Travel to Turkey

Travel to Turkey

This convergence of continents is a fusion of cultures and traditions, from historic-yet-cosmopolitan Istanbul to the fairy chimneys of otherworldly Cappadocia.

A visit to Istanbul, Turkey's vibrant heart, is a visit to one of the preeminent cities in history. Shouldering the Bosphorus Strait on the Europe-Asia borderline, this sprawling urban center (once known as Constantinople) reveals thousands of years of intermingling cultures in its immaculate, era-spanning architecture, exquisite restaurants, and general vibe. From the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque to the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul’s cityscape ranks among the most impressive on Earth. Turkey’s capital, Ankara, is famous for its archaeological monuments, among them some truly outstanding Roman ruins. Like its marvelously heterogeneous architecture, Turkey’s cuisine is a whole cocktail of influences. You’ll certainly have to try some of that world-famous Turkish coffee! Traveling from one enchanting city or village to the next, you’ll appreciate the staggering variety in Turkey’s natural landscapes—ranging from cloud-piercing peaks (such as the much-mythologized Mount Ararat) to sublime, balmy Mediterranean beaches. Pamukkale draws you in with its remarkable hot springs, while unreal rock formations define the Cappadocia region.

In few countries can you bask in such a multicultural mix as Turkey, which famously spans the messy and colorful divide between Europe and Asia. Here, two huge continents sidle up to the dinner table, the concert hall, the dance floor--and the results are unfailingly fascinating. Consider the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared more than a dozen Turkish traditions--from the Sufia Sama rituals to the Kirkpinar wrestling matches--among its "Intangible Cultural Heritage List." Sampling the full complexity of Turkish culture can be done in institutions such as the Adana Cinema Museum and the Istanbul Contemporary Art Museum; it can also be done strolling the city or village streets, soaking up the intersection of historic and modern Turkey as it plays out in everyday life.

Talking to people on the street or taking in a music or dance performance in Turkey highlights the country's intoxicating blend of European and Asian imprints, but the astonishing heterogeneity truly becomes tangible in Turkish cuisine. From delicious cheeses to grilled kebabs, from rice pilaf to sweet baklava, native dishes offer an incredible spectrum of flavors and aromas. The riches of the country's waters show up on the plate, too, whether it's fried kalamari or grilled fish. Typical beverages include black tea and Turkish coffee, and there's also an impressive selection of homegrown wines and spirits (including the well-known raki). Turkey's a huge country, and there's simply nothing like tasting your way across its many regions, each with their own distinct culinary stamps.

Turkey sweeps 400 miles from north to south and 1,000 miles from west to east, edging the Aegean, Black, and Mediterranean seas as well as a quite dizzying array of European and Middle Eastern countries. Most of Turkey belongs to the region of Anatolia, Asia's far western frontier. There's cultural as well as political significance in Turkey's control of the Bosporus and other links between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean basin. Much of the country is made up of beautiful mountain ranges; its peaks culminate in Mount Ararat, nearly 17,000 feet tall. From beaches to canyons to snow-swaddled summits, Turkey's sublime physical geography is nearly unmatched in Eurasia.

It should come as no surprise that Turkey's history is a vast, colorful, and dramatic one. From the Persians and Alexander the Great to the Byzantines and Mongols, powerful rulers and empires have controlled its strategically important territory across the millennia. A defining era was that of the Ottoman Empire, which existed from the 13th through the 20th centuries and which lives on in numerous architectural masterpieces. Indeed, truly momentous historical landmarks abound in the country, whether it's the site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in Bodrum (which ranked among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), the 6th-century church-turned-museum of Hagai Sophia in Istanbul, and the iconic Blue Mosque, also in Istanbul.

Turkey Vacations

Istanbul at Its Best
Istanbul and Rome

Cruise Vacations

Athens & 7 Nights Idyllic Aegean Cruise

Not Included