It breaks my heart to see all that has been going on in Turkey during the last year. Much to my family’s dismay, the country I call home has been in the media a lot in the last few months. And not particularly because of the good news. I know probably you think now is not a good time to visit Turkey. But, I still want to give you reasons to visit Turkey to encourage you to do it or, at least, so that you can understand why I love it there so much.
First were the terrorist attacks in Ankara and Istanbul and, more recently, an attempted coup that was quickly put down. There’s no question that Turkey’s situation is unpredictable right now. But, despite these difficult times, I can’t imagine myself leaving for good my beautiful Istanbul.
Despite political unrest, I honestly believe Turkey is an incredible destination you should not miss. There are still so many reasons to visit Turkey. Here I will mention only 10 of them:
01 | Because although it seems otherwise, Turkey is generally safe
I totally understand after the recent events you may have safety concerns and not see any reasons to visit Turkey, but don’t let the media brainwash you. Turkey isn’t more unsafe for travelers than any other European country that has recently experienced terrorism. Even though the political situation might be a bit tense for a while and the threat of terrorism remains high, traveling to Turkey is generally fine. Most of the current problems are limited to certain areas (particularly the areas close to the border with Syria, some southern-eastern regions and the city of Diyarbakir).
If Istanbul still sounds too crazy for you right now, there are many other amazing places to visit in Turkey like Cappadocia, Ephesus or the coastal towns in the Aegean. I promise it is totally quiet over there!
02 | Traveling to Turkey has never been cheaper
If like me, you travel on a budget, you should definitely add Turkey to your list. Due to the recent events, tourism is reportedly down by over 40% this year, marking the biggest drop in the last 22 years. This drop in the number of foreign arrivals has forced many property owners to dramatically lower their prices.
Apart from this, the devaluation of the Turkish Lira has made the exchange rate to be in your favor. Trust me, it is a good time to visit Turkey!
03 | Istanbul
No matter what happens, I could never fall out of love with a city this heartbreakingly beautiful. By the way, the picture below was taken in the Büyük Valide Han, probably the best view of Istanbul!
04 | Turkey has lots of paradise beaches
There has to be something with the sea in Turkey when queen Cleopatra herself chose one of the Turkish islands (Sedir Adasi) as her private and secluded paradise and the meeting point with her lover, Marc Anthony.
If you are looking for sun, sand, and crystal clear waters, you don’t need to look further. The amazing beaches on the Aegean coast are good reasons to visit Turkey!
05 | Turkey is history
Located at the meeting point between Europe and Asia, Turkey probably has more archaeological ruins that pretty much anywhere else. However, it’s not the number of sites that impress, but the fact that so many remain in such a great condition.
One of the most popular historical destinations in Turkey is the ancient city of Ephesus. Dedicated to the goddess Artemis, Ephesus was occupied for over a millennium, starting in the 11th century B.C., and mentioned several times in the Bible. The ancient metropolis is so big you can easily spend a whole day exploring it. It is so hard to believe that they still have an estimated 86% left to excavate!
06 | Turkey has many unique natural wonders
Natural wonders are one of the best reasons to visit Turkey. A lot of countries have natural wonders, but Turkey has a few that are truly unique. Walking over the landscapes of Cappadocia feels like exploring another planet.
Equally impressive are the unreal white terrace pools of Pamukkale, where you can watch an otherworldly sunset while taking a dip in therapeutic waters.
07 | Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine is diverse and, for sure, has much more to offer than just kebabs! Apart from that, being part of the Mediterranean diet, Turkish food is really fresh and has lots of options for vegetarians and vegans. And I am not even mentioning the desserts! If like me, you enjoy trying yummy local dishes, you have to visit Turkey.
08 | The sun, the sunsets and the pleasant weather
In Turkey, you can enjoy a pleasant Mediterranean weather with really long summers (especially in the south) and many days of sunshine. And you know what? If I had to pray to anything, I would pray to the sun.
In addition to the nice weather, the sunsets between Asia and Europe that you can watch in Istanbul are something out of this world!
09 | Moving around in Turkey is really easy and cheap
Traveling by bus is comfortable, cheap and the easiest way to visit Turkey. Most long distance buses are equipped with seatback television screens that play anything from Turkish soap operas to American movies. There is usually a waiter passing by a few times and offering tea, soft drinks, snacks and even ice creams free of charge. Some buses also offer free wi-fi (although I can not guarantee it will really work).
10 | Turkey has the friendliest stray cats and dogs
The first time I visited Istanbul, one of the things that struck me most was the absolutely natural presence of so many stray cats and dogs. They are everywhere! Another thing that surprised me was the fact that Turkish people don’t consider street animals to be a problem and they even take care of them. Since the animals are used to people, they are really friendly and don’t get scared.
I know this is a strange reason to love a city, but I can not imagine Istanbul without its stray cats and dogs everywhere.
Ever since I first visited Turkey in 2012, my friends and family have been always opposed. They were all but happy when I decided to move to Istanbul a year ago. Ironically most of those people asking me not to stay in Turkey don’t really know much about this country. None of them has ever visited me in Istanbul. They just think it is unsafe because of what they have seen in the media or their own prejudices about Islam.
While I understand their concerns (they love me after all), I can not change my lifestyle because of them being afraid of the country I call home. Unfortunately, nowhere is exempt from terrorism nowadays. But staying home to avoid risks is not the answer.
I have written this post to try to show a better face of Turkey that contrasts what you see lately in the media. Having spent one year living in Istanbul and traveled a lot in the country, I feel there are few places in the world more amazing than Turkey and there are many reasons to love this country. Despite the unrest, I highly recommend to visit Turkey and honestly think that a trip to this country should be on every traveler’s bucket list.