Turkey’s capital city Ankara is an attractive city. Being central in terms of both geographical location and political importance, Ankara is easy to reach from anywhere in the country and makes a great hub for further explorations of Turkey and beyond.
A visit to Cappadocia, situated in the heart of Anatolia, may be the closest any of us will ever get to being on the moon. The region’s famous fairy chimneys stretch for miles in every direction, looking like something out of the more mythical side of Turkey’s history. You may be startled and bemused by the sight of all these spooky and highly memorable formations at first, but a few days in the territory will make you feel like a regular cave-dweller yourself.
Mount Nemrut is among Turkey’s most iconic and well-known destinations. You may have seen images of the gigantic stone heads scattered across the area on tourist brochures or books concerning ancient civilizations; even if you haven’t, you’re sure to find the site breathtaking and a sure highlight of your trip to Turkey.
Mardin & Hassankeyf
With its picturesque old buildings spilling down the hillside on which the city was built, Mardin is a beautiful and often-overlooked stop on the route through southeastern Turkey.
The magnificent and historical Hassankeyf, is ringed by prehistoric caves and infused with centuries of Seljuk, Kurdish, and Arab history. Unfortunately there are controversial plans in place to construct a dam nearby which would leave much of the area underwater and destroy countless important sites. The town was added to the World Monuments Fund Watch List in 2008 and there has been a major outcry against the proposed construction, but it may not be enough. Get there while you can!
Hatay, a wedge of Turkey cutting into the northwestern border of Syria, is a bit of a world apart from the rest of the country. A number of international buses operate between Hatay and the Syrian capital of Damascus (seven hours distant), as well as the closer Aleppo, only three hours away.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Van, the largest lake in Turkey, Van is a small city steeped in history. Archaeological finds dating back to 5000 BC have been encountered here, although the city proper is presumed to have been an important capital of the Urartian Kingdom starting in the 9th century BC. Van is famous for its white cats with one green eye and one blue, who- unusually- enjoy swimming.