Istanbul is alive. The fabulous Turkish city straddles the lolloping Bosphorus river, which is itself calm compared to the hustle and bustle of the city on either side of its banks. It’s the sole transcontinental city in the world — it’s located in both Europe and Asia — and is the starting point for most journeys in Turkey.
As the 16th largest country in the world with a population of more than 81 m, there is a lot to see, a lot to experience and there are a lot of people to meet. Everywhere you go in Turkey you see evidence of the past, present and future. Whether your view is of a skyline of domes, minarets, or concrete towers and glass skyscrapers, it’s always magnificent.
Ancient cities — some now museums, some still inhabited — run along the coast, and offer a chance to relax and explore the Aegean Sea. Get lost in beautiful Antalya, where winding streets lined with traditional houses offer places to stop for a strong Turkish coffee. Head inland to walk amongst the fairy chimneys and cave dwellings of Cappadocia, where a hot air balloon ride will give you the opportunity to see the sun rise over a land where people have lived in harmony with the landscape for thousands of years. See what makes Turkish people tick at the Ataturk Memorial in the nation’s capital, Ankara.
To enjoy your time in Turkey take some time before you go to get prepared. Here are my five tips that will take a little of the stress out of the journey.
1. A lesson in Lira
It’s hard to get Turkish Lira outside of the country, but there are ATMs at all the major airports. Let your bank know that you’re travelling so that you can use your card when you’re there. (Land-based border crossings are a little trickier, so have some cash, and your passport, on hand for a currency exchange office).
2. Set your compass
Find out where your hotel is. Print off a map with the address and decide on a taxi or public transport. Airports in Turkey’s major cities are well connected, safe and easy to use and the money saved here can be better spent elsewhere.
3. Pack wisely
Chances are you’ll be travelling every few days on your trip and will have to load your luggage on and off transport as well as carry it into your accommodation. Do yourself, and your future travel companions, a favour and pack lightly. Consider local customs and the time of year; Turkey can be very hot or very cold depending on when and where you go.
4. Get inspired!
You’re going to Turkey, an amazing place! Grab a book and get excited about the things you’ll see, the people you’ll meet and the experiences you’ll have. Learn some history; there are amazing stories, and when you’re there you get to walk in the footsteps of the past. Your trip will take you to places that you’ll have more time to enjoy if you have an idea of what you’d like to do while you’re there.
5. Ready your senses
From the moment you land in Turkey everything might seem different. There will be lots of people, lots of noise and lots to absorb, but don’t be scared, embrace it! Drop your backpack at the hotel and dive into this amazing country that welcomes you with open arms. Explore, taste and bargain (if there’s no price tag on it, it’s rude not to!) before dropping into a hammam for a steam, a scrub and the best massage you’ll ever have in your life.
G Adventures runs a number of departures in Turkey encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips here.