If you’re an enthusiastic traveller always thinking about taking off into a new adventure, there are plenty of popular tourist destinations that can help you quench your thirst for travel, each with its unique charm and appeal. However, very few of them can compete with the special magnetism that Turkey oozes, which is why you should definitely consider it as a potential travel destination if you haven’t already.
Serving as a bridge between the East and the West, this transcontinental country offers a heady mix of attractions and experiences that have established it as a favourite spot for holidaymakers and travellers of all kinds. With its buzzing cities, cultural and ethnic diversity, fascinating history, stunning natural sceneries, and delicious cuisine, Turkey has been breaking records in the tourism industry for years and continues to attract an impressive number of visitors from all over the world.
So, if you want to find out why people fall in love with Turkey and rave about its beauty, here’s what you should know about this one-of-a-kind country.
Hospitality first and foremost
Before you even get the chance to unpack your bags and start exploring your surroundings, the first thing you’ll notice when you visit Turkey is the hospitality of its people. This is one of the most notable traits of Turkish culture and the reason why foreigners feel so at home here. In Turkey, people go to great lengths to make their guests feel welcome and happy, and tourists enjoy the same treatment. In smaller towns and villages, it’s not uncommon for locals to engage in friendly conversation and offer you tea and treats, or even invite you into their homes, although you’re a foreigner and they may speak little English.
As a tourist, this gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn about their lifestyle, customs and traditions, and experience the places you visit through the eyes of the locals, something that’s not as easily achievable in other countries, especially in the Western world.
Turkey has a diverse topography that will take you from Anatolian plains and semi-arid regions to dense forests, towering mountain ranges and long stretches of coastline along the Aegean and the Mediterranean. This means there’s no shortage of beautiful landscapes and natural wonders for tourists to discover.
If you want to plan a beach holiday, Turkey’s southern coastline, also known popularly as the Turquoise Coast, offers spectacular vistas with clear blue waters and golden sands that can easily compete with the French and Italian Rivieras. The Black Sea region will surprise you with its lush forests, beautiful lakes, and stunning mountain peaks, similar to the Swiss Alps. Other locations such as Cappadocia with its distinctive rock formations and colourful canyons, or Pamukkale, with its famous thermal water pools, offer breathtaking natural sceneries that will remain etched in your memory forever.
Majestic cities and quaint towns
Urban life is just as stimulating and diverse as the country’s natural landscapes. Turkey has many interesting cities and towns that are worth exploring: Ankara, the country’s modern capital, Bursa, the first capital of the Ottoman Empire, the ancient town of Urfa that’s a pilgrimage site for both Christians and Muslims, Trabzon, the busiest port on the Black Sea, or Izmir, the lively port lying on the Aegean Sea; all of them are filled with attractions and traces of the country’s rich and tumultuous history in the form of ancient ruins and World Heritage Sites.
But of course, the city that attracts the largest number of visitors is none other than Istanbul, the jewel of the Mediterranean and the only city to stand on two continents: Europe and Asia. Istanbul is a fascinating melting pot that combines elements from the west and east, resulting in an enthralling mixture of traditions, cultures and architectural elements that are bound to impress and overwhelm at the same time.
A hotspot for medical tourism
In 2003, Turkey began a reform of its healthcare system, known as the Health Transformation Programme, which lasted until 2013. The initiative proved to be a success as the country not only managed to improve its medical services considerably, but it also became a leader in healthcare and medical tourism. People from all over the world come to Turkey to benefit from quality healthcare and low-cost medical treatments and procedures.
There’s a growing number of private clinics, hospitals and medical centres in Turkey equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, and providing all sorts of medical services and innovative treatment methods that cover a wide range of health concerns, from dental services to surgical interventions and everything in between. For example, people suffering from alopecia can get a hair transplant in Turkey at very affordable prices and benefit from a wide range of additional hair loss therapies to improve and maintain the results. The fact that most clinics offer complete medical packages, that include everything from accommodation to interpretation services, makes Turkey a very attractive destination for medical tourism.
While health tourism in Turkey is becoming increasingly popular, culinary tourism is not lagging far behind. To put it simply, from a culinary perspective, Turkey can be considered a gastronomical heaven where foodies from all around the world can spoil their taste buds with a wide variety of delicious dishes and flavours.
Turkish cuisine is a reflection of the country’s rich history and all the civilizations that have passed through its territory over the centuries, so you’re going to come across many surprising combinations and mouth-watering recipes that change from region to region. From the popular Turkish kebabs to pides, gozleme, manti or other local specialities, you’ll surely find something that your stomach will enjoy. And once you’ve gotten a taste of Turkey, you’ll surely want to come back for more.
As you can see, Turkey is a very contrasting and hard-to-define country that has a bit of everything for everyone, so the best way to understand its appeal is to experience it yourself.