When traveling to Turkey there are so many things to do and places to see that it is hard to figure out where to start. After traveling all over Turkey, I compiled a list of my favorite things that I did while I was there. Here are my top picks from the list that allowed me to visit amazing landmarks while truly experiencing the Turkish culture.
Explore the Hagia Sophia
The Hagia Sophia is an architectural wonder that is rich with history and beauty. Hagia Sophia means “Holy Wisdom” in Latin and was constructed in 537 AD. It was first used as a cathedral, then it was transformed into a mosque, and today it is used as a museum. There is plenty to see and explore in the Hagia Sophia including vast amounts of artwork and the impressive domed roof that it is famous for. From the Hagia Sophia you can see the Blue Mosque, and from the Blue Mosque you can see the Hagia Sophia. In the picture above, I am standing on the steps of the Blue Mosque with the magnificent Hagia Sophia in the background.
Take a look inside the Blue Mosque
Facing the Hagia Sophia is the Blue Mosque, which is quite an impressive building as well. It is extremely large in size and has phenomenal architectural design. Inside, every part is intricately decorated with blue and turquoise hues, which go along with its name. Outside, there is a courtyard that shows off the shape of the building perfectly, which is exactly where I took the picture above.
Cruise along the Bosphorus
The Bosphorus Strait is the body of water that links Asia to Europe, so on each shore side is a different continent to look at. Taking a boat cruise tour on the Bosphorus is one of the best ways to see Istanbul. The shore lines are covered with beautiful forest landscape, mansions, and mosques. A bridge is built over the Bosphorus that for a long period of time was the world’s longest bridge, linking Asia to Europe. Other sites that can be seen from the Bosphorus include the Sultan’s Palace, Galata Tower, Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower and Blue Mosque. The cruises usually include comfortable seating, food options, and a narrated tour. If you want to be able to see all of the major sites in Istanbul, but avoid the long lines, a relaxing cruise along the Bosphorus is the thing to do. Below is a picture of my cruise on the Bosphorus, which shows just how much there is to look at on the shoreline.
Try the Food
I did not know what to expect from the food in Turkey, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. Turkish cuisine has Middle Eastern and European vibes that mix perfectly into their dishes. Three of my favorite things to try were Pide, Turkish tea, and Turkish delight. Pide almost tastes like a boat shaped pizza, but with some different ingredients; olive oil, goat cheese, and veal being the usual components. Turkish tea was a dark tea similar to an English breakfast tea that the locals always drank in small hour glass shaped cups. For dessert, Turkish delight was the obvious choice. I found that it was best when bought fresh from a store that sold it in individual pieces; this also allows you to try more of a variety if you are able to choose each piece. Breakfast was one of my favorite meals in Turkey, because they always had a vast amount of fresh and exotic foods to choose from. I took a picture of my breakfast one day, which is pictured in the photo below. On the plate, starting from the pomegranate at the bottom and going right: pomegranate, grapefruit, yogurt with granola, honey comb, figs, soft boiled egg, chocolate crescent, and a cheesy pastry. On the side is some Turkish tea, which perfectly complimented my delicious breakfast.
Go to the Coast
Finally, be sure to explore all of the different areas of Turkey including its gorgeous coastlines. Turkey is so culturally rich with its beautiful landscapes and bustling cities that it is sure to bring some amazing experiences. You must put Turkey on your travel bucket list, because of its unique architecture, rich culture, and stunning coastal sites!