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From Ancient Ruins to Breathtaking Landscapes: Turkey's Must-Visit Slow Travel Spots

Murat Karabıyık
November 4, 2023
Adana

Are you tired of rushing through crowded tourist hotspots, desperately trying to tick off famous landmarks from your list? It's time to slow down and soak in the beauty that Turkey has to offer. From ancient ruins steeped in history to breathtaking landscapes that will leave you awestruck, this blog post unveils Turkey's hidden gems for those who truly want to connect with their surroundings. Grab your bags, embrace a slower pace, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through Turkey's must-visit slow travel spots.

Exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus

When it comes to exploring the ancient ruins of Ephesus, one can easily get lost in the rich history and enchanting beauty of this archaeological site. Located on the western coast of Turkey, Ephesus was once a thriving port city and is now considered one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the Mediterranean region.

Dating back to the 10th century BC, Ephesus has a long and interesting past that is waiting to be discovered by slow travelers. The city was inhabited by various civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, Persians, and Byzantines before eventually becoming part of the Ottoman Empire.

The most iconic attraction at Ephesus is undoubtedly the Library of Celsus, which stands as a symbol of knowledge and wisdom. Built in 117 AD and named after Celsus Polemaeanos - an ancient Greek physician turned governor - this well-preserved structure features impressive statues and intricate architectural details. It's truly a sight to behold.

As you wander through the cobblestone streets of Ephesus, you will come across many other noteworthy landmarks such as Hadrian's Temple, Odeon Theatre, Curetes Street, and the Grand Theatre. Each monument tells its own story about life in ancient times and gives you a glimpse into what daily life would have been like for its inhabitants.

Relaxing in the natural beauty of Cappadocia

Cappadocia, located in central Turkey, is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique landscape. The region is characterized by its tall rock formations, also known as fairy chimneys, that have been formed by volcanic eruptions and erosion over thousands of years. In addition to these geological wonders, Cappadocia boasts an array of lush valleys, peaceful vineyards, and quaint villages that make it the perfect destination for those seeking a relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Cappadocia is through slow travel. This allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of this enchanting region and truly appreciate its breathtaking landscapes. With its slower pace and focus on savoring each moment, slow travel is a perfect match for exploring Cappadocia.

One of the must-do activities in Cappadocia is hot air ballooning at sunrise. As you float above the fairy chimneys and valleys, you will be treated to a spectacular view unlike any other. The peacefulness of floating high above the ground combined with the colorful sky at sunrise creates a serene and awe-inspiring experience that will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Immersing yourself in history at Istanbul's Sultanahmet district

Istanbul's Sultanahmet district, also known as the Old City, is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in immersing themselves in the rich history of Turkey. Located on the European side of Istanbul, this area is considered the heart of the city and has been an important center of trade and culture for centuries.

One of the main attractions in Sultanahmet is the Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine church turned mosque turned museum. This iconic landmark stands tall over the city with its unique blend of Christian and Islamic architecture, showcasing Turkey's diverse cultural influences. Visitors can explore its vast interior filled with impressive mosaics, marble pillars, and intricate design details while learning about its fascinating history through guided tours.

Adjacent to Hagia Sophia is another renowned monument – the Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Built in the early 1600s, this grand mosque features six minarets and a stunning interior adorned with blue tiles that give it its nickname. Non-Muslim visitors are welcome to enter outside prayer times and can marvel at its beautiful calligraphy and painted domes.

Another historical site worth visiting in Sultanahmet is Topkapi Palace. Once home to Ottoman sultans, this sprawling complex showcases opulent courtyards, ornate rooms filled with royal treasures, and expansive gardens overlooking views of the Golden Horn strait. A visit here will transport you back in time and give you a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of Turkish royalty.

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Are you tired of rushing through crowded tourist hotspots, desperately trying to tick off famous landmarks from your list? It's time to slow down and soak in the beauty that Turkey has to offer.
SLOW TRAVEL
One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Cappadocia is through slow travel.

Enjoying the coastal town of Bodrum

Bodrum, a charming coastal town located on the Aegean Sea in southwestern Turkey, is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience slow travel at its finest. With its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and laid-back vibe, Bodrum offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

When visiting Bodrum, one can't help but be drawn to its breathtaking landscapes. The town is blessed with striking blue waters and pristine beaches that stretch out for miles. The most popular beach in Bodrum is the famous Blue Flag Gumbet Beach, known for its crystal-clear waters and golden sands. Visitors can spend their days basking in the sun or engage in various water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, and diving.

Apart from soaking up the sun by the beach, Bodrum also offers spectacular views from its many vantage points. One of the best ways to take in these scenic vistas is by hiking or biking along the coastline. The picturesque trails offer an opportunity to explore hidden coves and secluded beaches while being surrounded by lush greenery.

For history buffs, Bodrum has plenty to offer as well. The town is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World -The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - which was built as a tomb for King Mausolos around 350 BC. Today, visitors can marvel at what remains of this magnificent structure which includes intricate sculptures and reliefs.

Indulging in local cuisine and culture in Gaziantep

Gaziantep, located in southeastern Turkey, is a city rich in history and culture. It is known as the "culinary capital" of Turkey due to its diverse and delicious cuisine that has been influenced by various civilizations throughout its long history. In addition to its food, Gaziantep also boasts a unique blend of traditional and modern Turkish culture that can be experienced through its architecture, museums, and local festivals.

One of the best ways to truly immerse yourself in the local culture of Gaziantep is through indulging in their traditional cuisine. The city offers an abundance of restaurants and cafes with menus featuring mouthwatering dishes made with fresh and locally sourced ingredients. A must-try dish is the famous kebabs which are cooked over charcoal fire for hours to achieve a tender and flavorful taste. You can find variations such as lamb or beef kebabs served with rice pilaf or wrapped in flatbread.

Another must-try dish in Gaziantep is baklava, a sweet pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in sweet syrup. This dessert originated from this region and has become popular all over the world. For those looking for a more savory snack, try simit - a sesame-covered bread ring that pairs well with tea or coffee.

Participating in a traditional Turkish bath experience

Participating in a traditional Turkish bath, or hamam, is an essential experience for anyone visiting Turkey. This centuries-old practice not only provides physical cleansing but also offers a cultural and social experience.

The first step in experiencing a traditional Turkish bath is to find a reputable hamam. While many hotels offer hamam services, it is recommended to seek out an authentic local bathhouse for the most genuine experience. A quick online search or asking locals for recommendations can help you find the perfect hamam.

Upon entering the hamam, you will be greeted by the tellak or natır (bath attendant). They will provide you with basic instructions and give you a pestemal, a cotton wrap used as a towel and sarık, a silk cloth to tie around your head. Then, they will guide you to the hot room known as hararet.

The hararet is typically heated by large marble slabs where visitors lie down for their bathing ritual. The temperature can vary from 30-50 degrees Celsius depending on your preference and season of visit. As you lay down on the heated stone slab covered with towels or pillows, the heat will start to open up your pores and prepare your body for cleansing.

 

Taking a leisurely cruise along the Turquoise Coast

The Turkish Turquoise Coast is renowned for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters and charming coastal towns. But beyond the typical beach vacations lies a more serene and leisurely way to explore this beautiful region – by taking a cruise along the Turquoise Coast.

A leisurely cruise offers travelers a unique perspective of Turkey's diverse landscape, from ancient ruins to hidden coves and quaint villages. Unlike fast-paced tours or road trips, a cruise allows you to slow down, take in the sights at your own pace, and truly appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

One of the most popular options for cruising along the Turquoise Coast is embarking on a traditional gulet (wooden sailboat) journey. These small boats offer an intimate experience with typically no more than 10-12 passengers on board. As you sail along the coast, you'll have plenty of opportunities to stop at different ports and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Your journey could start from Fethiye, a charming coastal town known for its bustling markets and ancient ruins. From there, you could set sail towards Ölüdeniz beach – famous for its turquoise waters and scenic paragliding spots. The gulet might also make stops at popular tourist spots such as Kaş or Kalkan before heading towards quieter destinations like Kekova Island or Butterfly Valley.

Other off-the-beaten-path

When it comes to slow travel, sometimes the best experiences can be found in unexpected and lesser-known destinations. In Turkey, there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path spots that offer unique and unforgettable experiences for travelers who want to take their time and truly immerse themselves in the local culture and surroundings.

One such destination is the small village of Sirince, located in western Turkey. With its cobblestone streets, traditional stone houses, and picturesque vineyards, Sirince offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Visitors can spend their days exploring the village on foot or by bike, admiring the stunning views of rolling hills and olive groves.

For a more historical experience, head to the town of Safranbolu. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture and traditional bazaars. Here, you can stroll through narrow alleys lined with charming cafes and shops selling handcrafted goods while taking in the rich history of this ancient town.

In eastern Turkey, visit Kars – a city steeped in centuries-old traditions and customs influenced by Persian, Armenian, Russian, and Turkish cultures. This cultural melting pot is perfect for slow travel enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in authentic local culture. Don't miss out on visiting Ani – once a powerful medieval city along the Silk Road – now an impressive collection of ancient ruins scattered across vast open fields.

Turkey's Must-Visit Slow Travel Spots
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