I would dare to say, that Turkey is a country, where it is impossible not to find a place, that you think is beautiful. I have traveled in the country for many years now. From north to south and from east to west. Fortunately, Turkey is so big, that it’s almost impossible to see the whole country, unless you really do a targeted effort. For example, I have never been far east, primarily because it is too dangerous to travel in certain areas there, especially to the southeast due to war and riots (now with ISIL previously due to PKK). I have never traveled north to the Black Sea coast either, for example, Trabzon, Samsun, Rize etc. to see the fields and the beautiful nature. Everywhere draws heavily in my curiosity, but sometimes you have to plan and be patience and sometimes you just have enough places to return to and re-visit.
All places are just as exciting and have their own attractions, nature and food to explore. It is one of the advantages of such a large country – that the landscape, traditions, culture and even climate zones change so much depending on whether you are in the north, south, east, west or in the middle of the country. If you are interested in reading more about geographical facts about Turkey, you may want to look here.
Round and about:
Even though I have traveled in the country for nearly 20 years, I’m not tired of it yet. We have traveled a lot – primarily to visit the family, that is spread across most of the country. Although I have a blog about Antalya – and it is undisputed the place, where we come the most, we are also sufficiently curious to see more of the country, than where we are usually comes. It also makes you collect favorite places, which you dream about and want to come back to. In my world some of the most beautiful places are next to the beach and the water. In many places, there is a serene blend of raw and almost virgin nature with the most beautiful water, long sandy beaches, mountains, rocks and pine forests all the way to the water’s edge. It is always these places, that attract me. So I will now give you my best tips for beautiful, unique experiences, if you are going on a trip around the country or along the coast, while on vacation. Most places require, that you have a car available, although transport can be arranged in a different ways.
The vast majority of tourists go to the South Coast with Antalya as the largest city (although most of the Danish and Scandinavian tourists go to Alanya). A large part also goes to cities such as Marmaris, Bodrum and Cesme. But Turkey has much more to offer than that. So here you get some ideas of my favorite places and cities in Turkey. All of which have something unique to offer. Maybe you also want to travel?
One of my favorite places and a place we return to year after year is Phaselis, which is about 1 hour’s drive from Antalya. It is a perfectly unique place and until a few years ago, it was almost untouched with the naturally protected beaches (where the water is some of the warmest in Turkey), the many ruins of the ancient ancient city (a big commercial city until it was destroyed by pirates) and the beautiful scenery around the beaches and the bay. Today, however, the place is a little more commercialized with kiosks (and toilets), a small bridge, a wealth of tourists and buses and boats coming from near and far. However, the place is worth a visit and definitely something to prioritize enjoy if you’re on these edges (bring a picnic basket if you plan a little longer trip).
The small cafes in the Ulupinar river between Kemer and Adrasan quickly became one of my favorites, when we visited several of them last year. It’s a rather surprising area and you do not expect to experience such lushness in the middle of summer in 40 degree heat. But you are literally sitting in the middle of the cool river and have the opportunity to have the most delicious meal or just a little fruit, tea and coffee. Truly a refreshing and slightly different experience.
Adrasan is a relatively undisturbed area with no tourists. And that makes it even more charming in my eyes. Adrasan town is almost non existent – one visits this place for the long fine sandy beach and enjoy the unique view of the water and the mountains. Along with the beach, there are some cafes, that are actually amazingly good and a bit smart and serve relatively good food, smoothies, etc. If you go on a boat trip from here, you get rid of a nice amount of money, but it’s worth it. Few places in Turkey are as impassable as here. And the boats take you to these places, where you can not go by car. Here a picnic, island visits and bathing can be arranged in places suspiciously resembling something from a travel catalog. The place is pure stress relief for me, so if you have tendencies in that direction (and isn’t that one of the reasons to go on summer vacation – to chill and relax) then this is where you have to go.
Kalkan is the place to visit if you want to live centrally in a small, pleasant and not too touristy city. Nearby are the major cities of Fethiye and Kas, each attracting quite a few tourists, and with a rich city and nightlife. It’s been quite a few years, since I’ve been there, so much has probably changed. But it is definitely a place we would like to return to. The city is also centrally located for exhilarating trips to, for example, the Santa’s church (where he is also buried), the cliffs of Demre, Öludeniz beach, which is certainly everything you dream about (probably also seen in the commercials), Patara Beach , which is one of the few places in the world where the big sea turtles are hatched. Turkey’s only underwater museum, where you can see ancient ruins underwater is also nearby.
Cesme is a beautiful city, located about 45 minutes drive from Izmir (located west of the country – about 8 hours drive from Antalya). The whole southwest coast of Turkey is very different from the rest of the country. Even the climate is a bit colder than in Antalya (which can be very nice during the hot summer period). In Cesme (and on the whole coast) you can clearly see the Greek influence on everything from buildings to architecture and food. South / West coast is also a holiday area for many of the rich Turks from Istanbul and Izmir, so here is a very modern and a bit more decadent life, with smart shops, sidewalks, delicate little beach hotels / restaurants, where you can rent a chair for a day, get pampered and enjoy the good service – we have enjoyed it a lot of times. From Cesme you can take a boat to several of the Greek islands, and you can also visit several vineyards, where you can sleep if necessary. We have not yet tried an island and vineyard visit, but it is on the list …
The small town of Alacati belongs to one of the most popular and hip high-society cities in Turkey. I’ve been here a few times, and I’m being seduced every time. Nowhere have I met a city like this one. It’s like Greece meets Holland meets Turkey. A wonderful, lively and engaging melting pot of cafes, small cozy shops, deluxe junk dealers with used items, beautiful old Dutch windmills, smart show-offs boats in the harbor, big cars and smart people. This is the place to go to town and to be seen. Evening and nightlife is legendary and the city does not wake up properly after the night’s hardships until noon the next day.
Of course, I can not help mentioning Istanbul as one of my favorites. This big, giant, mastodontic city, that has so much to offer and where the many neighborhoods are so different, that one can hardly understand, that it is one and the same city. Here is absolutely EVERYTHING you want. I really think that all can be found in Istanbul, if you just keep your eyes open and look around. The Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia belong to some of the top sights, which must be seen. They are each so big and stunningly beautiful. But also the Topkapi Palace, the big bazaar, the cisterns, the bridges, the Bosphorus Strait and countless of other well-known sights are must-see when there. Istanbul is the city where you really learn about Turkey’s tremendous existence, greatness and fall. So it’s unthinkable not to come back again and again. I’ll always find something new, I’ll see or investigate.
Perhaps you want to go on adventure around Turkey. I hope so, because the country has so infinitely much to offer … Have a good journey…