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8 Reasons Why Turkey Should be Top of Your Bucket List

Things to do in Turkey

With so many once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Turkey, this intriguing destination should be at the top of your bucket list.

Turkey (Türkiye) is a land of dizzying diversity: epic history, jaw-dropping scenery and culinary delights only scratch the surface. From dreamlike drifting over Cappadocia’s romantic landscapes to drinking Turkish coffee with the locals in Istanbul, and learning about WWI history in Gallipoli, there’s a soul-stirring experience for every traveller.

With so many awe-inspiring experiences to be had, there’s no better way to do it all than by joining a small-group luxury tour to Turkey, where magical moments are organised for you.  

Read on to discover the best things to do in Turkey and why this incredible country should be your next escape.   

Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia

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There’s nothing more romantic and awe-inspiring than a hot air balloon journey at sunrise. Gently drifting over the twisting fairy chimney spires of Cappadocia, however, is a whole other level of enchanting. The whimsical landscape is a patchwork of honeycomb hills, rock-cut dwellings and spiralling hoodoos. Wake up before the sun and take a transfer to the hot air balloon office, where breakfast and hot Turkish coffee are available to perk you up before your flight. Once aboard, watch the first soft, golden light peek over the horizon and cast a glow across the landscape. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will hold a permanent place in your memory. 

Enjoy a soak in Pamukkale hot springs

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In the southwestern Turkish province of Denizli you’ll find the otherworldly, ice-white cascading terraces and turquoise mineral pools of Pamukkale. Locals and visitors have been coming to this corner of the country for a soak since as early as 190 BCE. Nowadays, it’s much more about the ‘gram and getting that perfect holiday snapshot, while also enjoying a dip. There are two hot pools open for swimming to the public, the public travertine pools and Cleopatra’s Pool. Float while surrounded by Roman ruins, before exploring the travertines on foot. 

Get lost in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

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Istanbul’s Old Town is an intriguing mix of ancient and modern. From the Hippodrome, the bewitching spires of the Blue Mosque and the storied Hagia Sophia, Istanbul has historic monuments covered. For a complete immersion into modern Turkish culture, be sure to carve out a large part of your day to explore the Grand Bazaar. One of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world, it first opened in 1461 and spans over 30,000sqm. Breathe in the scent of Turkish spices while perusing silky shawls, Turkish rugs, gold jewellery and leather goods. Pyramids of sugar-dusted Turkish delight may well catch your attention: it would be remiss of you to leave without buying a square or two to enjoy while you stroll. 

Pay your respects at Gallipoli

Image by Ben Stevens, courtesy of Getty Images.

The landscapes of the Gallipoli Peninsula are a protected historic site, blanketed in thick forests of pine. These tranquil natural scenes are a far cry from the bloodied battlefields of World War I, a time in history that is still commemorated every year in April. During a visit, pay your respects to the fallen Australian, New Zealand and Turkish soldiers who bravely fought here in 1915. Witness the now-green battlefields, Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and other important historical sites including cemeteries and battlefields within the 33,500 hectares of the Gallipoli Peninsula. 

Hit the beach in Bodrum

Camel Beach in Bitez. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

For a spot of sun-soaked downtime in between exploring historical sites, find a beach in Bodrum. On the rugged southwest peninsula, this resort town abounds in stunning beaches. For a family-friendly bay with crystal-clear, shallow water, spend the day at Bitez Beach. A handful of eateries and bars lines the beach, each with their own sun loungers at the cost of a drink or a meal (highly recommended in lieu of a towel on pebbly sand). When you’re ready to explore further, take in the famous Bodrum Windmills and Bodrum Castle, built in the 15th century. Both sites offer postcard-perfect photo opportunities.  

Cruise the Bosphorus Strait

Rumeli Fortress. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

A cruise along the Bosphorus Strait is an unforgettable experience; glide along the glittering channel which separates Europe and Asia and learn the historical significance of this passage. As your boat skims the water, look out for Byzantine and Ottoman historic sites, including Ortakoy, Bebek, Rumeli Fortress, Maiden’s Tower and Bosphorus Bridges. Plus, you’ll enjoy unique views across Istanbul (have your camera at the ready!). Most cruises include a Mediterranean-inspired lunch, drinks or sightseeing stops at ancient sites or towns for ample exploration time. Our hot tip? Go for sunset and watch the cityscape change and twinkle with lights at dusk. 

Live it up in Marmaris

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If you’re after a fun evening out on your Turkey holiday, look no further than Marmaris. Known for its buzzing nightlife, Marmaris boasts a collection of nightclubs, bars and parties (think foam parties, DJ sets and laser shows) along Bar St. and the harbour. The harbour itself is an upscale hub home to cafés, boutiques and restaurants. Fuel your night’s adventure with steak, pasta or seafood fresh from the sea, all with a superb marina view out to luxury superyachts. After your wild night out, spend a recovery day stretched on a sun lounger on Marmaris Beach in between cooling dips in the ocean and hot chips delivered from the promenade’s restaurants.

Try Turkish coffee in Istanbul

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If there’s one thing you should try while you’re in Turkey, it’s the coffee. Characterised by its strength and depth of flavour, this tiny cup of power fuel sure packs a punch. Drinking coffee is customary after a meal, and it is served with a glass of water and a square of Turkish delight. The water is to cleanse and prepare the palate for the rich, flavourful taste of the coffee, while the Turkish delight should only be eaten after the coffee has been drunk. You can find good Turkish coffee almost everywhere in Istanbul: for great coffee accompanied by scenic views, try the famous Pierre Loti Café

Planning a trip? Discover our collection of Turkey escapes 

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A keen traveller and hot choc enthusiast, Felicia is all about getting to the nitty gritty of each destination she visits and discovering its hidden gems (and then running home to write about it).