Turkey ranks at the top as one of our favourite countries to backpack through. We were only going to spend three and a half weeks there but ended up spending five weeks! There’s so much to see and do in this fascinating country that you’ll need all the time you can get.
Here’s our list of 10 Reasons To Travel To Turkey:
1. The People. I know it seems like we always say that the people of such and such a country are the nicest in the world, but Turkey really does have some of the most hospitable people we’ve ever come across! They will go out of their way to help you out and will invite you in for tea or take you out for lunch. We couldn’t sit at a bus stop without having someone come and chat with us and buy us tea. From the Turks to the Kurds and everyone in between, the people of Turkey are some of the kindest in the world.
2. The Food. The food here is so flavourful. With Middle Eastern, Asian and European influences, Turkey has some of the best food we’ve ever had! The kebabs, stews, shwarmas, soups, pizza, breads and regional specialities are all fantastic. The best part? Most meals are served with free appetizers of salad, soup, bread and usually a tea at the end.
A delicious, must-try meal in Turkey is borek. These flaky dough pastries are stuffed with savoury foods such as cheese, spinach and meat. Sample them when you’re travelling in Turkey, and learn how to make borek at home with this recipe.
3. Getting Off The Beaten Path. This is easy to do in this massive country. Turkey has its main tourist draws, but outside of them, you can wander off and find your own piece of the city, or, you can take a bus to a random town that no one goes to…that’s where the real Turkish hospitality will be found. Eastern Turkey is virtually tourist-free and has some of the best foods, people and landscapes! We suggest asking the locals where to go and follow their advice.
4. Smoking Sheesha Pipe (Nargile). Even if you’re not a smoker (we aren’t), you will probably find yourself in a teahouse somewhere or relaxing in a cafe with some local people, who will inevitably be smoking these flavoured tobacco water pipes. Join in, socialize and do as the locals do!
5. The Ruins Of Ani. These ancient, isolated ruins are set in the far eastern side of Turkey right on the Armenian border. The scenery here is stunning and the ruins are in great condition. If you make it all the way out here, you won’t be disappointed!
6. Hiking Around Cappadocia. The Marioland-Flintstone’ish landscapes around Cappadocia are truly awe-inspiring! There are many independent hikes you can do through different valleys and rock formations, each with its own shape and colour of rock.
7. Value For Money. Since a portion of Turkey is a part of Europe, people always assume it’s going to be expensive to travel here. But it’s not! Turkey’s not totally budget backpacker friendly, but we were able to travel on $95/day for the two of us. The quality of accommodation, food, transportation and sites are definitely worth the few extra bucks.
8. The Bazaars. Spending a day in one of Turkey’s bazaars is a sight in itself! The hustle and bustle, the smells, the people and the energy in these places is phenomenal. From Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to the quieter, tourist-free bazaars in the east, they are all exciting!
9. The Hammams. These traditional, ancient bath houses have been around for years. There are some private ones that you can go into and scrub yourself down, or, pay more money and have a shirtless stranger scrub down your naked body! The amount of skin and dirt that comes off during the process is unbelievable. Your skin will never feel so smooth.
10. The Mediterranean. The tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea are stunning! Make your way to Kabak, Butterfly Valley, Ölüdeniz or Olympos and enjoy the beautiful beaches and calm waters.
If you’re into getting off the beaten path in Turkey or interested in seeing some ancient ruins, then check out eastern Turkey (Harran, Ani and Sanliurfa in particular). If you’re more into the big cities, the Mediterranean or hiking, then we suggest staying in the western part of Turkey.
We transversed Turkey by bus but if you have a higher budget, you could fly from the west to the east or vice-versa. Either way, we suggest a month as a minimum amount of time to see both sides of this fascinating country!
In our opinion, travel to Turkey should be on everyone’s list of things to do! For more information about visiting Turkey, check out our extensive Budget Backpacking Guide To Turkey.
Have you travelled to Turkey? What did you think?