Türkiye: Beyond Istanbul and Ankara
Continuing our exploration of global destinations, we focus this week on Türkiye. Last December, Türkiye’s President sought to rebrand the country—formerly known by its Anglicized spelling Turkey—by using its Turkish name. Earlier this year, the United Nations recognized the name change, and this attention may have sparked travelers’ interest in a visit to this fascinating country.
As a travel advisor, you know that all the countries of the world comprise your inventory. Your clients assume you are familiar with every aspect of that vast inventory. But becoming so familiar is no small task! The Travel Institute exists to provide quality education to help you meet and even exceed your clients’ expectations. For this reason, we have extensively enhanced our tourism geography textbook for the travel professional: Exploring the World, 5th Edition !
As always, it’s important to check the varying reopening dates, operating hours, and availability of attractions and accommodations and to consult sources like the U.S. State Department, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) before booking your clients.
The following information is taken directly from Exploring the World 5th Edition.
Two Popular Destinations
The only city in the world to span two continents, Istanbul (Türkiye’s largest city) is divided by the Bosporus and the Golden Horn (an arm of the Bosporus) into three parts. Topkapi Palace is Istanbul’s most popular site. Its star attractions are the Pavilion of the Holy Mantle, the Treasury, and the Harem. The Pavilion contains the mantle of the Prophet Muhammad. The Treasury displays the Spoonmaker’s Diamond (the world’s fifth-largest diamond) and bejeweled thrones. The Harem was the private quarters for the sultan and his concubines.
Türkiye’s capital—Ankara—has much to offer, including Türkiye’s top museum (the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations) and Atatürk’s mausoleum. Visitors can shop for traditional crafts in the Hamamönü area. Food enthusiasts will enjoy the cafés and restaurants located within the old houses in the neighborhood, many specializing in local Anatolian cuisine.
Other Places to Visit
There is much more to Türkiye than these two popular cities. For travelers, both the Aegean coast and the Anatolian Plateau have special attractions.
One of the most rewarding trips is south of Istanbul along the Aegean coast. Two-story whitewashed houses sit like sugar cubes on rocky hillsides, their doors and window frames painted cobalt blue to repel the Evil Eye.
Izmir is the region’s largest city, but the area’s prime attraction is Ephesus, one of the most important cities from the ancient past. The collections of ruins rival those in Pompeii, Italy. Visitors will benefit from hiring a guide to get the most from their time and to better understand the site’s historic importance. The city’s marble-paved main street, grooved by chariot wheels, leads past the Great Theater and the two-story Celsus Library (built in AD 135). Night tours include a whirling dervish show.
Nearby is the bustling town of Kusadasi, a port that allows cruise ship passengers access to Ephesus.
The Turks call their share of the Mediterranean on the southwest coast the Akdeniz, or “White Sea.” Those familiar with its clear blue waters and spectacular vistas—punctuated with coves, castles, and cities of the ancient world—prefer to call it the Turquoise Coast. It also is known as the Turkish Riviera.
Other interesting places along the Turquoise Coast include the coastal village of Kas for ambience, kayaking tours, and boat trips, as well as Olympos, Antalya, and the small village of Side with Roman temple ruins on the seafront.
Turkish delight is a confection that is believed to date to the Ottoman Empire. But the term easily could be applied to Cappadocia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the center of Türkiye. It is a geological wonderland. The region is dominated by Mount Argaeus. Long ago, its volcanic eruptions covered the Anatolian Plateau with ash. The soft rock, called tufa, was transformed by erosion into a landscape of cones and columns.
The finest formations are in the Valley of the Fairy Chimneys. The key attractions include the Byzantine-era rock-cut churches with dazzling frescoes and the intricate maze of underground cities where early Christians hid from invaders. Cappadocia’s valleys make the region one of the best places in the world for a hot air balloon ride.
The village of Göreme is half buried into the hill, and there are numerous stone house fronts hiding a maze of cave rooms located below. Many of these traditional houses have been turned into boutique cave hotels.
From Ankara, it is a four-hour drive to Cappadocia’s main towns of Nevsehir and Urgüp. The Göreme Historical National Park is probably the region’s biggest attraction, with more than 30 rock churches open to the public.
At Derinkuyu, visitors find underground cities to depths of six and seven stories. Tunnels connect a honeycomb of apartments, kitchens, wineries, chapels, stables, and rooms estimated to have accommodated a population of 30,000.
To discover more Turkish delights for your clients, be sure to start Exploring the World!