Road Trip through Turkey's Highlights
Most people only travel to their favourite beach destination when coming to Turkey, there, or to either Istanbul or Cappadocia. But Turkey is a diverse and interesting country so here’s a few suggestions for places to visit.
Car rentals are fairly inexpensive in Turkey and of course, the buses are amazing! However, if your first stop is Istanbul we would recommend navigating on foot or via taxi as this is a very busy city. There is also a well-planned Metro system. There are lots of very attractive neighbourhoods in Istanbul but really, you’ll be most interested in Taksim, Beyoglu or Karakoy where there is an abundance of great restaurants. Avoid staying around Galata Tower because it will be choc-a-block with tourists all wanting to see the famous tower. Most people head south of the Golden Horn into Fatih district. This is the home to an amazing array of mosques including the Blue Mosque, The Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Byzantine Hippodrome; the list is endless, just google some places and you’ll see!
Istanbul is a beautiful but hectic place to visit so if you fancy trying somewhere a bit quieter then head east to the Asian side. Uskudar is just across from Besiktas (for those footballing fans). It’s famous for its stunning shoreline, Camlica Hill and also the first mosque to be designed by a woman...Sakirin Mosque. This is a peaceful place to pass a few hours. It’s elegance and serenity make it an ideal escape from the city.
Canakkale and Hisarlik
Now is the time to pick up your rental and take a 5-hour drive southwest to Çanakklale. This is famous for its historical sites and relaxing beaches. Hisarlik located in Çanakkale district is home to the ancient city of Troy. This wonderful archaeological site is full of mystery and intrigue and was immortalised by Homer in the Iliad. Finds such as inscriptions, weapons and jewels are displayed in the Troy Museum which is only a few minutes away from the actual site. It’s well worth a visit even if you aren’t a history buff. In the town of Çanakkale there is the wooden horse from the film Troy to take a look at.
Here you’ll find masses of restaurants and brewpubs. It has a youthful vibe and is a major holiday place for Turks and foreigners alike. Coming here you just have to detour away from the amazing beach life and head towards Ephesus. Built over three thousand years ago it is a world-class and absolutely astounding archaeological site. It’s considered to be one of the most important Christianity sites as it has been visited by two saints, Paul and John. Wander around for a few hours sucking in the stunning buildings and the history of this place. Much of it has been thoughtfully preserved. Try not to go on too hot a day!
From Ephesus drive into Denizli, a small gateway town to Pamukkale. Here you will find thermal pools which are renowned for their healing properties. Underground volcanic activity causes hot springs to force carbon dioxide into caves. Pamukkale means cotton castle because of its shimmering snow, white limestone. The pools fill up fast so try to get here early.
A place full of epic rock formations with amazing desert scenery and masses of hiking trails. If geology isn’t your thing, then don’t worry for this is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise! There are hiking trails galore, climbing trips, hot air ballooning and horseback riding. Head in to Goreme to explore fairy chimneys and caves. (Goreme has already been covered in a previous blog found on this site. Be sure to check it out). Whilst here check out these small towns in the area for some other mind-blowing experiences, Uchisar, Cavusin, Avanos and Derinkuyu home to the underground city.
The capital city. Any road trip has to pass through here. Going to the Mausoleum of Ataturk must feature in your visit. It’s hugely impressive with its monolithic grandeur. Turks are very nationalistic about their leader Ataturk as he was a revolutionary who brought Turkey into modern times. It was actually Ataturk who designated Ankara as the country’s new capital city. And then you must visit the citadel. It’s a historical area located in Altindag that offers loads to do. Wander around the old castle walls along cobblestoned alleys, peruse the small art studios and eat in some of the cosiest cafes ever. Kizilay Square is also an area worth checking out whilst here, as its home to many important monuments and memorials.
There are many different routes to take through Turkey and in the next blog, we will investigate travelling down south.