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What is the best time to visit Turkey?

The best time to visit Turkey depends on your preferences and interests. My favourite is warm weather and sunny days perfect for beach vacations, the summer months from June to August are ideal, especially along the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. However, this is also the most crowded time in Turkey.

Alternatively, the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) offer milder temperatures, fewer crowds, and more comfortable conditions for exploring historical sites and natural landscapes. Winter (December to February) is icy, but it’s a great time to experience Turkey’s cultural heritage without the crowds, particularly in cities like Istanbul and Cappadocia.

What are the must-see attractions in Turkey?

There’s a ton to see and do in Turkey, here’s a short list to get you started:

  • Istanbul: Explore the iconic Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi Palace, and bustling Grand Bazaar.
  • Cappadocia: Witness the surreal landscapes dotted with fairy chimneys, cave dwellings, and underground cities. Don’t miss a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.
  • Ephesus: Discover the ancient ruins of Ephesus, one of the best-preserved Roman cities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Antalya: Relax on the stunning beaches of the Turkish Riviera and explore historical sites like Aspendos and Perge.
  • Göreme National Park: Admire the otherworldly rock formations and ancient cave churches carved into the landscape.

I also have a whole blog on destinations to visit in Turkey beyond Istanbul.

What is the currency in Turkey, and how can I exchange money?

The official currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira (TRY). While credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases. You can exchange money at banks, exchange offices (döviz bürosu), or ATMs. Be cautious of exchanging money at hotels or unofficial street vendors

What are some traditional Turkish dishes I should try?

Some traditional dishes to try in Turkey:

  • Kebabs: Whether it’s doner, shish, or adana kebab, Turkey offers a variety of delicious grilled meat dishes. They even make vegan versions in popular tourist cities.
  • Mezes: Enjoy a selection of appetizers like hummus, cacik (yoghurt with cucumbers and garlic), and ezme (spicy tomato salad).
  • Turkish Breakfast: Indulge in a spread of cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, bread, honey, and jams, accompanied by tea or Turkish coffee.
  • Baklava: Savor layers of flaky pastry filled with nuts and sweetened with honey or syrup, a decadent dessert enjoyed throughout Turkey.
  • Lahmacun and Pide: Try these Turkish-style pizzas topped with minced meat, vegetables, and herbs, perfect for a quick and flavorful meal.

What are some popular souvenirs to buy in Turkey?

Some perfect keepsakes or gifts from Turkey are:

  • Turkish Carpets and Kilims: Handwoven rugs and carpets featuring intricate designs and vibrant colours.
  • Turkish Delight (Lokum): Indulge in these sweet, chewy confections made with sugar, starch, and various flavours like rosewater, pistachio, or lemon.
  • Evil Eye Talismans (Nazar Boncuğu): Protect yourself from bad luck with these iconic blue glass beads believed to ward off the evil eye.
  • Turkish Tea and Coffee Sets: Take home a traditional tea or coffee set adorned with intricate patterns and motifs, perfect for serving Turkish tea or coffee.
  • Ceramic and Pottery: Browse through a variety of handmade ceramics, including plates, bowls, and decorative items, featuring colourful designs inspired by Turkish culture.

What are some off-the-beaten-path destinations in Turkey worth exploring?

While Turkey’s popular tourist destinations are undoubtedly stunning, I highly recommend venturing off the beaten path. Even if it your first time travelling in Turkey, add a couple of these to your Turkey Itinerary:

  • Şirince: A charming hilltop village near Ephesus known for its quaint cobblestone streets, traditional houses, and local wine production.
  • Şanlıurfa: Explore the vibrant markets, historic sites, and cultural heritage of this ancient city in southeastern Turkey, also known as the “City of Prophets.”
  • Amasya: Discover the picturesque town of Amasya nestled in a narrow gorge along the Yesilırmak River, famous for its Ottoman-era architecture and rock-cut tombs.
  • Safranbolu: Step back in time as you wander through the well-preserved Ottoman houses and cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage-listed town in northern Turkey.

I’ve got a whole list of the best off-beat destinations in Turkey.