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Visit Turkey: 5 Bucket List Places You Must See

If Türkiye isn’t on your bucket list, then you’ll be missing out! From history to adventure, find out below why these 5 places will make you want to visit Turkey ASAP!

If henceforward the women do not share in the social life of the nation, we shall never attain to our full development. We shall remain irremediably backward, incapable of treating on equal terms with the civilizations of the West.” Through legislation, enacted on 5 December 1934, women gained full universal suffrage, earlier than most other countries. The reforms in the Turkish civil code, including those affecting women’s suffrage, were “breakthroughs not only within the Islamic world but also in the western world”.

– Kinross, Ataturk, The Rebirth of a Nation
Illustrated by Sade - Bucket List Places in Turkey - Travel Guide Blog Feature Photo

A Little Background . . .

Shared between both the European and Asian continents, Turkey is the gate keeper between the east and west in every sense. From trade routes to ideologies, for thousands of years, the Turkish people had to fight for their independence, their secular culture and way of life. One has to wonder why so many conquerers, from the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, to the Ottomans, etc., would cause so much turmoil for control over Turkish lands. What could be so special about this place? Well, upon arriving, you’d instantly know why everyone would want a piece of what Turkey has to offer.

Turkey has surpassed all of my expectations in all of the best ways possible. It is exemplary of the obvious concept that not all Muslim-majority countries are homogenous. Turkey is one of the best examples of what it looks like to have a culture devoted to its common faith, and yet secular in its society. After many centuries under foreign and religious dominance, secularism and democracy flourishes in Turkey and is a point of immense pride amongst the Turkish people. However, no nation is perfect.

Turkey’s progressive history and it’s incredibly beautiful landscapes make me totally obsessed with this country. Here are 5 reasons why you should visit Turkey as your next destination and add these places to your bucket list.

(1) Spend 2 Nights in Alaçati / Izmir

Alaçati is a hidden gem. It’s the cutest little town and should be one of the places in Turkey I recommend you visit.

For a Mediterranean destination, most people desire to travel to the islands of Greece. However Alaçati, known for its picturesque, cobblestone streets and beautifully painted, stone homes, could rival those of Santorini and Mykonos. Alaçati was declared a historical site in 2005. Settled by the Greeks in the 17th century, the town’s buildings are well preserved. Also, there are several boutique hotels and delectable restaurants that will sweep you off your feet.

(2) Day Trip to Ephesus

As gate keeper between Asia and Europe, for better or worse, Turkey is bursting with important historical events that have shaped the region and world. Later conquered by the Romans, Ephesus was an ancient Greek city. It is one the largest Romanic archaeological sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It houses one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis. Ephesus was an important site for early Christianity. Notable religious figures, such as Paul and the Virgin Mary, are said to have lived in Ephesus at a point in time. I highly recommend visiting the incredible historical sights in Ephesus as one of your stops while visiting Turkey.

(3) Visit the “Cotton Castle” of Pamukkale & Ruins of Hieropolis, Turkey

Next, located in Turkey’s central aegean region, Hieropolis is a Greco-Roman city built on top of a natural world wonder. Translated to “cotton castle”, Pamukkale is a natural, thermal spring formed by calcium-enriched settlements creating a shimmering, snow-like layer. Dripping slowly off the sides of the mountain, travertine terraces of shallow pools were formed over a millennia. Inscribed as a U.N.E.S.C.O World Heritage Site in 1988, its popularity has since increased immensely. The word is out on Pamukkale’s beauty and has spread like wild fire on social media. Now, thousands of tourists are flocking to see this natural marvel in person. Can you blame them?! 😍

Illustrated by Sade - Photo of me and my reflection in the water standing in the hot spring water terrace at Pamukkale, Turkey.
Beautiful reflection in the hot spring water terraces at Pamukkale.

(4) Ride A Hot-Air Balloon! Cappadocia, Turkey Is A Place You Should Not Miss!

Cappadocia is a vibe and is one of Turkey’s top city-attractions!

Göreme is a historical town in Turkey’s central region. It’s characterized by it’s fairy chimneys, cave houses, and hot-air balloons. The carved-out houses, monasteries and churches into the soft volcanic stone have been well-preserved. Weather permitting, hundreds of hot-air balloons fill the sky daily.

Due to the winter season, the weather was not optimal for flying when I visited. All of the hot-air balloons were cancelled because it was too windy. Flying high, in cotton-candy-colored skies, alongside hundreds of other hot-air balloons was definitely on my bucket list! Needless to say, I was pretty bummed I didn’t get the chance to do it.

To have the best chance of flying in a hot-air balloon, I recommend that you visit Cappadocia for at least 3 days during the spring or summer months. Two days are really plenty to explore Cappadocia. However, you could use the extra time as cushion just in case you experience some bad weather. With plenty more to see, we still made the best of our time by renting a scooter to tour the surrounding sights.

(5) Istanbul: Take the Ferry Between the European & Asian Continental Sides of the City

Istanbul is a vibrant city of 15 million inhabitants. The city, separated by the Bosphorus River, is situated on both European and Asian continents.

With so much to see and do in Istanbul, I recommend you visit this bustling city for a minimum 3 – 4 days alone.

Public transportation is incredibly efficient to meet the needs of thousands of people moving about the city. You might consider staying in the Sultanahmet neighborhood. Sultanahmet is considered the center of historic Istanbul. It is also where many of the most popular attractions are located.

That’s all for now folks! I hope that you’ve found these tips helpful, as well as inspirational, for your upcoming visit to this dynamic country.

If you would like to see more content of my travels, feel free to visit my YouTube Channel here, as well as my Instagram here.

Also, check out my travel vlogs from my trip to Turkey here.

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy travels!

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