We spent a week exploring Turkey and omg…from Istanbul to Izmir to Bodrum, we found something to love in every place.
And if this trip taught us anything as young female travelers, it would be that Turkey has been misrepresented in just about every way—safety being the biggest. We shared tea with strangers and found friends amongst the locals. We told jokes and laughed until we literally cried. Long story short, our hearts were full and, days later, they still are.
Btw did you know that Istanbul, and other major cities in Turkey, are known for their stray cats and dogs? Plot twist though because they actually do their part to help. We’re talking about food and water dishes outside of every shop, locals chipping in to feed their neighborhood strays and a government that advocates taking care of them.
Learn more about the strays of Turkey or how you can help
Just to add a few more reasons why Turkey should be on your bucket list, here’s a little insight on how we spent our trip in one of the most underrated countries.
This major city straddles both Europe and Asia, separated by the Bosphorus Strait. And we hate to be that person who wants to move somewhere as soon as they visit but, um, can we move there?
What we did
We spent two days on the European side exploring major cultural sites—Hagia Sophia, Süleymaniye Mosque, Dolmabahçe Palace, Basilica Cistern. Free time was spent asserting our dominance in the Grand Bazaar (but not really) and visiting Galataport Istanbul, the city’s up and coming hub for art and culture.
Day three, which was our last day in Istanbul, started with a 20-minute ferry ride to the Asian side of the city. Take a moment to appreciate that: one city, two countries.
After arriving at the ferry terminal, we spent the rest of the day embracing our inner foodie. Fried mussels? Sure. Pickle juice by the cup? Don’t mind if I do. Simit (a Turkish bagel), Lokma (a fried dough with a sweet syrup) and tea by the gallon? Yes to all of the above.
What to wear
A question we see a lot of is about what you can wear while visiting Turkey…and thanks to outdated search results, there seems to be no clear (and up-to-date) answer.
So, do females need to have their shoulders and legs covered?
As it turns out, this (along with a headscarf) is really only necessary when visiting religious sites—otherwise, there’s no real written or unwritten dress code for visiting Istanbul. If you’re planning on visiting notable landmarks like the Hagia Sophia or the Blue Mosque (which we recommend doing in one day), you can throw on lighter bottoms (we went with the Djerf Avenue Breezy Pant…iykyk) and bring a thin sweater or long sleeve in your bag for when you get there.
Think of a super laid back version of California, but in Europe. Izmir seriously had all of the perks: crystal clear water, sandy beaches, laid-back lifestyle, ancient ruins just a short drive away…the list goes on.
Waking up at 6 AM to swim in the Aegean Sea? I’m down. Visiting Ephesus (see photo below), one of the seven ancient wonders of the world? Can’t and won’t say no.
What to wear
Much like Istanbul, Izmir is rather liberal compared to other areas of Turkey. In other words, don’t be worried about unpacking that bikini and taking a dip in the Aegean waters.
If you’re looking to spend your day at the beach and diving into an incredible nightlife when the sun goes down, Bodrum is it.
Much like Izmir, Bodrum is home to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Overall, we’d give it a 10/10.
And when we decided to take a break from the swimming and ancient ruins, we were taking a short drive to Bekiroğlu Zeytinyağı Fabrikas to learn how to make olive oil…because what’s a trip to Turkey without oiling some olives? Plus, they gave us our first *official* Turkish breakfast experience…which we have no words for, so we’ll just include some photos instead.
What to wear
If you own a pair of Birkenstock sandals, your outfit is already on par—seriously though, the ratio of Birks to people is probably 2 to 1 (and we’re not complaining). Match them with some sundress or white trousers and a light top, and you’ll fit the casual chic summer look that is Bodrum.