Travel to Turkey: Explore Istanbul and the Rest of Turkey
I’m not Turkish, but when my plane lands in Turkey – eight times so far – I feel I’ve come home. The lure of this land began for me when, as a 17-year-old high school exchange student to a backwater town in western Turkey, I lived with a Muslim family who opened their hearts and home to me, a young teenager who’d never been anywhere – not even on an airplane.
Decades later, I keep returning to Turkey for its legendary hospitality and history, architecture and ruins, water views and beaches, and for its unforgettable abundance of Mediterranean food, freshly picked from the garden or freshly caught from the sea. Every time I visit, my beloved exchange family and relatives welcome me home again to Turkey, suggesting I stay forever. I’d like that.
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Now is a perfect time for a traveler’s first – and likely not last – visit to Turkey, where cultural contrasts and Turkish delights abound, a country bursting with UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Easy to travel, rich in magical moments with locals, and warm hospitality beyond measure: Turkey is a layered, complex, and deeply satisfying destination for travelers, a country MIR explores on several private train journeys, a scheduled group tour, and on private handcrafted itineraries.
- Travel to Turkey: 6 Favorite Highlights in Istanbul: Istanbul is an easy introduction to Turkey’s legendary hospitality. Its minaret-studded skyline glistens with mosques, palaces, and water views that demonstrate the country’s living history, diverse cultures, and international cuisine.
- Travel to Turkey: 6 Scenic Reasons to Visit Captivating Cappadocia: This moonscape of strangely shaped rock formations – “fairy chimneys” – is also one of the best places on the planet for hot-air balloon rides.
- Travel to Turkey: 6 Must-See Historic Highlights in Eastern Turkey: The eastern Anatolian area is Turkey at its most authentic: down-home hospitality; farmers, villages, and mountain towns; and ancient archaeological sites from Nemrut Dağ to Kars.
- Travel to Turkey: 5 Highlights in Southern Turkey, From Ankara to the Mediterranean Coast: Ankara’s mammoth Atatürk Mausoleum, Konya’s “whirling dervishes,” and the “Turkish Riviera’s” laid-back fishing villages are just some of delightful finds along the way in southern Turkey.
- Travel to Turkey: 5 Favorite Western Turkey Highlights, From Ancient Ruins to the Aegean Coast: This is Turkey’s old soul, steeped in wars, history, and legends. All three are abundant, with civilizations traced back 4,000 years and with more ancient ruins here than anywhere else in Turkey.
- Handcrafted Private Journeys: MIR travelers often book several days in Istanbul at the beginning or end of their journeys, giving them the opportunity to more deeply explore this ancient yet modern city, beyond the highlights. Because it is so large and so diverse in topography, culture, and cuisine, Turkey lends itself well to focusing on distinct geographical regions with a handcrafted custom, private journey. Possible itineraries might include:
- handicrafts such as Aegean Coast jewelry
- art and traditions of making Turkish carpets
- history of Turkey’s famous tiles from Iznik
- exploring world-famous archaeological digs, such as UNESCO-listed Çatalhöyük
- Other ideas: spending extended time on a gulet (a Turkish all-wooden yacht) on the Mediterranean Sea, sailing, fishing, snorkeling and scuba-diving in historic harbor towns and fishing villages along the way. Of course, you must take a Turkish bath! If food is on the travel agenda, Turkey tempts you with cooking classes and gastronomic opportunities to sample the country’s diverse cuisine as well as to learn to create some of those dishes as well, like baklava, Turkey’s favorite sweet.
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Whatever Turkish delights entice you, MIR can transform your dream trip into an unforgettable travel adventure steeped in Turkish culture, cuisine, history – and of course that legendary Turkish hospitality.
(Top photo: Water view of the Blue Mosque, its cascading domes and slim minarets punctuating Istanbul’s skyline. Photo credit: Helen Holter)
PUBLISHED: February 25, 2015