Backpacking in Turkey: My Top 5 Highlights

My top 5 places when backpacking in Turkey.

My top 5 places when backpacking in Turkey.

Turkey has a very special allure for explorative travellers and one that I must admit surprised me. It took me a while to travel there but I spent just over 3 weeks in the country last year. Located at the crossroads between Europe and Asia and boasting some of the most photographed landscapes on Earth, Turkey profiles itself as a top destination for adventure and thrill seekers as well as religious and historic buffs. This Mediterranean country is also a great choice for new backpackers, as locals are friendly and English is spoken in many areas plus it doesn’t quite have the Middle East strictness of Iran and Iraq. Here are a few of my favourite destinations you should point your compass towards and take your backpack to if you’re looking for a for a Turkish adventure…

Crossing from Europe to Asia in Istanbul, Turkey.

Crossing from Europe to Asia in Istanbul, Turkey.

1. Adana
Yes, the often neglected city of Adana punched above its weight and proved that you can find great places to see everywhere you go. In my top 5 Adana sights I included the World’s Oldest Bridge and the largest Mosque in Turkey as well as a spot of football.

Admiring the Sabanci Mosque in Adana - the largest in Turkey apparently!

Admiring the Sabanci Mosque in Adana – the largest in Turkey apparently!

2. Ankara
Again, Turkey’s capital surprised me. We hung out in some cool spots there, ticked off an Ankara top 5 that included the Ataturk Mausoleum complex and the Citadel. Plus the food was cheap and top notch – Iskender and without a hostel, we enjoyed the delights of the Hotel Capital.

ankara mausoleum turkey

Inside Ataturk’s Mausoleum complex in Ankara, Turkey.

3. The Turquoise Coast

Turkey’s southwestern coast has become a premier sun and beach destination. I’ve never been a total beach lover or into the popular tourist spots, but there are quiet places along the coast too. The area is known as the Turquoise Coast or the Turkish Riviera, so little else needs to be said about the spectacular natural beauty of the region. Rugged coastal landscapes and ancient archaeological sites coexist along bustling market towns and party hotspots.

Sunset in Gumbet, Turkey.

Sunset in Gumbet, Turkey.

Antalya, Gumbet and Bodrum are popular gateways to the region. These cities are stepped in history and boast magnificent examples of Byzantine and medieval architecture. Here, travellers can expect to be surprised at every turn thanks to the cities’ unique mix of modernity and tradition. You might have also heard that coastal Turkey is the place to drink beer, in a Muslim country it’s great that you can get your “non-Muslim” privileges here.

Beer time in Turkey - Efes!

Beer time in Turkey – Efes!

4. Cappadocia

Cappadocia’s eerie landscapes have fascinated travellers for centuries. The region is a natural paradise and there are so many things to do and sights to see that it is virtually impossible to get bored. The troglodyte dwellings in Goreme and Nevsehir are a must-see, but those wanting to take the adventure further and get off the beaten path can explore the splendid Ilhara Canyon, chill out in the remote and picturesque village of Mustafapasa (which happens to be in the middle of a wine-growing region), or go on a 4×4 off-road adventure around the Gomeda valley. Kaymakli is also a cool underground village to explore.

turkey cappadocia sunrise

Sunrise in Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey.

There is no better way of gaining an insight into Cappadocia’s vastness and uniqueness than by going on a hot balloon ride (admittedly it wasn’t on my budget last year though!). Seen from above, Cappadocia is a captivating array of moon-like scenery, deep canyons, and snowcapped mountains that rise more than 12,000 feet above sea level. So we enjoyed the views from a high point in Goreme.

Sunrise in Capadoccia.

Sunrise in Capadoccia.

5. Trabzon
I loved Trabzon and I’ve stuck it in here ahead of Dogubayazit or Istanbul as Trabzon is a really easy city to explore and doesn’t have hoardes of tourists. I compiled a top 5 Trabzon sights before and this is also where we got our Iran Visas. I also had my first Turkish Bath in Trabzon.

turkish bath trabzon turkey

About to get my kit off in Trabzon, Turkey for a Turkish Bath.

So these are my top 5 and I have more Turkey stuff to come for sure. It is a country that genuinely surprised me!

2 thoughts on “Backpacking in Turkey: My Top 5 Highlights

  • Hi Elaine – yes we really liked Ankara and the Mausoleum is a half day of exploring the complex for sure – Ataturk is a big legend in Turkey. Turkey has over 10 UNESCO heritage sites I think so we merely touched the surface in our hat trick of weeks there! Safe travels. Jonny

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