t have any huge hotel complexes as Antalya, and the sea here is incredibly crystal clear and clean. The wind blows from all sides of the peninsula, so even at the height of summer it is never too hot here.
This destination is great for anyone who loves active vacation, nightlife, live music, rich restaurant scene, endless outdoor terraces overlooking the sea and history. Yes, there are quite a few historic places to visit on the Bodrum peninsula.
Antalya is the heart of the Turkish Riviera and the administrative center of the province of the same name. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the airport and numbering almost 2.5 million residents. Reaching Antalya is easy from pretty much anywhere in the world both during the “low” and during the “high” season which lasts from early May to November.
It has a well-developed infrastructure with hotels for various budgets, restaurants, cafes, shops, nightclubs, and many types of entertainment. Together with nearby towns of Kemer, Side, Alanya, Belek, Göynük, Beldibi, and others, Antalya offers excellent conditions for recreation, beach holidays, excursions, day trips, hiking, entertainment, and shopping. In winter, Antalya is a wonderful destination for skiing and cultural travel.
Every type of traveler will find something to his liking here. All-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels, finest beaches, nearby mountains, waterparks, zoos, canyons, and much more awaits travelers visiting Antalya. The sea is clean and beaches regularly receive awards of a “Blue Flag”.
But besides the fact that Antalya has everything for an excellent holiday, it is also a great destination for digital nomads, retirees, and everyone who works remotely.
What is Western Turkey? It is that part of the country that is washed by the Marmara and Aegean Seas. Western Turkey is famous for clean beaches, pine forests, ancient ruins and legends, thermal springs and balneological centers, and beautiful cities.
But besides them, Western Turkey also has ancient settlements, small port cities, historical shrines of different religions, both Christian and Muslim, wineries, cheese and olive oil farms, beautiful mountains, and much more.
Some cities from Western Turkey have their own category on this blog (like Bodrum, for example) but there are many more places to visit, so I include them here.
Renting a Car in Turkey
Are you thinking of renting a car in turkey or doubting maybe not? If budget allows, definitely do so! With a car, you can have those experiences that most travelers do not have and visit those (less-touristy) areas that most don’t get to visit.
As a matter of fact, I have a separate detailed guide about car hire in Turkey, give it a read and find out what are the best companies to rent a car from and companies to stay away from at any cost.
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Eating & Drinking in Turkey
Turkish food culture is amazing. It is diverse and local, simple and wholesome. You can travel here only for food and that will keep you busy for a while.
Turkey is one of seven countries in the world that produces enough food to feed all of its citizens and export some of its agricultural products to other countries. And Turkish cuisine is famous all over the world. It is one of the three best cuisines (after French and Chinese) and is famous for its diversity and antiquity.
Food plays an important role in the life of every Turk. Dinner can last for several hours and breakfast on weekends even longer. In the famous Ottoman Empire, food was elevated to a cult. In the 17th century, for example, several hundred chefs lived in the Sultan’s palace and cooked for 10 thousand people. Each of them specialized in the preparation of only one dish.
MAIN FEATURES OF TURKISH FOOD CULTURE
1. To answer (shortly) a question of what Turkish cuisine is like, I’d say that it is a mix of the best dishes of the traditional Islamic cuisine with Caucasian and Balkan dishes. At the same time, it has its own flavors and cooking secrets.
2. Most of the dishes are cooked on an open fire – grill or spit. Spices are added in moderation. Breakfast in Turkey looks like a real feast, so you definitely shouldn’t miss it when visiting the country.
3. Although Turkey consumes a lot of meat, a big amount of dishes is naturally vegetarian-friendly. Taking into account that Turkey is a Muslim country with its own foundations and rules, do not expect to find pork products here.
Learn more about Turkish cuisine history and food culture through my posts:
Moving to Turkey
Thinking about moving to Turkey? I hear you!
Relatively in the recent past, moving to Turkey was a real gamble. Those who decided to immigrate had a lot to overcome. Today, this process is much easier and Turkey as a country offers different opportunities for foreigners to become permanent residents or digital nomads.
In this section of my Turkey travel guide, I’d love to share first-hand information and tips about the actual process of moving to Turkey, mistakes not to make, how to apply for Turkish residency, find housing, a job and how to make friends. More posts on all these topics are yet to come…