A Turkey Bucket List

by Asako Maruoka / Nov 13, 2014 /
Asako Maruoka's picture

Making a Turkey bucket list is no easy feat. But one list that everyone should attempt, especially if having a limited time in this magnificent country. And it will probably be a pretty big bucket in order to contain everything that amazes, inspires, or simply relaxes one in Turkey. It would be easier to make it a question of ‘what not to include in my list’ rather than pondering over what to include in it. So instead, here's a list pre-made for you of a few things you should include on your bucket list in Turkey:

If, like me, you want the most for your money, taking a blue cruise from Fethiye to Olympos should be one of the things on your list. It combines so many elements of the ideal trip all in a neat, gift-wrapped package. History is rediscovered at St. Nicholas Island and on the shores of a sunken city dating from the 2nd century in Kekova. Adventure is found in the water sports at the Gokkaya Bay, as well as paragliding over one of the most photographed lagoons on earth, Oludeniz. Flora and fauna is revealed on Butterfly Valley, serenity found in the small villages of Kas and Simena, and finally, breathtaking sunsets on the sea every evening. What more could you ask for? Departures from either Olympos or Fethiye depart on a four day adventure everyday throughout the warmer months, April to October.

 

Moored at St Nicholas Island, Turkey

Moored at St Nicholas Island

 

From tranquil waters, we move to the not-so-tranquil urban setting of Istanbul. Here, you can discover culture and magnificence of this era. A visit to the Blue Mosque is surely on the list! On the outside, one is struck by the grandeur of its domes and minarets, which dominate the skyline and can be observed from afar. But to discover the ‘blue’ in the Blue Mosque, you have to step inside; 16th century Iznic tiles with arcane patterns of flowers and trees line the upper portions of the walls. It is breathtakingly huge, with the interior comprising of stained glass windows, ornate calligraphy, and a picturesque mihrab made of a finely carved marble.

While you are there, you surely won’t miss the opportunity of paying a visit to the neighbouring site. The Hagia Sophia makes this perhaps one of the few locations on earth where two wonders of history stand in a face-off. It was previously a basilica, but now a museum, and serves as a memento of the great Byzantine architecture. A key location in Dan Brown’s sensational novel Inferno, it is filled with intricate figural mosaic, stone cannonballs used in ancient warfare, and a unique blend of Islamic roundels with Christian imagery. This is because it served as both the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople for almost a century (before being attacked by the crusaders), and as a mosque for roughly five centuries.
Moving from culture and history to pure aesthetic pleasure, we venture to Pamukkale hot springs, which can be seen as a white castle made of cotton fluff, but in reality made of travertine rocks amid warm waters of the spring flows. This is just one of the places that can’t be described; it has to be seen. But if any place on earth can be a backdrop for a fairy tale, I presume the cascading terraces of Pamukkale would be a fit candidate.

 

Pamukkale hot springs, Turkey

Pamukkale hot springs

 

Now, this list doesn’t even cover an iota of the breadth and width of Turkey, but it is surely a starting point. If you have time, be sure to visit these famous sites, as well as others like Cappadocia, Mount Nemrut, and Ephesus. As Lao Tzu said, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; thus we begin our journey with this humble list.