Arts & Life
22 unique experiences in Turkey, from petting stray cats to oil wrestling
22 unique experiences in Turkey, from petting stray cats to oil wrestling
If you come to Turkey, you should not leave without experiencing at least some of its uniqueness. See, hear, feel, eat, travel, have fun and love in Turkish style. Click through our list of unique experiences that you can only have in Turkey...
Enjoy a Turkish bath - The Turkish bath or “hamam,” as it is called in Turkish, is a perfect way to relax and experience classic Turkish traditions, such as being scrubbed down in bubbles and then relaxing on warm marble slabs. The historical beautiful decorations of the baths are also remarkable to observe.
Take a Turkish cooking class - Turkish cuisine is a great mix of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Balkan cuisines. Learning different recipes from different parts of the country could be a delicious souvenir from Turkey.
Feed seagulls by the Bosphorus with ‘simit’ - The Bosphorus has a unique location between Europe and Asia, and in order to commute between the two continents, one of the transportation opportunities is taking a ferry ride. On the way to your next attraction, admire the view but do not forget to feed the seagulls with “simit,” which you can buy in the street. Seagulls often accompany the ferries and they are used to be fed by the travelers.
Watch Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling Festival - The festival has been held annually in Edirne since 1346. The competition is called “oil wrestling” because wrestlers pour locally produced olive oil over their entire bodies and matches take place outside in an open, grassy field, with no clothes on except for oily trousers made of leather.
Watch the sunset in front of ancient statues - Mount Nemrut is a 2,134-meter-high mountain in southeastern Turkey, notable for the summit where a number of large statues are erected around what is assumed to be a royal tomb from the first century B.C. In 1987, Mount Nemrut was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. One of the most remarkable experiences in this mountain is watching the sunset as the last beams of the sun create a visual spectacle full of reddish reflections and shadows on the statues situated on the mountain.
Pet stray cats - Turkey is also home to millions of stray cats, even in big metropolitans like Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. It may even be argued that the cats own the cities, as they are in every corner. So feed them like locals. You can also visit the cat statue in Kadıköy, Istanbul to commemorate the famous and loved neighborhood cat, Tombili (picture).
Eat ‘boyoz’ in İzmir - Boyoz is a Turkish street pastry, associated with İzmir, which is the only city where it is prepared and sold. Passionately loved by the city locals, boyoz is a mixture of flour, sunflower oil and a small bit of tahini.
Take a dip in the thermal hot springs in Pamukkale - The travertines of Pamukkale in Denizli are filled with hot, white mineral water. Among the rare beauties in the world, Pamukkale is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. After relaxing in the streaming hot water, the ancient city of Hierapolis just outside the travertines can also be seen.
Roast marshmallows over the ‘eternal flame’ of Chimera in Çıralı, Antalya - The idea of the “eternal flame” sounds truly mythical and such an experience can only be in the country of several mythologies and civilizations. Toasting marshmallows or sausages on the eternal flames and enjoying a peaceful night is great fun. On a rocky hillside in the Çıralı Mountains, flames caused by natural gas emissions have been curling out for thousands of years.
See where a 'crazy' Ottoman jumped from - The historical tower in Istanbul witnessed the legendary flight of Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, with the help of his invented wings. He probably chose this medieval stone tower constructed by the Genoese, due to its panoramic vista of Istanbul’s historic peninsula thanks to its great height and cone shape. The tower is one of the city’s most striking landmarks.
Recite Homeros at sunrise in Bozcaada - If you are an avid reader of Homeros’ epics, the Illiad and the Odyssey, then Turkey is truly the ideal place to experience more about the history behind the mythology. The ruins of the ancient city of Troy are just across the small island called “Bozcaada” near the entrance of Dardanelles. Each year, a reading festival is held in order to read the ancient texts and to discuss the cultural importance of these texts, as well as Homer and Troy.
Indulge yourself in Turkish pastries - Turkish pastries constitute a great portion of the rich culinary tradition. Only unique to Turkey, there are many pastries to try, such as baklava, künefe, sütlaç, güllaç and lokum (Turkish delight). A vacation in Turkey should not end without trying these.
Visit Atatürk’s mausoleum Anıtkabir - The Modern Turkish Republic was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The memorial tomb for the country’s founding father is located in the capital city and is called “Anıtkabir.” Built to commemorate the leader of the Turkish War of Independence and the first President of the Turkish Republic, the mausoleum and the nearby towers, statues and museums are constantly visited by the Turkish people as well as tourists throughout the year.
Kitesurfing in Alaçatı - Kitesurfing is quite popular in the windy climate and wavy sea of Alaçatı, Çeşme, İzmir, which is an important location for professional and amateur kitesurfing. With an adventure like kitesurfing, summer vacation in Turkey might turn into a remarkable and unforgettable experience.
Join a ‘sira night’ in Şanlıurfa - These nights are events typically organized in Şanlıurfa with a gathering of people eating local food and singing traditional songs with traditional musical instruments and long conversations.
Mesmerize yourself with Rumi whirling dervishes in Konya - The mystical ritual of the Mevlevi Order, named after their founder Rumi (Mevlana) from Konya was declared a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity. The “Sema” ceremony is the spiritual journey and ascent to “perfection,” to God, through mind, love and patience. The astonishing and remarkable experience of music and the unique movements of the “dervishes,” the followers of Rumi, are a truly unforgettable and magical experience. The ritual of Rumi’s followers and their philosophies are worth discovering.
Enjoy the best Turkish breakfast in Van - Turkish breakfasts have many delicious tastes, from tomatoes to many kinds of cheese and from jams to different types of eggs. But even the best of the best breakfasts is the famous one prepared in Van, including more than 20 dishes, such as honeycomb, herbal cheese, made with a mixture of various herbs unique to the region, martuga, made with flour, butter and egg, and kavut, made with ground wheat.
Embark on an adventure with Turkey’s Orient Express - Traveling from Ankara to Kars with the historical Orient Express train has recently become popular thanks to social media. Bloggers and travelers all over the world travel to Kars to visit the historical ancient city of Ani and fish in the frozen Lake Çıldır. The train journey takes about 24 hours and passes through many important stops along the way, presenting the natural beauty of the eastern provinces of Turkey. During the stops, you may try the “cağ kebab” of Erzurum as well. The adventure is advised to be done during winter, but train tickets sell out quickly.
Live a unique fairytale - Cappadocia offers a mesmerizing experience with its famous fairy chimneys. A member of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List, all of Cappadocia is completely unique to Turkey’s geography. You may watch the sunrise in hot air balloons rising above the unique rock formations, hike in the Love Valley, which is full of wild flowers and rock formations, stay in a cave hotel and discover the underground cities.
Discover a sunken city - Turkey has an incredible amount of ancient ruins but this one is not really popular. In Kekova, one of the areas with a high concentration of ruins, you may discover a sunken city by kayaking. The clear water and beautiful white sand allows for a perfect vision of the remains of a town, which was completely flooded after an earthquake, which is common for the geography of Turkey.
Rafting in the Çoruh River - This river goes over the Mescit Mountains in northeastern Turkey and flows through the cities of Bayburt, İspir, Yusufeli and Artvin, along the Kelkit-Çoruh Fault, before flowing into Georgia, where it reaches the Black Sea just south of Batumi and a few kilometers north of the Turkish-Georgian border. The Çoruh has been called “an eco-tourism gem” and “Turkey’s last remaining wild river” and is being promoted for whitewater kayaking by the Eastern Anatolia Tourism Development Project.
Try all street food - While discovering the streets of Turkey, you do not have to find a restaurant when you feel hungry. Just choose some of the various street foods along your way. For example, you may try “midye dolma,” mussels with rice filling, wet hamburgers, “kokoreç,” a sandwich made of seasoned, stuffed, minced lamb intestines, “çiğ köfte,” spicy bulgur substituted for raw ground meat mixed with tomato paste and spices, and “simit,” a circular bread covered in sesame.
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Turkey's largest library
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Tohma Canyon under blanket of snow