Best Reasons to Travel to Turkey – Cuisine, Culture, History, Beauty, and It's a Bargain!

Best Reasons to Travel to Turkey – Cuisine, Culture, History, Beauty, and It’s a Bargain!

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One of the best reasons to travel to Turkey now is that it’s an absolute bargain. Turkey has always been a very affordable and great value travel destination, but with the Turkish lira having reached a record low, it’s cheaper than ever.

I’d travel to Turkey in a heartbeat if I could right now but lots of projects are keeping us in Southeast Asia for the moment. I’d travel to Turkey any time for exotic Istanbul and its grand bazaar, magnificent mosques, brilliant food and aromatic markets, for the turquoise waters and ancient ruins, for the rich history and fairytale landscapes.

But one of the best reasons to travel to Turkey now is because it’s just such a bargain for travellers. This month the Turkish lira reached a record low, and while that’s not good for the Turkish people, it’s great for you. It means Turkey, long a great value destination for visitors, is more affordable than it’s ever been – which is why now is a good time to book a trip.

And our friends at Luxury Escapes have a tempting offer for our Australian readers right now: a small-group (16 max) 15-day Exotic Turkey tour for A$4,999 per person twin-share (valued at A$7,650), including return flights with Emirates, Etihad or Qatar airlines, domestic flight, luxury five-star hotels, including two nights at Raffles Istanbul, some meals, private airport transfers, tours and excursions with expert local guides, including all entrance fees. Note that this offer is due to end in seven days!

That’s easily one of the best reasons to travel to Turkey but here are some more…

Best Reasons to Travel to Turkey

Turkey Is Better Value Than Ever

One of the best reasons to travel to Turkey is that its better value than ever. Unfortunately for the Turkish people, the Turkish currency slid to record lows last week, and has been one of the worst performing currencies in 2018, losing around 40% of its value. While that’s terrible news for the Turkish people, it’s fantastic for travellers. It means Turkey, which has always been a great value travel destination, has become extremely cheap and more accessible than ever. Travellers can afford to stay in luxury instead of mid-range hotels, or mid-range instead of budget – and take home a carpet or two! Tip: if you are planning to travel to Turkey soon, buy a prepaid currency card soon to guarantee the current currency rate.

The Turkish People Want You to Visit

One of the best reasons to travel to Turkey is that the Turkish people want you to visit. Like its currency, Turkey’s tourism industry has been at a real low in recent years. Turkey was one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, with tourist numbers peaking at 41.2 million in 2014, but after terrorist attacks and an attempted coup, visitor numbers fell to 25.3 million in 2016. Due to greater stability since Erdogan’s re-election, Turkey’s tourism industry, like Egypt’s is on the rebound according to travel companies, with Thomas Cook reporting bookings to Turkey up a whopping 84%, just behind Spain and Greece. But there’s still a long way to go to see the numbers of the past returning – which is why you should do your bit to help.

Turkish Food Is As Delicious As Ever

And of course one of the best reasons to travel to Turkey hasn’t changed, Turkey’s fantastic food: platters of endless mezze (Turkish tapas!), from hamsi tursu (pickled anchovies) to patlican soslu (aubergine and tomato salad); succulent kebaps, lamp chops and smoky eggplants grilled over wood; karışık (mixed) pide, with sausage, fried eggs, tomatoes, and peppers, still piping hot from the oven; and Circassian ravioli from the Caucasus that swims in a sea of sour cream drizzled with chilli oil. Then there’s the mouthwatering markets, the historic shops selling everything from baklava to candies, and the contemporary Turkish cuisine of Istanbul restaurants such as Mikla, by Turkish-Finnish chef Mehmet Gurs (who we caught up with when he was cooking at a New Turkish Cuisine dinner at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival last year).

Turkey’s Rich History and Culture Never Gets Old

Turkey just gets better with age and its long history and rich culture remains one of the best reasons to travel to Turkey. Straddling east and west, Turkey is marked by magnificent traces of thousands of years of civilization, from the late Bronze Age Hittite Empire capital of Hattusha and the sprawling ancient Roman ruins of Ephesus to the colossal Byzantine basilica of Hagia Sophia to the covered bazaars*, sumptuous mosques, and opulent palaces of the Ottoman Empire. There are museums to browse, towers to climb, walks to take, and cruises to do, all of which provide insights into Turkey’s fascinating history and culture. (*Shopping the Grand Bazaar is most definitely another of the best reasons to travel to Turkey!)

Turkey Is As Beautiful As Ever

Another of the best reasons to travel to Turkey is its sheer beauty. On our first backpacking trip to Turkey 18 years ago we travelled all over the country, by ferry, bus, boat, train, plane, and car. On subsequent trips as travel writers we hired a car and drove and settled into holiday houses for a month at a time. Turkey is blessed with an infinite array of diverse landscapes from the soaring snow-capped mountains around Antalya to its never-ending coast skirted by white-sand beaches and secret bays, all lapped by turquoise waters.

If you haven’t been to Turkey, get there soon while it’s such a bargain. The Luxury Escapes Exotic Turkey tour won’t always be this affordable. And don’t forget that these offers don’t last long. While they occasionally extend them, this offer is due to end in 7 days.

You’ll find more of the best reasons to travel to Turkey in the tour itinerary, below, from Topkapi Palace to Pamukkale, the Turquoise Coast to Cappadocia.

Exotic Turkey Tour Itinerary by Luxury Escapes

Today you depart Australia for Turkey – your departure city will determine your time of departure.​

Upon arrival in Istanbul you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time, the day is at your leisure. This evening you enjoy a welcome briefing with your local guide and group followed by a welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Raffles Istanbul
Meals included: Dinner​

Enjoy a full day of sightseeing of Istanbul’s most iconic sites – including a visit to Topkapi Palace Museum, residence of the Ottoman Sultans between 1453–1852 (excluding harem). Visit the Hippodrome, which was once the center of life where chariot racing and other public events took place. Tour the Blue Mosque built between 1609 and 1616, famous for its blue ceramic tiles. Next see Hagia Sophia, a church built in the 6th century Byzantine capital, converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, and now a museum and one of the world’s greatest architectural wonders. Your last stop will be the famous Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest and oldest covered market with over 60 streets. The evening is at your leisure.

Accommodation: Raffles Istanbul
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner​

This morning we depart for Gallipoli, the site of many battles during WWI. Visit Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery and Chunuk Bair, then cross the Dardanelles to Canakkale for the night. After checking into the hotel we enjoy dinner as a group.

Accommodation: Kolin Hotel
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner​

Today we visit Troy* with its famous wooden horse, best known for being the setting of the Trojan War* and many cities built on top of each other. Before arriving into Asclepion, we enjoy lunch with locals in a traditional Turkish village. Continue to Pergamum to visit the ancient Medical Centre in Asclepion before arriving in Izmir where we spend the next two nights. (*Tip: You will get a lot more out of this experience if you read Homer‘s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey before visiting.)

Accommodation: Swissôtel Büyük Efes İzmir
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch​

This morning we tour the famous ruins of Ephesus, an important cultural centre of the ancient world, exploring the 2,000 year-old marble streets, a theatre, the Library of Celsius, a gymnasium and Hadrian’s Temple. Afterwards we take a short drive to see St. Mary’s stone cottage where it is believed Virgin Mary spent her last years accompanied by St. John. The rest of the afternoon and evening is at leisure – and your tour leader will be on hand to assist with any arrangements you may wish to make.

Accommodation: Swissôtel Büyük Efes İzmir
Meals included: Breakfast

Today we enjoy a drive through lush valleys to Pamukkale, the Cotton Fortress, with its white lime cascades formed by hot mineral springs. Here you will see the magnificently preserved Necropolis, the main Street and Gates, the thermal Baths, the devil’s hole, and finish the visit with sunset from atop the masterpiece Ancient Theatre before an evening at leisure to enjoy a swim in your hotel’s thermal pool.

Accommodation: Doga Thermal Health and Spa
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch

After breakfast we drive to Bodrum where we enjoy an explorative walking tour of wonderful Bodrum city. The rest of the day is at your leisure to make your own discoveries.

Accommodation: The Marmara Bodrum
Meals included: Breakfast​

Today is at your leisure to enjoy Bodrum and its surroundings. You also have the option to join a day trip to the neighboring Greek island Kos (additional expense).

Accommodation: The Marmara Bodrum
Meals included: Breakfast​

After breakfast, we depart for Antalya through the Taurus Mountains – with stops along the way. Our hotel is located on the famous Falez Hills with sweeping Mediterranean views, and a private beach on the Turquoise Coast. The afternoon is at your leisure. This evening enjoy dinner with the rest of your group.

Accommodation: The Marmara Antalya
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner

Today we step back across 3,500 years of history with a visit to the ancient sites of Perga and Aspendos to see monuments that have stood since Greek and Roman time. Perga, a city originally settled by the Hittites around 1,500 BC and visited by St Paul on his first missionary journey is full of marble reliefs carved on the ancient theatre and the long colonnaded road lined with the ruins of shops, the agora, the public baths and a gymnasium. After lunch we proceed to Aspendos, the site of a well-preserved Roman theatre whose architecture and acoustics can still impress visitors today. The rest of the evening is at leisure.

Accommodation: The Marmara Antalya
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch​

Today we travel to Cappadocia via Konya, an ancient city important in Roman times, and where the mystic Sufi practice of ‘whirling’ originates. We visit the mausoleum of the famous sufi philosopher Mevlana, the museum housing manuscripts of his works, as well as various artefacts relating to the mystic sect. Our journey to Konya is approximately 6 hours and on the way we glimpse beautiful views of the Taurus Mountains and enjoy a visit to a 13th century caravansarai as well as the underground city of Saratli. Arriving in Cappadocia in the early evening – we check into our stunning hotel located atop the Uchisar Valley and the rest of the evening is at leisure.

Accommodation: Ariana Lodge
Meals included: Breakfast and lunch​

This morning you have the option to enjoy floating through volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys and caves at sunrise on an optional hot air balloon experience (additional charge applies). After breakfast we visit Goreme, a historical region of Turkey, located among the rock formations, which was first settled back in the Roman period. Many rock churches can still be seen today, as Christianity was then the prevailing religion in that region. Continue to the town of Avanos renowned for its high-quality earthenware as well as visiting Pasabagi (Urgup) in the Red Valley where we can visit a traditional pottery workshop. This evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Ariana Lodge
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner​

This morning we transfer to the airport for our short flight back to Istanbul. The afternoon is at your leisure to pick up some last-minute souvenirs from the bazaar or spice market. This evening you enjoy a farewell dinner with your group at a local favourite – a great way to end your time in Turkey.

Accommodation: Raffles Istanbul
Meals included: Breakfast and dinner​

Your tour ends after breakfast today with a transfer to the airport for your flight home. (Note from Editors: we strongly encourage you to extend a few days in Istanbul if you can. There is so much to do in this beautiful city.) 

Meals included: Breakfast

Click through to Luxury Escapes for more info on their Exotic Turkey tours and more of the best reasons to travel to Turkey in their gorgeous image gallery. As advised recently, we’ve partnered with Luxury Escapes and earn a small commission from any bookings you make if you click through from Grantourismo to book one of their tours, hotel or villas on their site. You won’t pay any more than if you went directly to book on their site, but that commission supports our work on Grantourismo to provide you with travel inspiration, information and advice.

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Image above supplied by Luxury Escapes.


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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

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