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The Big Turkiye Bucket List – Top 5 Things you MUST do in Turkiye!

In this travel guide, we will tell you all about travelling to Türkiye, including when to go, things to know before your trip, and 5 amazing things to do and places to visit!


 Türkiye is an astounding country, and this guide focuses on the 3 weeks I spent in Western Türkiye. If I were ever to return, I would rent a car and travel the lesser-explored East of the country.


So here are my 5 favourite things to do in Türkiye, all very worthy of a spot on your Türkiye bucket list!



CONTENTS




Hagia Sophia and fountains
The Hagia Sophia is one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks


 


About Türkiye


In case you were wondering why I'm spelling it so weirdly, Turkey officially changed its spelling to Türkiye in 2021. It is a huge country of 85 million people, shared between Western Asia and Southeast Europe, and the city of Istanbul is actually split between two continents!


The currency in Turkiye is Turkish Lira, and at the time of writing, 1GBP is 40 Lira. The Lira has undergone mad inflation in recent years and lost a lot of value against other currencies. For this reason, online prices typically are not accurate. We would often look at a food menu online where the average cost of a meal was 40 Lira, and then we turned up at a restaurant, that same dish was 400 Lira.


Along that same vein, it is not that cheap to travel in Türkiye. Food and drinks are far more expensive than let's say, Spain and Greece, but you can still normally manage to secure decent accommodation for less than £30 per night.


Türkiye was the centre of the Ottoman Empire which once expanded all the way from Saudia Arabia to Austria! During WW1, they chose the losing side and after the war, the British and French took it upon themselves to redistribute all of the Ottoman Empire's land. Et Voila, in 1923, the Republic of Turkiye was born.


This reckless map drawing actually ended up splitting the Kurdish people into four countries (Türkiye, Syria, Iran and Iraq) which is one of the saddest outcomes of all.


The leader of Türkiye is a nasty dictator called Erdogan, and if you criticise him in any way you may be quickly labelled an enemy of the state. For this reason, I would avoid discussing sensitive political issues in Türkiye and definitely do not use the word Kurdistan. If he ever got a hold of this travel guide, I would probably not be allowed to re-enter Turkiye.


One-fifth of the Turkish population of 85 million are Kurds, who are probably the nicest group of people I have ever met in my life. Most Kurds live in the East of Türkiye, which is why if I ever went back, that is the region I would be interested in travelling most.


Türkiye is technically a secular, multi-faith country, although most people practice Islam. On the scale of Muslim countries, the month of Ramadan is quite relaxed here, so you'll find most things open as normal. As a female traveller, I suggest wearing somewhat modest clothing when travelling about (below the knee), but for beaches, resorts, and the metropolitan cities of Ankara, Izmir, and Istanbul you can go 'European'.



Traditional Turkish Breakfast from Pell's
Traditional Turkish Breakfast from Pell's

 


How to Get to Türkiye


Türkiye is bordered by Syria, Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Georgia, Greece and Bulgaria. All borders are open for travellers excluding those with Armenia and Syria (and sometimes Iran, this changes regularly).


The country is in a great position for overland trip combinations, and we actually came into Türkiye after an amazing 3 weeks in Iraq! Türkiye is a safe country as long as you take the usual travel precautions and don't get involved in anything political. Even the area close to Syria is safe, as long as you stay at least 10km away from the border.


If you're not travelling in by land, you can fly, as Türkiye has 35 international airports. Turkish Airlines alone services more than 120 countries (that's more than any other airline!)


British citizens do not need a visa to enter Türkiye, we can stay for up to 90 days for the purpose of tourism.



Mediterranean Sea Turkiye
Türkiye is surrounded by four seas, and in the South, it is the Mediterranean!

 


This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through this website, at no cost to you. I only link to products I use and love.


Getting Around in Türkiye



Domestic Flights


The quickest way to get around Türkiye is to travel by domestic flight, and prices for this start at around £40. I personally do not like to travel this way unless I am short of time, as you end up missing all of the off-the-beaten-path places. To find the best flight deals, I always browse on Skyscanner and then book directly with the airline.



Coaches


You can book high-quality bus and coach travel on the OBILET app. This is great for sleeper coaches, which normally always have reclining seats and a refreshment service.



Dolmus


For shorter (and cheaper) journeys, do what the locals do and hop in a dolmus. These are minivans that leave when they are full. They normally pick up from specific places and your accommodation can tell you where that is. In Türkiye we did not have any issues with haggling for dolmus, they always told us the correct price.



Self Driving


Road-tripping in Türkiye would be an awesome way to see the country! In high season car rental starts from £100 per week, and it's even cheaper in low season! I normally browse on Kayak for great car rental deals.



Taxis


Taxis are so expensive in Türkiye. Uber is available in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir, but I would always opt for a local bus service or Metro if available.



 

Not sure what to pack for your trip to the Türkiye? Check out the I Dream of Mangoes article:



 


When to Go to Turkiye


Türkiye has the same seasons as the UK, although temperatures are more extreme.


Spring – March to May

Summer – June to August

Autumn – Sep – Nov

Winter – Dec to Feb


As always, you're going to want to avoid the crowds of the summer school holidays, so in my opinion, the best months to visit Türkiye are May, September, and October.



The spectacular town of Göreme
The spectacular town of Göreme

 


The Top 5 Things to Do to Add to Your Turkiye Bucket List!



1. Horse Riding at Sunrise in Cappadocia


I have a love/hate relationship with Cappadocia. When we took the bus over from Ankara as we approached Cappadocia my eyes widened in amazement, I had never seen such an interesting-looking landscape, it truly is breathtaking!


That's sort of where the wonder stopped, as never before I have been treated with such disdain as a tourist, everyone was so rude to us it sort of became comical in the end!


We stayed in Göreme, which although very beautiful is really crowded. When we did try to venture out to enjoy the landscape and try some local hikes, I got bitten on the ass by a dog – and the rest of my Türkiye itinerary was planned around hospital visits to get my 4 subsequent Rabies jabs.


However, the balloons at sunrise are a marvellous sight, and for me, they are much better viewed from the ground rather than in a balloon itself. We watched the spectacle on horseback, whilst hacking out from the Dalston Brothers Horse Ranch. This was one of the best things I did in Türkiye, and a once in a lifetime experience, which did sort of redeem how unwelcome we felt in Cappadocia.



I Dream of Mangoes Horse Riding in Cappadocia
Horse Riding in Cappadocia

 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE for Türkiye, do what I do, and have a browse on Travel Supermarket - choosing a cheap policy with a high Defaqto rating.


 



2. Hiking some (or all) of The Lycian Way


Just as I was beginning to think maybe Türkiye wasn't for me, I discovered the Lycian Way. This glorious coastal track is 760km running from Antalya to Fethiye, and it takes about 40 days to walk the whole thing. We decided to do some small sections of it, and our favourite part was the 16km from Olympos to Adrasan.


This 16km hike was one of the most beautiful trails I have ever been on, and due to the prolific fruit trees and Mediterranean herbs growing wild the whole area smells amazing! Just when we were getting tired we turned a corner to find a little old Turkish lady with orange-stained hands making juice, and sitting under the citrus trees and drinking a freshly squeezed OJ remains ingrained as one of my most magical memories of Türkiye.


The Lycian Way is BEAUTIFUL, and for me, walking some (or all) of it is THE BEST thing to do in Türkiye, and if you only manage one thing on this Big Türkiye Bucket List, it should be this.



I Dream of Mangoes hiking the Lycian Way
Hiking the Lycian Way


I Dream of Mangoes sitting under a lemon tree
Drinking freshly squeezed OJ in the village of Adrasan

 


3. Stay in a Tree House in Olympos & Visit the Cute Coastal Town of Kaş


If I could give you one piece of advice for travelling to Türkiye, it is when you go to the Antalya region, immediately leave Antalya city and instead spend your time at Olympos and Kaş. You can grab a dolmus from Antalya which just heads West down the coast, and it's a beautiful drive too!


Olympos is an old favourite of Turkish backpackers, with a hippie atmosphere and the backdrop of the ruins of Olympos, a city from 2BC in ancient Lycia. Due to its natural and historic importance, the area is under protection, making it an earthly bit of paradise. Protection means no resorts, no luxury hotels, but instead cute little shacks and tree houses – and staying in one of these tree houses should definitely be on your big Türkiye bucket list!


Olympos beach is lovely, and home to crystal clear, very cold waters. However, it is worth noting you must pay to enter the ruins each time you want to cut through to the beach (unless you're sneaky and can walk around). If you're not a fan of thumping trance music, I would avoid weekends in Olympos.


Kaş was my favourite place in all of Turkiye. This cute coastal town is only another hour or so down the coast from Olympos, and it's full of great eateries and bars, pretty cobbled streets and clothing boutiques. We stayed at Kas Camping, which arguably has the best spot in Kaş where you can pitch your tent or stay in one of their chalets right by the water. It's a little bit expensive for what it is, but still great nonetheless.


When in Kaş, be sure to head to Pell's for THE BEST Turkish breakfast, and L'apéro for drinks and dinner.



The ruins at Olympos Turkiye
The ruins at Olympos

 


4. Marvel at the Architectural Wonders in Istanbul


Istanbul is a city that needs no introduction. It's a massive, colourful, and frenetic place - and you're going to need a fair amount of patience to deal with all of that, if you want to see the city's architectural and historical wonders. When visiting Istanbul's big hitters, like the Basilica Cistern, the Blue Mosque, and the Hagia Sophia – you should arrive the minute it opens to avoid the crowds, and spend the rest of the day walking, eating, walking, and eating! OH - and don't forget to visit 'The Boulder', which is easily the best thing to do in Istanbul! (Google it, and thank me later.)


Istanbul straddles two continents, and for accommodation, you're going to want to stay in Kadiköy, a laid-back residential neighbourhood on the city's Asian shore. The curving streets of Kadiköy are filled with buildings with colourful murals home to indie boutiques, hip cafes, and Anatolian eateries.



Basilica Cistern
Basilica Cistern

 


5. See the Whirling Dervishes and Sample the Culinary Delights of Konya


The Turkish city of Konya is a beautiful and cultural city located in the centre of Türkiye. It’s one of those cities that many people miss because it’s not so close to the spots that most people go to routinely, such as Istanbul, Izmir, and the south coast holiday resorts. Konya is known for being a bit more conservative than other parts of Türkiye, for being a foodie's haven, and for being the home of the Whirling Dervishes.


The Whirling Dervishes are members of the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi Muslim religious order founded by the followers of the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi. They are known for their mesmerizing religious ritual called the Sema, which involves swirling and whirling in a meditative style of dance.


Seeing the Whirling Dervishes’ Sema ceremony in person is an unforgettable experience. Konya, being the birthplace and spiritual centre of this tradition, offers a variety of venues where visitors can witness this captivating performance. The best place to observe the Sema ritual is at the Mevlana Culture Centre, also known as the Mevlevi Dervish Lodge.


Performances are held on specific days throughout the year, usually on religious occasions or special events. However, during the summer months, they are generally held weekly.


With the rest of your time in Konya, the best way to truly experience the city is through its food. You can wander around and sample the street food near Şems'i Tebrizi Park, or check out this list of best places to eat in Konya!



Whirling Dervishes
Whirling Dervishes

 


Thank you for reading my travel guide for The Big 5 Türkiye Bucket List, featuring 5 things I think any traveller to Türkiye cannot miss! I have to be honest with you guys, Türkiye was not my favourite country. I think it is partly because we had just come from Iraq, where we had such an amazing time and felt so welcome, so coming to the over-touristic parts of Türkiye was a bit of a shock to the system!


That being said, I still believe Türkiye is an amazing place, even without the warmest of welcomes, and these 5 things to do in Türkiye are fantastic experiences.


If you have any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment - and if you enjoyed the read, consider subscribing to my blog where I post travel guides every couple of weeks based on my current adventures around the world.


Happy Travels

xx




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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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