Combining a vibrant legacy of Hellenistic, Roman, Ottoman, Middle Eastern, and modern architecture and cultures, Turkey's alluring cultural appeal, budget-friendly destinations, and great hospitality make it a rewarding experience in the world of tourism. Though falling from the throne of empires when the last Ottoman Sultan was deposed and a republic declared nearly a century ago, Turkey has grown ever since as a modern and robust economic and political bulwark, competing for entry into the EU while still maintaining that unique Eastern charm which so much enchants all travelers alike.
Dinner under the moonlight in the Bosphorus…Romantic, isn't it? But not far-fetched either. As Turkey's major cultural and economic powerhouse, Istanbul is not just the clichéd 'bridge' between East and West, but rather a fantastic city of culture and delight saw elsewhere. From the towering and emblematic Hagia Sophia Mosque to the impressive Bosphorus Bridge linking Asia with Europe to the picturesque Dolmabahce Palace and Maiden's Tower, Istanbul is a magical city ready to spellbound you with its timeless relics and vibrant lifestyle. Nowhere is this East-West charm so easily felt than strolling through Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul's most popular, most colorful, and it's most stylish. Old-style tramways ferry a sea of people who wander through its shops and cafes in the daytime. At night, it's even more exciting: adjacent is Cicek Pasaji, a roofed gallery replete with taverns, cafes, fine restaurants, and shops all housed in typical Ottoman architecture, all offering travelers a unique experience of old Eastern charm with new Western vibrancy. However, if you wish to go full gears into the East, look no further than the halls of Istanbul's famed Grand Bazaar, deemed to be one the first shopping malls in the world. The bustling activity coupled with the old Ottoman architecture and the colorful goods paraded is so typical and so alluring. There are also the rather Westernized Bagdat and Abdi Ipekci Avenues for equal glamour, both with a touch of shopping frivolity. You can also head to Nisantasi quarter, a neighborhood of upscale shops, cafes, and apartment buildings, also charmingly decorated during Christmas. Remember that dinner under the moonlight in the Bosphorus? Istanbul is also legendary in its exquisite seafood, and the best places are located (you guessed it) on either shore of the strait. There, hundreds of restaurants are packed with clientele eager to savor the sea's produce with that unique touch of Turkish inventiveness in dishes like Balik dolma or Balik iskender. While Turkish cuisine is renowned for its immensely varied breakfasts and the hundred or so kebab styles, seafood is another culinary experience worth trying. And now that you're by the sea why not try a short ferry ride to the Prince's Islands, a small archipelago in the Sea of Marmara. A day trip is unforgettable: old Ottoman-style mansions populate the islands, some converted into ultra-luxury hotels. There is no traffic there except horse-drawn carriages slowly commuting through cobbled streets flanked by colorful cafes and fine restaurants. The air of placidity on the islands contrasts significantly with the vivid vibrancy of Istanbul.
The 'Jewel' of the Turkish Riviera is the largest international sea resort and one of Turkey's fastest-growing cities. Like Copacabana and Ipanema in Rio, Antalya boasts with its Mediterranean versions—Konyaalti and Lara. They both form an incredible contrasting landscape as they lie against the rising backdrop of the snow-capped Taurus Mountains. Just picture this: cold and snow behind, with sun and fun by the sea! Antalya itself is full of ancient sites like its famed walled city called Kaleici, including Hadrian's Gate, Hidirlik Tower ad its tranquil gardens, and the impressive Yivli Minaret. Antalya is not short of excellent hotels, restaurants, and fair shopping districts as a major resort destination. Just 40 kilometers west is Kemer, a more serene, upscale resort town famous for its utterly beautiful Moonlight Beach.
Facing the Aegean, Bodrum is another seaside jewel famed for its vibrant nightlife and excellent beaches. Above all, it is the site of the famed city of Halicarnassus and its legendary Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. But today, the town itself is a wonder with the imposing St. Peter Castle rising high above the sea, charming public gardens, and picturesque homes lining the seaside. Numerous beaches are lining the coast, with pedestrian boulevards packed with cafes and restaurants offering exquisite Turkish seafood. The town has a somewhat more pleasant, more peaceful profile than Antalya, which makes it ideal for those seeking the sun to themselves.
Marmaris is a beautiful Mediterranean resort town along the Turkish Rivier with turquoise blue waters, a long stretch of golden sandy beaches, isolated bays, coves and inlets, rugged mountains, pretty villages, rough mountains, charming villages, pine-covered hills, ancient cities, marinas, and a vibrant town center.
Trabzon is the Black Sea Region's most important city due to its numerous historical remains and gorgeous natural landscapes. From monasteries to mountain villages, citadels to churches, there's a lot to see in this town that's still to be discovered by visitors.