With a massive uptick in inbound travel—an 88.03 per cent increase in travellers from India in April alone—Turkey has emerged as one of the most popular destinations in 2023. Here’s a guide to plan your journey to two of its buzziest cities that came out as top choices.
Istanbul, the enchanting crossroads where antiquity and modernity dance in perfect harmony, captivates discerning travellers with its vibrant bazaars, opulent palaces, and a kaleidoscope of flavours that tantalize the senses.
Where to eat
Yeni Lokanta: A culinary haven where inventive flavours and local ingredients intertwine, here you can hop on an unforgettable gastronomic journey that celebrates the essence of Turkish cuisine.
Kıyı Restaurant: Nestled along the shimmering Bosphorus, Kıyı Restaurant beckons diners with its panoramic views and a menu that showcases exquisite seafood delicacies, delivering a sublime dining experience.
Üstün Palmie Pastanesi: A nostalgic patisserie with a touch of timeless elegance, Üstün serves delectable pastries and confections that transport visitors to a bygone era of indulgence and refined taste.
Places to visit
The Blue Mosque: The Blue Mosque, an architectural masterpiece adorned with intricate tilework and cascading domes, invites visitors to immerse themselves in the serenity and spiritual grandeur of Ottoman design.
Grand Bazaar: Step into the labyrinthine alleys of the Grand Bazaar, where a vibrant tapestry of sights, sounds, and scents awaits, offering an unforgettable sensory experience of haggling and discovering treasures from around the world.
Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts: The Museum of Turkish & Islamic Arts, a treasure trove of Islamic artefacts and calligraphy, unveils the rich heritage and cultural legacy of Turkey, welcoming visitors with its exquisite collection and captivating storytelling.
Explore the historic district of Sultanahmet, where iconic landmarks like the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, and the Basilica Cistern
Wander through the vibrant streets of Beyoğlu, where you can try contemporary Turkish cuisine, shop at trendy boutiques, and experience the nightlife of Istiklal Avenue.
Take a cruise along the Bosphorus Strai
Uncover the hidden gems of Istanbul’s neighbourhoods, such as the bohemian charm of Kadikoy on the Asian side or the artsy enclave of Karakoy
Nevşehir, located in central Turkey, can instantly pull you in with its unique geological formations, including the fairy-tale-like chimneys and rock-carved dwellings of Cappadocia, providing visitors with a window into the region’s rich history and natural beauty.
Where to eat
Lil’a Restaurant: For a contemporary, farm-to-table dining experience, combine local ingredients with innovative techniques
Tavaci Mustafa Restaurant: Known for its traditional Turkish cuisine, Tavaci serves hearty dishes that reflect the rich culinary heritage of the area
Seki Restaurant: Indulge in a classic menu filled with delicious Turkish specialities, including grilled meats, mezes, and regional delicacies
Places to visit
Goreme Historical National Park: Nestled in the heart of Nevşehir, Goreme Historical National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site with its otherworldly rock formations, eroded over centuries into whimsical shapes and adorned with Byzantine frescoes.
Uchisar Castle: Carved into a towering natural rock formation, this historic fortress offers panoramic views of Cappadocia’s breathtaking landscapes, allowing visitors to marvel at the expansive valleys, fairy chimneys, and the ebb and flow of the region’s unique geological tapestry.
Nevşehir Underground Cities: These subterranean complexes, carved out by ancient civilizations, served as sanctuaries, homes, and intricate defence systems. Providing a profound glimpse into the history and cultural heritage of the region, some of the most popular cities are Derinkuyu, Kaymaklı Özkonak, and Mucur.
Embark on a bucket-list hot-air balloon ride at sunrise to adore Cappadocia’s landscape
Discover the ancient subterranean world of Kaymakli Underground City
Immerse yourself in local culture and craftsmanship at Avanos, a charming town known for its pottery traditions.
Hike through the stunning landscapes of Rose Valley, a natural wonderland adorned with rock formations in hues of pink and gold.
Being a responsible and respectful traveller in Turkey
Stay informed, follow local guidelines, and support ongoing recovery efforts in Turkey after the earthquake.
Boost the local economy by choosing local businesses, accommodations, and markets.
Show cultural respect by understanding customs, dressing modestly, and honouring religious sites.
Practice sustainability by conserving resources and minimizing waste generation.
Engage with the local community, show empathy, and support community-led initiatives for post-earthquake healing
Inputs by Mehmet Sumer, local expert (Istanbul), HASAN AKBAS (Photographer of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Turkey), Temel Kotil, local expert (Nevşehir)