Istanbul is the biggest city of Turkey with an unofficial population of twenty million people. The city is often confused with Ankara which is the official capital of Turkey but Istanbul is the capital of everything for Turkey. It is the melting pot of civilizations and had been a capital for the two biggest empires of the world; The Byzantium and The Ottoman. It is the only metropolis on the world lying on two continents and the only place on earth to drink your coffee in Europe while enjoying the views of Asia. Different races and religions living in the city created the most colorful, alive and attractive city of the world and for us, Istanbul should always be in the bucket list of every traveler.
Being capitals to the most powerful empires of their times, Istanbul has masterpieces of Architecture such as Hagia Sophia and The Blue Mosque. Besides, the city reflects the sophisticated lifestyles of the Ottomans in the Topkapi Palace and may other mosques built by the most powerful sultans like Suleiman the Magnificent or Fatih the Conqueror. Being located by the Bosporus, the city offers spectacular views from the waterfront restaurants and hotels. Walks in the old city called Sultanahmet, cruises in the Bosporus, food tours in the old or new parts of the city are very popular among the tourists. Many different clubs or taverns are the centers of entertainment and world class restaurants blend the ancient recipes of Anatolia with the modern recipes of the world. Pedestrian only street Beyoglu is the right place to catch the rhythm of the city and see the old and the new combined. Art galleries, modern museums and private collections are exhibiting the culture of the city today. Just imagine and ask it from Istanbul, she will satisfy you.
What to do?
You can take historical tours in the old city of Sultanahmet to see the best examples of Byzantium and Ottoman architecture. While the museum of Archaeology offers artefacts from Anatolia, the museum of Islamic arts has the biggest collection of carpets, rugs and inscriptions of the world of Islam. You can take a private or a regular Bosporus cruise in between Asia and Europe or shop till you drop in the world famous Grand Bazaar. The Spice market is a journey in time and the tiles of the Rusthem Pasha mosque nearby are racing with the sky with their blue colors. Take a food tour in Istanbul to taste amazing street food and sip your Turkish coffee by the banks of the Marmara sea with great views of the ocean. Escape the crowds to the Princess Islands and see the beautiful Ottoman civil architecture there with a horse cart tour. Visit the museums of Chora and The Pammakaristos Church to see the best examples of Christian mosaics. Visit Istanbul Modern for contemporary art and see the development of Anatolian Industry in the Museum of Koc family. Istanbul is really ‘the’ timeless city.
How to get to Istanbul?
Istanbul is the center of Turkish airlines which makes her easily accessible from many capitals of the world. With maximum two flights, you will arrive to Istanbul and start exploring the city right away after a 20 minute drive from the international terminal. Because of the connecting flights to Asia and Africa, all leading flight companies of the world have frequent flights to Istanbul and you can always find a good deal while browsing different whole sellers on the internet. The port of Istanbul is used to start or finish the cruises in the Mediterranean, Aegean or the Black sea so you can easily do shore ex tours of the city as well. If you are exploring Europe by train, catch the Orient express from Paris and come to Istanbul in two days and stay in the room of Agatha Christie where she wrote ‘Murder in the Orient Express’.
Cappadocia means land of the beautiful horses in Persian language. The region is world famous thanks to the volcanic landscape created by the natural forces for centuries. This erosion continue at a low speed today and Cappadocia region is attracting millions of tourists every year. The volcanic mountains surrounding Cappadocia region created layers of volcanic tuff with different minerals yet with different colors. Many different civilizations built wineries, cave dwellings, storages and stables into this volcanic rock creating a very complex life style. Caves made it easy for people to shelter from their enemies and Cappadocia region became one of the most important settlements of the Christian communities whom led the establishment of today’s Orthodox Church. Today, heritage of the Hittites, Greeks and Turkish people created one of the most popular tourist destinations of the world enabling people to stay in the caves like the monks did or explore the caves in the underground. We invite you to Cappadocia to explore what is left behind from those people and spend an unforgettable vacation with your loved ones.
There are 4 sites registered by Unesco in Cappadocia; Open Air Museum of Goreme, Kaymakli Underground City, Derinkuyu Underground City and Zelve Open Air Museum. They are a must to the all visitors of Cappadocia region. Apart from the museums, there are many free zones in Cappadocia to take phenomenal pictures of the region and the world famous fairy chimneys. Red and Rose Valleys are very popular among the hikers and there are alternative trails for hike passionates. Hidden churches of Saint John and Cavusin are decorated with spectacular frescoes for history and art lovers. There are many small villages around Cappadocia with beautiful intact local life.
What to do?
Hot air balloon flight! It is among the most pictured and shared activities in the world and floating over a landscape like Cappadocia is really a lifetime experience. While exploring the monastic settlements like Goreme Open Air Museum, you can learn the life of the Christian Monks living in peace in Cappadocia. There are many underground cities around the area but Kaymakli, Derinkuyu or Ozkonak are the most convenient ones for tourist visits. Please ask if you want to explore an underground city which is not open for public. Walking in one of the valleys of Cappadocia will remind you the definition of ‘peace’ again especially if you are visiting Cappadocia after Istanbul. There are many outdoor activities for all ages in Cappadocia such as cycling, camel riding, horse riding, jeep safari, photo safari, quad bike safari, jet boat and gondola. One of our friend is going to start paragliding as well soon and we will be publishing it here in our website. A lunch or dinner with a local family is recommended while in Cappadocia to see the life of the Turkish people. You must stay in a cave hotel if you are traveling with a small group which will be the most amazing part of your trip as well.
How to get to Cappadocia?
Cappadocia is an unofficial name at present and most of the sites you will visit are located in the borders of Nevsehir province which is located literally in the middle of the Republic of Turkey. Nevsehir’s small city Gulsehir has direct flights from Istanbul all year around but not as frequent as the industrial city of Kayseri which is just an hour away from many bustling touristic towns of Cappadocia. Cappadocia is 3 hours away from Konya and Ankara so you can easily combine those cities with your Cappadocia trip. There are frequent busses from almost all big cities of Turkey to Nevsehir. Unfortunately there is no trains coming to Cappadocia but Kayseri which makes it accessible with a train ride from Istanbul to Ankara first and then to Kayseri but we don’t really recommend it considering the time wasted in between Ankara and Kayseri so it is always better to take a flight to Kayseri Erkilet or Nevsehir Kapadokya airports of Cappadocia region. There are frequent flights from Izmir and Antalya to Cappadocia in the high season as well but please contact a booking agent since you may not encounter those flights operated by Sunexpress and Pegasus Airlines on the internet. We would like to say ‘Welcome’ in advance and looking forward to meeting you in person here in our beautiful place.
The ancient city of Ephesus was the second biggest settlement of the Hellenistic era and was competing with Rome. The city was an important trading port of the Anatolian farmers and their products were sold to the Mediterranean countries until the ancient port silted up and people abandoned their city. The city’s prosper can be seen in the marble monuments of the ancient city and the size of the theater which is the biggest one in Anatolia. Temple of Artemis was the biggest of her time and it is among the Seven Wonders of the World today. Being that prosper, the city still lives today and becoming more popular everyday thanks to the 130 year old excavations unveiling the history of the ancient times.
The ancient city of Ephesus is the main attraction of the area and housing spectacular structures dating back from the Hellenistic and Roman ages. The temple of Artemis is a popular spot even though a single column is seen today since the marbles of the structure were used in rebuilding many structures in Istanbul and in Selcuk. The importance of the city increased when The Virgin Mary traveled to the area with the company of Saint John the Baptist. Today, millions of people visit the House of the virgin and the Cathedral of Saint John. The Isabey mosque located nearby the Cathedral is also worth visiting which is a beautiful example of early Turkish – Islamic architecture. Kusadasi town is just 20 minutes’ drive away from the popular tourist attractions of Ephesus and a bustling cruise port at present. Almost all the cruise companies have Kusadasi port for their shore-ex Ephesus tours. There is an old Greek village named Sirince on top of the mountains in the north of Ephesus and the village became popular when a couple of old wooden houses were converted to boutique hotels and used by many tourists for their accommodations nearby Ephesus. Small restaurants on the way and in the village serve phenomenal food of the Aegean kitchen which is a must while exploring the area. There is a train museum nearby Ephesus as well since the first rail road of Anatolia was built during the Ottoman times from Izmir to Aydin bypassing Ephesus. There is also a National Park which is a very popular recreational area for the local people living around Ephesus and it is recommended to swim in the Turquoise waters of the Aegean sea where you can rest underneath the tall pine trees and remove the tiredness of a comprehensive Ephesus Tour.
What to do?
You can cover the touristic sites around Ephesus in 1,5 days with a professional guide. If you are planning to extend your duration of stay in Ephesus, you can do natural walks around the old Greek Village of Sirince or Bulbul Mountain nearby the ancient city. You can spend a day at leisure in Guzelcamli National Park and swim the cool water of the Aegean Sea. A day trip to the Greek island of Samos is possible as well from Kusadasi town or you can shop around the small boutiques of the city and Selcuk.
How to get to Ephesus?
Ephesus is located 75 KM away from the Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport. There are frequent flights from Istanbul to Izmir all year around and you can easily find direct flights to Izmir from many European capitals. Another way to reach Ephesus area is a ferry from Samos Island or you can disembark your cruise in Kusadasi and spend a couple of nights in the vicinity of Ephesus before proceeding to your next destination. Ephesus is just 2,5 hours away from Bodrum and Pamukkale so you can easily create a west coast itinerary of Turkey combining the history with nature and culture. There are trains from Istanbul and Ankara to Selcuk town nearby Ephesus and you can easily find busses to Izmir city from all over our country. There are direct flights from/to Kayseri city which makes Ephesus easily accessible after a short Cappadocia escape.
Pamukkale means ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish and that name comes from the world famous white travertines of Pamukkale which embellish the slopes of the UNESCO heritage site Hierapolis Ancient City. There are many hot springs in the area and their temperatures range from 35 to 100 degrees of Celsius. Most of the underground water sources are rich in minerals and the calcium carbonate carried to the surface deposits on the surface creating spectacular white travertines. For centuries, people of Anatolia considered the area as a healing center and many baths were built during the Hellenistic and Roman times. Even though the earthquakes have destroyed those ancient structures, people from all over the world come to Pamukkale area today and swim in the thermal pools inside the many resorts built in the area. Because of the excessive use of the waters of the travertines, Pamukkale faced blackening but Culture and Tourism Ministry banned the use of the calcium rich waters in the hotels at the moment so our next generations can see the same white beauty of Pamukkale.
The ancient city of Hierapolis is the main attraction of the area along with its Roman Bath, Pool of Cleopatra, Temple of Apollo, Roman Theater and the biggest Necropolis of Anatolia in the west of the ancient city. Denizli city nearby Pamukkale is the capital of textile production in Turkey and agriculture is among the main income of the people living around Pamukkale today.
What to do?
You can explore the area from the top to the bottom in a whole day. It is a must to start the tour of the ancient city from the Northern gate and start walking across the beautiful Necropolis of the city. Walk to the center of the ancient city offers phenomenal views to the plains of Denizli city and the travertines. Nymphaeum nearby the city agora should be seen on the way to the Theater built and reconstructed many times because of the earthquakes took place in the area several times in history. After resting in the seats of the ancient theater, you can continue to the pool of Cleopatra to swim in the ancient pool with columns lying underneath the water. The Roman Baths nearby the Cleopatra pools were reconstructed and converted to a small museum of sculptures and sarcophagus’ where you are able to see the saved artefacts from the excavations held in the area for many years. You will arrive to the public entrance of the white travertines of Pamukkale after visiting the museum and we recommend a walk till the end of the travertines and exit the museum from Pamukkale gates and watch the sunset across the travertines. You can paraglide or fly in a hot air balloon there in Pamukkale if you would like to appreciate the size of the travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis from a different perspective.
How to get to Pamukkale?
There is an airport just 70 Km away from Pamukkale which has 3 flights every day from Istanbul. There are frequent trains in between Denizli and Izmir making it easily accessible from Selcuk town nearby Ephesus as well. Pamukkale is just 2,5 hours away from Ephesus so you can easily book a day trip from your hotel in Kusadasi, Selcuk or Sirince. There are frequent night busses to Denizli city from Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara and Cappadocia that travel in different time frames so please check the duration of the journey if you are interested in buying a bus ticket to Pamukkale.
Canakkale & Gallipoli
The Dardanelles strait was called Hellespont by the Greeks in the ancient times and that name is derived from the immortal princess Helle who fell to Dardanelles strait while a gold sheep was flying off the strait to take her to a safer area because her step mother was jealous of her and convinced her husband Athamas of Boiotia about sacrificing hic children will finish the drought his country is facing. Since the gods loved the siblings, they have sent a gold sheep to take the children away but the sheep dropped the princess on the way. Since then, the Dardanelles strait has always been a legendary place among the Mediterranean civilizations. The Ottomans built a small castle to the end of the Gallipoli peninsula and it was called the castle of the Sultan until the small settlement right across the castle was going to be called Canakkale because of the pottery art growing in the city.
Gallipoli is both the name of the peninsula and the small town located in the end of the Dardanelles strait in the northern end. There was a Greek settlement there named “Kallipolis” which meant “Beautiful City” and still it is a small beautiful city by the banks of the Marmara sea serving nice fish at its harbor.
These two small cute towns were going to experience what Troy has suffered centuries ago during the first world war but they have not shared the same destiny. Both of the cities are tourist attractions and they are the signs of peacemaking policy of the new constitution established by Ataturk; founder of the Republic of Turkey.
The battles took place in between Canakkale and Gelibolu is widely known as Gallipoli campaign but in Turkish it is called Canakkale Savasi which means The Battle of Canakkel.
During the first world war, allied forces wanted to bring down Russian supplies to the Mediterranean. The northern seas were frozen and Baltic was full of German submarines and the pacific was going to be a long journey for the Russians. For that reason, they wanted the Ottomans fight with the allied forces against Germans however the Ottomans remained neutral in the beginning of the war. The Ottoman Ministry which was managed by the Sultan and populated by some young Turks believing that Germans will make it. Meanwhile the Ottomans had two ships being built in England and they wanted to keep them rather than delivering them to the Ottomans because of the war and Germans offered two ships to the Ottomans for free which dragged the Ottoman Empire into the war when those German ships bombed Russian ports with Ottoman flags. To help the Russians, Allied forces tried to pass the Dardanelles strait with their navy but they have faced a fierce resistance and defense of the Ottoman artillery which redounded a land operation. The resistance continued on the land as well and the allied forces focused on their colorizations and brought the ANZAC forces to the Gallipoli area however after 8,5 months of the worst clashes of the WWI, allied forces left the peninsula.
34,000 British, 9,798 French, 8,709 Australians, 2,721 New Zealanders and 1,358 Indians passed away during the classes. 56,643 Ottoman soldiers passed away during the campaign and the total lives lost and injured during the sea and land operations exceed five hundred thousand.
The founder of the Republic of Turkey; Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a colonel during the Gallipoli campaign and his decisions changing the course of the war made him a national hero and a Pasha which was going to give him enough power and strength to establish the new young republic.
Dawn service is conducted every year on April 25th in the Anzac cove of the Gallipoli peninsula where the first land operations of the Anzac forces started. Since the 75th anniversary, the number of participants are increasing every year and was exceeding fifteen thousand for the continental of the Gallipoli campaign in 2015.
The Trojan Horse
While in Canakkale and Gallipoli, ancient city of Troy is a must to get the feeling of the Trojan war took place as fierce as the Gallipoli campaign. Just an hour away from Canakkale, Troy is located on a hill top overlooking the entrance of the Dardanelles strait. There is a wooden Trojan horse in the ancient city which is a popular tourist attraction today but a better example stands in the promenade of the Canakkale city which is a replica of the one used in the movie Troy.
Antalya is the province of the Turkish Riviera and it is the biggest city in the Mediterranean Coastline of Turkey. It is the backyard of Turkey and Russia producing high quality fruits and vegetables all year around. It is also the storage of vitamin c thanks to the great orange gardens of the many little towns surrounding Antalya. Besides agriculture, tourism is the second most important industry to the locals of the city and cities of Antalya province have been sea-sun-sand capitals to the many Russian, East European, German and Central Asian Countries. While Kemer, Lara and Alanya offers big resort convenient for all budgets, Belek region became a hot spot for golfers from all over the world with world class golf courses and luxurious hotels. Olympos, Patara, Kas, Ardasan, Kalkan, Kekova and Kale towns are awaiting tourist chasing natural and cultural trips as well as a great variety of water sports from diving to kayaking. Would you like to walk on one of the most popular walking trails of the world? We will be happy to host you in Antalya then.
Antalya will make you fall in love with the city. The attractive old city drags you into the complicated lifestyle of the city dwellers. The nature hidden in the mountains just behind the city is full of activities from walking to jeep safaris and rafting. The fertile land has led to many civilizations hence the environs of Antalya is full of ancient sites like Perge, Aspendos, Side, Olympos, Termessos, Phaselis and Arycanda. Her airport welcomes more people in between June and September in Turkey making Antalya the most popular tourist destination of Turkey by attracting almost %30 of the whole number of tourists coming to Turkey.
Things to do around Antalya
Swim the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea! It is a must while in Antalya and there are many alternative beaches all around the coast that you can spend a very relaxing day in one of them. The old city of Antalya is an attractive are for not only tourists but locals as well. Spend a day walking in the old city to picture the wooden and stone houses built with oriental harmony. You should definitely spend an evening and night as well in the Kaleici area (old city) to catch the rhythm of the local life in bustling cafes and bars. If you are a culture vulture, there are many ancient cities around Antalya with great historical background and you can plan a day or week visiting them all. You should definitely visit the Ancient city of Perge to see the center of trade in the ancient times and Aspendos Theater to see the most intact theater of the ancient times in Anatolia. Sunset in Side is recommended with a sea front Temple of Apollo behind you washing the columns and your souls away with descending sun beams. Termessos ancient city is the widest one in the region and walking underneath the one trees surrounded by marble structures of the Hellenistic period is really priceless. You can do a daily boat trip from Kemer and swim to the ancient port of Phaselis which had been a house to the fiercest pirates of the Mediterranean Sea. A night walk to the legendary Chimera is a must as well to see the flames naturally coming out of the rocky Taurus Mountains. Bring your own wine and sausages to Chimera as well to take advantage of the flames to cook your sausages and eat them with spectacular views of the Mediterranean Sea underneath the moon light. Cable car to Tahtali Mountain is worth to do for cooling down in summer or skiing in winter. The peak also offers great views of the Riviera. You can do jeep safaris in the mountains surrounding Antalya and rafting over the rivers trying to meet the crystal waters of the Mediterranean. There are several activities you can do around Antalya and she can host any type of tourists proving the popularity of her in tourism.
If you love walking, hiking, trekking, meeting with the local people and nature; a walk in the Lycian way is the ultimate activity you should do in Turkey. While walking from one village to another, you can see the Turkomans dealing with their daily tasks enabling you to contribute to the circle of Eco Tourism. You can visit the least known ancient cities of Turkey and read the story of the Lycian people once lived in the mountainous South West of Turkey. From a week to a month, we can tailor you a walking itinerary and even extend it to Carian Way in the north. If you are a passionate backpacker, the Lycian way is ‘the’ activity you should do while in Turkey. Starting from Olympos in Antalya the walk finishes in Fethiye offering spectacular natural views and intact valley life of the local people so it is a life time experience as well.
How to get there
Antalya is among the busiest airports in Turkey and you can find flights almost all cities of Europe, Russia and Center of Asia during the high season. Another alternative is to use Istanbul Ataturk Airport and thanks to the many codeshare flights of Turkish Airlines, you can easily get to Antalya with two flights from almost all over the world. Because of the Taurus Mountains, the roads to Antalya from the center of the country and other big cities is a challenge but not impossible. If you are driving your own car, drive to Antalya offers spectacular views from Konya, Pamukkale or Fethiye. We recommend a flight which is the easiest way to get there and the airport of the city is just a few minutes from the attractive old city.
Turkish Riviera which is the coast of the Antalya and Mugla provinces of Republic of Turkey is widely known as the Turquoise Coast thanks to the Turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. Starting from Alanya in the east, the coastline continues all the way up to Bodrum and Antalya, Olympos, Adrasan, Kas, Kalkan, Gocek, Fethiye, Marmaris and Bodrum are the most popular tourist destinations in the Turquoise Coastline of Turkey.
From castles to ancient cities, natural parks to intact beaches, Turkish Riviera has anything any tourist can expect. The Castle of Alanya is a huge piece of rock stretching into the Mediterranean Sea and offers spectacular views of the city. The Red Tower located by the water is the twin of the White Tower in Thessaloniki in Greece. There is an ancient shipyard right next to the Alanya castle which was the first Turkish shipyard on earth and was used by the Ottomans as well. On the way to Antalya from Alanya, there are world famous ancient cities like Side, Perge and Aspendos that are visited by thousands of tourists every year. Antalya city is a bustling tourist destination of Turkey and the number of tourists entering Turkey from Antalya international arrivals are exceeding Istanbul during the high season. Don’t make this keep you away from the city since the Kaleici; old city of Antalya is full of small boutique hotels that are very peaceful during the summer and enables you to explore the environs of Antalya easily. Termessos ancient city is located in the hills of Antalya and is among the best well preserved ancient cities of the Turkish Riviera and has phenomenal views of the Mediterranean as well. As well as the resort areas such as Kemer, Belek and Lara, Antalya has small coves like Olympos, Cirali and Adrasan that you can stay in absolute peace. Did you know that Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) was born and lived in Demre city just a few hours out of Antalya? His church still stand in Demre that you can pay a visit while driving to Kas. Kale, Simena, Kas, Kalkan are small attractive villages on the way to Fethiye. Fethiye, Gocek and Marmaris are ‘the’ ports of cruising the Turquoise Coast and is very popular in the world among the cruisers. The number of foreigners living in the ports of these cities increase and you will be surprised by the number of people living in their boats in Fethiye, Gocek and Marmaris. Even though Fethiye and Marmaris are resort areas as well, the town centers are peaceful enough for culture vultures and small towns like Selimiye or Oludeniz are where they stay if they are ever travelling in that area. Datca is located in the same area in between Marmaris and Bodrum however is not as popular as the other destinations of the Riviera because of its challenging roads in the peninsula and we appreciate that. The narrow roads of Datca keep it small and unbeaten from the tourist crowds and is a great place to spend a real silent vacation. There is a huge bay in between Datca and Bodrum which is a popular cruising destination as well and small fishing and farming villages by the water are frequently visited by gullets and yachts from all over the world thanks to the amazing food they offer. No other city in the Riviera can compete with Bodrum in terms of night life and Bodrum is always one step ahead of the entertainment that will drag you as well. Besides the night life, Bodrum has a great historical background and housing one of the Seven Wonders of the World and the oldest shipwreck of the world in the Museum of Underwater Archaeology.
What to do?
Cruising and hiking are the most popular activities to do in the Turquoise Coast of Turkey. You can sail off the cool waters of the Aegean Sea from Bodrum, Selimiye, Marmaris, Gocek or Fethiye and spend the best vacation of your life. There are various options of cruising the Riviera like a day trip to Butterfly Valley from Fethiye or a week long cruise from almost all the towns in the coast. There are mini regular cruises which are affordable and available for all types of tourists that are 3 nights long and takes you to phenomenal bays and coves of the Riviera as well. Hiking is the second most popular activity to do around the Turquoise Coast since it houses the Lycian Way which is among the hundred things to do before leaving this planet. You can walk a day, week or a month in the Lycian Way and explore the intact Turkoman villages on the mountain tops and appreciate the ever changing scenery of the rocky coastline. The most popular route is from Olympos to Fethiye which takes around a week and you can stay with local people along the way which will be the highlight of your trip. If you are a history lover, you can visit one of the ancient cities located in the coastline and learn the history behind the Anatolian producers and Greek traders. There are traces of almost all famous commanders of the world in the Turquoise Coast and you can literally swim where Cleopatra did centuries ago. Kas, Fethiye, Marmaris and Bodrum are very close to the Greek Islands and you can spend a day in one of them if the timetable of the ferries are convenient. Rafting, Jeep safaris, Paragliding, climbing and skiing are among the other activities besides the ones above so Turquoise Coast has something for every kind of tourist.
How to get to the Turquoise Coast?
Travelling by air into the Turquoise Coast is the quickest one and the airports of Bodrum, Dalaman and Antalya have frequent flights from all over the country and from many capitals of Europe. The Greek islands off the Turquoise Coast has frequent timetables as well so you can easily combine an island trip with the Turquoise Coast of Turkey. Busses are frequent to the cities of the coastline from all cities of Turkey but is not really recommended because of the curving roads from the mountains to the coast. Unfortunately there are not trains in the area and just let us know if you cannot arrange logistics around the coastline.
Black Sea region of Republic of Turkey is our northern coastline in between Georgia and Bulgaria. The landscape of quiet unforgiving pushing the people to the coastline to every flat area available and not allowing a crowded population inland. The mountains of the region create very fertile valleys and highlands in between Center of Anatolia and the Black Sea but limits the living spaces and agricultural areas very much. However, people living in this part of our country had learnt to survive in harsh conditions and created a very diverse yet colorful culture in the area. This attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world and the number of hotels and agencies are growing day by day in different ports of the Black Sea. People are now able to see the big white cruise ships bringing tourists for day trips in Sinop, Amasra or Trabzon in Summer but the mountains hide excessive amount of intact history and nature.
There is only one UNESCO registered site in the Black Sea region of Turkey. Safranbolu city located in the west of the region was registered by UNESCO in 1994 thanks to the beautiful architecture of the Ottoman houses. Sumela Monastery is in the tentative list of UNESCO at the moment and we hope the complex will be registered in the end of the comprehensive restoration currently taking place. There is a little Hagia Sophia in Trabzon city with beautiful intact frescoes which was built after the fall of Istanbul. Amasra town is the only city located on an island by the black waters washing the cliffs of the region and worth visiting while touring in the area. Kure mountain National Park and Kackar Mountains are popular hiking and trekking spots in the region attracting a lot of tourists every year. Especially Heli skiers love Kure Mountains because of the unbeaten snow on the slopes of the mountains. Sinop city is where the happiest people live in Turkey and has the only natural harbor of the region. The valleys scattered from Amasra to Artvin are great locations full of peace and nature that will literally take you to a journey in time. Most popular of them are Firtina, Ayder, Camlihemsin and Uzungol valleys but there are many more expecting their visitors.
What to do?
You can easily book a shore-ex tour if your cruise is stopping by one of the Black Sea cities. Especially in Trabzon city, there are a lot of historical sites to be appreciated with a guide but in smaller cities like Amasra and Sinop, you can explore the areas on your own with maps and leaflets supplied by your cruise. If you love hiking and trekking, one of the natural parks will be very convenient for your and you can arrange a week or longer walking trips with camping in the countryside. You can visit the cities of Safranbolu and Amasya to learn the development of the Ottoman Empire and see how their traditions were effected from the other civilizations who had lived in this piece of land. The kitchen of the Black Sea region is phenomenal as well and Anchovy is a must if you ever visit one of the waterfront cities. Did you know that the Black Sea region of Turkey is the only place on earth producing tea out of the equatorial zone? Turkish black tea is grown without any pesticides because of snow protecting the tea trees from any type of pests that may lay eggs to the trunks of the tea trees. The most natural tea is grown in Turkey and it is a valid reason to drink that much of tea in our country.
What not to do?
Swimming! It is not recommended at all in the tricky waters of the Black Sea region even if the sea will be flat like a floor. Because of the nature of the region and the unstable winds of the Black Sea, it is not recommended to swim except the designated areas for swimming. Please make sure there is a lifeguard who keeps an eye on the people swimming if you ever desire to swim in the Black Sea.
How to get to the Black Sea?
There are 4 airports in the region that have frequent flights from Istanbul. It is better to arrive there by plane and get assistance for your travels. If you are driving around Turkey, you can drive over Gumushane, Erzurum, Safranbolu and Amasya cities to reach the coast and those drives offers spectacular views of the Black Sea Mountains. There is only one train operating in between Ankara and Samsun that you can take as well however please double check the timetables of the train before booking a ticket. Busses are quite popular in this region and you can find bus tickets from almost every cities of Turkey but traveling can take longer than a day to get to a coastal city.
South East Anatolia
Republic of Turkey is divided into seven different regions and South East Anatolia is the hottest and the most colorful of the other six regions because of the thousands of years of old history it has. Adiyaman, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin and Diyarbakir are the major touristic destinations in the South Eastern part of Turkey. Those cities are located in the north of the holy crescent of Mesopotamia and home to the important civilizations of the Middle East.
The most popular tourist attraction of the region is the National Park of Mount Nemrut located around the Nemrut Mountain in Adiyaman city. The burial place of the King Anthiochus I Teos is located on top of the mountain and it is 2134 Meters above the sea level. It is one of the UNESCO registered sites of the South East Anatolian region since 1987. Another popular destination is Sanliurfa city which is considered the city of prophets since Abraham is believed to be born and sacrificed in this city. The Armenian Language was invented and developed in Sanliurfa city as well and Edessa is stated in the Old Testament thanks to Abraham. Harran is a small city in the south of Sanliurfa and its beehive mud brick houses are very interesting structures invented to cope with the harsh summer conditions of the region. Latest discoveries in the region contributed a lot to the archaeology in Gaziantep and in Sanliurfa cities. Gobeklitepe is the newest one which has the oldest temple excavated so far in the world which has more than twelve thousand years of background. The excavation site became popular after the excavations led by late Klaus Schmidt and his findings changed the most accepted definition of religion. Before Gobeklitepe, archaeology claimed that civilization sparked the religion but after the excavations in the ancient site, Klaus Schmidt has claimed the contrary since the constructions made by hunters and gatherers in the area encouraged them to domesticate the wheat to supply the craftsmen. Zeugma is the second important site in the region with spectacular mosaics dating back from the Roman Empire which created the Museum of Zeugma with the second biggest Mosaic Museum of the world. We are proud to have the biggest mosaic museum in the world as well in Hatay; the ancient Antioch. Zeugma mosaic museum is located in Gaziantep city which has the most delicious kitchen of Anatolia and also home of the world famous king of the desserts; Pistachio Baklava. Mardin is the most different city of not only South East Anatolia but Turkey thanks to the different tribes living in the area in absolute tolerance. The architecture of the city is phenomenal as well and tourists of Mardin and environs are experiencing accommodations in those old houses converted to beautiful hotels today. Just an hour north of Mardin, Diyarbakir city is located and she has the second longest city walls of the world after the Great Wall of China. The Hevsel Gardens by the Tigris River and the old city of Diyarbakir has just been registered by UNESCO and along with the kitchen of Gaziantep, there are 3 attractions under the protection of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Euphrates and Tigris rivers create a very fertile basin in the South East of Turkey supplying fresh fruits and vegetables almost all year around in the area. The dams built on Euphrates like Ataturk Reservoir is the biggest one in the Middle East. There are some projects for Tigris River as well however many tourism professionals are against the construction of one which will flood the beautiful Hasankeyf city. Today, we are able to visit some part of the old city of Hasankeyf and appreciate the views of the old city but it may be covered by the waters of the reservoir projected in the basin of the Tigris River.
What to do?
Watching the sunset on top of the Mount Nemrut is the most popular tourist activity in the area and we highly recommend it after a comprehensive tour in the land of the ancient Kommagene Empire. The most powerful king of the Kommagene Empire was Antiochus I Theos and his mound on top of the mountain was a religious shrine to the communities lived in the area until the Roman rule. You can visit the Zeugma excavation site by the banks of the Euphrates River and see the rescue excavations still going on for the latest unearthed mosaics in the site. The museum of Zeugma in Gaziantep city takes a half day to appreciate all the mosaics which are in great condition and beautifully protected in this awarded museum. You should definitely spend a day in the old city of Gaziantep to see the copper smith hammering their materials in great harmony and to indulge yourself with the delicious kitchen of Gaziantep. When in Sanliurfa, you should visit the Harran city in the morning to protect yourself from the strong sun beams of the Middle East. The old city of Sanliurfa is very attractive as well and now has a brand new Archaeology Museum. The Gobeklitepe excavation site is just a few miles out of the city and is considered the birthplace of the religion in planet earth. When in Mardin, you should definitely stay in one of the old houses converted to hotels and walk in the attractive bazaar of the old town. There are many active Assyriac Monasteries in the vicinity of Mardin that are hosting visitors and proud to tell you the stories of their ancestors who had been living in the area even before Christianity. Midyat is a small town of Mardin city that is famous with the monastic wine still produced from the new vineyards and home of filigree in Anatolia that you should definitely shop for. When in Diyarbakir, you should definitely try the street kebabs and enjoy the beautiful views to the Hevsel Gardens from one of the citadels of the longest fortifications of Turkey. The Grand Mosque, 4 Foot Minaret and an active Chaldean church is among the popular tourist attractions of Diyarbakir and the recently restored Saint Giragos Armenian Church is a must see like the Church of Virgin Mary. In a week, you can explore the highlights of the South East of Anatolia and learn the diverse cultural heritage of the region.
How to get to the South East?
Almost all cities of South East Anatolia is accessible by flights from many big cities of Turkey. It is also very easy to get to the area with busses and there is also a train operating from Ankara and Adana to the region. There are weekly guaranteed departure Mount Nemrut tours from Cappadocia region as well that can finish in Gaziantep and you can explore the rest on your own or with professional assistance.