Looking for somewhere totally unique to visit on your next international trip? Turkey is a really amazing destination to visit because it’s so unique! From the blend of cultures in big cities like Istanbul to hot-air balloons and adventures in Cappadocia to ancient ruins throughout the country, Turkey has a lot to uncover. Plus, its rich history means there are plenty of sites to see and delicious food to try!
Even better, it’s a relatively cheap destination due to the current exchange rate. You can get a meal for about $4-6 USD in most places. Amazing things to do and cheap food: it’s a college student’s dream. Not convinced? Check out our top reasons why you need to add Turkey to your list.
1. Explore two continents at once
Sure, maybe you can say you’ve been in two states or countries at once, but have you ever been on two continents at once? If you’re ready to be able to one-up your friends’ travel stories, this is definitely a good way to do it. Istanbul is the only city in the entire world to occupy two continents—Europe and Asia. Imagine sitting at a waterfront restaurant in Europe, sipping the most delicious Turkish tea and overlooking the clear blue Bosphorus strait right into Asia. #goals, amiright? Plus, since Istanbul straddles two continents, you’ll find it’s home to a super unique blend of cultures, foods and more!
2. See more ancient ruins than in Rome and Greece
Turkey has such a rich history of Roman and Greek rule that the country has more ancient ruins than Rome and Greece. Even if you’re not a history nerd, it’d be tough to not be impressed by the history and magnificent ruins scattered throughout Turkey.
Not sure where to begin? Ephesus is by far one of the most iconic sites in all of Turkey. It was once an ancient Greek city on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Ephesus is huge! Even though the city was first built in the 10th century BC, it’s been super-well preserved and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. You enter by the ancient baths and continue on through the prominent marble street that will lead you to the beautiful Celsus library. Keep walking and you’ll eventually get to the Grand Theater of Ephesus. Soak in the history by walking through it yourself!
3. Experience an authentic Turkish bath
You’ll find the Turkish baths unlike any spa experience you’re used to in the US. A Turkish bath consists of a full spa experience in a large group sauna with a completely marble interior. It’s stunning! The catch? You’re in your birthday suit. While you might be surprised at first since they’re not meant for the modest, it’s really a can’t-miss experience.
The spa treatment starts with exfoliation, soap and a mixture of warm and cold water. Then, you’ll be covered with mounds of bubbles and more soap and water, followed by a glass of water and a massage. Finally, you’ll enjoy a nice Turkish delight and a cup of Turkish tea. If you’re not used to bathing in a group setting in the nude, you’ll probably feel uncomfortable for a bit in the beginning. But once a few minutes pass, you’ll get used to it and find that it’s one of the most freeing and relaxing experiences you’ll ever have.
4. Relax at epic resorts (without the crazy tourists!)
Turkey is located to the right of Greece and shares with it the beautiful Aegean Sea. Swimming in the Aegean Sea is surreal. It’s so beautiful—and so salty that you can’t help but float and just relax. So if you want to experience the stunning Aegean without the crowds of tourists in Greece, why not try Turkey? One of the biggest up-and-coming destinations in Europe is Bodrum, Turkey. It’s a resort town with a natural, authentic and local feel. Many of the resorts here include infinity pools that make the water look like it’s continuing all the way into the sea. Get ready to use all the heart-eye emojis!
5. Enjoy delicious food…and tea time!
The food in Turkey is absolutely mouth-watering. It’s a mix of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Balkan food cultures. Some must-eats are:
- For breakfast: for a delicious local breakfast, try buying any local pastry and topping it with clotted cream and honeycomb.
- Lahmacun: the “Turkish pizza” is a flat crust with minced meat, veggies and spices on top.
- Turkish delights: a perfect way to end the day or enjoy a mid-afternoon tea. Turkish delights are a chewy, gel-like candy that could be filled with pistachios, hazelnuts, or other flavors and covered with powdered sugar.
- Baklava! Just eat lots of Baklava, you literally can’t go wrong. There are so many flavors besides the traditional ones, including pistachio and chocolate. You can even get gluten-free baklava!
- Tea: Turkish tea is everywhere and served in a unique glass cup so that you can see the tea was brewed just right.
6. See places where religions collide
One place you absolutely have to see while you’re in Turkey is the Hagia Sophia. It’s one of the most iconic sites that really shows some of the religious history of Turkey. It was once a Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral and then later became an Ottoman Imperial mosque. Once it was converted into a mosque, all of the crosses were turned into arrows and the murals were plastered over. Now, it’s a preserved museum and the plaster has been removed to display some of the Christain murals surrounded by roundels with Arabic script. You can really see some of the Turkish religious history and culture collide at the Hagia Sophia!
7. Actually enjoy the journey
When we went to Turkey, we flew on Turkish Airlines and our Turkish experience started when we hopped on board. The food was delicious and featured some local flavors that gave us a taste of the local cuisine. Another neat thing about the flight was that there were live plants on board. It made you feel more at home, even at 30,000 feet. After your Turkish flight, you’ll land in the biggest airport in the world, which is able to accommodate 90 million fliers a year.
While there’s no bad time to visit Turkey, spring and fall are ideal times to experience good weather and fewer crowds—which means it’s the perfect time to start planning your trip to Turkey! Check out our cheap flights to Turkey on Turkish Airlines and start dreaming about your next trip.