With the end of the year fast approaching, many people’s attention is undoubtedly shifting towards where they are planning to travel to the following year. The world is full of possibilities, especially with travel becoming increasingly accessible, as prices fall and growing numbers of destinations have become safer and more welcoming to outside visitors. If you love to explore, it is truly an amazing age!
While of course, with so many options, the only real downside is becoming overwhelmed by choice. With so much of the world now open to visit, where should you choose to spend your hard earned cash? If you are living in Europe and are looking for somewhere different to discover other than the more typical options of France, Spain, Italy and the UK, then Turkey is an absolutely must see destination.
With a flight time of just under four hours from London to the historical and cultural city of Istanbul, it is a perfect country to head to for those that prefer not to be in the air for too long. It is also a destination that offers a bridge between the east and west, as Istanbul is the only city in the world to be located in both Europe and Asia, separated by the famous Bosphorus strait. This means that Turkey really has an incredible traditional cultural mix, that you are less likely to find in more typical tourist destinations.
So what are some of the features that makes this unique country such an absolute must see destination? Turkey offers an incredible array of natural beauty that ranges from mountains to beaches, a fascinating culture and amazing architectural wonders, one of the most delicious cuisines in the world, and so much more!
Incredible Natural Beauty and Landscapes:
Turkey is a transcontinental Eurasian country, with the majority (97%) of the country located in Asia and the rest (3%) in Europe, and is positioned at a crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa. It is also a vast country of 814,578 square kilometres, with a stunning coastline which stretches for 8,333km.
Across this roughly rectangular shaped country you will find an abundance of natural beauty and beautiful landscapes, many of which will truly take your breath away! This includes the magical area of Cappadocia, characterised by sublime natural beauty, particularly the stunning fairy chimneys.
To the North the country is bordered by the Black Sea, to the West by the Sea of Marmara and Aegean Sea, and the Mediterranean to the South. Owing to its unique geographical location and being at the crossroads of three different climatic zones, it is a paradise for travellers fascinated by natural landscapes and features.
You will find inland mountain pastures, a significant number of lakes throughout the country including Lake Van which is as large as an inland sea and deserts to the southeast, and dense forests near the northern Black Sea and southern Mediterranean regions,
The beaches in Turkey, of which there are many, owing to the lengthy coastline and surrounding seas, are considered some of the best in the world. In fact Turkey has the 3rd highest number of Blue Flag beaches of any country! This makes it a wonderful destination for those who enjoy spending time at the beach either swimming, sunbathing, snorkelling or a combination. It also has some fantastic locations for scuba diving with incredible underwater natural beauty, and other water sports such as kitesurfing.
Fascinating Culture and Amazing Architecture:
Turkey is a country rich in culture and much of the architecture you will find across the country is inspiring, especially in cities such as the world famous Istanbul. Its cultural and architectural features owe a lot to the various historical influences and the geographical location of country.
As mentioned earlier, Turkey is positioned at a crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, and also the area and its people have been ruled by various different empires throughout history. As such it has a very diverse and rich culture, that blends elements of various different groups such as the Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman and Western culture into the features that can be seen today, such as the traditional art of carpet weaving which dates back to pre Islamic times, but remains popular today.
While efforts have been made to become more Westernised, many traditional religious and historical values have been maintained, adding to the authentic feel as you explore the country. Unlike some Western countries, especially the UK, where towns and cities are beginning to all seem fairly homogenized as the same brands of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants can be found in almost every town and city centre, Turkey has yet to suffer from this on any major scale.
Wandering around the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, one of the oldest covered markets in the world, is an astonishing sensory delight and an incredible taste of the variety of Turkish culture that exists, even in such a well developed, rich and modern city. Preserving these traditions is really important and certainly something that sets Turkey apart from many other places. If you visit Istanbul, then the Grand Bazaar is a must see, iconic feature.
As such, you will be able to truly experience traditional Turkish culture in different villages, towns and cities as these have managed to retain their unique charms, even in larger cities. While modernity and international globalised brands have arrived in Turkey, especially in the Western part of the country such as Istanbul, this hasn’t led to the major homogenization that has affected other countries. As such some cities don’t feel like they’ve changed for thousands of years!
The architectural design present in Turkey offers an amazing blend of the different historical and geographical factors that have influenced the country, including the different dynasties that ruled during various centuries. The architecture of the Seljuk Turks utilised characteristics and elements of the Turkic architecture of Central Asia and combined them with those of Arab, Persian, Armenian and Byzantine influences.
Later, during the period under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, new architectural elements were introduced to Turkey and combined with the other styles already present. More recently, since the 18th century, European styles have increasingly begun to influence Turkish architecture offering yet another interesting element.
Because of all of these different styles and influences, you will find an incredible mix of traditional and modern designs that creates a fascinating contrast. Some of the most incredible buildings to be seen in Turkey are to be found in the city of Istanbul, such as the breathtaking Blue Mosque!
While Turkish cuisine may not be as globally famous as some other countries such as Italy, France or Spain, it certainly has an abundance of delicious dishes and drinks, bursting with flavours, colours and ingredients. Once again due to Turkey’s unique global position as a crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa, this has led to a rich blend of different types of dishes that borrow elements from different traditions.
In addition to this. because of Turkey’s favourable conditions with plenty of sunlight and fertile lands, it provides a perfect place to grow a huge variety of different fruits and vegetables, for raising livestock and for fresh seafood due to the surrounding seas.
Turkish cuisine is in large part the heritage of Ottoman cuisine which was influenced by Arab, Balkan, Byzantine, Kurdish, Persian and Armenian cuisines. This is because for 600 years the Ottoman Empire (also known as the Turkish Empire) controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa. During this time there was an imperial kitchen, with at one point 1,400 live in cooks housed at the Ottoman court and laws passed regulating the freshness of food.
While Turkey no longer has an empire, it has retained the legacy from it in many ways, such as its wonderfully varied and fresh cuisine. Instead of particular types of food that easily define the cuisine, in the same way that pasta and pizza does for Italian cuisine, it is more the overall sensory experience of food in Turkey that is so tantalizing with different dishes being combined into feast-like meals.
Of course there are many different dishes that are extremely popular staples across the country that are also well known around the world. These include sumptuous grape leaves stuffed with fresh vegetables:
The incredibly delicious traditional Turkish dessert Baklava:
Grilled meats and kebabs:
Turkish tea and coffee is also very famous and popular, and the drinking of these is often a highly social event:
As you can see it is not just one element that makes Turkish cuisine so amazing, but a fantastic mixture of ingredients, colours and flavours that create the perfect meals to share with friends and family while you are visiting this incredible country!
“Do not underestimate the dish by calling it just food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself!” Abdülhak Şinasi Hisar (Turkish Novelist)
This post is just a taste of what you can experience when you decide to stay in Turkey and a mere glimpse of the fantastic fusion of cultures, traditions, architectural elements, landscapes and cuisine that will you be able to experience. Hopefully it has whet your appetite for a trip to this magical land, to see a place where West meets East, tradition blends with modernity, and a chance to discover this must see destination!
A perfect place to stay in Turkey is the CLC Apollonium Spa & Beach Resort, a picture perfect beach front resort looking out at the stunning Aegean Sea, with a backdrop of olive groves and pine clad mountains in one of the country’s most beautiful settings. For all the details on this superb self-catering resort click here: https://www.clcworld.com/destinations/turkey/apollonium-spa-beach/
Another superb option to stay at, especially if you want to combine a relaxing holiday with some golf while you are visiting Turkey is the gorgeous CLC Kusadasi Golf & Spa, where you will be able to enjoy a beautiful stay in a sunny oasis, complete with ocean views, spa and 18-hole golf course. For all the details on this wonderful resort, click here: https://www.clcworld.com/destinations/turkey/kusadasi-golf-spa/