Visiting Turkey

We try to keep all articles positive. We, therefore, reflect Turkey in a moderately positive light in this article even though we, of course, are very aware of the history (and present situation) of Turkey and Kurdistan.

Turkey, straddling the continents of Europe and Asia, is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. Its unique geographical position has made it a crossroads of civilizations for centuries, blending the East and the West, and offering a diverse tapestry of experiences to explore. Turkey’s attractions are varied and complex from the bazaars of Istanbul to the landscapes of Cappadocia.

Turkey offers a blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Its warm hospitality, delicious cuisine, and rich tapestry of experiences make it an interesting destination for many travellers, from the history enthusiast to the adventure seeker. Whether exploring ancient ruins, enjoying city life, or relaxing on the coast, Turkey has a lot of offer.

At the same time, many are hesitant to visit Turkey due to its spotty human rights record. Between 1959 and 2011, the European Court of Human Rights made more than 2,400 judgements against Turkey for human rights violations.

Examples of areas that make some tourists reluctant to visit Turkey are human rights violations concerning minority rights (including Kurdish rights and Armenian rights), media freedom, women´s rights, children’s rights, and LGBTQ rights.


Where is Turkey?

The European part of Turkey is found east of the Balkans, bordering Greece and Bulgaria. It is also known as East Thrace. The Asian part of Turkey chiefly consists of the Anatolian peninsula. Almost all of Turkey (97%) is in Asia; the rest is in Europe. European Turkey is separated from Asian Turkey by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara, and the Dardanelles.

Seas border Turkey on three sides:

  • The Black Sea to the north
  • The Aegean Sea to the west
  • The Mediterranean Sea to the south

The seven geographical regions of Turkey

Turkey is divided into seven geographical regions: Marmara, Aegean, Black Sea, Central Anatolia, Eastern Anatolia, Southeastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean.

A varying landscape

  • The Anatolian Peninsula has a high central plateau and much lower, narrow coastal plains. There is the Köroğlu and Pontic mountain ranges to the north and the Taurus Mountains to the south.
  • The Eastern Anatolia Region is largely within the Armenian highlands, a plateau found between the Anatolian Plateau in the west and the Less Caucasus in the north. Eastern Anatolia is where we find Mount Ararat, whose summit is Turkey’s highest point – 5,137 metres above sea level. The Anatolian Plateau is also home to the country´s largest lake, Lake Van.
  • Eastern Turkey is dominated by mountains, and several rivers have their origins here, including the famous Euphrates and Tigris.
  • In the Southeastern Anatolia Region, we find the northern plains of Upper Mesopotamia.
  • Southwestern Anatolia is home to the Turkish Lake District, an area dotted with a series of shallow lakes of tectonic origin. The major lakes are Acıgöl (Sanaos), Akşehir (Philomela), Beyşehir (Koralis), Burdur (Ascanius), and Eğirdir (Akrotiri).

Popular destinations

Istanbul: Once known as Constantinople, Istanbul is Turkey’s most populous city and its cultural and financial center. The city is famous for its historic sites, including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Blue Mosque, all testifying to its rich Ottoman and Byzantine heritage. The Grand Bazaar and Spice Market offer a sensory overload of colors, smells, and sounds, showcasing the vibrant Turkish culture.

Ephesus: This ancient city, located near the modern town of Selçuk, was once a major Roman city and is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis. Today, it is one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world.

Cappadocia: Known for its unique geological formations, fairy chimneys, and extensive cave systems, Cappadocia is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hot air balloon rides offer breathtaking views of the landscape, and cave hotels provide a unique accommodation experience.

Pamukkale: Meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, Pamukkale is famous for its terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water. The site also includes the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, making it a fascinating blend of natural beauty and history.

Mount Nemrut: A high mountain in southeastern Turkey, famous for the giant head statues scattered at its summit. These statues are part of a royal tomb from the 1st century BC and offer a mysterious glimpse into Turkey’s past.

The Turquoise Coast: The Turkish Riviera, also known as the Turquoise Coast, boasts stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and ancient ruins. Antalya is a popular destination, offering a mix of beach relaxation and cultural exploration.

Lake Salda: There are rocks along the shoreline of Lake Salda that were formed by microbes and are called microbialites. Studies of these special rocks helped scientists prepare for NASA´s Mars 2020 mission. In 2021, NASA announced that the microbialites around Lake Salda are the closest match on Earth to the rocks found around the Jezero Crater on Mars.


Turkish cuisine is a reflection of the country’s diverse cultures and traditions and tends to be rich in yoghurt, ayran and kaymak. From the savoury kebabs and mezes to the sweet baklava and Turkish delight, the country’s food is as varied as its geography. Turkish tea and coffee also play a significant role in Turkish culture, with tea gardens and coffee houses serving as social hubs.

  • The Istanbul region has retained a lot of elements from Ottoman court cuisine, including a preference for using rice instead of bulgur. Vegetable stews are common here, and so are stuffed dolmas.
  • The western part of Turkey is noticeably Mediterranean, with plenty of olive groves and a cuisine that is rich in olive oil combined with fish, vegetables and herbs.
  • If we move to the Black Sea Region, we – understandably – find a lot of fish dishes. Black Sea anchovy (hamsi) is very important here. More surprising is the region’s fondness of maize dishes, since maize is not native to Euroasia.
  • Central Anatolian cuisine includes several dishes that arrived here from Mongolia, such as Manti, a type of dumplings filled with a spiced meat mixture, often lamb or ground beef.
  • Southeastern Turkey is famous for its many dough-based desserts, such as katmer, baklava, şöbiyet, and kadayıf. This is also a hot spot for kebabs.