Things to do in Turkey
Whether you're interested in learning about Turkey's history and culture, viewing contemporary art and design, or just relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of places to go in Turkey. In Istanbul, first-timers can't miss Hagia Sophia, a thousand-plus-year-old church-turned-mosque and museum, or the 17th-century Rüstem Pasha Mosque (or Blue Mosque), famous for is azure-hued tiles and six minarets. At the Topkapi complex, you'll wander though 6 million square feet of Ottoman-era palace grounds, then find your own precious goods among the stalls of the Grand Bazaar.
More shopping can be enjoyed in sophisticated Nisantasi, with its international luxury brand boutiques, upscale malls and departments stores. A short flight away in Cappadocia, explore the region's towering rock formations, known as "fairy chimneys," as well as the vast network of caves, tunnels, and ancient dwellings forming the UNESCO World Heritage underground "cities."
The 13th-century Caravansary of Sultanhani, the Byzantine frescoes at the Rock Chapels of Goreme, and the troglodyte village of Avcilar are also among the key spots to visit in Turkey. History buffs shouldn't miss a stroll around the ancient ruins at Ephesus—one of the top places to go in Turkey—while those interested in the natural beauty of Turkey will love the national parks, as well as the beaches and warm blue-green waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts.
Wines from this tiny Aegean island are gaining prominence.
Trainspotters will appreciate the 30-odd steam engines on display at this private museum, which is run by the son of the former stationmaster of Selçuk. Those less enthused by the sight of old locomotives can wander the manicured estate.
What Lies Beneath: Eighty-two feet below Istanbul is a 450-foot-long, 213-foot-wide former royal reservoir.
Lining the narrow, labyrinthine streets behind the Çiçek passage off İstiklâl Caddesi are hundreds of bars, taverns (called meyhane), and outdoor cafés.
Atop a drab tourist hotel across from the Four Seasons is an insider's secret: a rooftop terrace with an unobstructed panorama of the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sofia, and the Sea of Marmara. The drinks menu is nothing to write home about: Keep it simple with an Efes Pilsen beer.
One of the top choices for duty-free cigars in Europe is this fragrant, humid antechamber tucked away behind the tobacco section of the duty-free shop.
Better known as the Blue Mosque—for the 20,000 blue tiles that line its domed ceiling—this 17th-century architectural masterpiece is Turkey’s crown jewel.
At her cooking school, renowned gastronomist Engin Akin not only teaches Ottoman classics, she also takes travelers to some of the area's best bakeries and bazaars.
Just outside the lower entrance of Ephesus is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The temple was once a massive, colonnaded structure honoring the patron goddess of Ephesus.
A sultry waterside club set against the glowing Baroque Ortaköy Mosque.
A pious, conservative district populated mostly by migrants from Anatolia (like Wasilla, but warmer), Üsküdar is positively hopping in the evenings; on summer nights, the boardwalk here is an Islamic Coney Island.
Time your visit with the sunset—and the evening call to prayer. That’s when young locals file in for cocktails, like fresh-ginger–and–muddled-lime mojitos, and jockey for steel stools on the open-air terrace overlooking the city’s two coastlines and the Bosporus strait in between.
At this, one of Europe’s biggest duty-free shops, prices are lower than comparable shops in the airport’s Euro Zone.