Poised between Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a gateway between worlds. The country is a land of contrasts – geographical, religious and cultural. Its geographical position has made it the stomping ground for several empires, but it remains remarkably true to itself – with an identity that’s entirely Turkish. Its metropolitan centers are fast-paced and frantic, while its countryside is vast and chiselled by history. And its religious sensibilities run the gamut between devout and nonchalant.
It would take a lifetime (and then some) to fully understand the complexities of modern-day Turkey. Nevertheless, this article aims to provide travellers with an abbreviated guide. Let’s explore must-see destinations and helpful packing tips for Turkey.
Where to Go
Whittling down a list of destinations wasn’t easy. Naturally, there are glaring omissions. But, for the first-time Turkey traveller, these locales represent an excellent cross-section of what the country has to offer.
- Istanbul: The largest city in Turkey by a country mile, Istanbul embodies the country’s many contrasts. You’ll find thumping bar districts sitting alongside solemn temples, and frenetic bazaars alongside ambling residential streets. It’s a marvel to behold.
- Selçuk and Ephesus: Selçuk itself isn’t much to write home about, but it is the gateway to Ephesus (Efes, in Turkish), a pristinely preserved ancient city once a cultural epicentre of Ancient Greece and Rome.
- Cappadocia: Central Turkey’s Cappadocia is like something from a fantasy movie. Towering rock formations, called “fairy chimneys,” dot the landscape, patterned with ancient settlements. And hot air balloons fill the air.
- Bodrum: A beautiful beach destination on the Mediterranean – what’s more to say.
- Kaçkar Mountains: For outdoor lovers, these picturesque mountains provide the ideal opportunity for hikes.
What to Pack
Packing for a trip to Turkey takes some forethought. Here are a few tips to make sure you bring the right clothing.
The weather in Turkey varies from scorching Mediterranean sunshine and brisk mountain breezes. Therefore, it’s imperative to pack versatile clothing. Merino wool (a long-time secret in the travelling community) is perfect because it’s insulating and breathable, keeping you warm or cold depending on the context. Pack a few comfortable merino wool t shirts, merino underwear and merino socks for your trip.
Between rough cobblestones and jagged mountain paths, the terrain in Turkey can be rough. Trekking shoes, like hiking boots or robust sneakers, come in very handy in Turkey.
Long-sleeve shirts and pants
If you’re planning to visit mosques, temples or other places of worship (and let’s hope you are, because they are stunning), pack long-sleeve shirts and pants. Most places of worship have strict dress-code policies. And even those that don’t would prefer that travellers remain respectfully dressed.
A Day Bag for the Beach or Baths
The Turkish beaches that dot the Aegean and the southern Mediterranean are gorgeous. And the Turkish baths you find throughout the country, often in centuries-old heritage buildings, are a perfect mix of culture and self-care. Pack a day bag for days at the beach or Turkish baths. Inside your day bag, pack a bathing suit, travel towel and change of clothes.
If you’re looking for a summer vacation spot that combines culture, history, nightlife and beachside relaxation, consider the oft-overlooked Turkey. Just remember to pack merino wool, hiking shoes, modest clothing and some essential beach items.