Majestic mosques. Colossal mountains and warm thermal pools. Underground cities and astonishing ancient ruins. Seaside castles and sun-drenched beaches. Finger-licking food and captivating cultural traditions. Welcome to Turkey – the spot where East and West collide – and where more and more travellers flock to every year. To get the inside scoop, we talked to Trafalgar Travel Director, Barcin, on why so many travellers are choosing to visit Turkey in 2022.
Travel Director, Barcin, reveals what‘s special about Turkey in 2022
‘Many people don’t know what to expect from Turkey. So it is always my pleasure to introduce my country to our guests. Our guests are always surprised in a positive way by incredibly deep history, the beautiful city of Istanbul, amazing ancient cities (like Ephesus) and unique natural beauty like Pamukkale and Cappadocia. Turkey rewards the curious, so always listen to your senses here.’– Barcin Taran, Trafalgar Travel Director
‘Istanbul is definitely a jewel’
‘Every step reveals something different in enchanting Istanbul. Amazingly, this is the only city in the world on two different continents (Europe and Asia), and you can put your foot in each! This sums up Istanbul well as it’s a magical melting pot of different traditions, cultures and language. Here are three attractions you cannot miss.’
‘You will never be the same after standing under the 1500 year old dome of 6th century Hagia Sophia. Built in 537 AD, this majestic sight is a symbol of religious harmony. It was an Orthodox Christian Cathedral for almost 1000 years, before it was converted into a mosque following the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Empire in 1453. Since 1934 (and still today) it also serves as a museum that invites hours of exploration. And it’s no surprise it earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 1985 for its ‘unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries.’
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‘Ottoman sultans made this gorgeous palace their home in the 15th century and stayed for 400 years. You can see why: over 400 bedrooms, lush gardens, elegantly-carved bath rooms and holy relics rooms sprawl over the palace. We recommend admiring the huge 86-carat diamond in the palace exhibition, the beautiful library, plus the throne of the Ottoman Sultans made out of gold.’
Getting lost in the Grand Bazaar is a magical experience
‘Nothing stirs the senses like the 15th century Grand Bazaar – the world’s largest covered market. Meander this maze of up to 5,000 local stalls (laid out across 60 streets) and learn about the goods that mean so much to the locals who make them by hand. Such as lamps, spices, jewellery, hand-make fabrics, sweet-smelling Turkish tea, rugs, ceramics, and antiques. And much more.’
Ephesus: The Greco-Roman city
‘Ephesus is one of the most wonderful Greco-Roman ancient cities in the world. It served as a crossroads between East and West, and today houses fascinating ruins that send historians and archaeologists wild. The Celcus library and the great theatre of Ephesus are definitely “must see” places.
On my Best of Turkey trip yesterday, a lady from the US got so emotional when we got there [to the library] as it was her childhood dream to see the ancient library.’
Gallipoli World War I Memorials
‘Visiting Gallipoli WW1 memorials has always been very emotional for our guests from Australia and New Zealand. I have had many Aussies and Kiwis who had “dreams come true” moments when they could find the tombs of their ancestors who lost their lives in Gallipoli.’
THINKING ABOUT TURKEY IN 2022? GET INSPIRED BY: Best of Turkey tour (includes Anzac Day)
Pamukkale’s thermal pools
‘The white calcium formations filled with the aquamarine-coloured thermal waters in Pamukkale are staggeringly beautiful. Looking like fluffy cotton (‘Pamukkale’ means ‘cotton’ in Turkish), calcium-rich waters from springs overflows and cascades down over cliffs giving us one of the world’s most remarkable natural wonders.’ If you’re thinking about visiting Turkey in 2022, don’t dare miss this from your Turkey bucket list.’
‘Head just northeast of Antalya to admire the Düden Waterfalls crash elegantly into the Mediterranean sea below. Our guests seem to love it every year!’
Cappadocia’s ‘fairy chimneys’
‘Enter a hot, heart-stopping, dry landscape where time freezes: Cappadocia. Ash from volcanic eruptions and wind and water erosion have shaped this region (just north of the Taurus mountains in Anatolia). The result? An undulating rock landscape dotted with famous cone, column and mushroom shaped rock formations – nicknamed ‘Fairy Chimneys’ – where people used to live.’
‘You can also spot caves cut into rock walls and medieval frescoes in Christian rock-cut churches. Plus venture down to the underground city of Saratli on the ancient Silk Road on Trafalgar’s Turkey tours.’
Tastebud tingling food, tea & coffee
‘All foodies are in safe hands in Turkey. We have some of the most delicious and diverse food in the world. Where to start? Baklava (layered pastry filled with nuts and lathered in syrup) is a must for sweet-tooths… and you can find it everywhere! Kebap and köfte meatballs are delicious.
Plus Turkish meze – which includes variety of dips like fava (bean puree), hummus, muhammara (roasted red pepper and walnut), babagannuş (from eggplant and tahini). And of course, sweet treats like Turkish delight. I could go on for hours!
You can even learn how to make traditional Turkish bread (on our Highlights of Turkey tour) from local village women. I strongly recommend this experience!’
‘When it comes to drinks… all travellers should try Turkish coffee (its unfiltered and thicker than normal coffee), plus herbal teas like linden flower. Tip: find thousands in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar.’
‘I may be bias, but I believe the Turks show the warmest hospitality in the world. We treat all like dear friends and love to show people our culture, customs and traditions. So come visit us soon!’
Inspired to visit Turkey in 2022? Tell us what attracts you most in the comments below!