Hello, folks, I am back with my Turkey travel experiences and here is a complete tour guide of Turkey below. In this Article I am going to tell you everything about Turkey. What to do? what to visit? what to eat? so lets scroll down to know about Turkey.
Turkey, country that occupies a unique geographic position, lying partly in Asia and partly in Europe. Throughout its history it has acted as both a barrier and a bridge between the two continents. Turkey is situated at the crossroads of the Balkans, Caucasus, Middle east and eastern Mediterranean. It is among the larger countries of the region in terms of territory and population, and its land area is greater than that of any European state. Nearly all of the country is in Asia, comprising the oblong peninsula of Asia Minor—also known as Anatolia (Anadolu)—and, in the east, part of a mountainous region sometimes known as the Armenian highland.
What to visit?
- Galata tower
- Blue mosque
- Hagia sofia
- Biclica & Medusha’s head
- Istanbul Museum
- Grand market
- Red Square
- Balat colony
- Troy ruins
- House of marry
- Ephesus city
- Hierapolis city
- Konya Rumi tomb
- Underground city
- Ihlara vellay
- Salem sarai
Galata Tower, it is old then Istanbul:
I could see it from the window of my hotel room. Visitors would queue up at dawn, and the queue would keep getting longer by the day. It was once the tallest structure of Istanbul and is still great to go up for a panoramic view of the city. But considering the rush either take a fast track ticket or go up a hotel rooftop restaurant nearby and you will get a similar look.
It certainly is a landmark though and can be seen from a distance. It is lit up beautifully at night and worth a selfie. The lanes leading up to the tower are steep, and you must be ready for a strenuous walk to take a taxi. It s surrounded by eateries and is a good hang out place.
Blue Mosque, a symbol of faith:
Every mosque in Istanbul has a blue dome but don’t confuse them for THE blue mosque. The Blue Mosque is enormous and open to visitors of all faith as long as you follow the rules of the place like covering your head etc.
There isn’t much to see inside; in fact, the outside is beautiful and worth a pic. The gardens surrounding the mosque are beautifully dotted with lovely flowers. I sat there on a bench is December soaking in the sun and admiring the beauty around me.
Hagia Sofia, church turned mosque:
Hagia Sofia is Stone’s throw away from the Blue Mosque is the Hagia Sofia. It’s all in one location. Hagia Sofia, a church turned mosque turned museum with changing times and regimes.
The museum has a collection from the bygone era and is a must-visit to understand how Turkey is the meeting ground of Asia and Europe.
Bisilica Cistern, house of Medusha’s head:
Basilica Cistern is also located in the same vicinity close to Hagia Sofia. If you have seen the James Bond film –To Russia, with Love or Marvel Comics Black Widow, you will recognise this monument instantly. The cistern dated back to 5th Century AD and was built for water filtration before it was used in the Great Palace and later Topkapi Palace. It is an underground structure with massive pillars and today has very little water around. the Medusa head from the Greek legend is the base of two component.
It is said the Medusa has evil-averting eyes. The cistern itself is dark and damp, but a ramp and adequate lighting have been put for visitors. The peculiar sight inside the cistern was a sofa and customary Turkish dress of a Sultan and his Queen. Visitors could pay a fee and get themselves photographed as Turkish royalty in the middle of a cistern! There was a queue of enthusiastic couples waiting to be photographed!
Pls note: that Hagia Sofia;Blue Mosque and Cistern Basicila are well connected to public transport and are dotted with eateries and souvenir shops.You can take a guided tour too by paying extra. It s a half day trip and please check if the place is open on your day of visit as they may be closed for a weakly off or on a holiday. Turkey tour can’t be complete with seeing Medusha’s head.
The Topkapi Museum tour guide:
After the end of the ottoman Empire in 1923, a government decree dated April 3, 1924 transformed Topkapı into a museum. Turkey’s Ministry of the culture and tourism now administers the Topkapı Palace Museum. The palace complex has hundreds of rooms and chambers, but only the most important are accessible to the public as of 2020, including the Ottoman imperial harem and the treasury, called hazine where the Spoonmaker’s Diamond and the Topkapi Dagger are on display.
The museum collection also includes Ottoman clothing, weapons, armor, miniatures, religious relics, and illuminated manuscripts such as the Topkapi manuscript. Officials of the ministry as well as armed guards of the Turkish military guard the complex. The Topkapı Palace forms a part the Historic area of Istanbul, a group of sites in Istanbul that UNESCO recognised as a World heritage site in 1985.
Grand market, shop sweets and masalas:
I had heard so much about the grand market from people who had already seen it that I almost rushed to see the place as I landed in Istanbul.The market is located right next to the Bosphorus river on which I took a ferry ride of 1 hour to see Istanbul from the river. The ferry ride also crossed many landmarks and old palace. I was sipping hot coffee on the ferry sitting by the window and admire the beauty of the Turkey.
Now back to the Grand Bazar/market – 600 years old soaked in history this is genuinely a street shoppers paradise. It’s like any Asian market full of knick-knacks; window-shoppers; inviting sellers! The best part about the market is that even if you don’t want to buy anything you can taster everything. The shopkeepers are incredibly welcoming. The Bazar sells unusual dry fruits; Turkish cheeses; oils; spices; chocolates etc. at very reasonable rates. The Turkish blue mosaic lamps and crockery are a must-buy from here. There are many small eateries within the grand bazaar selling shawarma roll, among other things. The meshoor pulao is something I would recommend to all vegetarian-rice cooked in ghee/clarified butter with boiled chickpeas accompanied chaas/buttermilk.
As I get out of the grand Bazar, I crossed the bridge on the Bosphorous; there’s a row of seafood eateries on the deck. They sell the freshest seafood. I could see them catching fish in the Bosphorus while I sat down to have my meal. The one fantastic thing about Turkey is the food. It is fresh, and the serving is very, very generous. Alcohol is available everywhere in Istanbul though I didn’t see too many people drinking. Before I leave grand Bazar, one useful trivia-right outside this market is a bus stand dedicated to buses to the international airport. The tickets are cheap; the vans are frequency and very comfortable. So if your hotel is in the vicinity, you must take a bus from the airport otherwise the Instanbul metro all is an excellent way to travel in the city.
Taksem Square, a symbol of revolution:
Taksim square it commemorates the making of the Republic of Turkey. The square leads up to many lanes and bylines dotted with posh shops; restaurants and dessert shops. The food to have is traditional Turkish food- rice; lentil soup; kebabs; vegetables and of course the fantastic variety of Turkish desserts.
If you are not in a mood to spend money, you can always taste for free! The famous Turkish chef Burak ‘s restaurant is also located in the vicinity, but a table has to be booked in advance considering the rush at the restaurant. I got into a party mood at the Taksim at it was Christmas but couldn’t find a pub or a bar, so I bought a bottle of whiskey from a shop and sneaked into a lane and enjoyed my drink.
Balat colony, a Jewish community.
It is a Jewish settlement and the ruins of a synagogue. Every house has beautiful bright colours. The lanes are quiet with a few cafes. The one café I remember distinctly had 100s of umbrella over the entrance and courtyard. I got to see some beautiful wall art. But the most amazing part was the healthy adorable cats lazing around. The whole of Turkey has these pretty little creatures.
The Turkish people love cats so much that I could see kennels built for them at every corner and even I could buy cat food-the Turkish salami and leave it at the kennel.
If you visit the Balat colony, Balantantik cafe is must visit place. Enjoy a cup of coffee here and feel the Turkish Jewish culture. Don’t forget to mention this cafe in your Turkey tour guide.
Canakkale, a Town with wooden horse:
Let me tell you Don’t skip this town from your turkey tour guide. From Istanbul bus station I left for Canakkale. Various companies offer bus services. Tickets can be bought online or can be purchased at the bus station on the same day. The buses are punctual, comfortable and total value for money. The one mistake I made was my taxi ride from the hotel to the bus station. The taxi driver did not start the meter, and once I reached the bus station, which was a short distance, he charged me triple the money! So be sure to check the meter when you get into a taxi.
The bus ride from Istanbul to Canakkale is very comfortable. The bus stops at 2-3 places on the way where you can have food or smoke a cigarette or use the washroom. I managed to sneak in a small whisky bottle to beat the cold. After a 4 hour ride, the bus got into a large waiting ferry. The ferry ride was 15 mins, and then the bus drove out of the boat, and I had reached my destination. I must mention here that while I was in the ferry the one thing that I saw of Canakkale was a vast Trojan horse and as the ship came closer to land, the Trojan horse stood majestically overlooking the town. This wooden horse is the horse from the film Troy and was gifted to the city of Canakkale once the movie got released. Canakkale is a quaint little town and a must-visit for travellers like me who enjoy being away from big cities. Everything is Cannakale is five minutes walk. So when you arrive in the city, just look around or check your google map. You can save money by walking to your hotel as it may be a 5-minute walk. Don’t be in a hurry to take a cab. Many many eateries and cafes are facing the river. They serve all kinds of food, but their speciality is fresh seafood. The view and food are highly recommended.
Troy, the city of love and war tour guide:
Turkey tour guide can’t be complete with out seeing Troy. From Canakkale, there are many day trips. You can walk into a local travel agency or check online. I decided to see the Troy ruins – the legendary city of Troy, which became the subject of many a tale! One can hire a taxi for a return journey or one can take a bus to Troy. The troy ruins are enormous and very well kept. There’s a ramp running across the ruins to walk through history, and every structure is explained in detail.
Hence I didn’t need to guide or an audio guide. Here also a replica of a Trojan horse is kept at the entrance, and I could climb inside the horse and click pics! A souvenir shop awaits you but with nothing much to offer. The same stuff is available in Canakkale at a lesser price. I would highly recommend other day trips from Cannakale if you have the time. Canakkale is a city to unwind.
Go for long walks through the lanes of the town or by the riverside. Have some great food and enjoy a superb view. People are friendly and helpful. I ate some excellent Turkish food courtesy; the chef went out of his way to serve me some delicacies which were not on the menu!
İzmir city of wild parties:
A similar bus ride like the previous one takes me to the city of Izmir. In hindsight, I would recommend not staying at Izmir unless you like to party and stay in a big city. Izmir is all of that. Getting down at the bus station, I got fleeced at an eatery where they wouldn’t provide a bill and overcharged for all food items. The bus station is far from where the hotels are located. Izmir is by the seaside, and if you can manage to stay next to the sea, then it’s a great view. Walk on the boulevard; partying till dawn and some fresh seafood beacons you.
I skipped most of it and hired a taxi and headed to see The House of Mary and Ephesus on day one and Pammukale on day 2. Both are day trips from Izmir, and the cab is expensive – Rs 10k for each trip return fare. There are buses also to take you to these places, but they take more time and bus stations are far away from the hotels etc. Its a choice I had to make as I didn’t have much time. The taxi ride was fascinating; the drivers friendly; the roads were smooth and got to drink a lot of fresh orange juice on the way. The one memorable incidence which is worth a mention was that on day two on the way back from Pammukale, my taxi driver would doze off repeatedly while driving on the highway. he has been by me when the car started sliding off the road averted an accident, but the rest of the ride was stressful. I would stop at every cafe and treat the driver to coffee. I would engage him in a conversation, so he doesn’t fall asleep. He didn’t know much of English, so I give credit to myself for keeping him engaged in conversation while he drove for 3 hours! It was the longest ride of my life!
Day One: house of virgin marry:
A two hours drive from Izmir brought me to House of Mary. It’s a beautiful sequence chapel surrounded by lush green forest. It was the last adobe of Mother Mary after Christ was crucified Mother Marry spent her days here in hiding saving her life from the jews and romans.The chapel has little Jesus in a cradle and a towering Mother Mary’s statue.
The place has a natural feeling. Its a place to stop; sit and soak in the blessing of a mother. As per tradition, visitors to the site can buy candles and light them around the chapel. There is no entry fee. A must visit place in your Turkey tour guide.
Ephesus,ancient Greek city tour guide:
Ephesus is a very important part of Turkey tour guide. This was an ancient port city dating back to 1st century AD. One can see the massive ruins from Greek and Roman civilisation and finally the advent of Christianity. It is in the vicinity of House of Mary. There is an entry fee. It’s a long walk inside the ruins.
It’s a whole city dating back 2000 years. I observed huge bathhouses and realised the Roman obsession with elaborate baths.No wonder Turkey still carries the tradition of elaborate baths and bathing houses. I would recommend a Turkish bath in Istanbul.
Pammukale, the thermal pools on the planet
As my taxi approached Pammukale I kept cursing myself-why didn’t I stay here? It’s a small little settlement with very few home stays and hotels; a few shops and natural beauty all around. Mostly its women are running the hotels and shops more than happy to chat with visitors like me and guiding for free.
The travertines of Pammukale deserve a place in the wonders of the world, in my opinion. To enter the travertines, I had to pay 30 USD. Post that since the surface is slippery one has to walk barefoot and in December cold my feet would freeze, but the deep blue water around me was lukewarm to hot, and that is the wonder. I could take a dip in the pool while it was December cold around me.
The water is deep blue and soothingly warm. The travertines are located next to the Roman city of Hierapolis. Between the two a volcano erupted and travertine formation is a result of this eruption. From a distance, the travertines look like a mound of white cotton with deep blue water bodies. It is one of the most amazing sights to see in a lifetime! it should be on top of your Turkey tour guide.
Hierapolis ancient Greek city tour guide:
Next to the travertines is the ancient Greek city of Hierapolis. Though it’s a longish walk, the amphitheatre is worth a look. This city was famed for its thermal spa and doctors used the travertine water to cure people.
The ruins are spread over miles, and I would recommend it only to people who are history buff otherwise skip it and enjoy your time at the travertines and the town. Don’t forget to make it a part of your Turkey tour guide.
Shrine of Rumi tour guide:
A 1-hour flight from Izmir to Konya and as my flight lands at the Konya airport the whole city is covered in snow. I am excited to see the birth town of Sufism and where the great Sufi poet Rumi took asylum when he left Afghanistan. Konya has an old-world charm is slightly conservative than the rest of Turkey.
Rumi’s tomb and the dancing Darvish show are free for visitors and worth a watch.Pls check the days of the week when the Darvish show is organised as it keeps changing with seasons. This is where the Dervish culture started and gained popularity all over Turkey. Opposite the Rumi tomb are many small eateries serving Turkish food and sweets. The servings are generous. You can also buy the dancing Darvish for a soveneir from here.My advice: Go to Konya only if you are interested in knowing the genesis of Sufism or are a Rumi fan. If you are found of sufism stick konya on your Turkey tour guide.
Cappadocia land of cave houses tour guide:
Update your Turkey tour guide with Cappadocia is must. I took a flight from Konya to Cappadocia to save time. You can take a bus or a train too. Cappadocia is a region famous for horses. I stayed in the town of Goreme. It was new years, and the city was gearing up for celebrations despite the cold.
In the entire region, people live in caves and my Ottoman hotel caves was well a cave. It was a fantastic experience to live in a cave-though well equipped with modern facilities. The breakfast at the hotel was included in the tariff was something I looked forward too. The staff at the hotel is accommodating.
I ventured to see the cave museum, but the intense cold winds took me to a wine shop! Chinese restaurants and Turkish restaurants are highly recommended. Skip the Indian restaurant, though. The food is overrated and long queues. In the evening, I would stand by bonfires created all along the lanes of the town and sip hot wine standing by the fire.
I took a day tour through the hotel in a minibus with a guide. The journey is worth the expense as streamlines all places to see in a day. It s very well organised. It starts early morning and ends at dusk. We were a group of 15 tourists and an amiable guide.
The under ground city tour guide:
The one must-see at Cappadocia is the underground city. Turkey tour guide can’t be complete with out this. There are many many such underground cities, but the bigger ones like –Kamakli are open to tourists. There is an entry fee. The big underground cities could accommodate 20K people. There are 100 s of such towns in the region.
These cities were built as a refuge for Christians to save their lives from pagans’s attacks. Later it was used by the Turkish Muslims to hide from the Ottomans. The caves are fully equipped with kitchens; churches; rooms to sleep in etc.
There are shafts for light. The one thing missing is a bathroom or toilet! How did 20000 people manage to stay underground for long periods without a shower! That’s a mystery. The underground caves are a must-visit. I was amazed and fascinated, wanting to see more
Ihlara valley tour guide:
A part of the day tour around lunchtime is a walk through the valley. It is walking through nature surrounded by hills; a river stream; beautiful birds and beer breaks. On the way, you see some ancient chappels. And finally, the 7km walk ends with a lunch of fresh trouts and Turkish bread. A must-visit while in Cappadocia.
Serai is a tavern/inn –a resting place for merchants and their horse. A safe to keep their merchandise and a chapel to pray. Salem Sarai is a biggish structure build in caves of the mountains. you must have this place in your Turkey tour guide.
There is a lot more to do in Cappadocia like eating pottery kebab (avoid the vegetarian version); horse riding; hot air balloon ride; quad biking etc. If you have the time spend it in Cappadocia – it will be memorable trust me.
Food and Culture:
This is my favourite section.Turkish restaurants are generous with their servings.If you go to a sit-down dinner place you will be served a lot of things. salads;chutneys;breads before the actual food arrives. so order less than what you will eat, as the starters are very filling.
Traditional Turkish food is Kebabs;salads;shawarma;Meshoor pulao;curd; buttermilk;fresh juices;sea food;lentils;vegetables and Sweets. Rice pudding deserve a special mention. In Istanbul one can eat world cuisine but rest of Turkey is pretty much restricted to traditional Turkish food.
I had heard a lot about pottery kebab but found it overrated. People are helpful and outgoing.
How to reach and travel in Turkey:
From Mumbai, I had a transit at Delhi and then Istanbul. The return journey was also the same. One can get direct flights for Istanbul from Delhi and require a tourist visa and insurance to travel to Turkey. Visa is on the higher side (Approx 7000 INR for visa and 1700 INR for insurance). You have to visit the Turkish embassy or their designated agent for visa application. Appointment for which can be taken online. You can check the documents needed online, and they are supporting documents. Within Turkey, you can take the train/bus/flight to travel intercity. All tickets can be purchased online in advance or upon arrival. The airfare/bus ticket is quite reasonable. Cancellation policies are very reasonable. If you have time, you should travel by bus and save money. I travelled via Turkish airline flights OR by bus. Booking for the bus can be made through http://www.busbud.com.There are many bus companies, and all are equally good. I mostly travelled by Truva Bus. Do check the nearest bus station from your hotel before you book your ticket. It can save you time and taxi fare to and from the hotel. In Cappadocia, the nearest airport is Nevsehir and Keysari. All Turkish airline flights operate from Keysari. Pls, check your airport. Also, the hotel can arrange for airport transfers via shared coach/minibus, which is cheap in comparison to a taxi. Both airports are far from stay (30-50kms away). Turkey has it’s own yellow colour taxi s which can be called through the hotel or you can take one from the road as there is no uber kind of online app to book these taxis. Taxis are readily available everywhere. Do check the meter and also sometimes the taxi driver may want to fleece you by asking for some special fare for crossing a bridge or something. Do not pay until you have confirmed this online or contact the nearest police officer or your hotel. The metro rail and bus services are equally efficient and very cheap.
Budget per person:
Luxury- 12000 INR/person/day but economy would cost 5000 INR/person/day and bag packers would spend 3000 INR/person/day.
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