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.
At her combination museum-shop, owner Gönül Paksoy turns everyday objects into pieces of art and creates hand-dyed silk coats with vintage beads.
Sample the goat’s-milk ice cream, which is thickened with the powdered root of wild orchids. Splurge on a triple scoop of pistachio, pomegranate, and black mulberry.
Though it served as the royal residence and seat of the Ottoman Empire for nearly four centuries, this palace isn’t the mighty pleasure dome that many visitors expect.
Classical-history buffs should make the trip to Priene to see the ruins of the well-preserved ancient Greek city; and to the wondrous Didyma, a 120-columned temple to Apollo that is often compared to the temple of the Oracle of Delphi in Greece.
As one of the top souvenirs, hordes of salesmen troll the streets for customers to buy carpets. Top threads can be found just behind the Blue Mosque at Mehmet Çetinkaya Gallery.
Designed by Mahmut Anlar, Istanbul’s hottest restaurateur, this low-lit, sexy, and (yes) long-tabled space is festooned with whimsical bric-a-brac—including a flock of stuffed sheep, vintage Playboy posters, and a glowing white faux-porcelain grand piano.
The Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace, and the underground cistern of Yerebatan Sarniçi all reside within the ancient neighborhood.
This family-owned Turkish chain sells lovely and unusual pieces that reflect Turkey’s cultural heritage. The designers use precious and semiprecious metals and gems to create contemporary drop necklaces, rings, and bracelets inspired by Byzantine and Ottoman Empire designs.
The 19th-century mansion in Emirgan houses an impressive collection of Ottoman paintings.
In the stranglehold that eventually throttled Constantinople in 1453, the Rumeli Hisar (castle) served as the lynch pin. Constructed on the narrowest point of the Bosphorus north of the city, it blocked Byzantine access to the Black Sea.