Turkey - the ultimate travel guide
It’s the only point on the planet where three continents converge – Europe, African and Asia. Turkey is a country of east and west cultures, surrounded by the Agean, Black and Mediterranean seas. It is considered to be the centre of world history, as it was at the heart of the Greek, Roman and Ottoman Empires.
What to see
Ankara – Turkey’s capital city is filled with museums, including the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations that houses relics dating back to the Paleolithic era, and Çengelhan Rahmi Koç Museum, an industrial museum near Ankara Castle that displays technical inventions since the 1850s.
Bodrum – Renowned as a Mediterranean beachside playground, this city is filled with bars, restaurants and nightlife. The west side of the city is home to the marina and yacht club and exclusive shopping.
Bursa – If you want to buy beautiful silks, enjoy a traditional Turkish bath or visit a 700-year-old village (Cumalıkızık), make your way to this destination.
Istanbul – This city is famous for being at the centre of the Empires. It is rich with monuments, mosques and more dating back to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Take a historical tour across the city to experience the cultural and historical sites.
Urfa – Urfa is believed to be the birthplace of Abraham and thus is of great religious importance to many. There are ruined temples and castles along with impressive bazaars. Walking the Path of Abraham takes in the main historical and religiously significant parts of the city.
Gallipoli – Every Australian knows the ANZAC story, one of the seminal points of our military history. This region is filled with many points of historical significance including Lone Pine, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay.
Ani – Filled with pinkish stone ruins, Ani is a medieval Armenian city. Cathedrals, churches, homes, palaces and fortresses dot the desolate landscape.
Cappadocia – For something completely different, this remote area is dotted with underground cities and cave churches. You can stay in a cave hotel in the town of Göreme.
When to go
Spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) are ideal times to visit. The weather is perfect for sightseeing, inland areas are not too cold and mosquitos are not too prevalent.
Summer (May-October) can range from warm but humid temperatures around 30, to extreme heat. In Urfa, temperatures can reach above 50°C, while regions near the Syrian border can easily reach into the 40°Cs.
In winter, the eastern mountainous regions can become impassable due to snow between December and April. Skiing is possible in some northwest regions of the country.
Ramadan is a month-long festival of fasting and prayer that is celebrated each year, somewhere between June and August depending on the Islamic calendar. While businesses do not close during this time, be aware that food and drink from traditional vendors can be difficult to find from sun-up to sun-down.
- The annual tulip festival of Istanbul is held each April.
- ANZAC Day ceremonies are held in Gallipoli on April 25 each year.
- Whirling Dervish ceremonies are held in Konya each December.
- The Istanbul International Film Festival is held every April.
- Antalya and Istanbul host seasons of classical music, jazz, ballet and opera.
Who visits Turkey?
Turkey is the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world. It is popular for lovers of culture, history and spa resorts. Tourists include everyone from the wealthy to adventurers and backpackers, each seeking their own unique experience. Australians and New Zealanders regularly travel to Gallipoli for ANZAC Day ceremonies each April.
How to get there?
By plane – most international flights arrive in Istanbul.
By train – from Europe and the Middle East.
By car – from Western Europe.
By bus –from Europe, Iran and Syria.
By boat – Hydrofoils and ferries run from the Greek Islands and eastern Italy to Bodrum and many of Turkey’s coastal towns.
**From 10 April 2014, visitors must apply online for a 3-month Turkish 3-Visa** Australians are required to pay USD$60 for entry. Visas on arrival will no longer be available, and must be purchased in advance. You will have two choices:
a) buy an e-visa in advance online, which you download and print off.
b) apply for a visa from the nearest Turkish Consulate.
The e-visa is the cheapest option. Visa and MasterCard credit/debit cards are accepted payment methods. You can use this link: http://www.mfa.gov.tr/e-visa-is-ready-to-be-downloaded.en.mfa
- The south-east areas bordering on Syria, Iraq and Iran are at high threat of terrorist attack. Terrorist attacks have also occurred in major cities and tourist areas in recent years.
- Crime levels are low but theft and pickpocketing can occur in tourist regions.
- Local demonstrations and protests can become violent.
- Be aware of weather conditions as they can affect your travel plans.
- Parts of Turkey can experience earthquakes and tremors. Familiarise yourself with local safety procedures upon arrival.
Always check with Smart Traveller for the latest travel advice for Turkey.