Turkey is gradually opening its hotels and tourist spots to travellers after Covid-19. By mid-June, it's planning to allow international tourists in ? Though most of us are still unable to travel internationally yet, we're definitely dreaming about our next trip and bookmarking all the things to do in Turkey. From the famous hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia to stunning mosques and more, here are 9 awesome things we wish to do in Turkey once it's safe to travel!
1. Take the hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia
When we asked you guys on Traveler Thursday (our weekly segment on Instagram stories) what you wish to do most in Turkey, many of you said the hot-air balloon ride in Cappadocia! It's not hard to see why this activity is one of the must-do things in Turkey. The sight of hot-air balloons rising above Turkey's picturesque Goreme Valley during sunrise is truly magnificent ?
If you're wondering what the experience feels like, one of our writers went on this adventure and tells us why it's one of his best travel moments. Planning your hot-air balloon ride also takes a lot of consideration, in terms of timing and budget. Check out these tips in our all-in-one guide to Cappadocia!
2. Marvel at the magnificent Blue Mosque
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (also commonly known as the Blue Mosque) is definitely an attraction we wouldn't miss! Built in the 1600s, it's the only mosque in Turkey with six minarets and its courtyard is the largest among all the Ottoman-era mosques. Once you step into the mosque, you will be mesmerised by its stunning architecture ?
You'd also want to join fellow travellers and locals and take a leisurely stroll at the park facing the mosque. That's because when the azan (call to prayer) is recited, it's truly a beautiful and hair-raising experience.
P.S. Dreaming about your Turkey adventure? Check out what to see and do with this guide:
3. Discover the history and beauty of Hagia Sophia
Just a short walk away from the Blue Mosque lies the enchanting Hagia Sophia, a historical gem dating back to over 2000 years ago. Once known as the greatest church of the Byzantine Empire, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul. It is now a museum but it is still one of the greatest landmarks of Turkey ? It's truly fascinating to step inside the museum and spot the names of Allah and Prophet Muhammad alongside murals of Jesus Christ.
P.S. If it's your first time in Istanbul, you'll need this guide:
4. Savour yummy Turkish cuisine
Turkish food is already so yummy back home but nothing beats savouring it in Turkey itself for the most authentic experience. The best part is that halal food is easily available as Turkey is a Muslim country and much of it is affordable too! From quintessential doner kebabs to kofte (meatballs) and pide (pizza), you'll be enjoying every bite ?
Besides the savoury dishes, Turkish desserts like baklava (phyllo dough with pistachio and syrup) and kunefe (sweet cheese pastry) are equally appetising too. It's hard to walk past these sweet treats and not order them! Check out these cheap and absolutely delicious food you have to eat in Turkey!
P.S. Planning your travels but don't want to break the bank? This will help you out:
5. Swim in the thermal pools of Pamukkale
You can't visit Turkey and not head to Pamukkale! Known as "cotton castle" in Turkish, these white snowy-looking terraces will captivate you. They might give you the impression that the pools are icy cold, but it's actually the opposite. These are natural hot springs formed after years of limestone deposits from rock formations of historic buildings of the Greek-Roman era. We wouldn't pass up the chance to swim in these shallow pools and enjoy its healing properties ?
P.S. Check out this guide for more amazing places in Turkey:
6. Try a Turkish bath at a hammam
A bath at a hammam is one of the most authentic Turkish experiences you can get! For the uninitiated, the hammam is a steam room bath experience that cleanses the body. For an eye-opening experience, there's an option where the hammam staff will do the scrubbing and massaging during your bath. Don't worry, you'll be partially covered during the bath. What's interesting is that most hammams have been around for hundreds of years. One of the more notable ones is Suleymaniye Hamamiwhich offers an authentic Turkish experience surrounded by dramatic domes and chimneys at the entrance.
7. Soak in the atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar
As one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world with over 4000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is definitely on our list! You can find so many things in this bustling market from carpets, scarves, handbags, unique lamps, spices, teas and more. Even if you're not looking for anything in particular to buy, it's amazing to just soak in the atmosphere of the Grand Bazaar. The bazaar is super huge and you'd probably need a few hours just to visit it. Don't miss a visit to Salt Bae's famous restaurant, Nusr-Et, which serves mouth-watering steaks ?
#HHWT Tip: If you wish to purchase anything from the bazaar, do be prepared to haggle!
8. Have Turkish tea (and coffee!)
If you're a tea lover, you’re in for a treat! Drinking tea is a huge part of Turkish culture and offering tea to others is a form of Turkish hospitality. When we visit Turkey in future, we'll surely be having afternoon tea at the many tea gardens! You can easily find tea gardens along the charming smaller streets or facing the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. What's more, each cup of tea will only cost you around TL 0.50 – 2 (SGD0.10-0.40/RM0.30-1.30/Rp. 1036-4146) - super affordable! For those of you who prefer coffee instead, you'd want to try Turkish coffee - it's really strong and you'll be able to taste the coffee grinds at the bottom of the cup.
9. Enjoy Turkish ice-cream
Turkish ice-cream, called dondurma, is not just any ice-cream! Its chewy texture and resistance to melting are what makes this ice-cream unique to its own ? But that's not all - the most exciting part is when you're purchasing the ice-cream! You will be treated to an entertaining performance by the witty sellers as they trick you with all sorts of pranks, but it's all in good fun ?
We could definitely go on and on about all the things we want to do in Turkey. But for now, we'll just be saving these activities and when the time is right, we'll start planning our adventure! Let us know what else you want to do in Turkey in the comments section!